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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Begin Anew


I think it’s important to set goals. Yes, it’s wise to live in the present without over-attending the future, but without having some vision for the time ahead, we lack direction. I can go for a drive without having a specific destination in mind—and I like that spontaneity—but before I arrive at the next traffic light, I do need to decide if I will want to turn right or left so that I can maneuver my vehicle into the correct lane. So too in life. If I don’t give some amount forethought to the direction I’d like to head, I aimlessly wander.

Many feel December an appropriate time to take stock, set a plan, and make vows for the coming year. I don’t necessarily believe in making New Year’s resolutions, in setting goals just because a page will turn on the calendar. I believe every new day, new moment actually, offers me the opportunity to set a fresh intention. Why wait until late December to start thinking about what alterations I might want to make in my life? I needn’t wait for an end in order to embark upon a new beginning. Having said that, I must tell you what came to me recently during a deep meditation.

It happened on December 21st, the evening of the winter solstice marking the end of autumn, which coincided with the end of a Mayan cycle, and the rare astronomical alignment of planets. I was prompted to set a specific intention for myself for the coming year. I hesitate to call it a New Year’s resolution, but the timing of it might make it such.

I was prompted toward a decision that 2013 will be my year to step into myself. It will be my year to fulfill my greatest potential. It will be my year of service to the world through my unique gifts and talents. It will be my year of living my life on purpose. It will be my year for coming out of the ebb and stepping into the universe’s abundant flow. It will be my year of releasing patterned thoughts of unworthiness and turning away from behaviors that no longer serve my highest good. This is my sacred intention.

In my meditation, I was also prompted to plant a seed into the future. I planted the seed of “Expansion”—not only for me, but also for you and for generations to come. May we all expand in our awareness of the good in which we are immersed, despite appearances to the contrary. May we expand in our capacity to love ourselves as the precious creations we are, even in the midst of human frailty. May we expand in our appreciation for all that we have, even when we desire more. May we expand beyond tolerance into acceptance of those we see as different from ourselves in looks, beliefs, or lifestyles. May we expand the peace of our planet. This is my solemn prayer.

My meditation did not provide me a vision of exactly what all this looks like—as I mentioned above, I like spontaneity—but I do have an idea which way I’d like to turn at the next intersection. Because I do not believe in New Year’s resolutions, I am not waiting until January 1st to take the first steps toward all this. I resolve to begin anew immediately. How about you?

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Promise Me


Today I’ve been contemplating the commitments we make to other people. We commit to our bosses that we will arrive on time in the office at nine o’clock in the morning. We commit to our children that we will take them to the amusement park on Saturday. We commit to our spouses to be faithful in our union. “I promise you,” we say. These agreements are important to our daily life and relationships. My concern in this post, however, is with the commitments we make (or break) to ourselves.

Maybe our health is not optimal, so we commit to eat better and exercise more. But on day five, we find ourselves sitting in the fast food drive-thru line because it’s more convenient. Maybe we feel the need to deepen our relationship with the Divine, so we commit to a nightly meditation practice. But one night the following week we make plans with friends and the next there’s a favorite show on TV, and we allow these to interfere. Maybe we commit to finishing that novel we started reading last month. But then household chores suddenly seem to take precedence and the book collects dust on the nightstand.       

A commitment is a pledge to follow-through with a particular action. It’s important to honor others by keeping the promises we make to them. We stand in integrity when we do so. Breaking our promises to others severs trust and damages relationships. It is equally, if not more, important that we honor the commitments we make to ourselves. When we don't, we abandon the self, which can lead to feelings of failure and self-loathing. Opting for temporary convenience over long-term accomplishment is self-defeating. Putting the needs and desires of others before our own may seem heroic, but once habituated, becomes draining.

