Friday, July 21, 2017

Creative Solutions

I used to have an office in a strip shopping center. The outside was barren, so I placed a flower-filled whiskey barrel by the front door. It welcomed clients and softened the look of the otherwise stark entrance.

Unfortunately, the plants vanished. I would replant, but after a few days, they would be gone. The plant thief took them one by one, as if by disappearing slowly, I wouldn’t notice. The plants were perfect for the front door, but I was unwilling to keep replacing the plants. How could I discourage the plant bandit?

My intuition buzzed with the perfect answer. I printed out a small note and placed it prominently in the glass window behind the planter. The note read, “These are planted in honor of my beloved Aunt Lima, who passed away recently.” It worked. There were never any more plants taken. I started having fun and honored my friends’ and clients’ deceased relatives. “These plants are planted to honor the beloved mother of Jane Stiles.” I changed the dedication sign every few weeks and my friends and clients felt comforted as they passed by the planter. I used real names for the deceased and loved ones. It felt right to be straight and to make this more than a ploy to fool the plant snatcher. The process eventually moved from being a solution to a problem, to a sacred act of honoring others.

My office was in an isolated area, so I tried to leave my office at night with my last client. One evening, when I had stayed late to do paperwork, there were several teenagers hanging around the front exit. None of them looked like the girl next door. They numbered six, so I waited for them to leave, but the night wore on, they remained near the door, and I was ready to go home. My intuition hummed. When I exited, I greeted them, “I am so glad you are here. It is scary to come outside alone at night. Will you watch and make sure I get to my car safely.” The Hell’s Angel’s lookalikes smiled and collectively responded, “Yes ma’am. We will take care of you.” I felt safe and protected as I slid into my car. I waved goodbye to my newfound heroes.

Once again my intuition served me. I’m not sure if I was in danger or not--maybe the kids were safe, but I didn’t feel safe, and the creative solution released me from my bondage. In another similar incident, my daughter and I delivered a carload of Christmas presents to the projects. We drove into the impoverished area in my late model El Dorado Cadillac, which was fashionable at the time, and parked in front of Miss Betty’s apartment building. I felt like a target; we didn’t fit in. What had I been thinking, going alone with my young daughter? There was what looked to be a gang at the end of the street, and again my intuition provided a quick reaction. I got out of my car and asked if the boys knew Miss Betty Smith. One of the boys responded affirmatively and I asked if he knew where she lived. He did. I told the boys I had a car full of presents for Miss Smith and said, “This a too much stuff for us to take alone. Will you please help us deliver these presents to Miss Betty?” So the Crips*, my daughter, and I headed to Miss Betty’s place and made her day. Again a wonderful solution.

My daughter once wrote a paper on incidents that formed her values. She included that day as a turning point. Her recollection was not about feeling afraid; she was touched first-hand by the kind of poverty she witnessed. That day she decided she would always help when she could, and she did. I watched her grow into a compassionate woman who spent years in a profession helping underprivileged populations.

There are times when we are faced with real and imagined danger. Rather than freak out or being frightened, looking for creative solutions can rectify an otherwise unpleasant situation or even help us avoid a potentially dangerous one. We won’t always be able to come out of every situation unscathed, but when we live with an expectancy that there is always a better, easier, and safer way to confront any situation, we are less apt to trip ourselves up when faced with a potentially bad one. It only takes a few seconds to check in with our intuition, and I’ve found that when I do, it always makes my life EZier and EZier. I hope you are never faced with these kinds of choices, but I’m sure if you are, you will find that holding back the fear and making friends of your supposed enemies will make your life EZier and EZier too.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Body Talk - Aging

I used to be prejudiced toward older people. Maybe I still am. I didn’t realize the prejudice existed. I thought I was cool and that I calculated people's value equally.

As I aged, the bias turned itself against me. I loved my flaming curly red hair, but at age 52, I felt the call of wild: “Go natural.” I cut my hair into a boy-like cut and waited for the salt and pepper. It wasn’t there. My daily mirror checks exposed a crop of white hair. I called myself Quetip. I was one white-topped woman. One day a child pointed at me and asked his mom, “What is that grand mama doing?” I hold nothing against being a grand mom—really, I love it—but something snapped. That day I stepped out of my youth and became an older adult. I entered the youth of my old age.

