Monday, November 28, 2011

The Tale of Two Brothers, Part I

I have an older brother.  3 years older.  We have not spoken in 10 years.  I have my story about him and our distance; a story that I’ve been telling for as long as I can remember.  This week I had the opportunity to rewrite that story and in the process heal a very old, very deep wound; one that I did not even know my heart bore.  Releasing the old story and healing the wound has allowed for a new story to emerge.  This is how it all started….
I grew up in a neighborhood of large families, except for my own.  Most of my neighborhood girlfriends had 3 or 4 older brothers and all of those families seemed very close; the brothers very protective of their little sister. 
Up until the time of middle school or so, my brother and I got along. He even played Barbies with me; spending what seemed like hours setting up the different households and telling the stories of each Barbie and Ken “family.”  We even set up a doll hospital in my chest of drawers and pretended we were doctors, healing my baby dolls.  At that time, I guess I felt like part of a “normal” brother and sister situation.  Something changed along the way and as we grew up, a distance grew between us.
Despite the growing distance, I looked forward to high school, when he would be a senior and I a freshman.  He would “show me the ropes”; I would have crushes on his friends and he would protect me from any boy who tried to break my heart.  Life would be just like I dreamt it would be!
That never happened.  He would have nothing to do with me. 
I was an over achiever in school, carrying a 4.0 GPA, active in social and service clubs and very active in my church.  My brother got into trouble and was told he didn’t “apply himself”.  The distance widened.
Sometime during high school, mom found a pot plant growing in his bedroom (possibly thanks to Miss GoodyTwoShoes here.)  The confrontation between my normally quiet father and my angry brother was loud and physical; with my mother crying and shouting for them to stop.
I don’t have a lot of memories of my brother after that.  I did my thing and he did his, spending a lot of time away from the house.  He graduated, moved out, fell in love and got married.  Dad passed away and eventually my brother cleaned up.
By this time, I was taking my own turn with drugs.  My brother, now clean and “holier than thou” made it his mission to fix me.  What resulted upon that confrontation was another screaming match that left my mother, again, crying and begging us to stop.
Life moved on, I straightened up and eventually my mom moved out of state to be with my brother and his wife.  She lived out her days there and our contact was spotty.   I only visited her there once.  It turned ugly very quickly with my brother screaming and demeaning both my mom and my sister in law while playing a silly board game.  My mom made excuses for his verbal abuse but I could not and would not sit and listen to it.  I was well aware of how he belittled my sister in law while they lived here.  Now I could see it how that  had intensified to include our mom.  I vowed to myself never to go back there as long as he was in the vicinity of my mother. 
My mom had a knack for playing the victim role, she was always getting “taken” by someone or some business.  I could see that she had just let that role overtake much of who she was now, letting him say & do whatever he wanted to her and she would justify it in her own sweet way.
My mom passed away 11 years ago, suddenly, while I was out of the country.   I made the trip north to go through her things a few months later.  It was the first time I’d seen my brother in I’m not even sure how many years. 
During the days I was there, I discovered he and I had some things in common.  We both loved photography and camping.  We had a similar sense of humor, no doubt thanks to our hysterically funny mother.  There was a glimmer of the possibility of a relationship.
But, out of sight, out of mind.  I came home and life returned to normal.  My sister in law did a good job of trying to stay in touch, with notes and emails – always signing both their names (though I’m not sure he even knew we communicated) but after a while, that dropped off too.
When asked about my family, I would readily offer up that my brother lived a somewhat reclusive, paranoid life (with lots of other juicy adjectives) out of state and that he was never really the big brother I had wanted  so I really didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.  I’d never had it so I didn’t feel like it was missing it now.  Basically, I had written him of and had even “replaced” him long ago with a good friend who has always been like the big brother I’d dreamt of having.
Fast forward to earlier this year.  MUCH has changed in my life.  I found myself at my Spiritual community for the premiere of a movie, “Discover the Gift.”  The movie was inviting the viewer to discover the gift within that was meant to be expressed on the planet. It was a documentary film that changed lives, with more than forty of today's most influential transformational leaders explore how to discover one's own unique Gift, including our own Rev. Michael Beckwith.  Sounded good to me – I’d been wondering what my real purpose, my real GIFT was here. 
"Discover the Gift" was produced by acclaimed producer/director  Demian Lichtenstein and his sister Shajen Joy Aziz and it found its beginning in the healing of their relationship.  I remember thinking of my brother and wondering, “Do I need to do that?”  My mind quickly replied, “NOPE!  Nothing to do there!”
Ah…the fact that I had even had the thought really was an indication that there was work to be done there.  I just chose to shove it back into the darkness from whence it came!  But it grew, just as a seed grows in the darkness of the rich soil.  I was now in a spiritual community that regularly asked me to forgive in order to be free.  Every time I saw Demian at a service that little thought, that little seed, would sprout up just a tiny bit more.  And every time it did, I would try to shove it back into the darkness.
But, a seed only knows one thing – to grow toward its light source.  This seed had spent enough time in the darkness.  It was now time to come into the light.
(to be continued)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Plenty to Share - REALLY?

About this time last year my life was in dire straights.   I was 3 months behind in my car payments (certified letter stating intent to repossess, thank you), my rent money for the month had been stolen (3-day notice, thank you building manager), I had maxed out the credit card a friend had let me use to cover my basic living expenses (causing a rift in the relationship and a lot of guilt and shame on my end), and my business was on very shaky ground between fully separating from my business partner and being unsure I could go it alone.  This was my bottom.

Ironically, I was gifted the money to take a class at my Spiritual Community called “Plenty to Share/Plenty to Spare”. (I think I’ve mentioned before that MY God has a ridiculously healthy sense of humor!) Apparently God – and someone in the form of a friend – thought I could use this.  Well, if by “plenty to share/plenty to spare” you mean troubles and bills and stress, well, I’d be HAPPY to pass some of that along out of my world!  Free for the taking!

Let me just say, that class MESSED ME UP!  All this talk about abundance and all-needs-met! Where the H-E-double-toothpick was mine?  I had to scrape together sofa-change, car floor-change and bottom-of-purse-change together for the gas to even GET to the class! A friend shared her reading materials with me because I couldn’t afford to buy the book!  Plenty my ass!

