The Business of Forgiveness

“Forgiveness of myself and others releases me from the past. Forgiveness is the answer to almost every problem. Forgiveness is a gift to myself. I forgive, and I set myself free.”

~Louise Hay

Powerful words and, for many of us, difficult words to say. If we want to create our authentic lives, we have to be willing to put the past to rest, and that means forgiving everyone and everything in our past that we believe has kept us, or is still keeping us, from living an authentic, happy life. That includes forgiving ourselves as well. Forgiving ourselves for causing our own unhappiness is probably the hardest pill to swallow and most often is the place we need to start from if we are to make any headway in our journey to wholeness and happiness.

I know lots of people, myself included, who swear that they have put the past to rest and have done heaps of forgiveness, but haven’t quite gotten the message that forgiving ourselves is an ongoing job. When it comes to ourselves, our business is forgiveness. Let me give you an example.

I was in a really crummy mood yesterday. I’m still not sure exactly what got me there. Perhaps it wasn’t just one thing, but a series of things that, like dominoes, just continued to fall until my whole day was spent in negativity. When I finally sat myself down and got a hold of my emotions, I automatically went into blame mode: “You write about this stuff, for heaven’s sake! You’re supposed to be this being of happiness and joy, and yet here you are sabotaging a perfectly good day because of some computer glitches and other people’s bad attitudes. Some spiritual person you are!”

It’s so easy to fall back into patterns of behavior that we thought we’d left behind. If you realize that coming into this new awareness of the power of our thoughts and the freedom to choose better ones is a recent phenomenon in our lives, while the pattern of negative thoughts and behaviors have been with us since we were kids, you realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are we. It takes a lifetime of constantly being aware of our thoughts, aware of the power of the present moment to turn things around, and the power of forgiveness when we forget these things, to change a crummy mood to a lovely mood.

After I took the reins of my thoughts back from my ego, I sat myself down and did one of my favorite Davidji meditations: “Today, I begin again.” We all get another chance, day after day, moment after moment, to take back our runaway thoughts and direct them towards happiness. Discovering our authenticity, and living it every day, is not a once and done thing; it’s an ongoing, moment-to-moment journey, and in every moment we have to be willing to forgive ourselves when we step off the path:

I forgive, and I set myself free.

This week’s assignment over on the Home Page is going to ask us to practice forgiveness. Just like writing and meditating, forgiveness is also a practice. Our goal is to get really, really good at it!

Peace and blessings.

 

 

 

A Life Without Want

“What’s it like to be me without wanting?”

I let these words sink in for a few moments. What a powerful question!

I was watching a video by Robert Holden, Ph.D., author, teacher, host of an online radio show on Hay House called “Shift Happens,” and creator of the first Happiness Project, funded by the National Health Service in the U.K. in 1994. The video was a very informative and, at times hilarious, TEDx  Findhorn speech called The Tea Ceremony. I’ve been a fan of Robert’s for several years now. Aside from his soft, adorable accent and his endearing sense of humor, Robert’s entire career has been about teaching people how to love and be loved, and how to be happy. Every once in a while, however, he stops me in my tracks with something so profound that I have to step back and examine it … and do some very deep soul searching. This was one of those times.

What’s it like to be me without wanting? At first, I thought how impossible that would be until I separated out the idea of “needs” vs “wants.” So I eliminated basic “needs” like food, shelter, clothing, meaningful employment and rest, which left “wants.” Had I missed anything? What about love? Is love a “want” or a “need?” I decided that is was definitely a “need.” Studies had proven that children who are not loved do not thrive as they should. So if we added love to the “needs” list, what was there left to want?

I started a list of the most common things that people usually say they want. It looked something like this:

  • Money
  • the perfect partner
  • the perfect body
  • career advancement
  • the perfect house
  • a nice car
  • to be happy
  • friends

I looked at the list and decided that it was a pretty fair representation of what the majority of people strive to attain in their lives, their wants. Then I noticed that one item on the list wasn’t something to get, but something to be – happy. Happiness is a state of being, not a state of having.

I decided to devote one whole day to just being happy. As long as my basic needs were met, was it possible to go through a whole day without wanting and just “be”? As it turned out, it was much harder to do than you would think. oh, sure, there were moments when my mind said things like: “I want cup of coffee, ” or, “I want to read my new book,” or things to that effect. Those things were not life changing thoughts, just representations of a normal, daily life. However, what did surprise me was how many times during the day that I found my thoughts wandering into the realm of “want” as something that I thought would make my life more acceptable not only to others, but mostly to myself.

