How about a little compassion and awe?

Years ago my mom pressed her ear against mine. “No” I told her, “I don’t hear it.” She has tinnitus that’s so loud she was sure other people could hear it.

When I meditate my body often tingles. Last weekend I asked my husband to press his body up to mine and hold me after my meditation. “No,” he told me, “I can’t feel it”.

What do my tingly body and my mom’s tinnitus have to do with anything?

Each one of us is experiencing something that only we can feel. Whether it’s dark thoughts or high hopes, debilitating anxiety or ripples of peace, the thrum of ecstasy or a sharp pain in your left kidney. Everyone has an inner world that’s layered and complex and wholly their own. Yet we often assume that what we feel and think and how we experience the world is the same as others do. We think we know them but we can’t, not fully, no matter how close we may be.

We can never truly know the agony of his childhood wound that hasn’t healed. Her family’s trauma that she carries in her bones. The secret desires he’s too afraid to share. The passion that makes her rev like a racecar.

But we could live awe and wonder with ourselves and others because even with these internal worlds that could bring us to our knees in sorrow or in joy, we manage to get up, get dressed, get to work, feed the kids, and be mostly good to one another.

And when we don’t, wouldn’t it be nice to feel compassion for ourselves and others, and trust we’re all doing the best that we can.

Feel free to share this with someone who may not feel understood right now, because you want them to know that they’re still loved.

 

Money as a Love Story.

I met Joel Solomon just before he invested in our business, SPUD, which provides online home delivery of organic, local, sustainable foods. Catching up with him on a path snaking through the woods of Hollyhock Retreat Center, on Cortes Island, BC,  I nervously introduced myself. He responded, “What are your politics?

I’d never been asked that before, and frankly I’d never thought about it. I was much more of a doer than a thinker. I blurted out “I believe corporations are the most powerful source of change. I only see that growing. I’m working on shifting the course for good, from within.” That 15 second exchange probably sealed our fate.

This week I was delighted to sit back and crack open his new book, The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism

Believe me when I tell you, this is no ordinary book about money and power. Though you’ll read about corporate greed, environmental destruction, and political corruption, and you’ll understand how money has systematically moved America’s democracy into more of an oligarchy, the book is surprisingly uplifting and provides enough direction to give you hope, and more importantly – actions to create a better world. Part memoir, part how-to guide, this book is in many ways a love story. A story only Joel Solomon is uniquely fit to tell.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to know Joel as a patient investor (in two businesses), an inspiring boss, (when I worked with him and Carol Newel, and Martha Burton, in the early days of their seed fund, Renewal Partners),  a fun playmate, generous mentor, strategic match-maker, risk-taker, goofy dancer, late night drummer, truster of people, supporter of artists, activists, and long time friend.

Though Joel admits to writing this book from a position of privilege, as a middle aged rich white guy,  Joel’s got more vast and varied life experience than anyone I know.  In our first meeting he told me about his 500 year plan. Though it was a metaphor, he really wasn’t kidding. He’s equally at home as the best dressed man at a boardroom table, or foraging for food on a deserted island. He’s studied French Intensive Bio-dynamic gardening, worked on Jimmy Carter’s campaign, granted $50 million to environmental groups through Endswell Foundation, and is the Chairman and Co-founder of Renewal Funds, investing $98m of other peoples’ money in organics and enviro tech companies in the US andCanada. His personal experience alone makes the book worth reading. But you’ll get much more than that.

Joel says, “…. money has no values of it’s own. Money doesn’t account for fairness, justice, beauty, consciousness, or love. That’s our role, and it’s ever more crucial that we assume it. We need to start to talk about money in ways that dethrone it and make it subject to human ethics and standards of love and decency.”

So let’s talk.

Debra: Joel, congratulations on your book. It’s quite a feat. Was writing a book ever part of your 500 year plan?

 Joel:  The idea of a 500 Year Plan certainly is supported by my book, “The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose & Capitalism”. I reflect a lot about our responsibility, and obligation, to think about true security, where ecology, soil, species, and the very biosphere that makes life for people possible, can thrive forever. We have a stewardship responsibility that we ignore at peril.

