90 Minutes of Insignificant Intensity and Illusion

I always marvel at the priceless value of hindsight. How many times in your life have you said, “If I only knew then what know now I would…”

In the midst of our everyday travels we run across countless opportunities to either accelerate the pace of intensity or slow it down. Let’s just say, as a general rule I’ve done a much better job of accelerating than I have of slowing down. What can I say? It’s my default tendency, but the good thing about tendencies is that they can change with a little work and intention. The other day I got a chance to test both the speeding up and the slowing down skills. Of course it comes with a little story and here it is…

Last Wednesday I was traveling through what appeared to be a routine day. I woke up. I made a cup of tea. I did some writing around the house. I took the train to work. I went about my activities as the ringleader of a circus that brings joy and food to many travelers from near and from far. At the end of the day I was trying to make my usual quick exit so I could get to my “next” thing. Last Wednesday my next thing was a 4:30 pm yoga class. In order to make it to the north side for that 4:30 pm class I need to be walking out the door EXACTLY at 4:00 pm. Queue the timer please and let’s start my 90 minutes of insignificant intensity and illusion. Here we go! 

4:00 pm – 90 minutes on the clock

I’m fully changed and ready to leave. I’ve done the work in advance to prepare for the transition to the team who takes over the reins at night. As I’m about to walk out the door a glitch appears. It’s not a big glitch and the facts are insignificant, but it’s going to cost me three or four minutes. In the span of a lifetime, three or four minutes is nothing. In the commute across the city of Chicago in rush hour three or four minutes are everything!

4:06 pm –  86 minutes on the clock

I consider taking an Uber instead of the train. An Uber might be able to get me to the studio by 4:30 pm. There is one small variable. It’s raining. If you live in the city of Chicago and you commute, you would rather have to deal with a swarm of locusts than to have to drive anywhere in the rain. Uber obviously knows this because what would have normally been a $10 ride is surge priced up to $29.

4:08 pm – 82 minutes on the clock

I give up on the idea of making it to the 4:30 pm yoga class and spend a minute pondering the absurdity of “rushing to get to yoga.” My wife Christiana is on the way downtown to work and if I had left in a dash to get to class I would not have seen her. I decide to take the opportunity to surprise her and visit her in the garage where we park the car. I walk up to the car, open the door and say “hi, sweetie.” She responds by bursting into tears.

4:15 pm – 75 minutes on the clock

I sit down in the car and we begin to chat. I have now devised a plan B in my mind which is to get to a different studio for a 5:30 pm class and I have just about enough time based on the rain and the traffic….IF I leave in the next few minutes…..I say nothing about this to Christiana. It turns out she’s not feeling well and she’s a bit concerned about being able to get through her shift. When you work in one of the most dynamic restaurants in the country you are a cog in a machine with many parts. If you can’t go last minute, the machine doesn’t have a replacement part readily available. That comes with a LOT of pressure. Fortunately she feels better after we chat for a few minutes and she lets one our managers know that she will be a few minutes late and heads to work. The extra few minutes were exactly what she needed to be able to get ready to get through the night. The extra few minutes for me? Well…

4:35 pm – 55 minutes on the clock

After we ride down the elevator together and kiss goodbye for the night I dash off to the train. Getting on the train traveling north at 4:35 pm instead of 4:00 pm is similar to the difference between being a single potato chip in a giant oversized bag vs. being an anchovy packed into a jar. I would have used the sardine cliché instead, but like I said it’s a cliché so I tried to get creative. I look to see when the next train is coming on the display board and the sign says 2 minutes. “Perfect!” I say to myself under my breath. Just enough time to add some money to my reuseable Ventra card and catch the train. I load $20 onto my card and run down the stairs to the platform to catch the red line. As I reach the bottom step of the stairway my eyes realize with horror what is happening and my mind forms the three words that Chicago rush hour commuters hate the most:

Cubs Night Game! 

Whatever happened to the good old days when the Cubs were terrible and played all their games during the day in a half empty stadium in front of a bunch of drunken, unemployed losers!?! Okay maybe my spite is a little strong because I realize there is no way I’m getting on this train that is about to arrive

4:38 pm – 52 minutes on the clock

Over 500 people are vying for space on a train that is already overfull by at least 100 people. This is one of the particular joys of needing to board the train after it has already made all of the downtown stops. I quickly realize that I only have one option: Bail!

The next few trains are going to be equally overfull. There is no way I can get an Uber in the rain. I am left with only one option. Walk to the nearest brown line stop. It’s a sturdy walk of just less than a mile, but if I really hoof it and the train arrives quickly I can still get to the studio by 5:30 pm for class and find my serenity immediately. On the way out of the subway station I consider stopping at the CTA desk and asking for a refund for the ride I didn’t take, but I realized two very important things!

1) My energy was likely NOT in the place where I could have politely and kindly plead my case…

2) My time is more valuable than my money right now if I’m going to make class.

