Loving is Listening

Have you ever told someone in the morning that you want to talk with them when you get home from work and then say something like, “And, you’re not going to like what I have to say?” I have, until I realized saying something like that sets people up to be defensive and to spend the day thinking about how bad the conversation will be when you get home.

No matter how difficult it is to honestly and openly share what you must (hard conversations) with the people in your life, be respectful and think how it feels to be on the receiving end of your words before you say them. Put yourself in their position.  One reason relationships fail is due to a lack of clear, honest and respectful communication.

For your peace of mind and to come away from an exchange without regret, do your best to say what you must without anger, blame, or expectations of how your words will be received.  State your concerns then allow the other person to do the same. Listen carefully to what is being said without allowing your mind to think about what you are going to say in response.  We cannot form a response and listen at the same time. So really listen to the words of others with your heart and you will hear what the other person is saying.  Only when you have actually listened to what someone says can you form the best response.

This week remain mindful of what you say and how you say it.  Is what you say clear?  Do you give all of the information necessary to get your point across?  Are your words gentle and supportive, or harsh and reprimanding?  Do you listen to others with a quiet mind?

Your words define you, to yourself and to others. You are the one who is responsible for how your words either hurt or heal, are clear or confusing, supportive or derogatory.  Remember, the words you choose are powerful representations of how much you love and respect yourself, or not. The same is true of how you listen. Truly listening to another person is how you love and respect him or her too.

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Forgiveness is Freedom

I went downstairs this afternoon to water my flowers to discover my hose has been stolen.  Last week someone took my other hose so maybe the same person returned to take my last hose and the hose reel.  I feel violated. I know it’s only a hose but they were my hoses.

There were times in my past when I stole things too – $20 out of my dad’s wallet, etc. But that was before I was emotionally responsible for my behavior. That is, I now purposefully stop to think how it feels to be on the receiving end of hurtful behavior. Once I woke up emotionally to care how it feels to be in the shoes of someone else, there is no way I would steal anything now. It feels bad and I do not want to cause anyone to feel like that.  I also now hold myself to a higher standard of moral and ethical behavior.

Yes, I was angry at first. But I have now forgiven the person(s) who took my hoses because there is nothing good for me that will come from wishing them ill will.  I can only hope they wake up someday soon, to care how their actions impact other people. For now they have reminded me how grateful I am to have learned the value of behaving responsibly and respectfully because that is worth the cost of a million hoses.

You Are What You Allow In

Everything I watch on television or in a movie adds something positive to my life. How can that be when there is so much negative in the media? No, I am not oblivious to the negative that goes on in the world. But when it comes to what I feed my mind and soul on a regular basis I intentionally choose positive.

Your thoughts create your behavior. Your behavior creates your life. Carefully choose what you allow into your mind and heart on a regular basis because what you focus on you create.  That means the more positive you put in to your mind and heart the more positive life will be.

Yes, You Can

Every success you achieve in life is the result of your being emotionally invested in the outcome to the point you actually make yourself take the actions necessary to realize the goal. You are the one in charge of your destiny.


Boundaries are Spiritually Responsible

There is a perception those who live a spiritual life are submissive and must turn the other cheek regardless how we are treated. While tolerance, patience, cooperation, forgiveness, and peacefulness are behaviors of living aligned with soul, so is standing up for what is right. To respectfully but firmly set boundaries is spiritually responsible because boundaries bring a higher level of awareness to the situation than that which created it in the first place.

De-stress by De-cluttering!

There was a time when I believed things brought me happiness.  I spent way too much money surrounding myself with objects. But no matter how much stuff I had, my heart was still heavy and I was unfulfilled.  One day I realized things could not ever give me satisfaction or heal the emotional holes in my heart. I realized that things often had the opposite effect.

I was stressed and in debt from buying too many things.  My house was cluttered and so I was distracted and felt emotionally drained being surrounded by so much stuff.