My intention is to raise consciousness around these long term responsibilities, and how we can use money in a more regenerative way, rather than investing in damage and destruction. We have lost too much sense of our past and future. We must think long term, for the chance of a good future for the generations to follow us.

Debra: Why a ‘revolution’?

Joel: I use the word revolution as a wake up call. It’s a revolution of mind set, or actively choosing, or owning the truth of what we do to other people and places by owning, investing, and making choices with money.

We are fighting complacency, accepting old norms, and neglecting to ask serious questions, demand better financial and consumer products, and leaving money in hands that we would never trust our personal matters to. Yet, our money can be a powerful force for good.

We must wake up, empower ourselves around the wealth management hypnosis of “maximum financial return, regardless of who and what is damaged”, and make choices that align with our values, mission and purpose as people.

We may be kind, respectful, and help people directly. Can we let our money support slavery, poison other people’s children, and start wars?

Debra: Who’d you write this book for?

Joel:

  • People with affluence and money.
  • Their children, who stand to inherit $50 Trillion by 2050 in NorthAmerica alone.
  • The wealth advisors.
  • Super motivated young people considering and navigating the careers they will enter.

 

Debra: Your life takes really interesting twists and turns, all the different routes mysteriously  weaving together to take you where you are today.  How did the study and practice of French Intensive Bio-dynamic gardening, or the study of Orcas, prepare you to be a mission based investor and philanthropist?

Joel: All my adventures and experiences added elements to who Ive become.

From exposure to French Intensive Bio-dynamic gardening, I learned a lot about complexity and diversity as essential strengths, awareness of the cosmic elements, beneficial relationships between plants, insects, birds, etc., the sacredness of soil, and hard work.

The life, habitats, and patterns of Orcas, the largest brained mammal on the planet, reveal a quite advanced language, social system, mutual support, and intelligence, in another species, as a quite obvious example that can be found throughout nature.

My diagnosis with a degenerative form of kidney disease, took me to imagining my death bed, pondering my legacy, and deciding to live as if on that death bed mindset, and consider each day precious, each interaction sacred, and to align my life the best I can , with principles I am proud of and would hope to share.

Debra: Though you deal a lot with investors and philanthropists, how can someone earning under $100,000 a year, just trying to raise their kids and save for retirement, play a role in the Clean Money Revolution?

Joel:

  • Consider banking with a Credit Union and keep your money mostly in your community.
  • Buy food that aligns with your values.
  • Shop at locally owned stores where jobs and wealth stay in your community.
  • Read labels and protect your family safety and health.
  • Research companies that make products you might buy.
  • Find out what is in them, how workers are treated, and what environmental damage may be done. Learn about the practices of companies, institutions, and professionals you engage with.
  • Talk to friends and ask how they figure this out. Share what you know.

 

Debra: I’ve worked alongside enough activists to know that fighting the good fight can lead to pretty serious burnout. From working with you, I learned the importance of having fun. How the heck can people have a good time with this revolution?

Joel: Start with inner skills practices. We must examine our own feelings, sensations, and thoughts, discovering the awareness possible. Awareness first, then choice is possible.

Explore mortality. As clear eyed as we can be about the inevitable reality of death, the more fully we can live today.

Gratitude practice, ideally daily, can increase our clarity of choice in how we respond, interpret, and act, on a good outlook that empowers self love, compassion for others, and sense of larger responsibility.

Maintaining joyous physical activity, as well as other intentional practices for keeping the body vibrant and flexible, helps.

Learning adaptive response and fluid approach to challenges, hurts, disappointments, and blockages, improves resilience, wisdom, and mastery that assists in joy.

Flow and glow.

Debra: I love that! And I loved the chapter on Evolutionary Leadership. These principles apply whether you’re leading a business, a community, your family, or directing your own life path. In it you say, “Consciousness practices grow clean money revolutionaries!” Can you explain that a bit?

Joel: Consciousness opens opportunity for choice. Empowered living can follow. Aligning money with values, meaning, and purpose, is our joyous duty.