4:51 pm – 39 minutes on the clock

I am walking briskly in a light rain. I’m wearing jeans that I wish were a little less tight and a shirt that I wish wasn’t long sleeve and quite so warm. My shoelaces keep coming untied. I stop to lace up my boots tighter but once again they become untied. I finally decide that I’m not even going to bother to stop and tie them because they are just going to untie themselves yet again. I make it to the brown line stop and it is considerably less crowded than the red line. I knew this would happen because I’ve seen this movie play out before. The first train to arrive is actually a purple line. I see the conductor leaning out the window. I pull out my earbuds and I ask him if this train stops at Diversey. He replies, “Yes sir, it most certainly does!” I board the train and check my watch.

4:58 – 32 minutes on the clock

I have 32 whole minutes left to get to the near north side and then walk the half-mile from the train stop to the yoga studio. I put my earbuds back in and hope for the best. It’s looks like it will be a close call at best.

At the next stop after I board the train I hear a bit of a ruckus on the platform. I didn’t hear what was said on the platform by the patron, but I did hear the same conductor who was so kind to me say, “I got trained by a bunch of people who care a lot about making sure that people get places safely and quickly and I don’t need to be trained by you!”

More than a few of us looked around at each other and noted that it was an awkward moment. One man mouthed, “Was that intended for us?” Despite the melee none of us bother to take off our headphones.

5:01 – 29 minutes on the clock

The same conductor comes over the intercom. I can hear him well enough over the chill music that is humming in my ears and trying to keep me calmer. He says, “I’d like to apologize if you heard any of that outburst on my part. I realize that it’s a tough day for commuting and that our trains are running behind. We were due to arrive at Fullerton already and we haven’t even reached Armitage, but I can assure you we are doing our best to get you where you need to go safely and as quickly as we can….”

I started to connect the dots in my brain. Someone must have chided the conductor for the train being late and probably said something very unkind about his need for further training. I admired the conductor’s humility and kindness in taking ownership of his reaction and shifting the energy in the moment. I enjoy taking notice of how confrontational energy can easily shift back to peaceful energy with a bit of humility and contrition.

5:13 pm – 17 minutes on the clock

My train arrives at Diversey. I exit the train and get ready to dash to the right to the stairway to run to class. When I see the conductor leaning out the window two cars to the left, I stop in my tracks. I walk up to the conductor and hold out my hand and say, “Thank you for caring as much as you do. You are a gift…” He smiles and says, “I can’t tell you how much that means to me…”

I felt a great sense of pride in not rushing off without saying something. So many other times in my life I would have placed my own time ahead of that extra few seconds it took to change the course of somebody’s day.

5:24 pm – 6 minutes on the clock

Once again I’m walking briskly. It’s no longer raining but due to the earlier downpour, my jeans are wet from halfway down the calf all the way to my shoes, which are still untied. My shirt is wringing wet with sweat and a bit of rain, which I find uncomfortable, but since my intended destination is hot yoga in a 105 degree room, I note the irony of my discomfort. As I hit the home stretch of my 90-minute journey to the peace and serenity of hot yoga, I see a young man wearing a blue shirt waving his arms in the air wildly trying to get my attention. He is standing in front of Trader Joe’s holding a clipboard. Finally I notice that his blue shirt says, “American Civil Liberties Union.” I have less than 5 minutes to get into the studio, change and get my mat into a good place on the floor, but there is no way I can blow past this young man with my headphones on and pretend I don’t see him.

5:27 pm – 3 minutes on the clock

I pull out my headphones, I stop and I hold out my hand to the young man in the blue shirt. I say, “I have a class that starts in three minutes around the corner so I can’t stay and talk to you, but I want to thank you for what you are doing. It’s very important and I’m grateful to you. Please keep doing it…”

The blue-shirted man smiles and replies, “Man that’s the best thing that’s happened to me all day and it’s way better than any amount of money you could have ever given me…”

Once again I’m pleased that I made the time.

5:30 pm – Time Expires

I’m standing on my mat with my fingers interlaced under my chin ready to tilt my head back for the first pranayama breathing exercise…. just the same as I always am when I start hot a yoga class. I’m not in my favorite spot in the room. I didn’t stop to get a carton of ice-cold coconut water to take in with me because I was in a hurry. I forgot to grab a few Kleenex in case I need to blow my nose during class. None of that mattered though…

Instead I took the time to recognize the path of others and just as importantly to notice that time is really an illusion. There will always be another train. There will always be another class. There will always be another ice-cold coconut water. I’m finally starting to learn that the false deadlines that I place on myself are negotiable. When I make the time see others on the path with me and to see myself….I’ve got all the time in the world!

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Jack and the Jelly Cat

Of the many things I love about what I “do” in my life by working in a very busy public environment, one of the top things is that I get to observe the lives of so many other humans in the course of my daily routine. Last week I got yet another reminder of just how much beauty exists right in front of us, when we are open to the seeing.

Minutes before we were about to open the restaurant I noticed a woman pulling on the handicap access door. The door was still locked at the time. I dashed over to discover that she had a stroller with a sleeping child and I helped her come in as I unlocked the door. The woman was medium build and had shoulder length, sandy blonde hair. She spoke with a very slight accent that could have been either British or Australian…I’m not sure which?