You are important enough to make yourself your own priority. You are worth setting a goal for yourself and letting nothing stand in your way of accomplishing it. You deserve to make a date with yourself and keep it. You are valuable, so commit to being your own best friend. Practice saying, “I promise me . . .,” and don’t break it. You’re too precious not to.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let Go and Swim


She hung from his back like an old knapsack whose straps could no longer tighten. Her arms poised limp at the elbows, her fingers leaving imprints between his shoulders and neck, her legs wrapped round his waist at the water line. She declared to him, loud enough for me to hear though I was lounging on a chaise several feet away, "You're my Batman," sounding confident in his ability to protect her from untold dangers. There was a slight pause in speech before his reply. 

"And you're my Robin," he assured her in a lower tone, sounding somewhat resigned to their partnership. He continued to walk short laps across the shallow end of the community swimming pool, continued to grip lightly her bony ankles that clung to his hips.

I brought my attention back to the memoir I was reading and doubted the couple had noticed my interest in their interaction.

I often find myself captivated by real-life vignettes such as this one. I ever look for the lessons behind my observations. This day, I paused to ask myself many questions:

Am I like the Batman in the pool, lugging a weight I’ve become used to but am no longer enthusiastic about? Am I continuing to hold on to someone or something because that’s what’s expected? Am I trudging back and forth the same path without any forward momentum? Am I the Robin who’s trusting that I’ll be carried? Am I a burden unaware? Am I willing to let go and swim?

Are you?

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Useful Reminders


I share with you here the reminders that I right now am shouting to myself in the mirror.
Sometimes, that volume is necessary in order to drown out my ego’s fearful chatter.

I deserve the best!

I did not incarnate to struggle, stress, and strain.

Joy is my birthright!

I am here to learn how to Love.

Pain is not a requirement of the learning process.

I am divinely perfect, not humanly.

My job is to present the highest expression of myself that I am capable of.

My action steps are my responsibility, but only after consulting with God.

If it’s desirable, it’s achievable.

There are no impossibilities when I think outside the proverbial box.

I do not have to figure out all the answers.

No, I am not alone.

I am worthy!

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On Timing


I was never a procrastinator. Until recently, that is. Lateness was so rare for me. Now, I find myself edging closer to deadlines than ever before.

I used to be the guest who arrived ten minutes prior to the time noted on the invitation, the student who handed in assignments the day before they were due, and the friend whose Hallmark greeting card showed up in the mailbox a week before the special day. That is no longer the case.

I still keep a daily ‘To Do’ list, still have a weekly ‘Papers to Tend’ pile, and I still keep important dates marked on a calendar. The difference is that I’ve bumped the daily to weekly, relegated the weekly to monthly, and the Hallmark greetings have become one-line emails sent on the day of the special event.

What happened? I wonder. Could it be that in middle age I have rearranged my priorities? Maybe I’m following the examples of others who seem to be able to get it all done, even if at the last minute. Perhaps I’ve gotten lazy. Am I starting tasks later than usual or just taking longer to complete them? I seem to get distracted easily these days.

Regardless of the reason, for now, this is me. And I don’t like it. I’m no longer early. But I’m not late either. “Just in the nicka” is my life’s new motif. It all gets done, but it’s uncomfortable. My timing seems off.

I observe the cyclicality of the natural world—spring following winter, moon waxing and waning, trees barren then blooming. Outdoor delights dance to the rhythm of Mother Nature’s heartbeat. Within my body, it’s the same—waking follows sleep, cells exfoliate and rejuvenate, open wounds close. When I view everyday occurrences in hindsight, there, too, I see harmony. My fretting about deadlines adds nothing but strife to the experience. It will be done when it is done, regardless.

For as long as we inhabit physical bodies on this earthly plane, there will be some necessity for watching clocks and tending to the linear construct of time. But this cannot be to the exclusion of recognizing the process of Divine Timing, the ordering of events in synchronistic conformity. For now, perhaps my lesson is in learning how to trust that.

I must take action, yes, but I also must release my attempt to control outcomes. In the bigger picture, the more important broader scheme, I am exactly where I need to be in any given moment whether the ‘To Do’ list is checked or not. My timing cannot be but perfect.

Be enlightened!  ~ M


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Affirmations


I believe in the effects of affirmations. I use them often. My focus and attitude shift dramatically when I affirm a truth higher than earthly appearance.

