Money and Self-Help

I have a little bit of a rant today.  I’m in one of my moments of being extremely frustrated with the self-help and spiritual movement or industry really.  I’ve mentioned The Secret a lot on this blog and in writing elsewhere.    That book helped me tremendously but also bugged me.  Every time I recommended it to someone, I did so with a warning to not get caught up in the materialism of it.

In the book and movie, when you looked past the people wishing for sport’s cars, checks showing up in their mailboxes, million dollar careers, and mansions, there were several spiritual gems there.  The thing is most people didn’t look past the cars, checks, money, and mansions.  In some cases it just fed the desire for more, more, more by convincing everyone they deserved it and would have it.

It is a tragedy that we think ourselves smaller than we actually are, but it is also a tragedy when put our own self-worth before the good of the people we are meant to be of service to.  I love to go to workshops and learn about new things, but I refuse to pay out the wazoo for something that is supposed to heal me and improve my life.  Shouldn’t we want everyone to be healed and improved?  Sadly, most of the teachers that offer these type of experiences make them unaffordable for anyone on a budget.  Those people who died at James Arthur Ray’s spiritual warrior retreat paid $10,000 to be there.  The last person I talked to about this said “Yep, that’s about the price of a funeral.”  From what I heard about the incident, James compensated the families of the victims by giving them $5000.  They didn’t even get the money their loved ones had paid to participate!

In everything I read there is a promise of abundance and prosperity to those who are awake and aligned with Truth.  I believe that, but I don’t believe that abundance and prosperity mean that if we connect with God and follow our hearts we will all get a million dollars and a fancy house.  I believe that actually the two are measured in love, not dollars.  If you love your work, are surrounded by people you care about, find joy in the small things, and allow yourself to be mindful in each and every moment than you are very wealthy indeed.

At some point we have to stop feeding this myth that money equals value.  Money doesn’t make people happier and healing/self-improvement should be accessible to even the poorest among us.  In the end it is what we offer to the world that makes us valuable…not what the world decides to pay us.

What Worked

I took the time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes this morning.  What came to me in meditation was a reminder of what worked for me in the past.  The other day I wrote that post titled “Healing” and mentioned how in 2008 I was more intuitive then I am now.  I wasn’t really asking why that was.  At some level I know and just haven’t said it out loud.  What came to me in meditation inspired me to put the answer out here.

When I first started down this path I did two very important things.  I read The Law of Attraction: The Teachings of Abraham by Jerry and Esther Hicks and I took a meditation course.  It was around that time that I was manifesting a level of success and peace I’d never seen before in my life.  In that time I decided to write a novel after 12 years of not writing at all.  I’m sure the idea sounded crazy to everyone around me.  Most people didn’t even know I could write.  But I set the intention with absolutely no plans of failing.  I also just wanted to create a better me and a more joyful life.

I started meditating 2 times a day for 20 minutes at each sitting.  The girls were very young at that time.  Looking back on it I don’t see how I even thought it was possible, but I did and it became possible.  I was disciplined and it worked.  It changed me forever.  I also started visualizing my day on paper every morning and reading a daily devotional.  I would write out the way my day would look, filling the page with affirmations about peace, love, and joy.

When the idea for my first novel came to me I made a writing schedule.  I’d write three pages of my novel every evening NO MATTER WHAT.  I took my lap top and wrote when we were on vacation.  I wrote when a friend came to visit from out of town.  I stayed up late and wrote if necessary, but I always finished those three pages and often wrote more.  Before each writing session I’d write my intentions and affirmations about what would be achieved in the session then I’d say a prayer.

I finished that book in 3 and a half months.  It ended up being 100,000 words which is almost twice as long as the second novel that I spent over a year writing.  That first one is raw and amateurish, but it is also intense and powerful. I was truly tuned into God when I wrote that book.  Often times I’d go back and read in disbelief that the words had come from me.

I continued some of those practices long after the book was finished.  It was at least 2 years before I missed a meditation session and I planned my day on paper for about a year.

