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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.”


“What would happen if you discovered the primary love language of your spouse and chose to speak it consistently?”  This is the question Dr. Chapman raises in his book The 5 Love Languages.

I will be honest.  I heard about The 5 Love Languages (the book and the concept) several years ago.  At the time, I did not read the book.  I thought it was a bunch of….ummm….nonsense.  However, I did take the quiz.  My husband took the quiz.  My  kids took the quiz.  But we did nothing with it.

Maybe if we had done something with it, my husband and I would not go through the same cycle of disappointments that we go through every  year.  This year, that cycle hit us hard…harder than it ever has before.  We sought out a marriage counselor..thinking we (I) needed sex therapy.  (Maybe this is too personal to talk about on  my blog….but it’s the truth..and very vital in possibly helping someone who is struggling.)  Every year, my husband and I would “get into it” because he felt like he wasn’t getting enough sex.  I would take it personally and feel like I was being pressured into having sex.  With my history of sexual abuse, this did not go over so well.  But something has to give!  Something has to be changed if our marriage is to survive!  The fact is, we have been together for 27  years, and we love each other.  We do not want to separate and we want to make this work.  So we went to therapy..a sex therapist.  The only one in town, it seems.  But he was old…..VERY OLD.  So old, in fact, he couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, barely walk, and couldn’t remember what we said 2 minutes before.  I’m sure he had great things to say…back when.  But now, well, it just wasn’t working for us.  AND…he made it sound like it was *me* that was the problem.  I just had to suck it up and give it up.  That wasn’t the answer.  So we never went back.

I continued searching for something to help.  We watched the movie Fireproof that was based on the book The Love Dare.  The movie was “okay”.  It had some valid points, but it was highly Christian which was a turn off to my husband and myself.  It seemed to be more about “becoming a Christian” than saving a marriage.  So I thought that maybe the book would be a bit different…… I am currently reading through it on a day by day basis as it is a 40 day Love Dare.  I’m over half way through and will blog about that book when I am done.  At the same time, I decided to read The 5 Love Languages, and I loved it!

I’m sure you have heard about the book “Men are from Mars Women are from Venus”.  I have never read that book, but as I remember what I have  heard about it, I believe it is about the different ways men and women communicate.  5 Love Languages is about the different ways we all communicate our love.  So what are the 5 Love Language?  Words of Affirmation.  Quality Time.  Receiving Gifts.  Acts of Service.  Physical Touch.   In the back of the book, there is a “quiz” for both the husband and the wife to take (individually) to see what their Love Language is.  However, Dr. Chapman says you can also figure out what your spouse’s Love Language is by listening to their complaints.  Are they complaining you never talk to them?  Then Quality Time may be their primary Love Language.  Are they constantly asking you to do things or complaining you never help around the house?  Then consider Acts of Service.  If we listen to the complaints of our spouses, we will likely hear their Love Language. Also, I was told once as a teenager (by my mother in  law) that people do for their loved ones what they would have done for them.  Dr. Chapman says the same thing…..  Does your spouse constantly praise you verbally?  Maybe Words of Affirmation is THEIR love language.

All the way through the book, Dr. Chapman allows you to sit in on his counseling sessions and learn the ways in which he helps his clients.  You get to see how their lives and marriages change!  It’s a fascinating and eye-opening read.  I learned more about myself the way I wish my “love tank” would be filled…and more importantly, how I can help my own husband feel more loved.

Dr. Chapman explains that the “in-love” feeling we all get at the beginning of our relationships can last up to 2 years, but then what?  It might not even last a complete 2 years, and by then, you may already be married!  Then what do you do with the rest of your lives?  “That is what this book is all about.  How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved?  if we can  learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.”

Lest you think this book is all about theory and not practice, let me set you straight.  At the end of every chapter, there is a little part called “your turn” where he asks you questions and challenges you to be better.  Do them!  Be an active participant in your life and in healing your relationship (or maybe just making it better).  It certainly won’t get better if you do nothing!  I have to say that my favorite chapter was Chapter 12 “Loving the Unlovely”.  It follows the story of a woman who felt like her marriage was done for but struggled between her faith and morals saying divorce was wrong and the feeling that she just wasn’t loved and there was nothing she could do.  Dr. Chapman gave her a 6 month challenge, and at the end……she had the marriage she had always dreamed of.