As it becomes clear to us the role of money, its positive power to cause and fuel change, and realization that there is more than enough money on the planet to solve most all our challenges, we become clear on the need to shift trillions of dollars from damaging uses to regeneration.

Debra: So, there’s enough money, but is there the will?  I was amazed to read in your book that, “…the average amount the entire world needs to invest in clean energy annually to hit the 2-degree target of the Paris Climate Conference is only 7 percent more than American citizens invest in car loans each year.” Since clean energy yields more jobs per dollar than fossil fuel energy, it’s unthinkable that we lack the political will to make a change that seems like a no-brainer. What can we as individuals do?

Joel: Our responsibility as individuals is to be in lifelong learning, loyalty to future generations, and stewardship of the commons. Health of ecosystems, human relationships, are the base for global stability and effective societies.

Examine the self. Ask questions. Be informed. Improve that which we can influence. Give younger people all the insight we can. Be models. Make conscious choices. Live our values. Know our meaning and embrace our purpose.

Remember the future. Be all in for the chance of good ways for future generations. We are the ancestors who are making a good world for those who follow.

Debra: I’ve always been impressed with your ability to ask questions that get people thinking and acting from a wiser, more authentic part of themselves. What questions can we ask to open the conversation about clean money?

Joel: Where is our money, what is it doing to people and places, right this minute?  Is my money representing the values I hold dearest? Our name is on our money. Are we ok if with that money, we may own slaves, poison other peoples’ babies, and start wars, simply to earn a higher return rate?

The financial system can do better. We have the power to ensure money is used for creating a clean, green, more just civilization.

The time is now. 30-50 trillion dollars will change hands over the next 3 decades, from older people to younger ones. Now we have access to vast information. We have the tools and ingenuity, and the money, to solve the major problems facing us today.

It’s time to ask questions and invent and support better answers to how money is a force for good, ready to be unleashed for the long term true security of civilization.

Love and intention are the raw material for a good future for all.

Consider being a billionaire of good deeds. You may find you are also a billionaire of love.

Debra: Ah, it always comes back to love. Thanks so much Joel.

Get your copy here and join The Clean Money Revolution.

Then Spread the Love by Tweeting it out:

 

 

Tune for a Tuesday Afternoon #5

how to be when things go wrong – even horribly wrong

Right now so many of us are feeling that things are going horribly wrong. Millions of people are hurting. It’s hard not to focus on what isn’t working. What’s not going our way. We get riled up and where our focus goes, energy follows.

Whether it’s disasters of a global scale, problems in your neighborhood, or faults you see in yourself or others, at times the world can seem to be crumbling around you. 

Even when things are mostly great – things will appear to go wrong.

On the day of my first wedding we got someone else’s cake. Some poor bride was missing her three level fruit cake with orange lucite pillars and icing flowers of every color. She was stuck with my white on white with chocolate inside.

When buying our house in Washington, we were informed at the last minute on the closing day that we couldn’t get a mortgage because of my legal status. When I went up to begin renovations, the furnace wasn’t working, during the coldest winter they’d had in years. When we finished restoring the old handmade cabinets, the new hinges weren’t strong enough to hold them up. It took over a month to track new ones down from different places.

In my 30’s an illness crippled me with pain and fatigue, and changed the whole direction of the life I passionately loved.

Each time things didn’t go as planned, blessings came in different ways.They often didn’t come right away, but they always came.  Things I couldn’t have expected.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t get bummed out, or feel hurt or angry or sad. But as soon I would breathe, feel my feet on the ground, and become present again, I could feel the immensity of life and the smallness of my plans. The vastness of the unknown, and the limitations of what I believed “should” happen.

What I’ve discovered over and over again is that each time something goes “wrong”, even “horribly wrong”, I can choose to see it as a divine diversion and a opportunity to let love shine.

In Anthem, Leonard Cohen sings, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Whether the business you’ve poured your heart into is failing, your lover left you,  you’ve just been told you have a terminal illness, or the people in power are acting in inexplicable ways,  life will be chaotic and scary at times. It feels like the cracks are growing and your world is crumbling.  Even your best plans can’t save you.