I remember climbing the steps of the pyramids outside of Mexico City. I was greeted by an elder who said, “Welcome to the end of your youth.” I was 40 and wasn’t ready to give it up! I thought, “What does he know?” 

Twelve years later, I gave in. I was maturing. I noticed subtle changes in the way people looked at me. Maybe it was a projection, but people looked through me or past me as they hurried through their lives. As a younger woman, one who was often center stage, I was used to being noticed, but now, I receded to the sidelines of life.

My sister had a heart attack and I raced to LA to assist her recovery. When she returned home, she carried an assisted living package – a walker.  All of the sudden walkers were cool. I checked out the older passersby as I strolled through the streets of LA. I stopped and talked with people about their walkers. Behind these walkers were interesting people, not old folks. Again, my prejudices made themselves known. I previously looked down on people using canes and walkers, but now my contemporaries were using walking aids, wheel chairs, and scooters. As I awakened from a silent fog, I wondered, “How many filters and preconceived notions lurk in the dark corners of my mind? What thoughts do I look through that determine how I view others?” There’s not an answer; it was a moment of recognition: the mind has its secrets.

I’ve settled into my older years and continue to uncover and heal my prejudices. People don’t look at me the way they used to, but I’ve discovered that the transition from younger to older is not only about who I think I am; it’s about letting go of an image that I believed gave me some kind of advantage in life. No longer do I hold the success images of youth. I have less money; my wrinkled face watches the jiggles as I walk. Things hang off my body that previously stood at attention, but there’s a softness replacing the vigor of youth. There’s a knowing that I never was those things. I was never a body. I was never young or old. I was never my thoughts or beliefs. They were just an operating system. I was more, always more, and knowing that certainly makes my life EZier and EZier.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Facing Genuine Pain and Suffering

 EZosophy is a philosophy that calls us away from ego driven suffering. EZosophy does not deny that we experience real physical and emotional tribulations. Individuals suffer, communities suffer, America suffers, and the world suffers. Suffering is not just individual; all suffering pulls at the fabric of humanity.

One of the most beloved saints of all times, St. Francis, overcame tremendous suffering. He was born into a wealthy family. He ran around  with his drinking buddies and eventually went to war – or at least participated in a skirmish. He fought for his city and was taken and held prisoner for more than a year. After his release he wanted to become a soldier, but illness kept him from military service.
Can you imagine? He was to be one of the greatest saints in history and he wanted to join the army! No wonder he kept getting sick. Deep down the seeds of spirituality were planted and his body said, “Hell no, you won’t go.” None-the-less, he planned to marry, but after seeking guidance, he was called back to a more solitary spiritual life. Eventually he became the original animal whisperer, a respected spiritual teacher and leader, and attained sainthood from the Catholic church.

Once I was in love and planned to marry. Many things got in the way of the marriage; it never occurred.  I didn’t understand. I wanted, longed for an explanation. I asked for help and guidance through this dark night. The St. Francis story led the way to understanding. When the young man’s path was blocked from his chosen career and his marriage, he might have felt sorry for himself or complained about the unfairness of life. Instead, Francis was led deeper into the spiritual life. This wasn’t the end of his life; it was his renaissance. But things didn’t go so smoothly for Francis; actually, his life was miserable. His community thought he was crazy. He was guided by a voice his friends and family did not understand. Yet, under pressure, Francis grew into a spiritual giant. The following thought is attributed to the great saint. “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” The saying sounds too contemporary to be the words of a 13th century mystic, but it does describe how Francis lived his life.

While I was not happy that Francis suffered, I was happy to find that even saints, maybe especially saints, suffer. It was comforting to know that I was not the only one - even the most spiritually astute suffer.

