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What Happened to Our Primary Agreements?

Friday, November 18th, 2011

We often have several “primary agreements” in our intimate relationships.  We agree to take care of each other, as well as to be nice, to protect and not to hurt each other.  “I’ve got your back!  I wont hurt you, and I wont let any one else hurt you!  You’re safe with me!”

Then something happens.  We start attacking each other saying and doing the things we said we would never say or do.  What happened?  What happened to those primary agreements?

If you say or do something and I experience an “ouch” on any level, then our primary agreement is out the window.  You said you wouldn’t hurt me and yet you did, so I’m hurting you back.  Not only that, I’m going to hurt you twice as bad, just to make my point!  This is called revenge.  Now you have an “ouch” and you join me with your counter attack.  Anything you have been holding back comes out of your mouth with volume and venom.  I receive your intensity and return my rebuttal with even more hurtful intensity, and on and on we go.  At some point, we’re both exhausted and we make up and apologize for all the stupid things we said or did.  Ugh!

I’m sure you have seen and/or experienced this scenario many times.  So, what’s really going on here and can we avoid these hurtful episodes in our intimate relationships?

If we examine this scenario closely we discover an interesting pattern.  If we look at the original “ouch,” we see that the person receiving the “ouch” forgot a few things and they ran through some assumptions.  They forgot that their partner is on their side.  They forgot that their partner is there for them, that their partner loves them and wants to protect them from harm.  They assumed that the “ouch” was intentional, and that it was done against them on purpose.

It’s at this point, the point of the original “ouch,” that I ask partners to do a “perception check.”  A “perception check” sounds like this:  “Did you intend to hurt me?”  “Was it your intention to “be little” me or insult me?”  “Were you trying to put me down or make me feel stupid?”

When asked these questions, the answer almost always is, “No!  I love you.  I’m not trying to hurt you or shame you in any way.”

To be clear, this is at the first “ouch”.  If I feel you have hurt me, and you ask if I intended to hurt you, my answer will be, “Yes!  You hurt me, so I’m hurting you back!”

It’s at the first “ouch” where the “perception check” works, after that we quickly move into the process of revenge.

So, the next time you feel an “ouch” from your intimate partner, stop and pause for a moment to ask them what their intention was.  If they say they were trying to help you, believe their words.  You might need to set a boundary here or tell them a more effective way of helping you.  That can be fun and it can create a more intimate and loving relationship.  That’s more joyful than fighting.

Most people say they want more love and joy in their lives but they are often confused on how to create these experiences.  What can we do, in very practical terms, to create more love and joy in our lives?

I’d like to share some suggestions with you.  Also what I will be suggesting is just the tip of the iceberg.  I want you to take my suggestions and expand on them.   I want you to discuss them with your partner, your family, your coworkers and your kids so you can tailor fit them to your own life.  I want this article to be a spring board, a beginning of you knowing how to transform your life.

There are five basic areas in our lives:  physical, emotional, mental, activities and spiritual, which in a way can be considered our own little worlds.  I want you to look at what we can do “more” of and what we can do “less” of in these basic areas of our lives to create the love and joy we are all starving for

Okay, let’s get started.

In my physical world I want less socks with holes in them.  I want less dirty dishes in the sink.  I want less stuff in my car trunk.  I want less junk mail.  I want less unread books.  I want less clutter in my living room.  I want less junk in my junk drawer. I want less bills.  I want less sugar.  I want less junk food.  I want less “do do” in my life.  So what do you want less of in your physical world?  Write it down.

In my physical world, I want more playtime.  I want more money.  I want more organization.  I want more savings.  I want more space.  I want more naps.  I want more healthy food.  I want more flowers.  I want more fresh air.  I want more trees.  I want more silly hats.  I want more rest.  I want more touching.  What do you want more of in your physical world?  Write it down.

In my emotional world I want less bitching.  I want less anger.  I want less sadness.  I want less fear.  I want less worry.  I want less resentment.  I want less victimization.  I want less hurt.  I want less anxiety.  I want less confusion.  I want less depression.  I want less spacyness.  What do you want less of in your emotional world?  Write it down.

In my emotional world, I want more laughter.  I want more joy.  I want more love.  I want more clarity.  I want more peace.  I want more compassion.  I want more affection.  I want more caring.  I want more excitement.  I want more ease.  I want more satisfaction.  What do you want more of in your emotional world?  Write it down.

