Gifts we are Given

A Gift is something that is given to you without payment or a talent you were born with. Either way it is something that has come to you with seemingly no effort on your part. Have you ever stopped to identify the gifts that you have as an individual? Do you ever wonder what you are going to do with them? 

The Big Gifts  

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The Biggest gifts that comes to mind are literally huge.  Our amazing planet with all its inhabitants revolving around the sun in a perfectly orderly solar system, within a galaxy of wonders, in an even Greater Universe. We are all a apart of this amazing Cosmic Play. An incredible divine expression of intelligence, beauty, science, art and mystery. This alone is a reason to wake in the morning. 

“Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God” – Leo Buscaglia

On the personal tip – I was thinking about my parents and my spiritual teacher when this title came to mind. My parents gave me the gift of Life. My teacher gave me the direction to use my gifts as means of contributing to the world around me. The greatest emotion associated with these realizations is gratitude. 

Allow me to enumerate some of these personal gifts. I hope this starts to stir your memory bank so that you too can feel the glow of such recollections. My mother passed on her amazing ability to cook, be a generous and gracious hostess. There is something about caring for others that brings a sense of accomplishment. In addition to her love of animals and children, she was a great beauty, proficient swimmer, sketcher and dancer. My father passed on a fierce tenacity and drive. He gave me the gifts of singing, humor, entrepreneurship, keen intellect and directness. He was a pioneer in business, dashing, clever, self-starter and never gives up. He can learn almost everything he decides to pick up. Were they perfect parents – No. Did they do their best – Yes. I love them for everything they are and their gifts were given freely. 

My teacher – PRT gave me the guidance on how to use my gifts, self-confidence, complete unconditional love, clear insight into who I was and what I was capable of. His counsel sits in my mind like pearls of wisdom that rest in the realms of the conscious and unconscious. Even more importantly he gave me my meditation practice. I rely on it to keep my mind to clear and steady. The first time I met him I felt like my entire soul was on fire and my heart blew wide open. He saw me as a realized and accomplished person. The gift of someone else seeing you for who you are and what you can become is priceless. He has managed to combine his gifts as an adept Yogi, scholar, father, teacher, community leader and contribute to philanthropic and academic achievements.  He has taught me how to bring my talents to the world and enjoy it all at the same time. This gift is still being unwrapped. 

Life is Rich.

Recognize Your Gifts

Take the time to look back on your life and see the gifts that you have been given, by your parents, family, teachers, friends and strangers. Recognizing them will bring a smile to your face and a glow in your heart. Think about other folks that had less than you and still manage to gleam hope and gratitude for what they did have – more importantly they overcame so-called set backs and used the talents they were born with to excel in life in spite of the obstacles. 

There are plenty of things in our lives that we could look at and think that we are being burdened by our mishaps, but when we turn the lens in a different direction you can get a glimpse of life and notice that even the mishaps were gifts. They were an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and other’s.  We may find ourselves crossing paths with people who have something to teach us or bring a ray of sunshine in the form of hope and inspiration. Almost every encounter can be an opportunity to receive a gift. Even the difficult folks in our lives give us the opportunity to practice compassion and discernment. 

A Gift we take for Granted

Stop – look at your hands, feet, limbs, eyes and ears. Now place your hand over your heart and feel the breath moving in and out  of your lungs as your heart beats.  Next – close your eyes with your hand in place and listen to your mind start to swirl with thoughts now use your steady breathing as a focal point. Do you have any idea how many things happened in this short time. You used your eyes to look at yourself, you used your hand to feel your incredible heart that keeps beating without you having to think about it. Then you utilized your mind to steady your breath and focus your mind upon your breath. Our body is a miracle. It is our vehicle and means of experiencing the greatest pleasures in life. Think about it!!!! I get dazzled by how fast I can type this. The nerves are firing back and forth from the brain to the fingers in a matter of seconds Crazy, right…

One of the greatest tools we have inside of these miraculous bodies is our mind. Imagine if we actually took the time to make friends with our minds instead of trying to kill it. It sounds drastic I know, but given the amount of drugs people are on, inordinate amount of time in front of TV & computer screens, texting, excessive alcohol and crappy food consumption. It’s a wonder our brains and minds work at all. If you’re not thinking clearly how does that affect one’s level of happiness or decision-making? Does our level of happiness weigh into how well our lives look and feel? I think you would all answer yes. Then why wouldn’t we invest in this gift we already have? 

The Little Gifts 

Friendship is one of the most amazing gifts I have had the good fortune of cultivating. It brings me an immense amount of joy to share life, stories, laughs, hugs and deep thoughts. We exchange gift of time, love, books, clothes, perfume, music, money, food and knick knacks. 

Today I was given a gift by a dear friend during a phone conversation.  He is an older gentleman recently retired from a life of serving as a professor in a university. I have always admired him and our conversations are always full of life and insights, in addition to a great deal of laughter. We met at the Himalayan Institute almost 2 decades ago. Right before we hung up he asked me if I remembered giving him a blanket. I said honestly no, I asked him to describe the blanket. He said he was nondescript, but that it played a special role in his life. He has been using this blanket to wrap around his shoulders while he meditates every morning. It lies by his meditation cushion awaiting his arrival every morning. He said he brought it up because he wanted me to know that I was an important person to him and that every time he puts this simple blanket around his shoulders it was a reminder of our friendship. 