Each night of the class I fell deeper and deeper into despair. It was like everyone was “getting” it, having insights and revelations and moving through self-imposed blocks in their lives while I was gasping for air- there wasn’t even plenty of THAT for me to share! What was I doing wrong? Why was my life so messed up? How did I get to such a low point in my world?  I was in a spiritual community for pete’s sake – doing everything that was ever taught to me – praying, meditating, worshiping, KNOWING all is well. Well, in honesty, that last one was tough to wrap my head around as the crisis mounted.

In our smaller, breakout groups, called “pods”, one of my “podlings” shared that, in his life, the things that were no longer in integrity with his soul had to go – and he let it.  Yeah, that’s great, but we’re talking about ME here!  Did God REALLY want me to let go of my home AND my car?  (GOD! I wanted to smack him in the head for that comment!!!) A homeless, carless, spiritually-enlightened being who, without those things, could not conduct business and attempt to support herself?  Surely this could not be true….but it sure was headed in that direction!

Our teacher, the very wise Reverend Cheryl Ward, explained to me in front of the class, that when I have a strangle-hold on a particular “BIG” problem, I am really choking off the flow of good that wants to come through that area of my life (I am loosely translating what I heard).  If, instead, I move my attention from that big problem and instead try to deal with something smaller, manageable, then God can have Its full sway in the area of my greatest concern – once me and my big ego get out of the way. For me this meant that, while I might not be able to pay rent or car payments, I COULD pay my cell phone bill. 

OK.  So I tried it.  Then I tried it again. And again.  And another again.  At least I thought I was trying.  In reality, I was like a dog with one of those chew-ropes – holding on for dear life, letting it swing me around and around in circles but by god! I still had it in my clenched teeth!! No one and no thing was gonna get it out of my grip!

Then I went back to class, unsuccessful in my attempt at “letting go.”  The air around me was becoming less and less available to me.  I was completely unable to grasp this teaching, find relief, answers   - anything that would allow me to NOT wake up in the morning gasping for air that was becoming thicker and heavier and less satisfying and nourishing to my body.

Then Rev. Cheryl shared a personal story with the class of how she was “invited” to demonstrate her faith and her beliefs that she had spent many years practicing.  ( I love how we Agapeans say “invited” instead of “forced” or even “asked” – because really, it is ALWAYS a choice and there’s no judgment if one declines that invitation in that moment.) It involved her daughter, knocked unconscious at school and now in the ER across town.  As she got behind the wheel of her car, anxious and worried, she drew upon her spiritual practice.  “Either God IS or God ISN’T.” In that moment everything shifted for her and she leaned on the knowing that God IS.  And, if God IS, and God is in everything and everyone and every situation, then surely God was in the mix of this seeming injury and in the doctors and nurses and technicians treating her daughter; in the flow of traffic that got her across town in 15 minutes, and in every other moment of this experience. Ah….exhale.

I began to hear Rev. Cheryl’s voice in my head firmly declaring “Either God IS or God ISN’T!!!”  Man she’s got a voice on her!!! Slowly but surely, I began to breathe again and breathing required I let go of the chokehold of the problems I was trying to fix by myself.  I began back at the beginning: Gratitude.  Then Surrender.  I began to lean into the Truth that God Absolutely just, plain and simple, IS.  God is in my struggles and God is also in the resolution of those struggles, whether I can see a way out now or not.  And thank GOD! God is in the celebration and freedom and JOY that shows up once I get out of the way.

It literally started with that first waking moment of my day: the moment when I would become conscious and gasp for air upon realizing I still couldn’t pay all those bills. After that thought passed, I would think of something for which I could be grateful.  In the beginning, it was literally just for air, heavy and oppressive as it may have been.  I was, in fact, still alive.  I would try to find 5 things to be grateful for before I got out of bed.

On one of those days, it was time to release and surrender the impending repossession of my car.

I sat on my sofa in meditation, breathing that air that was now becoming more available to my body, inhaling “I surrender (my car)” and on exhale “I let go.”  It was all I could do.  With each breath my lungs took in more and my body became more calm and relaxed.  I kept going and going until my body felt completely clear and at peace with this pending event.   When I looked up, it had been 1 hour and 45 minutes of this!  But I felt great! Not to say that losing one’s car and the shame and blame involved with it is something I would encourage anyone to feel, but from my spiritual perspective I was now realizing that it was blocking me due to the stress it was putting on my daily life.  If, in releasing the car back to Nissan that meant I had new energy to place on something I COULD do in my life, well then I should probably be grateful.  And, truly, I was.

Then my prayer partner called.  After nudging and nudging me to tell her what was going on (she apparently could sense something) I told her about the car.  We prayed together and then she said she’d check on me later that day.  I took a shower and washed all the residue of my body and soul and returned to arranging to drop my car off at the dealership so I could avoid the embarrassment of the repo man coming to my home.  Then my prayer partner called. 

She had immediately gone into prayer and meditation about my situation and felt strongly that she was to give me the money to bring my car payments up to date.  I did NOT see that coming – but then again – I got out of God’s way and released my attachment to the car and the whole situation just earlier that morning. God showed up as my prayer partner.  I received the good that wanted to flow to me – FINALLY! 

But wait! There’s more!  At around the same time another dear friend of many decades wrote me a check to cover my stolen rent money, knowing that I didn’t know when I could repay it.  Again - God showing up in my life as my friend.

Now, don’t for one minute think that I just accepted the good flowing from these 2 souls and went about my way! Oh NO!!! I experienced so much GUILT and SHAME over needing to rely and depend on someone else, it totally wiped out the relief I momentarily felt!

Just as, when I put one foot in front of the other, a way is made; the ground rises up to meet my feet, so goes the opportunities to grow through and explore emotions.  I went from anxiety – to release – to peace – to abundance all the way back down to guilt and shame – and that was all before breakfast! 

When I met up with my prayer partner to receive the money for the car payments, I expressed my less-than-excited-state of being with her.  In one sentence she summed it up: “Plenty to Share/Plenty to Spare.”  She had more than she needed and she was sharing it.   But I had to “BUT” my way back into the shame. “WHY do I have to KEEP receiving money from everyone? I am TIRED of receiving!” 

WHOOOOA!!!!! Back up the bus!!! Did I REALLY just say I was TIRED of RECEIVING?!!!

