Thank You

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“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.” ~ Lewis Carroll

Many of you have read Awakening to Awareness for several years. You have thoughtfully offered your ideas, views and understanding. It has been previously communicated that I value the content on your blogs more than the messages shared herein.

Acknowledging this, I am choosing to express my gratitude in a small way.

Six months ago my first book was published. It reflects much of what has been shared on this blog. In appreciation for reading some of these eclectic messages, I am gifting 30 copies of the book… with a couple of guidelines.

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To qualify for a copy (which will be mailed) I invite you to be one of the first 30 to:

  1.  In comments, identify the one blog that most inspires you and briefly tell us why. You may link the blog if you so choose.
  2. Subject blog cannot be mine, yours or any affiliated with you.
  3. And… you cannot cite a blog that has previously been mentioned (hint: read the comments).

There is a purpose here and I hope it’s obvious. It’s to introduce those who follow this blog to others who take considerable time to write posts with genuine meaning and significance, often accompanied by delightful images of their own creation. Via this exercise we open doors and come to appreciate even more of the incredible talent within this community.

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Melody Beattie, an author whose insights I admire said,

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

To get the ball rolling, the blog that most inspires me is China Sojourns Photography, a brilliant collection of written wisdom and extraordinary photography by Randy Collis. This ought not surprise many readers as Randy guest authored here with this post in January, 2015.

Thank you! for choosing to add to our collective growth and blogging experience.

Why We Do, What We Do

Shall We Swim?“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” ~ John E. Southard

A friend emailed this. It has likely toured the Internet though the excerpt is new to me. It speaks to the ‘what really matters’ that some people have experienced/know. It’s a true story; a gratifying read that I am ‘passing along.’

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, ‘Thank you. Thank you.’

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In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn’t leave. He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like ‘a funny old duck,’ as my dad used to say. Or, to onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant… maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida… That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better.

His full name:  Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero in World War I, and then he was in WWII. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger and thirst. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were or even if they were alive.

Every day across America millions wondered and prayed that Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found alive.

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The men adrift needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle.

They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged on. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft… suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal of it – a very slight meal for eight men. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait….and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea.

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull…and he never stopped saying, ‘Thank you.’ That’s why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Do you have a meaningful ritual that honors someone or something?

Source: Max Lucado, “In The Eye of the Storm”, pp. 221, 225-226

Extraordinary Places

                Deborah "Atianne" Wilson

Deborah “Atianne” Wilson

“Your wealth is a measure of your service to others.” ~ Jewish Proverb

Significant in the coaching profession and in life is the word “shift.” I’ll refrain from defining shift as we each have our own meaning for it. We’ve all experienced shifts – directly or indirectly, voluntarily or involuntarily. My friend, Deborah, having faced abuse, abandonment, rejection, divorce, dis-ease, infertility and financial fears was invited to shift from a place of depression, physical pain and ego misunderstandings to extraordinary places of peace, empowerment, joy, authenticity and love.

Deborah “Atianne” Wilson is known as The Intuitive and Spiritual Wealth Coach. Everything that has shifted, healed and transformed in Deborah’s life has come from the fundamental knowledge that it all matters – we all matter. I know Deborah personally and she is not a ‘woo-woo’ person. She is a grounded woman with uniquely gifted intuitive abilities and thoughtful perspectives. She shared some of her story and her wisdom on this week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show (podcast here).

I invited Deborah to talk about her new book: It’s OK to be Spiritual and Wealthy: 19 Essential Keys for Living a Joyful, Prosperous & Abundant Life… something to which I believe we all aspire. During the show Deborah spoke about important life lessons including: practicing true forgiveness (challenging for many people); the value of expressing and living our life of freedom; divine connection (though not necessarily in a religious sense) and; giving and being in service to others from a joyful place in our hearts.

If the concepts of prosperity, joy, serving others, inner work, and personal responsibility resonate with you, consider listening to the podcast. If you are interested in learning more about Deborah, here’s a link to her website.

Approaching Retirement

“Retirement has been a discovery of beauty for me. I never had the time before to notice the beauty of my grandkids, my wife, the tree outside my very own front door. And the beauty of time itself.” ~ Hartman Jule

Mea culpa. In yesterday’s post I mentioned taking a break. I poorly communicated my intention. What I meant was in that specific post (about phobias), I was going to depart from my blogging categories and posting style. Some of you were kind to wish me well on my ‘sabbatical’ which was not where I was heading. You can’t get rid of me that easily. 🙂

A recent New York Times blog listed six benefits of aging and these are not exclusive to the negative stereotype of those in their 70’s and older:

  • Tranquility
  • The cooling of passion
  • Submission to what you cannot control
  • Willingness to be strong
  • Increased appreciation and gratitude
  • The love of family

How wonderful it is to become comfortable with ourselves and others.