At some point though, I got overconfident or lazy.  I thought I’d reached a point where I didn’t need to “plan” my day or meditate as often.  I allowed myself to get busy or slack.  So I made those quantum leaps of progress a few years ago and am no where near where I thought I’d be by 2011.  Without a doubt I took 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.  I can never go back completely, but right now I’m close enough.

So I’m examining what worked for me before and I am setting the intention to embrace something that works for me again.  I do so want to be an instrument for the Divine and not a slave to my Ego.  To take an idea from Wayne Dyer…I’ve had enough of this Edging God Out.

Lissa Rankin

In honor of heading off on tour with Lissa, the Sunday quote is from her.  I wanted to choose a quote directly from What’s Up Down There but I was so excited about spreading the message that I gave all of my copies of the book away.  The following quote from Lissa comes from a post she wrote on Owning Pink called For Victims of Molestation.

“Most importantly, know that you are loved. Your body is beautiful and whole. Your vagina is precious and wondrous. You deserve to be touched, to feel pleasure, to be cherished, to know joy, to live bountifully, to radiate sparkles of a life fully expressed. You deserve to heal.” -Dr. Lissa Rankin

Maria’s Click

Maria found my blog during the break.   Like me, she is also a fan of the teachings of Joel S. Goldsmith.  She sent me the following story of an amazing healing in her life.  She told me in her email that since writing out her story she has lost twelve pounds.  I really believe that miracles can happen when we seek to heal starting with our thoughts and feelings towards ourselves.  Maria’s story is evidence of that.  You can find Maria here and here.

This summer we remodeled our bathroom and we got a full length framed mirror for over the vanity for free.  Since we already had one there, we decided to use it vertically in our bedroom.  I haven’t had a full length mirror for many years.  I was so excited as we mounted it on the wall and I saw the reflection from the window right across and the effect of brightness and openness it was giving to the room!  But the next morning, when I rolled out of the bed and started getting ready for work, I stood in front of the mirror and was so disappointed by seeing a figure I could hardly recognize.  The twelve or so extra pounds immediately snapped at me, my grays stuck out, fluffy arms out of tone, a “life saver” of belly fat, some orange peel on my thighs, blotches on my legs and a height loss (I swear I was taller before)!

A few thoughts ran quickly through my mind.  I haven’t had a professional facial in over fifteen years.  I have no time for working out.  I wish I had money to join one of those weight loss programs.  Oh, I don’t even know what to do to look better-no wonder why I don’t get compliments anymore! As those thoughts and more downfalls like them were spinning in my head, I decided to sit down in prayer and visit my only source of beauty-Soul’s Beauty Salon-for an extreme makeover.

I quieted down, started taking a few breaths, and as I did that I thought, I come to Thee for inspiration.  And as I was “inspiring”, the thought came to me that I invite in the Spirit of Truth that purifies and rejuvenates all things in me.  A sense of peace instantly took over and a flow of refreshing thoughts started occupying me.

“Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest though?”

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.”

In that state, I dived into the “FOREVER 23” anti-aging formula:

“The Lord IS my Shepard I shall not want!”

“He restoreth my soul!”

“He annointed my head with oil.”

Right then, I felt I was sitting in Christ’s clinic for a complete and permanent makeover.  I felt mother Love, gently combing my full of strength hair.  I felt my body was full of brightness and grace.  I felt strong, light, and radiant.

“Love restoreth my soul!”

Then the thought about fat reduction came to me.  In the question “what is fat?”  Instantly the thought False Assuming Thoughts or Fake Appearing Thoughts came to me.

There I understood that all belief about fat was an illusion and it was up to me to reduce and eliminate it.  In the thought about extra weight I started thinking what extra weight can mean and then I realized all the “extras” I was carrying for a long time:  thoughts that people have wronged me, thoughts that people have hurt me, self-justification about this that happened 30, 20, 10 years ago or yesterday, guilt and blame.