“We dined here last night and I wonder if perhaps you found my son’s little toy. I think he may have dropped it somewhere along the way?”

I asked her to describe the toy. I remember specifically what she said,

“It’s a small thing….stuffed with sand or pebbles…it’s a sort of jelly cat?”

I let the words float out there for a few seconds as images ran through my mind. I had never heard the term “jelly cat” before in my entire life. The first image that came to mind was one of those teething toys they give children when they are cutting new teeth. You know the ones that are filled with jelly and they can be frozen. I pictured one of those in the shape of a cat.

I asked a few more probing questions before beginning the search for the mysterious jelly cat. My search started in the official lost and found area, which seldom produces things like jelly cats. Lost and found areas are for things like binders, scarves, random shoes and packages that are left behind. If you have ever worked in retail or a restaurant you know that things like eyeglasses, earrings and children’s toys have a way of winding up in odd places.

After no success in the traditional lost and found area I started to forge my steps through all the other possibilities; the coatroom, the maître d’ stand, the folding changing table in the washrooms. No luck. All the while the little child in the stroller slept under the hood of the sun shield oblivious to the all points bulletin that had been issued for his beloved jelly cat. Just when I was about to call off the search and declare the jelly cat officially missing, one of my co-workers said, “Is it a little stuffed giraffe? I thought I saw something on top of the counter in the accounting office…”

My first instinct was to say,

“No, it’s a cat not a giraffe!”

I’ve learned over the years that things that are left behind are often not described as they actually appear. It sort of reminds me of that Meatloaf song titled “Objects in the rearview mirror, they appear closer than they are,” which will now be running through unnamed-24my head all day! I ran up to the office on the mezzanine level and discovered that there was indeed a tiny stuffed giraffe on the counter. I grabbed the giraffe, turned and proceeded back to the stairway. As I got halfway down the stairway the young child stirred his stroller as if he could sense the energy of the little giraffe heading his way before he even saw it. When his mother realized that he had stirred she pulled back the sun shield to unveil a beautiful blond little boy who I would soon learn was named Jack. I would guess Jack to have been about 15-months old: Old enough to use words and clearly show emotion, but not old enough to form sentences.

As soon as young Jack made eye contact with me carrying the little giraffe, his eyes lit up, a huge smile came across his face and I could literally see the love in his little heart radiating out of his tiny little chest. My own heart melted, as I knew I was seeing unconditional love in its purest form. Who among us hasn’t had that “lost favorite toy” moment in our own life or in the lives of one of our children?

After I handed the toy back to Jack, I turned to his mother and said, “I was picturing a cat in my mind not a giraffe?” In her soft little accent, she said,

“See look here…”

She then uncurled the tag on the tiny little giraffe’s foot to reveal the logo of a South African company named Jellycat. All the while Jack was smiling and cuddling his lost and found best friend as if all the problems in the world had suddenly disappeared, and then in that magnificent moment I was reminded of something very important…

In that moment in time there were no problems in the world. In a moment of pure unconditional love, nothing else in the entire Universe could alter the state of joy that Jack or his mother or I was experiencing. Isn’t love always the answer?

Jack and his mother said goodbye and rolled out the same handicap access door that they pulled on before we even opened. The rest of the day I was a bit lighter on my feet. I was a bit quicker to let things roll of my back. I was more open to sending love to everyone, even those who might otherwise have rubbed me the wrong way. At the hands of a 15-month old boy and a stuffed Jellycat brand giraffe, I was given a lesson in unconditional love that will last me a lifetime.

The beauty and the power of Love is everywhere! In times when there are so many things are shifting and changing, it can be easy to get swept into the whirlpool of fear and doubt. If you SEE not only with your eyes, but also with your mind and with your heart, you will always have Faith to persevere. Just like little Jack had the intuition to know that the state of joy was returning even before he could see how it would return, you too can have a sense of knowing that your own Jellycat is coming home soon. We were all born with this deep sense of knowing and trust….that is before we unlearned it!

How do we get that faith and intuition back you ask? It’s really pretty simple. Open your eyes. Open your mind. Open your heart. Humanity has issued the call and the power of Love is answering. People are joining together and sharing their resources. Angels and Divine beings are anxiously waiting for the masses to reach out and open themselves to the help that has always been there. Even the Jellycats are returning home!

What an amazing Universe we all live in! How can there possibly be any need or reason to have fear?

