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Last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of directing/leading the Idaho Women’s Retreat for women living with HIV/AIDS for the 2nd year. I may be the director of the retreat, but these women give me so much!  I learn so much from them each year…about strength, forgiveness, and so much more!

I had such a great time with them last weekend, and we even ended it in time for me to head to church.  Last week’s message was on Joy being the a quality of God.  I love “Joy”.  I feel it  every day, and after hearing about it at the end of the Women’s Retreat, I just cried…big ol’ crocodile tears from joy over flowing!

Rev. Jackie showed us the difference between Happiness and Joy.  Happiness is a reactionary emotion (something you feel because something good is happening) and Joy is a causative emotion (we act FROM joy not because of joy).  This is what I feel in my every day life. I feel joy in everything, even when some things just don’t look “joyous”.  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)  Joy is INSIDE us already; we carry it with us at all times.  It just needs to be revealed to us..by surrendering our worries and cares.

I have been told lately that I glow.  I believe I glow because it is the joy radiating from inside of me.  I live a life that is truly blessed, and I believe it is blessed in every area!  That doesn’t mean I don’t have my hiccups in life, it just means that I recognize the perfection in every part of  my life.  It also means that I listen to the GUIDance of God…my divine discernment.

Have you ever looked at the word “guidance”? Rev. Jackie, reminded me about the word’s significance in the message yesterday.  The word DANCE is the majority of the word.  Who doesn’t feel joy when they just dance?  Whether they just let go on a dance floor or find themselves dancing through life.  I tend to do both.  But the first part of the word is GUI (God U (you) and I).  God, U (you) and I DANCE.  When we ask for guidance from god and we let go and trust, then we will find oursevles dancing with God.  When we fight it..that is when we struggle and we lose our joy.

So how does this all work with the Women’s Retreat?  Well…here it is.

This year, no matter how hard I tried, I could not find presenters to present at the Women’s Retreat.  I asked everyone I knew.  Even the ones from last year who said they wanted to participate this year wouldn’t return  my emails or phone calls.  It was crazy.  So I asked God for discernment and GUIDance.  What I was told was that it was all perfect and that it was time for me to present my own workshop…one that I had prepared years ago.  The Hero’s Journey.  I was to present this to the women to help them find their own Hero inside their HIV journey.  Once I realized this, I was completely at ease.

And of course, it WAS perfect.  During the workshop, one of the women said that her boyfriend had been studying alot of Joseph Campbell’s work and now she has a better understanding of what he has been looking at.  It has really helped her understand.  Not to mention, the original intention was to help the women find their own Hero within, and that is exactly what we did.  There were some “a-ha moments” over the weekend.  We had a great time!  The weekend was relaxing and done perfectly…time to learn..time to reflect…time to laugh..time to share stories with each other.  It was beautiful and easy.  We “danced” through the weekend.

These women are beautiful and powerful.  I have learned so much from them, and it is my pleasure to be of service to them.  One of them kept saying how good I am for giving so much for no monetary value.  I don’t know how “good” I am, but I do know how “blessed” I am.  This is my calling, and when you follow your calling, all things fall into place.

As I prepared for the weekend, and I surrendered to the will of God and what was supposed to be, I watched everything unfold.  And I remembered the very moment in which I was called to be a retreat director.  The vision I had for the women’s retreats was completely different than what I do now, and there is no question in my mind that what I do now is EXACTLY what I am suppose to be doing!

Psalms 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  I have listened to the divine discernment and GUIDance given to me and I experience the fullness of joy at every turn!  I am so very grateful!

When was the last time, you just let go and Danced with God and felt the Joy that is within you already? Just try it, you won’t regret it!

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On May 7th, 2010, I turned 41 years old!  It was a party; as a matter of fact, I partied for about 2 weeks!  I absolutely adore my life and celebrate it every day!  And this last year  has been one of the best years ever!