Ego driven suffering can be cleared up in an instant, but an instant cure for genuine suffering rarely exists. The trying times anoint us and guide us. These wearisome times, at their best, evoke compassion and humility. When we are on top, it’s so easy to serve the egoic mind, but when tragedy strikes, it brings with it the ability to reach into our deepest spiritual strengths and reach out to our support systems. This is what makes our situations EZier. We might not be able to carry our 50 pound load, but when a friend joins with us or someone wipes our tears, it lightens our load. And when there is no one else to count on, something can rise from deep within to soothe us. We are never left alone.
We must navigate genuine suffering with care so as to not complicate suffering by suffering about our suffering. This is affectionately referred to as feeling sorry for ourselves or having a chip on our shoulder. We can’t use tough times as a bargaining chip to get others’ attention and resources. That’s like trying to go into the back door of life. When we rise up and face difficult situations, such as a loss, and don’t complicate the circumstances by involving the ego, we receive assistance from other realms and join a flow that eventually carries us past the pain.  It’s called integration. Our past pain becomes a part of us that informs us and sends us into higher levels of compassion, but the pain no longer dominates our lives.

The saints, the foremost champions, and the greatest losers go through times of genuine loss and suffering. While we can’t escape these times, we can be sure that we do not travel alone. The eight word miracle mantra, “Everything can be EZ (Ego driven suffering can improve right now!) or at least EZier,” speaks to the nature of suffering and recovery. We are the champions of our lives, and whether life is peachy or downright sucky, we exist in a matrix of love that guides and guards us, even when we are too weary to look. Love says, “You may not be able to see it from where you are standing, but I assure you that everything is okay. The Supreme Okayness is with you and you are safe.” Our lives have already been saved, so when tough times befall us, we can be assured that we will make it though. This is the promise of the spiritual life, that we will make it through and emerge and reemerge into the adventure called life, and that every pain, every burden, every mistake – all will be renewed, restored, and revitalized if we allow it to be. We must give up our ego driven suffering, face our genuine suffering, and surrender to the Source. Spirit brings us the present of life, but we must open it to receive its gift and trust that the good and the bad work together to provide exactly what we need to be free, joyful, and fulfilled. #EZosophy #Saintfrancis #spiritual

You may find the following links about St. Francis engaging:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kiss My Grits

When I was young, I thought success and fame would lead to fulfillment. I was so good at the getting game that I lived my dreams and achieved my life goals by the time I was 25. Many people hit bottom and are forced to find a better way, but I hit top and found the world of power, a grand home, country club membership, and travel were not the solutions they promised to be. It was a time of great crisis. I was empty and miserable. Finally, I surrendered. I couldn’t figure out how to make my life meaningful and I couldn’t do anything to make things right. I just gave up, and some part of my ego flat-lined long enough for me to have an awakening. I lived in some kind of heaven on earth for months.

In my naiveté, I thought my life would never be the same and that heretofore every life experience would be underpinned by that peace that passes understanding. Little did I realize that experience was to give me insight into a mystical state of consciousness that would see me through some of the toughest times of my life.

I eventually got divorced; maybe that was the problem--an unhappy marriage. I was shocked by the depth of my despair after my divorce; my husband had been such a big part of my life. I remarried on the rebound with tears that were still wet on my face. My small nest egg was swiftly depleted by a less than honorable second husband. I found that not having enough money to meet life’s demands was even more frightening than the emptiness I experienced when I had plenty of money.

The man I married was a compulsive liar. He lied about little things and I could never figure out whether I was standing on the ground or in quicksand. I couldn’t believe he would lie to me. He was such a master at weaving fact and fantasy, that I couldn’t tell the difference. I began to doubt reality, because I was desperate to believe his lies. I made myself wrong in order to make him right. I almost went crazy. I ran the numbers and figured that if I really went crazy, it would be so expensive, I might never get out of the hole. Finally, in a fit of sanity and self-preservation, I divorced him.

Then came many years of life experience, relationships, travel, a thirst for spiritual truth, and a journey that continues. I’ve done more in my life and with my life than I ever expected to do. I look back and can’t believe the experiences I’ve had and that I have touched the face of love again and again. Life has become a friend that holds my hand and comforts me.