I get honest with myself about my intentions behind the affirmations before declaring them, knowing that they are powerful tools.

I most often begin with an “I am” statement, never an I need or an I want, which would indicate lack. Other positive openings I use are “I know,” “I have,” and “I love.”

I target my desired outcome, never what I would not choose to experience. I affirm in present tense as if it is already done because it is already done in the field of potentiality, I am only waiting for its earthly manifestation, or for my awareness of such.

I affirm the truth even when I am unable to believe it for the moment, especially then. Affirmations help to brighten the hue of my aura and increase the speed of my inner vibration, thereby heightening the frequency of my emanative energy. This makes me a magnet for positive experiences. Then, I come to believe.

I maintain simplicity in my affirmations so that they are clear and easy to remember.

Below are some of my favorites.

When I am feeling unworthy, I affirm my spiritual nature:
I am the essence of magnificence.
I am the embodiment of all that is awesome.
I am, and am worthy of, only good.

When I am feeling ill, I affirm the state my body was meant to be in:
I am healed, whole, and healthy.
I know my cells and organs are operating perfectly right now.
I know that optimum health is my birthright.

When I am feeling lonely or irritable, I affirm the truth I am overlooking:
I am loved, lovable, and loving.
I have me and I have God, forever.
I am surrounded by Light.

When I am feeling lack, I affirm abundance:
For today, I have enough.
I have all I need in this moment.
I have more money than I could ever spend.

When I am working toward a specific goal, I affirm that it has already come to pass:
I am so happy and grateful now that . . . .
Thank you, God, for . . . .
I have . . . and I can see it!

When I am feeling self-conscious, I affirm my ideal:
I am healthy, thin, and attractive.
I love and appreciate my beautiful body.
I am perfect the way I am.

When I am feeling frazzled, I affirm my peace:
I am peaceful and serene.
I am calm and confident.
I know that a divine plan is unfolding here.

When I am feeling afraid, I affirm my safety:
I am safe and secure.
I am protected.
I am held in the arms of God.

Why not make it a practice to recite affirmations daily. Chant them, write them, speak them aloud, whisper them in your head, meditate on them. Hey, why not share them? Jot down some of your favorites in the Comments section below.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Close Your Eyes


Some of life’s most profound lessons have come to me not in shouts, but in whispers.

One starry evening, I sat cross-legged on damp earth in a Native American drum circle. The glow of the center fire illumined the toothless mouth of the woman perched on a foldable lawn chair to my right. She was leaning down toward me, lips flapping, announcing something, but with the crackling and snapping of pine logs, I could not hear her, even though all instruments were at a lull for the moment. I craned my ear up toward the elder and she began again, this time close in my ear.

“Close your eyes.” I did.

“What do you see?” she asked. I opened them and was about to tell her, but she interrupted gently.

“Look again.” I relaxed back down, no longer close to her face, and again I closed my eyes.

“What you see with your eyes shut is what counts,” she whispered more audibly this time. I smiled as I sat for several moments watching behind my lids what counted.

The woman told me afterward that was a lesson from Lame Deer, a Sioux medicine man. I have not forgotten it. I still hear her whispering in my ear, “What you see with your eyes shut is what counts.” Try it. Close your eyes, and . . .

. . . Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nap


I turned the deadbolt and slid the chain into its groove. With the world locked out, I allowed a heavy sigh to rise from chest to mouth and I released it audibly. With a forward flick of my left ankle, the first rubber flip-flop was free. Then, the right. I dropped my shoulder bag to the floor and stepped over it, now barefoot. I reached behind my torso and unclasped the binding band of my bra. I approached the oversized, overstuffed white-on-white damask upholstered chair. I crawled into its lap as if it were a tender mother. There I napped for close to two hours, my left facial cheek nestled into the doughy chest of the back cushion. I awoke with the slight sting of salt in my eyes, traces of tears that swelled even while I slept. I was calm now, refreshed.

