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.

Tricia’s Click

I’ve connected with Tricia through the Owning Pink Posse.  I’d read some of her blog posts on the Posse and intended to ask her to write for me.  When she sent me a Facebook request a few weeks ago I immediately asked her to write for me.  She sent me the following story and I was pleasantly surprised by the similarities in our journeys.  We’d both opened up and changed our life as the result of a particular episode of a TV show and we both enjoy a similar hobby.  I have been extremely inspired by Tricia and can’t wait to get to work on some ideas I have thanks to her!  Here are all the places you can find Tricia and her art work:

http://www.seeyourvisionart.com/

http://twitter.com/trishlee1969

http://www.cafepress.com/visionartdesign

http://www.image-is-us.com/visionartdesigns

http://www.image-is-us.com/visittwinports

I’d spent twenty years working the trucking industry as a dispatcher and operations manager.  The last five of those years, every day, I would fantasize about hearing, “Sorry, Trish but times are tough and we’re going to have to let you go.”  I knew it wasn’t my destiny, I knew I was no longer fulfilled, and I knew I just didn’t care anymore if that pallet of water heaters made it to New York or not!  Even though, I was paid well, appreciated, could wear jeans, never had to worry about parking, AND had free time to read on the job.  The first 8 of the 10 years I worked there I read an average of two books per week.  Sorry corporate!

One day on Oprah, she was featuring, “The Secret” and it sounded so interesting that I ordered the DVD with the last $30 I had.  While watching the DVD, eyes huge, mouth open, I just couldn’t believe that after every self-help book I’d read under the sun, that this particular wording or phrasing had never clicked the way this did.  What stuck out the most was, “We always think about what we don’t want!”  DING!  I immediately thought of my list of “don’ts” in the dating world…then it spread out further into the way I’d thought about most things!  It just seemed so simple and so profound at the same time. This began a 3-year (ongoing) journey.

I had to know more.  I’d watched “The Secret” in March and soon after was the garage sale season.  The very first garage sale I went to I found, “The Power Of Positive Thinking” and I picked it up and read it right away.  Every sale, every Goodwill, every Salvation Army had books of the similar genre and very soon I had a library that I became obsessed with reading cover to cover, doing all of the exercises, and stopping to ponder over the ideas and philosophies expressed by many different authors.  I had my nose stuck in a book for two years straight.  I’d always been a big reader but THIS was something different.  Suddenly, I understood the books I was reading about physics! Physics!  In high school, to give you some perspective, I took classes like Home Economics, Shop, study hall, anything easy just to get by.

One of the exercises was to make Vision Boards and being the literal-minded person I am, I found a stack of magazines and started crudely ripping out anything that interested me or anything I ‘wanted’.  I made over a dozen vision boards about all areas of my life.  One in particular was about a romantic relationship that I wanted and there was something about the way I had taped flowers resting against this lady’s cheek that rung another bell loudly in my heart and soul.  DING!  I wasn’t just patting myself on the back on how pretty it looked, but I thought, “I really like that.”

Then my best friend was having the hardest time of her life and I thought if my vision boards make me feel good, perhaps if I made one for her, she would feel good too.  So I made one for her, put it in a frame, and gave it to her as a gift.  While making hers, I connected with her in my mind and picked out the perfect sayings and images that I thought would appeal to her the most.  I was right, she was very touched, and another bell went off.

One after another I made what I began to call “Vision Art” for every friend I had, even shipping them off to Omaha, Fargo, and Raleigh as a surprise.  There was something so deeply meaningful and purposeful while making the individual “Vision Arts” even though they took hours and hours to make, my heart-mind-soul had never sung so loudly and clearly.  Every fiber of my being said, “YES YES YES!!! You have something here!”  It felt so good to put myself into their shoes for the 3-7 hours it took to make, dreaming their dreams and intuitively knowing what they wanted to improve and strive for in their lives, I just knew it was special.