Waking up was not a guarantee of a perfect life; it was the door that opened the understanding not to take life so personally. Tragic events come and go, wonder and happiness come and go, but all these events were external to me because who and what I am cannot be defined by events. Events are the toys on the playground of life, but they are not life itself. This insight was not apparent at the time. I had to grow into it. And grow I did.

This was my life, and what I’m sharing is not a prescription for anyone’s life. I just want to mention that life was not what I planned it to be, it was not what I expected it to be, but through some twist of fate, it was and is better than my expectations. Events in life are not life itself, and the more I’ve come to understand that, the easier it’s been to appreciate the magnitude and fortune of my life. There’s an old saying, “Enlightenment is just a recognition, not a change at all.” And as I’ve recognized what is really present, I find myself at the starting place of my journey. The difficult and joyful events in life were stepping stones that took me back home. They were the grit in my "grail" and the thread in my life’s tapestry. The grit is still here, but I don’t have to sweep it under the carpet anymore. I can add it to my garden and it will soon support a flower or tree. I guess you could say I’ve learned to “kiss my grits,”and, as Robert Frost would say, and that has made all the difference.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Fast Food of Love

Victoria’s eyes rested on his rugged jaw as if her life depended on it. He was her answer to every fantasy, but now he was dead. He was able to take a temporary physical form, but she knew the ethereal body wouldn’t last. He was minutes from disappearing forever. Her heart was already mourning the loss. Life would not smile again and the love of her life would fade from her memory, unless she could find a way to bring him permanently back to life.

She knew the Creminians had secret ways. Her mother told stories of the dead coming to life. It was a long time ago, but the ancient practices held the key to immortality and reanimation of the deceased.  “Hold on my love,” she shouts across the divide. “I will spend my life finding The Way.”

This could be an excerpt from a modern love story. It’s a story of unrequited love. Victoria’s life and well-being depend on her lover’s existence. Unfortunately this is the illusion of the western way. We worship the idea that the love of a special person will bring delight to our world, fill our hearts with love, and give meaning and purpose to our lives.

Looking for a partner to fulfill our lives is like eating fast food. Fast food will fill you up for a while, even bring a smile, but if all one eats is fast food, then their health will eventually suffer. The body needs natural whole foods on a regular basis to flourish.

We need more than the love of a partner to feed the soul. Romantic love is not a soul-lution. It is not a bad thing,; it is just a fleeting thing. It is a groovy kind of love, as the song says, but romantic love is the fast food of love. Being in the presence of one who deeply loves himself or herself and one who knows their true identity, brings us much closer to love than when we are with one who expresses their undying affection for us.

Doesn’t it feel good to be around someone who loves all of life, including themselves and others? They have nothing to prove and don’t need to get anything from anyone. They don’t live life with a hidden agenda. People flock to gurus because of the nourishing love that flows from such self-realized saints, but ultimately the saint points the disciple in another direction. The guru points them back to themselves and illuminates the disciple so s/he can see the light within.
The New Year is a time of reflection. What is my life about? Why am I here? How should I spend my time and energy? Ultimately the question that puts an end to all questioning is, “Who am I?” These are the questions that allow us to bring accountability to our lives and the questions that open the door to a real soul- lution. Forget the worn out questions like: “Why am I not rich, successful, loved, or appreciated?” These are dead end questions.

If the questions above leave you flat, then learn the ways of the mind. Learn how to listen to that which is deep within. Allow the mind to spend its time learning to listen, rather than learning how to fix things. I’m not speaking about leaving things broken., oOf course we have to fix a flat tire,. I’m speaking of touching the ground of being as a way of living, rather than reaching to the stars for more fast food. Forget about love stories, fantasies, and longing. They are bits of desire thant lead to suffering and we don’t have to be about suffering. Let’s be about life, satisfaction, love, and well-being. It’s our destiny to show up in our lives and to awaken to our true selves. May this year reflect the peace and joy in life and may you always find that life can be EZier and EZier.