I Could See Peace Instead of This

PeaceI have an affirmation on my wall that says, “I choose peace.” When anything happens in my day-to-day life that makes my chest tense up and my heart rate rise, my mind thinks about peace. I finally know I can have it. I finally understand that peace is mine for the taking, that the Universe is standing in front of me holding a silver platter with the fancy lid lifted off just WAITING for me to accept the gift of peace in my life.

And yet, the damn drama sneaks in.

It’s almost as if there’s comfort in drama, as if in all that turmoil something is actually happening, that life’s moments aren’t going to waste. But this is nonsense. Drama is what eats up life’s moments, the moments that are given to us to live inside and revel in and feel and experience.

Have you had that moment when everything was right with the world? Maybe you were sitting outside in your yard, maybe you were next to someone you love, maybe you were beside a body of water, or on top a mountain looking out. . . and time stood still. All was right simply because in that moment, you were PRESENT, and the day-to-day bullshit was out of your mind.

Usually it only takes me a few brief moments before my ego starts shoving those worries back into my head: will I be to school to pick up my kids on time, do I have enough chicken for dinner, did I remember to submit that doctor bill to the insurance company, do I need to get in early to work tomorrow, and the list goes on, and it gets so full and so heavy that all of the present moment seems to disappear.

I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles. I always know when I’m on a trigger point because for some reason the day’s simple simple exercise becomes overwhelming, and I “never get to it” on that day. All of a sudden, instead, it takes me over a week to sit down for 5 silly minutes and do the meditation.

Here’s what has me in resistance mode this week: I could choose peace instead of this. Sit down for 5 minutes somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and let the issues or ideas in your life that trouble you come up one by one as you observe and simply repeat this idea: I could choose peace instead of this. And with each one, after you observe it and repeat this idea, let it go.

Letting it go seems like my nemesis. There’s one issue that’s currently prevalent in my life, and it has my stomach in knots far too often. It shakes my sense of self so much that I can too easily fall into self-doubt.

Does the following sound familiar:

My ego wants to be RIGHT about this; the way I feel about this situation must be RIGHT. How could I be WRONG? It seems so obvious that I am right, and I know a big handful of people that completely agree with me. This must definitely make me right, right?

Ugh, NO. It will never make you right because there isn’t a right or wrong, no matter how much you want to win. If it feels right to you, it’s right for YOU. If you’re trying to convince someone else to see it, and he/she just can’t. . . .well, that’s how it goes. People disagree. You can spin and spin your wheels trying to get someone to agree or to do what you want, and if they don’t see it they just don’t see it.

In the meantime, through all that spinning, you’re hurting yourself. Even if you’ve been unjustly wronged by someone else, when you’re spinning you’re hurting yourself.

I can actually feel my body tense when I think of this current situation in my life that has me convoluted. I can get a lump in my throat if I think of it too hard. I can break down and cry. But until I LET IT GO, I won’t have peace. And the hard truth is, if I’m not letting it go, then I’m not choosing peace.

I believe in affirmations. I believe that continuously affirming “I choose peace” will eventually bring peace to my life. Eventually this situation will fade or dissolve. Eventually I’ll have peace. But if I really want to, I can choose it right now. I can be okay with how I feel about it, and let go of the need to have anyone else see my point of view.

This isn’t about not standing up for “what’s right” or not taking action when it’s needed. This is about telling your ego to shut the hell up. This is about being steady in your Truth.

All those people throughout history that have instituted great change and inspired generations, do you think they were doing it for the sake of the drama or to appease their egos? They didn’t bother to fight about who was right or wrong; they just took action. They knew Truth, and they acted. They weren’t begging for approval.

When our bodies clench up in fear, something is amiss. In my case, it’s because I know I’m wrong. Not wrong about the issue at hand, but wrong about the fact that I’m swimming in drama instead of letting it go and accepting the peace the Universe has served up for me.

It’s not easy. But it’s simple.

I choose peace. I choose miracles. Not for anyone else’s approval, but simply for my own Truth. In my own Truth, I’m best equipped to serve the world.

And so I move onward. I hope you will too.

*Title taken from ACIM, Lesson 34

Love vs Self-Sacrifice

HafizI disappeared for a few days from cyberspace because I was nurturing my relationship with my partner. Somewhere around Monday, I started to feel a strong pull to get myself back home and back on track and back to writing and back to being focused on my son. Dating as a single mama is it’s own can of worms. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean.

One of my best friends asked me this week what I thought my followers would say if they knew I was so focused on my relationship. I hope what you’d say is I’m human. I’m a work in progress. I mess up. I mess up royally at times.

But here’s the thing: I’m still moving forward. Each moment when I lose myself, I actually learn something about myself, which means I grow, which means in those moments I have the opportunity to see myself, to know myself, to find myself.

