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Six Ways to Handle Christmas Conflict

Posted November 29, 2014

sulking Santa

At the risk of being a Scrooge, I feel obligated once every holiday season to point out that not everyone's holidays are happy.

It's okay if yours aren't, this year.

Sometimes Christmas comes shortly after a death or divorce, or in the midst of bankruptcy or illness, or whatever anguish has been visited upon you.

More often, the unhappiness stems from – well, just from being with other people.

Not all families are close and loving, not all relationships are easy, and Christmas seems to bring out everyone's baggage!

We spend an inordinate amount of time during our human experience figuring out how to deal with each other.

Can I change that person?

Can I somehow force them to be different?

Should I change something about myself instead?

It's been on my mind lately – how much we drive each other crazy – possibly because I saw “The Odd Couple” onstage this week. It's the hilarious clash of two perfectly nice but very different men.

Then, too, I've been taking a class about the enneagram, which is a system of categorizing personality types that is the best way I've found to understand myself and other people.

In fact, it saved my relationship with my mother years ago. After she discovered the enneagram, she realized that she and I were different types, and I was not being quiet and withholding simply to annoy her. (If you know the enneagram, she was a One and I'm a Five.)

I'm not embarrassed about the conflict that shows up at home or work or during the holidays because I think we all have it. The difficulty of human relationships keeps counselors and lawyers in business.

Even Jesus had moments of irritation with his disciples.

“O ye of little faith.”

Or, “Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?”

He wasn't even surprised by their behavior – Judas's betrayal, Peter's denial. He matter-of-factly predicted it, because he could see into them.

Jesus saw their flaws and failings and loved them anyway.

I guess that's our goal. To let people be who they truly are – even when it shows up in unattractive ways -- and love them anyway.

How? Here are half a dozen ideas that have worked for me:

  1. Know that their essence is divine, like yours.
  2. Notice the ratio of “bad” to good in them. Good probably prevails.
  3. Remember it takes all kinds of people to make an interesting world.
  4. Catch them doing something right. (And praise it, if you can.)
  5. Forgive them silently for being who they are, as well as for whatever they did.
  6. Pray for their highest good.

It's okay to hope their highest good is somewhere away from you. But try to want as much good for them as you want for yourself.

It goes a long way toward softening a hard heart. Yours.


Gratitude in Hindsight

Posted November 23, 2014

trees in fog

Here's my suggestion for practicing gratitude this week:

Think of one thing in your life you thought was terrible at the time, but that turned out to be a blessing.

For that matter, make a list of 10 difficult events or twists in the road that turned out to be perfect, despite their appearance.

Because it happens all the time.

Everyone has examples.

This might even be interesting to share at Thanksgiving dinner, if you go around the table expressing gratitude.

Instead of gratitude for the happy times, name the good that came from sadder times. The blessings in disguise. The silver linings.

This is not intended to paper over heartache but just to notice – and appreciate – how often our good comes in drab packages, how often what we ask for shows up through distress or upheaval.

The long-term good that we can only see in hindsight.

One of my most obvious and unforgettable blessings happened at the newspaper years ago, when I was denied a promotion I had expected. I cried and cried and cried.

Then got angry and self-righteous. Thought about quitting.

But shortly after, I was honest enough with myself to realize I didn't like being an editor anyway, even though it was considered a step up from reporting (and usually paid better). I missed being out of the office, asking questions, writing stories.

A few months after that, I was assigned to the top political reporting job at the paper and spent the next five years flying around the country to cover campaigns for governor, Congress and president. Most fun I ever had in journalism.

I wouldn't have been considered for that job if I had recently been given a promotion as an editor.

For that matter, I wouldn't have been considered for the job if I hadn't recognized that my deeper desire was reporting and writing, not editing the work of others.

You see how this works, right? Everyone has stories like this.

Even cancer patients. I've lost count of the people who have told me they wouldn't wish cancer on anyone else, and they wouldn't want to go through it again.

BUT they wouldn't have missed the experience – for all the spiritual growth, the lessons learned and the love expressed.

They are actually grateful.

