Denial – Not just a River in Egypt

I am a competitive person by nature. And by this admission am hereby publicly confessing to be a perfectionist. In being a perfectionist, I am sometimes reluctant to admit to what I perceive to be weaknesses and shortcomings. Up until recently, I perceived the dynamic of denial to be a weakness. I thought it meant that I was not dealing with the situation at hand. Well guess what? The truth is that when I’m in denial I’m not dealing with the situation fully simply because it is too much to face in the moment.

20131115-163921.jpgWhat I’ve learned over the past few years is that denial can be my friend if “used” purposefully. For example, back when my husband had his life-changing automobile accident I moved through various stages of denial. Months later I retained a copy of my husband’s hospital medical record. As I read through it I saw that I had been given the “wife is in denial” label. I was resentful, to say the least. “How dare they label me! What did they know about what I was experiencing?”

And now looking back on it I realize how right they were. I was most definitely and for very good reason in a major state if denial. Unbeknownst to me it I was in a good place and denial was my friend and guardian angel.

526635_479560988768275_1425642931_nWhat I’ve come to realize is that denial is a natural response to an unexpected and/or unacceptable occurrence. It is a protective mechanism that the mind, spirit and body move into when a situation is just too much to handle all at once. Allowing denial to be present can serve as a temporary safe space that one can use to become accustomed to the idea of what has happened. The key is to not sit in denial permanently – that’s when it becomes a crutch that can keep one from full acceptance and moving forward. Moving forward out if denial and into acceptance is an individual process for each of person. The important thing is to stay present with yourself as you are moving through it. And to the best of your ability, be grateful for the period of denial in which you find yourself as it is a natural time of adjustment as you move into a new-normal life.

Laughter’s Balancing Act

You may have heard it said, “He who laughs at himself will never cease to be amused.” It’s true. I find that I probably laugh at something I say or do everyday. It feels good and keeps me from taking life and me too serious.

The truth is – I like to laugh. For me laughter is a neutralizing force. It takes me out of whatever “place of limitation” I may happen to slip into. It can act as a release valve for pent up angst and worry. It brings me back to the present moment because it allows me to see the truth and sometimes absurdity of a situation or action and snaps me back to a clear balanced “place”. Laughing also reroutes me to the current of acceptance that runs through my life.

In that sense, laughter is humbling. What I’ve discovered is that the power of laughter rests not in denial of feelings (although this can be a result) but in its power to reveal what is truly important to me in my life. It connects me to the happiness that is the current of living energy that resides within me.

In that regard, you could say the act of laughing and its cleansing power is no laughing matter. It’s truly a powerful balancing force that aids me in keeping life light.

Have you had your dose of laughter for today? If not check out this classic music video Make ‘Em Laugh

In 2013, choose to Be YOU fully and shine that beautiful light!

imagesFor several weeks now I’ve been considering what to write as my final blog post of 2012.  And I keep coming back to how to bring the intention of being “true to yourself” and living life authentically from this perspective into the New Year – 2013. Oddly, the words have been evading me.  And then, of all things, Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, posted the following on his Facebook page.  It says perfectly what I’ve been feeling and considering:

“You were not born to be average, normal or typical.

You were not born a carbon copy.

You were born unique, born to excel, born to manifest the glory of the universe in your authentic spirit.

You are not weak.

You are stronger than you imagine, wiser than you know, and have vast powers that you have yet to actualize. Stop playing small.

Be YOU. Tell your truth – now, today, this very moment.

Manifest your true self – not a poor reflection of your circumstance.

Don’t walk through this world unconscious of your greatness, sleep walking, surrendering your light to the bland grey around you.

You were born to be brilliant,

to be light,

to be fire.

Infuse your glory into this moment, into your choices, into your deeds, into the habits you create.

Consciously choose:

Choose your body through conscious consumption.

Choose your attitude, through conscious thought.

Choose your destiny by being present right now – for remember mindful moments multiplied, totally transform tomorrow’s.