At Agape we learn the absolute law of circulation – that which you give comes back around to you, multiplied.  It is a circuit and just as with any mechanical circuit, if one cuts the flow from one area, the flow stops.  Doesn’t mean it’s not there; just means the flow is haulted. I was unconsciously cutting off the flow of my good, my abundance, with my attitude of “I don’t want to receive from people anymore.”

So, I’ve got to say it: SHIFT HAPPENS!  In an instant I was again invited to examine this “law” I had created for myself.

I started to think back on all the people I have helped along their journeys.  The homeless man & his dog that I dropped off a bags of groceries and dog food to by the side of the road; the countless friends who “couch-surfed” in my home while in between cities, jobs…lives; the hours of quiet listening to friends going through their own suffocating moments of life; the hugs I gave when it seemed no one else was there.  Most of these didn’t involve cash-money but ALL involved the giving of energy; positive loving energy.  And that brings me back to my understanding of God: Pure love, intelligence, beauty and peace.  Money is sometimes the manifestation of this energy but it is not the thing itself.  I finally realized that all the good that I have shared with the world and with my little circle within it was being circulated back to me – in a form that in this time and space I could clearly understand: Money.  Again, God’s Supreme Sense of Humor teaching me to laugh at the irony of it all.  Turns out I had a karmic savings account I wasn’t aware of!

With each person who helped me, from the friend with the credit card, to the friend who covered my rent, to the friend who paid for this class and shared her book -  and several meals, to the prayer partner who felt moved to see that I kept my car, to the "podling" that spoke his truth which is now my truth too, to the amazing teacher who didn’t force a belief down my throat but instead let me find my own way while she held the truth about me: THANK YOU from the bottom of my never-ending soul!  
I now know this truth the Rev. Cheryl knows about me, about herself and about all of YOU:  We are all divine and unique emanations of the ONE SOURCE of all: God.  Because of this, we are all heirs to all that there is; all that we could ever hope for, dream, manifest or desire. HOWEVER, we must ACCEPT all of the good that wants to flow to and through us.  If we turn it off, it will just sit there, behind the valve, patiently waiting for us to turn it back on again and again it will flow, without judgment or thoughts of “well, you wouldn’t let me flow yesterday so I’m not sure I will flow today for you.” 

Why write about this now? Aren’t things peachy-keen now with abundance flowing freely in every area of my life?  Haven’t I “arrived?”

Truth is I still have issues with money.  It flows in fits and starts and as I write this, my car payment is again late – though only by a few days. So what is different? My perspective (aka my chokehold on my problems!) No one ever truly arrives.  We are ever-evolving, different today than yesterday – or even a paragraph ago. For this I am truly thankful because each and every second is another opportunity to grow through something that baffled me yesterday.

The reason I share this now is because I have several friends who are experiencing very similar situations in their lives right now, as I did last year.  I want to stand up and be counted as one who believes these spiritual principles, who has been through the wringer of life and can still say “All is truly well.”  From the outside my life may look exactly the same as it did a year ago.  On the inside, it is quite another story.  I am here to say to anyone struggling through this life that tomorrow WILL be better.  In God’s Mind it already IS better.  Hold on and at the same time let go and let God.  Surrender to the idea that God has a plan and has it under control! Don’t limit God to show up in just the one tiny way you think it should – as I did for so long.

And if you can’t know it for yourself right now, that’s ok too.  I will know it for you, just as Rev. Cheryl knew it for me and continues to know it for and about me.    I continue to demonstrate this Law of Circulation as I share my story with all of you.  I pray you find something in it – in you – that makes you want to hold on another day. There is great love for you here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Locked Heart is a Useless Heart

Last week I spoke of various types of “muscle memory” however I left one out.  I feel it has earned a blog unto itself.  It is the muscle memory of the heart; the feeling & loving heart, not the physical heart that pumps life through the body.
Like other “muscles” of mine, this heart muscle took an extended holiday from all things strenuous in order to enable me to focus on other areas of my life that required my immediate attention. Over the past 2-3 years I have found it beneficial to NOT multi-task where the heart was concerned.  So, I purposely took myself off the market, making sure that my heart was locked safely away until the time I felt it was safe, that I was “ready” to let it come out and play in the sunshine.
By September of this year I was finally ready. I was given an exercise by one of my spiritual mentors to write out the “best case scenario” for an area of my life where I sought improvement.  I chose romantic partnership.
With explicit detail I wrote of the feeling tones I would experience with this person, the deep, long conversations we would have about everything, the wonderful qualities this person would possess, how he would be on a similar path, though a bit farther along so as to provide guided insight along my way, the Sacred Energy Xchange we would revel in with fire-y passion and desire.  Oh yeah! It was ALL in there!
Then I sat out under the moonlight and expressed my desire to the Universe, letting it know that I was now open and available to this relationship.
That night I had a dream- a magnificent dream of being introduced to an attractive man with distinctive features to which I was not typically attracted, being told that “you two would be great together.” The dream played out, and it was true: we were great together as the movie-dream played past 5 years of bliss together and the end credits rolled.  As this happened I wondered: What happened to the story arc? Shouldn’t there have been a crisis and resolution of some sort?
As I wrote this dream in my journal and came to that end, I realized, there should NOT have been drama, for you see, I had also included on that “Best Case Scenario” list two little words: ease and grace. This dream played out exactly as I intend it to in the world of my awareness.  I was completely in alignment and on board for this divine right partner to show up in my life: NOW!
Fast forward several weeks. I was invited to an event where the only person I would know was the hostess.  Feeling an indescribable pull to attend, I decided to completely step out of my comfort zone and go at the last minute.
Things fell into place easily and I started to go on my “treasure hunt” to see what the “pull” to this event might be.  I met a couple of dear souls immediately and ended my search, convinced they were the reasons I needed to be there.
Then I met a man.  I was drawn to him in a powerful way, even though he appeared to be with someone.  I didn’t pursue anything, I simply noticed for the first time in several years I found myself thinking , “WOW! THAT is an attractive man!!!”
As the event progressed he came to me and we had a short conversation, ending with the promise of continuing it at a later date. 
Returning home to my journal, I re-read the entry containing the dream from a few weeks prior. To my amazement the man I met had the SAME distinctive features as the man in my dream! He even lived in the same area as the man in my dream! Did I REALLY call this guy forth into manifestation in my life?!
The conversation did continue and it seemed we both might be open to the possibility of more. We arranged to meet later that week.  The days in between glowed with the newness of a teenager’s crush; full of anticipation of meeting him again under more appropriate circumstances and getting to know him.  I was remembering what it felt like to be interested in someone- and it felt great!  The difference between now and when I was 16 however, was that I was feeling these feelings for ME, not for the guy.  He wasn't the source of my happiness, though the prospect DID indeed make me happy. No, he was the catalyst. A part of me that had been locked up was suddenly breaking free! 
Over the course of several weeks it became clear that “we” would not be.  I had many opportunities to have that “old” conversation with myself (He doesn’t like me because X-Y-Z  / Why didn’t he call?) – but I didn’t!  For the first time in my life I recognized the Truth about myself in romantic partnership;  That I am perfect, whole & complete just as I am and there is a romantic vibrational match of a man out there, working his way into my life.  What I am seeking is seeking me.
The muscle memory of my heart has been a great gift through this experience.  I really AM ready now!  I loved the feelings that moved through me and those are sweet memories my heart can tap into from time to time. My heart broke open wide to be fully available to this kind of love in my life; knowing that I AM that love already and in expressing it out into the world I attract more of it into my life.  This is a sweet gift, but it’s not the only one.
The muscle memory of my spiritual practice kicked in too!  You see all of the practice and work I’ve done in other areas of my life, realizing my completeness as I am right now, supported me through this experience.  I moved past the old person that used to talk endlessly to myself, saying I wasn’t good enough for someone, or, when “this” happens I will be ready.  I didn’t make excuses for his behavior, or lack of it. Yes, there were moments of disappointment and feeling less-than but I was able to move through those moments faster than ever before.  I was able to release attachment to the outcome of the experience – and the guy himself - and instead be fully present with each and every emotion I had along the way, reveling in the excitement and being gentle with the disappointment.  
I recognize that indescribable “pull” to be at THAT event, to meet THAT man, was my heart wanting to express itself as more love; to unlock itself once and for all, completely.  He helped me do just that and I am very grateful for the role he played.
As for the “distinctive” physical features, locale and items on my list that matched up so perfectly? Well, God DOES have one DIVINE sense of humor!  This was a Godwink of Universal proportion!! 

