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A Twelvemonth of Self Love

A Twelvemonth of Self Love

I want to let you in on a little secret.  Fear has met it’s match.  And that match is LOVE.

I had the most delicious thought come to me and lo and behold it was an ideaI simply couldn’t resist.  Have you ever had an idea that would NOT let go of you?  One of the reasons I started Salvation Chronicles several years ago is that I wanted to know if God-IS-Love had all the answers and if so, did it hurt at all in the process of finding out.  About two months ago, not long after I saw the Dalai Lama, I decided I would start a self love project.  I noticed that the thing that stands in my way of being aware of Love’s presence is usually a fear or one of the flavors of fear.  I wondered what would happen if I extended love to my fears, on purpose, every day for a month.  I decided to choose one fear each month and extend love to it and do this not just for one month but for a twelvemonth (that’s twelve months of course) and record my experience.

Please visit my newest blog and be sure to sign up for updates or you will miss out on finding out what DOES happen when you extend love to your epic fears?

 www.twelvemonthselflove.com.

The first fear, really took me by surprise, it was ‘fear of commitment’ (read day one here).  I made a list of fears but Holy Spirit, always full of care and tenderness, had another list that will unfold

Extending love to FEAR??!!

Extending love to FEAR??!!

as the months go by.  The huge surprise is that this daily blogging commitment of extending love to my epic fears is turning out to be huge fun and incredibly helpful.  I never thought I would read fun and fear in the same sentence.  The blog may not always be fun because fear (as well as its’ other flavors of anger, boredom, annoyance, terror, stress, exhaustion etc) is, well, kind of scary and overwhelming and annoying.  It trips you up or shuts you down, neither of which are fun.

Over at www.twelvemonthselflove.com I have included some help with extending love to your own fears and a few suggestions on how you can use the blog with your own walk in the world.  Everybody has a fear (or annoyance or dread or panic or stress) they could live a little easier  with if it turned out to be a friend instead of a terrorist with a knife to your throat.

I will still continue to post here but if it is a long time between drinks, come on over to www.twelvemonthselflove.com and see what epic fear is being loved on next.

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"How to achieve Happiness"

“How to achieve Happiness”

“Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great [a] love can be?”  The lyrics of Andy Williams hit in the movie Love Story come to mind instantly when I sit down to write of  my experience of hearing the Dalai Lama speak  yesterday in Berkeley.  For this is a love story, of that I am certain.  A story of how I went to see the Dalai Lama filled with expectations of learning “How to Achieve Happiness” and came away, with a profound experience of the truth of the heart of love that exists within each and every one of us.  I know what you want to hear because this is what I wanted to experience, I saw the Dalai Lama, I heard his words and I came away as if touched by an angel with his glory still ringing in my ears.  That is not exactly how it happened.

We were up at 5am to dress and drink our daily protein drink before heading to Berkeley.  We wanted to be in place no later than 8:30 so we could witness the grandeur, the joy, the event.  My husband, my daughter, our dear friend and coach and myself were all tired from our over-scheduled week, three businesses between us, my daughter’s  final quarters at UC Davis and teaching credential program interview and now an early effort for our bucket-list experience of seeing the Dalai Lama.  We drove from Sacramento through strips of batting-like fog still draped around the hills and arrived to a chilled Sunday morning in beautiful downtown Berkeley.  The only students awake and in sight were those protesting the Dalai Lama (DALAILAMA boom boom STOPLYING boom boom). We paused to notice the small but organized battalion with well made signs and expensive bullhorn and briefly wondered who paid for the signs and the organization and who benefitted.  People there with tickets to see the Dalai Lama were streaming in from all sides having found both street and garage parking all over the area.  Most were dressed in Tibetan national dress of woven brocades silks chemises, longs skirts and aprons for the women and longer jacket/chemise with trousers and knotted wraps for the men.  The children and babies looked like the little dolls you find in Chinatown with perfect little moon faces and giggling eyes and coal-black hair. Even the tiniest of babes were dressed in crimson, gold and cobalt woven fabrics. The security of the day befitted a world leader.  We were not allowed to bring bags, cameras, phones, water bottles etc.