That day had been a difficult one, and it wasn’t over yet. There were still lots to be done, chores to be attended, preparations to be made for tomorrow. Yet, that period of rest seemed essential. There was a time when I would have thought a nap a frivolous luxury. There was a time when having allowed myself those couple of hours of comfort would have elicited a round of self-flagellation. But midday napping, I have learned, is one effective way I can take care of myself, a way I can nurture my inner child, a way that does not place demands on another to soothe my heart when it aches.

Never underestimate the healing power of a nap. It’s a way to tell yourself, “I love you.”

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Balancing Act

Allow yourself nine minutes to be mesmerized.



It's about balance and breath.
It's about focus and intention.
It's a metaphor for life.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Daily Bread


I felt bored, though I had lots to do. I was cranky, and I wasn’t sure why. Something, I knew not what, was calling me into the world, I knew not where. I rose from my sofa, prepared myself, and headed out. I drove for an hour, maybe two in total, considering the roundtrip. I passed the highway entrance ramp, turned onto side streets instead, and discovered routes I hadn’t known before. I headed for no place in particular.

A balding and bespectacled man in a sandstone Sonata in the lane beside mine be-bopped at a red light. I scanned through the stations on my own stereo searching for what he was listening to. I wanted to feel his joy. I noticed an arrow-shaped sign on a utility pole advertising “Cheap Massages” at a school of natural health. I stopped in for one, but was unimpressed. I discovered a state park situated on the bank of a small river and turned in to sniff the pines. My drive to nowhere brought me, at last, to a chain bookstore. There, I spent several hours.

I perused the memoir section and envisioned a layout for my own. I overheard a senior woman on her cell phone making dinner plans. I observed a young mother teaching her children to respect one another. “Don’t grab the bag of chips from her like that. Ask her if you can have one, and I’m sure she will share,” she told her son. “If you need help carrying those books, just ask your big brother if he’ll take some,” to her little daughter. I wrote in the lined tablet I consistently carry with me. I contemplated what my next career move should be. I prayed for guidance. I kept dry from the sudden rainstorm. I almost hugged the vinyl record display. I felt hungry and headed for the in-house café.

The ham and Gouda looked appetizing, but I was concerned about the freshness of the bread that sandwiched them. “Our bread is delivered daily,” the vendor assured me. Hmmm, mine too, I realized. Give us this day our daily bread.

Daily bread. If I were given the whole loaf today, it would grow stale and moldy. It is best to receive my bread on an as-needed basis.

Daily bread. For today, I have enough. I know not what tomorrow will bring, where I will be led, what I will be given to do. I don’t need to know that today. I will know daily.

Daily bread. I was lonely when I left home this morning. I thought I wanted company. I thought I wanted to talk. God knew that, for today, I needed down time, free time, and solitariness. If I had needed another with me, or conversation, or scheduled activity, it would have been given me, but it was not. My daily bread, whatever that may be, is specially baked and provided for me every day, as it was today.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Make You Visible


Yesterday, I wept through the first half of a memoir. Not my own, though considering the emotional story behind the situation, it might well have been. Never has a single work scratched at so many of my own scabs simultaneously.

A common activity like reading can become a catharsis when I allow my heart to remain open to the experience. When I read with soulful eyes rather than earthly ones, boundaries disappear. I, as reader, become one with the writer—as if we could ever have been separate. The same is so for oration. When I listen intently, I hear what’s intended and I relate.

Another’s words can stir my memory, evoking scenes of the past I hadn’t realized I’d forgotten. Sometimes, smiles abound. At others, tears stream. When you share your story with me, I am no longer alone. In the knowing of you, I come to know me better.

Dare to make you visible. Share your story. Others are waiting to know you.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Grace Is . . .


I asked God this evening, “What is grace?”

With pen poised, I received this answer and jotted it down.

