It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Inside the Pandemic

Now that we can’t touch, I am awash

with all the ways that touch sustains us:

like an electricity from one heart to another

or the ancient rush of water down a falls into

the basin of a village. I’m thinking of how you

wiped my brow in the hospital and the time

you stroked a fallen bird, its beak aquiver,

and the time your mother held your face,

saying, “I saw how loving you are the day

you were born.” Or the moment I caught

a stranger in the parking lot as her groceries

splattered, her cart wobbling away. Earlier,

it was Grandma hoisting me to my feet in

her Brooklyn alley and the hands of my

father guiding mine as he taught me to

use a chisel. Now I’m seeing Whitman

as a medic in the Civil War wrapping a

bandage around a corporal’s chest. And

now I close my eyes to send my touch

like a Shaman across the dreamscape,

hoping it will reach you.

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The One Karmic Lesson We All Face On the Road To A More Peaceful Life

This week I had an experience that made me think about my triggers and personal life story.  I believe that ultimately we all face one karmic lesson, that if mastered, helps us live a peaceful life.

I was out on the trails with my very energetic pup.  It was early morning and cloudy.  We almost had the entire preserve to ourselves.  My companion lets me know when bobcats, bunnies, or other wildlife are near.   On this particular morning we heard some coyotes off in the distance.  My dog paused and looked in the direction of his cousin’s song.

After the howls and yipping, our world returned to calm.

Before long, the tranquility was shattered by a very large, off leash dog baying loudly as it chased a coyote across the desert floor.   The coyote was running for it’s life.

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50 Things I’ve Learned in My 50 Years of Life

Life passes by slow and fast. We have both good and bad times. Happy and sad experiences. We walk through life and experience joy and loss, as well as happiness and death. There is contrast through it all. As I arrive at my 50th time around the sun, I took the time to sit with SOME of what I have learned. These are in no particular order and are certainly not all I have learned. I am sure I have forgotten some BIGGIES, but it’s a good start; and more importantly, on my birthday day, it is a good reminder to me of this amazing life I have been blessed to experience and all that I have journeyed through … on both sides of the contrast.

Enjoy ~ Sunny Dawn Johnston

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Poignancy and Gratitude

When you are in your teens and 20s, life seems to extend into the future like an endless expanse of potential experiences. You can’t imagine not having the opportunity to visit places you love again or see friends and family regularly. As you grow older and encounter both loss and change, life takes on a quality of uncertainty, sweetness tinged with sorrow. A favorite uncle or a parent dies, friends move away, you yourself may move multiple times. The tapestry of life is always shifting, and we too shift with the changes. At a certain point, you may realize that the years ahead are possibly fewer than those behind. It may awaken a deep sense of appreciation for every moment you are given. This is how our lives teach us gratitude. Yet now, at this time on the planet, that lesson is coming up in unexpected ways.

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The Gift of Failure

When things don’t go according to plan or work out how you intended, it can be a huge disappointment and let down, especially when you have invested so much time, energy, and money.

It’s easy to judge yourself as a failure and beat yourself up harshly. But this serves nothing.

When you try so hard and your dreams don’t happen, it’s easy to question yourself and even want to give up on the dream itself.

But what if there was no such thing as “failure”? 

Consider that every experience is feedback to you from the universe and every moment is an opportunity to learn something more about yourself.

Failure is simply an interpretation of reality based on your current level of consciousness.

So – What if things not working out were really a gift from the universe designed to take you deeper into yourself, forcing you to question, reflect, and let go of anything not in alignment with your highest?

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A Year of Turmoil and Transformation

One year ago, we went into lockdown.

Covid -19. The Corona virus. A global pandemic. Holy shit!

They said lockdown would probably only last three to four weeks, possibly six.

We were told to wash our hands, wear a mask, social distance so we could “flatten the curve.”

What happened next doesn’t need to be repeated here.

We’ve all been through our own personal trauma.

For the first few months the loss of freedom to come and go and do as I please, including making future plans, had me cycling through the five stages of grief at a rapid pace.

Although I felt physically “bulletproof,” I worried about getting and passing along the virus to my husband or mother, both with underlying conditions.

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We All Need Help Sometimes

“As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
 —Audrey Hepburn


I've Been Thinking...

Last week in The Sunday Paper, my friend Peggy wrote about "mental clutter." She wrote about false egos, false thoughts, focusing on the soul's attention, and so much more.

But there was one thing in particular in her piece that stayed with me long after I read it. It was about how the false thoughts we tell ourselves—ones like “I’m alone” or "I have to do everything by myself and for myself"—create resentment, urgency, and clutter in our minds.

Peggy's suggestion was to allow your soul to speak. Allow it to tell you things like, "I can rely on others."