Something I did to improve my mood and sense of well-being was to clean out and maintain clean spaces. This was and remains especially important since I live in a world where collecting seems to be a widespread obsession.

Over the course of a few months I picked up every object in my home and asked myself how I was impacted by it. Some of the items stored unpleasant memories. Keeping them around made me uncomfortable. If I did not love it or need it, or it did not uplift my heart, I gave it away.

Taking an emotional inventory of my possessions shifted something inside me. Releasing many of my “things” created a beneficial change in some long-held patterns about what really mattered and made me content. Cleaning up my outer environment helped me clean up my inner environment.

This week, take an honest inventory of your surroundings.  Are your living spaces (home, office, car, garage, storage shed, attic, etc.) clean and neat?  Or are they an unorganized and cluttered mess?  If so, how does it feel to be surrounded by so much stuff?  What objects are truly precious and which ones hold bad memories? Clean out, give away, or sell anything that is not necessary or does not bring you deep emotional satisfaction. Maintaining clean spaces will help you discover the truth of the saying, “Less (distractions, negative energy, clutter) is more (peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment).”



A big misconception we have about relationships is that we have the power to change someone else. If we’re more understanding, patient, loving, open, scream louder, say it in a different way, etc., then he or she will wake up and behave better.  If it were that easy you could wave a magic wand and the world would transform overnight. The truth is, each of us must admit there are things about our behavior that need changing. Then we need to take the actions necessary to create positive change.

You and I “wake up” through the process of our own inner deliberation. We question our thoughts, words and actions to honestly discover what WE, not someone else, are doing that is causing us to treat ourselves and others badly. This same process of self-evaluation is necessary for all of us to identify hurtful behavior, become emotionally responsible for our actions, and make positive changes to ourselves.

This week when you run into people who are rude, or want to start a fight, or who argue, blame and bully, take a deep breath and slowly count to five.  Give yourself time to stop your ego from impulsively wanting to box. Take five seconds to find your heart-center. Let the positive behaviors of love move you past ego.  Have compassion for those who have not yet found the courage and self-love to look honestly at their behavior.

Refuse to fight fire with fire. Bring a higher spiritual awareness to the situation by staying positive and you will walk away peaceful. And, while you behave positive for you, your kindness and peace may get others to look at their own behavior.  That is the power love has to bring a different level of awareness to the situation than what created it.  BE LOVE.


Happy New Year!

I used to ego-box with people. I went through life with a chip on my shoulder. My wounded sense of self (ego) could not hear reason, or determine what was best for me, or watch my actions to ensure I behaved in appropriate and responsible ways. My wounded ego was only interested in remaining the same, in blame, in projection, in defending its right to see what it wanted to see, to hear what it wanted to hear, and to invent countless reasons why I could not be completely free of its controlling and manipulative grasp.

To heal I had to take full responsibility for how my wounded ego was keeping control over me.  I had to be responsible for how my wounded ego inappropriately took my pain out on others. I had to intentionally wake up, grow up and stop acting like a victim of something beyond my control. I had to take control of my wounded sense of self by learning how to lead with my wise, peaceful and responsible heart/soul.

One of our great “‘aha” life-lessons is that the changes we long for from other people are actually the changes we need to make in ourselves. Self-assessment of our behavior is vital to creating the life we want. No, ego does not want to look at itself. Ego wants us to stay focused on the laundry list of what everyone else needs to do. It is our honest and responsible heart that wants us to courageously face our fears, identify negative thought patterns, look for limiting beliefs, and discover the ways we project unhealed stuff onto others.

This week, as we enter the new year, make a list of everything that is right with you. Then make an honest list of what you do not feel is right with you. Love yourself by allowing your heart/soul to reveal what about your behavior and thoughts are preventing you from having the best life. You don’t need to be afraid or upset if you do not like what you see. It is by identifying what needs to be changed that you put yourself on the right road to self-empowerment. Being courageously honest with yourself about yourself is the way to heal and grow so you have the best life.


