Celebrating Transformation – Thoughts on Spring

I would be inclined to snuggle into someone who smelled like a soft Spring rain.

“I want
To do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
— Pablo Neruda

“Oh my!” This is a great quote from a poem in Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and inspires wonderfully provoking thoughts of transformation in my mind.

Today is May Day, a traditional celebration of Spring but has become more associated with Labor in other parts of the world (similar to Labor Day in the US). I don’t usually think of it and personally, I don’t recognize it as a ‘holiday’ per se but I know that it is a ‘bank holiday’ in France as my son works there and has the day off.

I like the idea of celebrating Spring; rebirth, new growth, and emerging beauty.

Not to say that the other holidays we celebrate aren’t wonderful themselves but I am thinking today that celebrating Spring in the spirit of rebirth is a fantastic tradition – worth cultivating.

Spring – in my mind – is an energizing time. Think about it… we ‘spring’ forward in time as we move into Daylight Savings Time. Many of us set out to ‘spring’ clean our homes (not me). We do a ‘spring’ clean-up in our yards to prepare our lawn and gardens for the growing season (me).

Spring is when begin to anticipate flowers on trees and the leaves that follow. I look forward to the Azaleas, the tulips, and the Iris that my mother loved. The landscape dramatically moves from brown and grey to bright green, pink, yellow, and lavender inciting a silent vigor that becomes palpable.

Since more babies are born in the third quarter of the year than in any other time period – Spring is when we may begin to notice expectant mothers and wonder what was in the water.

Birds, rabbits, and people all begin to set out and explore beyond their winter confines. In my neighborhood alone, there are more people out and about this past weekend than throughout the entire winter period. Although I stand to consider that my perception is only because I have finally opened the windows and take note when the sound of laughter or conversation filters into the house.

I notice how freeing it is to slip on my sandals and leave the house without a coat leaving both my feet and arms free to feel the mild breeze moving against my exposed skin and warmed by the sun’s glow.

A deep breath of the fresh Spring air recharges me, seemingly carried across the landscape by fierce March winds and deposited firmly so that we have a renewed supply with which to begin the season. And its smell – after a light warm rain – for some reason, reminding me of sheets dried by sunshine and light breezes. If it were a perfume, I would name it Simply Fresh and I would be inclined to snuggle into someone who smelled like a soft Spring rain.

And so, on this May Day, I hope that you will take a moment and think about rebirth… new things… and growth. Think about what it may mean in your life, in your journey, and/or perhaps in your spirit – and celebrate!

Is there a Spring transformation happening in your thoughts?

 

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Does ‘Everything Happen For A Reason’??

Some people believe there is no reason at all – that shit happens – plain and simple…

I heard someone this week say that they had a love/hate relationship with the thought that ‘everything happens for a reason’. How does one consider that the death of a newborn baby or the young father of four children or the massacre of a village has a ‘reason’? How hard is it to try and believe that the most devastating thing we’ve ever experienced may have some kind of ‘purpose’ attached to it?

It’s completely nonsensical and yet our humanness insists on trying to answer the question… “Why?”

We just can’t help but wonder…

When I was fifteen years old, I accompanied a friend to Youth For Christ student conference. For me, it was about going to the beach because it was in Ocean City, Maryland and I had only seen the ocean one other time so I was really excited. On that first day as I woke with thoughts about donning my bikini and lathering myself with baby oil, we were instead herded into this big auditorium with hundreds of other teenagers to listen to people talk for a couple of hours. Someone promised me that I would eventually get to the beach.

The first speaker began by telling us a story that I have never forgotten. He talked about how he was late for a speech one day and he was flying down the interstate, driving way too fast, being way too aggressive and focused only on getting to where he needed to go so that he wouldn’t be late.

He talked about how annoyed he was that a little red car was driving in the left lane, the lane that was supposed to be for passing people only. He described how he got right up on the bumper of that little red car and flashed his lights so that the car would pull over and let him by. But the car just kept going, preventing this guy from going any faster.

