Archive | June, 2015

Litany of Lies

24 Jun

“Could it be SATAN?” Dana Carvey used to ask as Church Lady on “Church Chat”, the hilarious SNL skit that ran in the late 80’s. Satan was attributed to every evil conceivable and Carvey played the kind of Christian that pointed fingers at anyone and everyone committing sins.

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Yet when it comes to the litany of lies we tell about ourselves, others, and the world at large, evil really does have its day. When we distort the truth and buy into negativity, the havoc wrecked is far from Godly.

“I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never find love.” “There will never be enough.” “I fucked up. I always fuck things up.” “I’m fat.” “I’m stupid.” “Why try? It never works out anyway.” “There are no jobs.” The economy is terrible.” “This field is dead.” “The world isn’t safe.” “There will never be peace.” “There will never be change.” “Why bother?” And the chorus goes on and on. I’ve heard these phrases from people all around me, and I recognize some of the statements coming from my own mouth. We all have different scripts but whatever ones are ours, they are hard to re-write.

Many of us have a litany of lies as firmly ensconced as the weekly liturgy. Indeed, many of us recite these untruths with the zombie like quality of someone doing religion by rote.

This doctrine, if not rooted in Satan, stems from thought distortions, which are in essence evil. These usually arise from traumas, causing us to formulate specific beliefs about ourselves and the world based on what has happened to us and what we’ve observed in life. Sadly, distorted thoughts often cause history to repeat itself over and over again.

Thought forms carry energy, which makes them even more complicated and powerful.

Yes, many of us were initially victims in our lives, but if we buy into the lies formed at the time of horrific events, we victimize ourselves. We keep ourselves stuck. We buy into the same damn stories and contribute to them over and over again.

One of the hardest things in the world is to look in the mirror and see how we’re involved in our own narratives. While we don’t have control over people, places, or things, we certainly have control over what we do, what we believe, and our attitudes. This can be extremely sobering.

How then do we change these limiting belief systems?

Very carefully.

It’s hard to create something new because we often can’t envision a different outcome. If we’ve only known disappointment in a given area, why expect anything different? It’s simply easier to cling to the old beliefs because to hope for new outcomes is just too scary, right? Yes, it might work out differently, but if it doesn’t, it will hurt like hell. AGAIN. So why be an idiot and hope for anything more? It’s easier just to give up on having any dreams for a more positive future and life. And if we do cling to any sort of hope, we’ll have to feel the loneliness and pain of desires that might not ever be fulfilled. So wouldn’t it be easier to just eat a bag of potato chips, turn on a video, and shut out the world? And wouldn’t it be easier to just surrender in the face of injustice and never speak up, never vote, never defend others, never write editorials, or lay down our lives for others?

Could this be SATAN? YES! That is Satan.

It’s so easy to recognize the litany of lies when we hear it coming from the mouths of others. It’s harder to recognize it when heresy comes from our own mouths. Yet when we start to recognize crap thinking for what it is, this doesn’t mean that it’s easy to “catch it, check it, change it.” Sometimes change feels impossible.

Here are a few things I think are valuable when trying to change distorted belief systems:

Be patient with yourself; Beliefs that have been ensconced for years may take some time to change

Grieve – Feel the pain behind the narrative for there is always a wound beneath it

Pray – Ask God to remove the blocks and to help co-create the new narrative

Seek support from others. People can hold hope as a ray of light when you don’t have a candle or a match while in the dark.

Forgive – yourself and others. We are all a work in process. Progress not perfection.

Imagine – this is a huge element in creating change. Then act. Imagination + action = new creation.

Eliminate the words “always” and “never” from your vocabulary. Start saying, “might”, “may”, and “could” instead.

Try new experiences. They help eradicate and/or integrate the previous ones.

Read stories of people who have overcome similar obstacles.

Seek expertise in the area in which you feel challenged. Educate yourself about that subject matter whether it be in love, relationships, health, finance, fashion, etc. Take a class on it, read books about it, join groups on it.