What I want to share in this post doesn’t have to pertain to a partner or a romantic relationship; it can apply to any relationship in your life that you nurture first before you nurture your relationship with yourself. I’ll be honest; this life lesson is still tricky for me to balance.

This week my partner and I faced a conflict. And there we were, ego to ego, like two dogs fighting over a rope toy. Neither of us wanted to let go.

I’ve always been an action person; letting go seems the opposite of action.  The concept was foreign to me when I first began my practice of it about five years ago (at the time I was going through divorce after eight years of marriage). If your ego is strong enough, sometimes you need something life altering to sweep in and force you to let go. It was divorce and infidelity that forced me to let go. What choice did I have? I could fight and make myself miserable, or I could let go and choose to create the life I’d always dreamed of. It was that first time that I let go in my life that I began choosing miracles, though in the midst of it I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. At the time I was merely trying to survive.

In my current relationship, there are many moments when I must let go, when the argument of who is right and who is wrong doesn’t apply. There isn’t a right or wrong, no matter how much your ego wants to convince you otherwise. We are all on different journeys.

This recent silly battle went on between my partner and I for about 4 days. My ego was so justified that it almost convinced me to walk away. And then somehow, I let go. And I got in my car and drove to his house, and we barely discussed it again. Because as soon as my ego stopped it’s fight, there was no conflict.

I don’t say this to make it sound simple. It’s not; at times it’s excruciating. But Love is the ongoing act of forgiveness. Love is the letting go. Love is choosing something Higher. Love is hitting the reset button.

This doesn’t mean you sacrifice yourself.

Yes, our partners need us, our kids need us, but when your energy is continuously going into your family, you start to unravel and lose your center. How does it work in your house? In my house, I become irritable. I get tired. It’s physically draining to give of your energy without refilling your tank.

So many of us think that our partners should refill our tanks. Certainly there should be an even exchange of energy, but the most important thing you can do is refill your own tank.

Shortly after the separation from my husband, I was blessed to meet a man who held up a mirror for me and reminded me of my beauty. His time in my life was brief, but he was sent to me to teach me something very profound. Aside from any romantic attraction, I felt pure Love. For the first time in my life, I realized that it was in my loving him that my tank was filled. We didn’t need to come together; he didn’t need to love me back. The hole I felt from my husband leaving wasn’t filled with this man’s attention or time. It was filled with my ability to love purely with NO expectation of return.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Hafiz quotes: “Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth: ‘You owe me’. Look what happens with a Love like that. It lights the whole Sky.”

I’m glad I got in my car and drove to see my partner the other night, but the real truth is, had I been nurturing myself with self-Love and had I been sending him Love with no expectation of return, I wouldn’t have had to make that trip in order to let go. I would’ve let go right from the comfort of my own home.

Always learning, always growing. When conflict comes, it’s a chance to find myself. I forgive myself when I fall down. Learning ME is the miracle, and I’m choosing miracles.



Photo by Joseph Vasquez

Yesterday I was flooded with Light at the writing workshop I facilitate at the county jail. We may not think of Light being in there. I’ll be honest: many times it doesn’t seem to be. But that’s not because there isn’t Light inside everyone there, it’s because as souls living in this human experience we keep shutting that Light down out of fear.

If we recognize and dissolve fear sooner, maybe we never have to suffer. Maybe the struggle thrives in the fear of releasing what we know, which is, all too often, fear itself. It’s the fear that holds us back, and then it’s the fear of fear that holds us back even further.

There are some people that don’t know “there’s a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that is going to eat you.”*

Here’s the miracle: we get to decide what’s real for us. That choice is part of our journey.

Yesterday one woman wrote about being in fear to actually articulate any of her “sins”. It resonated with me; I grew up in a Midwestern town where “confessing sins” in front of large groups of people was thought to be healing.

What’s healing for you is exactly what’s healing for YOU. So if confessing your errors in front of groups of people can free you, than that’s healing. But for this woman, she was so wrapped up in a need of approval (as so many of us are) that the idea of “confessing” to a group was debilitating. It created more shame for her.

She can’t yet see that the healing is between her and herself. All she has to do is forgive herself for whatever it is she’s so afraid to say. She’s not a violent criminal; she’s never physically harmed another being. She has shortfalls that are human and that just happened to land her here.

She was brave enough to share one of her “confessions” with us: One day, she got home late from work and found a bowl of peanut butter on the counter with a spoon in it. She asked her husband why it was there. He said, “That was your son’s lunch.” She has been carrying shame around about this peanut butter lunch for years. THIS is the sort of thing she’s been holding onto.