Grace is . . .

mercifulness.
favor unasked for.
the presence of Spirit.
the Divine’s embrace.
what some might call luck.
a signal that I am in the will of God.
a reminder that I am ever attended to.
bestowed as a gift; it cannot be earned.
often manifested through others as instruments.
available to all; there are no victims of circumstance.
given in sufficient doses daily; it cannot be stockpiled.
the cosmic hand that holds mine as I walk through darkness.
not to mean that I am without struggle, but that I have strength to endure.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back to Basics


For the past several months, I was blessed with the privilege of working as a teaching assistant with international students. The teens’ home countries range from India to Brazil, Canada to Poland. As this school semester closes, I reflect on what I have learned and taught during my most recent position. Education truly is a mutually beneficial exchange, and I take with me as much as I offered.

I witnessed that students’ dreams and goals are not confined to cultural boundaries—nor are their ideas for humorous antics, but that is fodder for a different post. The visions of American adolescents differ little from those of children from other parts of the world. And at the heart of all of them, I noticed in the classroom, are these basic longings:

-- Someone to greet us with a warm smile when we enter a room.
Notice me.
-- Someone to applaud enthusiastically our accomplishments.
Be proud of me.
-- Someone to encourage us to reach our personal potential.
Believe in me.
-- Someone to give us a second chance when we do something wrong.
Forgive me.
-- Someone to teach us a better way when we make a mistake.
Help me.
-- Someone to miss us when we are gone.
Enjoy me.

What it all boils down to: Love me.

When these basics were tended to, the students’ responses to academics were noticeably positive. Let us recognize that these longings are not confined to adolescence. They are not different from what we, in adulthood, respond positively to. May we return to these basics in our interactions with others. May we love.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Responsibility vs. Reactibility


The physical body can either respond or react to external stimuli—a new medication, for example. If it responds, a previously irritating condition is likely soothed. The course of treatment is desirable. Conversely, having a reaction indicates an adverse encounter; something is rebelling against another. To react is a response of opposition; it is unfavorable.

The emotional body experiences similar phenomena. When we encounter the behavior of another, either we respond or we react. To respond is a result of careful consideration and focused intention. To respond is to act in a controlled and favorable manner. To react, on the other hand, is to be in opposition, like a rebellious child. This mode of being will likely exacerbate agitation and yield unfavorable results.

When I find myself responding to life’s situations, I know I am taking healthy responsibility for my adult self. When I find myself reacting, it is a signal that I need to change course because to be in a state of reactibility is an undesirable mode of being.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Time for Change


We tend to behave habitually. That is often the best way, if it yields results we desire. But if I am taking the same actions while expecting different results, it is time for change.

How often do we expect a new outcome, and then resent the coming of the old, in response to a repeated action? Unless and until we step out of our comfort zones and act on what feels unfamiliar, we will remain caught in a groove that is not so groovy.

It is in willingly walking a different pathway and courageously confronting our fear of the unknown that we open ourselves to the discovery of new ways of being in the world. We can begin by practicing subtle variations in our mundane activities. The change can be as simple as washing our feet before our hair while in the shower, or taking side streets rather than the expressway on our drive home from work. Venturing out in these small ways will make it easier to approach the more challenging changes in life—like in our relationships with others.

Human interaction is one area of life whose time for change is overdue for many of us. If running away from intimacy in the past has brought pain, loneliness, isolation, and regret, then we will be mired in more of the same if we run again. If I desire connection and more love in my life, then when love presents itself, I must resist the temptation to push it away. I must challenge myself to accept it, embrace it, revel in it. I must act as a channel rather than a dam.

Isolation is a familiar routine for many of us, but it blocks love’s flow. This is not the place I long anymore to dwell. For me, it is time for change. Therefore, I must intentionally immerse myself in groups. Is it comfortable to be with five or six rather than one or two? No, not for me. But some days are easier than most, and I am confident that someday it will become quite natural for me to be unguarded in a crowd, to float freely in love’s stream.