In my mental world I want less mind chatter.  I want less obsessive thoughts.  I want less plotting against.  I want less scattered thoughts.  I want fewer visions of doom and gloom.  I want less thinking of the past.  I want less thinking of the future.  I want fewer things to think about.  I want less negative self-talk.  What do you want less of in the mental world?  Write it down.

In my mental world, I want more clarity.  I want more focus.  I want more creative imagining.  I want more wonderful visions.  I want more thoughts of the now.  I want more mental stimulation.  I want more learning.  I want more clear direction.  I want more sharing.  I want more discerning thoughts.  I want more control of my thoughts.  I want more positive self-talk.  I want more expansive thoughts.  What do you want more of your mental world?  Write it down.

In my activity world I want fewer things to complete.  I want fewer things to fix.  I want less nonsensical activities.  I want less bill paying.  I want less addictive behavior.  I want less food shopping.  I want less filling up my gas tank.  I want less dumb activities.  I want less responsibility.  I want less mindless T.V.  What activities do you want to do less of in your activities world?  Write them down.

In my activities world, I want more playing.  I want more time for intimacy.  I want to travel more.  I want to kiss and hug more.  I want more family time.  I want to walk more.  I want to giggle with friends more.  I want more self nurturing time.  I want to garden more.  I want to compost more.  I want to hike in nature more.  I want more meals with loved ones.  I want more trips to the woods.  I want more swimming.  I want more dancing.  I want to play more music.  I want more creative activities.  I want to play and watch more sports.  I want more reading time.  I want more time off the clock.  What activities do you want more of in your activities world?  Write them down.

In my spiritual world I want fewer judgments of myself and others.  I want less guilt.  I want less shame.  I want less doubt.  I want less attachment to physical outcomes.  I want fewer distractions.  I want less separation.  I want less betrayal.  What do you want less in the spiritual world?  Write it down.

In my spiritual world, I want more compassion.  I want more loving.  I want more understanding.  I want more knowing.  I want more wisdom.  I want more connection with all that is.  I want more trust.  I want more Light.  I want more blessings.  I want more grace.  I want more peace.  I want more meditation time.  I want more expansion.  I want more observation.  I want more acceptance.  I want more knowing.  I want more oneness.  I want more bliss.  What spiritual experiences do you want more of?  Write them down.

If you haven’t already, write down what you want “more” of and “less” of in your life in these five areas.  If you’re not sure which area an item belongs in, just create another area that you feel is missing.  It’s your world so there’s not right or wrong answer.

The idea here is to brain storm.  You don’t have to do everything right now, so feel free to dream and write down those things that you dream about.  Have fun with this.  This is a process that can help you create more love and joy in you life.  Enjoy the experience.  Let yourself dream.  It’s by dreaming outside the bubble, or our comfort zone, that we create the space for transformation.  You have permission to create more love, joy, health and happiness in your life.  If for some reason you feel you don’t then take a deep breath and give yourself permission to do so.  Then take an action step and feel the exhilaration of expanding into who you truly are living a joy-filled life.

The Punishment Model

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

There’s a process I see when I work with individuals and couples.  I call it the “Punishment Model.”  As I  listen to many couples sharing their issues, I often see one partner berating their significant other.  They are just verbally beating them up.  Wow!  This is painful and it’s not the most effective way to creating a loving relationship.  These people are supposed to be “loving each other.”  And, here they are hurting each other.  What’s going on?

Basically, the berating partner is attempting to teach their significant other a lesson.  Let me explain.

Let’s say a child attempts to put their finger in a candle flame.  The parent sees this and, with much terror and fervor, the parent slaps the child’s hand.  The parent says, “Don’t you ever put your finger in a flame again!”  To make his/her point, the parent again slaps the child’s hand.  The child being curious and wonders what all the commotion is about, so they attempt to touch this magical flame again.  The parent sees this second attempt and totally loses it.  Yelling, “I told you not to put your finger in that flame!”  The parent slaps the child’s hand again and again and again.  Then the parent says, “I’m going to punish you so severely that you will never put your finger in a flame again.  And, if you even think of putting your finger in a flame, you’ll remember this moment!”  The parent then slaps the child’s hand again and again.

This is the “Punishment Model.”  Simply, someone does something “wrong” and a punishment is delivered.  A lesson is supposedly being taught.  And, the punishment continues until everyone knows the lesson has been learned, and until everyone knows that the behavior has been eradicated forever.