Here are a few examples:

  • Looking through a magazine, I was taken by what I thought was the “perfect” love seat for my TV/reading area and I felt myself really and truly “wanting” it (was it for comfort, or to impress people who came to visit me?).
  • During my morning walk I passed by someone’s front garden and “wanted” to be able to have one just like it (“want” equaled “jealousy”).
  • While putting on my sneakers to go out, I decided I “wanted” a new pair, not because the old ones were no longer serviceable, but because I “wanted” ones that were more fashionable (“wanting” a better self-image).
  • Standing in front of my refrigerator, which was full from my shopping trip the day before, I decided that what I really “wanted” was some fried rice and veggies from the Chinese restaurant down the block (was I really hungry, or simply not satisfied with what I had?).
  • Sitting at my desk writing, I looked up and out of the window for a moment and spotted a car going by, the exact make, model and color that I have “wanted” for quite a while. I even caught myself thinking: “That’s MY car they’re driving!” (that one felt like it encompassed all of the above!).

Some of these might sound like little things to you, and maybe they were, but the idea was that it is from wanting these little things that we graduate to wanting the big things, things we think we must have in order to have a perfect, happy life. The idea behind this experiment was not to learn about getting a perfect life, it was about learning what a happy, contented life was – a life without wants; a life that was about gratitude, acceptance, and – dare I say it – authenticity. Our authentic lives do not come with new clothes, new cars or perfectly manicured gardens. They come whole and complete just as they are, just as we do.

This week, as we work on our writing assignment over on the Home Page, I invite you to ask yourself the same question: “What’s it like to be me without wanting?” Can you go a whole day without wanting things beyond your basic needs and daily living? I think you’re going to come to some interesting conclusions about yourself and about the authentic life that you want to create. As always, have fun and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

 

 

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!

When we are in our 20’s, the world is this immense,  magical place where we can spread our wings and soar as far and as high as we want. We have all the time in the world and our whole lives before us. Somewhere in middle age we reach that halfway point where we look at how far we’ve come and start to get nervous if we aren’t where we thought we would be, or should be, at this stage of our lives. We have a whole new perspective on time now, and from this vantage point, time is running out. Then one day we wake up and find that we are 60 years old and come to the conclusion that our best years are behind us. Or, are they? What if I told you that your best years are just ahead of you?

Think about it. You have 30 or 40 years of experience in living in your repertoire. If you wanted advice on running a business, wouldn’t you be more likely to listen to someone with 40 years of experience in the business world? If you wanted advice on relationships, wouldn’t you go to someone who had 30 or 40  years of experience relating to people? When I see how huge the profession of Life Coach has become in our society, I often wonder how many folks who think that they need one could probably be one based on their life experience. You are an endless fountain of wisdom, knowledge and experience on living. The proof of that? You’re still here!

Just think what you can do with all of that experience! You’ve been around the block a few times (okay, maybe lots more than a few times), and you know where all the pitfalls are. You know what works and what doesn’t. You know what instinctively feels right and what doesn’t. You know who your tribe is, and who you would like in your tribe. Nope, your best years are not behind you. Your best years are in front of you! With all of that experience, wisdom and knowledge at your fingertips, you are in a place where you can shout to the world: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Imagine the authentic life you can create from that kind of mindset!

So this week for our writing assignment  over on the Home Page, we’re going to sit down and take an inventory of how great we really are! It’s time for us to take stock of our internal assets! As always, have fun and keep writing.

Peace and blessings.

One Of A Kind

I was listening to a talk the other day on finding your life’s purpose. I was gathering material for a chapter in a book that I am working on, and as I sat there taking notes I suddenly paused when one of the speakers said: “There is no one else on earth exactly like you. You are the only one. So when you discover what your purpose is, you must follow it and share it with the world, because there is no one else who can do it the way that only you can.”

That statement really blew me away. If that was true, than all of those people who have made tremendous contributions to the world, like finding cures for diseases, inventing things that have changed the way we live our lives, discovering electricity, for heaven’s sake … all those things could only have been done by the people who did them because there was no one else exactly like them who could have done it! So how do I feel about the idea that there is only one of me, there will never be another person exactly like me, and that what I do, I do because no one else can do it the way that I can? Quite honestly, my first reaction was fear: “Wow, Barb, no pressure there, right?” Then I gave it some more thought. I have always known that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve known it since the age of 5. So writing, or the sharing of thoughts, ideas and stories, is my passion. Since no one else has lived my actual life, I am clearly the only one who can write from my perspective. Sure, I have sisters, and they grew up with me in the same household, with the same parents, in pretty much the same time period give or take a few years, but neither of them have looked at the world through the eyes of a writer. Writers see the world in an entirely different context than non-writers do, and only this writer, who grew up in this neighborhood, at this period in time, can share her stories with the world as only she can. Therefore, in the final analysis, I guess the speaker was absolutely correct.