Seriously?  Can it be that easy?  Not sure “easy” is the right word.  It can be difficult to feel like you are the only one working on your relationship..and sometimes its not just a feeling; it’s the God’s honest truth!   But I found that trusting the process helps.   As I have been working through The Love Dare, even though I found myself resentful that *I* was doing it and  not Tracy (long story), I have been telling myself to trust the process.  I did my dares, and as I did them, I saw Tracy respond.  (I don’t think Tracy knows I am doing them… least I have made a point of not telling him.)  So, now, having finished The 5 Love Languages, I have decided to take the 6 Month Challenge.

My marriage is sacred to me.  I love my husband with all of my heart.  I always have and expect to always feel this way.  I knew the minute I saw him that I was supposed to marry him.  It was that “knowing” that has kept me strong over the last 27 years.  THAT is what I remember when I am hurting most.  I believe that when we are struggling in our marriage, it just means that its time to learn to communicate and grow again… here we go… more growing!!!!  Isn’t that what this blog…”The God Project” …is all about??????

So how about you?  Want to take the challenge with me?


BTW…..Dr. Chapman has also written a book on The 5 Love Languages for children!  Check out his website

When I enter a book store the theme song from “Top Gun” should be playing….”Highway to the danger zone…….”  The instant I cross the threshold, my wallet finds a place to hide in the deep dark recesses of my purse, and I can almost swear that when I put my hand in my purse to find it that it moves on me and I have to chase it to capture it!  Book stores are dangerous places for me.  Sure I could go in with blinders on and walk in, get what I need, and hurry and walk out.  But with all of those books just lying around begging me to pick them up and leaf through their pages, it’s a very tempting place!

This is precisely how I ended up purchasing this book.  I went into the store to pick up a book for my daughter, and in the mean time, perused my way through books on the tables on the way back to the children’s section.  Instantly, I saw the title of this book and knew I had to have it!  I had NO IDEA what a whirligig is, but I loved the word!  And when I turned the book over to read a synopsis of the book, I was hooked!  Whenever I see the word “journey” to describe a story, I know it’s a book I have to read!

Funny thing is, I didn’t even realize there were discussion questions in the back of this book!  Crazy!  When I did some research on the book on the internet, I realized this is a book that English teachers like to teach from.  SCORE!  I LOVE these kinds of books!!!!  With all of this said, you know it had to be  great book!  And it was!!!

First of all, let me tell you what a whirligig is!  Here is what defines it as:



1. something that whirls or revolves.
2. a whirling motion or course: the whirligig of fashion.
3. a giddy or flighty person.
4. Dialect. a merry-go-round or carrousel.
5. a toy for whirling or spinning, as a top.

In the book it kind of describes it as a wind toy/yard decoration that blows in the wind.  Okay, the book does a better job of describing it.  It can have wings that blow in the wind or propellers or any number of things depending on the design of the particular piece.

Got it?  Ya, I know; it’s probably as clear as mud.  It’s okay.

Anyway, the book was beautifully written and will tug at your heart-strings.  It’s a story of a high school boy named Brent who, in trying to kill himself, accidentally kills a high school girl with his car.  As “atonement”, the girl’s mother gives Brent a challenge to travel around the country and build and place whirligigs in the corners of our country.  You get to follow Brent on this journey and learn the lessons right along with  him.  You get to find the healing and watch the transformation right before your eyes!  You also get to see how these whirligigs change the lives or have a part in changing the lives of 4 different people around the country.

Fleischman does a fantastic job of capturing the different voices and moods for each of the stories within the story.  As a matter of fact, it almost feels like a completely different writer at times!  It is artfully written.  I loved it!  As a reader, it is a fantastic journey!  It seriously made me want to hop a bus with little money and go on an adventure!!!

As always I marked some amazing quotes, and there are too many to give you! I will, however, give you a few!

Two girls come upon one of the whirligigs……

“..thoughts are powerful.  that they’re the seeds of events.  That by thinking something, we can help make it happen.”  “All that is, is the result of what we have thought.”

“You can’t see the wind, but look what it can do.  It’s invisible but powerful.  Like thoughts.  One brings a bunch of junk to life.  The other brings desires to life.”  ‘If you learn to use thoughts, you can do all kinds of things.”


Thoughts on the Afterlife…..

“After night came another day.  And after death another life.  Mornings seemed mysterious gifts.”


Thoughts on the word “karass”…an English term for a disparate group of people linked together without their knowledge…..

“Your family and friends weren’t part of your karass.  You couldn’t choose its members, and might never know who was in it or what its purpose was.”