Realize no dreams are realized overnight. Luck doesn’t just happen. It occurs after much groundwork has been laid.

Momentum: When The Tide Quickly Changes

23 Jun

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The other morning I went surfing. As is typical of summer, the waves weren’t doing much. The sets were coming slow and when a wave did break, it had little gusto. I had to paddle hard to catch it and when I did, the wave’s momentum often just petered out, leaving me standing on my board like a gymnast on a balance-beam poised for dismount.

Summer surfing can be frustrating when you have too many mornings like this. After all, the whole point of surfing is to catch a wave and feel the rush as you ride it all the way to shore. There is nothing on the planet like it.

Sometimes, I don’t mind the slowness. It’s nice to be out in the water and have days where I can simply sit on my board and think (or not think) while the gentle lull of the sea rocks me back and forth. It’s nice to feel like a baby in the cradle with God looking down from above. However, sometimes this lack of action irritates. I don’t want to sit around waiting, or to feel the initial thrill of catching a wave, only to have it take me absolutely nowhere. Then I think, “Why didn’t I go to Pilates this morning? It would have been better for my back.”

Yet yesterday morning took me by surprise. As I positioned myself for a wave I felt certain wouldn’t break well, I found myself shocked into awareness that the tide had changed. This wave had speed. Its momentum took me by surprise and ended up knocking me off my board after I caught a bit of its buzz. As I tumbled in the surf, I could feel its foam rage above me. This wave was going forward whether I was prepared or not.

Surfing is a crapshoot. So is life. You never know what you’re going to get. You can get a mushy, little wimpy wave that does nothing for you or one that almost drowns you. Sometimes you get one that is perfect and takes you all the way in. The best are the ones that excite you without throwing off your balance and that have no one else riding it. Then there is just the right degree of safety, comfort, delight, and edge. Those are the cowabunga days where you thank your lucky stars you got off your lazy ass and put on that damn seal suit.

Surfing reminds me that there is nothing more important than suiting up and getting in the water. If you stay on the shore, you will never catch a wave. Yes, surfing can kill you, but I’d rather die playing than never playing at all.

Shoot the Dying Animal

21 Jun

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Years ago a psychic told me that once I got over my longing for a traditional nuclear family complete with white picket fence, I would be truly content. I was recently thinking about her words.

The American obsession with romance and marriage paradoxically kills any beauty left in these institutions. I believe in both, yet the way our culture distorts and abuses these, makes me realize how hard it is to sustain love,  marriage, and happiness. How then do we embrace well-being and union, for these are deeply human needs.

When I think about the best moments in my life they have always come when I have surrendered any attachment to outcomes. Instead, happiness has come from stepping out of my comfort zone and simply connecting with life, no matter how it is presenting itself to me. These moments are subtle. They don’t include the contrived glamour of being handed a rose. They don’t always include passionate love either. More often than not, happiness results from connection with friends, neighbors, strangers, pets, and work.

These moments come like waves rolling into shore. They are the ones unfolding in the here and now. These are the moments to nurture, not the fairy tale notions of happily ever after.

This is the happily ever after. Right here. Right now.

We Can’t All Go to Disneyland

17 Jun

A little boy told a schoolmate that he was going to Disneyland for his birthday. The other little boy, distressed and jealous that he wasn’t going to the “happiest kingdom on earth” punched the other kid in the face.

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We can’t all go to Disneyland. Some kids never get there while others have annual passes and go all the time.

Can the deepest desires of our hearts be fulfilled and if not, how do we watch other people’s good fortune without growing bitter and resentful? Why do some people get to go to Disneyland and others have to stay home?