Simple gifts that we share between strangers or dear ones leave a lasting impression sometimes without us being aware of it. It is the small things in life that can make a huge difference when we add them up over the course of a lifetime. 

Enjoy Your Gifts and Share Them with The World around you. 

Peace,

VL

Nothing

 

Space

As in space there is no sound and in the presence of Dark Matter there is seemingly little holding the galaxy together, in life we too sometimes experience something going on in a whole lot of nothing

This notion of nothing going on has been prompted by life as of late. I’ve been experiencing a shortage of words to write and clarity on what actions to take. This is kind of a big deal, being a  doer and talker. This in no way means that there is a shortage of things happening around me. Although, it feels like nothing is really happening. When in doubt – do nothing. 

This blog site was meant to be a medium of communication, to share thoughts and ideas with the world outside of my actual grasp. Teaching used to be a day-to-day occurrence in my life. It has been 5 years since I last taught on a regular basis. I thought this would be a means of continuing the process of sharing on another level. The ideas flow into my mind, but then drift away. quickly. So, figured I’d write about the lull or rather nothingness that is occupying my space currently . I’ll keep it on the bright side. 

The Beauty behind Nothing

There are times when we find life a bit dull and quiet. It’s where nothing seems to find it’s way into our lives and we start to wonder, what the hell is going on. Tell me if any of the following resonate with you.

Life becomes more of a private affair and sharing with other’s seems like it’s not worth the time. Work takes a toll and yields little satisfaction. It not only takes a toll,  but robs us of energy to do much else. Things seem a bit lack luster and we start to lose motivation. You get the sense that this could be the best time to stop and reflect into areas of your life that may not be so comfortable or it could simply be that life is slowing down because there is a much needed shift that you have been longing for. 

What do you – should you stop and take the time to ‘go in’- BORING, right. No, it’s not – it’s an opportunity to see what’s going on in your head. More importantly, it’s about getting in touch with the feelings behind it all. If it’s about redirecting your life then you have to take the time to dig in and sit with it. The key to redirection is to use the moments of ‘nothingness’ to gain perspective and get in touch with your feelings. This can get awkward for some folks, it feels like you’re unraveling a never-ending story, which is exactly why you should do the unraveling sooner than later. If you get too tangled up it takes a lot longer to unravel the knots. 

We are constantly doing, doing, doing.  We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to ask the vital questions, like why, how did I get here, where is this going – you get it. Asking these types of questions can be scary and sometimes we can beat the heck out of ourselves when we hear the answers, but it’s necessary. I mean, if we want our lives to be meaningful and fruitful. Of course everyone has their own version of meaningful and fruitful.

There is beauty in this stillness of life and it doesn’t last forever. Life will soon enough give us a jolt and spur us into action. Hopefully this inspired action is being led by our intuition, feelings and knowing that we are moving in the right direction. By the by, meditation and relaxation are great tools to implement at this point of our lives, if you haven’t already. If you are already a meditator then hone these skills so that when your intuition speaks loudly, there will be no mistaking what comes next.

When the Nothing is Over

What happens when it’s time for inspired action. This is an individual process. I can only speak from my experience, I notice that people and circumstances start to shift rapidly as if magic were a foot. Yeah it sounds hokey, but I assure it’s real. There was a time when I had no idea what was coming next, my life had almost come to a dead halt and I was just waiting for an answer and then ‘poof’, my mentor PRT asked me for the 3rd time to move to the Himalayan Institute. Later on in life I had been wanting to move out of state I was living in and I got fired from a job. This was my cue – I was leaving. It was an exhilarating feeling. So here I am years later once again having moved through another growth spurt and I am anxious to get moving on to the next chapter.

You may find yourself in a similar situation, chomping at the bit to get things going, but the universe is telling you, wait, digest the experiences thus far, redirect, come back to your roots, make the next decision based on what’s in your heart and your greater purpose. Listen and wait for direction on how to move forward. Not just to fill the time doing, doing, doing, but to get clear on the purpose behind the action.  Enjoy the silence, get comfortable with not being in control of what’s happening , master yourself and connect with your inner guidance. It’s nice to not always be the one driving and trust that there is a force that will lead you exactly where you need to go, at exactly the right time, live in gratitude, there is still time to figure it out and this time is really affording you the time to get closer to yourself. 

Not so much Nothing after all, eh.

Peace

VL

 

Genuine Generosity

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Reflections in repose by VL
Reflections in repose by VL
Reflections in repose by VL

True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share. – Suze Orman

 Big topic of discussion these days, perhaps its because I find myself noticing more and more the motivations behind so-called generosity. Let me give you some examples.

  • This is an oldie – donating money to your local church, mosque, temple or university so that you can have your name on a building. Is there something wrong with wanting your name on a building – of course not, but would the building still hold the same meaning to the benefactor if their name was not on the building, just sayin.
  • Giving someone a  gift, then expecting that this someone give you something in return or favors. Kind of makes you feel like you wished you had never accepted anything from them in the first place, right. 

I am sure that we have known, met and perhaps have found ourselves acting in such ways. It’s a cause for pause to ask, why?

The Why

Do you ever feel like you have to do something because people expect it of you and then you resent others and yourself?  Who benefits from our actions and do our ego’s seek admiration for them? Yes, everyone loves a genuine thank you. Another question that comes to mind is, would we still perform great deeds if no one ever knew we were the ones responsible for them

Let’s go a little deeper here – Do we find ourselves going the extra mile because there is a big pot of gold on the other end of the rainbow or because we are truly love doing a great work? Do we find ourselves giving because we really want to be needed and keep others around us? There are no wrong answers, but they are revealing. 

Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.  – Albert Camus 

Charity is typically grounded in giving money to a cause or people. This is a tricky business because throwing money towards a difficult situation without discernment can turn things quite sour. How so, let’s take a look-see:

  • A married couple that rarely get to spend time with their children, because they are busy with business or their own personal interest, they in turn buy the children elaborate gifts, send them to unending extra curricular activities. They think that because they give them things they do not have to do the work of being a parent or taking the time to get to know their children which is what the children want in the first place their love and genuine interest. Charity begins home, ring a bell?
  • Attending endless so-called ‘benefits’ for who knows what cause, tickets cost a fortune and by the time the event is over there is hardly anything left over for the Actual Cause they’re promoting. And yet folks get to brag about how ‘charitable’ they are. Side note – not for profit organizations were initially established as tax shelters. I am not saying that all not for profits are corrupt, but you know what I am talking about. 

The only things standing between you and the compassionate, wise, and creative person you want to be are matters of choice. Your choice. No one can occupy your generosity except you.  – Gary Zukav

How do we come to a place of genuine generosity? The first thing that comes to mind is volunteering our time for a cause that brings joy to our hearts. When devotion is brought into the picture it sheds an entirely different light on to things. A heart full of joy and love is the best way to invoke generosity. The notion of volunteering ought to be instilled in our youth population at a very early age. It gives them of a sense of what it is to be of service for the sake of being in service to others. Not to be confused with being in servitude which happens unwittingly in today’s culture. 

I’m not trying to imply that we become saintly, lord knows I am not a holy roller, but there is something about being of service to other’s. Small acts can cultivate into something greater. I know this world is turned on its head and you wonder what is wrong with people, which in turn makes you Not want to help others or be generous. Discernment is a key to being of service without depletion of one’s self. Not everyone is generous, there are those that seek only to gain and will use charm, lies and manipulation to get what they want. Discernment and clarity of mind can keep those with generous hearts safer. I feel it is worth mentioning because once it has happened to you there is a risk of becoming jaded and selfish. Deflect these notions by keeping in good company. 

Look in the mirror and ask yourself – are you going to allow the world around you change who you are, who do you want to be, what do you want to be known for, what kind of people are hanging out in your backyard? If we want things to change – it starts right here and now.

There will always be light & dark, yin & yang, but right now there’s an imbalance between the two. The level of Me-ism and selfishness has got us in a dire mess. Let’s clean it up. 

Genuine awareness and generosity are two steps in saving our humanity, because without it this world is going to be bleak. I think we can do better than this. I should hope so. 

Ciao for now, 

VL

 

Ma

MA!

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. 

William Makepeace Thackery

In addition to this quote – Mother is the name of the Goddess that nourishes and animates the Universe.

Your Mother 

Think of your Mother. The emotions that come forward. Are we the kind of children she would be proud of now… Do we have anything we need to forgive or be forgiven… Can we see the sacrifices that were made throughout our lives made by our Mother’s in order for us to have a better life. Do you recall the little things that you learned like kitchen dancing lesson that included the cha-cha, or how to iron, take care of plants, shovel snow, food shopping, cooking…

Remember the things that would come out of her mouth in response to your smart ass remarks in the middle of a disagreement.

You – So!!!!  Mom – Sew Buttons – and you would walk away feeling like an idiot.

Or how about the these lines-

Mom – I said stop doing that, you’re going to get hurt

You – No I won’t – la la la la

Mom – When you get hurt don’t come crying to me

Of course we wound up getting hurt and came crying to Mom – she’d clean the wound and bandage us Again, shaking her head and sending us off to our next adventure.

I never got mothers who would actually hit their kids after they had already gotten hurt. Such an abusive thing to do, as if hitting the child would stop them from getting hurt again. Anyhooch….

The Mother’s Around You

Now think of all the Mother’s you know, the children they have, married, single or divorced. Do you see the things they do for their children, the challenges of learning how to juggle work, life and maybe 5 or 6 children at a time. These were the Mom’s that would have everyone else’s children at their home. Food, toys, space to be crazy and kind words. These mom’s seemed to have it together or maybe they had gone crazy from all the children they had. They just seemed very at home with being everyone’s mom and always serving with a smile. Got a kick out their own children and everyone else’s. 

Your Other Mother

Now to the Mother figures in your life that never have had children of their own, but nourish those all around them.  These women are mentors, role models they fill the gaps in our development especially if our relationship with our mother was challenging. These women are beacons and sometimes a bit stronger for the sacrifice of not having their own children. They know that having children is a huge responsibility and realized if they could not provide a stable and loving environment for their own, they would rather not do it at all. They also know that they can be of far more service, because they have the freedom to do so. I have known such women throughout my life and I am very grateful. 

Throughout history we have been given great examples of this type of devotion and care. 

Here are two of my favorites. 

Mother Theresa
Mother Theresa
Sri Sarada Devi Ma
Sri Sarada Devi Ma

 

The Mother’s Role

The role of a mother is to protect, serve, nourish, teach, learn, provide stability, guidance and room for growth. It’s an ever-expanding role, mother’s are some of the fiercest warriors that I have ever known. She is a selfless person who also knows how to preserve herself and demonstrate the values and principles that are required for a stable, healthy and thriving community.  She is also a bit brazen, outspoken, full of mirth  and laughter. Her presence is felt when she walks into a room.