So what do we do with this information? We continue to create our authentic lives and share our passions with the world just as authentically because that is who we are, and there is no one on the earth who can do it the way that we can. We are absolutely one of a kind. It reminds me of something a co-worker once said to me in jest as part of a team building exercise: “Barb, when they made you, they threw away the mold.” I bet she had no idea how right she was!

This week’s assignment is going to ask you to examine this concept and see what effect it has on how you are creating your authentic life. As always, have fun, and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

Happy Birthday To Me!

On Tuesday, July 25, I turn 68 years old. On my blog, “Flower Bear’s Garden-Growing A Life,” (www.flowerbearsgarden.blogspot.com), I wrote about the sacred gifts that I receive every day, gifts that money can’t buy but that are priceless experiences. I talked about the gifts that come through our senses and fill us with awe, joy and contentment. What I didn’t mention is that every year on my birthday, as well as Mother’s Day and Christmas, I give myself a gift. It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything huge, but it usually is something that only I would think to give myself.

One year I adopted a wolf. A wildlife organization was looking for sponsors to support  their efforts to help the grey wolf population thrive while learning all about their habits and lifestyle. I sponsored an adult female wolf named Weyekin, a word that comes from the Nez Perce Indians that means, “spirit guide.”  For the small amount of money that I contributed, I received her picture, her history and so much more. I learned about how wolves embrace the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and how wolf packs work together, always, for what is in the best interest of all.

One year I treated myself to a workshop in how to find and pursue your passion. It was before I ever wrote a blog, although I had used writing in one form or another in many of the jobs I held over the years – work I did for someone else but for which I did not get the recognition (my boss got that). It was the first step on a path that took me to places inside me I never knew were there, and, coincidentally, I met a lovely woman who just happened to have a job for my at-the-time unemployed self. Talk about a return on your investment.

Another time I gave myself a weekend at-home retreat. My oldest daughter had given me a “Retreat In A Box” for Christmas but I had been too busy to use it. I choose a weekend when I knew my family would all be busy or away, turned off the phone/computer/TV, etc. and treated myself as if I were at a center for spiritual healing. I woke early, meditated, completed a morning yoga practice, cooked and ate delicious, healthy and organic meals (planned and prepped ahead), took walks, wrote in my journal, meditated some more, did some more yoga, took a long, spa-like bath, read, and turned in early each day (I started on a Friday night and ended it on Sunday night). It was the best stay-cation of my life and all it cost me was the price of the food I prepared. I coasted on that high for weeks!

The best presents we can give ourselves are the ones that heal our body, mind and soul, and that enable us to share our gifts with the world. When we are healthy, happy and whole, those around us reap the benefits as well.

This week’s assignment is going to ask you to talk about how you can treat yourself to a gift that keeps on giving. As always, have fun, and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.

Excuse Me, Have We Met Before?

Some years ago I was driving with my boss from upstate New York to White Plains, New York to attend a regional meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association. We were representing their South Central New York Chapter where I worked. Being the passenger rather than the driver, I wasn’t really paying attention to which numbered road or highway we were on. It was a lovely day and I was sitting back and enjoying the scenery, having never driven this section of the state before. We were passing by what looked like some woods when all of a sudden my breath caught in my throat, a knot formed in my stomach, and a feeling of longing came over me so strongly that I can only describe it as extreme homesickness. Now remember, I had never been in this section of New York before, yet somehow I knew it as well as I knew the neighborhood where I lived now.

When I arrived back home a few days later, I told my sister about what happened and we consulted a Native American teacher that she was studying with. My sister and I had only recently discovered that my mother, who was adopted and never knew her biological parents, was very likely one of the thousands of Native American children taken from their tribes and adopted out into the white community. The teacher told us that I reacted the way I had because I had been there before in a previous life. She explained that our ancestral genes, our blood memory, if you will, never forgets where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced. She also said that it explained why we will sometimes meet someone for the very first time and instantly feel as if we’ve known them all our lives or, at the very least, have met them somewhere and sometime before. This is where we get the idea of soul mates from.

