December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

There is no doubt about it. December is the time of year that is synonymous with giving. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, charitable organizations, or the people who make our lives better, we all have our lists and are checking them twice! Most of us love to give – and when we do so, we feel good about ourselves, abundant, and alive.

But what about receiving? Most people feel very uncomfortable about receiving! Whether it is a lavish gift, an act of kindness, generosity from a friend, or even a compliment, we have a difficult time receiving. For many, our awkwardness around receiving started at an early age. We were brought up hearing messages like, "Tis better to give than to receive" or "Give more than you get." We decided consciously or unconsciously that people who receive are greedy, selfish, weak, or needy – and since we didn't want to be any of those things, we made receiving wrong. When I first looked at my inability to receive, I realized that I had a belief that if I received something from someone, then I would owe them something in return. For me, being beholden to anyone was a loss of control and a very scary place, so receiving became taboo.

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The Spirit of the Season

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

And so it begins…

The holiday madness. The holiday rush. Everywhere you look, you see ads for this and that. Must buys. Must haves. Must gets.

I, for one, find it all to be overwhelming. That’s why this holiday season, I’ve decided that I want to try and stay present and focused on what the holiday spirit really means to me.

For me, the holiday season is about joy. It’s about my faith. It’s about generosity of spirit (not generosity of my wallet). It’s about kindness to my fellow human beings.

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Hold Desires Lightly

Be aware of wanting inside your own mind.

What do you want?

The Practice:
Hold desires lightly.

Why?

Getting caught up in wanting — wanting both to get what's pleasant and to avoid what's unpleasant — is a major source of suffering and harm for oneself and others.

First, a lot of what we want to get comes with a big price tag — such as that second cupcake, constant stimulation via TV and websites, lashing out in anger, intoxication, over-working, or manipulating others to get approval or love. On a larger scale, the consumer-based lifestyle widespread in Western nations leads them to eat up — often literally — a huge portion of the world's resources.

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How to Celebrate with Peace

My son and I touched down in Anchorage at 3:30 in the morning. I was relieved to see the streets clear of snow; it was an easy drive home. I was looking forward to the feeling of being settled. At home, I lit some candles, exhaled and experienced peace.  

The last few days I had noticed some feelings of stress. The holiday season had arrived. Thanksgiving was just a few days away. I could also feel the pressure of every day matters. I had emails, appointments and family obligations that had piled up over the last week. 

This historically has been a personal struggle of mine. Is it possible to stay connected to peace during the holiday season? This is the time of year that is often depicted as magical. It can be amazingly wonderful; but it can also difficult to stay connected to the most important aspect; love and peace.

The next morning before I started my meditation I recognized how much I enjoy our home. It is filled with good feelings. The energy from our prayers and meditations fill my favorite rooms. The mountains are visible thru the windows. The trees behind me share the energy of protection. I easily slipped into a deep meditation.

My awareness shifted. I was greeted by love, a version of each of us.  The veil evaporated. Everything fell away except the feelings of love, peace and protection. I was home again. There are no limitations of time, size, or quantity.  It is simply recognizing heart and soul. This is where our true self is. 

I say simply... because it is with the gentle shift of awareness that we all fall into peace.

My morning meditation reminded me of my personal need to bring the holiday season back to my heart, my center. It is here that I am able to bring love into my actions that create each day. 


To experience the holidays with joy; I keep my energy focused on my heart. I keep it simple. When I begin to feel scattered or spread too thin, I bring my awareness back to my heart. This is where I need to be, to pull the magic into my holiday experience.  

4 Tips to Help You Accept & Embrace Change

Whether you perceive it or not, everything is constantly changing – the environment, the weather, the economy, technology, society, culture, your friends and family, your body, everything. And the better able you are to embrace change in what is happening in your world, the easier it will be for you to live your best life.

“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus


For some people, the idea of constant and never-ending change is terrifying, because change often involves risk and loss – possibly of something big, like your house, your job, your money, your friends, your family, or just the loss of whatever is comfortable and familiar.

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Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: The Power of Coming Together

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” — Barbara De Angelis

The other day, I woke up to a text from my friend Matthew DiGirolamo.

Matthew and I worked together for many years. He’s a bright and creative writer and thinker, so I pay attention when he sends me a message.