When I was approaching 40, I thought, “I’m gonna lose enough weight to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for my 40th birthday.”  It didn’t happen.  Instead I started my birthday out right with a birthday party filled with laughter.  I had a laughter fitness instructor deliver a laugh o gram, and my whole party joined in the laughter.  We wore silly hats and had a great time! My husband and my best friend bought me a ride in a Nascar Race Car on the Las Vegas Speedway.  I got in the car with a professional racer and went around the track at 245mph!  I was excited and scared all at the same time, and when the car started moving all of that fear went away.  It was fabulous!  I loved it!  And while we were in Vegas we saw Jimmy Buffett and partied all weekend.  It was awesome!  It was a great way to start off my year.

So between my 40th birthday and my 41st birthday, life has changed dramatically.  Until just before my 40th birthday, I hardly ever laughed.  Now I laugh all of the time.  I smile all of the time.  I actually feel JOYFUL 98% of the time!  I know this because in 3 weeks, in 3 different settings I have had people come up to me and tell me that I am radiating love or happiness.  The first time this happened was right after my husband and I joined our church.  One of the church members came up to me at the end, and said, ‘I just had to hug you because you radiated love from up there on the podium.”  Then the next week at a Tropical Cowboys show, the drummer came up to me to give me a hug and told me the same thing, “I see you all the way back here radiating love.”  Then just last weekend, on our way through the security line at the Boise airport (on our way to Vegas again) a TSA lady came up to us and stopped us.  “Where are you going? I just know it has to be some place fun, because I have never seen people rush up to the security line with such smiles on their faces!”  We told her we were going to Vegas.  And she said, “I have never seen 2 people so happy!”    Funny thing is, we weren’t near as excited and boisterous this year as we were last year heading to Vegas.  *laugh*  It’s just that I have changed so much!

So what happened????  To say I really don’t know would be a stretch I guess.  But I can’t tell you one specific thing that has changed.  It is just a matter of things accumulating I think.

1)  I learned to laugh and not take myself so seriously!

2) I found work that I take joy in (being an Independent Beachbody Coach)

3)  I work out alot more..almost every day

4) I have lost weight (not the amount I had always strived for) and I have gained some back, AND I am happy with who I am!!!  As long as I FEEL good that is all that matters!

5)  I take risks!!!!  If I am scared of something, I make myself do it! I don’t let fear keep me down!  I started living FEARLESSLY!

6) I KNOW & TRUST that my highest good is always being taken care of….worrying is wasted energy.

7) I am growing spiritually and intellectually through all of this reading I am doing.

8) I have learned to say “No” and “Yes” at the appropriate times!

9) I love freely and share that love with everyone I meet

10) This is  my favorite..jsut the other day, when one of my class mates was asked, “What part of God do you see in Martha?”  her response was “Authenticity”  When we moved to Idaho, it was my goal to live openly and be authentic with who I am….And her reply was exactly what I needed to hear to know that I am living my life the way I have always dreamed of living it!

Sure I have challenges.  Sure I would still love to be a lesser physical weight.  Sure I would love other things to change.  However, I LOVE MY LIFE NOW!  In this moment, right where I am, I LOVE IT!  I have one of the best marriages I have ever seen.  I have 3 beautiful loving strong children and one  just as beautiful loving and strong daughter in law!  I have volunteer work that fulfills me.  I have a job that keeps me active and encourages me to be better.  I belong to the perfect church for my life and it is filled with so  much love it is palpable!  I am making new friends who love me for me!  It’s perfect!