When I see this process occurring in a relationship, I frequently ask, “What lesson are you trying to teach your partner?”  Their response is, “I don’t know!  I didn’t know I was teaching a lesson.”  My next question is, “How will you know your partner has learned the lesson?  This is important to know, because you will continue punishing your partner until you know they have learned the lesson.”  Their response again is, “I don’t know.”

This same process happens within ourselves.  We beat our selves up for doing what we think is “wrong” and we keep beating ourselves over and over again, hoping we will never repeat the behavior.

The “Punishment Model” is not the most effective way to promote change and yet it does work.  That’s why we keep doing it.  I’m not suggesting that we use the “Punishment Model” as a method for change; however, if you find yourself in the process, either as the recipient of the punishment or the deliver of the punishment, you could ask those two important questions.

“What is the lesson I want you to learn or I am to be learning?” and “When will I know I you have or I have learned the lesson?”

Stating the answers out loud often ends the punishment.  Learning has occurred and we can return to a loving place.

Be Who You Are and Stand Above the Crowd

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

When I was young I practiced being invisible.  I didn’t want to be noticed.  I could walk into a room, hang out for a while and then leave and no one knew I was there.  I was good at hiding.

Being raised in a dysfunctional family, I was safest being invisible.  If I weren’t seen, then I wouldn’t get blamed for something I didn’t do.  If I didn’t take up any space, then I wasn’t a burden on the family.  If I did something good, then I was told I was just trying to get attention or that I was competing with my siblings, and I “shouldn’t” do that because it made them feel less than.  I wasn’t supposed to do “bad” things or “good” things.  I was just supposed to be compliant, malleable and invisible.

Using today’s terminology, I became “codependent.”  I was happy if you were happy.  What ever you wanted me to be, I could be.  And, I certainly didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable with anything I said or did.  Ugh!  What a painful place that was for me.

At some point, I looked around my world, and I saw that many people admired the personalities I admired.   It didn’t matter what arena I looked at:  politicians, artists, authors, speakers or what ever.  I also observed that many people hated the personalities that I admired.  Wow!  What a strange thing I thought.  What also struck me was that these personalities didn’t seem to care that some people didn’t like what they were saying or doing.  They just keep doing the best work they could do.

This was a transformational moment for me.  Up to that point, my objective was not to be seen, not to make waves, not to make people uncomfortable, not to receive any positive or negative attention.  In order to accomplish this I often diminished myself or I didn’t share my ideas because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable on any level.

I realized that if I was to be me, if I was to do the best I could, if I wanted to share my ideas with others, then two things would happen:  some people would like and respect me, and some people would hate me and attack me for what I was saying or doing.

Dare I do the best I can?  Dare I stand above the crowd?  Dare I attempt to make a difference?

A voice deep in my belly said, “Yes!”

A new awareness became apparent to me.  If I’m not regularly receiving some negative attack, then I’m not doing my job.  If I’m not doing my best, if I’m not speaking my truth, then I’m hiding again.  I’m playing it safe.  My codependency tendencies are running me.  It’s not that I have to seek negativity, nor do I need to speak harshly to be on course.  In fact that would be off course.  My job is to shine, to do the best I can, to speak with loving and uplifting words, to share my joy, and to reach out and touch others so they too can shine.

My challenge to you is:  shine, do your best, stand above the crowd, and yes be willing to receive negativity for your good works.  By doing your best you’ll also receive positive attention.  Just keep going, take that next step.  Joy is present.

“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.  Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.  Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.  Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.  Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”  Chinese Proverb Author unknown

Wonderful words from the past that are relevant to today’s time and they deserve to be repeated.  If we slow down and examine what was shared so many years ago, we’ll discover that we were told how we can change or direct our destiny.

What we think often comes out of our mouth and into someone else’s ears.  Our words impact how we feel about our selves and they can impact how others think and feel.  Words are symbols that communicate what’s going on inside our heads to our selves and others.  We share our fears, our sorrow, our joy, our love and our dreams with our words.

Our words create action.  Our words can create intimacy or separation.  With our words we can motivate ourselves to do things we never thought we could do, and our words can also move others to step forward into their own personal power so they can be of service to their community.  Words can calm us or excite us.  Words can actually change the direction of a nation.  So watch what you think and be aware of the words that come from your thoughts, and the actions that follow your words.