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My Very Own Mary Tyler Moore

“Love is all around, no need to waste it…”

As a young boy I would hum the tune of the Mary Tyler Moore show. I was a bit too young to be allowed to watch the show in its first few seasons. In the later seasons, I would watch with my mom and then even later still, we would watch the reruns in syndication. I never really thought much about the words to the song back then. Now those words are as iconic as the “hat toss” which is rated by Entertainment Weekly as the #2 moment in 1970’s television history.

the_mary_tyler_moore_show_intro__hat_toss__by_jamesviayoutube-d707kfuI loved watching the Mary Tyler Moore show with my mom. A lot of what the character Mary Richards embodied, my mom taught me in the example of the way she lived and still lives her life. To me though, back then, Mary Richards was everything you wanted to have in a cool aunt or your Dad’s awesome personal assistant – although I’m pretty sure the term was secretary back then. At the time I wasn’t even really sure why I was so attracted to Mary Tyler Moore and the character she played on the show. With forty years of hindsight it’s as clear to me as the sunrise I’m looking at out my sliding glass door in Michigan on this stunning morning. I loved Mary Richards because she embodied so many of the qualities I would grow to seek in the woman of my dreams later in my life – even if I didn’t have the wisdom to recognize it way back then. Mary was kind. Mary was determined. Mary was a change maker. Mary was vulnerable. Mary was encouraging. Mary was goofy. Mary was brave. Mary was forgiving. To me Mary was Love with a capital letter L.

Not surprisingly I have been deeply moved by her transition. But like so many who have crossed over the the other side of the veil, Mary moves closer to me now than she ever could have been before. There is a way to “know” someone so much more deeply when they are unencumbered by their human entrapments and limitations, isn’t there? Believe what you wish about spirit and soul and humanity, but in my Universe there can be no other possibility than the possibility to have dialogue with the multitude of angels on the other side. Over the course of this weekend I enjoyed starting to get to know the Mary on the other side.

I had the opportunity to moderate a healing circle this Saturday and the focus of the circle was acceptance. It was a powerful circle. Those who choose to participate can work on a plethora of different things. Some people work on healing from a death or divorce. Some are working on letting go of baggage from things that no longer serve them. Others are coming to terms with current circumstances that they may not prefer. At the end of the workshop we get to write letters to the person or thing we are trying to connect with as we practice the art of letting go and accepting. I wrote my letter to Mary Tyler Moore/Mary Richards.

In the letter I thanked her for all the work she did to help humanity raise our collective vibration. I thanked her for being an embodiment of Love with a capital letter L. Then I asked her to support and empower the people of today – particularly the people who are incarnated as women – as we all work through this period of social change and advocate for all of humanities rights. Interesting how much our current time in human history  looks a bit like the early to mid 1960s, isn’t it? Then as I closed my letter to Mary, I said:

“Please send more women like you so that we can increase the size of the collective of angels doing the work together….”

What happened next as I finished writing those words was as if I had been hit in the middle of my heart by one of Cupid’s very own arrows. The message I got was as clear as the sunrise I mentioned earlier in this post. Mary said to me:

“Take note that you already walk the path of your own life every single day with one of these angels you speak of. She’s at your very side…” 

As a young boy I dreamed of being a change maker. I dreamed of having a life partner that was perfectly aligned to help me become the most that I could be. In some ways, my schoolboy crush on Mary Richards was the beginning of a manifestation that would come to reality many years down the road. When I think of my twin flame Christiana, I think of words like kindness, determination, vulnerability, goofiness and bravery. Just like Mary. She has taught me to be better at all of those things and I continue to be a student in her loving hands.

Who can turn the world on with her smile? It’s my very own Mary Tyler Moore – Christiana Herbert. How lucky am I…

In times of great change, great change makers step forward, sometimes side by side. I believe in the power of the collective and walk with confidence towards that place of healing that we all seek.

Love is all around no need to save it….

We can heal the world, why don’t we face it….

We’re going to make it after all…

We’re going to make it after all…

 

 

 

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On this Night…

Over the last month and a half I have been posting thoughts from my daily meditations on Facebook under the title of “On this Day…” It has been a way for me to share and create content in a period where my blogging has been a bit stagnant, but my heart and mind have been open and flowing. The posts have been short reflections that take no more than five minutes to create. They have been well received and I will gather them together in a collection at some point for those of you who do not access Facebook.

As I sit in silence on this Christmas Eve I thought I would return to my blog with a post called “On this Night…” My thoughts are in honor of the Spirit of the season and my evolving feelings as a human being having a Spiritual experience in this lifetime. Here it is!

One this night….

We celebrate the birth of a Consciousness. The Christ Consciousness. The Christ Consciousness knows no boundaries of race or creed or geography. Regardless of your feelings about religion there is one absolute Truth that extends through all of humankind. That Truth is that we are all Love!

In my lifetime I have had an evolving relationship with religion. I have traveled the path for many of the early years of my life as a Christian yet I have always been more intrigued with the similarities between the various paths of Faith than the differences. Those curiosities have opened my eyes to the teachings of many great Spiritual teachers that have walked the earth through the ages.

310-300x336As I explore the Way, I have read the words of the Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Jesus, Gichin Funakoshi, Babaji, Paramahansa, Charles Fillmore, Lord Krishna, Don Miguel Ruiz, Joel Goldsmith, Krishnamurthi, Confucius, Patanjali, Mohammed, Gurdjeff, Gandhi, Wayne Dyer and so many others.

From my many years in martial arts I heard the famous parable of Confucius himself, who said, “Rabbit that chases too many tails catches none…”

I would have to counter by saying that if the rabbit explores many paths and realizes in the end that they are all the same that the awakening is the powerful!

