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Little book….Powerful read!

At the very beginning of the year, one of my friends asked a question on Facebook about the books people were reading.  One of his friends said she had read this book and it was awesome.  So I immediately put it on my list.  I had no idea what it was about, and when I went to go look for it in the book store, I found it in the business section.  Another business book?  Okay….I’ll bite!

The Go-Giver is not your ordinary dried up business how-to book.  To me, it was more like reading Dan Millman’s “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, but for business.  You get to follow Joe on his search for success where he winds up with this teacher who, over a weeks time, introduces Joe to different people who share with him The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.  It was such a fun book to read!  As a matter of fact, it was so awesome, that I bought it for christmas presents for several people!  I just had to share this gem!

There were a couple of times in this book where I found myself crying from pure happiness.  I found what I have always believed right here between two covers of a book!  I have always been passionate about customer service, and that is what this book is all about.  But it’s so much more than that!  What you learn in this book reaches far beyond business; you can apply these lessons to your personal relationships!  It has certainly given me a refresher on my enthusiasm for service..especially since I have a new job as a cashier in the busiest lodge on Bogus Basin.

During our orientation for Bogus they talked about how we must anticipate our guests needs and smile and give them the best service.  Of course, I took that to heart.  I always do…remember, I’m passionate about customer service.  But this book took it even further.  Even though I’m “just a cashier” and taking money for things the guests have already decided they want, what more do I have to “sell” them?  Well, it’s my job to sell them on the best Bogus experience they can have…..whether its smiling from my register, making sure the dining room is clean, helping a mom with a screaming child, or just greeting them as they walk in.  It’s my job to provide them with the best and friendliest experience possible.  Will I ever see a monetary return for that?  Probably not.  I get paid what I get paid.  Sometimes someone will leave me their “change” for a tip.  Sometimes someone will actually give me a tip..just for ringing up their food.  But all in all, we don’t get /take tips and I don’t get commission.  So where is the incentive?  The incentive is in seeing their smiles and in knowing that I had some part in their fun time at Bogus.  I love that stuff!  And that is exactly what this book is about!

I also found some encouragement in this book…..to reach for my dreams and my goals.  If I follow these steps (just doing what I already do), then taking the steps to reach my goals and my dreams should be easy..or at least a bit easier. *laugh*  I feel like I am in the right place..both physically and intellectually.  I couldn’t have read this book at the beginning of the year and gotten as much out of it as I did now…everything happens perfectly.  Wow…this whole 52 in 52 journey has been mind-blowing and perfect!  This is no different!

As far as I am concerned, this book is so easy and enjoyable to read, it is a MUST READ for everyone high school age and up!!!!  Doesn’t make a difference if you are in sells, marketing, customer service, or a stay at home  mom….pick up the book and read it!!!!  You will get so much out of it!

So there I was, walking through the book store  making a bee line to the children’s section when I saw this cute little puppy dog on the cover of a  book and it was on sale for $4.98.  Add that to my to my favorite word ever, “Bliss”, it was a MUST HAVE!!!!!

I was once told that the quickest way to feel happiness is to play with a pet.  I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.  I have never been a big animal person.  I have always had pets, but I have never really been attached to them so I really didn’t understand this.  Until I was really sad and my cat came up to me to love me and make me feel better.  Then my dog would ask me to play and I would laugh so hard at him.  And I fell in love with my animals.  They have taught me some big lessons.  So it was fun picking up this book and learning some lessons on happiness from Trixie the dog.

I also have to say that it was fun reading a book by Dean Koontz that was on the “light and fluffy” side :).

This book was written from Trixie’s point of view, and was a little odd to read at first.  But as soon as I fell into the rhythm of the writing, it all began to make sense, and I really enjoyed the book.

According to Trixie, “the road to bliss is paved with dog wisdom.” And there are 8 steps.  I will not tell you what those steps are; that is for you to read and find out!  But here are some lessons I learned while reading Trixie’s thoughts:

1) Sit still and be quiet.  Meditation is good.

2)  The rising moon at the bottom of a finger nail is beautiful.  I  never really noticed this before!

3) Life without a cookie is unthinkable!

4) “Pleasure without beauty is just empty thrill”…kinda like Sex without love…..hmmm….same thing, yes?

5) “The world is a gift to  make you happy.”

6) “Here is what real meaning is like.  Maybe you’re meant to give kindness to one special child.  Child grows up, is healer or wise leader.  then your purpose was as big as any king’s, maybe bigger.”  Being a stay at home mom….priceless and so very important!

7) “It is what it is.”  “No Kidding.  if it isn’t what it is, then what would it be?  And if it is what it isn’t, what the hell is going on here?”

8)  “Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.” ~ St. Francis

9)  If I want to remain young, I must play and laugh more!

10) Grief is cleansing.

Bonus reminder:  Be grateful!!!!!!!!

This book is filled with such heart warming and profound wisdom..straight from the dog’s mouth!  You will laugh and maybe even cry while reading this book.  One thing is for certain, you will smile!!!!!

I bought this book when it first came out (some time at the beginning of the year).  A group of my Facebook friends were going to take the class that was offered via Oprah I believe, and I was going to do it with them.  Ya.  I bought the book, but I never made it to the classes, and I didn’t read the book until now.  And as with everything else in life, there is a timing for everything and I truly believe I needed to have a few more experiences before reading the book.  It is perfect for right now!  Exactly what I need at the exactly the right time.

This book intrigued me.  As a trained storyteller, I learned a great deal about “the shadow” as it pertains to archetypes in storytelling and how to use storytelling in healing the psyche.  This book seemed like a natural fit into my life and what I have already learned; it seemed like it would be a natural extension.

C.G. Jung tells us that our shadow is the person we would rather not be.  Marianne Williamson says, “We feel if we take a deep look at ourselves, we’ll be too exposed.   We don’t want to look at our own shadow, because we’re afraid of what we might see.  But the only thing we should actually fear is not looking at it, for our denial of the shadow is exactly what fuels it.”

Debbie Ford asks the reader, “Are you ready to embark on this journey of reclaiming all of yourself, the light and the dark, your good self and your evil twin?  Are you ready to return to the love of your true, total, authentic self rather than stay trapped in the judgmental angst of a disjointed human ego?”  If so, “Your job is to learn from the shadow, to integrate it, and allow it to evolved your thinking and expand the boundaries of your self-created persona.  Your challenge is to find its value and to bring the light of forgiveness and compassion so that you can defuse its ability to dismantle your life.  Your job is to bring its complex characters out from the shadow, and to use their power and potency as sacred fuel to become who you were meant to be in this lifetime.”