Baby Boomers or “the sandwich generation” to some, are definitely reinventing retirement in response to the particular challenges faced as they simultaneously manage their own aging with taking care of their children and their parents. These are no small tasks and there is no ‘right’ way to retire. Everyone has to cut their own personal path and many of us are.

Perhaps surprising to some (many?), getting older actually has been proven to have its own set of health benefits. Researchers have found that:

  • Happiness improves with age. A recent study from the University of Warwick in England surveyed 10,000 people in the U.S. and Britain. The found that the more people aged, the highest levels of happiness with their lives was found in the older respondents. Researchers evaluated quality of life based on eight different mental and physical health factors.
  • Say goodbye to migraines. If you suffer from debilitating migraines, relief may be in sight. Migraines lessen with age according to the Headache Center in Atlanta. The study found that people who were older than 50 got “less acute migraine attacks” than their younger counterparts and symptoms as nausea and light sensitivity decreased with age.
  • Your brain works better. (This finding surprised me, too.) We all know forgetfulness is part of the territory with aging, but parts of the brain actually improve with age. The older you get the better you are to problem solve and understand arguments, according to Barbara Strauch in her well-researched book The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain. Strauch also found that judgment also improves with age, as does the ability to make financial decisions.

Don’t ever think you are too young to start thinking about aging and the effects it’ll have on your mind and body. The healthier you are now and the more positive your attitude is about moving toward retirement (because you are!), the healthier you’ll be then. Don’t let age affect the way you view yourself on either the inside or the outside.

Being Grateful

“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.” ~ Barry Neil Kaufman

Are you worthy? We all know what it’s like to finally get something we want, only to find ourselves feeling as if we don’t deserve it. Whether it’s a car, a job, or a date with someone wonderful, we suddenly feel as if we are not up to it. Something in us wants to reject this gift, perhaps because it requires that we think of ourselves in a new way or makes us question why we ought to have something that others don’t have. Perhaps the best way to avoid rejection is to simply shift into a state of gratitude, bypassing the question of worthiness altogether.

But who actually decides this? The question of whether we or anyone else deserves something is not really in our jurisdiction. These themes play themselves out in ways we can’t fully comprehend, often over the course of lifetimes. What we do know is that the universe has its own way of shifting the balance over time so that all things are ultimately fair. We can trust in this process and understand that when a gift comes our way, it is because we are meant to have it. Otherwise, it would not be available to us.

Accepting the gift with gratitude and using it to the best of our ability is true humility.

When we receive a gift and find that feelings of unworthiness rise, we can simply acknowledge the feelings and then remind ourselves that they are beside the point. We might say to ourselves, “I am meant to have this.” As we accept the gift, we might have feelings in our heart that naturally shift into a deep feeling of gratitude. As we sit for a moment, consciously holding the gift in our hands or heart, we say “yes” to the blessing, and we also say “thank you.”

Not sure how to express your gratitude; here are three ways:

  1. Make a gratitude appointment. Set a specific time to be grateful each day: when you wake up, when you go to sleep or before a meal. By setting this specific time, you will find yourself thinking all day of what you are grateful for, so at your “gratitude appointment,” you won’t be caught empty-handed.
  2. Ask people about their lives instead of it always being about business or idle chatter. This doesn’t mean you need to pry into personal matters; it means just showing an interest in who they are as an individual.
  3. Acknowledge people publicly. Who doesn’t like public praise? Find a way to acknowledge the contribution of someone, to show your gratitude, in a public way… in your place of work, among friends and family, on your blog, or in your local newspaper. To this suggestion: Thank you, Brad Volz (who blogs at Writing to Freedom ), for introducing me to the wonderful video clip above!

Money – Part II

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” ~ Dorothy Parker

It is a mindset, my friends. Thinking about money in more positive, abundant, and deserving ways changes our relationship with money, making it easier to attract and enjoy. Could it be that simple to get more money? Many people dismiss such thinking about money as unrealistic and too idealistic. Such doubt is understandable, but it can be tested.

Here are three tips that can significantly change the way you think and feel about money. Try them for a few weeks and see what happens with your money.

Tip #1
Visualize the money you receive and spend as energy in a circular process of exchange. For example, the value of your work, expertise, or skills is exchanged for the salary or fees from an employer or client. You then exchange the money you have received for the value of a product or service you can purchase. These exchanges go around and around with each creating value. Seeing money this way changes your perception of the value of money. You value more of what you exchange to receive it and you value what you exchange it for. This means more conscious and positive choices about money.