But the crack, isn’t just a problem. The crack is also an opening. It’s how the light gets in. 

When we got someone else’s wedding cake, we laughed, stuck a fake nose and glasses in it, took our pictures, and danced around it. Friends, new neighbors, and even strangers stepped in to help us with each problem in our new house. In turn, I stayed open, grateful and in awe of the love. In my illness that devoured the world I loved, I discovered a different, more authentic way to live, and a deeper part of myself I’d never known.

You see the crack isn’t just how the light gets in. It’s also how the light gets out. There’s a light shining bright in me and you. And the times when things go wrong, we make mistakes, or we only see others’ faults, are all opportunities to let that light shine.

The world is full of cracks right now, so focus on the light. There is plenty of it.

Let it shine on you.

Accept the good in others. Let people support you when you’re scared and sad. Ask for help.

When you don’t see the light, Let it shine out of you.

Be kind to everyone, starting with yourself. Feel your pain, release your pain, without taking it out on others. Be engaged. Stay curious. Accept people who have different beliefs, or voted for someone else. Embrace those who look, act and speak differently. The light will reflect off of others and soon you’ll be bathing in it.

Be courageous enough, in these tough times, to Love.

What the World Series and Presidential Election reminded me to do.

When I left my hometown, I also left The Blue Jays and all things baseball behind. I’d been a big fan, but there was no MLB team in Vancouver and I just got busy with other things.

Almost 30 years later I found myself watching baseball again.

My in-laws all live in Chicago, and they are die-hard Cub Fans. Always have been, even when there was no good reason to be. So you can imagine their excitement when their team made it to the World Series. Each night my 85 year old mother-in-law drove to a sports bar in Skokie to cheer and laugh, drink beer and even cry with fellow fans. I call her the Cubbie Bubbie. My brother-in- law and a couple of cousins even scored seats at the games.

On the final night, my husband and I turned on the game. What I’d forgotten about baseball, one of the things that makes the game great, is The Pause. And when a World Series is on the line, the Pause becomes more, important, poetic and dramatic.

The pitcher connects with the catcher. He Pauses. He takes his time. Takes a breath, winds up and throws an impossibly fast ball. The batter swings and misses. Strike two. He steps away from the plate. He Pauses. He gives himself some time. Stepping forward, he positions himself to swing again. Tension mounts as the game is tied 6 to 6. In the 10th inning the rains pour down. The entire game Pauses for about 15 minutes.

The Cubs go on to win the World Series. After a Pause of 108 years.

In each of those pauses I would breathe, feel my own body, and become more acutely present.

It’s easy to get caught up in our thoughts, worries, emotions and stories. A Pause can bring you back to Peace.

A week after the Cubs great victory I woke to the news of Trump’s win. I was”shocked but not surprised”. I sobbed. Like I’ve never cried over politics before. I was sad and scared. I was afraid that this win would validate misogyny, bigotry, racism and elitism. I feared what would become of my husband’s immigrant students, the Supreme Court, women, the LGBT and black communities, our prison system, and environmentally sensitive areas that house endangered species and natural resources.

Then I Paused. I stopped talking about it. I got off social media. I sat quietly and took a moment by myself. As I felt my breath move in and out I could sense my body’s expression. Tight. Buzzing. Jagged. As I gave each sensation my attention, it morphed into something else. Over time my breath deepened, my body softened and expanded. I was calmer, and connected to myself again.

Nothing had changed. And everything had. I was no longer stuck in the survival panic of my reptilian brain. I was operating from a more evolved part of myself. I was no longer lost in the apocalyptic future my thoughts were building.

After the Pause I was able to love again. I felt stronger and more able to handle the change with an open heart. I could feel the need for kindness, acceptance and tolerance now more than ever. I could feel potential.

When you’re faced with great opportunity or great challenge, PAUSE.
Take a moment just to be.
To breathe.
To feel yourself in a body, that’s alive.