Wow!  That is a pretty big challenge.  There is a reason it is called “the shadow”.  It can be a bit scary to take an honest look at what we are feeling and why.  Isn’t it easier to sit in judgment and blame someone else than to take 100% responsibility for our own thoughts and actions?  Ya, I think so too!  But I have realized in recent days,  months, years that I need to take 100% accountability for everything that happened or continues to happen in my life.   Whether it’s the abuse I endured as a child, the issues in  my marriage, or what I perceive to be happening within the roller derby league I was practicing with.  This book reiterates what I already believe and that is that “thoughts are things” and we create our own world based on our thoughts.  When I think, “Well they don’t like me and are ignoring me and leaving me out because they don’t like  me” then it sets that “wish” into motion and sure enough I get more of what I perceived to be true.  This just shows  me that I am feeling separate from others….separate from my self…separate from God/Love.  Where there is separation, there is fear.  Where there is fear, there is the shadow.  Where there is shadow, there is dis-ease, pain, sadness.

There are so many great thoughts in this book that really helped me look at things in different ways.  If you are struggling with addictions of any kind, fear of any kind, lack of success…if you feel as though something is holding you back, then pick up this book and give it a good read.  At the end of the book there is a test to see how the Shadow Effect is playing out in your life.  I am happy to say that the shadow is not controlling me completely, and yet there is room for growth :).  My eyes are opened now, and that is a good thing.

I will close this entry with this last statement from Marianne Williamson:

“Ultimately, the healing of the world will emerge not from our changing and correcting others, but from our willingness to change and correct ourselves.  Since all minds are joined, our ability to self-correct has a corrective influence on the entire universe.”

Blessings!

I picked up this easy to read 135 page book when I went to see His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar while he was here in Boise.  Until recently, I had never even heard of him but all of a sudden, I have seen him twice in 2 days (1st a major public appearance and 2nd at a private gathering at my church) and now I have read just one of his books.  When I went to the resource table at the big event, I looked around at all the books and all the cd’s that were there.  The title of this book is why I ultimately chose the book.  I can always use a little more fun in my life.

This book touches on the topics of fun, true intimacy, the four approaches to practical and spiritual life, real laughter, dealing with feelings, the nature of God and being a fool.  When I picked up the book to check it out, I noticed these topics and thought, “Wow!  This should be a fun read…..fun, laughter, being a fool!  That’s right up my alley!”

I have to say that when I started reading the book, I kept hearing Sri Sri’s voice as if he was saying it to me instead of me reading it.  It made reading this book so much more fun.  I saw his gentle smile and heard his laughter in the words he wrote.  I saw the mischievous look in his eyes when he cracked the jokes.  It really did make this book that much more enjoyable.  But even without that first hand experience with Sri Sri, the book is a very easy and enjoyable read.  It does get into some very deep thinking, and I did have to re-read things on several occasions.  This is definitely a book that will need to be read a couple of times.  Good thing it only takes a couple of hours to read to begin with!

So what did I learn?  It is more about what I re-learned.  I take things too seriously.  Reading this book just reminds me of that.

  • I learned that God loves fools and that being foolish is really being more like God than being this serious person is.  The chapter on being a fool was very enlightening!
  • I learned more about laughter!  I have taken laughter yoga classes, and this just reiterated what I learned from those classes.
  • He also talked about observing our feelings; this is something I was working on in therapy.  This is also something I read about in Geneen Roth’s book.  So here I go again, re-learning it in this book.  Being mindful of my feelings, allowing myself to feel them, and then let go.  Sri Sri suggests taking the feeling to its height (which may mean feeling at your lowest) and once you have done that, you have  felt and experienced all there is to feel with that feeling and it will just disappear.  How cool is that?  He says to feel it, but not to act on it.
  • Stop paying attention to happenings.  When we are attached to happenings, we create opinions, then we are stuck and attached to them.  We are living in the past and we will never remain open to new experiences and live in NOW.
  • “An enlightened person may not say, “I love you so much.”  In the very presence, you can feel the love.  In the very breath, you can experience love.  In the very look, you can experience love.  In any word spoken, you will hear that it is full of love.  The very existence is love.  That is enlightened love.”
  • “True intimacy is not in a hurry; it’s not anxious.  It relaxes, it knows.”
  • I am you.  You are me.  We are God.  We are all one creation/mind manifesting itself in different bodies.  This brings a whole new depth to the belief that we are One.  The book explains it so beautifully :).
  • In most of our problems, the biggest issue we have is the fight we have with our mind.  This is so true.  When I am miserable or depressed or stressed, it is because of an issue/conflict I am having within my mind.  It is MY experience, my THINKING that is causing me so much distress.  Sri Sri talks about letting go and surrendering.  and Forgiving myself.
  • This is one of my favorite paragraphs in the book:  “Thinking is like chewing gum.  It doesn’t produce anything.  You can think about only those things which you know.  and once you know, what is the need to  think about it?  And you can’t think something which you don’t know.  How can you?  It is not possible.  Ultimately, thinking is useless!!!”
  • Here is a great strategy for life:  “See life as a game, as a play.  You are God, you know it.  I am God, I know it.  So let us play. And when you come from that level of consciousness, there is nothing to teach.  Only being.  Come and sit, be with me for a while.  That is enough, for you and I are one.  This is love,  isn’t it?  That is what God is telling you every day, ‘I am doing everything.  You come and sit with me.  Whatever needs to be done, I will get it done through you.  You simply stop existing.'”  I know I am guilty of taking life too seriously..always looking for a connection to God..always learning..always searching.  It’s what I do.  Yet, I have found recently that all I want to do is do things that make me smile, feel joy and live.  I find myself wanting to PLAY and be joyful.  Not only am I WANTING to do this but I AM DOING this.  It’s pretty darn cool!

I will close with this last quote found in the chapter about being a fool.  “George Bernard Shaw said somewhere, ‘Cricket is a game where eleven fools play and eleven thousand watch.’  It is true.  All games are foolish acts.  A game is a game because it is foolish.  If you find meaning, purpose, aim and competition, you destroy the whole game.”  How about we just stop looking for the meaning of life, and just in-joy it!  Have fun!  Play!  Laugh!  And just BE!

All of my life, I have either been over weight for FELT like I was over weight.  Why?  Because my mom told me I was fat.  My dad told me I was fat.  My brothers told me I was fat. And the kids at school told me I was fat.  When I look back at my high school pictures, I see a completely different story; I was gorgeous!!!!  I have spent my entire life believing this story.  Which means I have spent my entire life (from time I became a teenager to now…at nearly 41 years old) on some kind of diet or thinking about being on a diet or thinking about how fat I am or that I would feel so much better if I was thinner.  I would say that I became conscious of my body shape and size at the age of 5; 36 years is a very long time to not like yourself/body image, don’t you think?

To try to change things I have been on numerous diets.  As a teenager, I would take dexatrim like it was candy.  I would binge eat then exercise like crazy to work it off (exercise bulimia).  As an adult, it started with “Medical Weight Loss Plan”.  I lost 60 pounds on that, I think.  Then I joined Jenny Craig; didn’t do so well with that one.  Then I took Phen/Fen; thankfully my heart was unaffected.  Then I tried just the “good” part of the Phen/Fen; that didn’t work at all.  Then I did Weight Watchers…..twice.  Then I just did my own thing; eating healthy and exercising; it worked great.  I even saw a therapist.  I felt great.  I even became a Beachbody Coach and started selling workout systems and coaching other people.  Yet, I gave up the eating healthy part and even my exercise routine has dropped.  I have gained back 10 of the 40# that I have lost.  Now what?????