Right there, as I was sitting in the makeover room, I felt I stood in front of a “burning bush” and mentally threw all the weights I was ignorantly carrying for years.  I saw forgiving every person that abused me since I was a baby, letting go of every sad memory, forgetting all history of me, releasing all resistance for being new and ageless, erasing my story-whater that might be, burning the past and pausing the agony of the future.

I threw in my complaints about the government, the pollution, the dogma, the economy, the war, the pain.  I felt I was doing this for me and for the world.  And as I was doing it for the world, I was doing it for me.  The fire became stronger and stronger as I was throwing more and more things of mortal history and collective thought, but strangely enough the atmosphere felt clearer and clearer, brighter and brighter and me and my body lighter and lighter.  There I knew I was standing on holy ground.

Then I felt going through an exfoliating process, a sense of getting rid of layers and layers of erroneous, heavy thinking concerning all mankind.  That moment I had a glimpse of Jesus transfiguration experience, the understanding of what might mean to be transfigured in the light of Christ Truth.  My figure felt a slim and thin silhouette dancing in the glow of the brightest light.  I felt shaped up in perfection by Soul and sizzled in holiness by Love.  The feeling of beauty was overwhelming.  The sense of grace was un-measurable.  The actual form of me was meaning-less but never the less quiet beautiful and ever refreshed, standing in different heights.

When I went to work that day, I was astounded when the very first question I was asked was “Have you lost weight?”  Somebody else looked at my flat heels and questioned why I looked taller.  And somebody else said “Gee, you look gorgeous today, did you have a makeover or something?”

I’m Sorry, I Love You

Towards the beginning of the summer I read the book Zero Limits by Joe Vitale.  The book told the story of how Joe came to find and utilize in his life a Hawaiian healing technique called Ho’oponopono.  After reading this book I put some of the advice to work in my life.  The main tool offered in the book was the mantra “I’m sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, thank you.”

The idea behind this is that we are responsible for everything that comes into our life.  There is truth to the quote “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  Basically you are the result of your past experiences and of course your experiences are the results of your thoughts.  So when something is brought to your attention it is because it triggers something in your consciousness.  You use the mantra as a way to “clean” out those negative or even positive thoughts and make neutrality (or Zero) your goal.  That is the state of purity and peace…the state of the Divine.

So who are you talking to when you say “I’m sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, Thank you?”  You are talking to yourself and God…you are talking to the God part of yourself.  You are a creation of the Divine and therefore contain divinity.

Now as far as the details of how it works, that I do not know.  Since I’m not very good at creating and maintaining habits I used the technique religiously for about a week.  I wish I could say I continued using it, but all I can say is that during that week I saw results.  I was reading the book as we made that 16 hour drive to Maryland.  In the car when the girls and dogs got restless, I repeated the mantra.  To my surprise, each time, things settled down and peace was restored somehow.  The entire vacation ended up being very positive, despite past experience dictating otherwise.

As you’ve probably noticed my focus has shifted somewhat this summer.  I’d say it has been the summer of “doing” as opposed to “being.”  I don’t think I’ve been alone since May.  So much of my spiritual contemplation takes place when I am alone.  I feel the need to get back to my spiritual pursuits.  But I also know that everything is as it should be.  I am doing right now what I need to do to get me back to the place where I can just be.   I’ve had the judgments rise from within me.  I am not writing what you come here to read.  I am drifting away from Spirit. Those are two of them.  And the best way for me to respond is simply “I’m sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, Thank you!”

So I pass this mantra along for you to use in those stressful moments where your mind and body over-react.

Goddess Amy

I have thought of several blog posts this week and even wrote one that I saved and am not sure about publishing.  Aside from the one, I haven’t had the creative urges to sit down and put any of those ideas into words.  On Monday I said I’d write about the sculpture.  Since then I’ve gone back and forth on the idea.  I’ve had moments where I thought it was just too personal, moments where I figured anyone reading would think I was absolutely crazy, and moments where I wasn’t sure it needed any words or explanation at all.  But sitting here on Thursday afternoon it occurs to me that since I said I’d write about it I ought to stick to my word.