Remembering to Pause when you’re under great stress can be challenging. If you don’t practice Pausing regularly, you can only hope you’ll have enough awareness to override your own biology – the ancient fight-flight-freeze response of your nervous system. That’s sort of like hoping you’ll figure out how to swim once your boat capsizes in the ocean.

If you want to be able to Pause when you need it, I suggest you Pause when you don’t, just like practicing swimming before you head out to sea. You’ll be able to draw on your practice when you need it most.

This week, try Pausing several times a day. Set up reminders for yourself. Pause before every email your write, or every time you sit down, or at every red light. Just pay attention to your breath. Experience your body’s sensations, even as they change. Let your eyes look around. Then notice how your body feels.

Though it only takes a moment, the Pause has a way of slowing life down, bringing things into focus, and connecting you to yourself in a way that being busy never can.

It might be interesting to write about your experience each night, and at the end of a week look back on how it went. I’d love to hear how it goes.

Love Debra

If you know someone who’s facing a lot these days, please share this with them, so they can benefit from a Pause.

Tune for a Tuesday Afternoon #3

Elections can be such polarizing events.

I can easily get defensive of my position, sure of my rightness, and think you’re an idiot for your choice of candidates.

Or I can open my heart and be vulnerable. I can feel that under my posturing and anger, there is fear. And it gets in the way of love every time.

I mostly avoid the news, but I checked in for a few minutes of the Presidential debate Sunday night.

While I wanted to focus on differences, I couldn’t help but see similarities. Not to each other, but to me.

I wondered where all that hate had come from. Why would someone scorn people just because they look different, have other beliefs, speak a “foreign” language or are the opposite sex?

And I had to look at myself. Underneath my own disdain for the candidate there was fear. Fear that the results of this election could create more derision and division in this country. That we might widen the gap between the powerful, and the powerless and fuel more hatred and violence.

Hate’s not the opposite of love. Fear is. Hate is a secondary emotion that we often use to cover our fear. It makes us feel (artificially) stronger.

Feeling our fear makes us vulnerable. And we don’t generally like that. But vulnerability can lead to truth and intimacy.

So if I want to be truthful, I admit that this candidate is making me turn and face my own fear, and my desire to hurt. Though I’ve stopped myself, I’ve wanted to share nasty jokes about him, and dish the dirt when his name comes up. I have to remember that he’s a human with fears and insecurities that show up as posturing, armoring and bullying.

And I’m doing the very same thing in my mind when I think about him.

Realizing that gave me compassion: For the young child who perhaps didn’t have his own true nature reflected back to him in loving ways. Who maybe wasn’t taught that he’s enough, and doesn’t have to put anyone down to know his own worth.

Compassion: For myself. That I lose touch with who I really am, believe I’m separate from others and feel I have to fight to prove I’m right.

Alternate Routes, wrote this song, Nothing More, and have been using it to raise funds for the non-profit, Newton Kindness. This organization was created by the parents of six year old, Charlotte Bacon, who was shot and killed by a 20 year old who opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary, just before Christmas, 2012. Joel and JoAnn Bacon faced a parents’ worst fear, not with hatred, but with love. Their organization teaches and promotes kindness and tolerance to young children, as a way to honor their daughter’s life.

It would be easy to turn this man into a monster, and make him the enemy, but he too was a human being with great pain. There’s nothing we can do to save the victims now. But we can remember that in each of us there is potential for great love, and how we treat each other matters.

So, when I catch myself feeling disgusted by a candidate, I’m going to pray for them, for me and for all of us. Because We are how we treat each other… and Nothing more.

 

Love Debra

 

What’s better than having good boundaries?

 If you feel you’re getting the short end of the stick, doing more than you said you would, or your personal space is being invaded, you may think you need better boundaries. Think again.

I’m not against boundaries. They’re a necessary step in development, so you don’t spend all your time in other people’s business where you don’t belong, or with other people all up in your business where they don’t belong.

I learned appropriate boundaries late in life. I was so enmeshed in other people’s needs and desires that I rarely said no when asked for something. When I did say no, I felt guilty. A few decades ago, my therapist took me through simple exercises to experience where I ended and the rest of the world began. Pretty rudimentary stuff that every child should know, but somehow I’d missed that essential step.