This is where the email from Oprah came in.  She suggested everyone read Women Food and God.  Now I’m not one of those people who drops everything and does what Oprah says to do.  But this one intrigued me.  Probably because I was already on my 52 books in 52 weeks journey; and this book sounded interesting.  Besides, it might actually help, right?  So I ordered it…..

I have to be honest and say that before I started reading the book I felt pretty jaded.  What is a book going to say to make that much of a difference in my eating/weight issues?  I have been through almost every diet out there; at least every type anyway…except surgery (and that is only because that scares the heck out of me).  But I read it anyway…  And what I found was spot on!  This book is such a worthwhile read.  It’s not just for those of us with weight/food issues.  It talks about Compulsive eating, but I think this book would help anyone with any kind of compulsive behavior like smoking or drinking.

“Compulsive eating is an attempt to avoid the absence (of love, comfort, knowing what to do) when we find ourselves in the desert of a particular  moment, feeling, situation.”

One of the biggest concepts this book talks about is “Bolting”.   “Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes, ‘Never underestimate the inclination to bolt.'”   Bolting; this is something (I realize now) that I  have learned from my father.  Whenever the going got tough, he ran.  He ran from churches, from places of employment, and from his emotions.  Me?  I have bolted from friendships, emotions, and sometimes even volunteer work.  When things don’t go my way, I have been known to throw a temper tantrum and run.  How does this pertain to food?  Well, when things go bad, I like to eat..and eat alot!  This is “bolting”.  It’s the way we run from our emotions or “stuff” them as some people say.  Instead of staying present and feeling what we feel, we “bolt”.  This was a huge Ah-ha moment for me.  I have done this alot in so many ways.  But it stops here!

Like I said, I have done alot of diets..some were very successful it helping me lose weight.  But it has never been about the weight; well okay part of it is.  Mostly its about what caused me to put on the weight, until I could figure that one out and go from there, I would also put the weight back on.  Figuring out that I use Bolting to “protect” me is a big step in figuring out why I eat the way I do.  “Saying where you are with what you are feeling or seeing or sensing is the first step in ending the obsession with food.”  Yes, indeed it is.  “Staying requires awareness of the desire to bolt.  Staying requires being curious about who you actually are when you don’t take yourself to be a collection of memories….When you stay,….anything becomes possible.  Even living through the extraordinary pain.”

Roth says it’s not about the weight.  We spend so much time in what she calls the “When I Get Thin (Change Jobs, Move, Find a Relationship, Leave This Relationship, Have Money) Blues”.   We wait for something before we start living our lives.  I am so guilty of this.  I say, “When I get down to my perfect size, I’m going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.”  Well you know what?  I can do that now.  Sure, I will pay a bit more, but I can do it now!  I don’t have to wait!  What does jumping out of a perfectly good airplane represent to me?  Freedom. When I say I will do it when I lose my weight, I am saying that I am STUCK.  Well I’m not stuck, and what a horrible story to tell myself.  My weight may make it uncomfortable to do things, but it certainly isn’t going to stop me from  living a full life!  And it shouldn’t stop you!  Yes, get healthy!  Yes, use food as nutrition to fuel your body.  But STOP putting things off until you get to whatever it is you think you want to get to.  This kind of thinking has you believing that you are not worthy of your dreams right NOW…and You are..I am.. WE ARE!!!  Start living today..stop waiting for that perfect time.  If we can start living today, the rest will catch up!

I loved this quote; “Because until you understand who you take yourself to be, true change is not possible.”….”The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value, possibility.  To change your body, you must first understand that which is shaping it.  Not fight it, Not force it.  not deprive it.  Not same it.  Not do anything but accept–and, yes, Virginia–understand it.”

This is what I was saying earlier.  Until we understand who we are and what shapes our beliefs, our body will not change.  We need to understand what is making us run, hide, stuff and eat compulsively.  The same can be said for alcohol, drugs, smoking……..  “Truth, not force, does the word of ending compulsive eating.”  We can’t force it with a strict diet, by counting points, by eating premade frozen meals, by taking shots, or swallowing pills.  We must find the truth..by being curious, by inquiry.  Asking ourselves, why we feel like eating.  What is that food going to “fill”.  Where in our body are we feeling?  What does it feel like?  What color is it?  Once we can recognize this, give it a name and sit with it in truth instead of trying to run from it or stuff it, we will realize that it’s not going to kill us..and guess what..we don’t want to eat anymore!

Just when you think you don’t want to feel those things that hurt, comes this quote from Roth: “the medicine for the pain is the pain.”  Last weekend, when I did a Firewalk, I heard myself say, “you need to feel the pain.”  So I let myself feel the hot coals beneath my feet.  Walking fire can be “easy” and painless, or you can choose to make it  hard and or feel the pain.  I chose to make it easy AND feel the pain?  Why?  Because I need to feel the pain in my own life.  I need to recognize when I feel sad, lonely, hurt and FEEL it instead of stuffing or bolting from it.

One of the ideas in this book also blended well with The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Ruiz says to listen and be skeptical.  He was talking about doing this with others, but you should also do it with yourself.  According to Ruiz, we have been “domesticated” from the time we were children.  It was important to be thus so that we could learn not to put our hand on a hot stove.  We were domesticated for our own safety.  But these teachings also went further than this.  These teachings also taught us who we think we are based on someone elses’ perceptions of who they think we are.  Roth suggests the same kind of thing with the practice of Inquiry.  Be still and listen..be curious..ask..but don’t believe everything you hear.  Remember that what your mind tells you is what you have learned from the past..from other people..  Inquiry is body based.  What is the Body feeling..not the mind.  Listen..and be skeptical.

Roth calls this banter inside our heads “The Voice” (what Ruiz calls domestication).  The Voice has been running our lives.  Telling us that we are fat, our thighs have too much cellulite, we are quitters, we are losers..yadda yadda yadda.  Those are lies!  We are so much more than that.  We are the very essence of GOD; we are LOVE and JOY.  When The Voice talks, tell it to shut the heck up!  And get back to feeling what you feel in your body.

Another practice Roth suggested in this book is to meditate…..ON YOUR BELLY.  Think about what you belly feels like.  Now I know that as women, we try very hard NOT to think about our bellies..  But if I told you NOT to think about your belly, what is the first thing you think about?  YOUR BELLY!  So instead of pretending not to think about it, embrace it.  Your belly is your place of personal power.  It is your 3rd Chankra..your solar plexus.  This is what balances you and gives you power to speak your truth.  You NEED to focus on it, and love it and listen to it.  It is where you intuition resides.  It is an amazing part of your body, and by ignoring it, you are mistreating  it and yourself.  You deserve better than that :).