And for my 41st birthday, that same friend who helped with the race car ride, bought me my roller derby gear.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be in the Roller Derby.  3 years ago when Boise got its Roller Derby League, I told my hubby that is what I wanted to do.  And every year since, when I start seeing their advertising, I say the same thing.  “I want to do that!”  Well, yesterday was my first practice as Fresh Meat for the Treasure Valley Roller Girls.  I was scared.  Here I am..41 years old, well over 200#…and just started roller skating again after not skating for over 10 years!  I put on my shiny new speed skates, and pads and got out on that track!  I was scared to fall; what if I looked stupid?  What if I couldn’t get up?  What if it was all too much for me?  What if I am too out of shape?  To heck with the “what ifs”  Just get out there!!!!  So I did.  When it came time for practicing our falls, my new friend Crash told me “you have great knee pads, just trust your gear and trust yourself.”  I did.  And guess what?  I didn’t get hurt!  When it came time for endurance practice, they cheered me on!  When it came time for weaving drills, they cheered me on!  I was told, “You have great skills to build on!”  “You are a natural”   “You must have been raised on skates.”  And when it came time for backwards skating, I blew them all away. Even the non-fresh meats.  I skated circles around them.  “Wow!  Look at Martha go!”  I’m not gonna lie, that felt damn good!   I was exactly where I needed to be.  It was the perfect fit for me.  The only sport I have ever felt comfortable in was a sport that included roller skates!

There are sooo many lessons to be gleaned from yesterday’s Fresh Meat practice.  Living fearlessly:  Fear is there to keep you safe, but if you are already safe, it is just a hinderance; it’s a lie!  Taking risks is how we grow!  It’s a must!  Learning to trust ourselves and trust “our gear”.  Let go and trust God.  We will never know how great we are at something unless we give it a try!  We will never know the joy of accomplishment if we don’t take that first step!

On mother’s day this year (which was 2 days after my birthday) my  kids gave me this huge card that had this granny woman doing the splits on the cement.  When you opened up it played one of my favorite disco songs.  (My kids know me so well.)  But what they wrote inside of it was so touching.  My 17-year-old son told me he was proud of everything I have accomplished this year and encouraged me to keep it up.  My 10-year-old daughter told me basically the same thing.  That is such an amazing feeling.  They see all the changes I have made in my life this year.  They recognize this brighter side of me.  I know I am setting a great example for them.  I know what I am doing is right!

If you are sitting back in that comfortable space of fear.  If you are afraid to take risks and would rather live a “safe” life, then I challenge you to make some changes.  Take a step outside of that box you have built for yourself.  Get out there and enjoy this life.  We are here to experience it and live it..not to watch it float on by us like a parade!  Get up and join the parade!  Dance with the clowns!  Play those blaring horns!  Maybe even do some juggling.  And remember, even in a parade, there are people who have to pick up the horse manure!  It’s not always going to be fun and games, but it is always worth the risk!!!!!

I’m in the front left hand row with the white shirt.  This is at my first Treasure Valley Roller Girls Fresh Meat Practice…learning to skate in a pack and listen for verbal ques and directions.  So  much fun!

I know I must say this after every book I read….this is an amazing book!  Okay, it’s more than that, really.  I bought this book because Rhonda was hosting her Fearless Revolution Workshop at my church.  I figured I should read her book before I attended her workshop.  I started reading the book, but did not get it finished in time before the workshop.  Why?  This is more than just a book that you read straight through.  This book is a work book inside of a book!

In this book, Rhonda not only shares her riveting personal story of watching her father kill her mother and then turn the gun on himself, but she tells us how she over came this tragedy in her life and shares with us how we can do the same things she did to over come the fear in our lives that keep us feeling “stuck”.

Like I said, it is not a book you can just sit down and read through.  When you decide to pick up this book, make a commitment to yourself to DO THE WORK!  It will honestly change your life!  Buy a journal and a pen and get ready to dig deep!  Do the exercises, take the notes, and make sure you have the tissues sitting beside you!

As usual I sat down to read with pen in hand ready to take notes and get to underlining.  The very first thing I underlined and took notes on was on page 29: the definition of fear:  “Fear is both the cause and effect of the feelings, thoughts, or actions that prohibit you from accepting yourself and realizing your full potential…..It’s number one fear is to guard you against any negative feelings that would confirm your worst fear–that you are not good enough….Fear is the gatekeeper of your comfort zone.”