For the first fifty years of my life I searched high and low for the evidence of the Oneness. My journey was about me and I wanted nothing more than to find my own hope, my own peace, my own joy and my own faith. The search has come with many great rewards. I have an amazing life. I have an infinite number of friends and loved ones. I have abundance beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of. The only piece that was missing after that fifty year search was a deep love of myself. At age fifty I still found myself feeling very lost and very alone despite the many blessings I had enjoyed. I found myself wondering what my purpose was and why I had yet to find that ultimate prize of bliss and contentment.

Then through a series of blessed coincidences and some deep reflection I have realized something very important in the last two and a half years. I realized that if my search continued to be predominantly about ME, that I would continue to create separation between myself and the Divine. When there is a separation between me and the Divine there is a separation between me and all beings both on the human side of the veil and the Spirit side of the veil. I have lived a life full of love. I have loving parents who taught me about love and made me feel loved beyond measure. I have a twin flame in Christiana and have had many other loved ones in the past who have served as examples of love and how to love. Still I somehow managed to build walls around my heart.

Mind you I do recognize that I have traveled the path as a loving and caring human being. I’ve lived a good life. I’d like to think I’ve given as much as I have received. Many have told me through all times that they appreciate what I have done for them and that they are blessed to have known me and my love in this lifetime.

That being said, everything started to shift for me when I realized the difference between love and unconditional love. When we build walls around our heart we are most certainly still capable of giving and receiving love. The only caveat is that we often attach consequences or conditions to our ability to give and receive love. Have you ever found yourself feeling pride for the loving action you offered to another human? Have you ever asked for a certain conditional expectation before you gave your love? Haver you ever guilted or shamed someone for not seeing and feeling the exact same thing that you saw or felt? I know that I have and at times I still do. I accept that I am a work in progress, but the less I focus on my own path to hope, peace, joy and faith the better probability that I can truly understand love. The journey is not about my own physical destination in this lifetime, but rather the unified enlightenment of all of humanity. It is that awakening that has afforded me the ability to take the first step in understanding unconditional love.

If you have read the words of any of the great Masters that I mentioned earlier in this post the underlying Truth in everything they taught is simple to understand. That Truth is that in order to ascend to there highest plateaus of Consciousness and reach the Divine Kingdom, we must do only one thing. Give our own Love to all without condition!

So on this night as so many celebrate the honorary birth of The Christ, is my greatest joy to celebrate all that IS. I am grateful for the countless number of mentors who have chosen to cross my path and help me find my Way. My previous inability to hear the message had nothing to do with the quality of the message that was offered to me, but rather my inability to understand how to listen. I may have spent a lifetime listening with my ears and hearing nothing, but when I opened my heart I was finally awakened enough to hear that the message was always the same.

That message is this….

We are Love. We are not fear. We are not shame. We are not guilt. We are not less than. We are not hate. We are not separate from the Divine. We are Love. When we learn to love without condition we open the floodgates to an Infinite power that delivers bliss beyond measure.

Can you feel it? Can you feel the awakening and the re-birth on this special night? Do you see the shift coming? It is when we truly open our hearts to all the possibilities that the power of love will overtake the love of power. The external circumstances of the right now are merely a blip on the radar of humanity.

On this night I celebrate the birth of an awakening of humanity’s collective Consciousness. There are no boundaries. There is no separation. There is only Love…

 

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The Joy of a Million Souls

A week ago my wife Christiana and I had the wonderful opportunity of attending Game #6 of the National League Championship Series. At that game, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 and advanced to the World Series for the first time in over 70 years. People throughout Chicagoland and from around the world have continued to follow the Cubs as they fight to stave off elimination. Their quest will continue tonight in Cleveland with another game #6, where the Cleveland Indians now have the chance to eliminate the Cubs and win their first world championship in over 70 years.

One of the greatest things about baseball are the stories. Baseball and history are woven together like two fibers in a finely made rug. Baseball is in many ways a microcosm of humanity. There are underdogs and bullies. There is hope and fear. There is sorrow and joy. In the end there is the game, a game that has been played by many and watched by many more for generations gone by.

I have had the great privilege of attending many big time sporting events in my lifetime. I’ve been to numerous World Series games. I’ve been to at least a few NBA championship games. I’ve been to a game #7 of a Stanley Cup Final and watched my team lose while the other team carried the Cup around the ice. I’ve even been to the biggest game of all, the Super Bowl. None of them compared to the experience of Game #6 of the NLCS last Saturday night.

unnamed-25Once every so often in life the table is set perfectly. On Saturday October 22nd at Wrigley Field the table was set for a night of pure joy. What was supposed to be a cool and potentially rainy night turned into a dry evening in the low 60s. The hometown Cubs were holding a 3-2 series lead and needed to win only one of the remaining two games at home to close out the Dodgers and advance to the World Series. While everyone hoped that the final act would play out on Saturday night, there was still the safety net of Sunday night if needed. There was a relaxed atmosphere to start the night. Lots of hope. Only a trace of fear. To help things along, the Cubs jumped out to an early lead by scoring runs in both the first and the second innings. Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks looked calm and cool as he threw first pitch strikes and mowed through 7 innings with hardly a blemish on his pitching line.