"Be love now" - Ram Dass

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Muscle Memory

My body is an amazing thing! This incredible vessel that I have been blessed through this incarnation with has Muscle Memory!
My physical body’s muscle memory remembered how to hit a golf ball off the tee, consistently, straight as an arrow and out 250 yards after nursing double rotator cuff injuries over the course of 2 years.  250 yards was about as far as I’d ever gone prior to the injuries: Muscle Memory.
My body also remembered how to endure a long bike ride yesterday, after being “out of the saddle” for almost a year.  17 miles – EASY!  I could have gone the whole marathon distance of 26.2 miles, something I’ve done 3 times in the past with no formal training: Muscle Memory.
My mental body also has this fantastic ability to remember.
Several weeks ago I was invited to attend a meditation/spiritual gathering at a friend’s.  Within the group was an ex; one that left my life on very ugly terms who has now begun to have a spiritual awakening.
With 3 weeks to kill before the appointed evening, my mental body’s muscle memory had more than enough time to conjure up all the old memories of inadequacy, inferiority and “not-good-enough-ness” to sink the Titanic 10 times over!  It also had the added bonus of my current physical state: heavier than I ever was when with him.  Oh! This would just be GREAT!  He’ll have SO much material to talk about after the evening!
Thank GOD!  ALL of our bodies - physical, mental and spiritual -have Muscle Memory!
I’ve learned not to ignore pain, suffering and sadness.  However, I’ve also learned that when I read the 23rd Psalm, it says, “walk THROUGH the Valley of the Shadow of Death” – don’t build a condo there!
So, I let myself feel all those old feelings, those old memories…for about 4 hours.  I wallowed in my bubble bath and looked at all the reasons he’d have to laugh at me.  Not for the full 4 hours, but you get the point!
Next morning I went to the Gym of my Higher Consciousness and remembered who I am NOW.  I pumped the spiritual iron and wrote myself the most beautiful “love letter” I could, reminding myself of my beauty and elegance as a divine emanation of the One Beauty that is everywhere present, always.  It knows nothing of body type, hair color, or wrinkles.  It sees beyond the physical and into the light and lightness of our being.  My muscle memory of spiritual practice took over and in no time, I moved beyond the plateau of the previous day, truly knowing that right where I am now, in this moment, is the BEST time of my life!  Fully appreciating just how far I've come since that relationship! Remembering that, the care about what he or anyone else might say or think about me just fell away, like beads of sweat after a hard workout. 
Three weeks later, on the appointed day, I spent the day surrounding myself with everything that reminded me of love. I listened to beautiful music all day, meditated and prayed to be used for the highest good of all concerned at the gathering later that evening.  This muscle memory is stronger than the mental muscle memory and I have been a dedicated gym rat where it is concerned!
What happened after was truly amazing.  I had developed new, stronger muscles!  Muscles of inadequacy were replaced by muscles of confidence and unconditional love; muscles of realizing my place as a beneficial presence in this gathering of people seeking to wake up.
In one short evening everything I’ve learned at this Gym of Higher Consciousness known as my spiritual practice demonstrated fully.  I stepped into my greatness without fear.   It wasn’t about anyone but me.  I had done the work.  I reaped the benefits.  As a result, I was open to being used by Spirit, knowing my muscles would do the work effortlessly.  You see, this muscle memory never fails, never forgets.
I’d love to tell you more, but my personal trainer is calling! Gotta hit the gym! I have a whole new set of muscles to work today!

Til next time-

Monday, October 10, 2011

If I could see me now!

My how time flies! 2 years flashed by in the blink of an eye!