Then came the reactions! The tears! The joy!  One by one, my girlfriends expressed to me how they felt gazing upon their framed pictures saying things like, “I look at this every day and it makes me feel so good!” and “I start each day and end each day looking at this to put myself in the most positive frame of mind” and “Every day I see something different!” and “HOW did you know??”  Tears were common, something in each had touched them so deeply and in return touched me that when I actually heard the words, “I’m sorry Trish, but we’re going to have to lay you off…” (my poor boss, I thought HE was going to cry…he said this to me elbows on knees and head down) and it was stunning.  All I heard was “lay off” and I said “who?” and he said “You.”  OH!

I began packing up my belongings and box after box was filled with all the books I had picked up about positive thinking, the law of attraction, doing what you love, a purposeful life, etc and told my boss, “I didn’t read all of these books for nothing.  Don’t worry about me, I’m going to be just fine.”  Every thing I packed had NOTHING to do with my job, ringing yet another bell.  I was FREE, released, been given a tremendous gift, and it wasn’t too long before I was in my car, tears streaming, doing my happy-clap dance, shouting, “I’M FREEEEEEEE!!!”  It was truly a defining moment in my life.  I knew my attitude meant everything, how I looked at this was going to make or break me.  Guess what? I’m not broken.


Forgiveness

So thanks to my conscious connection group and reading the books, Ask Yourself This and Writing Down Your Soul, I have been posing some serious questions to myself.  Once I decided to do this answers have arrived as well as more questions.

I believe in the Law of Attraction and that if you make requests of The Universe, or Spirit, or God and you truly believe it is yours to do or yours to have, it will arrive in your life.  This is, however, easier said than done.  I have believed for several years now that I am meant to help people through sharing messages and stories.  I dream of a career as an author who also speaks and leads workshops.  This is a vision I created for myself shortly after I read The Secret.  Three years later, I have written two novels and over 100,000 words worth of blog posts and planned a workshop integrating some spiritual practices. I have made great strides towards my vision, but I haven’t reached the pivotal point where the vision becomes my career and life’s work.  After too many rejections from literary agents, I shelved the two novels, and the workshop, back in 08 I scheduled it to be held at my church and then canceled it a month later in response to a fear I couldn’t quite overcome.

Lately, I’ve been working on a new project.  I’m almost to the “take action” part of the plan and I am terrified.  So, I have been asking why?  What do I need to do to be ready?  What I am finding is that old memories are popping into my head.  Most of the stuff I am remembering is not pleasant.  I am reliving embarrassing moments, careless decisions, and times when I was downright hurtful.  Most of the stuff that’s invading my thoughts happened years and years ago.  It’s stuff that I should have moved on from and let go of, but instead I am finding that it is all still there within me.  Then there are the words that were either said or implied about me growing up as “the baby” in the family.  Spoiled and selfish.

I have been journaling about these memories.  I’ve given a voice to my guilt and anger.  In soul-writing you put down your thoughts and wait for spirit or “the voice” (as Janet Conner calls it) to answer you back.  On Thursday evening, I frantically wrote what came into my mind.  I was told that I was loved, that I needed to let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, and that I had work to do and people that needed me.  The messages went on for 3 pages and at one point my writing got so large it was as if Spirit was shaking sense into me.

In the days that have passed since that message, it has become clear to me, that what is blocking my vision is lack of forgiveness.  Today in church, someone was talking about a book on the importance of forgiveness.  The author of this book had led workshops on the Law of Attraction for years and what she discovered was that the people who had the least amount of “baggage” were the most successful at manifesting their dreams.  It is vital that we let go of guilt, shame, and regret in order to become the best we can be.

Yesterday I posted a great quote from Carol Burnett.  It mentioned blessing, praising, and letting your foes go.  My foes are those voices and memories that play like broken records in my mind.  They do not define who I am in this moment.  Without even realizing it I’ve carried them with me.  My goal is to forgive myself and those who have judged or mis-judged me.  I’ve already succeeded in leaving a couple of bags behind, but I will probably discover more down there in the basement.  As I find them I will forgive them, bless them, and gently send them on their way.