Consider joining me in trying something different and unfamiliar. Consider making this a time for change. Our benevolent Universe will set in motion all the support we need.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ask and Receive


I, looking for a space, perused the crowded lot.
He, sitting on the curb, held a tattered sign.
I wore slacks, pressed and clean.
He wore jeans, torn and greased.
I was running errands.
He was feeling hungry.
I had limited cash.
He had less than that.
I asked, “Would you like a burger?”
He answered, “Yes, I would.”
I inquired, “Fries with it?”
He replied, “I won’t eat them.”
I promised, “I’ll be right back.”
He requested, “I’d like sweet tea.” 
I headed to BK.
He waited for me.
I delivered to him.
He smiled at me.
I had slipped a buck in the bag before I returned.
He had slipped it in his pocket after I left.
I watched from my rearview mirror.
He ate while traffic moved forward.
I ran my errands, headed for home,
          and thought of him.
He asked directly for what he wanted, accepted nothing less,
          and was given something more.
I bought him lunch.
He taught me well.


Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Some Things Never Change

“But I don’t wanna sit in there with them!” I whined.

“We don’t have enough chairs for you to sit in here with us!” Mom would declare.

When I was an adolescent, I yearned to sit at the adult table for holiday dinners. As the eldest among the children, I felt a lack of placement. I hovered on the threshold between childhood and maturity. Surely, I was too beyond my years to partake in the juvenile antics of my younger sisters and foolish cousins as they carried on in the kitchen. Yet, I was still too precious for subjection to the crassness of parental discourse among grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the dining room. I did not belong in either world. Three decades later, I still feel like I do not quite fit in any particular setting.

“Well, she hit me first!” I attempted to defend my action.

“But you’re older; you should know better!” Dad would bellow.

I never could figure out where that invisible boundary between self-assertion and forgiveness was drawn. And I have learned that age has nothing to do with finding it. As a middle-aged woman I still sometimes want to lash out in retaliation for some wrong I feel was inflicted upon me, even though I know better.


It’s funny how some things never change. The miracle is that my reaction to those things can. I do not have to insist upon any particular placement within the Universe. It is enough to know I will be fed, no matter where I sit. I do not have to keep track of wrongs suffered. I can walk away knowing that the karmic law of sowing and reaping ever operates.

It’s funny how my flesh never seems to grow up, only older. Yet my spirit, ever wise, remains in steadfast perfection. That is something that will never change.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Monday, March 26, 2012

Me and My Humanity

One of life’s most challenging lessons for me to learn and accept is that embracing my humanity does not diminish my divinity. Exposing a weakness of character does not render me ineffective in the world. In fact, it proves me more relatable. Oftentimes, OK always, I strive to be and present the most perfect image of myself. And that image usually falls short of my desire. That damn ego gets in the way!

I tremble at the thought of letting certain people know the facets of the diamond called me that are less than shining. I cower, at times, behind a less-than-genuine version of me. I attempt to trick myself into thinking that others do not see past my façade of grace, of humor, of knowledge. Sometimes, when I speak, I hear the words coming from my head knowing all the while that my heart is not involved in the feeling of my message. For to feel might move me to tears or to an admission of powerlessness, rendering me vulnerable. Oh no, my humanity exposed!

 I am a proponent of connectedness. I know and believe that in order to forge true connections with others, we must invite our authentic selves to step forward and interact. Allow me to admit here that I am not always able to practice such.

 But I am setting an intention to change that! I am making it a priority to become better friends with my humanity. I am going to be more open, less guarded, more humble, less aloof. My humanness, with all of its weakness and imperfection, does not taint the divine being I am. I refuse any longer to think otherwise.

 Be enlightened! ~ M

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Change

What would you do with your last few coins? Take ten minutes to watch this video and see how small kindnesses can lead to huge transformations. The choices we make in our everyday lives profoundly affect those around us in ways we often never see. 


Be enlightened!  ~ M



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Speeding

I took the reverse curve of Rockaway Avenue on the proverbial two wheels. I knew Garden City was a heavily patrolled area, but it was 6:10 p.m., and I was supposed to arrive by 6:00. I was late for a blind date, which is unlike me because I am known for my punctuality. But on this particular evening, I was not going to make it on time to my appointment.