And then he said, he got a flat tire. He recounted hearing the pop, noticing the wobble in the steering wheel and feeling the car pull. He had no choice but to pull over to the side of the road and he said that he cursed the entire way; so frustrated that he was going to be even more late than he already was.

This guy was angry. He explained that the entire time he was changing the tire he thought dark, ugly thoughts and then he got back on the road and went even faster.

After a few miles he hit a traffic jam and could see a lot of emergency lights up ahead. Again, he described extreme frustration because everything that could be going wrong this particular morning, was going wrong and it was making him later and later.

As he came upon the problem there was a car upside down in the middle of the roadway with bloodstains across the windshield. Alongside that car was the little red one that he had been tailgating just a while earlier and it looked like an accordion, having been smashed from both the front and the back.

In that split moment, he said realized that if it hadn’t been for the flat tire, the upside-down car may very well, have been his car. He could have been the one IN this accident. He could be on his way to the hospital or worse, he could be dead.

If it weren’t for that flat tire.

This man, and I am sorry that I don’t know his name, spoke about how he got off the interstate, cancelled his speaking engagement, and went to church. He went to church to say thank you for the flat tire. He went to church to express gratitude and from that day forward, every time something bad happened, he would go to church and say thanks. No questions asked.

I’ve never forgotten that story and in fact… it has directed much of my life; so much of the perspective that I’ve attempted to solidify when something unexpected and indeed, tragic has happened. It’s amazing how many different ‘reasons’ I’ve considered for some of the things I’ve experienced.

Is it true? Does everything happen for a reason? When it’s a minor thing like a flat tire or a cancelled flight, thinking that there may be a Universal rational is easy to consider. But when it is a true tragedy, a horrific accident or unnecessary death, the theory seems to implode; to be nonsensical and we can’t seem to rectify the logic.

We don’t know. We’ll never truly know – not until we die.

There are books written from people who have died, temporarily at least – and they tell us that there was light… God… Angels… and Sprit Masters… that’s a great thought.

I’m a bit of a skeptic at heart though and I consider that perhaps they just wanted to sell books, to make money and have a moment of fame but maybe not… maybe it’s real. And don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I don’t believe in God… I am simply vacillating over the idea a ‘divine plan’.

I generally end up at the point where I believe that it is as possible as anything else. Some people believe there is no reason at all – that shit happens – plain and simple and I guess that is possible too.

However, that doesn’t help me. That doesn’t make my day to day life better here and now and so I prefer to believe that there is some kind of reason – some value. I find it comforting to think that my soul is on a journey and that it chose to come here and learn the lessons presented to me in this lifetime. If I look for the value in my experiences and consider possibilities, I feel empowered and willing to push on; to keep learning.

I don’t know why shit happens and frankly, I am human so when it hurts – I hurt. When it sucks, I am challenged. When it is heavy and hard, I struggle. But… I am always seeking the lesson. I am always attempting to find something of value in the midst of the misery because I *hope* that my soul is in the midst of learning something important. Perhaps something that will guide me in whatever happens in my next life or… next in my life.

And so when I hear someone say (or when I use the words) that “everything happens for a reason” – I am really believing and/or saying that ‘it’s OK, my soul is learning’.

And I can accept that.

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The Struggle

Not one of us if free from the distortion that occurs after birth. We only experience varying degrees and intensities.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The
willingness to learn is a choice.”  ― Brian Herbert

We are born into this world in perfect form. We are innately able to express ourselves, we smile, eat, sleep, burp, and fart at will. And then we learn not to.

For the first two years of our lives we are taught to walk and talk and then someone – perhaps many – tell us to sit down and shut up; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told to eat everything on our plate and then not to be fat; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that our parents love us and then they leave or don’t pay attention; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that love is wonderful and then it hurts like hell; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that sex / sexual touching might be bad but it feels physically good; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told we can by one segment of society and that we can’t by another; and we struggle to make sense out of it.

We are told that Santa is real and then find out that he is not; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that white lies are acceptable but dishonesty is not; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told there are laws and then we break them without consequence; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that marriage is forever and then we divorce in anger; and we struggle to make sense of it.

And along the way we just do the best that we can.

Most of us.