Vision Board 1

On January 1, 2009, I attended a workshop entitled “Design a Divine 2009” that was led by Elizabeth Barbour.  Over the course of the day we all created these beautiful vision boards.  I wrote a little about this once before so I’ll try not to repeat myself, or at least not too much.  I first learned about vision boards in “The Secret.”  It is a great way to put Creative Visualization to work.  What you do is find images and phrases that represent what you would like to see in your life and you put them together in a collage.  I think, though, that Elizabeth took this a step further and explained that sometimes an image will just call us to it.  We might be pulled to put something on the page without a real explanation for it.  She even shared one of her own vision boards with us.  On it was a picture of a woman floating in a pool.  When she put that picture on the board it simply represented peace and tranquility (or something like that, I may be wrong…sorry Elizabeth if you’re reading), little did she know that months later she would move into a house with a pool in the backyard.

So as 2009 is coming ever so closely to an end and major changes have happened in my life, I have been analyzing my vision board.  I wanted to talk about a few of the things on the board that seem to have manifested or taken me by surprise by manifesting in a way I had not expected.

The first is the phrase “Something big is coming!”  I had finished my board and was cleaning up when I stopped and opened a Rumi Calendar.  On the page I flipped to there it was “Something Big is Coming!”  Okay.  I responded by grabbing scissors, cutting it out, and quickly gluing as the group began to gather.  I knew that the message was for me.  In 2009, something big was coming.  I just had no idea what.  In my ego mind I thought maybe it would be a book deal or possibly a big move or who knows maybe even another baby.  I didn’t expect that I would reconnect with an old friend who would suggest blogging and I would create this space where I’ve expressed so much and been dealt some blows and have shared it all with so many.  It is yet to be determined what that seed will grow into but it is already enough to call BIG! And never in my wildest dreams did I suspect the biggest thing of all – that one of my dearest friends of 18 years would die, just two days after becoming a mother.  It is this that leads me to the next observation I’d like to make about my board.

Before attending the workshop, Heather, Kristin, Amy and I had just started discussing a girls’ weekend.  I was finally, after 5 years of motherhood, ready to do this.  As I flipped through magazines I wanted very much to find a picture that represented my friends and our trip.  I found the perfect (well almost) picture of 3 friends drinking wine and looking through a scrapbook (that’s what it looks like to me) with the caption reading “Get Away.”  I immediately cut it out, but did pause for a minute to consider the significance of only 3 friends in the picture.  I had a couple of ideas.  The women in the photo represented each of my friends or maybe one of us would not be able to make the get-away.  Whichever it was, the image made it to the board.  Upon returning home from Amy’s funeral, I stared at that picture in the upper left hand corner.  There we were the 3 remaining Amigas, doing just what we had done in Kristin’s kitchen when I arrived in NC: drinking wine and looking through photo albums.  We had even had a few moments of laughter through our tears…  I have to admit when I look at it now all I hear in my head  is “and then there were 3.”

I am going to end this on a positive note by pointing out the references to love.  What I wanted most of all in 2009 was to reconnect with my husband.  I wanted us to take time to nurture not just our girls but each other.  It seems that the power of the vision has worked it’s magic.  Tomorrow Mark and I celebrate 11 years of marriage and I am more in love with him now than ever!

*I titled this post Vision Board 1 because I do plan to write a little more about my visions for 2009.  As I learned from the month of October, A LOT can happen in one month and there is more than a month left in 2009.

Book Give-Away #2

When I first started attending Unity Eastside, I asked the minister to recommend a good book for me to read.  She recommended “Discover the Power Within You” by Eric Butterworth.  She described it as “The Secret but with Jesus.”  It is one of my favorites, I’ve read it about 6 times.  This book was the one I would always go back to when I was short on new reading material.  Butterworth is a Unity minister and author.  His insight into Jesus’ teachings is really very fascinating and helpful.  It’s been over a year since I picked it up, so I thought it was time to pass it on.  I also have noticed a few people have found my blog by searching “Eric Butterworth.”

Please comment on this post to be entered.  I will put all the names in a hat and pull one out at 9pm (eastern time) on Saturday, September 5th.  I will announce the winner on Sunday the 6th.

