T is for Trust

traveling

Two friends and I sat yesterday afternoon briefly discussing what we were going to do after our retreat center sold. I get asked a lot about my future plans. “I don’t know” is the only answer I can give. I have no clue. It’s the first time in my life that I don’t have a plan that sets my future on gear. I do know what I don’t want. I can feel my body constrict and heart palpitations take place when I think of settling down again in a house and in one place. I can feel my breathing get erratic when I think about being stuck immediately after getting out of this huge responsibility. So, yes….the I-don’t-know answer is accurate but it’s rarely received well by others. People need certainty. People are conformed and programmed to know. To hear a 47 year-old woman say, “I have no clue” is somehow perceived as an irrational and insane behavior. Some would think I was going through a major midlife crisis.

One of my friends who has been traveling extensively the last few years shared his story. He sold everything and just returned to the states from Italy. He said to me, “T is for trust. Trust is a marvelous design. It will never do you wrong.” And, I have to know that it is. Until this moment I have always known what I needed and wanted and follow through with every expectation.

All of my life I have been stable and responsible in making sure everyone around me was taken care of and was lacking nothing. In the process I stopped asking what Millie wanted. Now in view that there is open fields ahead I have nothing but the idea to take some time and leave the premises. The baby is small enough that she adjusts to anything. Matt (my fiance) can work from any place as long as he has a computer at hand. When I shared with him a month ago that I just couldn’t settle he took a deep breath and said, “We can make this work. We can do whatever you want.”  It’s priceless to have a mate who supports your wishes and desires.  He is excited to trek new mountains, fish in new ponds, and backpack through forests.  I am beyond giddy to experience nature through my own senses rather than reading of others’ experiences. 

The things I know for certain are based on dreams. My middle name is America, after my paternal grandmother. I was destined to travel this country and see every part that has been in my little head all these years. I own the label and title. But, the what if’s seem to start lurking throughout the nights as we get closer to reaching the new stage of this journey. As we close one chapter and another opens I get those familiar doubts visit me in moments of restlessness. Then I remember one of the most amazing quotes from the movie Letters to Juliet: “What” and “If” are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if? What if? I don’t know how your story ended but if what you felt then was true love, then it’s never too late. If it was true then, why wouldn’t it be true now? You need only the courage to follow your heart.”

Follow your heart”…my spirit keeps echoing in moments of clarity when the world isn’t questioning my motifs. Follow my heart through intuitive guidance that lets me know I will make money writing and traveling (I don’t need to know right now how). Follow all that I know for certain: I cannot be caged like a broken-winged bird. It’s time to take flight and move through my dreams. I want to meet folks along the way and write their stories. I want to be touched spiritually by all that is out there. I have been an obedient student the past five years. It’s time. The voices answer through the nights, “Get through this stage of uncertainty and the world will open up with all the what if’s you have always questioned.”

I urge you to follow your authentic self, dreams, aspirations and childhood goals. Ask yourself what you want and work towards the urgency that screams inside. Don’t let the uncertainty or society tell you what you should do or not do. Go for it. Make it happen. My “I-don’t-know’s” aren’t really unknown. They lie inside with answers that I, alone, choose not to translate to others at this moment. And that’s magical! For the first time the not knowing is overshadowed by what I do know. I am well on the path to enchantment through the balance and alignment of mind, body and spirit. I am ready to begin living a life that is fulfilling to the little girl in me. I am ready to follow the what if’s and make them work for me….

Believe in you and love will follow

believe

“It is not my place to doubt the sincere beliefs of others. My job is to question my own beliefs.” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

I have been blessed to witness true love between two people.  It’s one of the great quirks of owning our retreat center. But, it’s rare that I find an authentic connection when one soul has met another and whispers, “There you are. I’ve been looking for you all of my life.” I know a couple who have exceeded my relationship paradigms. These two men, after nearly 30 years, still have a mutual respect, profound love, trust, compassion, and appreciation for one another. This is something most of us crave to find in a lifetime. We are born from love, searching for love, and hopefully finding that one person who can understand us.

They are opposites in so many ways. Watching them interact I am reminded of a wave. One takes while the other pulls, and together they fall into one. Even in their differences, there is this depth of accepting and knowing that although they may not agree on something they don’t question or judge the other. This is the most precise to my idea of love. They are the inspiration to what relationships should look like. It doesn’t matter if it is between a man and a woman; a man and a man; or a woman and a woman.