Boundaries are important. They define and delineate. They separate countries, cities and neighbors. We build them with walls, fences, intentions and actions. We maintain them and defend them, sometimes with our lives. In certain situations boundaries are exactly the right thing. But not always.

When clients tell me they want better boundaries, it’s usually because someone, somehow, did them wrong. They feel like a victim. They don’t want that to happen again, so they want to build a big fat wall to keep the problems out. But there are a couple of problems with the big fat wall:

  1. It doesn’t fix the past. So it doesn’t address what’s making you feel like a victim.
  2. The big fat wall might not work in all situations.
  3. It can be exhausting to keep propping up the wall.
  4. The wall doesn’t just keep others out, it keeps you boxed in.

When I ask clients to describe someone they admire for having good boundaries, they say serious, strong, disciplined. The words I have yet to hear in these descriptions are fun, joyful, energized, loving, or spontaneous.

When I help clients get to the root of how this other person did them wrong, we can almost always find that the problem began when my clients first wronged themselves. She agreed to do something that didn’t feel quite right, but she didn’t honor that feeling. He accepted less money for his work than he wanted, and resents it now. She takes care of everyone else first, hoping someone will take care of her in return. She wants her mom to stop calling every morning at 7:00am, but picks up the phone whenever it rings. They say they want one thing, but behave differently. Their words and actions are muddled and confused.

So what’s better than boundaries?

Clarity. It comes from knowing who you are, and being true to yourself.

Clarity requires that you slow down. Discover your deepest desires. Pay attention to that feeling you get that suggests something’s not quite right. Take time to imagine what would feel right.

Clarity demands that you love yourself. You take care of yourself and treat yourself well. You fill your cup first. The more you love yourself, the clearer you get. When you treat yourself lovingly, it’s easy to love others. Boundaries can dissolve with the clarity that love brings.

Getting clear requires more awareness upfront, but requires a lot less work later on. Rather than continuing to define and defend your boundaries, you get to live spontaneously, in the way you want to live, as you evolve. And you’ll be amazed to discover that when you are clear, the world responds to your clarity in kind.

With Clarity your choices originate from love, and truth, and living in the moment.

Boundaries are rigid. Clarity is dynamic.  Here’s how this might look in the real world?

Boundary = Nobody should phone you before 7:00am. You want others to respect that boundary. Clarity = You answer the phone whenever you want. You turn the ringer off when I don’t want to be disturbed. If you’re in the middle of something else, you don’t let the phone interrupt.

Boundary = Your rate is $150.00 an hour. Period. Asking you to work for less crosses your boundary. Clarity = Your rate is $150.00 an hour. Sometimes you’re inspired to support someone by working for less. In those cases you do it joyfully.  Sometimes you offer your skills for free. Other times you charge more than your usual rate. People can ask you for whatever they want. You’ll respond with what’s right for you.

Life is always bursting through boundaries. So when you try to defend your boundaries you may find you’re fighting with life.

Your true nature is limitless. When you’re clear about that, there’s no need for boundaries.

Is there an area in your life where you feel you need boundaries?  What might clarity do for you instead?

I’d love to hear your ideas on this in the Comments below.

Always Follow A Generous Impulse

Each and every day generous impulses rise with in you. Follow them.

They’re immediate, pure, and unconcerned about results. They are  expressions of life wanting to live, love wanting to love. You feel them before you think them. They evaporate if they are not acted upon.

They are the smile, the laugh, the kind word or act without any question about what’s in it for you. In fact they have no thought of you at all. The generous impulse is not a humble “selfless act”, but an act that is totally lacking of “self”.

You’ll recognize them by the goodness you feel when you follow them. You may be expansive and calm, or giddy like a kid at play. There’s an innocence and bold vulnerability to the generous impulse that is hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it, and you recognize it when you see it.

It acts and it moves on.

It doesn’t wait around to be noticed or thanked. But its goodness lingers in your cells.