We are born pure of heart, perhaps believing in unending possibilities and then we are told, we learn… something else.

It’s not anyone’s fault specifically as each of us has faced the same fate. We are all born into a mold of prior teachings that bends and shapes the beginning of our personal story until we have sculpted a cast of our own with the addition of social and cultural contradictions.

Essentially, we are all … each and every one of us … bent out of shape from our original, perfect form. Designed individually by the things we struggled to make sense of; the things that we observed and interpreted.

This is the foundation, the cornerstone of personal growth.

Learning how you came to think and understand the things that you do.

Why was it that you disagreed with your parents but your sibling acquiesced? Why did you learn to feed your feelings while your mother was a beauty queen? How did you learn to motivate yourself even though your father never held a full-time job?

We are products of our family life, social environment, town culture, and national philosophies. We come to believe that what makes one of us ‘right’ makes another of us ‘wrong’ when in fact it only makes us DIFFERENT.

Not one of us if free from the distortion that occurs after birth. We only experience varying degrees and intensities. We only differ in the shape, color, and size of those variants.

Not one of us is exempt.

The secret here is an absence of judgment. An understanding that we are all the same in that we are bent – broken – and twisted by our backgrounds, our heritage, and our experiences. We cannot possibly acknowledge that our extent of understanding is “the” best, “the” right, “the” optimal interpretation of life.

Once we allow for our differences and truly honor the fact that what makes me different from you is the way we were bent… we can begin the process of compassion and acceptance. We suddenly see one another as perfect human babies that are composed of the same material but shaped by different forms.

Like spoons.

The same molten metal is forged into any variety of individual and unique pieces. Each one of them intended for a slightly different use generating almost endless possibilities. And yet they all seem to serve a distinctive purpose and are enjoyed by a variety of populations.

We seem to accept that there are so many types of spoons without question; without judgement.

What would your life be like if you stopped to consider that the person you are angry with is bent? What about the person with whom you are disappointed? Have you considered that they may be formed into a shape that may be painful to exist within?

Have you thought about your own bends? Are they working in your life? Do you need to hammer out a few kinks? Can you accept that the forces at work as you were originally being shaped may have been bent and broken; making it impossible for you to exist without needing a few repairs?

Can you take responsibility now for those corrections?

You are where you are. Your shape is your shape. Anything that happens now must happen because you are aware and deliberate about making change.

Be what you want to be. Take the time to know your shape and learn how to bend in the way that makes life work for you.

 

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Victims of Choice

Sometimes we can only choose the ‘lessor of two evils’ – the least ‘sucky’ option.

“And in life, it is all about choices we make. And how the direction of our lives comes down to the choices we choose.” Catherine Pulsifer

What are you doing right now? Why are you doing it? Are you content? Is it what you want to do?

I am always talking to clients about choices. Making choices was the topic of one of my last posts as I talked about my own choices and how I was blatantly reminded of my need to accept responsibility for them.

In order to accept culpability for our choices we first must acknowledge that we have actually made one and this is where it gets sticky. You see, in just about EVERYTHING we do, we make a choice – either consciously or subconsciously we make a choice and yet, sometimes they are hard to see; to accept.

We can’t necessarily choose what happens ‘TO’ us but unless someone is literally forcing you to do something against your will, you are choosing your behavior.

Learning how to make decisions, to choose, is an important skill; one we don’t necessarily give much effort or thought.

My mother was a believer that children shouldn’t necessarily have choices and therefore, my hairstyle at almost any give age was one that she either needed to practice (she was a salon owner) or one that would make caring for my hair easy. Needless to say, I had a perm most of my childhood.

Consequently, I tried to make sure that my children knew they always had a choice. It wasn’t that I allowed them to choose what they wanted, whenever. I wanted my girls to dress like girls (forgive the gender insistence here) and so when they were young I wanted them to put on pretty dresses and cute skirts when they went to school. As such, in the mornings, I would hold up two hangers; one with a blue dress and the other with a pink skirt and allow them to choose. If they wanted to wear their brown pants I drew their attention back to the choices that I felt were acceptable.