Like Geneen Roth’s book Women Food and God, Rhonda talks about playing the waiting game.  “Waiting validates our negative self-image.  When we wait, we feel powerless.  When we passively wait, we are living in fear.”  So obviously our goals, dreams, or visions are not just going to appear instantaneously.  There is no genie in a lamp that will grant us our 3 wishes; sure our wishes may be granted, but they usually take time.  That time looks like waiting, right?  Well you can actively wait!  What does that mean? How do you do that?  Well Rhonda’s book gives you all kinds of tools and answers.  Grateful lists, Acknowledgment Lists, Affirmations, Forgiveness and so much more!  This is a MUST READ for anyone who has a dream they want to accomplish!  She will work you through it and give you the tools you need to see your dreams become reality!

Not only did I see alot in MY OWN life that can be changed and adjusted with her words, but I also saw where my own 10 year old daughter is starting to form some limiting beliefs that (if she continues to use) will keep her from being happy.  Her most recent belief is “Whenever I am happy and excited about something, I get physically hurt.”  Why does she believe this?  Because on the days when she is soooo very happy and excited about something (like on  my 41st birthday we were going roller skating with some of her friends and her uncle was in town and there were alot of things to be excited about) she fell while roller skating and hurt her wrist.  Before that, she was excited about something else at school, and she fell and skinned her knee.  She has created this belief…..if she keeps that up, she will believe that being happy hurts.  YIKES!  How scary is that?  She is only 10!  But how many of us share that same belief or something like that?  Do you remember the day you created that belief?  Rhonda will walk you through it and help you remember and then tell you how to work through it!

And, if you get the chance, check out her website on Fearless Living and find out when she will be near your city.  Her 2 hour workshop at my church was phenomenal!    She is such an inspiration and so genuine!  I was blessed to be able to hug her, get her to autograph my book and get a picture with her…I will always remember to live fearlessly!

“Your well-being is reachable, for its maximal potentiality has never left you.  You have simply forgotten where it lay.”  This quote can be found toward the end of Hanle’s book, but it states very simply what can be found in the pages of her book.

Last summer when I started on my weight loss journey (for the umpteenth time) I decided that I really needed to see a therapist.  I have done the yo-yo dieting since my teenage years.  I have done so much spiritual studying.  I knew that this wasn’t just a matter of the scientific method of eat fewer calories than I am expending.  My up and down weight issues are the result of something deeper.  Therapy worked to a degree.  I learned alot.  But there is still so much more to learn.  It was a great starting point.  This Blog project picks up where it left off.  And then this book comes my way.  This book talks exactly about what I have been feeling.  It takes the reader on a journey of awareness to the realization that our thoughts create our reality.  Yes, that means that our thoughts have created our obesity!  MY THOUGHTS HAVE CREATED MY OBESITY!  In the very last chapter she actually states that “obesity is a choice”.  It  may be an unconscious choice, but it is a choice I have chosen none the less.  Once we have this awareness, we can now begin to get to the root of the issue and change our perceptions!  Fantastic!

Hanle admits “this book will surely challenge everything you  have heard or read about weight loss.”  Well isn’t it about time that something/somebody does that?  Look around, America, obesity rates in adults and children are on the rise.  With all the diets, all the gyms, all the resources in this free country, we are STILL getting bigger and bigger.  What’s the definition of insanity?  Well it’s about time we start doing and thinking things differently!

Beyond Fitness contends that to really start changing our lives and living healthier lifestyles, we must first understand 4 Universal Principles.