The essence of you, the very core of who you are, is constant, eternal and limitless. It’s unafraid of opinions, and doesn’t care about results. It is the source of life and love and gives itself without regard. This is the birth place of the generous impulse.

When you dance for no reason, laugh out loud, hug a stranger, help an injured animal, smile at a baby, cry at a sunset, give up your seat on the bus, or tuck a fiver into the cup of a homeless man when he’s looking the other way, you’re following the impulse that comes up from the deepest part of you.

If you breathe for just a moment right now you’ll probably remember several generous impulses you’ve followed, and how true they made you feel.

The generous impulse doesn’t rise up out of guilt or duty or a belief that you should. There is no “you” in the impulse to be dutiful or guilty. There is no “you” that should. These heavy obligations don’t begin in the constant truth of who you are. They spin round and round the ever changing flux of thoughts, ideas, judgments and beliefs that flow through you a thousand times a day. They are quick to brake the flow of the generous impulse, and stop you from living your most joyful life.

The impulse to dance moves you. The weight of “I’ll look stupid” holds you down.

A hug rushes from your heart to your arms. The straight-jacket of “what will he think?” keeps you bound.

If you pay attention you’ll notice the impulses just before your mind rushes in. If you catch it you’ll feel the expansive joy of the movement inside you and the quick contraction of your mind’s response.

I feel the impulse inside me every day, and I override it much of the time … to fit in, play it safe, and not be “too much”. But when I let these bubblings up to do what they will, it puts a spring in my step every time. It wakens me back up to who I really am.

Several weeks ago I made a deposit at my bank. The teller, a man I’d never met before, tried several times to suppress a big yawn. “Need a coffee?” I asked. “A big latte”, he answered, “but I don’t have a break for two hours.” I left the bank and two blocks later passed a coffee shop. “Buy him a latte.” the impulse giggled. I felt the rush of joy. With my hand on the door knob of the coffee shop my smarty-pants voice chirped, “Don’t be ridiculous.” I felt the joy-crushing energy of that voice and opened the door anyway. “You don’t even know what he wants”, it chided, while I inched my way through the line. With the latte in hand, I headed back to the bank, when scaredy-cat voice freaked out, “What if he thinks you’re hitting on him?” “Stop” “It’s not to late to turn back”.

Like a mad-woman, I laughed at the voices in my head and kept walking. I got back to the bank and delivered the coffee to the sleepy teller. He was shocked and pleased and we both laughed. I don’t know his name and will probably never see him again, but that impulse more than made my day. Even remembering it now, quickens the joy within me.

Not all impulses are so involved. They are usually short and sweet and ever so simple – letting a car cut in, opening a door, telling her she looks pretty, putting the worm back in the dirt. And they always make you feel good.

If you feel the generous impulse to share this with someone, please follow it now! 

 

The simplest practice to have more compassion, love and joy in your life.

Recently a friend sent me an album with a song on it that she had sung for me. It’s a beautiful song called The Face of God. The chorus goes:

You are the face of God
I hold you in my heart,
You are a part of me
You are the face of God…

You are the face of love
I hold you in my heart
You are my family
You are the face of God…

It’s easy when listening to this song, to think of this friend and feel the love I have for her. My mind also wanders to others I cherish. I feel the profound truth of these lyrics as loved ones come to mind. All the people I love are the face of God to me.

One day I was playing this song during my morning yoga and I thought if anyone is the face of God then everyone is the face of God. That’s obvious I know, but it occurred to me that I don’t act always like that. I wondered what would happen if I did.

It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy everyone’s company or agree with what they do, but if I would see every single person, and every single being as the face of God it would rock my world. So I tried it and it did. I experienced more compassion, love and joy each and every time.

The rodent that is eating my garden is the face of God, (teaching me non-attachment). The crazy talking bearded homeless woman is the face of God, (opening my heart). The gardener who welcomes a cup of water on a hot day, (connects me with my own simple humanity)

It’s a no-brainer to see the face of God in the people you love, and easy to see the face of God in people who look, think and act like you, and even if you don’t know them – kind, generous, smart people look an awful lot like the face of God too.