There is so much more to this book than what I have typed, and I have typed ALOT!  She goes on to talk about whether you are a Restrictor or Permitter when it comes to food (or even life).  She goes on to talk about the Sufi’s 3 ways to God and how that pertains to our eating.  And she gives us her Guidelines for eating, remember that you can eat anything you want and still get to your NATURAL weight.  To learn more about these, you will want to read for yourself.  I just can’t do it justice.  But I will leave you with a couple of quotes…..

“Bliss occurs by arriving where you are.  When we are not reconstructing the past in every nanosecond, what is here is so satisfying, so loving, so unbelievably simple that once tasted, it changes everything.  because then you know what’s possible and you refuse to settle for anything less.”

“There is nothing like having chocolate cake three inches away to reveal your fear of chaos or your desire to melt into it.”

“Once ou realize that it’s possible to feel good by not eating certain things and including others instead, the compulsion begins to fall away because you’ve found something better:  getting your life back.”

So earlier this week, my friend Forrest posted a link on Facebook about a Firewalk that Wytomi, The Elk Shaman, would be holding on Friday night (last night).  As you might recall from my profile here or my first post, that Firewalking was definitely on my “to do list”.  Knowing this, you would think that I would JUMP at the opportunity.  Ya, I thought so too, but I was wrong.  I found all sorts of reasons/excuses NOT to go.  I don’t have enough money.  I am suppose to go snowboarding the next day, and what if my feet are blistered?  I am suppose to go out dancing the next day, and my feet are blistered.    Then Friday morning, Forrest, had replied to 2 of my Facebook statuses (that had nothing to do with Firewalking) about the Firewalking, and he replied to one of my friends’ facebook statuses (that again had nothing to do with Firewalking) about the Firewalk.  As I was complaining about this to  my husband, he simply said: “Martha, you need to go.  Call Wytomi and make financial arrangements.”  I did; then I found myself crying from fear.

All day, I was a bit worried about this.  Walking on fire.. HOT HOT coals… the possibility of blistering one’s feet while walking across something hot enough to cook a steak on is quite real!  I know I have been told its a “mind over matter thing”, but what the mind knows and what it feels are different things.  Of course, that is why people do these kinds of exercises…to get over the blocks that keep you from living the life you want.  So okay, I went through the day working through things.  My mind still came up with reasons not to go, but my heart kept coming back with reasons TO go.

I have to tell you that I started reading a book Thursday night called Women Food and God.  Yesterday, I got to a chapter that talks about “Bolting” .  “Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes, ‘Never underestimate the inclination to bolt.'”  Let me tell you, that if ever I had an inclination to “bolt” it was yesterday!  Not only did I feel this way all day, but as I was driving there, the traffic on the highway was horrible.  I was going to be late for the 7pm start time.  I kept telling myself, “I don’t want to disturb anyone by arriving late; I should just turn around and go home.”  I was following the directions on my iPhone, and I have to admit to being a bit scared of driving out there.  The Firewalk was on a farm out in the middle of nowhere with country/dessert roads that twist and turn and have a propensity for getting people lost!  When I drove by the place where this farm was suppose to be, I watched the dot on my iphone directions passing the place I was suppose to be…yet I didn’t see the farm or the house or the dirt road I was suppose to turn on.  I was RIGHT THERE!  It was 7:05pm.  I kept telling myself, “You can’t find it. You are late.  Just turn around and tell them you couldn’t find the place.”  Finally, I looked out into the distance, and I saw an old farm house with lots of cars out front.  Sure enough, it was the right place!  Okay, so I won this battle!  I didn’t bolt!  In the book, it talks about Bolting as being one of the roots to compulsive eating.  We bolt by eating food to avoid whatever it is we need to feel.  But by staying, we allow ourselves to feel, listen and grow.   When I was reading the book, I “understood” the way you understand book knowledge.  But by the time I found this farm house, my friends, and completed the Firewalk, I had a completely different understanding of the term bolt and what it means to stay!

The farm was beautiful.  It was right on bank of the Snake River.  It had a sweatlodge, a medicine wheel, a tepee, and regular fire pit, another meditation/teaching spot, and a big pit that is perfect for Firewalking.  Randy is the owner of this beautiful farm turned spiritual retreat.  As soon as I stepped out of my car, I felt the healing energy wash over me.  I knew I was suppose to be here.  I greeted my new and old friends with hugs.  I was among people who loved me whether they knew me or not.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Randy(the owner of the property) building what I thought would be the fire that would create the coals for us to walk on, but I couldn’t figure out how that was suppose to work.  I was wrong……

THIS is the pit and the stack of wood that will be lit up for the Firewalk 🙂

The Buddah just outside the medicine wheel

The Medicine Wheel

The tepee

And the sun sets as the transformation and the real work begins….

Now that the sun was setting, it was time to really start this thing. Wytomi walked us to the Firewalking pit and began to lead us in a meditation of sorts.  It wasn’t the kind of “sit on your butt cross legged and be quiet” kind of meditation.  It was more of a storyline that we followed. The drum began to beat, and 2 of the men lit the big fire that would later become our coals.  It got HOT.  We were there to set an intention, find a purpose and use this walk to really set it out there and bring it to fruition.  So what was MY purpose?  What did I want?  Wytomi sent us out into the corn fields to listen and find out.  I went.  And I found I couldn’t get the heck out of my head.  It was like I “knew” this already.  I was fighting it.  I wanted to have “all the right answers”.  I wanted to be able to go back to the pit with all the right answers and be the “star pupil”. (This “star pupil” mentality came from working with James Arthur Ray…afraid of his wrath if I didn’t play full on and do what he thought was right….more Ah-ha moments and healing for me.) I found myself shouting at myself, “Oh my god! What is wrong with me!  Get out of your head, Martha!  Let Go! Stop fighting.  Stop bolting!”  I sat down on the previously harvested stalks of corn and finally quieted my mind.  The same ol’ stuff just kept coming….”Lose weight, get healthy, transform the world, community centers for youth…..”  This is just great.  I felt like these were “old stand-bys” and not genuine goals or purposes.  I was judging my thoughts.  Can’t get out of my head.  It was time to rejoin everyone at the fire…..

Wytomi, the Elk Shaman, by the Fire

Standing close to the fire but lined up against the cement walls in 2 lines facing each other.  Wytomi goes into what we will do next and he starts talking about transformation.  Honestly, truthfully, I can’t remember what he said.  I remember him asking if we all had our intention, and I thought to myself, “Shit!  What am I gonna do?  I don’t have mine.”  Then all of a sudden, there it was..clear as day!  “Transform myself so that I may help others transform”.  That was it..I felt it in the marrow of my bones.  Great..now I can go on with this exercise and support the others in their intentions.  What happened next was a very intimate, loving exercise of support for the my fellow walkers.  It was beautiful, and I cried.  (big shock there, huh?)