I remember when my friends started to marry and have babies. It was such a joyous happy time for them. I was a bridesmaid many times. Despite my longing to be the princess for the day, spiritually, I was asked to be a queen. It was necessary to grow up and bless those around me even though the desires of my heart went unfulfilled. When the babies started arriving it was a little harder. Perhaps I always wanted to be a mother even more than a wife. I remember one baby shower where every woman there was pregnant but me. They all talked about their pregnancies and basically ignored me, as if being single and childless was a disease they might catch if they got too close to me. I remember making small talk about Sesame Street and children’s developmental stages because I actually knew of these things, but because I hadn’t given birth myself, somehow my comments were irrelevant.

They say the first cut is the deepest but it isn’t. The more accumulation of hurt and disappointment in our lives, the deeper the gouge gets. The wound doesn’t necessarily scar over. Instead, a knife drives the cut in more profoundly and the spiritual tests get greater. Observing the happiness of others when your own was eclipsed can knock the wind out of you. Yet you have to stand up, put on that crown, and with head held high, embrace the dignity of the queen.

Disneyland is filled with fairy princesses. And not many nice queens. But in real life, we have to step into the role of Good Queen, if we are to do the real Kingdom work. We must bless the blessings of others in order to experience our own. We also start to question why the attraction to Disneyland in the first place? Is not the Kingdom right here, filled with magic no matter what the situation? And are there not lots of kids who need more than Mickey Mouse in their lives? Maybe it’s time to stop sitting around waiting for the kingdom to come but to start reaching out to those in need in the kingdom.

 

I Found God in an Airport Bathroom Stall

16 Jun

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Instead of finding God on the corner of First and Amistad, I found Him in an airport bathroom stall. Yes, an airport bathroom stall. Or at least as I came out of one.

I’d been crying. Sitting on a toilet with my hands in my face. It had been a year of crying in airports or wherever else my damn psyche wanted to let loose. I had no shame anymore. If the grief was waving through, I found somewhere to sit and let the emotions have their way.

As I came out of the stall, I noticed myself in the mirror. I looked like a drowned rat with puffy eyes. All the beauty and vitality were washed away like the mascara that had come off my face.

I thought I was all alone yet I wasn’t. I sensed her presence. A young woman approached me. She too had no shame. “Do you need a hug?” she asked. I simply nodded. I’d learned long ago that when someone offers kindness, you don’t refute it.

The young woman put her arms around me and I started convulsing with sobs. The kind that make you sound like a dying animal. She simply stroked my back like I was her baby that needed soothing. Oh, how I needed soothing. She didn’t flinch or pull away. She waited a full five minutes until the wailing subsided.  When I pulled away, I saw that she was crying too.

They say that God cries when we cry. Perhaps that is true because the angel that touched my heart cried tears of compassion and anguish too even though I didn’t say a word.

Resurrection comes in funny places. Even in airport bathroom stalls.

 

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

14 Jun

I’m not a fan of cacti but I find them a phenomenal metaphor for life. As with roses, where there are thorns, there can also be great beauty. How we preserve and protect ourselves can be a part of God’s design. It’s funny that even in the most prickly places of our being, we can blossom. We must learn to love the good, bad, and the ugly because it’s all a part of the same DNA.

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I’m also intrigued at how things that are beautiful can wither, die, and then bloom again. If we are but patient with the cycles of life and our own growth.

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Living Water

13 Jun

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I’ve loved water from the minute I floated in the amniotic sac inside my mother.

Water is the womb on this earthly planet. It’s the place to cleanse, to purify, to rest, and to play.

I will always be drawn to water. I need to be in it like I need to breathe. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the ocean, a lake, a pool, or the bathtub.

Apparently, when I was a toddler and my parents were hiking in the Big Sur, I was told to not play in the stream because the water was cold and fast moving. I of course was enchanted and apparently “fell” in. I also drove my tricycle straight into a swimming pool. Anything to be in water.

Thank you, Lord for being Living Water. For helping me discover You in it.

Perhaps this is why I am most drawn to water. It’s where I wash away debris and aches and pain. It’s where the energy I’ve absorbed all day from crowds and traffic and people can be flushed down the drain. It’s where I can be child again, splashing and smiling and happy. And perhaps, on some subconscious level, water is where I feel cared for by the Mother.