  • The Core Thought Principle:  the beliefs on which we make our choices.  There are only 2: Love or Fear.  If all of our choices are coming from a Self belief of Love, then our choices will be healthy (physically and emotionally).  If our choices come from a Self belief of Fear, then the result will likely manifest in health issues such as being over weight.
  • The Cause and Effect Principle:  “Choices create actions.  Actions create reactions.  Actions and reactions are consequences.  Desiring another consequence implies choosing differently.  choosing differently implies creating new possibilities of thinking.”  This section also talks about how addictions are created and you really start to see how the yo-yo dieting is perpetuated by your thoughts (or at least I did).  I also started to see that I have to really take responsibility for my own actions.  I can’t blame my parents for this.  I can’t blame anything or anyone for this.  What I do and what I see are direct effects to the actions to make based on my beliefs.
  • The Common Denominator law:  Many of us tend to live our lives in victimhood.  Why do I always end up with a broken heart?  Why do I always get involved with the “bad boy”?  Why is it that these diets just never work?  So take a look at your failed relationships (whether romantic or platonic) and take a look at your diets.  What has been the “common denominator” in all of them.  YOU.  Or when I look at myself…”ME”.  It’s not the relationships that fail me or the diets that fail me.  Its ME that fails me.    “What happens to you belong to you.  You are either the unconscious or the conscious creator of your perceptual reality.  Nobody can claim this ownership and no one can undo what you  have done.  So, embrace your creative power and start to make the changes in your Life that will make each of your days a blessing……Be the one who makes the difference in your life the one who makes the difference in other people’s lives.  Let your example of courage inspire others on the same path.  Be this someone who experiences a Life that is free of the burden of misery.  this existence that we all deserve is success, and peace will lie within.”
  • The Impermanency Law:  Life is fluid and always changing.  NOTHING stays the same.  We can choose to follow the flow of the current evolution.  We can decide that we like what we see right now and continue to make the same choices every single day that perpetuate the state of living that we are living now…OR..we can decide to make a difference choice that completely changes the path of our own evolution.  Which would you rather?  “Life, in some ways, repeats itself, as long as the need for understanding remains.  but a wider consciousness can lead our hope for happiness to a great level, by opening doors to a multitude of possibilities we previously feared.”  When I read this section of the book, I thought about the cycle of physical, emotional, sexual abuse in my family.  I decided when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child that I would break this cycle of abuse.  Well my family also has a cycle of obesity; and I have decided to break that as well.  Plain and simple.  What kind of life do you choose to live?  What in your life needs to change in order for you to live the life of your dreams?

This book also comes with a practical guide to help change your beliefs.  This process is called the F.A.C.T. Factor Strategy:  Forgiveness, Attitude, Courage, Time.  Hanle suggests that you read through the book before doing the exercises she gives you…so that is what I have done.   In this section of the book, there are numerous deep thoughts and amazing quotes, and I will leave you on your own to discover them for yourself.  They will mean more to you that way :).

“The energy we use to create our Life can not be destroyed, but its movement can be redirected.” In her chapter called “The Modus Operandi of Empowerment” she shares with her readers all of the things/beliefs she felt were important for her own weight loss journey:  Faith, Visualization, Affirmations, Repetitions, Prayers, Synchronicity/Coincidence, Curiosity, Meditation, Finding a Mentor, Relaxation, Discipline, Water Intake, Breathing, Muscles, Flexibility, Food Intake, and Books.  (BTW…I LOVE her list of suggested reading :))

Hanle also talked about the power of your words.  This is the same kind of concept as discussed in The 4 Agreements.  Your words are how you create your world.  Be careful with them.  Mean what you say and say what you mean.

When she talks about the differences between creation and limitation, her words created a beautiful vision for me, and I would like to share that with you.  “Fully express your self by being free of limited paradigms and limited perceptions.  the beauty of our reality lies in its impermanency and its endless possibilities.  reveal the limitless resources within by setting its boundaries out of sight.  Empower your very center and build your body like a cathedral.  Be your own architect and design the temple you foresee.  Enjoy the journey.”