DSCF2522

Books

I have always been on this path.  Everything, no matter how good or bad or mundane, that has happened in my life has brought me to this moment.  I haven’t always truly understood that though.  “Everything happens for a reason” is something I’ve been saying for years…but mostly as a pep talk to myself in difficult times.  Now a days I am very aware of the path, the process, and the lessons along the way.  I have some very wise and spiritual friends  whom I have learned a lot from, but most of my knowledge and awareness has come from books.

A lot of people scoff at self-help books, but that is where it started with me.  I never went to the library or bookstore seeking answers to my life’s problems.  I was very content with my life.  It really was that the books found me.  It started with that Oprah episode and The Secret.  After I got really interested in learning more about the Law of Attraction a friend of mine lent me a Wayne Dyer book.  Wayne Dyer became my first teacher…in the form of his books.  I think I read 10 of them.  I love him, he’s great and the funny thing is that at least 3 times recently when I have been down and discouraged I turn on PBS and find Wayne Dyer giving one of his famous talks.  He’s become my angel of optimism who shows up when I need him most!

Despite my love of writing, I have never been an avid reader.  The love of books comes in waves and bursts with me.  But that changed when I started reading books that taught me about positive thinking and spirituality.  I have not been without a book to read since 2007.  I consider it a part of my devotional time.  The books I read remind me that I am a child of God, that I am a part of his spirit and his spirit is a part of me (even if they don’t use the word God).  They remind me that love is stronger than fear and anything born from that love can become reality.  They tell me that my thoughts are prayers and I should take care as to what I am praying for.  Most importantly they have shown me that I am an instrument and all I need is the Faith strong enough to let my purpose find me and carry me home!

So yes, I read a lot of books and sometimes I even believe what I read.  If the message resonates with me and opens my heart a little, I try to put it to good use.  One thing I have noticed on a lot of blogs is that people have “give-aways.”  It has recently dawned on me that I can have “give-aways” on my blog too.  I’ve decided to start giving away my favorite books.  I hold onto them always thinking I’ll return to them.  I rarely do.  I think it would be an even greater gift to pass along the books to others.  Starting tomorrow, I am going to have a monthly or bi-monthly (haven’t decided yet) book give-away.  The first book will be “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain (my copy is much older than the one featured on Amazon) since I have blogged about that one recently.  So check back tomorrow for the details!

Powerful

Right now I am in a book group that is studying the Joel S. Goldsmith book “Practicing the Presence.”  We had our second meeting on Sunday afternoon and among other things we discussed the idea of creating our lives.  Joel’s teachings include the idea of our consciousness creating our realities but more than anything he encourages putting your thoughts on God, knowing that trusting in that Reality will create a heavenly life.  Since I have also read books like “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction: The Teachings of Abraham,” I find myself torn between this idea of manifesting stuff in my life and the idea that God has a plan for me…a destiny so to speak.

I am trying to distinguish the difference, if there is one.  I am curious as to whether or not I am creating my path or if my path is being shown to me.  If you study metaphysics you will read a lot about how we are all one and there is no such thing as time.  There’s a great quote from Battlestar Gallactica that goes “This has all happened before and will happen again.”  So the question is, if you are open to the idea, are we creating or remembering?  Either way it makes us pretty powerful, which is exactly what a member of the book group said to me in response to my question.  If we all just knew how powerful we are.  It is amazing if you think of it, what our bodies and minds are capable of doing.  Then if you add spirit to the equation…WOW!

On January 1, 2009, I attended a retreat called “Design a Divine 2009” with Elizabeth Barbour.  She opened the workshop by having everyone say one characteristic they wanted to express in the coming year.  When it was my turn, I said Powerful.  It seems to be a theme this year so far.  Around the time of the workshop I was feeling a bit powerless.   When I expressed this to a friend, their response was “But you have all the power.”  And it’s true, I have all the power over my life.  I don’t need power over anyone else, all I need is to use my power to acknowledge, create, and discover the best in my life.