Ma recognizes the divinity in all things and bestows love & affection to her beautiful children. She can also be a stern disciplinarian when need be, we all need a little booty spanking or ear tugging from time to time.   She provides us with clear and concise guidance in ways to live a happy and fulfilling life. She lets us know how well we are doing when need be and leaves us to our devices otherwise. She has faith in us and our abilities.

Their is nothing like the lap of the Mother. Her animating force of Nature enlivens everything, from art to music, dance, writing, singing and the care of flora and fauna. Taking the time every day to give thanks for such nourishment and guidance is vital to a happy life. These are the ideals that come to mind when I think of Ma!.

Gratitude and Grace for another Day Devoted to Mother’s All Around Us.

Jai,

VL

Mother Nature

Two Suns Collide – Watch Hill, RI Winter 2012 – VL

Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with. Animals are our friends, the waters that flow nurture us, the earth beneath our feet provides stability & sustenance, the skies provide shelter & beauty to behold.

Mother Nature is pissed off. Look around – natural disasters, global warming and climate pattern change. We have taken her for granted. Do we actually believe for one second that those that do harm to the planet and it’s inhabitants will go unscathed by their actions?  Mother Nature seeks her revenge without any bias.  She is fierce in her comeback. When there is a mighty storm brewing I relish in it.  Fierce storms remind me of washing away waste.

Polka Dot Beetle – Central Park, NYC Fall 2014 – VL

I walk by a tree – give thanks for the O2 in the air. Walk by animals tame or feral and pay my respects. While shopping I think twice about the purchase. Mindfulness is the key. Some may think this is some kind of hippie dippy shit – call it whatever you want. I call it being aware, grateful and responsible.

 

Vineyard Slope – Clearlake, Ca Summer 2014 – VL

If you have young students, children, grand children, nieces, nephews or god children think of what will be left behind for them…What are we modeling for them – they watch us very carefully. Who do we think we are – decimating the beauty that has been provided to us – for FREE!!!

 

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Upside Down Sky – Hammonasset, CT Summer 2013 – VL

The Greatest form of Respect for Mother Nature is to abide within in her parameters. She can not be controlled – to attempt to manipulate her is a fool’s errand. It’s incredible that ‘we’ drill in the middle of the ocean relentlessly for oil, or destroy already poverty stricken areas with fracking and utilize a more precious commodity to do it – Water, drill for gems because there is a total shortage cheap ass jewelry in the mall.

Muir Beach, Ca Fall 2014 – VL

I love this planet – all of it’s wonder, beauty, diversity and capacity for regeneration. Much like our own bodies. It is when we believe that we are separate from the web of life that we start to screw things up. When children are taught or rather continually reminded of the gifts that have been provided to us in the form of nature is when we start to shape a new generation of conscious individuals that will be great stewards of the planet. In other words – real humans.

Reduce, Reuse, Recognize & Recycle

Ciao

VL

 

VL Speaks Copyright © 2014-2016

Family Matters

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“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
George Burns

It’s a bit funny to think that when one person in the immediate family moves away, they are sometimes viewed as abandoning the family, the black sheep or running away. If you are that person – you could say ‘I’m an adventurer and there’s a lot of world out there to see.’ Then again it could be all of the above.

Anyhooch, every family has it’s drama, some more than others. For years I thought, when I had my own family things are going to be different. I believed I would have the home that folks would want to come and visit, cook big meals, laugh a lot and play games.  If you have such a family – please do not take them for granted. It is a rare and beautiful thing in this day and age. I do not have that kind of home and why is a long story, stay tuned…

Soul Family

The ‘family’ that I created through out the years has been a combination of the biological family and what some call ‘soul family’. These are people that I have met through my travels and travails.  Absolutely adore them – we reach out to each other by phone, Facebook, Skype and letter writing either by email or hand. By the way, hand written letters and cards are a lost art. I am fortunate to have biological and ‘soul family’ scattered across the four winds. Which is great – if you are an adventurer.  Most of them are women and a small group of men. There are a host of children I have watched grow up from a far or in their homes. There are still little ones around and they are especially fun. The enriching thing about having ‘family’ outside of your biology is that you may find you have more in common, familial dynamics and such that are not charged with emotion.  We fill in the gaps in each others lives and support one another when the need arises. My ‘soul sistas’ & brothers have been there  me in ways that I can never repay.

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
Oscar Wilde

Forgiveness works both ways. Sometimes we can be assholes as kids.

Typically small children do not screw up parents, it’s usually the other way around. As we become adults it’s the children’s responsibility to avoid staying in the victim rut – there are plenty of ways to overcome childhood trauma. I am not saying all children are saint’s, but for the most part children are the more enlightened in a child-parent paradigm. I have spent years teaching children and I know what I speak of. That’s another story to be told. Stay tuned….

Getting things as straight as possible with the parents before they leave is imperative for mental and emotional health. Getting the ‘karmic record straight and the karmic slate’ clean is far more rewarding than holding a grudge. This way we can live a full life and love people regardless of the past. We can’t expect too much from people, especially once they get passed the age of 60. They are pretty set and it’s not going to change much. If we can get on our inner journey on track before our 50’s we’re doing all right, we’ll have an easier time of it when illness and death comes to the family.

It is imperative to mention – I love my parents and I appreciate every gift of talent, genetics, love of life and lessons that they passed on to me (even the crappy ones).