A habit is an action we do regularly, often without thinking.  It’s just what we do.  If we do an action and it feels good or we get the results we want, then we often repeat it over and over.  Some habits are beneficial and some can be detrimental.  If it’s detrimental, it’s usually called an addiction.  If it’s beneficial, it’s called a good discipline.  Our day is full of small little “habits” that we do unconsciously.  Some of us are habitually tidy, or messy, or early, or late, or rude, or courteous, or happy, or angry.  These are all habitual ways of being.  So, our habits become who we are, or they become our character.

Others know us by our character.  It’s our stamp of individuality.  It’s all of our distinctive qualities.  When we describe someone, we are describing the person’s character.  “He’s a great guy!”  “When I want something to be done right, I give it to her!”  “When I’m around him, I watch my pockets, because he’s always trying to get me to buy into a scheme”  “When I think of her, a smile comes on my face and I just feel at peace.”  Our character comes from the thoughts and actions we do habitually through time.

The thoughts and actions we do habitually through time determines our destiny.  If I think negative thoughts and if I am filled with judgments towards myself and others, my actions will follow my thoughts and I will get what I focus on.  Most people will not want to be around me, because they don’t like being judged and they don’t like hearing me judge others.  I will feel lonely and victimized, which will cycle around and around and in time my destiny will appear bleak.  However, if I think positive thoughts and take positive actions toward my goals, my destiny can be one of joy and upliftment, with moments of gleefulness.  I might fall and get a few bruises along the way, but if my habit is to get up one more time than I fall, my destiny will be one of success.  People will want to be around me because of my positive thinking.  They will want to know how I create so many wonderful things in my life. Because of my abundance and my generous character, I’ll freely give the joy and love that percolates in my heart.  Thus, by holding positive thoughts, habitually taking positive action, I create a character destined for upliftment.

Fending Off Negative Stress Due to Physical Pain

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Experiencing pain in your body can be very stressful because you don’t know how long the pain will remain, which can lead to questions flooding through your mind.  “Will my body ever be like it was before?  Will I ever be pain free again?  Will this incident financially destroy me?  Will I have to pay a huge medical fee?  Will the stress from the pain get me so wound up that I can’t handle it?”  These, and many other unknowns are just sitting there in your future, and the future is one of those things that never “goes away” and, yet, never arrives. It just seems to sit there looming over us. So, what will happen in the future? We don’t know. We can make some guesses, but we truly do not know what is going to happen. We can plan and plan and plan, and yet, the future remains untouchable and unknowable.

Fear is another word that we could use to describe stress or anxiety. It contains an acronym that holds its definition. The “F” in fear stands for “false,” the “E” stands for “expectations,” the “A” stands for “appearing,” and the “R” stands for “real.” So, fear is “false expectations appearing real.” The feeling of fear or stress is real; the source of the fear or stress is what is false. The source always appears to be real: however, only in rare situations is the source deserving of the emotional reaction of fear or stress. One situation that could be considered appropriate would be when a saber-toothed tiger jumps off a cliff in front of you. Another situation would be when someone is threatening your life. Luckily for most of us, these things will never happen.

What most of us do is fantasize about what we think is going to happen in the future, and end up responding to our negative fantasy with stress. You could say that we are choosing to lose in our fantasies. We are creating false expectations that appear real. We are living in the future and not in “the moment.”  The way out of stress or anxiety is to be in ”the moment.”

In order to be in “the moment,” we need to contact our senses and identify exactly what is going on now and not what we think is going on, but what is actually really going on. This might sound simple; however, most of us erroneously think what we “think” is correct. Many times it is just our opinion or point of view of what is going on. When we contact our senses and identify what we really see, hear, feel, taste, touch, or smell, we move out of our subjective reality and into an objective reality.

We have a part of us that does not want to be in “the moment.” It wants to stay in its “created fantasy” because it’s convinced it is right. If this is the case, know that you are again out of “the moment” and into the future, pretending or fantasizing about what you think is going on.

You might be saying, “If I’m always in the moment, how can I get anything done?”  If you are truly in the moment, you will no longer be stressed, and that is movement. And it’s only in the moment that we can do anything. It’s truly the only place in which we can respond to our environment. It’s the position of action and strength.

Let’s explore another effective way of expressing our stress.

Stress seems to be stored in four places: the physical body, the emotions, the mind, and the unconscious. This exercise that I am about to share with you will clear all of the areas except the physical body. This exercise will lessen the tension in the body, and therefore effect how your body feels: however, it will not give you a physical release that you might receive from your chiropractor, a brisk walk or a yoga class.