I recently celebrated my 2 year anniversary of the first time I attended services at the Agape International Spiritual Center. Coerced by my longtime friend and soul sister, Lily; it was her last Sunday of a month-long visit to California from Brazil and “Rev Michael” was speaking. Years ago (10 or more) she had begged and begged me to attend services at this mystical spiritual place. Back then, I had absolutely no interest in “church”. “It’s not like any church you’ve ever attended” she assured me. Still, Saturday was party night for me back then and I absolutely was NOT getting up early on a Sunday morning to drive across town to go to church or anything remotely similar! This time…I went.
I was raised in a traditional religion and never felt quite comfortable in that environment. I didn’t have the words to express why it didn’t resonate with me, but I knew the most of the time, I wasn’t left with a good feeling walking out of the sanctuary. I was always afraid that my “being saved” didn’t quite “take” and that at any moment I would be driven to hell in that proverbial handbasket. And, I didn’t understand why one religion’s beliefs were the “only” way and all others were wrong or misguided. Agape turned out to be exactly how Lily described it with the added bonus that, from the moment I walked into the sanctuary until walking out and beyond, I felt GOOD! No, not Good, GREAT! LOVED!
It was like a wave of love rose up to meet me when I crossed the threshold; a wave that buoyed me through the congregational hymns, the welcoming of first time visitors by the congregation, the musical inspiration, which was a Sufi minister with an angelic voice who chanted in a language that, while I did not understand the words, the feeling tone of the music seemed to lift me even higher into love. (Agape embraces all religions and beliefs. That, alone made me take notice that this place was different.)

When this “Reverend Michael” spoke, he did so with the authority of one who knew some Truth about me that I did not yet remember about myself; one who has sat with the ineffable, has touched the garment of the Christ, and who was so completely down to earth, accessible and funny – all while delivering a message of love for everyone and the planet. I was moved beyond any words this little chatter box could seem to find. So, I did what was easiest for me: I cried. And I cried. And when I was done, I cried a little more for good measure. Never had I felt this kind of all-consuming love. Something in my soul woke up. Those tears washed away years of feeling separated from God. I knew that I was HOME.
Most people who seek out Agape or happen upon it for one reason or another have a similar story: A feeling of finally being home. There is nothing like it. To feel the loving glances and blessings of the culturally and ethnically diverse congregation saying in unison “Welcome to Agape” and to see the sincerity in their eyes and feel the hugs at the end of the service, one may think this is just a touchy-feely new age-y kind of kind of band of religious rebels or misfits. I promise you, it is SO much more!
Rev Michael likes to say, “We don’t come to Agape to feel good. We come here to be free.” Well, freedom sometimes has some high costs.
I dove into this new world with bright eyes and open heart, attending services every Sunday and telling everyone I knew how wonderful a place it was. Several friends were intrigued and came along a couple of times but most, for various reasons, didn’t resonate with the energy there and stopped going. That didn’t matter to me. I was pulled –out of my comfort zone which did not permit me to go into any gathering where I knew no one – into a place and a teaching of such unconditional love that one could not help but be comfortable.
While I went deeper into remembering who I am and reconnecting with Spirit, this new-found freedom started to exact its cost in my life. Friends I’d had for decades started distancing themselves from me, finding we had less in common and less to talk about, and saying I was too “this” or too “that” for them. Financial challenges started showing up with increasing regularity. Ultimately, health challenges followed closely behind, all rocking me to my core and inviting me to stand in the Spiritual Principles I’d learned, the most profound being “all needs met.”
Three little words: All Needs Met. I took that literally as I sat like a Buddha every morning on my sofa, meditating, assuming God would provide for all my needs, while I sat in stillness. Later, of course, I realized that it’s not enough to remain “STILL”. We must move one foot in front of the other, as the ground rises up to meet our feet. Each step in the right direction shows us more and more of who we really are and what we came to be. Support shows up. Abundance shows up. LOVE shows up.
I was taught that what no longer served me would fall away – and it definitely did (and still does!) - but at what felt like the lowest point in my outer life, my spiritual life was blossoming. I was the little flower blooming through the cracks in the hard pavement. Somehow I knew it would all turn out ok.
And it has! Yes, friends and I have parted company along the way and while there is still more than enough space in my heart for them, I also know that our vibrations no longer match and that those old conversations just don’t interest me any longer. For each one that fell away, 3, 4 – 5 more have filled in that space. And, miraculously, some friends from my past have resurfaced with their own awakened journeys! Our conversations go higher and deeper than I’d ever imagined possible. The “aha” moments come faster and faster and I feel my awareness expand on such incredible levels; I am not sure WHAT I was doing with my life up til that first day 2 years ago!
In these past couple of years I have seen myself transform into someone I could never imagine in my wildest dreams!
One of my first realizations of this was while sitting in a sound bath in Eagle Rock on the Summer Solstice. At the end of the sound bath, we were invited to participate in a “Sea of Oms”; 7 deep breaths, exhaling “Om” with each one at our own pace. 50 or so of us together, creating this “sea” of sound – the sound of God ("OM" is the name of God, the vibration of the Supreme in Hinduism.) With eyes closed, I felt compelled to open one eye and take a peek at who was swimming with me in this sea. In that moment, something forever shifted in me. If I could have only seen myself! I was now officially a tree-hugging, veg-head, om-ing being! Let them laugh! I am the Happy Buddha! I shall laugh right along with them!
I’ve heard it said (and I believe) that everyone will eventually wake up. For some, like me, it may happen gradually after a long period of seeming separation. For others, it may be a sudden awakening at the time of their transition out of this physical form. For others, perhaps it occurs somewhere in between. But EVERYONE will wake up.
In the early morning light of my spiritual awakening, as I look in the mirror of my transformation, I see someone familiar; someone that I love being in this very moment! I wipe the sleep from my eyes and I give thanks for the incredible journey ahead; and for all that brought me to this NOW moment.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Morning Symphony

The leaves dance –

Moved by the music of the morning breeze

Soon the cars on the highway join in the chorus: Whoosh!
Whoosh! With the occasional SPLASH!

Wind chimes waltz as raindrops, moved by the wind,

write a new melody; they too join in

A tiny bird chirps, hopping from branch to branch

Softly purring her own solo, a cat curls in my lap

In this magnificent stillness,

Drops of love surround me,

Falling down like rain

This is God’s Concert Hall

Forever free and available to one and all.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Feel Good Tip of the Day!

I just had the most amazing experience!  One that I highly recommend trying, in one form or another.