We stood closer to the fire..She was HOT HOT HOT!  Flames were jumping high..15 or 20 feet!  She was beautiful.  There was more meditation, then Wytomi sent us back out to the fields to find the animal guide that would help us walk this Fire.  We would not be walking this Fire alone.  I left the pit and didn’t get very far into the fields (like maybe 5 feet from the pit) when it came to me.  There was no questioning it.  Hawk would be my guide through this journey on this night.  She represented Freedom, Vision, Sight, Strength.  I immediately returned to the Fire.  Wytomi was playing his big drum, and I stood close to the Fire, feeling the heat wash over me and through me.  I felt Her in every cell of my body.  I loved Her and She loved me.  The vibrations of Wytomi’s big drum hit the pant leg of my jeans and they vibrated and I felt my own blood ripple and pulse in rhythm with the vibrations.

More meditations and movement…then face painting.  3 symbols that were given to us..one for our intention/purpose, one for our animal guide, and the one that Wytomi  had set for the Fire.  We found partners and painted our faces….my intention was the symbol of the Goddess with the spiral in Her belly (transformation)…my animal guide were wings and a tail of a spiral….and the intention of the fire set by Wytomi was courage symbolized by an arrow head.

Now we were ready!  We gathered together at the edge of the coals that were all laid out.  Wytomi lead us in more movement and meditation…bringing the Fire  from outside into our bodies.   We were one with the energy of the Fire.  Our energy had to  match that of the Fire, or this Firewalk would not happen.  He instructed us on the “how tos” of walking the Fire.  He told us again that until the Fire is “cut” (I think that is the term  he used) by the first walker it would be very very very hot and intense.  He asked if anyone wanted to be first or if we wanted him to do it for us.  I heard the whole group say, yes they wanted him to do it for us…but in my head I heard…”No one will cut the way for you, Martha.  It will not be easy.  You have to do it for yourself.”  Wytomi kept talking and kept the energy building.  Once again, he asked, “Who is walking the Fire first?”  I heard myself say in a voice I don’t usually hear myself talking in, “I AM!”  and I stepped forward.  “Che Ho!” I heard the group reply.  I stood at the edge of the Fire, felt Her heat.  She loved me and I loved her.  Wytomi was at the other end, clapping and chanting.  My friends were behind me clapping and cheering.  And I took that first step and kept on walking…my bare feet upon the coals.  It felt like stirofoam beneath my feet.  I walked steadfastly towards my purpose shouting at the top of my lungs, “No body but me will do this!  It’s all me!  I AM THE ONE!”  Having crossed the goals, I found myself in the arms of Wytomi squeezed in a big bear hug from the Elk Shaman, and I heard him shout, The Fire IS OPEN! Let the walk begin!  I turned to watch my friends start their journey across the Fire and I greeted them with hugs on the other side.

Together, we walked these coals several times.  The coals were refreshed 2 more times, each time making the Fire hotter, and we walked again!  I remember feeling the heat beneath my feet.  I heard myself say, “You need to feel the heat and discomfort..you need to KNOW that this is painful and difficult.”  So I allowed myself to feel the heat and the pain as I walked across.  We clapped, we cheered.  I stood against the cool cement wall and laughed until I cried.  I cried some more.  Peace.  Love.  Determination.  Healing.  Joy.  Power.  Health.  Transformation.  It was all there……

It was time to put our shoes back on and take some pictures…and get going….  What a celebration.  No one wanted to leave..well okay, some people did.  But the first timers, we wanted to stay beside those coals all night.  *laugh*  But we didn’t.  In the end, I decided to join a group of them at IHOP for “dinner”.  There was no way I was going to make the hour drive home in the dark alone without eating and grounding myself.  The fellowship at IHOP was so much fun..10 of us walking in with faces painted, all very loud and making quite the scene.  It was awesome!  So much fun!

The Fire after all the walking was completed

Face still painted..shoes back on…standing beside the Fire as She cools down

I am very glad I did this.  What I learned about myself was HUGE.  I’m still not very grounded, and that is okay.  I was replying to an email about Especially Me!  and had to send it 4 times to get all the information in the email; I kept forgetting the attachment.  *laugh*  Yup, its a good thing I am not heading up the mountain to snow board today!  And by the way, my feet are perfectly fine!  See…

My feet this morning after my shower, but I didn’t scrub them clean.   Some of the soot came off in the shower, but I still need the soot on my feet, I still need/want that sacred feeling.  And YES I need a pedicure BADLY..just ignore that :).

This book is the follow-up to The Four Agreements also by Don Miguel Ruiz.  When I opened the book, and saw that it went over the first 4 agreements again, I thought “Wow! This is going to be a long re-read!”  I was completely wrong.  Yes, it went over the first 4 agreements again, but it gave me new insights.  This is always a welcome treat.

Have you ever had a book where you love almost each and every word you read?  It’s like each word has a direct link to your heart and means so much more than the paper it is written on?  That is this book!  Almost every page is dog-eared and has notes written on its pages.  I love the quotes that can be pulled from this book as well as the huge insights and awakenings it gives!  You won’t be disappointed!

I am pretty certain I have said this before, but I have always felt that if we just listened to each other’s stories, World Peace would be a reality.  Well the 5th Agreement is just that!  Be skeptical, and listen!  Listen to each other.  You don’t have believe what they say or share their believes, but LISTEN.  You will find out where they are coming from and why they act the way they do.  You will UNDERSTAND why they are different from you and maybe even find out that they are the SAME as you!  Listen, but be skeptical.  I loved this!

You know that saying, “Ignorance is bliss”?  Here is a quote in this book that reiterated this for me:

You existed  long before you understood all those symbols, before you learned to speak, and just like any child before he or she learns to speak, you were completely authentic.  You didn’t pretend to be what you are not.  Without even knowing it, you trusted yourself completely; you loved yourself completely.  Before you learned knowledge, you were totally free to be what you really are because all those opinions and stories from other humans were not in your head already.

We knew bliss once before as a child.  Before our parents and society told us what to believe about ourselves and the world around us, we knew we were perfect.  We were thrilled with ourselves.  We  had no reason to believe we were anything other than amazing!  We experienced bliss every single day of our lives!  Before knowledge, there is ignorance…and IGNORANCE IS BLISS!  Once we let go our attachment to this “knowledge” we will find our way back to that bliss :).

One of the reasons I loved this book so much is that it spoke to the huge issue of Self-esteem.  Since I teach a self-esteem class for girls, this obviously got my attention.  One of the subjects we touch on in my class is the idea of perfection.  As a society, we tell ourselves that no body is perfect.  What a lie!!!!!  Ruiz, tells us that by teaching our children and believing that “nobody is perfect”, we spend our entire lives measuring ourselves against this idea of “perfection”.  We spend our entire lives trying to look perfect, act perfect, be perfect.  We create “perfection” in the media through digital manipulation and tell our girls, “This is what perfect looks like.” But even the woman in that picture doesn’t look like the woman who is in that picture!  Seriously!!!!  Just go take a look at the video clip “Evolution” by Dove  and see for yourself.  Yet, here we are telling ourselves and our children that “nobody’s perfect”.  It’s a lie!!!!  Every human is perfect!  “The truth is that everything in creation is perfect, including humans.”