I want you to do some writing. I want you to write from the point of view, of you being a victim. I want you to blame others for your troubles, your pain, your anger and your stress. I’m not suggesting that you run your life from this point of view. I would encourage you to be responsible and accountable for your life, but for this exercise I want you to write from the victim’s point of view. There’s a part of us I call the “basic self” or the “child within,” and that part feels it’s been victimized.  I am asking you to allow that part to speak its truth.

As I stated, I want you to write from the victim’s point of view. I also want you to use a lot of four letter words! Yes, use the swear words that we’re not supposed to use, but use all the time anyway.  Why?  Well, when we start using those swear words that we’re not supposed to use, it begins to allow us to express some of that stress that is just sitting there just below the surface. Also, as you are doing your writing, there might be a time when you are just scribbling words on the paper and you can’t even read what it is that you are writing. That’s just great because I don’t want you to read what you write.

The process of writing like this gets all the negative stuff out. The process of reading puts it all right back in. Many people are not aware of this and they write in their journals and they keep them on their shelf to be read later, to think about, to analyze their issues, and then they just seem to keep going around and around the same issues. They keep reclaiming the negative and they hold onto it.

Do not read what you write. Some people are real creative and say, “But sometimes I write real neat stuff and I want to keep it for a poem, or a song, or something.” That’s fine. If you are this type of person, then all you have to do is keep another sheet of paper next to you as you do your writing. If something comes up that you want to keep, just write it on this separate sheet of paper.

Once again, do not read what you write. Now, when you have finished writing, I want you to do one of two things: tear it up and throw it away or burn it. Some safe places to burn your writing are the kitchen sink, the toilet, an ashtray, or the fireplace. Be careful and don’t burn yourself or your house. Some smoke alarms are very sensitive so just be aware. I encourage you to be a scientist and try both. See which one you like best. Some people like to tear and some people like to burn. Some people like to tear and burn. Find out what works best for you.

There are two reasons why I want you to tear or burn your writing. The first is:  if you think someone just might read what you are writing, then you will start censoring what you write. There’s another concept that comes into play here. We’re not held responsible for what passes through our minds, we are however, held responsible for what we hold onto. So, you could be writing some pretty foul stuff and if you’re afraid someone might read what you are writing, including yourself, you’ll hold onto those thoughts. If, however, you’re certain no one will read your writing, then you’ll begin to feel free to write what ever comes to your mind, no matter how ugly the thought. You’ll know those ugly thoughts are just thoughts. We all think ugly thoughts from time to time and it’s just next. More stuff. Next.

The second reason I want you to tear or burn your writings is a little more subtle. You’ll have to watch for this one. After you’ve written out your stress and you’ve torn or burnt the writings, there’ll be a little feeling inside that will say “That’s gone.” However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll not have to write about the same subject more than once. Some subjects run so deep that you might have to write about them 100 times. Each time you write on it however, it’ll be complete and you’ll have peeled off another layer on the proverbial onion.

There’s another part to this writing exercise that’s very important. As we start letting go of our negativity it’ll feel like there’s a hole inside. For some people this hole feels like a void and a great sadness can be felt. Its like, “Wow, a lot has happened to me.” And with this void can come tears. If that happens, that’s great! Now the body is coming into the process, and it’s beginning to heal itself as well as your emotions, mind and unconscious.

Beyond feeling the void I want you to plant a seed. The seed is going to be in the form of an affirmation. In the big picture what you’re doing is getting rid of what you don’t want, and putting in what you do want. The affirmation that I want you to work with is very specific. I also want you to hold onto your abdomen with both hands as you say the affirmation. When we hold onto our abdomen, there is a feeling of protection and nurturing, and our little basic self or child within says, “Yeah, what do you want?”

Now that we have its attention, the affirmation is this:

(Your name), I am loving you. I am loving you (Your name).

The wording here is very important to note. You are not saying, “I love you” to yourself, because you just might not be in a loving place with yourself and that part that knows, would say, “You don’t love me, you hate me!” However, if you say, “I am loving you,” the very statement is a loving act and it can’t be denied. That little basic self or inner child will say, “Thank you. I needed that.”

For some people the idea of talking to our “self” is a very uncomfortable thing and again, I would ask you to be a scientist and just check it out. Hold onto your abdomen and either, out loud or to yourself, which ever is most appropriate for you, and say:

“(Your name) I am loving you. I am loving you (Your name).”

Say these affirmations about 20 to 25 times or until you feel full inside.