Forget for a moment that I cornered my daughters into stereotypical attire and reason with me that I was teaching them about choice. At least, that was my intent.

Sometimes our choices are only between things that don’t feel like options at all.

A few years ago, I spoke with a high school student who wanted desperately to go to prom but didn’t have a date. Certainty, one of the choices was to go alone and another was to ask someone and risk rejection. This teen didn’t want to engage with either choice; they wanted to be asked by a certain person who, reportedly had already accepted another invitation.

Because neither of the options available were acceptable to this student, they insisted they didn’t have a choice but to stay home – a conspicuous falsity. There were choices but they were very different from what this person ‘wanted’.

Not wanting what is available doesn’t mean that we are void of choice.

Sometimes, when none of the choices presented feel tolerable – we turn ourselves into victims.

Dee’s husband had an affair and she is having difficulty moving on in the marriage. She is suffering from anxiety now each time he leaves the house and is quite distraught with the life she is living. They have three small children and she has been a stay-at-home mom for years. Her only true work experience is in retail where she would only earn minimum wage. She strongly believes that her only choice is to stay in an unhappy marriage and feel miserable.

She feels trapped and helpless to change her situation.

Dee is allowing herself to be a VICTIM of choice here by believing she doesn’t have any.

Clearly, Dee can leave the marriage. No one is forcing her to stay. The truth is that when Dee considers all of the options available to her – she doesn’t WANT any of them. She is refusing to choose and so she becomes a victim of undesirable alternatives.

When we allow ourselves to feel like a victim, we become powerless.

Joe wants to get into shape. He is approaching fifty and knows he needs to drop a few pounds. He has developed anxiety because his father had a heart attack at age 55 and while Joe doesn’t yet have heart disease, he fears it is inevitable.

Joe is the breadwinner in his family and often works more than fifty hours per week. Between his job and family commitments, he eats on the run and never makes it to the gym.

Joe is making a choice NOT to prioritize his health although he argues adamantly it is not a conscious choice.

Fair enough.

But let’s be honest – when we say we ‘want’ something and then we don’t put any effort into making it a priority – we must not really ‘want’ it bad enough.

Sometimes we believe we ‘should’ want something and so we claim it but find lots of reasons that it won’t work for us or we just put it on the back burner and find excuses for it not happening.

It’s the Priorities.

In each example that I’ve presented, the individuals are allowing themselves to be victims of THEIR OWN priorities. They have options – just not options they wanted.

Well, isn’t that the way the world works much of the time. Things happen. Many things happen that we don’t want to happen but that does NOT mean that they trap us. Our power is in making a conscious decision about our priorities under the circumstances.

The high school student prioritized a particular date over going to prom.

Dee prioritized her current lifestyle over self-respect and happiness

Joe prioritized his work hours over his health.

Own IT

Why not just say “I must not want it bad enough”? Why not just admit that “I am choosing something different”?

Sometimes we can only choose the ‘lessor of two evils’ – the least ‘sucky’ option. If that is the case, then OWN it. Realize that you are still choosing.

You have the power to make the choice.

And you can ALWAYS choose your behavior.

Learn to be intentional

To be deliberate

To accept that your priorities determine how you choose.

 

 

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Finding Peace

It didn’t matter. When I am on my bike, I am in a state of Peace.

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~ unknown

The other day, a loyal reader added this on a blog comment: “My last comment is to say that I want to read about how you became the cyclist that you are.” – The individual asking the question is a friend of Harlan’s and has followed our bicycling ventures via Facebook. I had to laugh out loud when I read it because I would never use the word ‘cyclist’ to describe what I do and I’m pretty sure that people who are truly ‘cyclists’ might be insulted to consider what I do any part of the sport.

You see, I hate… more than strongly dislike… exercise of any kind. I always did. I remember being laughed at in grade school when we were trying to complete tasks to receive the Presidential Fitness Award. I couldn’t do chin-ups – I just didn’t have the upper body strength or perhaps my lower body was far too big and mismatched for the muscles in my upper torso. It was better to stand in the back than to fail miserably. I didn’t have any competitive spirit apparently. Consequently, I was the kid who was always the last pick; cementing my dislike of sports.