I am always fascinated by how people meet, how long they’ve been together, and what is the secret of their union. I don’t need to ask those questions to either of them. I can see it in a slight touch, a humorous comment, a glance across the table. I can hear it in their explanations and stories. There is no faking such sentiments. There is no denying that whatever belief one of them has, the other might not experience it, but doesn’t belittle the other because of it.

One of the most difficult issues in a relationship is that we want to “convert” our significant other to share our beliefs. Until I met my fiance I had always been with men (recently pointed out by a friend who is a therapist) whose political and religious beliefs are completely different from mine. As open minded as I think I am, these men have all been the opposite and all of them have desperately (and with much frustration) tried to force me to acquire their beliefs. When I would clam up and go numb they would start the insults about how I don’t know anything about politics or religion. I laugh now, as I type this, but while in these destructive and imbalance relationships I was totally stressed out. The difference in belief systems seems quite evident now that I look back.  So when I met my current love I made sure to clarify these things.  After over two years it has stuck.  We can agree on many things and also agree to disagree in others.

I have had a fascination with world religions and have studied them. This caused a huge stir in past relationships. Any political view, different from my own, was also insulting. I became aware of this issue and made it a rule not to discuss religion or political views with any man until I was fully comfortable to stand my ground.  I wasn’t willing to pick another who dictated or bull-dozed their way through my beliefs.

As I have observe my new friends interacting, I realize that part of who I am is based on “my beliefs.” I will no longer compromise my ideas, disposition, beliefs, and truth. They compose the person I am today. I will not allow another to try and morph me into what they believe I should be.

Few times in this path of my life do I get to stand back and admire another relationship. Perfection doesn’t exist. Perfection within our intimate imperfections does. When you find a person whom you can be all of yourself and have no judgment…well, that’s your soul mate. I don’t use the term, “soul mate” lightly. I believe a parent, child, friend, or anyone can be a soul mate. When I say it in this context I mean it as a twin soul; that other person who is part of your ocean and together you create a wave.  I have been fortunate to have found someone who will surf the rocky and calmed waters with me.

Every person who enters our life teaches us something. I am humbly grateful for eafirst-and-last-lovech person who leaves a little piece of hope in my life. I pray that people can actually let go of this aggression when it comes to beliefs and learn to love one another. It really isn’t my business what you think of me, anymore than what I think of you. My only concern is that I am truthful with me and those who love me for who I am.  In the end our authentic spirit is what reflects from our hearts.  You must love you first and foremost. May you move through love so you can find the love that compliments your soul.  You are worth it!

Floating in the Universe

I am always checking out new holistic modalities. Anything that challenges and betters mind, body and spirit has my full-undivided attention. The deeper we travel into our awareness the healthier we become. It doesn’t stop with massages, biofeedback therapy, cranial sacral therapy, hypnosis, and psychotherapy (to name a few). My best friend and business partner, Bobbie, heard from a friend about Flotation Therapy. We began researching it and found a spa in Asheville called Still Point Wellness that has a salt water floatation chamber. She made an appointment for both of us. Bobbie went a few days ago and came back giddy. She didn’t share much of her experience as not to cloud mine. I couldn’t wait for my turn. The thought of being in complete darkness, sensory deprived, floating over a ton of Epsom salt for an hour and a half filled me with an intoxication for my sense of adventure. I had done research for several days about others’ experiences: the highs, the psychic awareness, relaxation, self exploration, meditation, healing of aches and pains, long term healing, and so many other yummy conscious journeys. I was definitely not disappointed!

This morning I ventured to Downtown Asheville to a quaint spa near my favorite Starbucks. It was suggested that I didn’t have caffeine before getting my session (a killer for me in the morning time). The place was exceptional. Their office staff consists of this beautiful young woman who makes you feel like you’ve been long lost friends forever. I love that! She explained several things about the chamber. I was glad before arriving Bobbie had shared some details of first impressions. She asked to please give it a try when they opened the door to this dark room. Having suffered from claustrophobia for most of my life that initial exposure of darkness with a closed door is daunting. The smell of salt water felt like being out to sea. Once I was inside, naked, my body feeling light, I took a deep breath and everything melted.