I would encourage you to write, tear or burn, and say your affirmations at least once every day for two weeks. When you do this process for this length of time, you’ll be able to release old stresses that you may have been holding onto for years.

If you find that you’re not stressed one day, just let yourself write about whatever comes up in a free form writing style. Look at issues of stress with your parents, past lovers, past or present bosses. Whatever comes up is just fine. This can become a very enjoyable process and a very healthy and effective way of dealing with your stress.

Discovering Compassion

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Sitting at the counter with my friend on a hot summer day, drinking my favorite chocolate milkshake, I didn’t speak up.  Life changed for me that afternoon.  I sat silently as George reached over and arrogantly took her tip and proudly slipped it into his pocket.  Right in front of me!  Maybe I was just stunned.  I don’t know, but I didn’t say anything.  I just looked.

George was the son of the guy who owned the bank in town.  He lived in the house with the pool.  He had maids and gardeners.  He got that red convertible on his 16th birthday.  He was that guy that everyone wanted to be close to but secretly resented, and he was my friend.  He liked me, so therefore I was cool and I got to ride in the front seat of that car.

He didn’t need the $1.23 tip that was left on the counter.  But he took it, and he gave me a smile that ruptured my belly and I stayed silent.  The waitress came by to pick up the dishes on the counter next to us.  She looked for her tip, and then without a pause or a winch, she went about her business.

She had to know, but she was silent too!

When she was out of ear shot, I asked George what made him take her tip.  He smirked and said, “It was there.  Finders Keepers.”  That was it.  Somewhere in there he jumped off his stool and said, “Gotta go.”  He left as I silently finishing my milkshake.

I often studied in the public library that was across the street from the restaurant and this day was like every other school day.  School was a challenge for me so I had to put in extra time at the library.  George was off driving his red convertible.  He had one of those photographic memories and rarely opened a book, yet, he was on the honor roll.

When I left the library that night, I saw our waitress waiting for a bus on a bench across the street, counting her change.  Out of her uniform she looked different.  I noticed her worn shoes and her tired eyes.  I could hardly swallow.  She saw me watching her and she shyly looked down.  I didn’t say anything.  I just walked.

I never rode in George’s convertible after that.  We rarely spoke.  I don’t know if that afternoon changed him, but it definitely changed me.  To this day, I always leave a little extra in my tip.  I have given myself permission to speak my truth.  I vowed never to be silent again.  And most importantly, I discovered compassion.

I am thankful to that waitress for helping me open my heart so I could feel the suffering of others and for helping me open my mouth so I can now speak out when I see injustice.  I also want to thank George.  He helped me discover how deeply I care for others, that there is more to life than riding in a red convertible, and there are many ways of going through this life.  I can create disturbance or I can create loving.  It’s a choice.  Thanks to George, I know what I’m choosing.

The Value of Love

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Was it the winding roads, the sound of crickets in the night or the hush of the river below that made me fall in love with the trips to my Grandma’s house each summer?  I don’t know for sure, but there always was a calling to cuddle up in that old chicken feathered bed I’d get to sleep in.

The summer that changed my life was when “Skipper” came into my life.  I wanted to call him “Side Kick” but Grandma said he skipped around, so that’s what we called him, Skipper.

I was only about six that summer and I was happy school was out and I began packing my clothes.  Didn’t need much there.  I went barefoot most of the time and it was hot and muggy so just a few t-shirts and shorts.  My mom always made sure I had my toothbrush and all.  Me?  I just wanted to go wade by the river and walk in the woods and maybe even sometimes ride Hank, the old mule, but he walked too slowly for me.  I needed to run!

When I stepped onto the porch that summer, Grandma smiled and said, “Child.  I’ve got a surprise for you!  Let’s go to the barn.”

I ran – pulling her as fast as her 78 year old legs would waddle and carry her.  As we entered the barn, I heard a yelping noise and our eyes met.  Skipper and I just looked at each other.  It was love.  Just plain love.  That little puppy and I just knew each other.  I have never felt that feeling before.  Sure I was happy when my younger brother and sister came into the world, but this feeling?  This was the first time I felt this much joy.  My heart hurt I was so excited.

From that moment on, Skipper and I did everything together.  We explored the river where the bullfrogs hide.  We chased possums up trees and laughed at their rat-tails.  We found a secret place next to the old oak tree and I told Skipper all my dreams and my thoughts about how everything was.  He just sat there listening and looking at me with those big browns.  I don’t tell many people this, but Skipper told me some things that nobody knows.