As I read that line, I could feel tears well up in my eyes. Asking for help and allowing yourself to rely on others is uncomfortable for many of us. In fact, many women my age were raised with the mantra of "you don't need help" and "you certainly don’t need a man to help you, so show that you can do it yourself. In fact, you must prove you can do it yourself."

I remember my father offering to help my mother carry her bag. She would always respond, "I can do it myself!" Many of my memories are of my mother trying to prove she could do whatever it was by herself. But the truth is, doing everything on her own wasn’t the truth of her life. She built a worldwide social justice mission with the help of millions of volunteers. She had help in every area of her life, but somehow there was shame around the idea that a woman like herself—someone who helped achieve a big world vision—might also need help in her everyday life as well.

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Is There a Better Way to Be Happy?

History is filled with powerful forces that change the face of the Earth, and right now we are experiencing one, an explosion of a new coronavirus that has upended daily life. Forecasts of a changing world are in the air once the pandemic is over, but no one really knows what the reset will be, if there is going to be one.

I think the best reset would be over happiness. There is an unquenchable drive for humans to seek happiness, but this means very different things at different times. A day laborer hauling stone to build a cathedral in the Middle Ages was happy, even inspired, by backbreaking physical work that never changed and ended with the breakdown of the body.

That way of being happy is unimaginable to modern people. In developed societies, our formula for happiness generally involves the following: physical comfort, ample leisure, scientific medicine, higher education, endless distractions through entertainment and social media, and a steady supply of consumer goods. In the developing world these values are dominant, not as what people already have but what they aspire to have.

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The Body

Today, Spirit guided me to talk about the body. The body. I know, you all have one, right? You all have a body, so that’s a good sign. And what I want to talk about is, what story you’re attached to. Do you have a story that you tell about your body?

It could be anything. Back in the day, my story was I’m overweight. I’m never going to be thin. I always am sick. Nobody’s ever gonna love me in this body. I used to talk how big my legs were or how much of a struggle it was to lose weight or just in general, just how fat I was.

So my story was that I couldn’t lose weight. My story was that I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t attractive. That was my story.

Now, your story could be, I always get sick. Your story could be, I struggle with disease. Your story could be my body never does what I want it to do. It’s not strong enough. I’m too fat, too skinny, too tall, too small, too whatever it is.

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What Moves Your Life?

"Having abandoned the flimsy fantasy of certainty, I decided to wander."
—Kameelah Janan Rasheed


I've Been Thinking...

So many people I speak to lately tell me they feel like wanderers. They say they feel like their lives aren’t moving in one particular direction. Some say they feel like they are in transition, while others say everything feels up in the air for them. Some say they finally feel open to things they never were before. I’ve heard some version of this message from people at all stages of life, no matter the age.

To them I say, “Same here.” I, too, have abandoned the fantasy of certitude. 

COVID-19 has robbed everyone of certainty. I was certain that my government would take care of COVID quickly and effectively. I was certain that it would distribute vaccines in an efficient manner. I was certain that there would be people to help me navigate my way forward in this mess. Nothing has been like I thought it would be. That’s why letting go of the fantasy—letting go of what I thought was true—is the best way forward. It’s the truth of where we find ourselves.

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Words Matter

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." —Helen Keller

I've Been Thinking...

I love words. I love how certain words make me feel. I love how they can be strung together to create stories and images. I love how certain words remind me of special people in my life and how they make me feel.

My takeaway from Wednesday’s presidential inauguration was this: Words matter. Tone matters. Temperament matters. Excellence shines. Manners never go out of style. Hope is there even when you can’t see it. And, no matter how old you are, a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” can bring you to tears.

It’s worth pausing to realize that history isn’t just stuffed in old books. It’s unfolding before our very eyes. It’s revealing itself in real time and in real ways. Thank God I’m alive because I’ve felt so lost the last few years and now I feel like I’m found. That’s how I felt Thursday morning after America began her new chapter.

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Take Heart

What do you do when the bottom falls out?

The Practice:
Take heart.

Why?

It takes heart to live in even ordinary times.

By “taking heart,” I mean several related things:

  • Sensing your heart and chest
  • Finding encouragement in what is good both around you and inside you
  • Resting in your own warmth, compassion, and kindness; resting in the caring for you from others; love flowing in and love flowing out
  • Being courageous, whole-hearted and strong-hearted – going forward wisely, even when anxious, knowing your own truth and, as you can, speaking it

When you take heart, you’re more able to deal with challenges like aging, illness, trauma, or conflicts with others. You’re also more able to take advantage of opportunities with confidence and grit.

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If You Want to See Change in the World, Do This!

Around the world today, millions if not billions of individuals are being consumed by negativity. The world and our relationship to the cosmos always run through cycles of increased or decreased activity. Right now we are in a cycle of increased activity where many people are stirred up. In such stirring there exists the possibility of increased conflict, but also of increased consciousness – although it is conflict that seems more prevalent.  