I cannot explain what really happened to me without sounding like a way-over-the-top hippie. Once I began floating I had no perception. It seemed that every conscious feeling, emotion, reflection,thought, or sense of reality was shut outside the room. It is the darkest physical place I’ve ever been in. For an avid meditation practitioner it is heaven. I don’t know what happened but I was transferred to outer space. Now, you are definitely thinking she’s on something! I was in Oneness. I felt like Sandra Bullock on the movie Gravity. With eyes wide opened I began to see the universe. I began to understand the beginning…. And, this is where I leave you with my experience. Yours will be entirely different. All I can say is that the deprivation of sound, substance, and light allows the floater to experience everything (s)he is and is not.

I can understand why floating therapy has become popular as spa places are popping up in many large cities with these floating rooms. I can see how anyone can get hooked. The high one receives from those alone moments weightlessly moving through darkness is profound. As I was driving back up the mountain, taking in the gorgeous summer views, I had a thought: how does a person who can’t be alone stay in that room for the first time? How can that person stand the thoughts that must come and go as time stops? I can shut anything out of my brain. I can go to total nothingness, the chamber was the most incredible place to coincide with my mind. But, I am aware that our society cannot let go of thoughts. We are programmed to constantly be stimulated. I was filled with giddiness just like Bobbie. I even skipped on my Starbucks Latte. It wasn’t necessary. I was on a psychedelic high that can only be explained as the release of toxins, emotions and all that triggers the mind and body. I was on the best spiritual journey that money can buy. I was in my own retreat, ashram, and vacation for 90 minutes. Don’t believe me? You try it and see if you feel otherwise! But, be aware that once you are in there time stops and the only person you have to answer to is you. Sometimes that’s what is needed to heal. If you are honest with yourself this chamber experience can be the beginning of getting to know the real you.

www.stillpointwellness.com

81-B Central Avenue, Asheville, NC

828-348-5372 opened Monday-Sunday 10 am – 8 pm

The Collective Consciousness

The lighter you become of egocentricity the easier life becomes. Life is not meant to be a struggle. We create it. Recently I have tallied, processed and released some major past issues I had not faced in all the years on earth. Now, from a spiritual sense I know that these lessons and events were part of my growth to enrich the betterment of my soul. However, if we don’t re-collect these issues and release the load then the struggles continue. This is part of our collective consciousness. It’s time to learn to create a barrier between you and the world that tells you what and how to be.

We are the sum of all the voices in the past. We become conditioned the moment we are born. Parents begin this process, society continues through teachers, partners, friends, etc. We begin to fall into some kind of box of expectations. Grant it, I had always done things by the book. But, I was a closet rebel. I did everything by the book on the outside meantime inside I was dying. I didn’t want to be conformed to labels of “weird, insane, or whatever.” As close as the spirit world seemed to me as a youngster, I kept the distance, thus creating a huge amount of anxiety in every decision I made against my better judgment. Living in the box is an illusion because there is no box. When we finally wake to this truth life stops being a struggle altogether. There will always be challenges, obstacles and lessons. We are here to live through the learning.

Our brain is programmed to notice what it already knows to be true. I’ve taken photographs of our pond with the clouds reflecting on it. You can’t tell what’s up or what is down. The point of reference is distorted. This is the same as our spiritual beliefs. We are somehow distorted by what society tells us to believe. How do you know what you know if you don’t have a point of reference? Where did you get that point of reference? How true is that opinion? Is it an opinion or is it truth? When did you stop questioning everything that went against your knowing? Why? When you begin to question rather than just assume and accept the struggle also disappears. You aren’t living for the sake of living because the world told you how to be, who to be, and what to be. You begin to live for you.

The collective consciousness is in need of a major shifting. Attachments to fear, anxiety, or drama is the way we are constantly being connected to what is not real. I am finding that by not giving an opinion to another person’s drama I can detach completely. I am empathetic and compassionate but I refuse to get involved. This goes along with the spirit world. The veil of our 3D perception and the next dimension is thinning. We are beginning to ask more questions. We are beginning not to just accept what has been told to us by dogma. In Latin the word for religion means “to bind.” Living in the box of what we have been told is diminishing. You can only go past this world by going through it.