Today choose integrity, choose discipline, choose joy, choose joy, choose joy.

Rejoice in your blessings AND, most importantly, know that EVERYTHING is a blessing.

And your blessings are rich soil.

So choose to grow into the boldest, proudest, most glorious version of YOU.

You were born for this.”

Cory Booker

Is that not perfect? I love it and I hope you do too. To wrap up 2012, here’s an exercise” for choosing, creating and manifesting your “boldest, proudest, most glorious version of YOU”.  It is a two-part exercise that first walks you through the process of letting go of all the old, worn out concepts of yourself.  It then takes you through the process of tapping into and welcoming in the real, authentic YOU that has been waiting quietly and lovingly in “your corner” to be embraced and expressed.  Here’s the exercise:

You’ll need two pieces of paper (you can use a journal), a pen or pencil and a bowl (or fireplace) in which you can burn the “old concepts”.  Step One:  Tear or cut one of the pieces of  paper into five separate pieces and write down the answer to each question below. Tell yourself the truth, the “whole truth and nothing but the truth. Take your time.

Where are you hiding “you” behind the curtains?
Where are you not speaking your truth?
Where are you limiting yourself?
Where are you stifling your happiness?
What feels left “undone” in 2012? What still needs completing?

When you’ve completed answering the above questions:  Take all the “old” statements that you wrote on the five strips of paper, put them in a flameproof bowl or in the fireplace and burn them.  Let them burn up, dissolve and float away.  As they burn, feel it all complete, done and released.  Sit quietly and let it all burn up within you.  When you are ready, move to the second half of the exercise.

Part Two:   Take the second whole sheet of paper (you can also do this part of the exercise in a journal) and answer each of the questions listed below with an “intention” for the New Year.  Write the answers in a present tense voice (e.g. “I am…..”); how you are now living the “true you”.  Word it so that it is already done – in the affirmative  with one sentence or statement for each.

How are you now coming out as the real, authentic YOU? What does that look like?  What does it feel like?
How are you now thoughtfully speaking your truth?
How are you now living to your fullest potential?
How are you expressing your natural happiness and sharing it with those in your world – your life?
How does it feel to know that it is all complete and you are happy just the way you are?

This is your “now” YOU statement.  Read it over.  Feel the power and strength of it.  Relish it.  Embrace it.  Sit with it quietly as it expands within you and when it feels complete, put this piece of paper in a special place (e.g., journal) so that you can revisit it any time you wish during the coming year, whenever you need a little YOU refresher! Recommendation:  Complete this exercise before or on New Year’s eve so that you are truly “ringing out the old and ringing in the new”!

I want to thank you for walking this Balance Point adventure with me during 2012.  It is my wish that in 2013 we can continue to look together at living our lives to the fullest and collectively being peace, balance and happiness in our world.  Thanks everyone – Happy New Year.  See you on the flip side!

The Path of the Yellow Brick Road

A few years back I had what I like to refer to as a “bullseye insight”. You know – one of those aha’s that hit you right between the eyes. I realized that my life journey had very much been like traveling the path of the yellow brick road as depicted in The Wizard of Oz. This realization was quite comforting to me mainly because I realized that this method of navigating my life was actually working. And quite well.  It wasn’t a set “method” as it required me to really trust my inner wisdom. It taught me the power of being true to, honoring and respecting the being of who I am.

As any of us who know the movie story line – Dorothy, the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow were each individually seeking to find themselves and their respective ways home. Each character felt a lack of something within. The lion felt cowardly. The tin man felt hollow. The scarecrow felt inadequate. And, of course, Dorothy felt disconnected from and a deep yearning to be home to what was familiar and comfortable. So they chose to follow the yellow brick road.  It was by their willingness to just stay on the road and remain open to the adventure that they each found what they were seeking. Interestingly enough, in the end, each character found that the answers they had been seeking had actually been within them all along. No other method had brought them to these truths – they could only have been discovered by following this road.  The adventures on the road forced each of them to confront their fears and supposed inadequacies.  It also forced them to see their individual strengths and beauty.  What a great story!