Negativity is a consuming energy that seems to create life, but actually drains it. It promises to create something new to escape the pain of it, when all it does is create increasing conflict where the pain is enhanced. At some point an aspirant must realize, “I just can't be like that anymore, but I don't know how to stop! I look out at the world and all its problems and ask, ‘What am I supposed to do??’ ” 

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A Simple Formula for a Joyful Life

I remember the exact place I discovered my FORMULA FOR LIFE.

I was walking across a small wooded field near my house when I stopped and noticed how I felt peaceful and calm but not particularly happy. As I contemplated the feeling, I became grateful for the experience of being peaceful. This expanded into overflowing joy.

From that day, over twenty years ago, this simple formula has been a guiding principle in my life.

PEACE + GRATITUDE = JOY

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Allow your stress to recede and happiness take over.

As we are galloping into the new year, with newer apprehensions this time, we are also motivated by newer desires and newer goals to achieve. 
 
This period of the Pandemic has been a very trying  and challenging time for most people. For the majority of us, it has been a time of deep introspection and coming to conclusions about life, goals, challenges, and achievements. It was as though time had stopped. That seemed this way because there was a forced sense of staying at home, spending more time with the family, and coming to terms with a lot of unreal realities. 

MENTAL HOUSE CLEANING
On these days of Staying at home, there was time for everyone to look within and be objective about their ownselves. Filtering the why's and wherefore's was quite a scenario.  
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Happy New Year

Hi dear friend…..

I wanted to to take a few moments and wish you and your loved ones my love and prayers.

2020 was indeed a challenging year for us all. However, you are still standing! All the challenges that you faced simply prepared you for living your purpose ahead.

I wanted to personally thank you for all your support during this past year.

Whether you have been following my work for many years or are just finding about it now, I am deeply grateful for your being a part of it growing around the world, as well as sharing it with your friends and family.

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How to Leave Fear and Stress Behind in 2020

Let’s be honest: the season we’re living through right now in this pandemic is scary and stressful for all of us. The more I keep watching, the more I keep seeing so many of us hitting places where we’re experiencing strong, sometimes confusing emotions—about our money, our jobs, or our lives in general.

Everything is a bit up in the air still, leading us to face a lot of stress and fear. Believe it or not, that’s why I think it’s so important to keep talking about building our wealth from the inside out, and not the outside in, so we can insulate ourselves against the chaos of what happens in the world and leave our fear and stress far behind us.

This is what I mean…

How to Build Your Life From the Inside Out

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Finding Holiday Joy Despite the Pandemic

Across America, people are wondering what the holidays will be like as pandemic-related restrictions on traveling and gathering drag on. Mental health experts worry about how adults and children will cope when normal ways of celebrating are curtailed.

About two-thirds of American parents are worried about the pandemic impacting the mental health of their children, according to a recent survey from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. 

The holidays are already a time when many people struggle to feel happy and joyful amid the festivities going on around them. This year many families and individuals are coping with feelings of grief after losing a loved one to the pandemic or other causes.

It’s always hard to face the first holiday without a beloved family member or friend. It will be even more challenging this year as many people choose to stay home and gather only with those in their households, especially for those who live alone.

Even during the best of times, the holidays can be stressful and disruptive to your body, your emotions, and your routines. So how can we manage feelings of stress, isolation, and loneliness this year during holidays marred by a global crisis?

This year, it’s more important than ever to take steps to guard your emotional, mental, and physical health. Here are a few ideas to help make your holidays joyful in spite of the pandemic:

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Farewell to Florida

As our last weeks in Florida go by, I find myself looking with fresh eyes at the natural world right outside our door, just like I did when we first arrived here. When you know you are moving (and who knows when you will return), everything takes on a special light, a different vibration. Habit falls away and you see every detail with delight and appreciation. A group of ten white ibises with long curved orange beaks walks slowly past our lanai. A palm warbler on the window ledge looks around curiously, bobbing its tail. A giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest in the U.S., serenely floats by and lands on a bush next to the trail where I am walking. A zebra longwing butterfly flutters in the air nearby. So many amazing creatures so close and clearly visible. None of them native to Massachusetts. These are once-in-a-lifetime moments, I say to myself; savor them.

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One Day

Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.” ―Elie Wiesel

I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I was listening to the news and was struck that I kept hearing the phrase “on day one" over and over.

“On day one,” the pundits said, “the Biden/Harris team will be ready to go.” “They are picking people who will be ready on day one.” “On day one, these people will know exactly what to do.”

That, of course, got me thinking. Hmm, is that really true? Do I really want someone to make big decisions on day one? Do I want someone to walk in the door and tell me, “Listen, here’s how it’s going to go. Here’s what’s going to change. This is what you need to know and do.” Or do I want someone to walk in on day one, sit down, gather people around, and start the hard work of listening and rebuilding trust?

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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