There may be no relationship…that’s closer, finer, harder, sweeter, happier, sadder, more filled with joy or fraught with woe, than the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters.

Jeffrey Kluger – NPR – TED Radio Hour

Being the eldest in a family has it’s challenges. It seems as though every thing you do is wrong or anything younger siblings do is your fault. Why…because parents are trying to figure it out on the first one, which in turn trickles down the line. By the time they get to the 3rd or 4th child they may be exhausted or they actually have gotten a handle on things. Each birth position in the family dynamic brings it’s own set of challenges. Sibling rivalry, who’s which parent’s favorite, who’s the loser, the rebel – you know the deal.

Then there are blended families with children that come from the subsequent union, which invariably brings about confusion and sometimes jealousy. There is also the possibility for incredible enrichment. At my age I have found that the most important thing is to remember you are family. You may not agree, but you’ve got each others back. Divisiveness creates fractious behavior, resentment and a great deal of loss. After all, we all just want to be loved, appreciated and mostly seen & heard.

Maturity brings a great deal of perspective, my biological sisters are a hoot. Now we can laugh about all of the craziness we grew up with. It’s nice to be women together. My younger brothers have some catching up to do since they are much younger than us. I look forward to them becoming full fledged men. All in all, it’s quite lovely to be on the Bright Side of the Moon.

Circling Back

If you live in another state or country, far from your immediate family – you might have found that the difficult relationships have smoothed out. You have all realized (with age & experience) that you miss each other, you value the bond of family and have put differences aside. Now when you see your family – it’s sweeter, there’s more laughter, less resentment and new memories are being created.

The antidote to hurtful memories – forgiveness.

If we are fortunate enough to have wonderful people that we love and cherish by our side when the last day comes, we are very fortunate indeed. Sure we are born alone (except for multiple birth siblings) and we go out alone, but really no one wants to be alone. Let people know you love them.

We all sometimes wish we were born into a different family, but we weren’t – it’s our duty to figure it out. If it seems insurmountable, ask for help figuring it out. Some things are worth fighting for and some are not. I think our birth families and soul family are to be cherished, make time for things that really matter.

Till next time

VL

VL Speaks © 2016

Illness is a Teacher

This post comes from personal experience. In addition to witnessing and sharing the journey with others on their path to balance.

For years as a personal trainer and yoga teacher/therapist my niche was working with ‘special populations’. I saw everything from post chemo/radiation, cystic fibrosis, cardiac rehab, physical rehab, post-op and emotional trauma. It was a calling. I actually enjoyed researching the origins of conditions and exploring ways that I could be of service. Each of these clients were giving me an opportunity to learn, grow and see the other side of illness – wholeness.

Through various forms of study and research it has been revealed that illness has many avenues of making its way into our lives – genetics, environment, stress, food and lack of self-awareness are just a few that come to mind. Exploring the connection between the mind and body proved the most fascinating. The concept that our thoughts and emotions could foster or hinder the development of dis-ease in our bodies is as old as time.

In my case I was a healthy specimen by all counts.  Factors leading to illness included the environment, thought perception, stress, anxiety and a constant push to be better, accepted by others and apparently my destiny were all major contributing factors. I was actually told by my neuroendocrinologist that it was my destiny to become ill. Now most of you might be thinking that this statement is absurd, but when it was spoken, I was struck. This statement rang like a clear bell in my ear. If it was indeed my destiny to be ill, then it was my responsibility to learn from it and get back into to balance.

Illness manifested in the form of a hyper active thyroid – it regulates so many things, astounding how a little gland could be responsible for so much.  Aside from its regulatory duties it’s located at the base of the throat which from an energetic standpoint is associated with creativity, healthy expression of thoughts and emotions. The thyroid is also part of the endocrine system which ties into reproductive organs. When it’s in a hyper state it can wreak havoc on the eyes, heart and lungs. In this case the results were anxiety attacks, deformed face, body riddled with edema and hyper-pigmented skin. To top it off – let’s shave off all the hair on my head to androgynize a female in conflict. There were other factors that exacerbated the situation and put things in crisis mode, but thankfully I am here to tell the tale.

Let’s sum it up – this case study makes for an interesting recipe – unresolved issues regarding femininity, attachment to being a mother and being over driven made for an imbalance. Additional thoughts and emotions relating to these factors gave way to a system in overdrive.

Healing

Believing in your ability to heal is incredibly powerful, but sometimes you need assistance. There was resistance to using allopathic medicine and I needed to get over it. This was a period of adjustment. There was plenty of research done on how the medication could affect the rest of the body and it wasn’t pretty, but fortunately the neuroendocrinologist knew how to integrate anthroposophic medicine to mitigate the effects of the medication. In addition to that there were herbs, modified diet, restorative yoga, meditation and of course the mind (the greatest tool we have) that attributed to the road to recovery.

It wasn’t about fighting the disease, it was about using all of the other tools to bring the body back into balance. If we are against something it can cause us to hinder the very parts of us that can aid in our recovery. Time to embrace the process and learn from it.

Self care took on a whole new meaning. Grooming, healthy eating, exercise, massage’s, Yoga, meditation – check, check, check these things were already in place. The true measure of self-care was now replaced with Self Love.

Having a deformed face and body was scary. At first there were screaming fits of crying, asking why it had come to this. Then there was acceptance that it could stay this way. Journaling was a great form of therapy – writing love letters to my face, thyroid, skin and the rest of my organs for having endured a major trial.