I took some time and sat in meditation, trying to bring up the image of the parcel of land I had seen from the highway. It looked very much like old woods or a state park of some kind. I imagined myself entering the woods from the road and walking through it. I instinctively knew every path, where the streams were, where the bridges were, and the location of a small cabin. I then went to the library to check out state parks in the White Plains area and, lo and behold, there in pictures that looked remarkably like the pictures in my imagination, was Saxon Woods. I called my mother and asked her if we had ever taken a trip there when I was a small child. She said no, we’d never been anywhere in that area.

Everyone at one time or another has experienced this sort of deja vu, this feeling that we’ve been somewhere before, or that we’ve met someone before, even though we know deep down inside that we haven’t. What if our teacher was right? What if this experience, this feeling, was the result of something that had happened to us in a previous life? And, what if who we were in that previous life was the one who was tapping us on the shoulder and whispering in our ear that we weren’t living our authentic lives now? It’s a fascinating idea! For a long time after that event all those years ago, I would catch myself from time to time looking in the mirror and asking the woman who looked back: “Who are you, really? What do you have to tell me? What do I need to know?”

So, dear friends, this is the idea I am leaving you with this week: “Who were you before you were you?” What insights or subtle shoulder tapping have you experienced in your life? Over on the Home Page, our assignment for this week is part make-believe and part “What If?” As always, have fun with it, and, remember: Whatever you do, keep writing!

Peace and blessings!

 

Meeting Cary Grant

Even though I haven’t lived in the place of my birth and upbringing, the Big Apple, for over 40 years, and spent most of my first 21 years dreaming of getting out of the city and adopting country life, I have to say that I wouldn’t have traded some of the experiences I had growing up there. When other kids were having school trips to local sights of educational interest, my class trips were to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the U.N, Shakespeare in the Park, The Statue of Liberty, and several trips to the top of the Empire State Building, to name just a few. In high school the honor roll kids got to go to a Wednesday matinee of a Broadway play. As wonderful and educational as it was, one of my favorite parts of growing up there was how casual New Yorkers are to seeing famous people on the street – they’re just too “uptown” to shriek and point.

When the English Invasion hit New York City (The Beatles and those that came after them for those of you too young to remember), you could find some of them taking a stroll through Central Park before they appeared on the Sunday Ed Sullivan Show. When I got older and was working in the city, some of us would go out after work on a Friday night. It wasn’t unusual to see football legend Joe Namath standing outside of a club in that famous, huge fur coat of his, smiling and waving with a girl on each arm. Comedian Nipsy Russell used to stand on street corners reciting his hilarious poetry. Peter, Paul and Mary, and other folk greats, could be found in and around the coffee houses in the village. Everyone took it in stride and so did I for the most part except for one thing … I had a burning desire to meet Cary Grant!

Okay, now I’m really showing my age. Cary Grant, for you youngsters, was the original Mr. Dreamy. He was handsome, debonair, smart, romantic, witty, and my idea of the perfect man. I watched him in “An Affair to Remember” so many times I’ve lost count, and cried at the end each and every time. From age 18 to 21 when I was working in Manhattan, Cary Grant had come on board as the spokesperson and member of the board of directors for Faberge, a cosmetics company. Because I worked in the corporate headquarters of a textile manufacturer, I always had a copy of Women’s Wear Daily, the bible of the fashion industry, at hand, which also gave out which important person was in town. That’s how I knew when HE was in the city attending a board meeting. I would take my lunch hour and go stand across the street from the Faberge offices just to hopefully catch a glimpse of him coming or going. I did this for months and months until, one day, finally, a limo pulled up and he came out of the building to get in it. My heart stopped and, unfortunately, so did my feet. I was rooted to the spot. Here he was, my hero, my perfect man, and I couldn’t move. Just before he got into the car, he looked up … and smiled that beautiful smile. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! It was all over in an instant, but it is engraved into my heart and my memory for all time.

All of us have our own ideas of what makes someone a hero, or a knight in shinning armor, or a model of greatness. Each of us has that one person that we would give our eye teeth and a pint of blood to meet even for a moment. Maybe you already have. Or, maybe they have already passed from this life to the next. Who and what they represented to you is still crystal clear in your mind. What they mean to you has a place in your authentic life because it is a part of who you are. It is only natural, then, that their contribution to your own identity is worth recognizing and exploring.