I love this:

Everything about us is perfect, including any disability or disease that we may have.  Someone with a learning difficulty is perfect; someone born without a finger or an arm or an ear is perfect; someone with a disease is perfect.  Only perfection exists, and that awareness is another important step in our evolution.

PERFECT!!!!  It’s not enough to say this, but we need to BELIEVE IT!!!!  I believe it, do you???

I will leave with this thought.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.”  This is something I remind myself on a daily basis.  If I want my children to be a certain way, then I must model that for them.  Ruiz says, “When you’re happy, the people around you are happy too, and it inspires them to change their own world.”  My passion and mission in this life is to be of service and change the world through my service.  If you want to change the world, start with yourself.  Be the change you want to be see in this world, and the people around you will follow.  Change/better yourself = change/better the world.

Thank you for reading  my blog.  Even if you don’t comment, I see that you are reading, and that means the world to me.  This journey is mine, but it is also yours.  We are walking this path together and together we can accomplish anything!  So thank you!

This is one of my favorite books. I first read this so many years ago that I can’ t even remember how long ago it was!  Since it has been so long ago, and I have gone through so many changes since the last time I read it, I decided it was time to read it again and learn it all over again.  It’s time to reclaim my power the Toltec way.

So what are the Four Agreements?   Be impeccable with your Word.  Don’t take anything personally.  Don’t make assumptions.  Do your  best.

Be Impeccable with your word:

What does Impeccable mean?   According to Don Miguel Ruiz, it comes from the Latin language that means “without sin” and a sin is anything you do which goes against yourself.  He says, “When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself. Sin begins with rejection of yourself.  Self-rejection is the biggest sin that you commit.”

To me this simply means, “Say what you mean; mean what you say.”  Yet it goes a bit deeper than that as well.  Watch your words.  What you say about yourself (even in jest), you will believe about yourself.  What you say about others is just a reflection of what you think about yourself.  So if you are telling a friend that you think another friend is useless or ugly or mean or bitchy, what you are really saying is that YOU are those things.    You are rejecting yourself.  You are sinning, and tearing yourself down.  Your word is how your create your life, your thoughts, your dreams, you intents. It is pure magic. It is your creative energy put into action.  Be careful..be IMPECCABLE with it!

Don’t take anything personally:

You might laugh and say, “well that’s hard if not impossible”.  But it can be true, and it is so very important.  I am not talking about the gossip you heard about yourself from a friend of yours; I’m also talking about the GOOD things you hear about yourself.  Don’t take ANY of it personally.  What you hear about yourself from other people is THEIR perspective/version/dream of you and how you fit into their world.  It is not YOUR TRUTH.

The other day, while I was watching the Oscars, I thought about how amazing it would feel to have someone stand up in front of  millions people (okay, I would be happy if it was just in front of my family and friends) and sing my praises (like they did for the nominees for Actor/resses in Leading Roles).  Those speeches were so beautiful.  I thought that unless you win some type of award, you usually don’t hear these things until someone dies praises are sang during the Eulogy.  I wanted someone to sing my praises to my face BEFORE I die.  *laugh*  Wouldn’t that feel amazing?  I also remembered an exercise I had to do while attended a James Ray seminar.  We were told to write an introduction for ourselves that would be read at an awards ceremony….like the Oscars.  So I wrote this amazing speech about how amazing and successful I was/am.  And I wrote my acceptance speech as if I won this award.  These pieces would be voted on by the workers at the seminar and 3 winners would be introduced with their speeches by James Ray at the awards banquet.  Sure enough, I was one of those people that he introduced.  Hearing my own speech made me cry.  Feeling the love and support from that standing ovation was like no other feeling I have ever had.  It was awesome.  Yet, here I was watching the Oscars and wishing someone ELSE would write this speech about me and give me some kind of award.  *laugh*  Then I read this part of the books again.  Don’t take anything personally!  Not even the good stuff!  So now what?

Ruiz tells us that we create our own movie!  We are the director, producer, main actor/ress of our movie…everyone else is secondary.  What other people think just doesn’t matter!  Our point of view is personal to us, and its no one’s truth but our own.  As long as we pay attention to our own movie, speak impeccably about ourselves…that is all that we need.  We don’t need other people to write those introduction speeches.  We should just write them for ourselves!  Believe me, just writing them and feeling that feeling of endless possibilities is a very powerful experience!

When we stop listening to other people’s opinions about us..we we stop giving them the power over what we believe about ourselves, we let go of fear and negative feelings.    “We can say “I love you” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected.  We can ask for what we need and feel free to say yes or no to people’s requests without guilt or self-judgment.  We can choose to follow our heart…all the time.”  How powerful is that?!

Don’t make assumptions:

You know what they say about assumptions……

But have you heard this, “All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally”?  Ya, I hadn’t either until I read this book.

This may seem overly simplistic, but it is so true.  “It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions st us up for suffering.”  So why don’t we ask questions?  We are afraid of being told “no”.  We are afraid others will judge us, abuse us, victimize us…like we do to ourselves.  It seems so easy on paper.  I teach this..”Ask for what you want” in the self-esteem classes I teach to young girls.  Yet it is hard.  We have been “beat into submission” or Ruiz calls it “domesticated” by our parents and society to be/think/feel/act a certain way…this includes fear of rejection.  But by living these new agreements, we learn to stand on our own two feet and change our dream.

So here is an example of this.  This morning, my daughter (Omi) get’s up and gets dressed for school, then she lies on the couch under the blanket until it is time to go.  Then she gets up and brushes her hair and teeth and puts her shoes on.  And we are off to school.  When I get to the end of the road, ready to turn onto the major street, she realizes I am about to turn left and head to school.  She was hoping and ASSUMING I would turn right and head to the convenience store to buy her breakfast first.  So instead of being assertive and asking for what she wanted, she made an assumption.  When she saw she wasn’t going to get what she wanted she said, “I guess I can live without breakfast.”  I asked her to repeat what she had said.  Then I reminded her that she had been laying on the couch for at least 30 minutes..plenty of time to get up and make herself a bowl of cereal (which we had plenty of at home).  But she chose not to, in hopes that I would take her to Maverick.  I let her know that if she had wanted to go to Maverick, she should have ASKED me and not made the assumption.  Because now, she is not going to have breakfast and will likely be hungry all  morning (suffering).  I told her that all she had to do was ASK, but the answer might have been “no” because we had food in the house to eat.  And hearing NO would have been okay, but make the assumption is NOT okay.

It is our right to ask for what we want/need.  But is also the right of the person we ask this of to say yes OR no.  Then it is up to us not to take ANY OF IT personally.  There is true freedom in this!