Matthew said: “I think we should create an ‘Inner Peace Corps.’ Our world is in a mental and emotional health crisis and I feel like we need a corps of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, spiritual teachers, meditation coaches, etc. to be organized in a massive and coordinated volunteer effort. In times of tragedy and grief, they can help people process their pain, trauma, grief, and stress, and help them connect to their core emotions in a healthy way.”

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How to Achieve Any Goal With the Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction is one of the most powerful laws in the universe. Just like gravity, it is always influencing your life and reality. And once you are aware of it you can leverage it to create the life of your dreams.

Simply put, the Law of Attraction says that you attract into your life whatever you focus on and feel strongly about.

So, if you focus on the good and positive things in your life, you will automatically attract more of those things into your life.

If you focus on lack and negativity, then that is what you will attract more of into your life. It’s that simple – and that powerful.

Because once you understand how the Law of Attraction works, you can begin to consciously and intentionally change your results and create a better life.

You can begin to choose to respond differently to the situations that arise during your day.

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How To Flow With Change

Change is sometimes uncomfortable, weird, gawky, and stumbling.  It’s a messy thing…and just when you feel you’ve got this life dance thing down, the beat changes as soon as you think you know the steps, then you start to get dizzy and you have to sit down! Next, you discover you were actually playing musical chairs!

Yeah… I know, you thought your guardian angel was in charge of all that. Oh.. wait now we’re doing the cha cha cha?! I obviously didn’t bring the right shoes!  

Why is it that we think change and transformation have to be graceful and sparkly and shiny and liberating as soon as we consider it?  Why is it that when change happens, we recoil in fear and anger and then expect some magic being to fix it (like now please!) when a little time is what we actually need to adjust?

“But I’m spiritual I know these things.. all is well right? The Law of Abundance states… blablablabla… so why don’t I feel good, surrendered, happy, wise, serene, grateful all the time?”   

Seriously evolving out loud is part Presence and Wisdom, part Ridiculous, part Graceful, and mostly chasing it all around like trying to catch fireflies in a jar.

Is it because when we wake up and ignite our inner Light we think enlightenment means we will all of a sudden become creatures of never-ending joy and awareness? Is it because we think opening up to the deeper layers of Consciousness gives us an intuition that will guarantee that we will know how to avoid all obstacles, and pain and slide over our fear and loss like Elsa in Frozen singing Let it Go? (gosh I can’t stand that song).

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Lighten Your Load

On the path of life, most of us are hauling way too much weight.

What's weighing you down?

The Practice:
Lighten your load.

Why?

On the path of life, most of us are hauling way too much weight.

What's in your own backpack? If you're like most of us, you've got too many items on each day's To Do list and too much stuff in the closet. Too many entanglements with other people. And too many "shoulds," worries, guilts, and regrets.

Remember a time when you lightened your load. Maybe a backpacking trip when every needless pound stayed home. Or after you finally left a bad relationship. Or just stopped worrying about something. Or came clean with a friend about something that had been bothering you. How did this feel? Probably pretty great.

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The Power In Our Connections

In July our son declared he wanted to switch to a different swim team. Ultimately, he was seeking a new type of connection with a swim coach. Our family had been affiliated with his team for six years. This decision would certainly have impact on our everyday life!
 
Finn is 12 years old. He is learning about the power of intentions, connections and meditations. Our family values these practices. As a parent I am showing him how to blend our habits from home into his outside life. 
 
Many People are in the process of blending their internal practices with the outside world. 
 
Watching Finn make the transition from where he discovered his passion for swimming, to a new environment, held challenges for me as a parent. We experienced the transition differently. 
 
I talked about the process of letting something go. I asked Finn what his expectations were for his new coaches. What type of connection did he want and what did he need to do, to make the connection happen? 
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I Don’t Want To Be That Person!

This morning I was working out with a friend who was telling me a story about how he went to a quintessential Cuban cafe for breakfast. Although he used his best Spanish to order, they ended up giving him the wrong kind of steak with his eggs. Now my friend, who is dedicated to health and fitness, is vigilant about what he puts into his body and eating clean. When I asked him if he sent his meal back, he shrugged his shoulders and replied,

 

“No. I don’t want to be that person.”