My beautiful man accuses me of living in a made-up-unicorn-rainbow world. We are the epitome (the poster children) of “opposites attract.” But, he has witnessed too many things that can’t be explained to disregard that my perception of the world works perfectly for me and for us. I am not asking him to join me in my world views. I only ask that he supports my belief systems as I support his without judgment. We work perfectly in this sense while meeting somewhere in the middle. In this world of laughter and constant joy I keep my vibrations raised to fit the needs of my life. I don’t need to fall into society’s controlled-box policy of being a certain way. At times I know I shock the crap out of people. Those who no longer support me in my life choices really have no reason to be part of my life. Our lives will always be intertwined, with or without their consent we are connected.

I truly believe that things are accelerating in a way that is magical. I am witnessing the waking of spirit. I can see how decisions are being made and questioned. Yet, in spite of this human conscious shift, we are still babies learning to crawl. We have incarnated in these times to make way for the future. We are not just accepting that God is the gray-haired man in the sky controlling us, but that we are God and made in the image of divinity. Earth is changing. We are evolving. We are living longer. We are moving forward in a beautiful spiritual era. I am giddy with this knowing but I am also aware that it takes more than just my little fairy-filled head to push and elevate vibrations. We need to fill our hearts with all the love and light possible in our beings and radiate that to the cosmos. I hope you join me in this awareness. May we join in love, light and the divine joy of the world. If we want change we must create it in ourselves first. We can do this…one small act of kindness at a time.

Failing our children

We are failing the children of the future by the actions we have allowed through laws today.  I rarely watch the news, however, two nights ago Matt stopped on Anderson Cooper.  He was covering the news on a 9 year old little girl who was sent back to her biological father after several years of being in a stable foster home.  The foster parents were in the process of adopting her.  Her biological dad just came out of jail.  Apparently due to the wonderful laws in his state of Nebraska because his sentence was reduced from 10 years to 8 years he now has the custodial rights to this child.  May I say that I don’t know why he was in jail and don’t care!  This man has been out of her life for years and this young girl has had the chance to have a normal life with folks who love her.  These adoptive parents are heartbroken.  They are devastated.  I don’t know where in a judge’s right mind she can be placed with her sperm donor.  This is the perfect example of laws failing in this country.

I don’t normally write about politics.  I live in my own bubble of love, contentment, compassion and happiness.  Recently I have come to see the injustice of what’s considered “human rights.”  When my adopted-mentally challenged-bipolar daughter was a teenager I tried through every venue to get her tubes tide.  I didn’t want to think what would become of her with a child.  She’s barely able to make healthy choices for herself, let alone a child in tow.  Every doctor I visited, including Plan Parenthood, expressed to me that she had “rights.”  In those rights she had to be the one to choose if she wanted the operation.  Mind you, before the age of 18 if she hurt anyone (with her volatile temper and violent demeanor) I would be the one in jail.  Yet, she had the right to make such a life changing decision!   Once she turned 18 years of age she was responsible for herself.  I was able to get her into an assistant living facility.  I never babied her or enabled her to do things for herself.  She’s a survivor.  Now several years later her poor choices have landed her in the hospital beaten by her partner, and a baby to support.  Watching the news I am reminded that this monster of a man could possibly fight for custody of my grand-daughter at some point between his in’s and out’s of jail.  The laws are made by folks who have no clue what it is to be in those sorts of situations.  Let’s get real: the common folk have no say!

I don’t know what will become of my daughter and her daughter.  I have no rights as a grandparent.  Apparently it is what it is.  We have to adhere and abide as good citizens of the law.  I have exhausted my own resources to see how she can now get her tubes tide since one child is way too much for her.  Her answer is always the same, “I know my rights.  You can’t make me.”  She does have her human rights memorized.  I must say even without medication she still can focus on those sorts of issues.  Most likely she will end up pregnant again and again while the system supports her with funding, exhausting the tax payer’s money.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I don’t have the money to go fight the State, the Supreme Court, and their appalling laws.  My daughter was adopted from a third world country but her mentality seems to still remain there since the age of 9 when she arrived into my care.  So the next generation continues to run through the cycle of fostering, drugs, prostitution, abuse and everything under the sun that comes with that kind of living.  And, add the chance that her partner chooses to protest against her, he may then have custody of this child.  Apparently the media will cover it and make a sensational story out of the events!