Do your best:

How many of you have said or heard, “It’s not about whether you win or lose, its how you play the game.”  Well its true!  This agreement is probably the most important one out of all of them.  While we live our lives, we are bound to make mistakes.  While we are changing our agreements and changing our dreams, we are bound to make a mistake.  We are bound to speak out of turn and not be impeccable with each of our words.  We are bound to have hurt feelings by something someone said or feel our heads get a bit bigger at a compliment.  And (as a married woman) don’t even get me started on assumptions!  But as long as we are doing our best, things will get better!

We are going to make mistakes.  So recognize them, and then tell yourself, “tomorrow is the start of a new day.”  Or, “From now on, I will be impeccable with my word.”  Pick yourself up and move on.  Forget about the past, don’t worry about the future and focus on THIS moment.  This moment is all that we have.  We can choose to live these new agreements in each moment of our lives.  If we mess up..guess what, there is always the very next moment to start all over again..FRESH!  JUST DO YOUR BEST!

Also, realize that doing your best in this moment make feel different that doing your best in the next moment.  If you are a morning person, your best is gonna feel alot better than the best you give in the evening after a long day.  That is okay, as long as you are giving your best in each moment..whatever “your best” looks like!  Be grateful for each moment and realize that with each breath (each moment) you have the opportunity to direct your own personal movie and change your dream!  It’s up to you!

I will leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from this life altering book:

“The first step toward personal freedom is awareness.”

“Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art.  And you can change your life anytime you aren’t enjoying the dream.”

“You can choose to believe anything, and that includes believing in yourself.”

Finally…

“I am awake, I see the sun.  I am going to give my gratitude to the sun and to everything and everyone, because I am still alive.  One more day to be myself.”

P.S.  Stay tuned..my next blog will be on Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Fifth Agreement.  I have never read this before, and I am excited to hear what the 5th agreement is!!!

Wow!  What a journey this book has been!  Three weeks to finish 243 pages!  Crazy!  What I have learned about myself and about being of service has been amazing.

Chapter 6: The Way of Social Action

I have never been a big social activist.  I have participated in a few peace rallies and a few same-sex marriage rallies, but that is about it.  What I have observed from others and from my own point of view on Social Action or Political Stands is that there always seems to be alot of passion for both sides, and sometimes those passions manifest in angry demonstrations, when in reality each side just wants to be heard and wants the world to be a better place.

This is a great quote: “There’s one thing I’ve learned in twenty-five years or so of political organizing:  People don’t like to be “should” upon.  They’d rather discover than be told.”

I think when we get really passionate about something, we yell and scream louder and louder at the people on the other side of the fence.  “If you would just think the way *I* think, we could make this world a better place!”  I can tell you, as an adult that was raised by very conservative Christian parents, being TOLD what I SHOULD believe and that what I DO believe is wrong, never helps my parents’ cause :).  So I’m certain, this kind of “yelling” over the fence doesn’t help the cause (whatever it is) either.  People tend to run the other way.

This passion that we feel that manifests in anger or a “negative” feeling may “prevent us from calling upon deeper human virtues that often move us all to act.  In anger we may lose sight of love.  In fear, we may sacrifice trust and courage.  In guilt, we may deny self-worth and obstruct inspiration.”  Is that what we really want?  Is that how true change happens?

Social action really isn’t about WHAT we do but in the spirit in which we act.  “Even the slightest bit of self-righteousness can get in the way.”  Our aim should be “to awaken together and see what follows, not to manipulate one another into this action or that.”

So how do we do this?  Long before I read this book…actually 10 years ago, while I was in storytelling school, I had a realization (all on my own).  If we all sat down and shared our stories, we would find out that we are not so different than the person sitting next to us.  We would find out that we all want the same general things…love, peace, acceptance, forgiveness….  I believed that storytelling would/could end prejudice and war.  In this same thought, sitting down and sharing our stories with one another can help us enter into Social Action with a clearer sense of what needs to be done and HOW to do it in a peaceful for effective way.

During this entire book, we have discussed the idea of separateness and unity. If we act from Unity, we will be able to provide better service.  “We’re here to awaken from the illusion of separateness……Unity has to be what’s most real in consciousness if it’s going to have full power in action.  Ultimately, it’s got to be what we ‘are’.”

This quote fills my cup to overflowing:  “The soul force is indestructible and it goes on gaining power until it transforms everyone it touches.” ~ Gandhi

Chapter 7: Burnout

I have certainly felt the burnout form all of my volunteer work.  By the time the Girl Scout year comes to an end, I am exhausted.  When this current Junior League year began, I was already feeling exhausted and was looking forward to the end of the year when I can take a year off of leadership.  Don’t even get me started on the way I felt after hosting a women’s retreat for women living with HIV/AIDS.  BURNOUT!

Okay, you don’t even have to be a community service person or have a full-time job to feel this burnout.  As a mom, you know all too well what Burnout feels like.  Moms are on call 24×7….unless by some grace of god we get to “get away” for a day or a weekend without our kids (and even then we are worried and thinking about them).  BURNOUT!

So what’s the first thing we need to learn as service providers?  BE GENTLE WITH OURSELVES!  We can’t take care of other people, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves first.  We are compassionate for others, but what about us?  So how do we do this?

Be quiet and listen.  Simply observe (never judge) how we are feeling.  Once we can be quiet and observe what we are feeling, we might actually realize that sometimes our burnout is caused because of the expectations we carry into a certain service project….our movites that we bring with us.  If those expectations are not met or our motives are self-driven, we will have a tendency to feel “slighted” or maybe like we “wasted our time”, and this leads to a feeling of burnout.  Our own Ego gets us in trouble every single time.  Until we are quiet and listen, we may not even realize how often, in the guise of service, we try to impose our values on others.  Being the person that “should upons” takes alot of our energy..really it does.

“But if we can stay grounded in the essential unjudging character of the Witness….if we can just hold on and listen…we can draw some useful conclusions and move further towards a great sense of perspective.” (and service)

Here is a great quote for all of us “sacrificial moms”….Looking further into what we bring to the  helping act, we come upon perhaps an even more fundamental cause of burnout:  the feeling of personal responsibility; the sense that we are the authors of our actions; our identification of ourselves as the final source of service. We are the “doer” and we have to keep “doing” or nothing will get “done.”      Boy have I felt like this before!  Heck, I have even stated it in a very exasperated tone of voice, “Unless I clean the house, no one else will do it!”  And I angrily go about throwing things around and cleaning the house.  Have you been there?  Well I have news for you (and for me), it’s okay.  If the house gets messy, it’s okay.  Simply take a deep breath and ASK FOR HELP!  We don’t have to be the “be all and end all” for our family.  As a matter of fact, they don’t want us to be; we just have to give them the opportunity to help :).  How freeing is that?

“It’s not always our efforts that burn us out; it’s where the mind is standing in relation to them.  the problem is not the work itself but the degree of our indentification with it.  It’s doers who burn out.”