So what is it for you? I'd love to hear about it in the blog comments below.

If nothing else, I suggest you mentally make a note of something you thought was a disaster, a travesty, or just a mistake, then realized it was exactly right for your journey through life.

A time when you saw that you had been guided and loved, and all was well, all along.

Happy Day of giving thanks!


The Worldwide Wave

Posted November 15, 2014

The Wave

Sometimes I think spiritual people are a beleaguered minority, misunderstood and condemned.

By spiritual I mean – what? – spiritual but not religious, New Thought, post-Christian, non-traditional Christian, Westerners who love Eastern teachings, seekers, finders. You know. People like you and me.

And this week, I had a blinding flash of the obvious: There are millions of people on a similar spiritual path all over the world.

It struck me as I was reading Mike Dooley's author bio. His daily email called “Notes from the Universe” goes to 600,000 subscribers in 185 countries.

Wait, what? Could you even name 185 countries? Half that?

And he's just one guy, one spiritual teacher among many.

That's when I realized, we're not the only ones!

Not just my little circle of friends, not just my church or denomination, not just America or English-speaking countries. This is everywhere!

Consider this:

Eckart Tolle's book, A New Earth, was reprinted in 33 languages. Thirty-five million people watched his live webinars with Oprah.

The Secret sold 21-million copies in 46 languages. And that's just the book, never mind the millions who saw the movie.

(In a list of the most widely spoken languages on earth, No. 46 is Swahili. After Tagalog, Pashto, Urdu and Tamil.)

I guess I'd heard such statistics float by in passing, but somehow it never dawned on me what this means:

Spirituality is a huge, worldwide phenomenon (and big business).

People everywhere are reading and thinking about the same things, viewing life in a new way, asking new questions.

Maybe it's because the Christian Right is so loud in the United States, or because I live in the Bible Belt, or because Americans are notoriously myopic, seeing no one on the planet but themselves.

But regardless of why this awareness came to me so late, I think it's worth stopping for a moment to celebrate the spiritual awakening that is going on in our lifetime.

Martha Beck calls it the gathering of the Team.

“Our Team of wayfinders are people who feel an internal call to heal any authentic part of the world, beginning with their own true nature,” she wrote in Finding Your Way in a Wild New World.

She said encounters with other Team members used to be rare and strange.

“Recently it's become ridiculously common. What's more, these days I can often feel a meeting about to happen,” she wrote.

“One Teammate I know calls this ‘premembering.'

“Australian wayfinders might call it a meeting in the Everywhen, the Wordless Web through which we can send and receive messages across any physical distance, either forward or backward in time.

“Whatever it is, lately I often meet two or three people in one week who make me want to grab them by the shoulders and shout ‘You! You! You!' ”

When we have these meetings, at least we know there are other Team members on the planet, “as if we're playing on the same side in a game that requires billions of players, each in a specific role. . . . Each person is absolutely necessary, uniquely important,” she wrote.

“And it's wonderful—deeply, wildly wonderful—to meet ‘strangers' who are up to their ears in the self-same drive to heal humans and the world.”

Of course, when I look at the way people identify themselves – Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, whatever – the percentages are miniscule for those who do not identify with traditional Christianity. (See the Pew Center research.)

There's no box to check for Healing Humans and the World.

But if spiritual books and blogs, speakers and workshops, online classes and telesummits and videos are reaching millions and millions of people, then those people must be embedded in every category, no matter what they call themselves.

Twenty percent of the American public says they are not religious, and a full one-third of people under 30 are not.

It's easy to trip over the word “religious,” however. I wouldn't say I'm religious, and heck, I'm a minister!

There's something going on in the world that we don't have a name for yet.

The Team.

The spiritual but not religious.

The awakening.

The Age of Aquarius.

This shift involves millions of people who, through one path or another:

  • Have come to believe God (Source, Spirit) is all there is.
  • See themselves as divine and believe they are souls with eternal life, taking human form for now with reasons and purpose.
  • See the Universe as a friendly, nurturing place of unlimited abundance.
  • Know their thoughts have creative power, and love experimenting with it.
  • Have established new practices based on the ancient traditions of prayer and meditation.
  • Carry new perspectives on life and death, God and humans, love and oneness.