I was at breakfast, when I overheard the patrons at the 2 tables directly in front of me talking about their birthdays; she was 93 and he was 14 - today.  I basked in the whole "circle of life" moment and immediately knew I wanted to do something I'd never done before: pay for their breakfasts.

I checked my bank account online on my iPhone - just to make sure - and in the time it took to do so, the little 93 year old lady had waddled out the door (that's G3 technology for you!)  But the 14 year old was still there with his mom and older brother, waiting for their food. 

Just then the mom's cell phone rang - it was the father.  I got the impression they were divorced by body language and facial expressions.  She handed the phone to the birthday boy.  Dad gave him the excellent news about some gift he was arranging for him. You could see the  disapproval all over the mom's face. I decided mom could definitely use a gift of her own and I scrambled to the register to pay their tab and mine.

The already-friendly cashier smiled a little wider when I asked to pay their bill and we quickly completed the transactions so I could scoot out the door, annonymously.  Mission Accomplished!

By the time I got to my car, tears were streaming down my face, and my heart felt open and wide and, honestly, about to explode! I had no idea doing something like that could bring such an overflow of joy to ME!

In my spiritual beliefs I do believe that the giver gets far more than the recipient and I do give.  This was just the first time I'd ever done this "stealth-pay" thing.  My only wish would be to see mom's expression when the waitress told her the bill had been paid!

This is a gift that will keep on giving to me.  Maybe that mom will remember this - and remind her son of it in the future and be able to tap into that feeling,  maybe not.  Maybe it will inspire them to do something kind for strangers in their lives too.

As for me, I get to feel my heart space break open wide every time I think of those moments...and as I plot new ways in which I can be a stealth-giver.  What a pick-me-up to start my weekend!

Peace, Blessings & Abundant Joy~

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Take a Penny, Leave a Penney

I was recently “gifted” with our Spiritual Center’s Women’s Retreat by a dear friend. It was an amazing experience for my mind, body & soul while “awake” and “asleep.”

On rising after the first night’s sleep, I told my 10 other cabin mates,” There was a lot of activity in here last night”  - and I wasn’t talking about the squeaking beds or the snoring or trips up and down the ladders of the top bunks for “restoring one’s personal comfort” (ie: peeing!) No, I was referring to the seeming endless stream of “visitors” that I felt moving through the cabin. This was even stranger for me because I don’t refer to nighttime events like this. I call them DREAMS!  But these felt different from dreams. 
One event in particular really grabbed my attention and hasn’t let go since.  It involved Penny.
I was sleeping on the lone bed without a bunk above it, pushed up lengthwise under a window.  All of the bunks were lined up along the other side of the room, with a big open space separating us.
I felt a hand pressing against the middle of my back, pushing me, gently at first, then with more force, toward the center of the room – and coincidentally, OFF the bed! At the same time I heard a whisper, then louder:   ((Penny)) ….Penny….PENNY!
With the last “PENNY” came a hard, forceful shove by the hand in my back and in my mind I screamed, “WHO’S PENNY?” Just as I caught myself falling to the floor!  I put my hand out to catch myself and looked around.  9 peaceful dreamers and one snorer…all in their beds, unaware.

The next day one of my cabin mates tracked down another retreat attendee named Penny and pointed her out to me.  I felt very strongly that somewhere, there was someone named Penny with a message for me.  I approached her, introduced myself and, since she already had heard the story, asked her rather bluntly, “What do you have to tell me?”  Obviously caught off guard (and maybe a little freaked out!) she had nothing.  That was OK….the right “penny” would turn up, of this I was certain.
Flash forward 2 weeks and I am sitting with the group of retreat women during Sunday service.  During the usual weekly announcements there is a “coming attraction” of who is being interviewed during Rev. Michael’s weekly radio program, The Sound Of Transformation.  “This week’s guest is Penney Peirce.” I looked to my cabin mates sitting on my right and could barely hold back my excitement!!! Was THIS my “PENNY”?  And yet, I wouldn’t know until Friday! Still, the synchronicities leading to this moment were many, far too many to share here. So…I waited…knowing something amazing was waiting for me at the end of the week!
On the day I was to listen to the replay (not being available for the original airplay time), 2 dear friends of mine who had just met each other were both in my home.  The one I’ve known the shorter time asked something of me and I gave her a sarcastic (but I thought FUNNY) answer.  She looked to the friend of 15+ years and asked if I was this mean to her when she first met me.  (MEAN? ME???)  The longtime friend confirmed how I used to endlessly tease her about things she didn’t know.  She sweetly laughed it off back then, as does this friend now.  Hmmm…Was I really that horrible to the people I love? It certainly wasn’t intended that way.
[I know this is long but, seriously, the revelations I have discovered are worth every word, and then some! It's my story and I've got to tell it!]
The newer friend went on about her day, leaving the longtime friend and I to listen to the archived radio program.

Much of it was very similar to the sermon we’d just heard in church that morning, at least for me.  This Penney did say something profound for me that wasn’t discussed in church.  She is an intuitive teacher who teaches us how to work with our own personal “home” vibration and is the author of “Frequency The Power of Personal Vibration.”  She mentioned how important it is to speak kindly to one another, specifically avoiding…..wait for it……SARCASM!!!
Initially I brushed it off. OH! I knew that was what I was waiting for but still, I tried to look the other way. I realized how much hurt I have caused over my incarnation, being sarcastic to, not only my friends, but to ME!  Each self-deprecating comment to myself, and each belittlement to others is a tiny little barb that, even in its seeming-innocent humorous way, has the power to chip away at someone, if that someone gives it the power.
This NOW moment also took me back to a classmate I had at the beginning of study at UTSLA.  For some reason I was DRAWN to be overly sarcastic with each and every comment I exchanged with this beautiful soul. Mostly, the comments were directed at me.  At one point she looked me square in the eye and with ultimate knowing said:
“I know why I am in your life right now. It’s to show you how to love yourself.”
From then on, she called me on my sarcasm and how I used it to avoid accepting compliments or to make fun of myself before someone else did and eventually it invited me to take a look at how I was talking to myself.  It wasn’t with love. It was tiny barbs of judgment and ridicule delivered in a pretty sheath of humor that made people notice me.  I was looking outside of myself for the love and attention I wasn’t able to give myself!  Deep? Yes!  Huge? ABSOLUTELY!!!
With work, gentleness and patience I gave up being sarcastic with myself and started working on loving me like I love my friends.  But, apparently, I still have a way to go on that area too!  Being aware is the first step in the journey, right?
As I shared this story with another friend the other day, I was able to do that whole “Take a penny/leave a penny” thing some stores do at their checkout counters.  As I told the story, she lit up, having her OWN sarcasm story with an old friend that happened just the day before.  For the first time in their friendship, she, too, was called out on her sarcastic ways of communicating! Take a penny/leave a penny! 
As I move forward on this journey, I am aware of the power of words and, especially now, how important it is to speak with love and compassion with each other; to truly see the God in each person; friend, stranger, and ME.
I am so grateful to all the “Penny’s” in my life that have been dropped along The Journey To Be(th)