She ends her book by talking about our future…..our children.  Let us not pass on our own fears and insecurities to our children.  Let’s leave them a legacy of  physical and emotional health.  Let’s break the cycle of Obesity in America!  It starts NOW.  It starts with you and me!

There are so many great quotes and thoughts in this book.  I swear Hanle was writing my life story in her book!  It truly spoke to my heart.  (Is it  just me, or do I say that about all the books I blog about. *laugh*)  She continuously says that this book is filled with Truths, not THE truth by A truth. You get to decide if it’s Truth for you. As for me, it is absolutely Truth.

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.”

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!!!

Have you ever heard of a flash mob?  It’s a group of people that meet at a pre-determined area at a certain time and then “all of a sudden” start doing the same thing….dancing, pillow fights, water gun fights, singing..you name it.  Then just as quickly as they appear, they disperse.  Check out “flash mob” on YouTube and you will find great examples.

Well today in Boise, the Boise Flash Mom held a Non-Protest.  The theme was “Everything’s Fine”.  Our chant:  “What do we want?….NOTHING!”  “When do we want it?……WHENEVER!”  or maybe even a random singing of “Happy Birthday” or cheering on the guys across the street who were unloading a van.  Our sole purpose was to be there and share the spirit of good will and joy with our community.  It felt almost like a random act of kindness.

I woke up my kids this morning and asked if they wanted to go.  My daughter, Naomi was all ready for it, but the teenagers were not thrilled about being woken up.  They didn’t understand what the point was.  (This coming from 2 boys who constantly make silly signs and stand on the street corner just to get people to honk or laugh.)  So we all made signs this morning and headed down to the Boise City Hall in downtown Boise.  We were  joined by a bunch of other people with signs that said various things like: “Bacon..Soggy or Crispy?”, “My Dog is Happy”, “Honk if you love something”, “Everything is okay”, or posters of Celebrities like Orlando Bloom or Snow White.  The signs were completely random, but the spirit among the non-protesters was that of sheer joy!  And the people of Boise?  They responded with honking horns, cheers, laughter and even some serious questions.  “What’s this all about?”  When I told one man that it was about being silly and joyful, his reply was “I have so many blessings in my life. Thank you for the reminder.  This is a great thing!”

So what does this have to do with “The God Project”?  Everything.  It was such a special experience to share with my children.  Remember when I said, I take myself too seriously?  Well here was a chance to be joyous, silly, and fun..and to share it with my children and my community. It was a chance to share the joy with the city of Boise and bring smiles to strangers!  It was awesome, and I highly recommend you find a Flash Mob in your area and get involved!

This book is not exactly what I expected, but then again, I am not exactly sure what I expected.  I picked up this book while perusing the bookshelves in the store.  It looked interesting so I picked it up.  Truthfully, I hoped it would help me take myself less seriously and encourage me to laugh more.  I’m not certain that was the result, but what I did learn was profound.

I have sensed a theme in the last 2 books and movie I have seen.  They all touched on homelessness.  They have touched on the judgment of homeless people and also on what it might feel like to be homeless.  I find this interesting.  If this keeps popping up, I can only assume, I still have something to learn on this subject.

From the Foreword written by Mike Meyers:  Del Close’s philosophy:  “..comedy equals truth and truth equals spiritual growth.  Plainly put, “ha-ha” is related to “ah-ha” the sound one makes upon the realization of truth.”

I can honestly say, I have a few “ah-ha” moments of my own while reading this book.  I will list a few……..

On Fear:

  • “Fear tells you that you aren’t safe.  But you are.  Thinking that you aren’t safe is an illusion.  If you believe in an illusion, you’re buying into a lie.”
  • “Just because something bad happens doesn’t prove Fear will never stop trying to convince you.  But when you choose to stop being convinced, you’ll be fearless.”
  • “As long as you live in fear, the world is a threat.  If that doesn’t matter to you, okay.  But living that way you’ll never know the joy of your own soul.