I particularly loved this thought.  Brent uses this word and considers the people he meets along his journey as part of this “karass”.  And it made me think of the people who have come and gone through my life…everything happens for a reason.  People come into your life for a reason and a season and sometimes you may not even meet them, but for some reason have become part of your life in such a way as to really make a difference.


Upon reflecting on one’s actions….

“…the effects of an act traveled far beyond one’s knowledge.  He knew she’d meant harmful acts, like his.  He saw now that the same could be said of good deeds, such as a teacher’s years of inspiring.  Everything we did –good, bad, and indifferent — sent a wave rolling out of sight.”

How are YOUR actions affecting the world and those around you?


There are so many great lessons and quotes in this book!  I absolutely LOVED this book and can’t wait to share it with my teenage son!  This is perfect for the teenager in your life.  It’s a quick read; I read it in a couple of hours!  I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book:

“The Lord doth provide.  And the dump’s where He does it.  Most folks don’t realize that.”

Seriously, some of our best lessons in life happen when we are “down and out and in the dumps”.  Right?  There is treasure there! We only have to change our perspective and EXPECT to see the good things in life!  We  just have to be open to the possibilities!


Happy Reading!!!!




It’s October 7, 2010, and it seems as though everyone on Facebook is talking about the bullying that led to the suicides of 6 gay boys/young men.  Okay, I stand corrected.  Not everyone on Facebook is talking about; it’s mostly my LGBT and supportive friends.  They are outraged, as well they should be!

But shouldn’t we ALL be?

One post today said, “it makes me crazy that no one has said anything about this before “.  Another one said, “I am telling ya—Gay parents are better than straight parents any day of the week. Gays will go to the mat for rights that straights take for granted and they stand up for what they believe in.”

Okay, these are just TWO responses in a long strand of comments in a very serious conversation happening on Facebook.  Please do not get all up in arms about things and starting saying it’s stereotyping.  I actually addressed stereotyping in that post.  The important thing here is that it’s NOT a gay/straight issue.

Yes, these 6 young men were gay and that is what they were bullied for and that is why they killed themselves.  But our youth have been killing themselves for years….because of bullying and/or depression.  I remember several years ago there was a rash of suicides due to bullying/cyber bullying, and there was an out cry then to stop bullying.  Back then, those kids weren’t being bullied over their sexual orientation; it was something else.

There are several thoughts going through my head right now.

First, Suicide:  I’m 41, and I grew up in Richardson, Texas.  The next city just north of us was Plano, Texas.  If you do the math, this makes me a 14-year-old teenager in 1983 when the big news about a cluster suicide happening in Plano, Texas.  A year or so later, the boy down the street from me killed himself.  Heck, I tried killing myself several times.  Depression.  Why do our teens become depressed?  Is it because of bullying?  I remember reading a book on how to prevent your friends from committing suicide.  It was written for teens!  Even our high school teachers were sent to special training on how to recognize suicidal students and how to help them. (Not that it was great training, because I pretty much gave my teacher a suicide note and she did NOTHING!)  It can’t be up to the teachers to prevent suicide, but it would be nice if they would recognize the symptoms.  But let’s face it, in junior high and high school, these teachers have nearly 300 students a day they see and are responsible for.  And they are under paid with all the budget cuts.  Is it THEIR job to watch after each and every one of these children?

Second:  Bullying.  Kids have been bullied for a very long time.  It’s not like it just started happening.  I’m willing to bet it has been happening in one way or another since we started having children and they learned to talk.  It’s not new.  I know I was bullied for developing early, for my dad’s weight, for the condition of my house growing up, for developing early, for OVERLY developing, for the religion my parents raised me in, for being over weight, for being a virgin, for not being a virgin…for anything that made me different from someone else (and they didn’t understand it).  My children were bullied for being the youngest in the class, for not being in sports, for learning disabilities, for their religious (or not religious) beliefs, for just being different from the kid sitting next to them.

My parents didn’t stand up to my bullies.  I DID.  For my children, I am the one who went to the mat to support them and help them through their bullying issues.  I asked the teachers to help.  One teacher actually told my daughter there was nothing he could do about it, and he didn’t even respond to my emails about the situation.

The schools teach character development and along with that goes the anti-bullying segment.  Most schools have a zero tolerance program, but that doesn’t even begin to help.  Eventually, I just had to move my daughter to a different school or different class.