I ask, am I the only who sees a desperate call for changing our laws?  What has happened to our society?  If it doesn’t pertain to us we look straight ahead with blinders on like the horses in a race.  I am guilty of this as well.  I figure, I can’t fix the world.  I ended up with six children because I thought I could fix the world one child at a time.  I had schizophrenia, fetal alcohol syndrome, bipolar, learning disabilities, mentally capacities, split personality disorder, narcissistic and detachment disorder just to name a few (and I say this lightly).  There is not one person who can fix all that.  I believed love would help these children.  I believed a healthy home structure would give them all they needed to go out into the world.  The joke has been on me.  Now, I sit with my heart in my hands, praying that no other child falls through the loopholes of our system.  There is no help for our society if we don’t start to make changes through lawmakers.  I have no idea what needs to be done.  I only know we are letting our future generations down.

I have a friend who lives in Florida and her daughter and grandchild live in Chicago.  The ex-husband and baby daddy has gone in and out of the courts to make sure that they are prisoners of that city and state.  My friend can’t have them in Florida living with her because the courts have given this self-righteous man the rights to govern the future of these two people.  The rights to be parents have been removed in so many levels.  The rights for teachers to teach have been ignored and overturned.  And, the rights to make healthy choices for our mentally challenged children have been diminished.

This morning I stand open hearted praying for a shift in our society.  I have no idea what will become of my daughter and this precious baby girl.  I have no clue what will happen to that little girl who is with a father she didn’t really know in Nebraska while her adopted family is in Tennessee.  I fear that the system will work against us all.  There are times that “human rights” pertain more to those who have the funding to make things happen, than to those who are living the scenarios.  What’s best for everyone?  Who determines what one family should have and another shouldn’t?  I have to believe that there are still folks out in the system looking for a child’s best interest.  That’s my meditation today.  And, that’s all I can hope for while watching the world disappoint one child at a time!

the case of Sonya: http://bringsonyahome.com/

 

We are a bunch of flakes

flake

I saw this small snowflake on Bobbie’s hair the other day. It was perfect. I thought to myself, “This flake is just like her, like me, like everyone. No two are alike. They fall without permission and stay present everywhere. Together among others we can’t see their individuality. But, when we search closely we see perfection.”

I see your spirit and your uniqueness as beautiful. Each one of us is here together melting into one. Don’t lose sight of your gifts and your beauty just to blend with the norm. Be a lovely snowflake caught in the wind, a window or hair…standing out to make a difference! In those moments that chaos embraces you with uncertainty, fear, anxiety and questions notice that you are the most important person in your life.  You make a difference in this world.

The most incredible sense of freedom is being who you are and loving yourself without expectations from others.  Just like the snowflakes we will land where we are supposed to.  Life is magical in that way.  Each of us at one time or another has been overwhelmed by the opinions of others.  Don’t let them dim your light.  It will make you lonely, isolated and disregarded.  What you are is just as intricate and beautiful as the designs on a flake.  As A.A. Milne said, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”

We are together but so apart…

oneworld

I am apologizing before you even begin to read this post.  By no means do I hope these thoughts upset you.  I like to clarify something about me and how I think of our union in this world.  There are three subjects that I try really hard to stay away from in discussions: religion, indiscretions (sex), and politics (R.I.P).  I had a friend, who last year stopped talking to me because “I use the Lord’s name in vain” every time I write about God and substitute His name with Spirit, the Divine, the Great Mystery, the Sacred, etc.  I explained to her that I had to be careful when I wrote in my blog specifically in a Christian terminology.  I had to be sure to include different languages when it came to God.  He (God) was not going to be upset with me.  Uh-oh, that last comment did it!  I was placed on some anti-Christian list with a one-way ticket to Hell.  This rage with her also held up for different political views.  She couldn’t handle that I did not follow her political party even though I never discussed politics in her presence.  In her world the word “Christianity” did not seem to coincide with love, compassion, and forgiveness.