We rely on fear to stop of us from getting hurt, but how often have we done something that scared us (like riding a roller coaster) and not get hurt?   A WHOLE BUNCH!  Fear is a false indicator to try and make us stay safe, but if we never take risks and prove Fear is a liar, we will miss some of the greatest things in life.  It is unlikely that we would follow our hearts to try new things, start new businesses, get married, have babies, all sorts of things.  I know fear has paralyzed me a few times.  I just need to remember that there have been many time when I have looked fear in the eye and did it anyway, and the outcomes have been amazing.

On Ego:

  • “Ego makes you believe you are in control, that you will get what you want. After a while, your fear is put out of your mind.  You have a self-image to keep up, after all.  You need other people to believe in you.  There’s money, status, possession, and a family to acquire.  As long as ego keeps holding out the carrot and creating constant drama, you never have to face what lies below the surface.”
  • “When the pain of being the same becomes greater than the pain of being different, you change.”
  • “Either you’re a person wondering if you have a soul, or you’re a soul who knows that being a person isn’t real.”

My husband received a $500 Apple gift card several months ago.  We decided that we wanted to use it to buy iPhones for the two of us.  This would require changing mobile phone carriers and having to buy the iPhones on line since we do not have an Apple store here in Idaho. I won’t go into the whole thing, but it cost me AT LEAST 5 hours of completely drama filled phone calls that ended with me yelling, screaming and me throwing my phone across the room.  Key word:  drama.  This drama kept me from facing my real fear.  I did not want to spend my own cash out of pocket to buy iPhones; I was afraid that I didn’t have enough money (a lie I tell myself all the time).  Once I let go of this it was incredibly easy to buy the phones, my life was FREE, and everything worked out great.  But man, that Ego and Fear of mine were enough to drive me crazy.

I have had lots of conversation about Souls before and where do they go when the physical bodies pass.  I have always heard that we are not physical beings having a spiritual experience but rather a spiritual being having a physical experience.  After reading this book, I have a new vision I carry with me.  This physical body I am in and the roles that I play are ones of my CHOOSING like a role in a play being played out on a stage.  We can change that.  The Soul is always there, but how we decide to show up in this physical world on this stage of life is completely up to us and can be changed at anytime.  This happens by letting go of the Fear and Ego.

On Addiction:

  • This isn’t about addiction to drugs, alcohol or food or anything like that.  We are addicted to our “old self”.  We are addicted to our own drama.
  • “You keep doing what never worked in the first place.”
  • “The ego never gives up trying to be in control.  So it keeps doing more and more of what didn’t work in the first place.”

When we let go of Fear, Ego, and Addiction we start living in Freedom…in “God’s World” not a world created by man (greed, fear, anger, consumption, etc.)

On God:

  • “How can you seek God if he’s already here?  It’s like us standing in the ocean and crying out, ‘I want to get wet.’  You want to get over the line to God.  It turns out he was always there.”
  • “Grace comes to those who stop struggling.  W hen it really sinks in that there’s nothing you can do to find God, he suddenly appears.  That’s the deepest mystery, the only one that counts.”

I loved these 2 thoughts.  I was having a conversation with a friend via Facebook about finding a church home.  One of her friends said he has gone to lots of churches where he couldn’t’ find God.  Her reply was that God is everywhere.  Anybody who has ever been to church has heard that he is everywhere, but I loved this ocean analogy.  And I love the feeling I got when I read that when we stop seeking him, he suddenly appears.  It’s our Ego that seeks him and Fear that tells us he is not there.  Yet when we let go, and be still, Grace will find us.  I love that!

There are so many more quotes and things I could say about this book.  It truly was an easy and quick read.  The first part reads like a story, and it is very touching.  It reads a bit like Dan Millman’s THE WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR.  And at the end, there is a section that delves into “The Path of Joy” which has more of a text book feel.  In the end, it is a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it!

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