Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

 I write about “Story Telling” quite a bit I know. The thing is, every single being has a story to tell and I find these tales to be absolutely fascinating. These days, the stories animals have to tell are most compelling to me. I volunteer at my local animal shelter here in Sonoma. When you walk through the glass doors of the entry way and look to your left there is a room full of bunnies available for adoption. The bunnies come and go but my favorite bunny story is the story of Harvey and Rose. Harvey Rabbit came into the shelter and soon became the George Clooney of the bunny habitat. All of the girl bunnies were in love with him and Harvey enjoyed the adulation. He wriggled his adorable little nose at all the single ladies! Until one day when the lovely Rose Rabbit hopped on by. It was love at first sight. Harvey and Rose have been an item ever since. Soulmates, right?

 Then there is Phoenix the Cat. Poor little thing was hit by a car. She was a mess. Internal bleeding, broken pelvis, heart murmur, she could not move at all. The Vet’s at the clinic treated her of course but with little hope of their efforts producing a positive outcome. Phoenix had something else in mind. One fine day Miss Kitty just stood up and started walking. Phoenix, ashes, rising up from, get it?  Every single animal at the shelter has an interesting story to tell. Some of the stories we have heard before and some of them are entirely new. Love stories. Survival stories. Fallen hero stories. D-I-V-O-R-C-E stories. The only difference between human stories and animal stories is that an animal needs a human to change the outcome for them. Animals bear their troubled stories with endless grace. Even the most abused animal will still find it in their heart to be gentle and loving.

We can learn so much from them about forgiveness and humility. A little love, care, food, water, and almost any animal can be rehabilitated. What’s up with we us? Why do we humans insist upon making such a big deal out of our silly, sad stories? And guilt? That false emotion can rank a free lunch. We really believe we are making moral progress when we feel pangs of guilt. (I did that “bad thing” but I feel awful about it so I must not be a “bad person” after all.) Forget guilt! No self-respecting Pit Bull has ever felt a moment of guilt in its life. An animals ability to stay in the now, accept a healing, embrace the moment, move-on is remarkable. Inspiring beyond inspiration.

Yes, every being has a story to tell. But the lack of angst and drama in an Animal Tale is something I myself aspire to. On any given day of our lives we may find ourselves lost, broken, alone. Next day? We can find redemption. We only need to let go of the tired tale we are telling ourselves (and anyone who will listen) to begin living the happy ending.

 Adopt a spayed/neutered pet from a reputable animal rescue group if you are able. Then live to tell the tale of the greatest love of your life. Have a sweet one!




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 It is the middle of July and on this balmy hotter than July day I find it is “sweet to do nothing.” I wasn’t always able to own doing nothing. For the better part of my life I had to be busy-busy-busy or I felt as though I was a lazy loafer just wasting my time. These days a few hours (or an entire day) of  listening to music, reading a novel, watching reality tv, having a long conversation with good friend on the phone and playing “catch” with my kitty Marcello Mastroianni is the heaven I know. I find now that I actually know how to  relax I am  able to magnetize more interesting people into my life. People who actually love life! I have moved away from the dawn of the desperate and into the salon of the pretty darn clever.

 I have a seminar series I offer on the phone called Life In The Mirror. The seminar is based on the theory that life as you know it is a reflection of your soul-life. Who you are, what you are, and who you may want to consider being. The people we attract into our lives mirror what we love and what we fear. The toughest trials and relationships reflect bits and pieces of our disowned selves. These particular relationships have the emotional charge of a live cable wire. We are fiercely attracted but uncomfortable (to say the least) in them. Shamed and disconcerted by them. The stronger the denial the closer we move into the mirror. At some point we realize it is time to accept, surrender, and integrate the disowned self. Our lives are at sixes and sevens until we do. Oh, let me count the ways! In my life I over-identified with being “on purpose” i.e. useful. So, of course I attracted in people who wouldn’t know their purpose if they tripped over it in broad daylight. Send in the clowns. Depressed, world-weary, clueless, whiney, useless, b-o-r-i-n-g boring!

 If you disown your power you will attract in people in who use power. My judgmental attitude and fear of being a professional lay-a-bout kept me in a spin. When you are spinning you don’t see life very clearly. These days I get “my stuff” done but I take my loafing seriously. As a reward for my awakening I find myself swimming in waters with an exotic class of fish…I mean people. People who know their porpoise, I mean their purpose, and know how to be joyful and grateful at the same time. I’m so NOT bored. Have a sweet one!