Think About What You Think About

As an adult, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Growing up, I had a horrible time in school and with any activity where I had to sit still and concentrate.  That made college so difficult I graduated with poor grades. It also made life in general hard. My relationships suffered because I was not present with myself, much less other people or my pets. My mind was always off somewhere else. So when I was accepted into a master’s program in leadership I really wanted to get a handle on my attention. I went to a psychiatrist and had the tests. She told me I had ADD worse than most of the people she had seen and prescribed Ritalin.

My life immediately changed – for the worse. I could not sleep, had no appetite, lost lots of weight, and was fuzzy from the drugs. After two months of giving the drugs a chance I quit them. While Ritalin slightly improved my ability to concentrate, the tradeoffs were not worth it.  Even without the medication I was determined to get a handle on my concentration. The motivation to undertake this challenge was the realization that when I was disconnected from my thoughts I was also disconnected from my heart and life which is only real in the present moment. That inspired me to teach myself to intentionally stay present with and responsible for my thoughts.

To master my attention I first taught myself to remain connected to what I am thinking. That is, I am aware of thinking what I am thinking and why I am thinking it (emotional connection). Each time I catch my mind wandering I return my thoughts to the present.  I force my mind to concentrate on what I want to focus on rather than allowing my thoughts to disconnect me from what is going on in the NOW. With intentional effort I taught myself to be constantly aware of what I am thinking.

Second, to remain connected to my thoughts I taught myself to evaluate the reality of each thing I think – is what I am thinking real, true, important, based on fear, is my mind trying to carry me to the past or future? By constantly evaluating my thoughts I now know where my mind is at all times.

This week, begin retraining yourself to stay connected to your thoughts – each and every one of them. Yes, it is easier said than done but that mind-chatter is the first place to start mastering a mind that has a mind of its own. Do not let your mind tell you what you can and cannot do.  Allow the wisdom of your wise, loving heart to be your guide.  Be thoughtful of thinking and you will stay connected to your heart by staying connected to your thoughts.

When you know what you are thinking and evaluate the motivation behind your thoughts you will remain in control of yourself. You will stay present. You will become a master of changing negative thoughts to positive. You will create a life of love, compassion and purpose because you think about what you think while you think it.


Who Do You Love Most?

Growing up, I was taught I had to love God and other people first.  But no one ever told me what that actually looked like.  No one ever answered my question, “How can I love something or someone else if I do not love me?”  Even as a child, that logic did not feel right – it simply did not make sense that I could give what was not within me. And, what does love mean anyway? To me it seemed to be more about control, judgment, telling me how I was wrong.

One day I realized what I had been taught to believe about loving others first was not actually possible.  Yes, love is affection and caring and love is positive behavior like compassion, forgiveness, patience, responsibility, honesty, loyalty, etc. So unless I was compassionate with myself first it was not possible to be compassionate with others. Unless I forgave myself first it was not possible to forgive others. The same is true for all the behaviors of love.

By questioning the illogical notion that I had to love others before myself I came to the realization love has to begin with me. Unless I love myself it is impossible to give love to anything or anyone else. I would only be going through the motions but without genuine emotional and spiritual connectedness to the feelings. That is when I realized loving me first is not selfish, as I was taught to believe, but spiritually responsible. Today I believe God is love. So by loving myself first I am being love and that to me is what loving God looks like.

This week, focus on the self-loving action of questioning yourself about what you were taught to believe about love. Challenge the fantasy of what television, movies and media say love is.  Challenge any notion that love must be given to others before you love yourself.

One of the most important spiritual realizations is accepting that because you are taught to believe something does not make it true. And because you are taught not to believe something does not make if false. Lead with your higher wisdom and take charge of questioning beliefs that do not align with the positive, inclusive, and supportive behaviors of your heart because it is changing your view that changes you.