So this week I’m going to ask you: who is your Cary Grant? Who is that one person you would give the world to spend just an hour with? Who has had a lasting impact on your life? We all have them, and often we don’t even realize what ideals and beliefs they have left stamped on our ideas about ourselves and about life. So head on over to the Home Page and get ready for a little hero worship!

Peace and blessings.

A Nice Place To Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want To Live There

I had a profound dream the other night. I don’t know what prompted it. Perhaps I saw or heard something in passing that my subconscious registered while my conscious mind did not. In any case, it was one of those dreams that are so real, all of my senses were involved. It went back a good 40 years or so. My daughters were just little girls, perhaps ages 4 and 5. At first we are having a picnic at a part near where we lived at the time. The girls are playing on the jungle gym and dashing around. My oldest, a little less adventurous than her sister when it came to things like hanging upside down, was giving the climb her undivided attention. My younger daughter, the bold and daring one, fearlessly climbed and swung as if she had been born to it. Then the dream changed and the three of us are sitting on the sofa watching something on TV, a Disney show of some kind, I think. Both the girls have just come out of their baths and I can smell the “babyness” of them still even though being thought of as a baby was already, at 4 and 5, beneath their dignity! There was Tara, her beautiful brown eyes intently fixed on the screen and her curly hair made even curlier from the steam of the bath, and little Barbara, with her Buster Brown hair cut and impish blue eyes that found mischief wherever she looked.

I don’t know what made me wake up. Perhaps my dear cat, Laura, who decided that, although it is already light out before 6 a.m. these days, daylight means mealtime regardless of what the clock says, nuzzled me awake. Maybe it was a truck going by. All that I know is that when I woke up, I was crying. I hadn’t wanted to leave that dream. My “babies” were little again, and I got to hold them, and play with them, and start again, perhaps to do a better job than I did when I didn’t know any better. The feeling followed me all day. Where did it all go? How is it possible that my girls are approaching that dreaded cultural stamp of “middle age,” my youngest has a 23-year-old daughter who has made me a great-grandma, and my oldest grandson just graduated high school? Wait! Stop! I want a “do-over!” I want to go back and do it again, only better this time.

There is an anonymous quote that says:

“The past is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

If there is one thing that can keep us from creating the authentic life we deserve, it’s in the past. Sure, there are some beautiful, very special memories that we certainly wouldn’t want to erase. Yet the past is where, through trial and error, we laid the foundation for the work that we are doing now. I don’t mean work in the career sense. I mean the work of becoming who we truly are and building a life that is truly ours. That dream was a message from my Witness who needed to remind me that my time with my girls taught me some very important things about myself, things that I may sometimes forget, or that I put on the back burner while I’m so busy making a life that I’m not actually living it.

No, I can’t go back and do it all again. Maybe, if those who believe in reincarnation are right, I may get a chance to be a Mom all over again and, maybe, I’ll be able to take the lessons I learned – both the failures and the successes – with me. On the other hand, maybe I can take what I’ve learned and use it now. Not only will it serve to make my authentic life even stronger, but it is something I can pass on to the generations that have come after me:

Hey, kids, never get so busy that you forget about things like hugs, and kisses, and fresh-out-of-the-bath baby smells, and little kid giggles, and picnics in the park, because one day you will wake up and they will all be gone.

This week over on the Home Page, we’re going to find a treasure that we want to share. You may have to do a little digging, but you won’t need any tools. You may, however, want to bring a box of tissues along.

Peace and blessings.

 

 

 

The Most Authentic Character You’ll Ever Meet

I have spent much of the last few years trying to learn all that I can about creating and living an authentic life. I have searched the world over for examples of people who personify what authentic living is all about. Although I did find a few folks, (some famous, like the Dalai Lama, and some just regular people like you and me), I finally found the perfect example of what authentic living looks like by hanging out in my very favorite place on earth … in fact, on the earth itself, namely, in nature. In my lifetime I have discovered time and again that nature provides us with all the knowledge and wisdom we need. In this case, the example is not some single, unique thing. In fact, there are millions of them, if not billions, and you can find them just by stepping out of your front door or looking out of your window. I am referring to trees.