So again, is it the school’s responsibility to stop it?  Is it the teacher’s job to prevent it?  In a perfect would, we would like to think so.  In a perfect world, we would like to think that going to school is a safe and happy place for our children.  But in all reality, sometimes, it’s just not!  So then what???

Like sex education, it really belongs and begins at home!  We as parents need to teach our children how to make and sustain healthy relationships…starting with a relationship with themselves.  If this means sending them to a class at the Boys & Girls Club or Planned Parenthood, then do it!  We as parents need to be open, loving, accepting, supportive of our children NO MATTER what they come home and share with us.  Certainly if it’s the case of them using drugs or some other harmful situation, then step up, take a stand and help them overcome it.  But if they tell us they are different from what we had imagined them to be (sexual orientation, religious preferences, sports minded, educational decisions), then its our job to love and support them through it!  It’s our job to be a safe port in the confusion of growing up!  It’s our job to arm them with education, knowledge, love and support.

Preventing bullying & suicide starts at home!  If we teach them love, tolerance & support, they will take that into the schools.  If we teach them how to stand up for themselves and others, they will take that into the schools.  If we give them a safe place to open up at home, any issues  they may have at school can be brought home to the loving ears and arms of the family and can be taken care of as a team instead of leaving the child to feel like they are alone.  And if you have a warm, loving, accepting, tolerant home…then your child’s friend who may not experience that in their home will likely feel safe to come to yours and express their concerns and you will be able to help them!

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child.  This is so very true!  It takes a village of loving, caring, supportive adults to stand guard, hold vigil and support that young person to feel free to grow and express him/ be who they will become.  Yes, it starts at home….then it spreads to the village…to the safe neighbors..churches…schools….  And it all starts with LOVE!

My heart breaks for the 6 boys who needlessly took their lives recently.  For that matter, my heart breaks for the untold numbers of youth who take their lives on a daily basis because they felt they had no one to talk to..not even their own families.  My heart breaks for the children in the schools who are being bullied on a daily basis with no one to stand up and fight for them…my heart breaks for the children being bullied who DO have people who stand up and fight for them.

There is a Budhist prayer that says, “May all beings be free from suffering…..”  This is my prayer today and everyday…


I don’t know about you, but my heart broke the day Patrick Swayze died.  There were all kinds of “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” posts from my friends on Facebook.  I don’t think there is a woman in her 40’s who doesn’t know who this man is or didn’t have a crush on him!  But I found out so much more about him while reading this book; he was so much more than eye candy!  His book was deeply profound, and even though I have had it sitting on my “to read” pile for months, I have found that I am reading it at the PERFECT time!

Not sure if you (my dear reader) know that I am “Fresh Meat” for the Treasure Valley Rollergirls.  This basically means I am in training trying to get my skills up in order to draft onto a team to play in the arena against other teams from around the nation.   I was suppose to be drafting this weekend, but I injured my knee and I am on “restricted skating” duty per doctor’s orders.  I have been heartbroken for the last week.  In the last 3 days, I have read 3 books and ALL of them had something to do with my dreams……and following them.  And Patrick’s book hit home as he spoke in great detail about the MANY times he has injured his knee and how it has affected his Football dream, his Olympic gymnastic dreams, and his dream to become a principal ballet dancer!  Wow…I’m right there with  him!!!!  I had no idea about his knee issues…until now!

Ever since Patrick was in The Outsiders, I had a bit of a crush on him…let’s face it…he was a hottie!  But I had no idea  just how deep he was or what he thought on a personal level.  (Why would I?  It’s not like I knew him!)  Yet early on in this book, I got a very strong sense of who he was….”….growing up with a father who was both strong and sensitive made a huge impression on me.  It made me realize that having a gentle side didn’t  make you less of a man.  In fact, it made you a better one.”  AMEN!!!!!!!!!

He also learned early on that you can conquer fear by making it work for you.  Absolutely!  I have certainly learned that over my life, and it certainly has been a theme in several of the books I have read this year.  And over and over again, in this book, Patrick talks about facing his challenges and his fears!  Because of his knee issues, he constantly had to shift and refocus and find new dreams.  He said, “..I somehow knew instinctively that when one dream dies, you have to move on to a new one.  The unhappiest people in this world are those who can’t recover from losing a dream — whose lives cease to have meaning.  I wasn’t going to let that happen to me.  It was a revelation that would later save my life.”