In the stands you could quite literally feel the anticipation growing with each passing minute. “Holy Cow this is actually gonna happen!” I heard one fan mutter to his friend a few rows behind us during the eighth inning. When it was all said and done and Anthony Rizzo squeezed the last out of the night into his giant first baseman’s glove, Wrigley Field erupted like a volcano that had been held back for millennia.

It wasn’t just the noise that was made by the 42,386 fans in attendance that raised the vibration of Wrigleyville that night at 9:46 p.m. It was the flood of joy that was released by over a million souls that made this moment in time one of the most powerful moments in my lifetime.

While we sat in the stands at Wrigley during game #6 of the NLCS last Saturday night I thought about a lot of things. I thought about the fact that I never went to a game at Wrigley with my Dad who died 19 years ago. I thought about my Grandpa Gaydos who watched every Cubs game from either his kitchen table or his corner tavern for decades before he died over 20 years ago. I thought about my dear friend Richard and his stories about going to games with his son Zach back in the days before they both crossed over to the other side of the veil all to soon. I thought about my cousins in Wisconsin who were watching with their hearts full of hope after recently losing their Cubs fanatic father, my Uncle Willie. I thought about the only time I caught a foul ball at Wrigley at the game we attended with our friends Carl and Joy. That game was about a year before Joy left us by quietly riding a golden wave of light out of her body while we sat at her bedside. Without even getting too deep into my history I managed to conjure up a half a dozen souls who brought their energies to the stadium with me that night. I’m sure there were many who carried the energy of even more souls than I did.

So let’s for the sake of this little hypothesis say that on the average each person at Wrigley field for Game #6 of the NLCS had the hopes and dreams of five other Spirits/Souls with them. I’d say that’s a conservative estimate! 42,386 x 5 = 211, 780. Now let’s take that back just one more generation and say that each of the five Spirit/Souls that came along for the ride attached to the 42,386 humans that were at Wrigley for Game #6 had five others with them on the other side of the veil. There are taverns in Heaven aren’t there?

211, 780 x 5 = 1,058,900 plus of course the actual 42,386 at the game. And how many generations has it been that the Cubs have been MLB’s lovable losers? I think you get the picture…

So on a magical Fall night….in a magical baseball shrine….for one magical moment in time….the energy of a million souls was gathered together and released in a flood of Joy. Some might say it was just a game. I say why shouldn’t we play? In a time when humanity is searching for more ways to experience joy and put fear to rest we need every opportunity we can find to understand our collective power. In the end it’s about more than a game of baseball. It’s about the fact that Joy is our default setting. It’s about the fact that Love Trumps out Hate. It’s about our Faith in the fact that we are all connected to Source.

In short my friends, It’s about the Game of Life and I say “Let’s Play Ball…”

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The Fall of 2016

6a00d83452060169e2019aff7836bc970c-600wiThis morning at 9:21 a.m. CDT in the Northern Hemisphere we will make the transition in seasons. We will move from our delightful summer into our amazing fall. I have always loved the change of seasons. I love all of the changes in seasons, but I particularly like the transition from summer to fall. As we enter the fall of 2016 there are many questions on the tables in our lives. Some of them are deeply personal and some of them are Universal. In my own life I can feel so many monumental changes on the near horizon. This change is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to choose fear of what might happen or to choose joy of what will happen. With much gratitude to my many mentors and spirit guides, I choose Joy!

We are living in a time where it may be easier to choose a path of fear. In this country we are on the precipice of a monumental presidential election that is hotly contested and awakens many emotions. It is so easy to point to our differences and throw up our arms and say that we are in a “no win” situation. On our planet we are watching individuals and groups take stances that at times lead to unrest and perhaps even to violence. It is easy to draw the conclusion that humanity is on a fast track to disaster. In our Universe we see shifts occurring that make us question the sustainability of our beliefs systems that the Divine has our backs and that everything will work out fine so we can live in a place of peace. It is easy to give up hope in higher power and allow our minds to move into a place of darkness.

Despite all the external circumstances that might try to point the personal ships of our minds into the current that carries us to fear, here’s my two cents as to why we should instead trust that the current is carrying us to Bliss. In my mind there is no other possibility!

Have you had a deep and meaningful conversation with anyone in the last couple of weeks? My bet is that you have. Did you notice in that conversation that the person you were talking to was searching and hoping  for answers? Maybe it was you who was searching for the answers and the person you were talking to was the one you were hoping would provide them? In the end the key word in the matter is hope.

The famous English poet Alexander Pope wrote in An Essay on Man, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast…” Odd words from a man who was ostracized for his Catholic faith in a time when being Catholic was a curse that meant he was banned from teaching. Odd words from a man who had numerous health problems including a form of tuberculosis. Odd words from a man who had his growth stunted so he only grew to four feet six inches as an adult.