This nameless awakening has changed everything we do and feel, steering us into lives we never imagined even a couple of decades ago.

Inspiring, isn't it?

No more tiny minority! I am going to start thinking of myself as part of huge spiritual cohort and imagine us doing The Wave all around the planet.

PS - Do you have evidence of this advancing wave of spirituality? Please share below!


Reassurance from the Other Side

Posted November 8, 2014

Light Beings

It seems to me we are being inundated lately with messages from the dead.

I don't know whether they are speaking more loudly or our hearing is keener.

But they seem to be pounding on the doors of earth, ripping through the veil, pouring out information not only about the Other Side but about the meaning of our lives here on earth.

One message seems dominant -- we'll get to that.

These voices clamoring to be heard are not really dead, of course, just in some kind of different dimension. Call it Home.

And they are using an increasing number of sensitive earth-beings to speak and write for them.

Just in the last few weeks, I've run across:

  • Messages of Hope and Wolf's Message by Suzanne Giesemann, a Navy commander who became a medium and channeler.
  • The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell YOU by Mike Dooley, the wacky spiritual teacher whose Notes from the Universe are emailed daily to 600,000 people.
  • The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan, whose bad-boy brother communicates with her from the Other Side.
  • And I heard an interview recently with PMH Atwater, who had three near-death experiences and has researched them for decades. Her latest book is Dying to Know You: Proof of God in the Near-Death Experience.

Then, of course, there's Abraham-Hicks and angels and Akashic Records and all the tuned-in people who are speaking for . . . for what?

The dead?

The Other Side?

Higher vibrations?


All of the above?

Oh, and don't forget TV's Long Island Medium! I love her.

Maybe I'm just more aware of these messengers than in the past, but I believe they really are in touch with higher energies.

And I hear one overriding message:

The bad times in our lives have meaning and purpose.

They are not random or accidental, and they are not really bad. Painful, yes! Difficult! But not mistakes or tragedies.

They are here by divine design -- ours. We agreed to it. We came in with plans, knowing the probability of what would happen.

All for our own learning and growth.

That helps explain child abuse and addictions and wars and all those situations we can't imagine we created or agreed to. We took a chance on experiencing those events.

Over and over, the dead say they are truly remorseful for the ways they hurt us. Yes, including Hitler.

But none of the experiences were wasted.

“It's safe to say that everything has a reason, there have been no mistakes, love makes everything better, and what doesn't make sense yet one day will,” Mike Dooley writes in The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell YOU.

Of course, I've believed that for a long time. But it's fun to hear it from beings with a much broader perspective, and to hear it so absolutely.

By the way, this makes suicide pointless.

We signed up to work toward a degree in soul evolution, which we knew would require many varied courses. Dropping one class only means we have to repeat the class. It doesn't exempt us from requirements for the degree.

Pain is intended to wake us up, Dooley says, pushing us to seek greater Truth.

I mentioned last week that I have begun to think that much of our creating takes place outside our conscious human awareness, at the level of a higher self or soul. Everything I'm reading confirms that.

Much of life (and the time of our deaths) is being choreographed from a higher plane, based on our intentions.

We see the evidence all around us. Life leans toward the good. Our experiences are not half good and half bad, but mostly good. We do not succeed or fail equally, but mostly succeed. Sometimes wildly.

The specific events of any given lifetime are not predestined, but our ultimate awakening is. We keep spiraling upward.

Suzanne Giesemann channels a group of energetic beings who call themselves Sanaya. They said this the other day:

“You will always emerge stronger from your challenges.

“Yes, you may feel as if you descend to the depths of despair, but from the firm bottom you bounce back even higher.

“If you always stay on even ground, there is little growth. It is by experiencing diversity that you learn. Learning and growth are why you are having this earthly experience.”

I am taking all this to mean that life is unfolding just as it should.