Pools of Forgiveness

10 Jun

Ever since I was a little girl and visited Yellowstone National Park with my father, I have been fascinated by hot springs. I remember looking at the strange colors and spewings of the Morning Glory Geyser intrigued. I also recall my first experiences sitting in hot springs. I was a kid, soaking in the hot water in my tiny bikini while looking at all the adults around me also bathing. Some were naked while some wore bathing suits.

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Naked is an interesting way to perceive the experience of sitting in hot, natural spring water that is dense in minerals. When we sit under the stars, soaking in sulfur and other minerals, we start to peel away layers of toxins sitting underneath our skin. We also start to loosen the debris lodged deep in our hearts. Heat and water and minerals create a unique form of purification.

In a way, we become psychologically and energetically naked.

When I think about forgiveness, these hot springs come to mind. We don’t forgive without first feeling anger, which is its own form of hot water. Anger is a sign of self-protection, heightened vulnerability, a need to set boundaries, and a reflection of how deeply we cared about the situation or person that caused us such enormous pain. Anger is not fun to feel but if channeled effectively, over time, it produces its own type of potent healing minerals.

The person who says we need to immediately forgive a profound blow to the heart is a fool. Forgiveness is impossible without first feeling the hurt of the transgression.

Anger creates an interesting dynamic between human beings. I’ve known people who have insisted that anger is essential, yet when expressing this emotion, they were actually emotionally abusive. I’ve also known people who have insisted that anger is the opposite of kindness and therefore should be avoided. Yet these same proponents of “kindness”, were also capable of saying and doing cruel things, all while speaking in a gentle tone of voice. That is the opposite of kindness.

Sometimes a dose of righteous anger, even if delivered in a loud tone, can actually be an act of kindness for ourselves, the relationship, and the other person.

What I find interesting about hot springs is that from heat, they generate healing properties. This is such a perfect analogy for transformation. In order to transform our anger and hurt into forgiveness, we must first heat up our internal lives. As uncomfortable as this process might initially be, it’s what allows us to move through rage.

When my father was dying of pancreatic cancer, I never expressed my anger at him for exploiting and abandoning me. Toyed with as an object of his affection, I was eventually discarded. For fourteen years, he didn’t call me, write me, or reach out to me. This rejection came when I was eighteen and went to college. It came as a shock because for the first eighteen years of my life he told me that he loved me more than anything in the world and would never do anything in the world to hurt me. When I walked into his hospital room after this fourteen year hiatus, he casually said hello and then asked me what type of car I drove. He didn’t ask if I was married, whether or not I had kids, nor what I did for a living. He didn’t tell me how wonderful it was to see me or that he missed me all these years. He didn’t tell me I looked wonderful, nor did he apologize. Ever the good girl, I swallowed any anger, if I was even in touch with it. Instead I felt sorry for him. He looked like a shrunken, shriveled old man who was in pain and was suffering. I showed him nothing but kindness and compassion. I played the role I always played. I forgave him.

But I hadn’t. My rage had never really been expressed.

You can’t really forgive or let go until you feel the rage. Only then, in the heat of it all, can you soak in the pools of forgiveness. Only then can you emerge, shimmering in the light, with beads of water and a smile on your face.

 

 

 

Dating and Other Life Tips from Nancy Drew

9 Jun

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Every woman could stand to learn some things from Nancy Drew.

I have been reading Nancy Drew mysteries since I was five years old. At 46, I realize just how far ahead of her times the titian haired heroine actually was. We women have much to gain by looking at her character.

Nancy Drew is eighteen years old. She lives with her attorney father, Carson Drew and their beloved housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. Nancy’s own mother died when she was three years old. The one fantasy element in the books is that Nancy doesn’t have to earn an income. Her father makes a more than generous salary and Nancy never wants for anything. There is always cash for fashionable clothing, last minute air tickets to follow up a lead on a mystery, for car repairs, and for luncheons at tea houses and hotels. (Most likely, these would be tax write offs, as Nancy often assists her father, investigating leads on his cases).