Summer went way to fast that year.  I remember Mom and Dad driving up in that old black car.  I think it was a Buick.  I told Skipper they were coming so he was prepared.  I gave him a bath the night before so he would smell real good.  We ran up and Skipper just welcomed them with all of his heart.  He gave Dad a kiss so big I thought I would pop a button or something.

I just knew everything was going to be fine.  Everyone was so happy.

That night I heard Grandma talking to them about how Skipper and I had connected and that she was fine if I wanted to take him home.  I couldn’t hear what they said.  Everything seemed so hush – hush.

The next day I remember Dad asking me if I wanted to take Skitter home with me and I said, “Yes!  He’s my best friend ever!”  Dad had that look and talked about living in the city with cars and trucks and noise and pollution and school and my brother and sister and money and our small apartment and I just didn’t want to hear no more.  Skipper just sat there looking at me.  I don’t know why but a tear snuck out of my eye.

Mom said she would give me a dollar for some candy if I left Skipper behind.  I said, “No way.  A dollar isn’t worth anything.  Besides, Skipper and I belong together.”

Then Dad smiled and asked, “How about if I give you five dollars and you can do what ever you want with it?”

I had never held five dollars in my hands before.  That would buy a lot of candy and anything else I would ever want.  I said, “Ok.”

The only thing I remember after that was looking out the back window of that black car at my Grandma holding Skipper.  I looked at the five dollars in my hands.  I don’t know how or if I told Skipper goodbye.  I don’t remember much.

Somewhere in time I realized money can never replace love.

Skipper, where ever you are thank you for loving me, for listening to me and for teaching me value of love.

Give Generously and Let Go

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

“What does that mean and why should I give at all?  I don’t have any money to give away.  Money’s tight these days.  Haven’t you been listening to the news?”

It’s interesting that when we think about giving, we think we have to dig into our wallets and give someone our hard earned cold cash.  Cash is nice and it is important to share our abundance; however, that is not the type of giving I am talking about.

There is something interesting about us humans –  we enjoy the process of giving.  It makes us feel good.  In fact, the act of giving and receiving is a core part of life on a very basic level.  Each time we inhale we receive and each time we exhale we give.  If we just received and didn’t give, we would die.  In the breathing analogy, a natural balance is maintained for life and health to be present.  The same is true out here in the world.  It’s important to maintain a balance between our giving and receiving.

We also have let go of what we give.  However, can you imagine trying to hold onto your last exhale?  The universe does not hold on either as it gives us our next breath.  There’s a continuous process of letting go on both sides of the equation.

Do you hold onto your giving?  Are you afraid to receive from someone because they hold onto their giving?  Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to let go.  So, let’s explore the actual process of giving and receiving.

When you receive something from someone your job is just to receive it.  When you receive it, it’s nice to be polite and say, “Thank you.”  Then, after you receive it, I would encourage you to cut any strings the person might have connected to their giving.  Just put the item or compliment aside for a while and claim it.  It’s now yours.  At this point, you can cherish it forever, give it away, trash it, sell it, or use it however you choose to use it.  It’s yours.

The person who gave you the item or the compliment might have expectations that you now owe them something.  They might want you to clean out their closet.  You just might love cleaning out closets and it’s something you would love to do, so go ahead and have fun.  However, you’re not required to give back.  When you received the item or compliment you completed the action for the giver.  If you didn’t receive the gift, the giver would have felt cheated, insulted or slighted some way.  “How dare you not take my gift?”  Or, “There must be something wrong with me if you don’t want to receive a gift from me.”  It’s important to receive and your receiving completes the action.

When you give, it’s important to give freely out of your overflow.  When we give out of our overflow, we usually don’t have any expectations.  The gift is just given freely.  However, if we do not give out of our overflow and give out of our essence, we are tired and yet, we are still giving, then we do have expectations.  And, rarely are our expectations fulfilled.  When we give out of our essence we give with strings attached and we often end up walking away from the situation feeling resentful and bitter.

Being aware of staying balanced in our giving and not giving too much, helps keep us in a loving and centered place.

Okay, so now you’re balanced in your giving and receiving, you’re not holding onto your gift, you’re not having unrealistic expectations, and you’re not building up resentments.  So what do you give – if you’re not giving money?

How about giving your loving, your peace, your joy, your smile, your compliments, your time, your words of appreciation, your touch, your sharing and your caring.  And give generously!  The act of giving becomes your reward.  Best of all, your life will be joy-filled and full.