And – that’s what I’ve come to realize as well. Following my Yellow Brick Road has taught me to not only trust myself but to also give myself a break. It has opened up my life. So – if you choose to also travel this road but don’t know how, rest assured that you are already on it. You always have been. It may be simply that you just don’t realize it. I know I didn’t. And…once you do realize it and choose it there’s a way to navigate it with eyes wide open. Here are some tips:

1. Trust yourself

2. Listen to the voice within, those feelings that stir within you when a choice or decision comes up to be made regarding a particular direction.

3. When you feel overwhelmed about a decision, STOP. Breathe. Get quiet . Allow the overwhelm to be what it is.  Give it space and it will give you space.  Remember, whatever you resists persists – so just let it be what it is.  And it will let you be as you are.

4. Then and only then, when you feel at peace – make your decision.

5.If the answer isn’t clear – write it down – the pro’s and the con’s. Look for priorities and first steps. Putting it down on paper allows you to see the whole picture more clearly.

5. Choose what is true for you. One foot in front of the other.

Along the way, you’re probably going to run into some flying monkeys. In fact, it is guaranteed that you will. That’s okay. It is part of the adventure when on the path of the Yellow Brick Road. I promise you though, if you stay on it you are sure to discover whatever it is you are seeking within.  And the ruby-red slippers might just be in your closet just waiting for you…

Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick…

74 Ways To Get Back on Track…

An oldie but a goodie. Great reminders of what is truly important in this busy, modern life we lead. Take a break, sit back, watch, breathe, enjoy and smile.

GYA today

…and bring others along with you!

 

Enjoy today.
Achieve today.
Tomorrow is promised to no one.

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You want happiness? Give up the story.

I tend to write about themes I’m seeing in my life and I do this because I’ve discovered that oftentimes, those same or similar themes are running in the lives of those around me.  This post is no different, so here’s the “theme”:  to be truly happy you have to stop feeding your story and recycling the past.

What do I mean by that?  We all have a story or stories about the past and how it all relates to the present.  We tend to live in the story and let ourselves be dictated by it. We live in it through letting it define us as this or that.  For example, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury almost 19 years ago.  Until recently, I did not realize the extent to which I had identified with this story and allowed it to dictate my life.  Granted, when you live with someone with a TBI your life is “outfitted” by that outcome.  There are things you have to do, a way of life and decisions and so forth that are now so because of this outcome.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  What I’m speaking of is the identification of this story as “me”.

To illustrate, a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a new work colleague.  We were getting to know one another and in the course of our conversation the subject of Michael (my husband) came up.  I watched as the same old words came out of my mouth – “He was in a near-fatal automobile accident.  In a coma for 3 weeks, hospitalized for 4 1/2 months….and on and on. He’s fine now, permanently disabled, etc., etc.”  In that moment as I watched me tell this story, I realized how sick I was of it . I even had difficulty getting the words of the story out of my mouth.  It was then that it occurred to me that I was complete with it. Done!  Out of the clear blue sky I had suddenly let go.  And in this realization, the story and the past no longer had power over or a hold on me.

The only thing I can figure is that it was simply time for me to drop it. There was no timeline and I didn’t plan on it. And it reminds me of the story of the Buddha, who spent many years seeking enlightenment (union with God).  It wasn’t until he came to a full stop under the Bodhi tree, that he was able to let go of it all.  And in this letting go he was free.  I don’t think anything that dramatic happened to me but I can tell you that it was and is freeing and remains with me.  Now I feel courage, confidence, empowerment and contentment in place of the story.  Sure I’ll be “required” to tell it and I can do that now from a place of deep appreciation for the yellow brick road on which life has placed me.