I did play basketball in high school because I was tall and it was expected. What I disliked most of all was running across the court over and over… and over again. I often thought about finding a sport that allowed you to stand still but I never found one. In gym, we were expected to run a mile at least once each marking period. That was four times around the track and the ‘runners’ could make it in six or seven minutes but it took me twelve to fourteen. Of course, I walked most of the way and was generally last, or close to it.

I did love to walk. I could walk for miles and did often. My long legs created a lengthy stride and I rarely got tired of walking. I loved all of the things that I got a chance to see when I was walking. We frequently laughed over the idea that I would walk from Oakland, CA to Chicago, Illinois twice a month when I worked for the railroad. Since I worked in the dining car, I was on my feet most of the time as we covered that distance.

No matter how much I ‘knew’ that exercise was good for me and no matter how many different types of equipment, sports, or activity I tried… I just couldn’t ‘get into’ the practice of exercising. It really was problematic since my body composition and metabolism required some form of external motivation. I thought people who enjoyed exercise were in possession of a magic gene that passed by me during conception. I didn’t get it.

When we were in Europe visiting Sara – who spent a year in Amsterdam as an Au Pair – we considered renting bicycles and touring around but it sounded like work and I was on vacation. Besides, somewhere after the age of 50, arthritis began to build in my hip and walking was challenging some days and so I believed that bicycle riding seemed out of the question.

Harlan, on the other hand, has always been an avid sportsman. From football to baseball and golf to running, his body almost required movement and elevated heart rate. He often spoke of the euphoria that occurred when he exercised. He loved the endorphins that were produced while I was always waiting for them to show up.

About two years ago Harlan decided he was going to buy a bicycle and begin cycling. He began researching and by late April made his decision. He encouraged me to invest in a bike but we were talking hundreds of dollars for something that required this exercise thing that I wasn’t into at all.

I decided to ‘test’ my interest in cycling by inviting my family along for a ‘Mother’s Day’ ride in a state park near the ocean. They looked at me a little funny when I said that’s how I wanted to spend my day but followed along. We rented bikes close to the trail head and the four of us set out, helmets on, across saltwater marsh lands full of blue herons. I was riding a hybrid with a cushy seat and twenty-one gears. I couldn’t remember that last time I had been on a bicycle.

Of course, as a kid – that was the primary mode of transportation. We went everywhere on our bikes and the best part of the year was decorating it for the annual Memorial Day parade. We wove streamers into our spokes and tied all kinds of noise makers behind us but… that was then – when I was ten and it wasn’t considered exercise. It was a necessity, a required method of transportation if you were one of the ‘cool’ kids.

We had a perfectly beautiful day to ride through incredibly beautiful scenery. I puttered along the trail which was predominately crushed stone and enjoyed the sun on my face, the breeze across my cheeks, and the smell of the fresh air. In fact, I barely noticed that anyone was with me. I embraced the sound of nature, the melody of the tire against the ground, and the tone of air moving past my ears. I loved it! My ass hurt but my hip was fine! I was happy as a lark and after about ten miles, the kids asked me how far we were going… I could have gone on and on but they were pretty much over it. We turned around and headed back – it was a total of sixteen miles that day. Not bad for a lady who hadn’t ridden a bike in more than thirty years.

That day, I found a Hollandia style bicycle – a hybrid ladies bike with fenders – very classic looking and it had seven speeds. I assured the salesman that I would ‘never’ need more than that as I had only used five all day on the flat trail we had traveled and that was just experimenting. I went for broke – buying as much bicycle as I thought I could afford while making sure it made sense for the kind of riding that we (Harlan) talked about doing. He had gotten a road bike and I wanted something a bit more versatile. I agreed to go with him if “it didn’t feel like exercise”, I said.

I’ll admit that I was pretty excited. We live in a mostly flat community that touts itself as being ‘bike friendly’ and indeed, there are bike lanes on almost every road. In addition, there are a variety of trails in town that are bicycle friendly. Furthermore, the Rails-To-Trails conservancy is a tremendous organization – converting old railroad beds into pedestrian and bike trails. We live in an area where there are a number of them within an easy driving distance. The nice part about Rail Trails is that they are FLAT – mostly. There is often a grade but it is hardly noticeable.