Unless you are a new reader to my blog, you know my precious friend, Amy, died in October.  This was the first time I’d lost someone so close.  She was a sister to me and someone I just knew would be in my life forever.  I know that sometimes people die young, but I just never expected it to happen to someone I loved so much.  In my process of grief, I’ve uncovered an enormous fear of abandonment within me.  If I could lose Amy, I could lose anyone.

When I left for Salt Springs on Thursday I realized it was the first time I’d traveled without Mark and the girls since Amy’s funeral.  I cried and then did all I could to distract myself.  I listened to a great interview with John Waters on NPR.  When I lost the radio station I put in my Ipod and listened to music.  I’d wanted to travel in silence, but I just couldn’t deal with the silence.  In the silence my fears were too loud.  But at least I was on my way to a healing place.

The weekend was good.  I had a few moments of emotional release.  (Those things tend to happen when you allow them to.)

I knew that part of the reason I was there was because of Amy.  I needed to think of her, cry for her, and release the fear surrounding the loss.  What I wasn’t really expecting is the way I would connect with her.

The second day we had a session where we put together ingredients to make a special soap clay.   We were then instructed to create a Goddess.  She could be anything: person, animal, or symbol.  I hadn’t made anything with clay since elementary school.  I had no idea what I was doing, but started forming the clay.  I began to make the shape of a woman and then added angel wings.  Very soon, I knew what was coming through.  After the body and wings were done, I molded her long flowing hair.  Then I had to decide what she was wearing.  The bridesmaid’s dress she was supposed to wear in Kristin’s wedding.  After that I added a bouquet with beads for flowers, put shells around the bottom (b/c certainly Amy’s heaven is a beach somewhere), placed a halo on her head and a butterfly on her shoulder.  I was so excited as I watched my “Goddess Amy” emerge.  I was truly in the flow during the whole process and Amy was there with me.

After our assignments were complete we were told to ask our Goddess what message she came to give us.  (Everything we create is expressing something.)  I looked at mine and inwardly asked the question.  The message that she had for me was “I am always with you.”

Naware Healer’s Click

The following is a post from a fellow member of the Owning Pink Posse.  The day that I asked her to send in a click story she had posted the following blog on the Posse page.  We both thought it’d be perfect for my blog as well… You can follow her on Twitter and visit her etsy shop.

…she could feel it, the faint music, wheedling it’s way to her. If she concentrated too hard it would vanish, disappear without so much of a trace. But if she stilled her working mind and just listened, openly and unobtrusively she heard it as clear as day. It was a symphony of sadness, of pain and sorrow, swelling from regret. It would crescendo one final time and burst out into joy, wonder and excitement. It was the sound of fulfillment and awareness…of “everything going just right”. She smiled silently to herself, it was so much more than just a little twiddle…

it was the sound of her heart beating to her own tune, the smile on her lips curved a bit wider…

She murmured an almost inaudible thank you and walked away. She said good-bye to her fears and worries and embraced her new dreams and hopes. She had tarried long enough with these “friends”, these bedfellows of doom and gloom. It had never been a romance, but she had treated it that way and now was time for letting go, for moving on and she would do so graciously and with dignity…She mouthed a small thank you once more, harboring no regret or resentment to her old “pals”.

The door to a new chapter in her life was opening…and as they say: Temptation may lean on the doorbell, but opportunity may only knock once…

I’ve been feeling this for a couple of days. And perhaps I’m just so used to not recognizing and following my dreams that that is why I’ve struggled with it as long as I have had. Today I believe, was the last straw.

I have been laid up in between since yesterday, in terrible pain (still dealing with my women issues – though they aren’t quite as bad as they used to be). But “not as bad as they used to be” still is bad. But what did I so poignantly say to another friend of mine, referencing a blog I put up here… ” ‘things are only bad when you say they are’ “. Silly sometimes, how we can’t even listen to our own advice. How we will dig and dig in the rain, and wonder why our hole is just a mud puddle. Where we will use our dreams for kindling in the high winter of our lives, giving up all hope and wonder why they go up in smoke…yes, we are silly that way.