So now, I stand firmly in avoiding R.I.P.  I rarely discuss or make mention of opinions towards religions, or beliefs.  I believe in the One – the almighty “I AM.”  The other day I heard a spiritual teacher/preacher say that “He (God) did not say worship Me.  He said listen to me.”  That comment stuck out vividly as he went on to explain that God is love.  So many wars have been fought in the name of God.  Religion is a very personal subject, and one that causes more veins and blood pressure to rise within seconds.  What I find fascinating is that our beliefs, no matter what they are, guide us through our decisions.  Those same beliefs also alienate us from others.  Many times these “beliefs” become the hatred ignition that causes shedding of blood upon each other in the name of “sacredness.”  God is a powerful subject, not to mention an omnipotence presence.  How He is perceived determines how the world moves through events.  I learned long ago to glue my lips together.  I believe a religious man is one who holds God and humanity in one thought at the same time while holding the greatest compassion regardless of despair, defiance, and contradictions.  As Gandhi said, “God has no religion.”

Then there is indiscretion, particularly sexual orientation.  I have to literally walk away from this one when anyone starts on homosexuals, and anything to do with discriminating another human being because of their sexual orientation.   What do you mean you don’t believe in homosexuality?  It’s not Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny!  Where is humanity’s acceptance, empathy, and compassion?  How can you reject another human being because of what he/she does behind closed doors?  Love is love.  The anger and hatred that arises from some people is inhumane, and it is all driven from fear (often times stemming from religious beliefs).  Please save your opinions in regards to what you think is an abomination.  I have many friends and family members who did not “choose” this “lifestyle.”  It wasn’t a choice.  Whether you care to believe it is based on genetic disposition, traumas, or whatever, please carefully choose your words in our world and how the wrath of God will come down on “these people in the end of time.”  We also can’t blame it to character flaws, or punishable by religion and state. If you don’t understand please don’t curse it.  It seems religion and politics have opinions about this subject in more ways than the state of our financial affairs.  Once again, I believe this subject is due to fear and intolerance and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Fear always springs from ignorance.”  Homosexuality is not a disease that has vaccinations.  It isn’t something “you will outgrow” either.  Two people fall in love…end of story.

Oh, and the last avoidance…politics!  This is that one huge umbrella that seems to cover the rainfall of anger and frustration from the world.  I try to just stay out of that storm at all cost.  See, I watch those in politics go into their terms looking all young and strong. After their ego-trips and hopes are unfulfilled they come out of office looking like some old chap that has been dragged out through the gates of hell.  I don’t just mean in this country either.  It’s everywhere in the world.  These folks are left with a mere shadow of who they once appeared to be. The political parties don’t matter. Every four years it’s the same drama.  No matter who you pick, the person in charge of our country isn’t really in charged.  It’s not going to matter how much you argue with another person about your opinion.  The political arena is a world of its own.  You can bitch about gas prices being $5.00 per gallon but guess what, you will still pay the price.  You can complain about our healthcare system, but guess what, you will still need to use the healthcare system in our country (unless you move to Canada). You can cry about the taxes but there is one certainty: you can’t escape death or taxes.  Somewhere politics stopped being about people and began to be about politicians. “In politics, nothing happens by accident.  If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.  And, I can almost assure you that it will continue to be this way because there will always be people in charged.

I apologize for any giggles and sarcastic behavior I might have added in your presence when these three subjects have been touched. I believe in the allowance of your opinions, but ultimately all I care about is how YOU are feeling, how YOU love, how YOU show up in our world, and how YOU exist in my presence.   I wish I could express how hatred deteriorates my spirit when I watch another human being go into a rant in a sickly apathetic and heartless manner.  Go on any social media site and it seems that instead of being lifted with love, friendship and optimism what we find is anger, frustration and animosity.  When will we learn to live with love in our hearts regardless of our differences in race, sex and belief?  I hope this post doesn’t alienate anyone because of what I’ve written.  I live in a Disney World bubble at times.  It’s a small world after all!  My hand extends out to you regardless of your religious background, your sexual preference and your political choices.  I want to know you are here, there, anywhere ready to help another in the time of need.  That’s all that really matters.  Have a great day and please love one another.   We were placed on this plateau of Earth to learn, love and live in the highest form of consciousness.  What you say and do transfers onto others…. We are in this together!  The smallest ripple can cause the largest wave.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”-The Bible

“A man’s moral worth is not measured by what his religious beliefs are but rather by what emotional impulses he has received from Nature during his lifetime.” Albert Einstein

“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” – Dalai Lama

Lack of Interactions

 

On December 22 of this past year a beautiful long hair Calico cat showed up at our door. She was very thin. Even though we had decided that we would have no more pets, especially cats since I am allergic, this fury creature changed the entire idea. My daughter fed her and she kept coming back. The cold winter air forced me to bring her indoors, “for just one night and then she needs to go!” I was not going to have a litter box or any smell of a cat in my house. No, no, no. Just one night and that’s it! Needless to say, you know where the story ends. The cat now has two names and neither is her official “real” name. She has become the mascot of Peaceful Quest Retreats.