We started slowly… biking around town, after work, and on weekends. We biked into town and rewarded ourselves with a latte or ice cream. I noticed the calorie burn and my body started to take on a different shape. I wasn’t working hard at all. I pushed myself a bit… beginning to compete with myself to see if I could get up a slope in second gear instead of shifting down to first. And then, we headed out to trails that were longer… and longer… I fell in love with ‘my’ kind of biking. It was easy and fun. It wasn’t sport riding, though. It was leisure. But… it WAS exercise and my body liked it.

Before long, I was riding without Harlan’s influence. I was exercising just because I liked the sensation of those things that I fell in love with that first day… the sound of the air moving past my ears, the breeze on my face, etc. When I was out there – especially by myself – I could think about nothing at all or about everything at once. I allowed thoughts to flow through my brain at the same speed that I was moving but it wasn’t exhausting.

Eventually, my behind became accustomed to my seat and it stopped hurting. I was riding for 45 or 60 minutes several times a week and not thinking twice about it. Each time I left the house I could hear the theme song of The Wizzard of Oz playing ‘Duh – di duh – di da.’ Imagining myself with a full-on basket on the front of my bike, carrying a little dog. I wonder how many people saw me and thought the same thing? It didn’t matter. When I am on my bike, I am in a state of Peace.

I have challenged myself with longer and longer rides but let me be clear… they are leisure rides of 25 & 30 miles on relatively flat surfaces. One day last fall I took my bike up to Philadelphia and ran the Schuylkill River trail for 34 miles round-trip. I was done by mile 30 and the last four were brutal but it was exhilarating to know that I did it.

Harlan hasn’t been able to ride in months now and I don’t ride when it is cold. I bought an indoor ‘trainer’ last year so that I could bring the bike inside and maintain the routine but there is absolutely NO comparison and I don’t like it. I’d just as soon go to the gym and ride there – which I do now although not as religiously as I’d like you to imagine.

In any regard, that is how and why I became a ‘cyclist’… For me, it has nothing to do with the sport and everything to do with the PEACE I experience as I move through space on those wheels.

Going to the Mountain

I listened to his voice, guiding me back into childhood, back through time before I was a child, before I was Leslyn…

Continued from Dating OMG

“No matter how you arrive at the awareness and belief that you’ve lived before and will live again, the most lasting healing benefit will be the change in your attitude.” ~ Lianne Downey

There were so many things during the year after Hubby left that impacted my life… dating was one of them and I will come back to it. Another was the continuation of my interest in reincarnation, and the idea that my life here – in this persona – was intentional for my soul’s growth.

I was extensively intrigued with the work of Dr. Brian Weiss, a Psychiatrist – the Chair of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida. He was educated at Columbia and Yale Medical school. Impressive credentials. Dr. Weiss used hypnotherapy in the process of traditional psychotherapy and through the experience of his patients, realized that some of their ‘memories’ were not from any experiences in their current existence.  Upon further evaluation, he explored how deciphering the stories of patients from other lifetimes, could heal their maladies in current time. I remained fascinated and inspired by his client examples. I read every book that he had written to date and developed an evaluated curiosity about my own stories. Essentially, I was obsessed with the idea of past lives.

I remembered past conversations with my brother and my excitement, a deep resonation – that just wouldn’t go away – regarding the concept that our souls were eternal and timeless. In my mind, the idea that we came back again and again in human form so that we could learn how to love unconditionally, to become Christ-like, made perfect sense. I knew that in my own life, so many lessons unfolded that correlated toward loss – I couldn’t help but wonder what this lifetime was destined for… what was I to learn from all the loss, the abandonment? If I thought about my ideas, what I knew about the life of Christ, I knew that he would have loved through the loss, he would have honored that journey, the path of the person that left.