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June has been bustin’ out all over and as the clock strikes midnight it will finally be over. I’m not complaining mind you I’m just sayin’. Many of the clients I Read for have been going through it big-time. I answer the phone and they are already in tears. (Usually the tears don’t come ’til after I tell ’em all the things they don’t want to hear.) There are months when we seem to glide through life and months where we  pray we can keep up with it all. It has been one of those months. The praying kind…not the gliding kind. Decision after decision has been made and now we pray for the best outcome. Nothing really dramatic – just change. Just life. Just it’s-about-frickin’-time you looked at this whatever, gave it a name, and stopped dancing around the issue. Big girl panties on and handle it! So, we handle it. A few days or a few weeks will go by and the seeds of our decision will bear fruit. You have to trust what you did was the right thing to do. This will happen over and over again throughout our lives. It’s a process of pain, relief from pain, then fresh new energy. The process will have us feeling better than we had been in a good while. Why were we acting as if we were having a root canal without anesthesia? Perspective is everything. Change is not easy when you aren’t certain if the exchange will be fair. Something will replace the something we know? Will it be enough? Will there be a period of emptiness? Unbearable emptiness. Oh, no! Not emptiness.

We need to learn to experience emptiness and enjoy the lightness of being it has to offer. Remain faithful knowing full well emptiness never lasts for long. I mean look at that hall closet you just cleared out in December, right? How about the trunk of your car? Empty just isn’t a forever kind of thing. We humans need to fill up the spaces and we do. It would behoove us to become less accepting of filling them up with junk in the first place. It doesn’t matter if it is our closets, or our stomachs, or our hearts. Our high-tolerance for riff-raff will get into trouble every time. How do you know you are making the correct decisions for your life? You don’t know! But here is how we may know a little better. Pay attention to how you feel after you make a decision. Do you feel relieved? Honor the outcome of the decision. Get in the habit of putting your feelings of relief and a positive outcome together. Ask for signs along the way.

Yesterday, I was at the beach. Children were everywhere, laughing, and flying salt-water taffy colored kites. The restless ocean was a deep lavender-blue. I had never seen the ocean this color before. It was remarkable. I closed my eyes and said the prayer I had come to the ocean to pray. When I finished my prayer I opened my eyes only to notice a tiny butterfly the same color of the ocean lighting on a flower. The flower was the exact same color as butterfly… lavender-blue. It may not seem like much but I took it as a sign. A sign I had come to a correct decision and my prayer would be answered. I left the seaside feeling satisfied. Today, I went to the paint store to pick up color chips. I’m leaning towards the blues and feeling sunny yellow. Have a sweet one!

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Today was Father’s Day. The day we put aside every June in celebration of the most important man in our lives. (For better or worse.) I grew up with two fathers. My biological father was almost 60 when I was born. Back in the 1950’s if you were a 60-year-old man you were an old duffer. None of this 60 is the new 40 stuff we Boomers wax-ridic about now. I was just two weeks shy of my second birthday when my mother Betty-Jane passed away from cancer. My old Dad could not take care of my two brothers and me. The three of us took on a very diverse karmic destiny at an early age. I wasn’t unhappy with my lot! I got to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in a little apartment in Dormont, PA. I loved my Aunt Christina whom I had always known as Mommy. I was in her tender care almost from birth. I was crazy-nutsy-mad for my Uncle Danny whom I had given the nickname “Hon.” We aren’t quite sure how it came about but the name stuck. My Aunt and Uncle were just out of their teens when they took me in. Years later when they had kids of their own all three children called their father Hon. As did all of Hon’s friends and relations. My father was known as Daddy to everyone. It sounds confusing but it wasn’t at all. The two men were as different as a Cadillac DeVille and a green De Soto. But given the great differences – I learned everything I would ever need to know about men. From the sublime to the ridiculous and everything in between. They both gave me time and attention. They both laughed at my silly jokes. They both liked me to sing for them and encouraged me to dance. Neither one of them ever unleashed their epic tempers on me. (That alone made me feel special.) I couldn’t wait for Hon to come home from work every day. I lived the first four years of my life sitting on his lap laughing and singing. I saw Daddy on the weekends. He wasn’t as much fun as young, movie-star-handsome Hon was but he was a great cook. He baked the best Syrian bread and homemade yogurt ever. Plus, all of the other Middle Eastern goodies he made for me were always beyond delicious. Gotta love a man who cooks for ya! Don’t get me wrong my childhood was not perfect by any retro-stretch of the imagination. Both of these men were terribly flawed. But I loved them both even though Hon was my favorite. I didn’t always understand why they did the things they did or said the things they said. I haven’t wasted much time trying to figure all that out either. What would be the point of that archeological dig? I just thought it was cool to have two Daddy’s. Happy Dad’s Day fellas!

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As long as we are alive the only certainty we can absolutely be sure of is change. Constant change. Temporary change. Permanent change. Change that may change how we see ourselves forever. Most of the time we live our lives protected by whatever bubble circumstance or premeditation has created around us. We often lose track of the fact that we are not the bubble itself. We call ourselves salesmen, parents, artists, teachers, accountants…whatever. We identify with the label and begin to color our inner and outer world in a style we deem appropriate for the label. Years go by and we become used to living this life-style. We believe the life-style, the image, is who we are. Then things begin to change. We experience a physical injury that keeps us in bed for an extended period. We find ourselves in a situation where we are unhappy. Our company downsizes and we are let go. Our children are in trouble and we can’t help them. Our anchor is lost at sea. Our life-style, our image of ourselves, begins to unravel. Who are we now?