Just today, I spoke to a “family friend”. A woman I know because of my mother, and while I begrudge no one their thoughts and opinions, it doesn’t mean I want to live them out as my own life. She said to me, well with all of your healthcare experience you could get a job real easily, and if you go back to school…

That tore it, I started feeling agitated, I felt the desperate need to get away from her, even though I was hundreds of miles away at my home at my computer. But there was something stifling and oppressive in her comments. It reminded me of back home, of “duty”, of being what everyone else wanted and never acknowledging me. It reminded me of something a “mother” would say, most specifically mine.

I guess the lightbulb was starting to come on, but I waved it away in my agitation. I promptly told her “I had to go” and signed off the site. I went to two of my dear female friends who have almost made it an occupation listening to my rants and railings against how “unfair” my life is being…Unfair, I laugh at it now, but had someone done that to me just hours earlier, I’d have likely flipped out on them…

They both said the same to me: they mean well, and in caring, they think they’re doing the right thing. One apologized for being that way herself to me lately – but it wasn’t her that I was railing about, and in fact I even told her she wasn’t. She insisted, and I briefly remembered a comment that could qualify…but as both of the women are several years my senior and almost old enough to be my mother…I didn’t really take it to heart. Funny.

Since I’ve laid down and now am up again…I checked the mail to no avail, and sat down again before diving back into my book (my current mode of escaping “life as we know it”). But right now, I realize something. And I know now – in thinking it – that it has been stewing in my mind all day…I want success, joy, to be able to creatively pursue that which I love. But what am I doing to express that? Nothing. I’m just whining and lamenting the fact that I gave up on “shoulds” on Friday and am upset that my dreams aren’t here already and fulfilled on Wednesday. BUT what have I done to help them along? Sure I’ve made a couple of things…but it’s been the frantic and chaotic workings of a madwoman…there has been no real effort so what am I bitching about? I’ll be honest, I have no idea.

I know some of the things I need to do. I need to update all of my email signatures so they extol my business and healing center.

I should change my name on various sites to reflect my services.

I need to use all those handy widgets I have access to (that are free I might add) and advertise across the bazillion social sites I’m on.

I can blog more…it’s not like I’m not verbose enough to have something to say.

And I’m sure there are several other things I can do. Just need to do them…just need to stop straining to hear that symphony and relax and then the beautiful sound will come to my ears and uplift me. Stop railing against the “unfairness” and make my life what I wish it to be. By focusing not on what I don’t like, what I wish wasn’t here…but appreciating what IS.

Ps, Thanks Leslee!

Guilt, Guilt, Guilt

The term “survivor’s guilt” has been mentioned these past two weeks since I lost my dear friend, Amy.  When I hear the term I immediately think of someone feeling guilty for being alive when their loved one has passed on.  I imagine them off in a corner somewhere thinking it should have been me, it should have been me.  I haven’t felt this way.  I had a moment of thinking why do I get to be here and what am I supposed to do, but never thought it should have been me.  Mark and the girls need me.  It would be selfish to think that.

I do believe I am experiencing “survivor’s guilt” in a different way.  Right now, I seem to be drowning in guilt.  I am regretting all of the missed opportunities and the stupid excuses (not just with Amy).  The girls are tired.  The drive is too far.  There are too many people to see.  It’s too hard.  There is not enough time. I feel bad for choosing the wrong words.  Even after apologies are exchanged and accepted, I can’t stop flogging myself for putting them out there in the first place.  I feel guilty for the things I want and the things I don’t want.  I feel wrong for the love I do feel and the love I wish I felt.  I feel like a horrible mother because I am lacking the energy it takes to turn off the TV and talk or play.  I answer Callee’s demands because it’s easier than trying to teach her to ask politely.   I can’t stay on top of the mess in my house and taking one look around makes me more angry at myself.  I feel guilty for some of the things that I have written and for the stuff that just won’t get on the page.