I remember thinking after Rocky died that he was only ‘on loan’ to me… that perhaps we had come together for the sole purpose of creating Francis and then his time was done. Christ was the ultimate champion of ‘letting go’ and my life was constantly being challenged with the need to ‘let go’… could that be my lesson in this lifetime? One afternoon talking about these ideas with my Aunt we considered our belief that ‘everything happens for a reason’. IF, that is true – then THIS MOMENT IN TIME – in its INTENTION – must be perfect… divinely designed. No matter the moment, no matter what is happening … if you believe that everything happens for a reason then – there must be a reason for THIS. It seemed so true. So significantly harmonious with the rest of my esoteric ideologies.

I wanted to know more and discovered that Dr. Weiss was conducting Past Life regression training in New York – close enough for me to drive – and I qualified to go as a Psychology student. It was a week long and so I registered, forked out a thousand dollars, and made arrangements with Hubby for him to have the girls seven days in a row. I drove myself to the Omega center in Rhinebeck, New York in late July, just before my birthday.

I drove up a long road, up in the mountains outside of Poughkeepsie, into a compound of sorts that reminded me of summer camp when I was a girl scout. I had selected a ‘shared’ room in a bunkhouse – one building with four rooms and a bath off of one small hallway – but my roommate hadn’t yet checked in. I picked a bed and unpacked then headed out for a look around.

I may have grown up in the seventies in California but I was more or less the farthest thing from a ‘hippie’ and completely disconnected from the ‘bohemian’ lifestyle. If I am to describe that in my mind and seriously, no disrespect intended here… it is someone eating all organic, potentially vegetarian or vegan, wearing cotton with a focus on naturopathy. I don’t mean to stereotype but to fully describe the environment, completely foreign to my suburban soccer mom identity. No one ever described me as ‘earthy’ and yet – here I was, surrounded by the calm, serene, wholesome, earthiness that was the Omega center, and I felt as though I had stepped into a slice of heaven.

I must be honest and admit that it was the first time I had seen tofu. It looked like a brick of cream cheese and I agreed with myself that I would try it. I grabbed a piece that had been sitting in some kind of gravy and sat down at a large round table with three or four other people that I had never met before. I sat there in my Banana Republic button down blouse, toting my coach purse containing my L’Oréal lipstick. The only thing missing were my Sperry’s but I was wearing my hipster flip flops so at least my feet fit in, well… with the exception of my cherry red toenails. I’m not sure I was the typical Omega visitor and yet, I felt at home, just very afraid of being judged. One bite of the tofu and I knew I was part of the minority. Yuk.

The environment was serene. There were benches, gardens, and pathways every direction you looked and I was anxious to explore. I discovered vegetable gardens galore and learned that they grew much of the food that was served in the dining hall. There were small ponds and fragrant flowers; fruit trees, and yoga spaces. No matter what direction I walked, the aura was peaceful and loving. Within hours I knew I wanted to stay for a long time.

My roommate didn’t speak much English. She wasn’t there for the same workshop as me, apparently, they ran several simultaneously and so our schedules were different. Our agenda was fairly rigid… breakfast before nine – sessions until noon, lunch, and then long afternoon workshops before dinner. My first day – in quintessential fashion – I sat up front, in the first row. There were big pillows and we sat on the floor (hippie’esque) as Dr. Weiss walked across the small stage only ten feet in front of me and began to introduce himself. Of course, there was no need on my account, but there were just over one hundred other people in the room that maybe hadn’t read ‘every’ book he’d written as I had. Indeed, I had listened to his regression CD so often that almost as soon as he began to speak, I relaxed – having already been accustomed to the sound of his voice.

He began by telling us about Catherine, the initiating client that had spontaneously accessed past life memories and introduced him to the world of regression therapy. Even though I had already heard the story through his books, I was enthralled to hear him tell it in person. And then, he did a group regression. That afternoon he had us get comfortable and relax as he proceeded to induce us all into a pleasant and easy state of concentrated focus on our past – going wherever we wanted to go – whatever time might be meaningful to us.