In An Essay on Man, Pope writes a poem that is an affirmation of faith. Despite the fact that life seems to be chaotic and confusing to man when he is in the center of it, Pope suggests that life is really divinely ordered. In Pope’s world, God exists and is what he centers the Universe around in order to have an ordered structure. While humanity can only take in tiny portions of this reality, it is critical that we understand that we must rely on hope which then leads to faith. Humanity must be aware that our existence in the Universe is to flow with the current and accept that all is exactly as it is supposed to be, even when things happen that we might not prefer. It is man’s duty to strive to be good regardless of the external circumstances. Isn’t it true that you know far more people that live a life that exemplifies hope and goodness than those who exemplify fear and hate?

I need to look no further than my own circle to find many sources of hope. I have many friends who have the ability to tap into a form of cosmic consciousness and receive answers of hope about the possibilities. Most often this ability is called channeling. While the concept may be new to many humans, why shouldn’t we believe that that the answers of the ages are at our fingertips if we open our mind to the possibility? Haven’t all the greatest spiritual teachers of all faiths in all times told us that we are not only a piece of the Divine, but that we are one in that same with all that IS? Why shouldn’t we believe then that the messages that are being delivered in time and space are not an illusion, but in fact an absolute truth?

One such seeker of the Truth is a man named Darryl Anka who channels a multi-dimensional being that goes by the moniker of Bashar. Now before you sign off and say that Jim has taken his full dose of fruit loops this morning, give me a few more moments of your time…

Bashar has predicted many things about the fall of 2016. Many who have only superficially heard of these predictions assume that the “Fall” indicates a downward trajectory for mankind and not just a reference to the change in the season of humanity…

Bashar has predicted that between 2015 and 2017 humanity will come to discover beyond a reasonable doubt that life exists elsewhere beyond our current definitions. It may be within our own solar system or it may be an amoeba in another solar system. Does it really matter I say? Wouldn’t the simple fact that life exists elsewhere be enough for many humans to alter their belief system when we discover it is true. The possibilities are infinite!

Bashar has predicted a massive change in our economic system that would allow us to function as more of a planetary global system within the next 10-15 years. Perhaps a shift in our view on taxation that will allow for an energetic surge that will have repercussions that allow humanity to live in a place where we all help each other more and focus on self a bit less.

Bashar has predicted that we will shift from an older mindset that will allow for humanity to tap into a new idea of free energy the will create safe and sustainable sources for humanity to fuel itself without continuing to cause irreparable harm to our Mother Earth.

Bashar has predicted that at first the changes to our political system will appear to be “same old same old”, but that they will pave the way for a revamping by 2020 that will open the possibility for an historic event that will forever change the world as we see it now.

Bashar predicts that between 2020 and 2030 humanity will find inventions and capabilities that we never believed possible. We will start working together and we will be capable of abilities and adventures far beyond our thoughts and dreams. Time travel? Telekineses? Who knows? As a result, humanity will finally be focusing on a way where our resources are coordinated in a way we  did back in the beginning of time when we were capable of almost anything.

Does this sound like a downward fall? I think not! I think it sounds Divine!

In the past few years I have learned to reconsider the way I tell the story that is my life. More importantly, I have started to listen with greater intention to the stories of others. When we take the time to listen to the stories of others we come to the undeniable truth that we are in fact all the same. We all have desires. We all have dreams. We all go on journeys. We all face contrasts. We all have the opportunity to unveil awakenings in the challenges. We all have the possibility of mastering the path of our own lives. We all are offered the chance to understand that our end point is contentment and Bliss.

As we make this critical transition in the seasons of our own lives and of our planet’s rotation around it’s source of light, might I suggest that you make the only choice that will serve you. In a time when there is the distinct option of choosing fear, remember that the power of your own mind offers you the possibility of choosing Joy instead. Regardless of the external circumstances, in my mind, there is no other possibility!

 

 

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Am I Good Enough?

This weekend I came face to face with that age old question of “Am I good enough?” It’s always the first question we ask ourselves when doubt and fear enter our energy profiles, isn’t it? I came face to face with that question both in my own life and in the lives of more than few others I had the chance to interact with over the weekend. It’s a nice reminder that we are all the same. We all have the opportunity to face challenges large and small and determine what awakenings are intended to unfold. I’m pretty excited to see those awakenings even if I don’t always prefer the path we all need to travel on to get to them!

There have been periods of my life when I have lived with the question of “Am I good enough?” at the forefront of my mind 24/7 and there have been periods of my life where I truly know that my best effort in the moment is good enough. In the first scenario I am often paralyzed by my own fear and have trouble getting anything done. In the second scenario I typically move with confidence and grace. One of the interesting things about this dynamic is that it really doesn’t matter what part of the cycle you happen to be in or which scenario is your normal at the present moment, the answer to the question of “Am I good enough?” can change from “Yes” to “No” in a heartbeat!

Here’s a piece of good news though. The answer to the question of “Am I good enough?” can change back to “Yes” from “No” just as quickly as it flipped in the other direction if you let it. You get to decide!