Instructions for ticketholders

Instructions for ticket-holders

This alone was enough to cause this Westerner a wee case of preemptive PTSD.  My handbag is my pacifier, my Linus’s blankie, my own last straw.  It carries the usual money, id, water bottle & food bar,  notebook, colored pens, iPhone charger, the what ifs (band aids, Advil, corn pads, lip balm, tissue); often books, extending love practice card and an extra pair of knee-highs.  I was allowed my id and cash in a pocket (fyi, for organizers out there not all women’s clothing has pockets), and a teeny spiral notebook and a pen.  I am a chronic note taker and recorder, I would have been a scribe in ancient Egypt. I was already feeling vulnerable and slightly naked.  After we found our seats with the aid of one of the many and lovely volunteer ushers in Tibetan dress, we naturally looked for the Ladies room.  Oh goodie, there were already 150 ladies in a line that stretched from the entrance down a flight of stairs to the block of toilets downstairs.  Upstairs we found why the line was so long downstairs:  none of the toilets flushed and there was no running water.  So, it wasn’t  tooooo bad yet in the Men’s room  when we string of desperate ladies determined (thank you to the men who didn’t blink an eye) that flush or no flush we had to pee.  That done, I realized I was terribly thirsty so we stopped at the water fountains downstairs only to realized there was no water there either.  Ugh and drat!  Why didn’t we ignore the instructions and sneak in water?? As we waited, and waited………and waited for HH Dalai Lama to arrive we had plenty of time to people watch, meditate, cat nap and ponder our thoughts and feelings.  I was beginning to think this whole seeming lack of organization and timetable was designed to do just that; get us to notice our thoughts.  It worked.  Even as I pinched myself with the reminder that “EEEEK I was about to see and hear THE Dalai Lama!!!” I was a bit annoyed at the crying baby behind us.  I was intolerant of the “disorganization” and poor handwritten signage.  I was somewhat impatient for the “show” to begin.  There was still more waiting and only a brief explanation of the obvious:  “The Dalai Lama is delayed at the Tibetan Community Center”.

I began to worry what would happen when I needed to use the bathroom the toilets would surely be disgustingly full and unusable.  I sighed and asked to instead extend love to my ramped up judgment thoughts getting situated on their own high white horse.  It suddenly dawned on me this must be what the crowd of thousands must have felt like when coming to hear Jesus.  The story of the loaves and fishes came to mind.  I thought, if a few measly fishes and a couple of loaves of bread fed thousands then surely three toilets could miraculously house the refuse needed for the thousand here around me.  I began to breathe and settle down.  I closed my eyes and just let myself accept all that was going on.  I relaxed and found myself looking at the crowd with fresh eyes. Just then the Dalai Lama HHimself came onto the stage without fanfare with a small few of his entourage of hosts.  His beaming face looked out onto the waiting audience and he said “Hi!  So.  A little bit delayed.”  And proceeded to sit down on the large overstuffed persimmon colored chair in front of the extravagant twelve-foot long tapestry of the Buddha hanging behind the chair and two huge floral displays of orange, red, gold and white.  He was entirely relaxed and in no hurry.

Sketch of stage for Dalai Lama visit

Sketch of stage for Dalai Lama visit

The official welcome and introductions began and before the Dalai Lama got up to speak he placed his two hands on the Congresswoman’s  (from the 13th congressional district, who had just introduced him in a booming American voice) arms and gently led her to and placed her in his royal stuffed chair.  Beaming all the while.  She looked a bit stunned and awkward but sat in the chair with the Dalai Lama, thigh to thigh, until he returned to finally speak to the waiting audience.