The rubber tread of my sporty white Buick Skyhawk squealed. My rump, by force of the turn, was held firm in the black velour bucket seat. Both hands, with freshly manicured mauve fingernails, gripped the leather-wrapped steering wheel. I was speeding. Headlights, I noticed in my rearview mirror, flashed repeatedly from the car behind me. Annoyed, I switched from the left to the right lane to give the tailgater room to pass. He didn’t, but instead moved with me into the right-hand lane.

Now out of the curve and approaching a traffic light and intersection, I released my heavy right foot from the gas pedal and coasted the slight decline in the road. The light turned red, I stopped, and the impatient man in the car behind me continued to flash his headlights. I inched my car as far to the right as I possibly could, sidling up to the curb. At the light, still red, I lowered my driver-side window with the push of a button on my door console.

With sarcastic exaggeration, I waved my left arm out the window in a gesture to permit the persistent driver in rear to pass me as the light changed. It did. He didn’t. Instead, he too sidled his car up to the curb, behind mine, and exited the vehicle. It was then I noticed the navy blue uniform he wore and the carbon-copy note pad he held.

“Is something wrong, officer?” I inquired when he approached my open window.

After requesting to see my driver’s license and vehicle registration, he answered, “Sixty five in a thirty?” His inflection at the end couched his statement more as a question than a certainty.

Naïve me, never before pulled over by a traffic cop, hadn’t recognized the unmarked patrol car monitoring the curve and didn’t know better to keep my mouth shut. “Who, me?” I mirrored his questioning-like phrase with one of my own.

Officer Slug (that really was his name) never did appear at the court hearing, but I still had to pay a hefty fine for a moving violation and spend an entire Saturday at traffic school watching videos of simulated car crashes and filling in the blanks of multiple choice questions about driving hazards.

That incident taught me more than a lesson on traffic safety and the dangers of violating speed limits. As I think back on that story now, I wonder how often I am still going too fast. And I am not referring to my heavy-footed driving habits. How many days do I whiz through? When we travel through life with speed, what’s closest to us becomes a blur,” I replied to a reader in a prior post. Does my good have a chance to catch up with me, or am I proceeding too quickly? Do I wave it on by while my focus remains on what’s ahead? Am I paying attention daily to what’s all around me in a single moment?

I must remember to slow down, be present in the Now. I also must remember that what I do affects others, like the careless drivers depicted in the crash films. And grace, that too, as I safely arrived at my intended destination.

By the way, I didn’t miss much as far as being late to meet my blind date. I never saw him again after that and don’t even remember his name.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gazing Naked

I caught a glimpse of myself, not meaning to, in the full-length mirror that hangs on the back of the bathroom door. I noticed, not wanting to, the slight pigeoning inward of my left foot. I deliberately set it forward.

I’m not sure why, but I allowed my eyes to linger longer upon my naked reflection. I gazed upward to the knees and the bulge that each one carries on its inner side. Higher still, my vision wandered to my dimpled thighs and then to the pouched belly that will never know a fruitful womb. I saw my breasts, limp and lacking.

Climbing upward still, my eyes caught sight of the sun-speckled chest flat and bony. Creases that did not exist there five years ago were now visible. I could not overlook the slight sag of the jowls and the freckle that stands out larger than the rest near the tip of my nose. I continued to pick out every visible flaw I could find and then fled the room. 

I slid back fiercely the doors of my bedroom closet. I intended to find something, anything, to cover the imperfections I despised. I chose ¾-length beige Chinos and a baggy blue blouse with a high collar. Of course, the bra was padded. I slipped into a pair of navy t-strap sandals, ones with raised heels to tauten my fleshy shins. Lifting my right foot to the seat of my green wooden rocker, I bent slightly to affix strung shells around my ankle. I thought that bejeweling myself might make a difference.

Back in the bathroom, this time avoiding the full-length looking glass and opting instead for a smaller oval above the sink, I carefully exaggerated the contour of my scanty lips with a creamy mauve pencil. I wore blond bangs to hide my silvering hairline. I wore a wide smile to cloak my shame. Before turning away, I was struck by the pain I saw behind my eyes anguished and aqua. A voice from within, almost audible, screamed, “Cancel! Cancel! Cancel!”