Over the past couple of years, one of the many things that I’ve been working on to become a better version of myself is to get better at receiving feedback. My desire to get better at receiving feedback stemmed from years of being resistant to feedback because I had a hard time carrying the weight of judgment that I passed on myself whenever I found out that I wasn’t perfect at something. It didn’t matter if it was a kata I did in karate class, a project at work or just something as mundane as a dish I cooked for dinner, I would cringe at the idea that I needed to change anything. If you live in a place where you hold yourself to a standard of perfection, anything less than perfect in everybody’s eyes is going to be measured as a failure in your own heart. Anyone else out there ever live in that place?

About five years ago I attended an instructor training program in a form of yoga I had never taught before. I had already been teaching yoga for more than ten years at the time, but I challenged myself to enter the program with a total beginner’s mindset and in a place of humility. I told nobody in the group that I had any teaching experience. I tried to learn from the ground up. To my great good fortune the program was led by a fabulous woman named Megan Ducate. She taught me many wonderful things about yoga and about life. One of the most important things was this:

“When it comes to feedback, it’s important to remember two things: 1) always ask for permission to give before you offer it, and 2) receive it knowing that it is someone’s opinion of a moment in time and you can either accept it or reject it as you wish…”

That lesson alone was worth the investment of time and money in the instructor training. Ever since that day I have tried to be more kind to others in the way I offer feedback when given the opportunity to give it and to be more kind to myself when I receive it. What can I say?  I’m still a work in progress.

On Friday last week I got some feedback on something I had been working on. It wasn’t the feedback that I had expected or had hoped to hear. It started me on a path to that eternal question of “Am I good enough?” Now I will say that I received the feedback better than I would have a few years ago, but the weight of feeling judged put me in a place where I had a hard time navigating my life at all during the next 24 hours. Unfortunately for me, I had a full calendar and had little to no time to sit and reflect. I had to go about my schedule being as fully invested as I possibly could even though I was feeling broken inside. I did my best.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I started to wake up in my normal positive mindset, but as quickly as I drifted out of the state of groggy I remembered the events of the day before. As a result of those memories, I started to feel like I was being pulled down into the whirlpool of “woe is me…” Now I’ve done a lot of work in my lifetime to come to the understanding that our thoughts and emotions create our own life path and that the stories that we tell ourselves create our own illusions and our illusions become our own realities. All that being said, it’s pretty hard to get out of the path of your own mental and energetic train wreck while it is already in progress.

Fortunately for me I had a previously scheduled early morning phone call with a friend to put in a little time on a joint project we are working on. During the course of that phone call my friend made a comment that they were frustrated that they weren’t making faster progress on their end of the project. I asked them why they felt that way because clearly I thought they were making great progress. What they told me next made me take a deeper look at my own mood and energy. What they told me was that one of their own family members asked them why they were even working on a project that they weren’t getting paid for and were making little if any progress at all on. The whole thing made my heart hurt for my friend. In the moment I immediately went to my support voice. I reminded  my friend that they were only person who held the power to pass judgement on themself. I referenced the book The Four Agreements where author Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Don’t take anything personally. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…”

And just like that I remembered that I needed to be reminded of the same message that I was offering as feedback to my friend in that moment in time. Don’t take anything personally….Always do you best and remember that your best is a sliding scale that does not necessarily ever approach perfect. I was grateful for the awakening.

As my day continued I felt lighter and lighter. I had a number of other interactions with other people during the day and in many cases I found myself referencing teachings I had found at the hands of the many mentors I have been fortunate enough to find in my lifetime. In every case those teachings were inclusive of awakenings that applied not only to the person I was speaking to but also to myself and they were awakenings I needed to be reminded of in the moment. Isn’t it funny how the Universe works in that fashion? We might not always get what we want, but we always get what we need…

unnamed-24Much later that night Christiana and I sat down to eat our homemade crab boil (which I clearly was good enough to make) and to watch When Harry Met Sally. Before we sat down, I checked my email one final time for the day. In my inbox was a random and unexpected email from someone who had taken one of the first ever workshops we led almost two years ago. The email went on to thank us for the work that we continue to do, for the way that we see the world on a daily basis and for reminding others to just keep doing their best no matter what the external circumstances. As I sat on the couch and read the email I began to weep. For most of the previous 24 hours I danced in the minefield between self doubt and self acceptance with irrational fear about stepping on a land mine. 

In that moment on my couch before our crab boil dinner and When Harry Met Sally, I was gifted the reminder that only I hold the power to pass judgment on myself. I remembered that if I do my best and allow for my best to be measured on a variable scale, that I am not only good enough, but that I am in fact perfect! Both my strengths and my flaws make me a piece of all that IS.

Someone asked me the other day if finding higher self love is our ultimate goal as humans? In a world where it is often said that the absence of fear is love and that the opposite of love is fear, I would say this…

Each day that I move closer to the understanding that I have the right to love myself exactly as I am, I move closer to living without fear. On this night I go to bed remembering that I am indeed “Good enough”….I go to bed with the deep sense of knowing that the better I love myself, the better I can to the most important thing it is that I do in this lifetime in this Universe. To Love all that IS exactly the way that it IS without judgment….

I am grateful for the awakening. 

 

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