Other than that, all of Nancy’s attributes and successes can be attributed to herself. She is intelligent, determined, curious, passionate, kind, and ridiculously talented. She is exceptional at swimming, golf, tennis, dancing, figure skating, skiing, horse back riding, scuba diving, drawing, and acting. (I realize that being upper middle class, Nancy has exposure to opportunities that help refine her innate abilities). Many of her mysteries feature these very talents. She is also perceptive with an extraordinary ability to read people’s true natures. Although polite and classy, she doesn’t mince words, nor is she mousy. She is assertive and at times, ballsy and forthright. She doesn’t cower when people don’t like her for either getting close to solving a mystery and/or because she is so exceptional. Nancy has a spine of steel despite her refined, waspy exterior.

Yet what is also extremely interesting is the way she operates vis-a-vis the men in her life. Nancy is never short on dates. There is always some young man around interested in taking her to dinner or to a dance. Her regular beau, Ned Nickerson, clearly adores her and makes regular arrangements to take Nancy out to concerts, the theatre, picnics, or boating. As the reader, I get the sense that Nancy very much enjoys male company, yet on the other hand could care less about it. Nancy is not driven by romance. It’s a nice secondary gain to her life, but it is not running the show. While on a date, she doesn’t think twice about dropping the original plans to attend a function if a clue comes up. The man can accompany her as she follows up on a lead, but the message is 100% clear. Mysteries come first; dating second. A guy who dates Nancy has to deal with this, or he isn’t the right guy. Paradoxically, this makes Nancy all the more attractive and fascinating. Ned Nickerson clearly adores her, but then Ned Nickerson gets her. Not all men would put up with Nancy. Nancy takes up space. Although kind and considerate of others, she doesn’t rearrange her life for a man. The man has to rearrange his life for her.

Given that most of the books were originally written in the 1930’s, dating for Nancy is old fashioned. The men around her properly court her. They aren’t trying to get into her knickers and Nancy would have no tolerance for that if they tried. Instead they take her out because they genuinely enjoy her company and want to get to know her in a day-to-day context. Nancy doesn’t live in 2015 where most men expect you to sleep with them by the third date and if you don’t, they drop you because it’s easy to find another woman who will. After all, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? Nancy values herself too much for such nonsense.

Nancy would be both appalled and intrigued by our current trends, dating and otherwise. Without a doubt she would have a smart phone. She’d need it for researching clues and following leads. She’d use the GPS navigation and would text her friends about appointed meeting times. She’d use FB sparingly, partly because of her extreme humility but mostly because she wouldn’t want to leak information regarding cases or let crooks know her whereabouts. She might have a website advertising her detective services and she’d probably track her expenses in an excel spread sheet. Nancy is so modern and yet so old fashioned.

I sometimes wonder if the books continued, if Nancy would marry and have children. I imagine she would. She is too beloved and too relational to not take this fairly normal step in her evolution. Yet it’s hard to think about her married and with children because these elements would change her radically and infringe on the freedom that so defines her. She’d need to be with a man who truly assisted her in all things domestic so that she could continue to solve mysteries and be her own person. I could see Hannah Gruen dramatically assisting with the child rearing.

On the other hand, I could see Nancy perfectly fine as a single woman. I doubt she’d feel sorry for herself. I think she’d roll up her sleeves and get to work. She’d also have hobbies and friends and volunteer work.

Yes, ladies. I think we could all benefit from the example of Ms. Drew, even if she is just a character in a novel. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

 

 

Lessons On The Path

8 Jun

In Hebrew the word “derek” stands for the path or the way.

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Sometimes it’s hard to stay on the path, but if we stay the course, the better the journey.

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When we feel lost and alone on the path, we can remember that the universe opens its arms to meet us. Why not sojourn with God when He invites us in? The path we want for ourselves often isn’t nearly as Divine as the one He would have us take.

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