Tip #2
Be grateful for the money that comes to you and that you can exchange it with other people. When you receive money, tell yourself you have received a “valued” gift and feel the positive energy that comes from honoring that gift. When you give it to others be grateful that you can give a “valued” gift to someone else. Gratitude for money as a gift taps into the Law of Abundance, which says there is plenty of money for everyone and allowing money to flow to us as a gift and away from us as a gift, means more will flow to us. The more grateful you are for money, the more you will have to be grateful for – it’s that simple.

Tip #3
Continually remind yourself that you deserve money and that it provides you the freedom to live, play, and enjoy. Everyone deserves wealth and what it can provide. Most people doubt they deserve it and almost see it as a curse. In doing so, they feel trapped by it, desperate for it, and hoard what money they have. Money will be harder to attract if your thoughts about it stop it from flowing to you. If you see it as scarce, it will be, especially if you believe it should be scarce for you. You deserve lots of money and so do others and by receiving it and sharing it, we affirm that.

Money is the most constant concern for all of us, since without money life is limited, sometimes even hopeless. How we think about it determines how much we attract and the level of freedom it can provide us. If you think of money as an energy to be exchanged, express gratitude for it, and know you deserve money; your experience with it can change dramatically. Not only will you feel better, the probability that money will flow abundantly toward you will increase.

Sometimes, It’s the Little Things

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel like I’ve known you so many years?” “Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451

Perhaps it was because I was exhausted. Between leaving Los Angeles late yesterday afternoon and arriving home after midnight, I had a lot of time during which I chose to just watch and listen… to random travelers, the sights within airports, the sounds of others voices, and to my heart. Following a good night’s sleep, I retrieved my dogs from the kennel this morning and intentionally, created space to be and play with them before heading off to a business engagement.

This afternoon I reflected on the past several days, during which I was in the amazing company of a Mastermind group to which I belong. And I realized that so many of my recent, conscious experiences (the Mastermind, traveling, random people, my canine companions, etc.) were about relationships. Creating new and growing relationships with people I know and appreciate; introductions and interactions with strangers; fleeting conversations with airplane seatmates and; being reunited with loved sentient beings. All of them related, somehow, to connection.

Many of us, I believe, tend to not always consider life’s weavings as connections. Yet we know the intense feelings of awe, power, and gratitude that we have when we experience nature, our bodies, change, emotions, and responsibilities. Being in relationship awakens us to a willingness to be joyful, in service, supportive, open to learning, inspired, and to the creation of meaning and value in and for all.

Intellectually I get it, yet this intentional pause still wowed me. To know how interconnected we are and how easy it is to relate, impact, and resolve challenges that face us – individually and collectively – was an appreciated humanistic reflection.

I will conclude with three ways to create and/or strengthen a connection, if this is something to which you aspire:

  1. Celebrate each other. Say something kind to another person, whether you know them or not. Nourish the (potentially budding) relationship by letting them how they have affected you – as a friend, a colleague, or even a passing acquaintance. Kind, honest expressions are always appreciated. Be generous with compliments.
  2. Listen carefully. Let people know that their thoughts and feelings are important. Good listening encourages relationship building. Be “present” in conversation and demonstrate a heartfelt desire to understand what is being communicated.
  3. Maintain your Sense of Self. Try to honor your own needs and boundaries so as to sustain your healthy, individual identity. At the same time, don’t be afraid to open up and develop friendships – recognizing knowledge, interests, and experiences that others may want to share with you. Balance your needs with those of the other person.

There are times and experiences when I am grateful for being exhausted. They afford me opportunities to put matters into perspective and appreciate what I’ve seen, heard and recognized. How often do you create these moments?

At Choice With Happiness

“Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

It is said that happiness is the most common goal in people’s lives. How happy are you? I hope your answer was “depends.” That is because happiness depends on our personal view of situations, relationships, work, or things. If you change your view, you change your level of happiness.

“I will be happy when, if only, and after,” are the phrases used to preface our statements about happiness. They typify common beliefs that happiness is determined by the external and occurs mostly in the future.

The word happiness is derived from the root word “hap” which is being “fitted to suit.” Happiness is about the present; it happens or occurs now. Happiness neither yearns for the past nor waits for the future. Happiness is found in the feelings, beliefs, actions, and joy of what you are doing now.

To find happiness in the present you have to be willing to accept what and where you are. This means being grateful for the gifts, the experiences, and the opportunities of today. It also means being grateful for the frustrations, the challenges, and the disappointments. All are messages about what is working and what needs changing.

Being grateful does not mean you cannot work for more or expect bigger and better. It doesn’t mean do not set goals, look for improvements for progress, or anticipate more to come. Amazingly, being grateful is the sure way to attract more and bigger and better. Being grateful (happy) with the now actually creates space for more to come into your life.