Friday, August 5, 2011

Spiritual Time Out

I am having one of those moments.  One of those times when you need to whine and complain and worry over a situation that, when it clears, will have you saying, “Now WHY did I get so worked up over that again?”
Instead of denying my emotions or the existence of this experience, I am doing what one of my teachers has suggested: Giving myself a sort of Spiritual Time Out.  5 minutes to feel all the crappy feelings I am feeling.  Experience all my “problems” and possible outcomes associated with them. I am timing it!
Then, when minute 6 rolls around, I am going to stop.  I am going to stop telling God about my little problems and am going to tell my little problems about my BIG GOD, and BOY! They had better watch out!
In minute 6 I am going to return to my Truth. The only truth there is: God is all there is.  All my needs are met - ALWAYS. Everything is working together for my good. I live, move and have my being in God.
Even in minute ONE, I know this truth.  I know it because it is part of the fabric of my BEing.  It’s just that, sometimes, this human experience causes me to temporarily forget who and Whose I am; that I am a Spiritual being having a human experience.
So, got anything you want to whine about with me?  The clock starts NOW!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Buffet Line of Spiritual Transformation

The other morning I had a dream, which on its surface, seemed somewhat silly.  I always write my dreams down and, when they seem confusing, often times they become crystal clear when written on paper. 

This is one of those dreams...

I was at my spiritual community, Agape, after service.  This Agape didn't look like the physical one in my "real" world ("real" being used loosely here!)  It had a practice of serving a huge buffet meal after service.  It also had practitioners available for prayer after the service, as it does now.  The practitioners gathered outside in the warm sun on wide concrete steps. I was a new practitioner and I made my way to the steps.

Shortly, a women with long blond hair and a "first timers" purple ribbon approached me for prayer.  She began to tell me of a "galactic" challenge she was experiencing. I immediately knew this was beyond my scope of experience and began looking around for a more "seasoned" practitioner for her. 

I saw Rev. Michael approaching and thought I would introduce them and surely he might help or find someone who could.  Of course he was gracious and ready to speak with her once I explained the situation. He looked about briefly, explaining it had been a long day for him - and about to get longer - and said he could really use a cup of coffee.  He handed me his empty cup and I sprang into action and headed to the buffet to get it for him.

Once at the buffet I saw an old friend; one who has drifted out of my life in the past few years.  She was juggling a stack of books in her arms while trying to fill a plate w/food. 

I ran over to her, shocked to see her there! "What are YOU doing here?" (semi-judgmentally) "I've BEEN here for the past year or so. I work with the youth groups." "Funny, I've never seen you." "It's a big place."

We continued to chat as I accompanied her through the line, briefly forgetting my mission to get the coffee.  At one point I pulled a piece of meat from the fried chicken breast on her plate.

Eventually we parted ways as the sun was setting. OOPS! Coffee!!! I ran back to the coffee urns only to find them empty. I instantly felt guilty for not taking care of this simple task sooner and wondered if I could sneak past where I'd left Rev. Michael and to my car to race to Starbucks to get the coffee.

Another part of me thought, "He's probably finished talking with the woman and already home!" - I wished that was the case and that he would forget who I was and what I had promised to do.

I snuck down between the cars directly across from the stairs where I'd left him.  As I stood to get in my car, he saw me.  Our eyes locked. I immediately felt a wave of shame and disappointment wash over me. Then I woke up.

As I said earlier, at first this dream made little sense.  As I wrote it down, a perfect picture of my life began to unfold.

I learned a while back that, when one dreams of a spiritual mentor or leader with whom they connect, it is really that person's Higher Self. Hence, Rev. Michael is me. Easy enough to grasp.

I am me. No brainer

The blond, first-timer - also me.

The coffee - simply a symbol for WAKING UP! (To my knowledge, the Rev doesn't even drink the stuff!)

The coffee cup - my thirst for knowledge; to fill up on it

The buffet line - Ah! This is the BEST part of the dream: The path to spiritual transformation!

The friend in line - Well, she was one specific friend from my past, but in Truth, she is many.  And my shock at seeing her in line or, on a spiritual path? Well, that was my judgement of everyone that I have judged in my mind that do not believe how I believe or live how I live. (HUGE!!!)

So, to string the symbols together, I saw that I came to ask myself a question of "galactic" proportions, only to believe I did not have the answer.  I looked to my Higher Self instead (which, since all is ONE, is God- in/as and through me.)

My wish to WAKE UP to my Truth was represented by an obvious cup of coffee, which, for a time, I conveniently forgot about.  Instead, I ran into someone who, despite my personal judgement, was also on the Spiritual Path.  She was just on a different part of the path! (or, as my friend with whom I dissected this dream put it: "I was in line for the rice and she was over in the meat section!)

When I grabbed a bite of the chicken, it was me, momentarily forgetting who (and whose I am) - I gave up meat a while ago.

REmembering the coffee as the sun set was me, now, during these past couple of years and later in my life, waking up - and feeling shame, guilt & disappointment for waiting so long.

And finally, creeping away to get the coffee, and meeting my Higher Self in the form of Rev. Michael, in his familiar "locking eyes" way, feeling the guilt and shame rush over me.

This dream really has helped heal a part within me that judges myself too harshly and even more importantly, has seen others as separate from me.  My thought til now has always been along the lines of "Why doesn't he/she get it?"