I know better, but sometimes I revert to habits I long ago renounced. I know that pummeling the body with harsh words and disparaging thoughts is a detrimental practice. Such violence creates a negative inner vibration that adversely alters the molecular structure of cells. We wage assault upon the body to our own peril by creating disharmony, discomfort, disease.

The body is transient matter, but it is also the precious temple that houses the eternal soul while on this earthly sojourn. The body is a sacred channel for the Divine. It is a Holy form whose magnificence is not determined by its size, shape, or color. It is not deserving of criticism and reproach.

Quantum science is confirming that when we release negative thought patters and reinforce positive ones, we can reverse cellular damage. When the innocence of the body is no longer held hostage to the judgment of the mind, it is free to thrive. In this light, let us look at ourselves, all of us, and love what we see. Let us care for our bodies and speak kindly to them using words of thanksgiving. Let us begin a practice of gazing at ourselves naked in full-length mirrors. Let us each consistently reassure the reflection, “You are beautiful!”

Be enlightened!  ~ M

For more stories about women and body image, see Rosanne Olson’s book.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Enlightening Excerpt

“Give yourself permission to stop what you are Doing in any given moment and enjoy Being present in bliss. This idle time is not wasted time. In moments such as these, the soul is nurtured and creativity is sparked. Action is necessary, but don’t forget the importance of stillness.”  ~ M

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Liquid Prayer

I stood on the covered balcony of my apartment to watch closely the rain. Gradually, drizzle gave way to torrent. I remained, still watchful. From overhead gutter, bowed with age, rainwater careened as a fall.

I thought of the paradox of liquid. Its molecules move freely, yet never separate. It reminded me of my relation to the Divine. I am free to move about my life as I choose, yet can never be separate from my God. I know this to be so; yet, faulty thinking sometimes leads me to feeling disconnected. This was one of those times. This was the reason I had stepped outside, barefoot, because nature has a way of reminding me of the truth. I needed that now.

I leaned over the railing and reached out both hands, palms up, to touch the wetness. From my heart flowed forth this prayer:

Open me at the top, oh Lord, like a funnel ready for the pour. Allow your Spirit to spill over my soul. Let heaven’s rain drench me. Quench the thirst of my parched being. Oh, how I have longed for your nourishment. Wash over my guilty mind like cascading falls tumble over rock, softening the rough edges over time. Cleanse me of my mistaken shame. Speak loudly to me of my innocence like roaring waves speak of the tide. Remind me that the living water and I are One, ever undivided.

I wiped my wet hands on the back pockets of my jeans as I stepped away from the railing. Within moments, the rain tapered to a drizzle again. I went inside knowing that my prayer was like liquid—offered freely from my heart, yet never separate from it.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vulnerability Bridge

Vulnerability is the bridge to intimacy, and it takes courage to cross it. As I stand on my side of the Pond of Pretense and you on yours, we can hear only faint reverberations of each other’s true voice across the divide. It is not until I consider stepping onto Vulnerability Bridge that you can begin to hear whispers of the authentic me.

My tidy appearance, my controlled temperament, my organized environment -- these are not the elements of self that serve to span the wide waters between us. I head toward intimacy with you when I begin to investigate and reveal my inner dimension. Am I willing to admit when I feel wounded by your words? Do I own my errors? Dare I utter the words, “I don’t know”? Can I ask, “Will you forgive me?” Will I directly request what I want and need from you? Do I uncover my past that I had hidden in shame? This emotional timber forms the planks on that bridge of vulnerability.

When I courageously expose my heart to you, I, by example, give you permission to do the same. We, both exposed, meet at that bridge and form an alliance of truth. Together, we traverse over the waters of pretentiousness and safely enter the land of intimacy. Now, we can hear each other over the superficial din. Talk to me here.

Be enlightened!  ~ M