Another reason we feel burnout?  Attachment to the outcome.  I know I have felt this way and have asked this question of myself.  “How do I know I am really making a difference?”  ‘How do I know that what I say is really helping these girls?”  Or better yet, as a mom, I have said, “What the heck did I do wrong, for my child to have made such a bad choice?”  All this worry, when all we really need to do is act from a space of love.  Provide the service, and let it go.  We can not control the actions of others and the choices that they make.  We can kids the right information.  We can give the homeless person on the street some money.  We can volunteer for an organization.  But in the end, what happens beyond that, is not up to us.  The minute we can let go of that attachment, we will feel light and free and be able to give more of ourselves.  It’s unconditional love at its finest :).  “We love eachother.  That’s enough.”

“To some degree or other, we have surrendered into service and are willing to pay the price of compassion.  But with it comes the joy of a single, caring act.  With it comes the honor of participating in a generous process in which one rises each day and does what one can.  With it comes the simple, singular grace of being an instrument of Love, in whatever form, to whatever end.”

Chapter 8:  Reprise:  Walking Each Other Home

Service is….beauty…remembering…gratitude..truth & honesty..chitchat..death (you die in service and you die into service)

“We are questions for one another.  And service is exploring them and awakening through them.”

“So service is ‘an endless series of questions,’ puzzling and insistent.  It not only raises questions, it helps to answer them.  Service is a curriculum.”

“Separateness and unity.  How interesting that these root causes, revealed in the experience of helping, turn out to be what most spiritual traditions define as the fundamental issue of life itself.  Awakening from our sense of separateness is what we are called to do in all things, not merely in service.  Whether these traditions speak of us as being cut off from God, Nature, Original Mind, True Being, the Tao, the Dharma–they call on us, in one voice, to undertake the journey back to unity.”

“Service, from this perspective, is part of that journey…..It is a vehicle through which we reach deeper understanding of life.”

I can honestly say that I have learned more about myself, my connection to God and humanity, and what is truly important to me through being of service.  It has truly been an awakening, and that feeling of unity while being of service is like none other.  I love this journey, and it is one I strive to instill into my own children.  It has been said in this book that first we work on ourselves in order to help others and then when we help others, it is a vehicle for working on ourselves.  It’s a beautiful thought..and oh so true.

I will end this blog with this thought:

This book is titled “How Can I Help?” and it starts of by saying we might feel like we don’t have anything to offer the world.  Yet it ends with this….

“Any act that can be performed in the spirit of unity can turn out to be helpful.”  “There’s no place special we have to be in order to help out.  right where we are, in whatever we’re already doing, the opportunity to be of service is almost always present.  We need only stay conscious and aware, and then gie whatever we can to whoever is right there.”

It’s that simple.

I am currently reading HOW CAN I HELP? (Stories and Reflections on Service) by Ram Dass & Paul Gorman.  I am 56 pages into it, and because it is sooo deep, it is going to be a bit slower read for me.  I find myself underlining, taking notes, and folding over almost every page.  How can I do my type of review on something like that.  It would be pages long to read.  So instead of doing just ONE review of this book, I think I will write something up daily on what I am learning from this book.  It might be easier for you to read, and it will definitely be easier for me to type.  🙂

I bought this book because I overheard a conversation by the 2 women who work in my church’s bookstore.  One woman was telling the other that this particular book was great for people who spend much of their time in service and who might feel burnt out at times.  That instantly sent bells off inside my head.  I volunteer for 3 different organizations.  My passion and mission in life is that of service, and to be totally honest with you, sometimes I get burnt out.  So, of course, I bought the book!

Do you participate in community service?  If so, why?  This is a question that was talked a bit about in SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME and WHAT DIFFERENCE DO IT MAKE.  People have all kinds of reasons for participating in community service or even just helping out a neighbor.  The other day, I went to pick up my daughter from her friend’s house. It was 7pm and it was time for her to be home.  When the other mom let me in, she said, “Naomi was such a great help.  She helped Cameron with his reading homework.  It gave me a break. I really appreciated that.”  I thought it was pretty cool that Naomi would help her friend (who is 2 grades behind her).  I thought, “you learn more when you teach” so this is great for her.  I was also pleased that she WANTED to help her friend (kind of like taking care of a younger brother).  The mom also told me that he had to have his homework done before he could play, and that is when Naomi offered to help him.  So I know at some level, her helping Cameron was self-serving.

Motives.

Do you help to make yourself feel good?  Even if that isn’t what set you in motion, it’s an undeniable feeling afterwards, isn’t it?  Denver Moore said that he felt like people came to work at the homeless shelter food lines on the holidays out of guilt for what they had and the others didn’t…because it made them feel good about being blessed.  I know in some of my organizations, women get involved because they want to make new friends within the organization.  Neither of these things is wrong.  But in HOW CAN I HELP? it talks about being separate from your Ego (which is what gives you the motives) and realizing that we are all ONE…”US”.  Once we recognize that and FEEL that UNITY of being “US”, being of service is a natural thing that comes without motives or that “feel good” feeling.  It is just what you do as a natural extension of being alive.  The word “symbiotic” comes to mind: “any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.” (definition from dictionary.com)  When we help ONE, we help ALL.  And this desire to help is born of a natural compassion (which is what the first chapter of this book is on).

On Natural Compassion:

I think most of us are born with a Natural Compassion.  We see someone hurting, and we want to help them.  Yet sometimes, we stop and we ask ourselves if we can handle that or if we have what it takes to help them.  I know that when I was asked to lead a women’s retreat for women who are HIV/AIDS positive, I asked these questions.  I do not have HIV/AIDS; I don’t fight that battle every day.  How am I ever going to know what these women need?  How am I ever going to be able to provide them with a retreat that meets their needs?  Here is what the book says about that:

“We may have a difficult time facing the suffering of others because we don’t know how to deal with our own pain and suffering.”

“And when we wonder what we have to offer anyone under any circumstances, aren’t we really questioning our self-worth?”

“The more wrenching the situation, the more likely such issues will be central.  Who are we to ourselves and to one another? — it will all come down to that.”

“Can we see that to b e of most service to others we must face our own doubts, needs and resistances?”

“The reward, the real grace, of conscious service, then, is the opportunity not only to help relieve suffering but to grow in wisdom, experience greater unity, and have a good time while doing it.”

I can tell you that in planning for the women’s retreat, I took volunteer classes at Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS, the organization that was hosting the event.  One of the classes I took was named “compassion”.  It was my first very real conversation with people who were both HIV/AIDS positive and who were not.  And my fear was erased, well at least some of it.  During the registration period of the retreat, while the women were arriving, I was very nervous. I still doubted myself.  What did I have to offer these women?  I knew I had planned an amazing weekend for them, but would they accept me as a non HIV/AIDS person?  Would I be an outsider? Would they allow me to serve them?  All of these were *my own* fears.  Once they arrived, it was quickly clear, that my fears were my own.  It was an amazing weekend of service…..why?  Because I let go of my fears and realized that I had everything I needed in order to be of service to them…I had my compassion and my love.

Tomorrow we will go a bit further into how I was able to help them during the retreat…how I let go of that fear (as described in this book).

For now, thank you for taking this journey with me.  I do truly appreciate all of my readers!

Much Love,

Martha