I am being totally honest when I say that a tree is a living example of what it means to be authentic. In fact, I spent the two years before I moved last November making friends with a huge old tree that stood at the foot of my driveway. She and I became quite close and just by watching her do her thing throughout the seasons, I came to understand not only what authenticity was, but integrity as well. Here is what I learned:

  • A tree never worries about how it compares to the other trees. It is content being who and what it is.
  • A tree can lose its leaves in the autumn and not fall into panic mode wondering if it needs a dose of Rogaine to grow them back. They have faith in who and what they are, and know that, come spring, their leaves will come back just as beautiful as before.
  • “No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.” (Native American Proverb).
  • A tree shows up every day and performs its job, helping to keep the air clean, with no thought of reward, promotion or recognition.
  • A tree generously and lovingly gives of itself to provide homes for birds, squirrels, insects and other creatures, shielding them from the elements, offering its seeds, branches and leaves for food and building materials. It never demands payment or even a thank you.
  • A tree knows that the time will come when it may begin to crumble and lose some of its limbs, and perhaps even come crashing down one day from the force of a storm or just from old age. It doesn’t panic when it sees the first wrinkle or crack and search the internet for any and all anti-aging products it can find. It accepts that there is a cycle of life and it is part of it.
  • Even when its days are over, and the pieces of its trunk and branches are being hauled away, it has left behind a legacy deep beneath the ground. There it has planted roots and seeds that will nourish the next generation. That is its legacy.

If any of you follow my blog, “Flower Bear’s Garden-Growing A Life,” you may remember a post I did a few years back about a particular tree and my oldest granddaughter. Years ago when I was living along the river in the picturesque town of Marathon, New York, there was a huge tree that could be seen on the river bank across from my front windows. My granddaughter, who was 4 or 5 at the time, had named the tree Grandmother Willow after a character in the Disney re-make of the Pocahontas story. She would bring it presents of food and flowers, play underneath the canopy of its branches, and talked to it all the time. A few years ago, Grandmother Willow (which was actually not a willow but a maple tree) came down in a storm during a particularly nasty winter. The following spring, while visiting the town for its annual maple festival, my granddaughter, now in her 20’s, was horrified to see her beloved friend lying in pieces on the ground. I pointed to the hollowed out base of what was left of her trunk. “Look, honey. See those brand new shoots coming up? Those are her children, coming to take her place. She’s not gone. A piece of her will live on forever.”

An authentic life is accepting who you are at every stage of your life, doing what you were intended to do when you were created, sharing your gifts with the world and finding a way to be of service. Trees do it all the time, and so can we.

The assignment this week on the Home Page is a fun exercise in using our creativity and imagination … and maybe a little of our inner child.

Peace and blessings.

 

 

You Must Be Present To Win

I have been reading a great deal lately on the wisdom of The Eight Limbs of Yoga and Tibetan Buddhism as it applies to our Western trained minds. I am currently enjoying the classic Awakening The Buddha Within,” by American author and Buddhist teacher, Lama Surya Das. The author has a lovely sense of humor when trying to compare how our minds are always everywhere else but where we actually are. He says:

“Of course, we are usually sort of elsewhere and not fully present, but, as in some prize drawings, you must be present to win.”

For all that I looked for a good example of this in his book, the place where I actually found what I was seeking was, naturally, in the present moment in my own life. The person who gifted me this example was not some famous author or spiritual teacher. It was my 10-year-old granddaughter.

Gabriella, (Gabby for short), loves to cook. I gifted her my old, tattered copy of The Betty Crocker Cookbook, the bible of cooking when I was a young bride decades ago. Watching Gabby work her way through a recipe is a lesson in being present. Her focus is on the ingredients, following each line one at a time, and being mindful of each step. Her concentration is totally on what she is doing to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. In any other area of her life, her mind is all over the place just like any 10-year-old, but in the kitchen she is totally present. She shows up as the cook she wishes to be.

How do we show up in our lives? Creating an authentic life is fine and dandy but if we don’t show up for it, what good was all the work we put into creating it? It’s like mixing the ingredients for the ultimate chocolate cake and then forgetting about it, leaving the batter in the bowl to turn hard and useless. We have to put that cake in the oven, keep our attention on the temperature and the time, and the enjoy the finished product. We have to allow ourselves to lick the spoon, inhale the aroma and taste that cake with every fiber of our being.

The same holds true for our lives. We have to allow ourselves to “lick that spoon,” and be there for every minute of it. We need to engage all of our physical senses as well as our spiritual and mental senses and experience every moment. In this way we are not only truly living the authentic life we have created, but we are also showing up in the world as an example of what authentic living is for those around us. Who knows how far our light will shine?

This week’s assignment on the Home Page is going to ask you to “whip up a recipe for living.” As always, have fun with it, stay present, and keep writing!

Peace and blessings.