An identity crisis isn’t just a personal phenomenon. We can experience this confusion as a nation also. In my lifetime it has happened many times. The JFK and RFK assassinations. The Vietnam War. 9/11. The financial crisis the world is experiencing right now. So much more. But we are not these events. We as a people are not these events. These events may shake you up, or wake you up, or bring you to your knees. But we are not these events. Most of us have had a life-style change recently given the recent financial downturn. We need to stop whining about this and move on. Figure out what to do next. Remind ourselves that we were never our bank accounts and four bedroom homes in the first place. Connect back to what is really important in life. I can assure you what is truly important cannot be found at Neiman Marcus. (Although, granted it can sure be a lot of fun looking for it there.) We are still now and forever only our hearts and minds. Our thoughts are still things. Things that matter. Things that make a difference. Things that defy categories. Things that will turn any personal or national crisis around. Everything from losing a paycheck to oil spills ravaging the oceans can be remedied by our innate creativity. We are not the mess we are the solution to the mess. We need to forget about our life-styles and remember who we really are. We are miracles! And miracles “happen” every day.

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I have a new boyfriend. I fall in love with someone on a weekly basis at the very least. Can’t help myself. Most usually it is someone who is beyond excellent at what they do. Someone who knows their stuff and does it with panache. Someone I have never met. I guess we can call these little flights of admiration a crush? I guess. I have women on my crush list also. Been carrying a torch for Coco Chanel since I was 21! Why not? She was perfection and she liberated women from those godawful restraints they used to call clothes! My latest crush is on a fella I’ve been watching on HGTV. (Don’t tell Smokey Robinson or Nouriel Roubini, OK?)  Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes) has not replaced my great love for The Smoke or Dr. Doom but he is currently a part of my personal holy trinity. Why? Because we all need a hero and Mr. Holmes is a hero if ever there was one. Mike is a Canadian building contractor. Every week on HGTV, Mike walks into some fresh hell another builder has left behind for some unwitting home owner. The home owner is usually facing the worst possible contractor rip-off story ever. Electrical fiascos, plumbing-to-nowhere, the house at risk of caving in on itself because the foundation has been compromised by a sociopath posing as a building contractor. Imagine your worst renovation nightmare and Holmes On Homes deals with it. Once Mike enters the scene it is just a matter of time before he rights the wrongs and all is well on the home front.

 Mike’s crew includes his three children. The crew works day and night until Mike is happy with the result. And Mike ain’t happy until it’s perfect. He has even been known to use his own money to finish a project properly for the people who have been taken in. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here. There is just sumthin’ about Mike? A gal has no immunity from that kind of charm. He saves the day every time. He does it with grace, kindness, and human decency. Some bad guy has done something to someone so unfair and Mike, the good guy in overalls, corrects the injustice. He is an absolute inspiration. As stated before we need our heroes. It doesn’t matter if the hero is just an honest working stiff. Or a woman willing to stand up for the freedom of another woman in a country she will never set foot in. It doesn’t matter if the hero breaks the rules or follows them. Anyone doing the right thing when it is far easier, more profitable, and totally acceptable to do otherwise is a hero. At least in my eyes. Ya gotta love a person like that. I manage to find one on any given day and fall in love with them…just a little. It’s Memorial Day here in The States. A day we set aside every year to honor our fallen military heros. Bless them all. And thank heaven not all our heroes are dead heroes. Have a sweet one!

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I am a great believer in remaining present. But when we give in to despair and stop believing in new possibility, sometimes the answer is in the past. If you lack spiritual stability a fall from grace is inevitable. Whenever I feel as though I may have lost my seat on the Success Express I do this exercise. It has never failed to reconnect me to forgiveness and healing. I close my eyes and recall the first home I ever knew as a child. Our family jokingly called it The Green Mansion. By the time I was born, the two-story Victorian beauty with the deep front porch already had decidedly faded charms. The house was located on The Bluffs in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. In those days the steel mills were still in full-time operation and the acrid smell of the river (“The Mon”) permeated not only Cliff Street but half of the city of Pittsburgh. In my mind I walk up the stairs to my childhood home and enter the dark, dank hallway. I visit and revisit every corner, thought and feeling I can muster, as I time travel through the days I spent there. I go back to remember. This was the place where I experienced my first feelings of love and disappointment. This was where I heard my first jazz and climbed my first cherry tree. This was where I ate my first Sunday dinners surrounded by a huge, crazy, loud, loving family. This is where time lost its way. This was my beginning. Different than some beginnings. Not perfection but perfect just the same. Bittersweet and mine. The past is huge. Sometimes the shadow side of yesterday can haunt and daunt. All we can ever do is use it as an anchor to build a bridge and let life whisper in the new day. We’ve all come a long way. All of us. From blame to blessing. From denial to acceptance. From grief to relief. All of it serving the sacred. All of it there to give birth to and welcome the gifts we have to offer today. Sometimes it will take a trip to yesterday to remind you of the blessings of today. The present will still be here waiting for you upon return.

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