As usual, all this is my long-winded way of suggesting that if you find yourself struggling or caught up in a story and you can’t seem to let go of the past then look and see if perhaps you might be identified with this story.  In other words, are you seeing that this story defines you – in a way that is holding you back?  If yes, then just see that you are doing this.  Accept it.  By accepting  you don’t have to like it.   It is what it is. To the best of your ability, look for the opportunity and the lessons being handed to you as you walk through it.  See what is here for you now.  Breathe into it.  Write about it.  Cry about it.  Laugh about it.  Scream about it.  If you need to – talk about it. And, when it is time, you’ll find yourself sitting under your own version of the Bodhi tree where you’ll give up the story.  For now though, honor yourself, your experience, your story, your journey.  Just be with yourself wherever you are.

P. S.  There’s a saying that I love coupled with a photo of two people walking hand in hand – “We’re all just walking one another home.”  Thank you for being with me on my yellow brick road.  Namaste.

Express yourself like nobody else can!

Image

True confession, for years, I spent my life trying to be someone else. I can’t even tell you why or when this began.  Maybe I always did this.  I don’t know. The point is, I lived this way – for years.  A stunning example is when I was a group fitness instructor, a role I played for a good 25 years of my adult life.  I spent almost all that time trying to be someone else.  I was never good enough for me.  I wasn’t creative enough or my music wasn’t the right music.  And on and on and on.  Some of my good friends (fellow instructors) would become my “study”.  I’d watch and learn … down to the way they dressed, their presentation, their music and their choreography.  I took learning from others to a whole different level.  Because I wasn’t comfortable or secure in my personality and style I had to copy someone else because she or he must know better than I.  And…for some time I was able to pull it off even though something never felt quite right.  And then it all came tumbling down.

I was being inauthentic – not true to myself – not being myself.  What it really got down to was that I was afraid to be me – fully. There was a fear that if I was Fully Me people might not like me.  Upon facing this assumption I had created I realized that maybe, just maybe I was okay, had value, a purpose and something to offer.  I considered that perhaps the world might just be a better place with me in it.  And it took facing myself in the mirror everyday.  Honestly, I began standing in front of the bathroom mirror and looking at myself and saying out loud the words, “I love you”.  It probably sounds kind of funny or odd but when I started doing this it felt awkward. It was always easy to say these words to my husband, son, family and friends.  But to me?  Oh my gosh.  Awkward!  And…I stayed with it because I’m worth it. Through this exercise I faced my whole self – all my strengths and all my weaknesses.  It also taught me not to take myself so seriously.  In essence, it helped me lighten up – not just on me but on everyone else. Today, I’m comfortable with me – all my strengths, weaknesses, perfections and imperfections. Hah!  There are probably more of my qualities for me to uncover.  Bring em’ on!  I like being who I am and I can laugh at myself at the drop of a coin.  I embrace me even when I don’t embrace me.

Each of us has this going on within us to some degree.  Obviously some more than others. 🙂  How often do we take these notions we have of ourselves so seriously?  How often are we blindsided by the assumptions we make about ourselves?  Why not take a look and see?  What have you got to lose? Here’s a little exercise and process to help you embrace yourself – completely:

1.  Get out paper and pencil (or your journal).

2.  Write down 5 things you like about yourself.  For example, “I like my sense of humor – I make people laugh.”

3.  Write down 5 things you see are weaknesses.  For example, “I have a tendency to interrupt people mid-sentence.”

4.  Be completely honest and don’t judge any of your answers.

5.  Read over what you have written.  Put down paper and pencil, close your eyes.  Consider what you have written.  Feel how it feels in your body.  Where are you feeling tightness and tenseness?  Just notice it.  Then ask yourself, “who’s experiencing this?”  Now just breath into and relax. Sit for a few minutes and let it all be just as it is.  Open your eyes and move on with your day.

6.  Every morning for the next 30 days, stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself out loud (not to yourself) “I love you”.  Say it out loud!  And smile or laugh…

Now, go out and be your sweet self knowing that you are beautiful…just the way you are.  Here’s an oldie but a goodie song to set you on your way – “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

Define your dream then live it!