Sound familiar?  How often have you heard someone blame you for their mistake or their shortcoming?  How often do you blame others?

It’s easy to do.  We hear it all the time in the media, in the work place and in our homes.  So, what does it mean to blame someone else?  Part of the definition is in the word itself.  To blame is to “Be Lame.”  To blame means to speak evil or unkind words about another.

You probably thought it meant that you were just standing up for your “rights” and putting the “blame” on the person who did the “wrong.”  You probably felt proud that you could point out their shortcomings and tell them the way it is.  The way you see it – the “right” way.  You probably felt good in “shaming” them and putting them in their place.  After all, they didn’t fulfill your expectations.  They probably surprised or even shocked you on some level.  How could they do what they did or say what they said?  Don’t they know who you are?  Don’t they know how things are supposed to be?  If they only did it your way, the “right” way, then everything would be just fine.  Then you wouldn’t have to reprimand them or call them out to the “authorities.”  You are just doing your duty.  If they hadn’t tricked you, lied to you, or if they hadn’t acted behind your back, then everything would be just fine.  It wasn’t your fault!

If I am blaming someone else for whatever reason, it suggests a few things.  It suggests that I am “right” and my way is the only way to do something.  It suggests that I know all the rules and everyone should follow my rules.  It suggests that people can and should read my mind; at least in the areas I want them to.  It suggests that you should fulfill all of my expectations.  It suggests that I’m not responsible for my actions or reactions.  “You made me do it!”  It suggests that I’m the “righter” of all wrong doings.  I’m the “teacher” and the “enforcer.”  And, it suggests that I never make mistakes or make inappropriate decisions and if I do, you should lovingly correct me and take responsibility for allowing me to make a mistake.

With the above explanation, it’s pretty clear that entering into the process of “blaming” is not the most effective, loving or peaceful way to walk through life time on this planet.  You ask, “If I’m not blaming someone else what am I doing?”

You are taking responsibility for your life.  I come from the point of view that we create, promote or allow everything that comes into our life.  That’s a big statement.  Let me define my terms and I think it will help you move out of the “blaming” process into being responsible.

Let’s say we are at a café having a wonderful time, and I say to the guy next to me, “Dude, you are really ugly!”  He hears me and smashes his fist into my face.  It’s easy to see how I “created” that.  It would be hard to be a victim or to blame him.

Now, let’s say we are in the same café and I’m minding my own business.  I’m not saying anything bad to anyone.  However, I say to you, loud enough for this guy to hear, “That guy is really ugly!”  He does hear me and I find myself eating a fist sandwich.  This is a little slipperier and I could claim victimhood and blame him for my bloody lip; however; I actually did “promote” the action.

Okay, once again we’re in the same café.  We’re having a great time.  I am being good.  I’m minding my own business and I’m not saying anything to anybody.  Suddenly, this guy and someone else get in a fight!  I pull my chair closer to watch the battle and a chair is thrown.  It hits me in the head.  It wasn’t my fault.  They did it to me.  I can easily claim victimhood here.  I can blame them for years.  However, I did “allow” myself to be hit on the head because, I know when people fight, people get hurt and by my choosing to stay and watch, I put myself in a situation where I could get hurt.  It’s in this “allow” category that most people slip into the blaming process.  It’s easy to feel wronged.

There might be times in our life when we feel stuck and we aren’t aware that we have a choice or that there is a way out of the situation we are in.  I have heard people say, “You just don’t understand.  I can’t leave.”  At these moments, we are at one of those “have to/choose to” places.  I have to eat.  I can choose to stay in a job that is abusive or I can choose to quite and stand on the street corner and beg for money.  Choice point.  I could go into the victim/blamer process or I could choose to take responsibility for where I am and find resources that can help me.

There are actually three decisions we make when we choose to change.  Am I going to leave?  When am I going to leave?  And, how am I going to leave?  Sometimes we are clear we need to leave, but the timing is not appropriate, so we plan for the most effective time.  When that time arrives, then we decide how we can leave.  Each of these steps requires us to be responsible for our situation and we choose to take the best action we can with the information we have at that moment.  We take small steps toward the end result we want.

To move from being a “victim” and a “blamer” to being someone who takes full responsibility for what they are feeling, thinking and doing is a transformational process.  It requires courage and inner strength.  And, it’s an on-going process through time.  The pay off?  Peace, Loving and a Joy-Filled Life.  It’s a choice.

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