When you choose happiness (it is a choice), you are then free to make other choices as well. Happy people choose what they do with their time, their resources, and who they allow in their lives. Unhappy people typically allow others, situations, and personal needs to make their choices for them. You can choose happiness right now with these three simple steps:

  1. Realize that the present is just as it ought to be. Choices and steps, beliefs, and actions, have brought you to this point. Accept where you are. What are the messages in your present that are telling you what to do next?
  2. Be grateful for it all, for it all has significance. See it all as a gift and enjoy the sweet while learning from the sour.
  3. Be content. What you have is all you really need right now. Choosing happiness today opens you up for more happiness tomorrow.

One of the world’s greatest novelists, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wisely said, “If you want to be happy, be.” Happiness is not about material things, accomplishments, or anything external. Your happiness is available to you right now, if you choose it!

How Do You Know?

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Many of us believe we know where we’re going, how to get there, and what we need to reach our destination or goal. We have the tools (maybe even mentors) to help guide us. But when it comes to life, we may be less sure we’re on or off course. It’s a longer timeline with significant challenges, potential and reward.

Fortunately, there are clues that tell us if we’re on or off track. While we journey along our path, we’re assured that if we are true to ourselves in who we are being and what we are doing, all that we need to do to be ourselves will be easily provided, including money, opportunities, and relationships.

Here are three clues to knowing you’re on course and some realistic hints that will alert you to being off your chosen path:

Clue #1
You are open and accepting of differences in others and especially different choices and wants. You allow other people to have their experiences knowing there is a path for them too, and they are the only ones who can know and follow it.

Hints:
You make judgments, want to change others, and have many expectations for them. You have to be right and defend your opinions, sure that you can save or fix others, even calling it helping or loving them. You make assumptions and are confident in making them.

Clue #2
Gratitude is your nature and you express appreciation to people, experiences, and things that enter your day. You know that all you need is either provided for or will be provided to you if you are on your path and following clear plans.

Hints:
You want to get, acquire and own what you think is missing in your life and days. You focus on doing “what it takes” to get what you think you need or want and you struggle, overcome and remove whatever is blocking your progress.

Clue #3
Each day you look for purposeful actions that naturally arise of expressing your life purpose. These are the “best and right” decisions for you to share your message for the world. Such decisions are grounded in your personal values from which you make choices, interact, and behave. You look to be in integrity in all situations without the permission or approval of other people.

Hints:
Your thoughts and actions are based on have-to, shoulds, and musts. You are afraid of not “following the rules” in society and being punished. Your mind is constantly assessing what will get what you need and avoid what you fear.

Consider taking a moment to reflect on these clues and the hints that a clue may be eluding your daily experience. Think of them as beacons or a compass to help guide you. Navigating unchartered paths is something you need not do alone. Three more clues and hints will follow in another post. Stay tuned…

It’s Already Present Within You

“They were seeking out the treasure of their destiny without actually wanting to live out their destiny.” ~Paulo Coelho

In between one of our (years ago) sessions, my first Life Coach emailed me. In it she remarked, “I used to be a seeker and in some ways still am one. Society teaches us that living is a linear and progressive path to getting and having; so we seek and we seek. The first half of my life was spent doing just that, but no longer. Still, I encounter seekers each day, so the message reached most of us. Are you a seeker too? If you are, what are you seeking?”

I had to dig deep to find that archived note. However, when found, I knew I wanted to share some related observations.

We live and have always lived in a world of seekers and seeking. The traditional reason for our seeking has been for something better, needed, or achieved that can make us happy. But what are we seeking and how are we seeking it?

As traditional as seeking is, it is also at the root of so much distress, dissatisfaction, and hopelessness. In our seeking we fail to see what has already been found or created. Yet we continue to seek:

  • Wholeness, completeness and fullness, often through relationships and the perception of love within them.
  • Answers to life’s questions and directions for our challenges.
  • Understanding of ourselves and others, our lives, and circumstances.
  • Peace and calm and the happiness they embellish.
  • Abundance, including more money, more things, a bigger house, a new label, and material possessions.

Just the belief that what we seek is missing in our lives, continues us looking outside to obtain or experience it. Such seeking often lasts a lifetime, punctuated with disappointment and the sadness of what we are missing or lacking. Even when we think we finally have what we seek, our mind reminds us that there is more, and our seeking continues.

The end of our seeking comes with the realization that what we have been seeking has been and already is present or at the least, readily available. Whether it be wholeness, direction, understanding, peace or abundance; we can experience them all immediately. All that is necessary is to see, love, and enjoy what we have now. When we stop looking at the horizon, we will see the ground below us.

The irony is that through our appreciation and gratitude for the life, relationships, and opportunities here now, we open up the possibilities for more. When we stop seeking, we will find that what “we sought” was always here.