No matter how much I have railed against life and wrestled with What Is, no matter how painful and unfair the world sometimes seems, Divine Intelligence does not make mistakes. My experience fulfills my deepest desires.

Billy Fingers says not to take everything so seriously.

And they all say, we are always, all of us, bathed in love.

PS -- Have you ever received communication from someone who died? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.


ABC's of Living

Posted November 1, 2014

yin-yang symbol

I had a wonderful time last week being interviewed for a video series about The Five Principles, and it caused me to consider how my beliefs have evolved since I wrote the book six years ago.

I say “evolved” because my beliefs haven't changed. I still believe these five teachings are the foundation of human life in relationship to the divine.

They have been called The Perennial Philosophy because they run through all religions and spiritual teachings in some form.

I am more convinced than ever that these spiritual laws are our map for living. They are universal. They are true for everyone.

My book is often used to teach beginners on a New Thought path, and I love hearing that it is being put to use.

But the five principles are elementary only in the sense that learning to read is elementary. There's nothing beyond the basics in English. You'll be using the same 26 letters of the alphabet for the rest of your life.

Same with these principles. There's no advanced version. You'll only be practicing them in new and different situations, time and again.

Here's where I am with the five principles now:

1. God is all there is.

Yes, and that includes the stuff we call “bad.” I still love to wrestle with the question of why evil exists, but I'm also willing to consider that “bad” is not a mistake.

I can't claim everything is God, then reject half of what happens in the world.

I do think we make life harder than it has to be, and negative thoughts do manifest unwanted results sometimes.

But somehow, what I label good and bad are working in unison for my highest and best. And I have to admit, my growth is usually faster on the more difficult paths.

2. You are God; humans are divine

Now that each birthday reminds me time is running out, I'm beginning to think spiritual mastery takes many, many more lifetimes than I had hoped.

I read recently that if we know we're divine, “our soul has absolute worlds of power waiting to be unleashed.” (Sufian Chaudhary)

I believe that absolutely, but I'm still working on HOW.

Maybe I'm overcomplicating things. Living from divine consciousness might follow naturally from practicing the next three principles.

3. Your thoughts have creative power.

They do, but I think now that most of my attracting and creating takes place at higher levels than I am aware of.

I will do what I can do consciously – and it is truly amazing to watch conscious thoughts bring about life changes – but I have to trust my higher self with the rest.

It's the paradox I have wrestled with so often: being the creator of my experience vs. surrendering to something greater. It's both/and.

The good news is, I worry less about creating something “bad” with my thoughts when I remember:

  • All events are an opportunity for growth, and
  • They have been brought to me in concert with my own Higher Self, with nothing but love for me on my human journey.

4. Prayer and meditation connect us with the divine.

Like many people, I still worry that I'm not praying enough or not doing it right.

But I know more deeply now that every thought is a prayer. I'm never out of touch with the divine, even when my attention wanders.

I have also become convinced that legions of angels, spirit guides and other unseen helpers are available, and they exist at an energetic frequency I can tune into easily. Somehow that makes conscious, daily contact with the divine more like talking to friends.

Prayer and meditation may be the point where practicing my divinity starts. Becoming consciously aligned with the universe and centering myself in peace and love create the conditions within me to express as God on earth.

5. Live the truth you know.

I still believe this “action step” just as often calls for restraint. (Hence my Mind Your Own Business manifesto.)

But I worry less than I used to about knowing when and whether to take action.

If I am willing:

  • To accept that happiness and difficulty are expressions of the life force (Principle 1),
  • To trust that my higher self is bringing only gifts to me (Principle 3),
  • To align with divine energy (Principle 4)
  • And let it express as me (Principle 2),
  • Then I will know what to do and when to do it. (Principle 5)

They all work together.

Basic? Yes, and fundamental to the human experience. If I could practice all five of these, all the time, I'd be ascending!

I guess as long as I'm here, I must have more to learn.

PS -- The Five Principles video series was made with Mendhi Audlin to be used by small groups in churches, on campuses or anywhere. Here's a promo video, and here's more about her small group ministry, where the video series will be for sale in about a month.

The Five Principles book is here.


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