While I read this book, I was amazed by how often Patrick had to re-invent his dream and his life.  I was shocked by how many other movies/shows he was in that I had no clue about.  I guess I truly was one of those people who loved him for his work in just a *couple* of movies and never really followed his career.  Then again, I don’t know anyone’s career that I follow that closely.  I don’t have time for that.  However, I LOVED reading about his life.  I loved reading about his life with Lisa!  It truly is a love story..not just the love that he and Lisa shared but the love he found for himself and the strength he found for himself.  There are moments in this book that will make you laugh and certainly there are moments in this book that will make you cry.  There are some very deeply profound spiritual moments in this book that are not to be missed!

This book was certainly not disappointing.  What I found disappointing was the fact that I could not find 3 of the movies he mentioned in his book at my local video stores.  I am totally bummed about that.  I guess I will need to hit the internet and do some searching!

Want to go on a magical adventure to find your destiny???  Then this is the book for you!!!  This is the 3rd time I have read this book, and each time I find and understand something new!  As a matter of fact, so far in this 52 books in 52 weeks journey, this book has been quoted in 2 of the books I have read this year!  That is how amazing this book is!

I bet if you asked 10 people if they have read this book, at least 1 of them..maybe even 2..have said they have…and more will say, “I have heard a lot about it!”  This is definitely a must read!

In this book you get to follow along with Santiago, a shepherd boy, who hears the call to follow a path to ancient lands to find gold..along the way he is tempted by many different things to let go of his calling and his dream and “settle”.  How many times have you had a dream in your life and have been tempted by others to “settle”?  I know I have.  Or  maybe, I have just never found my true calling.  I don’t know.  Sometimes I feel like that dog in the movie “Up” where he always gets distracted by the squirrels.  “SQUIRREL!”  Yup, sometimes I feel like that is me..I go off chasing the squirrels of life :).

The introduction to this book is amazing and insightful.  Coelho has often been asked, “What’s the secret behind such a huge success?” (meaning this book)  His response:  “I don’t know.  All I know is that we all need to be aware of our personal calling.  What is a personal calling?  It is God’s blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth.  Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend.  however, we don’t all have the courage to confront our dream.”

He says there are 4 obstacles to following our dream/destiny/legend:

1) We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible:  “We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt.  There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible.  But it’s till there.”

2) Love: “We know what we want to do but are afraid of hurting others by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.”

3) Fear of the defeats we will meet on the path:  “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

4) The fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all of our lives:  “The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt.  We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either.”

This was all just from the introduction.  You can only imagine what happens in the actual story, and what you will learn there!!!!!

So this begs the question:  What is your personal legend/dream/destiny?  What obstacles are you facing right now, and what do you need to do to get back on the right path?

Happy Reading!!!!!

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. 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 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 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 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 :).

First let me say, I love all of Dan Millman’s books!  If you haven’t read Way of the Peaceful Warrior, it’s a  MUST read.  Check it out in the library, buy it in the book store, whatever you gotta do, just do it!  *laugh*

As you might have guessed.  I LOVE books.  So a trip to the book store for ONE books, usually means I come out with 2 or 3 of them.  🙂  So it should be no surprise to anyone that when I went to the book store to pick up The Four Agreements and The Fifth Agreement, I decided to look around at what else was out there.  Sure enough, I came across a book by Dan Millman that I had no yet read:  The Laws of Spirit.  At only 110 pages, I thought this would be the perfect book to read while I waited for my friend who was having surgery.

It’s a narrative about a man who takes a hike and comes across a hut with a sage living there….way up in the  mountains.  He ends up spending a couple of days with this sage and they hike through the woods.  While spending this time with her, she shares with him the Laws of Spirit.  It is a spellbinding  journey that is sure to delight you and inspire you to grow.  I LOVED it!

Here are a quick list of the laws as listed in the book:  Balance, Choices, Process, Presence, Compassion, Faith, Expectation, Integrity, action, Cycles, Surrender and Unity.

At the beginning of each chapter there is a philosophical/poetic passage about each law, and then there is a quote by some great thinking/author/spiritual person.  This book is a treasure chest filled with gems!

As usual, there are so many deep thoughts and quotes I would love to share with you.  But I think I will let you discover them on your own.  This truly is a quick and fun read.  You will enjoy it.  However, I will leave you with this beautiful gem…for all of you cat lovers out there, this is for you:

“No cat I have ever known gave much due to past or future.  Like the wisest of sages, cats live each moment afresh.”  I’ll let you figure out which Law this pertains to :).

Create a beautiful day!

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.