Where it gets interesting is when you see the face of God in the woman who cuts you off in traffic and then gives you the finger, the politician who stands for everything you despise, or the ex-boyfriend who dumped you and seems to be unduly delighted with his supermodel girlfriend. This isn’t a practice of seeing what gifts or lessons these people have for you. It’s not a practice of questioning why this person has come into your life. It’s much simpler than that.

The whole practice is this:

Just for today,

To every person you see,

Say this in your mind: “You are the Face of God”.

Notice how you feel when you say it. With some people it will elevate your love. Other times it will trigger an impulse of compassion and generosity. Then there are times when the absurdity will make you laugh.

This is not in any way meant to be an emotional bypass. If someone triggers some sadness or anger in you to bubble up then for the love of bacon let your emotions flow. Don’t aim them at the person, but do give your emotions the release they need. Then once you’ve let it out, see the face of that person and just say in your mind “You are the Face of God”. See what happens.

You may not have time for a lot of spiritual practice in your life. But you’ve definitely got time for this.

After you’ve tried it I’d love to hear your experience in the comment section below. If you don’t like the results I offer a money back guarantee.

Love Debra
PS. You are the face of God. Feel it. Be it.
And please share this with someone who is the face of God to you.

Overcoming the fear of what other people think.

A while back I heard about a great TedTalk by Brene Brown. A few clients even said ” Have you read Brene Brown? She says what you’re saying. ” I keep meaning to watch her talk but haven’t yet. I even went to her website to check out her blog. I loved the colour, font choice and old fashioned typewrite, but I never got around to reading her blog. I can’t remember if she even has one. But from what I’ve heard, and the look of her site, I’m sure I’d like her.

I was grabbing some detective novels from the library the other day and added Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly to the pile. Finally I was going to get to know Brene.

On page 42 I read something that stopped me. She wrote, “I thought about a paperweight on my desk that reads, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? I pushed that question out of my head to make room for a new question. As I walked up to the stage I literally whispered aloud, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?

I was hot with shame. I could feel myself contract into the smallest version of my self. It was painful to be me. You see I wrote a blog with almost exactly those words. And I thought – what if people think I copied her? What if people think I’m just stealing ideas and promoting them as my own? Shame had been such a constant companion in my past, that it took me a moment to even notice its grip. Once I became aware of that old weight of shame it was quickly replaced with wonder.

Isn’t it curious that my first response should be a crippling shame and fear that people I don’t even know might think less of me, rather than melting with awe that we are all drawing inspiration from the same source, that ideas that want to be in the world will find their way through any willing vehicle, that people who have worked with me and found benefit from it are finding similar messages in other places. Rather than have those as my first response, it was fear about people I don’t even know, people who may not even exist. Fear was getting in the way of love. And the fear was just my imagination.

I hadn’t actually done anything wrong. It was the fear that someone might think I had, that made my stomach turn. I remembered the many times in the past that fear of what others might think stopped me from expressing myself, giving my gifts, and being true. I was surprised to see that fear was still there. But this time I breathed into it. Sat in the discomfort. Remembered who I am without that fear… and the shame dissolved. I then put down the book and turned to a detective novel. Brene and I will meet another day.

The fear of what other people think stops you from expressing yourself, and worse, it stops you from listening to yourself.

People you consider great risk-takers, inventors, change makers and leaders followed their impulses and did what they did in spite of what people might think. But that doesn’t help you right now. So, what can you do?

Over the years I’ve learned to let the love inside me overcome the fear. I don’t do it 100% of the time, but when I do, I allow that love to be expressed in whatever way it wants.

I’ll bet you are braver than me, but if at times you feel the glorious impulse to express what’s inside you, and then you worry about what others will think:

  • Take a moment to breathe and allow that discomfort to be felt.
  • Then connect back to that initial impulse.
  • Feel the expansion of love that wants to move through you.
  • Let that love grow so big inside you that the imagined faces of naysayers dissolves.
  • Then ask yourself:

The love inside you is stronger and softer, more compassionate and inclusive than the fear.

Love Debra

AND…If the world would benefit from someone you know letting their light shine, please feel free to share this with them.