“When it’s all over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.” — Mary Oliver
The other day, I was talking to a friend about the people who have most impacted our lives. She shared with me a moving encounter she recently had with a stranger and remarked, “Isn’t it odd that a total stranger had that kind of impact on me?”
I said it’s almost always a stranger that ends up shifting your life. In fact, my own life has been deeply impacted by several total strangers over the years.
My friend paused and was slightly aghast. “What do you mean? How can that be?” she asked.
Before someone becomes your friend or partner, they are a stranger to you, I explained. Something about them moved you and then you delved further into conversation — deeper into connection — and got to know them better.
Sometimes it might also be the words of a total stranger in a book or a poem that move you so deeply that you shift everything you thought you knew and embark on a different course.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, who passed away this week, came into my life just like that. Her words have touched and moved me so profoundly over the course of my life. Eventually, she went from being a total stranger to a loving, loyal friend and for that, I am forever grateful.
Does the idea of communicating with your loved one involve idle chit chat while gazing at the T.V. or glossing over your mobile device? Are you struggling with conflict and disagreements internally that show up as passive-aggressive behavior in yourself or others? What about with colleagues at work or even with whom you interact with on social media?
You’d think they are all different- that close relationship should count more, but why is that? Truly, anyone you communicate with deserves respect, kindness, and authentic dialog. No one needs to accept anything less.
Good communication is essential to having a loving, harmonious relationship. But, most of us were never really taught the art of relationship dialogue. Sure, we read magazine articles about finding the right moment to express our needs and how we need to learn how to compromise, etc. We try to keep trying to get them to hear our point of view and then get frustrated when our partner, colleague or friend doesn’t seem interested.
The following day my family and I were gifted the opportunity to visit a Horse and Human Sanctuary; Tierra Madre. As I opened the gate into the sanctuary we all felt the powerful healing energy. The gate protects everyone and everything in the sanctuary; only open hearts are allowed inside.
There was a small wild rabbit just inside, observing our entrance. Soon we were greeted by a dog. We learned the dog had been rescued from the side of the freeway. We found it easy to leave everything but love and inspiration outside. The sanctuary is a safe place for all.
Encourage love in all its forms to flow through you.
What's carrying you?
Guided by love.
Feeling both the world and myself these days, one phrase keeps calling: lived by love.
Explicitly, this means coming from love in a broad sense, from compassion, good intentions, self-control, warmth, finding what’s to like, caring, connecting, and kindness.
Implicitly, and more fundamentally, this practice means a relaxed opening into the love – in a very very broad sense – that is the actual nature of everything. Moment by moment, the world and the mind reliably carry you along. This isn’t airy-fairy, it’s real. Our physical selves are woven in the tapestry of materiality, whose particles and energies never fail. The supplies – the light and air, the furniture and flowers – that are present this instant are here, available, whatever the future may hold. So too is the caring and goodwill that others have for you, and the momentum of your own accomplishments, and the healthy workings of your body. Meanwhile, your mind goes on being, while dependably weaving this thought, this sound, this moment of consciousness.
Last week, as I was sitting in the back of the room at the World Dementia Council Summit in London, a woman about my age stood up to speak. She had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and wanted the world leaders to hear what it’s like to live with the condition first-hand.
“We don’t want your pity,” she told them firmly. “We also don’t want your fear. All we want is for you to ask us, ‘What it’s like to be you right now?’”
The room fell silent.
This woman’s words really struck me. I’ve been thinking a lot about them ever since.
It’s never an easy thing when friends or family you were close to or once loved grow out of your life.
It can be quite painful.
You might feel some guilt or false loyalty if you feel you have outgrown them.
Or you might feel abandoned, betrayed, hurt, sad, angry, grief. Or a combination of all of the above.
Understand that you initially attracted your friend into your life because:
A) You were vibrating at a similar level of consciousness and were a vibrational match at that particular time.
B) You had certain lessons to teach each other’s souls. Your friendship was an opportunity learn those lessons and serve each other’s growth.
Friendships last as long as both of your souls need, as long as your personalities think they should.
You know you're squabbling when you find yourself getting irritated.
It's one thing to stick up for yourself and others. But it's a different matter to get caught up in wrangles, contentiousness, squabbles . . . in a word: quarrels.
Similarly, it's one thing to disagree with someone, even to the point of arguing—but it's a different matter to get so caught up in your position that you lose sight of the bigger picture, including your relationship with the other person. Then you're quarreling.
You know you're quarreling when you find yourself getting irritated, especially with that sticky feeling that you're just not gonna quit until you've won.
Quarrels happen both out in the open, between people, and inside the mind, like when you make a case in your head about another person or keep revisiting an argument to make your point more forcefully. We quarrel most with family and friends—imagine that! But also with people on TV, or politicians and groups we don't like. We can even quarrel with conditions in life (such as an illness or tight money) or with physical objects, like a sticky drawer slammed shut in anger.
However, they happen, quarrels are stressful, activating the ancient fight-or-flight machinery in your brain and body: a bit of this won't harm you, but a regular diet of quarreling is not good for your long-term physical and mental health.
Plus, it eats away like acid on a relationship. For example, I was in a serious relationship in my mid-twenties that was headed for marriage, but our regular quarrels finally so scorched the earth in our hearts that no love could grow there for each other.
This week, try not to quarrel with anyone or anything.
Friendliness is a down-to-earth approach that is welcoming and positive.
Friend or Foe?
Friendliness is a down-to-earth approach to others that is welcoming and positive.
Think about a time when someone was friendly to you — maybe drawing you into a gathering, saying hello on the sidewalk, or smiling from across the room. How did that make you feel? Probably more included, comfortable, and at ease; safer; more open and warm-hearted.
You are allowed to outgrow people.
It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. It just means that you are growing.
Not everyone will stay with you an entire lifetime and that’s ok. Holding back your light to make others feel comfortable is soul suicide.
The greatest gift that you can give the world is to be magnificent. You don’t need to make an excuse for your greatness. You don’t need to hide your light in order to fit in.
You attract people into your life because they were a vibrational match at that particular time. They reflected parts of yourself back to you.
However, as you grow and evolve, unless they grow and evolve, likely your connection will no longer be in alignment.
It can be painful to feel that you and the person that you love have gone in different directions and no longer connect in the same way.
We often hold ourselves back from growing out of false loyalty, over-responsibility and fear.
Not too long ago, someone asked me why I hadn’t published my book, “I’ve Been Thinking…,” sooner. After all, I’ve been writing these essays and sharing them in The Sunday Paper for years, so I could have easily published it a year or two ago.
But, as I told that person, and as I’ve told others on this journey, I honestly couldn’t have put it out any sooner. This book came out when it was supposed to for me. It came at just the right time.
I think so many of us are in a rush these days. We’re in a rush to get on with things. A rush to get over things. A rush to be where we think we are supposed to be.
But, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that stuff happens when it’s supposed to in our lives, not always when we think it should. At least that’s been the case in my life.
Continuing the theme of exploring relationships this month I’ll ask this question. Do you remember a time when you thought you met “THE ONE” and felt so strongly that you had met your soulmate, only to see this special relationship go up in flames, and you on your knees sobbing and confused?
This can apply to best friendships too not just romantic relationships. I’ve befriended a few people I was convinced would be my friend for life only to see it all unravel and disintegrate in a short time. Perhaps this may have happened to you too?
The truth is these are soulmates of a different kind, harbingers of true healing and what I like to call Shadow teachers. Through these powerful connections we get to see how our unprocessed wound-patterns still can cause us to be in denial when we choose to follow through on our attractions.