The thing about cats is that they don’t listen. They look at you when you are speaking to them in annoyance. As friendly as Mystic or Fluffy (depending on who is calling her) is she still has the demeanor of most people nowadays. The look in her eyes says, “I hear the words that are yapping out of your mouth but I can’t be bothered right now while I am trying to take a nap or in the middle of my bath.”

Listening is so important. We all talk, talk, gab, blah, blah…but, how many of us actually sit and truly listen? There’s a difference between hearing and listening. The cat hears but she has no interest in listening. I am finding fewer and less people in my life who actually listen. I’m usually shocked when someone repeats words that I’ve said back to me. No wonder we pay therapists to be heard. At least for one hour we get acknowledged for our existence.

I have a friend whom I’ve known for over 25 years. He’s a man of few words and whenever we talk I enjoy listening to him. He is one of the few people I’ve ever met who can listen and be present in the conversation. Sometimes he will remind me of something I said years ago and I am always surprised at the details because they are about insignificant things. You know, like how I like my B.L.T. or what my favorite smell is after the rain, or what my favorite show was in the 90’s. Just useless information! And, if he can listen to my useless information then I know he listens to the important stuff as well. I am often cautious of things I will say because they are banked in his memory and when I least expect it they will be returned back to me.

I am present when someone is talking. I do have days that I am hearing and not retrieving the information, but it is rare. I want to be heard, comprehended, and acknowledge in the presence of another. I am not a cat and don’t expect the person who I am conversing with to be one either. My best friend, Bobbie, and I sit for hours just talking. It is a gift to share and be heard from the most insignificant thing to life changing events. There’s nothing more beautiful than being seen and acknowledge for our existence. I know this is rare and I don’t take it for granted.

With the advancement in technology people are becoming less and less connected to each other unless they are emailing, texting, twittering, FaceBooking, or whatever else is out there that requires no eye contact. Listening is becoming an ancient art. I suspect that one day we will be like my cat, giving a blank and annoying stare of interruption. I watch this behavior with the younger generations and can’t believe that they just don’t interact the way we did when we were teenagers. Are we really this disconnected from each other that we cannot hold a conversation with anyone around us? What happened to us, as a whole in society that we can’t consciously look at someone and speak with them? We are constantly being bombarded by the external parts of technology. Are we really governed by the rush of being constantly charged by cell phones, emails, computers, IPOD’s and any gadget that is supposed to make our lives easier, when in reality they handicap our social skills? Life was simpler twenty years ago. We were human beings interacting with each other. When we sat to talk there was a presence to the visit. We listened attentively, to gossip, stories, and useless information. It didn’t matter what it was, we were sitting with each other listening.

I pray that society changes its course. The path I am observing seems so detached and disconnected. The simple things in life as interconnecting, sharing and “shooting the breeze” with each other will soon be historical. Our children’s children will watch movies about this and will never understand what joy there is in looking at another human being while listening. Society will become more like cats, minding their own business, and only paying attention when they feel like it, otherwise use technology to relate the simplest message. The beauty of human interaction will probably be a study for social anthropologists.

The Ticky-ticky Syndrome

 

Sometimes it just takes one moment to really shake things up…if you let it. Life is full of negative people. Sitting by the pond yesterday watching the kids play in the pond I received this phone call:

Me: Good afternoon, Peaceful Quest Retreats.

Arrogant man: How much are your rooms?

Me: $69 a night plus tax.

A.M: Do you have any rooms available for tonight?

Me: Yes, we do. We have one room left with a queen bed.

A.M: What’s the best you can do on that price?

Me: $69. This is our busy season. Have you been here before? You get an extra 10% discount.

A.M: No! Never have! (He said this almost in disgust while dragging the n-e-v-e-r out). Now, let me get this straight (with a much sarcastic nasty undertone) YOU rather leave a room unrented than lower your price?

Me: We will rent it before the evening is over, sir! (I tried to smile as the words poured out of my mouth).