For those of us that believe that pushing to achieve a ‘goal’ is the best way to achieve happiness, think again. A great piece of advice  was passed on while in the throes of illness ‘let the world come to you’. Did that mean do nothing or be completely passive – No. Simply put, instead of going full throttle, let things happen in the best way possible, draw the attention back in, be at peace instead of being crippled with worry and angst. This kind of advice is always useful whether you are ill or not.

Lessons

It took four years to come back into balance and five years later – all systems are in balance. The details around the healing linger. The recovery took longer than it could have, primarily because the lessons were not to be missed.  Like learning how to love a face I didn’t recognize and slowly regain the confidence and resilience to live fully. The illness did not cure me of all my issues, but it did help me learn how to care for myself in more loving and accepting manner.

I made up my mind that I was going to listen very closely to my body and how it feels around thoughts, people and situations. This kind of living is about fine tuning. Tuning into how we feel is a gift to ourselves.

Illness was a means of learning how to love and feel from a deeper place. It also brought  the issue of death into perspective, it’s not the amount of years we are here, it’s what we do with them while we are alive.

 

 

 

 

 

First Believe It – Then You’ll See It

You are the creator of your own reality because you are the chooser of the thought right now.

Abraham-Hicks

 

Have you ever found yourself thinking about something that you wanted to have happen and then it does. Then you think to yourself wow I actually wished that into being, perhaps I need to be careful about what I think and why.

The power to use thought as a masterful tool is an ancient concept. Yogi’s knew about the power of using their minds to alter things, including your own physiology. If you agree that everything around us is made of some type of energy made manifest into form – it stands to reason that we are energetic beings and our thoughts are like energetic transmission. When you stop to think about the capabilities we have, to not only control our thoughts, but manifest those thoughts into being – it’s a good time to say ‘I need to do this consciously’. Once things get into motion they start to take a life on of their own. We may not even be aware of how it all started. The thing is everything starts with the power of thought. The feelings we have while we are having these thoughts makes an impact on the outcome.

Let’s break it down in terms of real life experience. Let’s say you want to start a business, you have made the effort to get a location, the money is in place and you have your business plan in place. The questions that come to mind are the following – why do you want to start the business in the first place, why did you choose the location, what is the ultimate goal? If we are in tune with our feelings & motivations and it all lines up, chances are things will go well. Of course there are plenty of other details that go into running a successful business, but if you stay in the place of clarity, focus, one-pointed intention and creativity amazing things can happen.

It’s in the big picture, the details, the vision and the belief that all things are possible – if we really believe we can have it. Now this does not apply to getting someone to love you. That’s an entirely different story, while you could try to manipulate someone into being with you (and you can manipulate people into doing a lot of things) it’s probably not going to last and neither one of you is  going to be genuinely happy.

” You are the architect of your life and you decide your destiny. ” – Swami Rama

 

Be the architect of your own life – ‘You mean I am responsible for how my life turns out in the grand scheme of things?’ While we may not control anyone else or circumstances – we are still in charge of how we choose to live our lives and contribute to society.

It all starts with our thoughts and setting the tone internally for things to start to germinate. My teach PRT once said ‘how do you expect to make friends with your mind if you are trying to kill it’. Boom – when I heard this the first time I knew that my meditation practice was going to continually be a source of comfort and guidance. Self talk – the mind chatter is one to watch. Are we trying to beat ourselves into submission or do we lovingly coax ourselves into a place of self soothing and appreciation. No one else can do this for us. In addition to the fact that I am the only force in my Life that has the key to making myself happy. While happiness is a broad topic I think it’s safe to assume for most of it means – peace, joy, equanimity, fulfillment – you get the gist.

The germination process starts off with one single thought or idea and grows. So what are we going to think about? Unicorns and fairy’s are lovely to be sure, but we want to get to the things that ‘turn us on’ get’s the fire burning inside of us to improve, thrive and prosper. We all have different ideas of what that is and it’s important that we tune into it on a daily basis.

Let us not forget the company that we keep. If we want to progress on Seeing the manifestation of goals – our fellow pilgrims on this journey of life need to be uplifting, honest and on the same page just to name a few. You can’t expect to climb Mt. Everest if you’re hanging out with folks that don’t even know it exists or where it is.

Knowing, sensing, feeling and believing are all the precursors to bringing things to life. You’ve got a dream – affirm it, Believe It, Act on It, Listen to the cues that come from deep within (intuition), get into alignment with it and then eventually you’ll see it. If you don’t believe me scroll back on your life, check to see how many things you said you were going to do or that would come to pass and watch what turns up. They may not have turned out exactly they way you wanted to, but they happened, right? Think about things you didn’t want to have happen, but you fretted so much about it that it did happen? Now imagine what could happen if you were clear & deliberate about a goal – so one pointed you amazed yourself and people around you.  Some folks call it Magic and it kind of is, more importantly it is the amazing power we were given to choose our thoughts and actions into Being.

 

Peace & I’m Out

VL

 

 

 

 

 

The Game of Values

Values
Values

IMG_3162“Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together.”
John Ratzenberger

 

It’s been a hot topic in conversation lately. When you think of values what comes to mind – I looked up the definition online, here’s what I found.

Noun –

1.the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

2. a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

Interesting that the worth or usefulness of something was #1 and principles and standard of behavior was #2.

The quote above is a true statement. Look at the state of the world today and the what energies are at play.  I can say that for the most part I do not share the same values with most of what you see in Media at large. So what does this tells us about how the world is changing? How can we change the world and is it really our job to be a part of a movement to change the world?