In April 2010, I lost my job; my position was eliminated. Essentially my skills no longer fit within the company’s business model. More importantly, the company no longer fit within my “business model.” I’d known this for a while and that it was time to go. Unfortunately, like so many people in this country who have gone through similar circumstances, I was extremely dependent on the salary and benefits. I had a son in college and a husband at home permanently disabled and unable to work. Losing this job placed us in an uncertain financial situation.

When I lost my job, I experienced a mixture of feelings: fear, worry and relief. I didn’t consider myself a “victim” of the economy nor of the company for which I had worked. To me it was a sign. It was apparent that the timing was right to pursue my true purpose. I understood that I had been “incubating” – building skills and fine-tuning my natural talents all while purging some old conditioning that I had allowed to limit me. In short, it was time for this baby bird to fly. I just needed a push from the nest. That push came in the form of losing the job.

I spent the next four and a half months looking for a job while considering what I really wanted to do. While in this process, I thought that I might find my dream fulfilled through finding a new job. At some point, I realized that maybe I needed to take the bull by the horns and make my dream job/work happen. So, while looking for a job, I began to consider what this would look like. That’s how Balance Point came into being. I spoke with a close friend, Jack, who is creative, entrepreneurial and knows how to “make things happen”. With his assistance, I wrote a business plan for Balance Point. We met several times and he helped me set an intention to launch my little company. Then I went about all the steps of forming a company and launching it.

In the meantime, I also began working part-time. The position was enough to take me off unemployment and at least put us on somewhat stable footing. It also took the pressure off enough for me to let Balance Point begin to come into focus. Today, Balance Point is getting more “traction” and my dream of helping others live their dream is coming into focus.

All this is to say that in this process of defining my dream I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I’d like to share them with you now:

  • Plan your dream – create a business plan. Then live your dream. A dream or dreaming isn’t “fluff”. It is the imaging and imagining of what is so for you. Your true purpose. If it wasn’t meant to be – you wouldn’t have the idea of it.
  • Don’t be afraid to dream – even in a challenging economy. Actually, dreaming and acting on your dream is extremely important in this kind of economy. Dreaming is what brings new business models and innovative, creative ideas to the forefront. More successful small businesses are successfully launched during such times than any other.
  • Don’t be discouraged if your dream doesn’t come into focus immediately. Stay with your intention. Allow it to come through completely. Use the time to work through the “kinks”.
  • Keep your skills sharp and focused. Read everything and stay informed. Stay up to date with what’s happening in your “industry” and pay attention to what’s happening in “parallel” industries. Stay aware of what “floats” your boat.
  • Don’t discount your knowledge or experience. Keep your eyes open and see the possibilities.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you can’t or allow limiting thoughts to turn you away from your dream. When people offer their suggestions, ideas and opinions – take what you get; don’t take what you don’t get.
  • Find one or two people to be in your dream with you – someone who can help you see all the angles and hold the context of support with you. Wait to broadcast your vision and context until it is firmly grounded within you.
  • Regard roadblocks and hiccups as simply that. Learn the lessons, incorporate the learnings and move on with your dream.
  • Nurture your dream: revisit your business plan every so often and revise it to fit your dream as it comes into greater focus.

Your dream, an expression of your true purpose, is an adventure for you to fully experience and embrace. Now, go out, define it and then…live it!

P.S. If you’d like assistance in defining your dream, I’d love to help you!

Moving into 2012 with peace and intention

Last year, at this same time, I wrote about New Year’s Intention vs. resolution and encouraged you to live with intention.  I also gave you a method by which to get you started. As I was considering what to write for this year’s New Year’s message, a wonderful blog post from my very dear friend, Elizabeth MacDonald appeared in my email inbox.  She nails it perfectly and I asked her if I could share this with you.  She said, “yes”,  so I’m sharing it below.  It gives a process to carry you into 2012 in peace, prosperity and happiness.  I’ve used this many times over the years and it works like a charm!  Also, here’s a link to Elizabeth’s blog in case you’d like to follow her .