A.M: That’s just ridiculous! That’s too expensive! You should consider lowering that price. It’s not like your place is a classy resort…

Me interrupting: Sweetie… this isn’t a flea market where you can bargain for a price….

Arrogant man: hung up!!!

At first I laughed the conversation off, but as I was going to bed I felt horrible. I replayed the conversation as if I knew this man. In a way I have known his type all of my life. I don’t like being rude to anyone. It isn’t in my DNA. I get really disturbed when I am in this type of position. I understand that arrogance is something that people suffer from when they are used to getting their way by bullying others. It serves no purpose in my life and reminds me of the way I was bulldozed for most of my adult life. This man’s tone was so nasty, with a bunch of pauses and sarcasm, that I can’t relay it in this blog.

Arrogant people are accustomed to arguing their point and expect that form of interaction to break you down. I call it the Ticky-ticky Syndrome. These types of people continuously peck until you are so worn out that you just give into what they want. Antagonism is a form of defensive breakthrough. The Ticky-ticker uses that manipulation and repetition to get his way. He can’t take “no” for an answer. He has to get his way by playing head games. This requires him to use insults to manipulate emotions. It’s not just what is said, but how it is said!

Many times, during similar situations, I have to step back and audit my emotional response. Am I overreacting? Why am I taking this personally? My ego seems to collide with their aggression and I back down quickly. The antagonistic behavior that comes across some people is enough to make me build a wall around me. In this particular conversation I was sarcastic and laughing. Usually I just shut down. It is then that I give in…but this is something I am working on as I strengthen my self-esteem. I am also learning to have patience and tolerance for this type of personality while not compromising myself or what I believe.

I am reminded that some people’s arrogance border on hostility. It could be childhood traumas, mental illness, or just plain assholeness. They are used to bulldozing their way through life and expect everyone to cater to their behavior. It is toxicity at its best. My nonchalant sarcasm disarmed him and he had no choice but to hang up. I guess the best way to avoid this behavior is to stay firm and laugh it off. Unfortunately, there are people in our lives who won’t back down and hang up. The Ticky-ticky Syndrome dominates them. It is the only way they can feel superior and manipulative. Staying firm while remaining calm is the most productive way of dealing with arrogance. The world is full of difficult, rude, controlling, and negative people. I know I shouldn’t take it personally. To me, it is much easier to be polite and friendly. But, hey, I don’t suffer from the Ticky-ticky Syndrome so I have no clue how they must feel. I hope that by auditing the situation (reflecting on being firm and kind) this type of personality appears less and less in my life. I sure hope so because that type of person serves no purpose anymore in my path other than learning to stand up for myself.

Be Present and Listen

The other day someone asked me how I ran the few businesses I had in my other life.  I explained that I wasn’t alone in the companies.  I had a partner.  Even though we worked extremely different due to personality and characteristics, I can say that I prided myself in being available and present to our employees, whereas my partner blew off the handle at any little thing, I chose to mediate.   It wasn’t that I was always in agreement, but I was able to separate my feelings and try to get to a middle ground.

One of the most important things I have learned in the business world is that often times we don’t realize that what we think is important for a company doesn’t necessarily adhere to its employees.  I think that the ability to surrender plans, dreams, goals and expectations is what builds positive relationships in the workplace.  One of the most important ingredients in the workplace (and uniting employees with employers) is choosing a direction that everyone can feel is comfortable for the environment.  It’s important to identify, engage, and internalize cultural diversity along the way.  In every business there is cultural diversity.  I come from a Hispanic community and the majority of my employees were Hispanic.  I went out of my way to make the few who weren’t Hispanic feel comfortable.  It’s all about being consciously present in your company and being humble to learn from other cultures as well.   Here are some tips:

  • Brush up on your social skills
  • Always be present and listen
  • Don’t feel like you have to push-back or defend yourself immediately
  • Be humble and apologize whenever necessary
  • Be positive and resolve issues in a constructive manner
  • Reward efforts which will build stronger relationships
  • Have group incentives
  • Always thank the person for speaking openly to you even if it goes against what you think
  • Stand back and reflect

These points also go a long way in personal relationships.  Being present, listening, and allowing the connection of another soul to bring magic to your space is priceless.  Positive relationships go hand in hand, like a huge hug, with cultural diversity.  Regardless of the issues, a smile, understanding, and humility go a long way for anyone.