 

Being raised around people who sent things back at restaurants, got upset if the service was slow, or took it personally if they didn’t get “the right” table, I vowed at an early age not to be a complainer. I, like many of us, have played the role of the meal martyr and tolerated underwhelming service, waiters getting my order wrong (you know, the whole “no croutons, dressing on the side” thing), and my biggest pet-peeve - cold food, just because I didn’t want to be that person!

 

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have sat silent, fought with ourselves about whether to say something or send something back or not, and paid for things we did not order because we didn’t want to be that person. Our fear and worry about being judged or labeled as a complainer, spoiled, entitled, or a pain in the butt has caused us to bite our tongue and swallow our integrity along with an order of food we didn’t want or care for.

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Eleven Laws That Lift You to the Next Life Level

If we want to grow inwardly we must find new ways to learn about ourselves. These higher discoveries call for higher learning. Think of each of the following eleven laws as individual magic strands of a flying carpet. Make it your aim to weave them together in your mind. Then watch how these lessons combine to effortlessly lift you to a higher and happier life level.

The First Law

Nothing can stop you from starting over.

The greatest power you possess for succeeding in life is your understanding that life gives you a fresh start any moment you choose to start fresh. Nothing that stood in your way even a heartbeat before stands there now in the same way. It's all new, even if you can't as yet see it that way. You've only to test the truth of this fact about the newness of life to discover the incredible freedom that waits for you just behind it. And then nothing can stop you. You'll know the real secret and the perfect power of starting over.

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Before He Knew

He was thirteen before he knew what a hand drill was. His father saved and bought him one for 75 cents. Before that, he made holes in wood by twisting coal-fired nails into the grain. It was his job to throw wood in the fire after school. When red hot, he’d pinch a nail with a pair of pliers and twist it through the wood, which went soft and dark until there was an opening. Now his skin is thin and just last week he stumbled out of bed and landed hard on the radiator, his forearm tearing like a thin curtain. It took an hour to stop bleeding.

He just took care of it himself. We are held this way in the fire of time where we go soft and dark till our skin goes thin and just waking tears us open.


A Question to Walk With: Ask an elder in your life for a story about the first tool they learned how to use.

This excerpt is from a new book in progress, Compass Work: Finding Our Fathers While Finding Ourselves.

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8 Habits That Keep You From Being Truly Happy

“There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
~C. JoyBell C.

Do you have the courage to be fully human?

To me it boils down to this: being vulnerable enough to allow your emotions to rise up and flow through you unchecked, without hindrance, without judgment. Inconceivable joy. Devastating sadness. Raging anger. Unmitigated self-judgement. Burning guilt. The entire spectrum of emotions. There is no hierarchy. No one is better than the other. Each are powerful. Each of them teach essential lessons if we are willing to listen.

We get into trouble when we impede this flow and ignore the lessons. Because we are afraid of the change these lessons will bring, we reign in our emotions. We stuff them down and ignore them. We become energetically constipated and slow the vibrational possibility that is always calling us into more. We turn away from the light and reject our best selves.

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Don’t carpe diem: A closer look at Glennon Doyle’s take on seizing the day

Ah, carpe diem. How many times have you heard this phrase? But have you really paid attention to what it means? It was made popular by the movie Dead Poets Society in 1990 but when I read the blog post Don’t Carpe Diem, I asked myself, “Why not? Isn’t ‘to carpe diem’ a good thing?”

Glennon Doyle is my hero. I never heard of her until I read her book, Love Warrior. I fell in love with this woman who, in my eyes, had the heart of a lion, opening herself up to the world with her real-life vulnerabilities. That is real courage to me. Her life inspired me to get real with my own fears and reservations and embrace my true self. How could I not? There’s this woman who went through alcohol and drug addiction and bulimia and she was not the slightest embarrassed to talk about it. No shame concealed her words and that is both respectable and admirable. My own life experiences are nothing compared to hers but I’ve carefully and desperately covered up my battle scars my whole life and so I finally asked myself, “Why is it so hard for me to show my wounds when they are the very things that made me who I am today?” I am stronger today than yesterday because I stared suffering down many times in the past allowing it to decide that I have become strong enough for it to leave.