According to #2 definition – we could say that the answers to these questions lie with what are our own values or our standard’s of behavior. None of us are perfect – in the sense that we never make mistakes or that we don’t have room to grow, but let’s just say we are moving towards being the best version of ourselves. If we truly believe in honesty than our life will reflect that in our thought, speech and deed. People trust us because they know that our behavior is inline with what we believe in and what we say. If we are dependable and supportive, once again we engender a sense of trust and reliability.

Happiness in Maintaining Our Values

If we can imagine that our values are an extension of who we are at the core of us then this ought to bring us to a place of peace. When we are start to behave in ways in order to please others we usually start to feel some sort of discord. For example making decisions about how to live our lives in order to make other’s proud of us or more accepting of us in a group. To live from this vantage point will eventually leave us feeling empty because we are not in alignment with our own values, better put what other’s think is more important than we think.

Living from a space of our true happiness is what matters most. This is not to say that we live in a bubble where we are only concerned with our own selfish desires, to the contrary – us living from a space of inner peace & contentment only enhances our ability to live a life that is meaningful useful and contributing the very best we have to offer the world around us. This kind of living will enhance all that come into contact with us, unless they are not happy to begin with. We don’t have to resist their values or thoughts we just stay in a place of repose and happiness.

Get Connected to Our Values

How we interact with the world around us leaves a ripple effect. Thriving in the face of opposition – whether it be someone choosing to be with someone else instead of us in a relationship, a job or a group is not contingent upon anyone else. Our values and belief in ourselves with unconditional love is something that trumps whatever anyone else does or says. Examine why you choose the things you choose, when did you decide what other’s think was more important than your values, how did we lose our way in deciding what mattered most and did we ever have a grip on the importance of values in the first place? Ahhh – this tickles the mind a bit doesn’t it?

The importance of our values is in large part what shapes our lives. While we may not share the same values with some people it doesn’t make it any less important. The primary point of focus is understanding ourselves first. It’s very easy to judge what somebody else values and criticize, but does it really matter. No – it’s none of our business. Our Values are what matter most. Living by them with true conviction without judgement is a good place to start. Like attracts like so it is easy to say that we will attract like minded people along our path. Even if we don’t maintaining a steadfast grasp of our own will continually lead us to the path that is meant for us.

To tie back to the quote above – do we really wish to conquer the world, I would say we wish to have a positive influence on the world by utilizing our free will to dig deep into our own minds and see how our values impact those around us. Once again an inside job and one that starts with ‘I’.

 

VL

 

The End of a ‘Book’

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

volumes of books

The older we get the greater the volumes of books and chapters in our lives. Every time I filled a journal I re-read it to review the saga that had transpired. Once that was done, they were burned. The memories are still intact, but the emotion of the experience lessened and the lessons themselves are what remain. The trick is to apply the lessons immediately to ensure that they stick and create better material for the volumes to come.

Relationships – long past their due date

Have you ever found yourself continuing a relationship with someone who you knew just didn’t suit any longer? These people may circle around and because of some sort of feeling of responsibility or nostalgia we let them back in. Perhaps we think that this time around things will be different. It’s wishful thinking, we only change when we really want to. We all find our way to certain experiences and people because there are things we need to learn from them. The endings don’t always have to be sad, especially if we are aware of why we got into the relationships to begin with. Some things just need to come to an end sooner than others.

To disconnect from people we care about without hurting ourselves or them is tricky.  For those of us who are kinder than most, we don’t want anyone to feel like they are being rejected or abandoned (especially if they have abandonment issues). Rejection is so uncomfortable and it can wreak havoc on a fragile ego. Perhaps this person let’s go of us, we may not wish it to be, but deep down we know in the end it’s the best solution. Holding on to a situation that has gone south, usually leaves everyone with a sour taste in their mouths and may taint the entire experience.  Most of us have experienced a bad break up with a lover or friend.  Upon reflection hopefully we see how we could have handled things better on the receiving or the giving end.

If we are honest with ourselves, perhaps we are better off alone than spending time with someone we are not connected to in a real & meaningful way? Being Real requires  strength,  honesty and self-worth.

At the End you Find yourself with a New Beginning

If we are alive, there is still an opportunity to start again. It definitely gets harder as we get older – it’s just the plain truth, but think of all the wisdom we have to apply to a new life. This new life affords us with the opportunity to create a new You. To transform on a cellular level. There is no shortage of material out there to inspire us to apply our talents to a new way of thinking and being. As we reinvent our minds and hearts we start attracting opportunities and people who are more like-minded. In other words – There is Hope. We live in age where we can connect to one another in an instant. Let’s capitalize on this by creating networks of opportunity for growth and acceptance. Knowing that just because we have let go of a person, place or thing that it’s not the end of the world. It’s a re-birth.

Have faith, stay inspired, strive for the life you want and believe that the universe will conspire to bring it to you. With every step we take in the direction of our thoughts they move toward us. More importantly be grateful for all of the Wonderful People we still have in our lives that DO GET US and for the all the experiences that have yet to come.

Healing Balm

If you have been left behind by someone – thank them for being in your life and for whatever you learned from the experience even if it was full of deceit, malice, manipulation and pain. When we deal with people like this remember that they must be in more turmoil than you. Bless it, forgive it and move forward. Holding on to the pain and confusion will only deter you from healing.