From Elizabeth MacDonald:

‘“Cast all the old aside to make room for the new. How can you
 expect to usher in the new if you insist on holding onto the old. Make room, make
 room, and have a good spring clean from time to time and see what there is you
 can cast forth of the old and never be tempted to hold on to anything which is not 
of the very highest. This needs to be done with thoughts and ideas as well as material possessions. 
Don’t just throw out the rubbish, but also those things which clutter up the mind 
and stop it from expanding. Take time to go through your material possessions 
as well and sift and sort what you have and cast out anything which you do not use. 
It is right to have all that you need, but again let Me remind you not to hoard. It 
is far too easy to accumulate and then wonder why you feel burdened and bowed 
down and can’t move forward and upward.” -Eileen Cady

Someone asked me, recently, what was the best way to celebrate New Year’s. What I recalled was a conscious process that I have experienced and witnessed, that removes what is no longer useful and truly “makes room for the Highest.” It came up to share this process with you. Here is how it goes, step by step…

  1.  Start the process in plenty of time, before New Year’s Eve. Begin by writing out all that is old and no longer useful in your life. Just let it empty out onto the paper without any editing. This “streaming” is a way to just let it all come out and be emptied.
  2. Be aware of the experience in the body as it is streaming out…being the Awareness of what is being seen…and see through all of what is arising…letting it be.
  3. Be sure it is all emptied and there is a clear space before going on.
  4. Now, get a fresh piece of paper and write out what is true for you…what wants to now express itself through you. Just let it stream out onto the paper without editing.
  5. Notice the experience arising in the body and include this in Awareness…letting it be. It may be surprising to you that negative, as well as positive feelings are arising. Just allow it all to be fully seen through from the clear space of Pure Awareness.
  6. When it has all been emptied on the paper and the space is clear, take a fresh piece of paper, and write on the top of the page: “What is True for (your name) for 2012.” Looking back over what has been written, write out what is true for you, now. Let it be clear and neat on the page, and at the same time feeling it is already complete.
  7. What is coming now, is coming from the clear space of Pure Awareness, straight from your Heart…it is what is already true…what is so.
  8. Now, when we bring in the New Year, there is a complete alignment with “what is” for 2012…letting go and letting it all happen in the best way, as a win-win for all concerned.
  9. Some people find it helpful to meditate as the New Year comes in. However you celebrate it the main thing is, at midnight, “what is true” for you is being felt as complete. And, we are resolved to allow it all to unfold in its own natural way.

As New Year’s Eve comes, let’s be together in our Heart-felt “New Year’s Resolution” wherever we are, feeling it complete for ALL. And, as we each take responsibility for being andliving our truth, we are directly assisting the Whole. Just one more very important thing that comes up to share, with regard to living our truth with “others” in 2012.Here are three “gatekeepers” from an Old Arab Proverb…

“The words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers: Before words get past the lips, the first gatekeeper asks, ‘Is this true?’ That stops a lot of traffic immediately. But, if the words get past the first gatekeeper, there is a second who asks: ‘Is it kind?’ And, for those words that qualify here too, the last gatekeeper asks, ‘Is it necessary?’ With these three on guard, most of us would find very little to say!'”

Thank you for reading the Balance Point blog and following my adventures throughout this year.  I hope that I have assisted you in some way or another or at the very least entertained you. 🙂  Many blessings to you now and throughout the New Year to come.

P.S.  A little background on Elizabeth MacDonald:  Elizabeth recently retired as Spiritual Director of the AHAM Meditation Retreat and Spiritual Training Center in Asheboro, NC.  She co-founded AHAM back in 1978 with A. Ramana (an American-born spiritual teacher with whom I also had the opportunity to spend time.)  AHAM teaches the Self Inquiry process and shares the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.  Elizabeth was my trainer and spiritual coach for many years and it was during this time that we became good friends.  She is a beautiful, strong woman who demonstrates day-to-day the power of living life from place of centered Awareness, kindness, truthfulness and grace.