In the last two weeks, I have told a lot of people that I’d call them.  I can’t seem to pick up the phone.  I feel guilty for wanting to crawl into a shell, just when I’ve been reminded how important relationships are.  I feel bad for being attached and detached.  There are relationships in my life that are in desperate need of healing and I’m too tired and angry to do the work.  I feel guilty for how much pain I am experiencing at this loss because I know as much as it hurts there are a number of people that are hurting more.  I feel guilty for almost everything.

Some months ago I had a conversation with a friend about guilt.  We concluded that guilt is a useless emotion and gets us no where.  I believe that now, especially as I am consumed by it.  It is paralyzing me and making it hard to be in my own skin.  I’m writing this now in hopes that by owning it, I can make it to the next step of letting it go.


The following poem was written by my dear friend Heather and inspired by the loss of our dear friend, Amy.

Where is the end of this road?
The sun has not yet lit the horizon
the hill is steep.
The blackness covers my eyes, my
ears, my feet.
The weeds tangle in a web
slowing the journey
My weary legs plod ahead with no path,
no destination. I am lost and tired.
The ground is soft, too soft, sinking, sinking.
I lift my legs, deliberate, conscious, blind, but proceeding.
I pull the weeds with my hands, raw, wounded.
They are removed. My hands will heal.
Progress, slowly, up the peak.
At the summit, the yellow and orange beacon from the east.
The light is coming, the light is coming.
I can see. I am not afraid. The day will come.

The Missing Peace

I attended a workshop on Saturday that was presented by an amazing woman named Kamala Snow.  We sat in the sanctuary of a lovely church here in town and Kamala explained that she had been in that very room attending a yoga class when the events of 9/11 happened.  In that moment she knew that there had to be more to this world and this life than the hate that fueled that attack.  She has spent eight years on a journey learning about our connectedness and how to bring light, love, and healing into her experience and the experience of those that come in contact with her.  Within the next year she plans to open a healing center.  “The Missing Peace” workshop was her first endeavor into sharing her knowledge and gifts with others.

The theme of the day was releasing our “sacred cows” (the things we hold onto or worship that actually hold us back) and inviting in and embracing the qualities  we want to embody.  An interesting observation I made was how similar we all were.  There was one lady who shared her story and when she did I burst into tears with her.  If I’d had the courage, I could have said exactly the same thing about myself.  She and I talked later on in the day and I found out that on the exterior we are living very different lives but on the inside we are like sisters.  Whether she knew it or not, I felt so bonded with her.

As the day wore on I was brought back to the same theme that’s been recurring for me all year and that is Power.  Too often these days, I find myself giving away my power.  I get an idea that is exciting and profound and then I find excuses to procrastinate or even give up.  I tell myself I don’t have enough time, Mark and the girls need my time.  I tell myself that friends or family wouldn’t approve and I don’t want to hurt feelings.  I tell myself I don’t have enough money.  I tell myself I’m disorganized and will crumble under the pressure.  I give my power away.  I give it to people, money, time, and lack of self-esteem.  I let all of those things have power over me and frankly, I want my Power back.

So the word of the day for me was Power and we were instructed to create a sculpture of what our word looked like.  I created something that looked a bit like a sun, except for all the “rays” were curved to represent movement.  I loved it.  It was power, it was ME!  At the end of the afternoon, I took my sculpture and my other goodies and got in the car.  The second I sat down the sculpture flipped out of my hand and every single one of my “rays” fell off.  It seemed like such a bad sign and I considered crying.  By the time I got home, I was completely bummed.  I really wasn’t sure what I had taken away from the day.  I wasn’t sure if I’d really released anything, that maybe my sculpture falling apart just proved how powerless I really am.

Later on in the evening a friend came over and we went out.  At a certain point in the night, while hanging out with friends and watching Mark’s band play, I realized that I had actually released my biggest “sacred cow.”  There was nothing weighing on me and I felt free.  Nothing on the outside had changed, but the realization that I can chose to keep my power had made its way into my consciousness.  I spent most of today in bed with a headache like I’ve never experienced before.  Physically I felt a little like asking someone to put me out of my misery, but inwardly I felt like something was shifting.  Perhaps I am finally tapping into my Power!