Forgiveness is a great way of ushering in the notion that ‘this too shall pass’ and you will find yourself renewed and ready to experience the beginning of a New Book.

Peace & I’m Out,

VL

 

 

 

Grace & Gratitude

My swans - my pic
Swans have always represented Grace for me. This couple landed as I walking up to the pond and came to greet me. They must have known how much I love Swans and I feel blessed every time I see them.  – Hammonasset State Park,CT

Grace & Gratitude have been on my mind lately. There’s a ‘complaining gene’ that was inherited and it sometimes runs amuck. Keeping these two in the ‘ole lifestyle management tool box’ are essential to maintaining a genuine level of happiness. Excessive complaining puts us in a mind set where we attract more of what we don’t want. Yes it’s true we all need to vent and blow off steam at times,  repressed stress can manifest itself into over eating (stuffing our emotions), excessive drinking, an ulcer or a heart attack, that list is a mile long. We will also worry, this leads to fear in turn making things worse. How can we leave space for being grateful and happy for the grace that is present in our every day lives?

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.  Marcus Tullius Cicero

To be graceful means that we continually give thanks. There are people that say thank you because it’s the polite thing to do, but sometimes there are those ‘thank you’s’ that make you feel extra special. When someone really appreciates something that you have done for him or her, it gives you a glow.

Gratitude will also display itself  in the form of generosity. True generosity comes with ease -example – you are going to visit a friend or family member and you pick up their favorite scented candle or you know that someone is having a hard day and you give them a call, send them a card or a cheerful email. It’s an extension of ourselves that costs us nothing to give and brings joy to everyone. Both the giver and the receiver are being blessed with Grace. Gratitude and grace are the flip side of the same coin.

Life is a great classroom for building character and happiness. Here’s a call to action – find a silver lining in the most uncomfortable and painful situations, seek the truth of the matter, turn the mirror on yourself and see where you can improve and then give thanks for the opportunities to grow and evolve each day. Grace will manifest itself in the most beautiful ways. Believe!

Ciao for now,

VL

 

Freedom

“Freedom begins the moment you realize someone else has been writing your story and it’s time you took the pen from his hand and started writing it yourself.” Bill Moyers

Bill Moyer’s is quite an inspiring person. Definitely a good example of someone who is free – meaning he is living his dream.  I chose the topic of Freedom because I believe that a lot us are confused about what that really means. I used to think that freedom meant I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Truth is this could cause a little bit of anarchy if not watched. Things change for the  better as we get older, hopefully. Freedom came to mean something entirely different to me as time went on. I used to find discipline and structure confining – now I crave order.   Realizing that within in the order there is a great freedom. By disciplining the mind so much more is possible.

When you think about it even physical bondage can not take away the freedom we create in our minds.  Nelson Mandela is a great example of this – the man was incarcerated for 27 years and mange to get out with his mind intact and lead the country that had turned it’s back on him.  Why – because his mind was free. He did not get bogged down with what was happening in the moment, he knew that his mental state was the most important thing. Freedom therefore is a state of mind and this is what has compelled me to find a method of becoming friends with it. The mind is a powerful tool, if left unchecked it can wreak havoc.

Things brings me to ask how do we lose our freedom? First thing that comes to mind is ‘attachment’. Attachment to what – everything our clothes, car, friends, significant others, a job, a title, money, the neighborhood we grew up in, screwed up ideas ( i know that’s subjective) etc… You name it we become attached to it. Next question that arises – I had so many of these when this was brought to my attention. If you don’t have any attachments to your loved ones or the things you do/have what significance does life have? We can still enjoy life without clenching on to it for dear life. Yes we all have goals, we need to get things done. All understood, but does it make or break the happiness that resides within. Some of us had good childhoods, some not so much. Mine was a mixed bag, but I had a great imagination and I got lost in it a lot.  This gave me a sort of freedom – no one could take what I valued most because I kept in the vaults of my mind and the chambers of my heart. I have surmised from my experience, learning from folks wiser than myself and reading is that we all need to know why we are here, put first things first and then move forward. Even if you are not sure spend some time alone and ponder. Some of us have so much crap to wade through we get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. This in an of itself creates the ‘lack of freedom’.  Simplicity is best, start with the little things – enjoy the things that are free – like for instance the air we breathe, the trees, children laughing, the company of wonderful friends – enjoying things for what they are now. Be grateful for what we have instead of worrying ourselves to death. I had been ill for a number of years and my ‘teach’ told me make sure after you do your practices you go out and take a walk. He knew how much I loved the woods. There are 400 acres where I lived and I got to know them very well during my residency. This practice helped my healing along. Clearing the mind of fear, past hurts and so forth. I’m not saying that we don’t need to process our garbage. That’s a must, but start with enjoying the simple things that life has to offer. Not as easy as it sounds you might say, but Mother Nature cures all that ails you. There is nothing like the ocean breeze with its negative ions to clear away the cobwebs. The woods – why those trees are the steeples of our planet. It’s my favorite church. Freedom is always at our beck and call. We were born to be free. I am reminded of what Joseph Campbell told his students ‘find your bliss’ . In this day and age there are literally thousands of books, discs and music that are available for our inspiration. We create our greatest dreams and our own darkest nightmares. The company we keep makes a huge difference. These days we have more opportunities than ever to create the lives we want. Freedom has a price – the price is perseverance, belief in one self, a great deal of faith and the spirit of a warrior.

Ciao for now

VL