I listened to his voice, guiding me back into childhood, back through time before I was a child, before I was Leslyn, to a time when I was someone else and I saw mountains. They were green and sharp rising against a large lagoon of beautifully blue water that was a deep sapphire color, a place that I seemingly was remembering vividly as if I heard the breeze through palm trees overhead. I was grinding something with a pedestal and mortar and I realized that I was short and round with long black hair. I was remembering another life.

LET LOVE WIN

Treating someone with compassion and empathy takes much less effort than berating them and judging their choices.

“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” — Brené Brown

 

I am taking a brief departure from my daily writings to offer a few thoughts about my observations regarding the state of people’s emotions and behavior over the last several days.

 

I’ve watched, discussed, read, and listened to a variety of perspectives and opinions about why people feel the way they do. Almost every client that walked through my door had something to say and digest about the election. Family and friends responded with a plethora of reactions and I had my own. My social media feeds were swarming with comments, memes, articles, and quotes that represented everything from regret, fear, anger, hope, respect, and hate. I witnessed a lot of disrespect and frustration as well as some rationale and integrity. I believe there to be an imbalance in what I personally saw – in terms of empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. Sadly, I thought it was lacking.

 

I believe in something I call PASSIVE PERMISSION. A google search doesn’t offer a definition but if we consider the word PASSIVE it is “accepting or allowing what happens without active response” and the word PERMISSION is “consent; authorization” we can formulate this:

Passive Permission is authorizing, without conscious acknowledgment, an activity or behavior simply by not doing anything to prevent it or by not standing up against it.

 

No one can argue that President-elect Trump demonstrated a lack of respect for many segments of our society – whether it was his intent or not, I do not know for I do not know his heart – however it was there and much of it was hurtful.

 

We have given President-elect Trump passive permission to behave in any manner he deems fit with our vote. We have given him permission to be disrespectful and thereby globally condoned the ‘idea’ that behaving disrespectfully is acceptable.

 

We did this by saying that how you behave is LESS IMPORTANT than what you can do for us.

 

The premise of …I don’t care about your heart, or how you treat people… I care about what you can give me, or what you can do for me… is frightening. It’s a divergence away from what I know as Christian values, as LOVE, as honor, or simple human dignities.

 

Let’s just put the politics aside for a moment and think about respect.  I’m not talking about the respect we earn; I am talking about the basic respect we are entitled to because we are human beings. We don’t have to agree with one another to be respectful.  Treating someone with compassion and empathy takes much less effort than berating them and judging their choices.

 

Let President-elect Trump deal with his own conscience and let each of us pay attention to ours! Look deeply into your own heart and think about what you are choosing – not just in the way of a president but in your day to day life.

 

What is the basis of your personal behavior??

 

If it is to get something – a better life, a better job, a better anything – great! You deserve the best but it will only be the BEST if it doesn’t sell your heart short… if it is authentically coming from a place of integrity and personal honesty. No one can tell you your heart. Only you know it.

 

If you feel anxious, depressed, guilty, or ashamed – those feelings are associated with disingenuous behaviors – inauthentic actions. Perhaps passive permission. What are you allowing that does not match what you believe??

 

We are so very lucky to live in a great country where we have freedom of speech. Some of us get shut down too often and learn that it can be unsafe to vocalize our thoughts. Every single day I am teaching people how to communicate from a place of compassion and respect; from honesty and authenticity; from love and empathy. When we use our voice from those positions it can generally be heard and at least open a discussion. It doesn’t matter if it is a couple learning how to be better communicators with one another, sharing between children and parents, or if it is members of a community, a state, or a nation.

 

Please spend some time self-reflecting on the values that you want to be remembered for – the values you want your children to experience and learn – the values that honor your heart and make sure that your behavior reflects those values.

 

If each one of us can do this – because I believe that there is a kind heart in every single soul – then it won’t matter what President-elect Trump does on the world stage – he is only ONE person.  The collective consciousness of our kindness will overwhelmingly prevail and repair the pain from what a few inflict.

 

Pay attention to the passive permissions you distribute through in-action and through missed opportunities of extending kindness, love, and tolerance. BE the values that you believe in.

 

Let your values / beliefs mold your emotions each time you are challenged to respond to someone or a situation and then behave in accordance!

Let LOVE win!