In fact, we ALL get it.  There's no way to NOT get it.  We just get it at different times and places along the path.  And, like it or not, believe it or not, we are ALL on the path!  The buffet line is long and full of the most delicious morsels we could ever imagine, manifest - or dream!  Grab a plate and let's eat!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To All the Men I've Loved

Along the road of spiritual transformation, there is much to learn.  One of the foundations is that all love begins with self-love.  When I hear again, with new ears, scriptures like "Love thy neighbor as thyself" I am invited to ask myself, "Just HOW much DO I love myself?"  If my love for my "neighbor" is the reflection, well, let's just say there is much work to be done here!

I know I am holding onto some stuff that no longer serves me, namely extra weight.  It has done an excellent job of keeping me protected while I journey on, making sure I don't stretch myself too far.  Keeping me out of the cute clothes in my closet that make me feel beautiful when I wear them.  Keeping me from enjoying activities that would bring new men into my life - and maybe a loving relationship! It has provided the perfect set of excuses for taking up residence as well: menopause + dissolution of my business partnership & associated stress + spiritual awakening = all combined, it made perfect sense to me. 

Yes, this was self-love in one form.  It allowed me the time and space for some much-needed reconnection with Spirit and I am eternally grateful for its service.  Now it is time to release it.

So I roll up my spiritual sleeves and get to work.  Along the way, Spirit has REconnected me with some pretty (& I say "pretty" because they are - inside and out) amazing teachers.  Each one of them has added a piece of my puzzle and once I was able to arrange the pieces in the right order, a perfect picture appeared.

I started by using my financial practitioner, J.'s, tool for examining resistance by simply asking "Where is the resistance?" in meditation.  Now, this got me into a bit of a health pickle last time I asked this question so I am careful now to ask for some "ease and grace" to accompany the answer!

H.  Oh! H!  High school bestie who shares the love of breaking down words with me: MIS-take, RE-member, DE-serve.  That last one's a doozy!  We use it so often as meaning something to which we feel we are entitled.  In reality, it is saying the same as UN-served.  We agree the better choice is DESIRE and to this day, I still sometimes catch me DEserving myself!

Then there's A.  We met once in this lifetime about a year ago & have stayed in touch through Facebook, sharing similar journeys in life, learning and growing from one another. She added the piece of the puzzle called "worthiness" and invited me to explore it from a new vantage point: past relationships.  This is where the work is for me now.

It's amazing to me how, no matter how much forgiveness, releasing and other work one does in a particular area of her life, there always seems to be more to bubble up, the deeper the practice goes.  This is most true for me in the area of relationship.  A. invited me to forgive the men from my past.  Forgive myself for my part in those relationships.  I checked her invitations off one by one, certain I'd done that step already. 

Then I meditated.

I was immediately taken back to 2 important relationships in my life.  Both in which I fell long and hard for the guy. And, both in which I have done extensive forgiveness work.

First was my First.  Literally.  First love. Childhood sweetheart for years but life and families didn't quite provide the needed guidance for us to know what to do in that space and time.  In the end, he married someone else and my heart cracked open in agony.  I didn't DESERVE to be treated this way! WHY wasn't I good enough to marry?  Why didn't he pick ME?  I spent YEARS thinking that someday we might actually end up together, sabotaging some possibly great relationships with that thinking, holding onto that thread of hope.

Then, there was a more recent one, several years back now. He was BEAUTIFUL in every way!  Smart, successful, drove a nice car, LISTENED to me! Funny!  Check, check and CHECK! Everything this girl could want in a guy.  And, he seemed to like me too!  I was so LUCKY!

I did everything possible to twist myself into what I thought he wanted me to be because I never felt like I completely deserved someone so perfect.  Oh, I guess he had flaws, (but not like MINE!) and I chose to see them as cute personality quirks instead.  Don't we all?

We had an incredible 10 mos. together by the time my birthday rolled around.  After a romantic dinner by the sea he presented my with a diamond necklace - a beautiful 3-stoned "journey" pendant (as in past, present, future).  For the first time in those 10 months, I relaxed into "He REALLY likes me!"

2 weeks later he dumped me, saying he loved me but wasn't in love with me. WTH?  I was crushed like I'd never been before.  Something in me told me, "Yep, you're not good enough for a guy like that.  Told ya! You don't DESERVE him."

Several weeks later we decided to become friends with benefits (his idea, not mine - but I did agree), or as I now call it, "A complete absence of self-love and self-worth on my part." We did everything but have a lawyer write up the agreement for us.  EVERYTHING was stipulated, from notifying each other if we were going out on a date to how we would indicate we wanted to see the other person.  As I write this I am appalled at how little I loved myself during those days!

That relationship went on for 2-1/2 more years, with him "breaking" the agreement twice with the same woman.  First time was financially disastrous for me -I read intimate text msgs between them on his borrowed phone while driving and crashed my car. Each time I forgave the indiscretion.

It wasn't until over a year after his last transgression, over dinner, when I told him I had googled this woman - back at the time of these events - that he completely went off the rails, screaming at me, promising to have her prosecute me (?!) if I ever tried to contact her, and thereby ending our "Agreement" once and for all, forever.

I tell this story, not to make him the bad guy. Not at all.  All along he maintained his lack of "being" in love with me. Trust me, I did check occasionally.  Didn't change my behavior, but I DID check! My lack of self-worth and self-love kept me sticking around with thoughts like "How will I ever find someone this perfect for me again?" and on a deeper level, "He doesn't love you because you're not good enough for him.  Maybe if you were thinner, more financially secure, more ______whatever, he would love you.  You don't DESERVE him."

After these two relationships replayed themselves at warp speed during my meditation, I saw them from a completely new perspective.  I didn't DESERVE them.

That's right. I didn't, then or now or ever, deserve to be in a relationship with, or holding a torch for, someone who doesn't share the same level of commitment and DESIRE as I do.

All of this deep soul searching, and digging up of memories, has allowed me to identify my resistance to my own self love & worthiness, which will allow me to release the "stuff" that no longer serves me, and to begin to love ME in the right ways. It's an ongoing process, but I have the tools to do the work. Only then can I begin to love my "neighbor" as myself, in the way God intended; healthy, whole and full-out!

So, to ALL the men I've loved before, I lovingly say:

You never knew how lucky you were to have someone like me love you.  As for me, I didn't deserve you.

PB&J til next time,