One of Glennon’s most—if not the most—popular entries from her Momastery blog is Don’t carpe diem, which garnered over one million views and had been reposted and shared online countless of times. She talked about how she resented people’s well-meaning but unsolicited advice to enjoy the precious moments with her children while she struggled to “carpe fifteen minutes in a row.” And she’s got a point. You can’t really carpe diem when you’re struggling to get past the challenging moments because its very definition, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the ‘enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.’ How would you feel if the dentist pulling your tooth without anesthesia tells you to carpe diem?

But here’s the disconnect: Carpe diem is derived from the Latin phrase Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero, which means pluck (or seize) the day trusting as little as possible in the future. And Merriam-Webster defines seize the day as: to do the things one wants to do when there is the chance instead of waiting for a later time. Clearly, the modern definition for carpe diem veered away from its true meaning. Here’s why:

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The Pink Lemonade Solution

Sh*$ happens.

It comes in many forms: illness, money issues, breakups, loved ones pass on (even worse, sometimes it all happens at once)!

Since we can’t control the ups and downs of life, we can discover empowering ways how to respond and react.

I’ve always loved that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

When I am confronted and challenged with these darker times, I like to make “pink lemonade” – it’s about finding the blessings in the problem and also adding a huge dose of love to it.




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3 Ways to Get Unstuck

For the past four weeks, I've been drowning in a swamp of stuckness. You've heard of the dark night of the soul, but with three crushing disappointments back to back, it was a dark month of the soul that left me feeling deflated, burnt out, overwhelmed and alone. Like I'd fallen and just couldn't get back up. The story that immediately came to mind was of these baby elephant circus performers that were shackled to the ground to condition them not to move. So they grew up into these massive creatures capable of moving buildings yet conditioned to stay put. This repetitive conditioning created a neural pattern called automaticity meaning automatically staying stuck in that spot! Can you relate? Where in your life are you stuck in the same spot?

Perhaps you realize you've made a bad bargain clinging to your nightly wine habit or your 2 pm date with those chocolate chip cookies or salty chips? Or are you married to a partner or career or viewpoint or attitude that no longer fits (it it ever did) who you really are? How do you flow from the swamp of stuckness to a different river? A river of constant change (that's our life) and flow with it?

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Harness the powers of your subconscious mind

Harness the powers of your subconscious mind, teach it to be subservient to your conscious mind and watch your life turn into a big miracle.

" It is our beliefs that create our reality. Start believing in all positive realities and watch the stress fly away."

A belief is a thought in your mind. Believe in your subconscious, to heal and strengthen you. Do not harbor resentment and hatred, allow the beauty of the world to infiltrate your mind and let life be a beautiful ride.



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What to do when you have a broken heart

Most individuals believe that people or circumstances cause their emotional pain. They say, for example, “He broke my heart.” They make themselves victims. Creating authentic power shows you that you are not a victim. You discover that your emotions are created by dynamics inside you. When you focus outside yourself, these dynamics remain intact to be activated again. Each time, they generate the same or similar emotions in you.

You have experienced these painful emotions in other places and times with other people. The individual you believe is causing them now is actually the latest in a series of individuals who have activated this dynamic in you before. When you focus on the activator, you miss what got activated.

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Feeling Stuck? Let Synchronicity Help!

On my last radio show, a woman was telling me how she felt stuck about her next career move. She didn’t know what to do. I gave her some advice that I’d heard a long time ago which has often resonated with people, namely: “Sometimes you have to live into the answer.”

It’s not uncommon to feel stuck when you don't know which option to take, which direction to go, or which offer is for your highest good. It happens to many people – myself included. We get caught in the trap of feeling that you have to be doing, doing, doing! By contrast, I feel it’s perfectly okay to just be – to pause and reflect for a while – to take stock of what works and what doesn’t.

Another metaphor or saying I often use is: Sometimes it’s the right decision to grab the oars and steer yourself slowly and carefully to a goal or desire. Yet other times it’s also okay to put the oars down and see where the current or river of life takes you. Hence the saying: “Living into the answer.” When I go through such times of feeling a little stuck, I take time out to pray, meditate, and ask synchronicity to help me.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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