So many of us are mamas, so many of us are fathers, so many of us are caregivers, are wives, are partners. Life asks a lot from us, right? I will say my son has never eaten only peanut butter for lunch, but that’s only because he’s allergic. He’s eaten carrot sticks and cheese sticks for lunch. He’s eaten cereal on occasion. He’s eaten goldfish. And some days we just snack around all day with apples and things from the garden and popcorn with a movie and a little guacamole: random things around that are healthy enough. Things that are fueling his growth in the same way peanut butter could.

The biggest take away from my day was the judgment we all too quickly pass on one another. I can assume that if I didn’t live alone at length with a toddler that meals might have looked different. But as a mom, my job is to feed him and nourish him. We don’t have to cook all day long. In fact, if we do, we cook and clean and cook and clean and cook and clean once more. If this is powerful for you and healing for you, it’s a victory. For others of us, we have a need to express, and we need to take time to put ourselves out in the world and live in our purpose. And really, what could be more nourishing for our children than us actually taking the time to Love ourselves?

I could tell hearing this woman’s voice that it wasn’t healing and powerful for her to make perfect meals. She said herself that she had trouble letting go of that, trouble letting go of trying to be the perfect mother.

We ARE perfect mothers because we ARE perfect mothers. The moment we begin to compare our story to another’s, it’s no longer us; it’s our ego. The moment we’re in ego, we’re in fear. And in fear, we can’t nourish anyone.

Compassion is a choice of Love. Yesterday in that group, progress was made for every person in the room. I’m grateful. It was another day of miracles.

Try starting the day out with an intention. I started yesterday (thanks to my tea bag) with compassion. And I ended up here full of gratitude. It’s a choice.

* quote by Jim Carrey, Graduation Address to the Class of 2014, Maharishi University


Jail Mamas


I had a loved one end up in this place; my perspective shifted dramatically. I’d never stepped foot in a jail or prison, unless you want to count my tour of Alcatraz. I had no idea what to expect. Here’s what I found: humanity, humanity in many of the inmates, humanity in the visitors showing up to support them. Being an empath, I also could feel great heaviness. So I went as much as I could and wrote as much as I could and took phone calls as much as I could because the fact is everyone in there needs a little bit of Light. (All of us out here do too.)

If you’ve never been in this place, you might take for granted that every time you step out your door, even if it’s a short walk to the car, you get a breath of Light. The air cleanses you just a bit. It helps us to keep up with all the other garbage that floats in and out of our days. In there, there isn’t healing air.

I also learned that many people there don’t have a strong support system outside, or their families don’t have enough money to travel or visit or take phone calls. And so, this seemed clear to me: I need to go in and bring Light. I do it by leading a writing workshop at the local jail.

I worked with the men for some time, and recently I’ve been working with the women: jail mamas. What’s incredible is that they bring me Light too when I’m there. It’s so moving; each time I leave there I’m literally a different human being.

Yesterday I brought half of my St. Lawrence class in with me. I did a brief reading, and then we wrote letters to our former selves. Holy wow. If anything about that idea seems silly to you, I challenge you to get out the pen and paper and do it.

These women, all but one, are mamas; all are so open to share their work and experiences. They read their letters, and though each was different, they all resonated with me. My SLU students connected too, but I think my connection was so intense because their stories were all about being mamas.

What resonated the most with me was one woman who talked about her family and talked about how much she tried to make everything perfect. When the family went out, the kids had to have on the “right” outfits, and their hair needed to be combed. Dinners had to be perfect. She was trying to create the shit we saw on the television in the 60s. Families are perfect just because they are, not because they do everything “right” and please all their neighbors. That clear need for approval resonated with me, also the urge to control, to get it “right.” I don’t know why she’s in there, but I can tell you from her letter that it took this trip to this place to get her to LET GO of control and realize that each moment is a miracle exactly AS IT IS.

I have never lost my freedom in that way, but I can imagine that if you walk away not realizing the value of each moment, then you might have missed something while you were there.

There was one underlying theme for all of us, inmates and college students alike: there was a fear of not being good enough. There was a deep craving in all the letters for approval. What else was also true for ALL the letters is that each and every person writing back to their former selves had ALL the answers they needed to thrive in life. Isn’t that the truth?

Write a letter to yourself. Give yourself a little advice, a little encouragement. You’ll realize that there are different aspects of you, and the one that has the answers and knows your path is the one you have to start listening to.

It’s beautiful to hear how people learn and grow. It’s also heart breaking because there she still sits. But it’s a victory because she sees. It’s amazing that sometimes buried in darkness, we can still see. It’s simply because there is still Light, even if it is dim. The Light is INside us. We just have to accept that Truth and let it abolish the darkness.

Another day of gratitude. It’s a choice. I’m choosing miracles.