The Dalai Lama squinted into the hot bright stage lights and said “Oh, light very strong!  Just a minute….” and walked back to his chair and fished out of a loose bag a visor, the color of a red marigold and placed in on his head and returned to the podium, “Ahhh, much better!”  while smiling and bowing.  Thus the talk of “How to Achieve Happiness” began.  I could not hear very well as he speaks with a very soft voice and apparently finds no need for emphasis or even much gesticulating.  He spoke of practicing love, extending compassion and not worrying so much about philosophy.  Even as I was missing every third word due to poor sound quality I vowed to listen with my heart more than my ears and just noted anything down I heard.  In this way I was completely aware of only my own experience.  The crowd and any bodily needs quickly faded.  It was if I was in a room with only the presence of great love and compassion, gently demonstrated by the smiling man on stage.  All of my worries and discomforts prepared me more perfectly to hear the message of happiness than any expected perfection of organization or free bottles of water.  The Dalai Lama declared “money is good facility for comforting the body but happiness is internal”.  And so it was.

My experience of happiness was simply BEING together in the presence of the love that was within us both.  The love that we all were made from.  The love that declared that I would remember more the shift from outward discomfort to inward joy only if it were aptly and obviously demonstrated.  Thank you, thank you and thank you.  Dalai Lama continued with “One God.  One Source.  All same. We all have spark of God and it is infinite love.”  We listened because he was the Dalai Lama, but I FELT it because it was true.

I recorded it all in my heart and notebook.  I have already told the story a half a dozen times and still marvel at the shift from outward bodily concerns to inward truth of happiness and love that was already within just waiting to be noticed.  I realized I didn’t have to wait for the Dalai Lama to feel this and that he was, as he put it, “just a human being, emotionally and physically the same.  We all want happy days and nights.  I am just a man”.  It was  privilege to be reminded by my fellow human being of my own, readily and always available happiness within, waiting for me to join and remember.  I am happy.  I am love.  I am holy.

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Which quality of Love will I extend?

Which quality of Love will I extend?

So, my husband bought a new car last week (see Mercy B post) and on the weekend came the necessary task of clearing space in the garage for the newest member of the family.  Sunday was a glorious day with clear sky, temp of 70 and the smell of autumn in the air.  So we were unprepared for our combined reaction of PTSD.  We began in fear and flashback with my beloved just grabbing any old thing and placing it just to be moving and me standing frozen unable to process.  We had words as inaction and action are wont to do.  I begged my Action Man to BE STILL so we could think.  Miraculously we both then stood stock still for two whole minutes in silence and peace.  We both essentially heard the same message of where to begin and how and thus the work commenced.

Later on when the emotion and dare I say it “shame” of “Why do we have so much STUFF??!!” became overwhelming I decided to go inside for a couple of bottles of water.  While there I prayed for joining, grace and guidance.  I asked Holy Spirit what quality of love could I extend and the surprising answer was:  I extend invitation to this thought.  INVITATION???!!!  This was enough of a surprise to knock me off my “I know best how to do this” perch and I could suddenly SEE that I had invited all the stuff, the clean up, the conflict and the opportunity to forgive and extend love.  I took the water back out to my husband and then the phone rang.  It was our daughter calling from Chicago and the ensuing chat added to the peace I was finally feeling.  While on the phone my husband managed to move the “impossible” bookcases and we were now over the crest and the miracle of a clean garage and a new parking space was in sight.IMG_4586

Next time you are faced with an impossible task or chore or simply don’t see eye to eye with your partner, ask Holy Spirit to join in, ask how you can extend love

and see what miracles are created!

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I love that we keep returning to the truth that our heart’s desire leads us on many different levels.  We had this amazing experience last weekend.  My husband has been looking at cars for about a year now (his car has over 150,000 miles on it and is over 10 yrs old;  also he wanted to get out of an SUV since we don’t both need one anymore).  Anyway, we went to drive a new Mercedes CLA which is a sporty sedan with very sleek styling and gets great fuel economy.  This is a new car that just arrived in the US and is sneaking into the slightly more affordable market.  Anyway,  he just really wanted to see it and drive it again (we did this a couple of weeks ago).  We felt led to go ahead and to negotiate to purchase the car.  We chose our favorite color, features etc and then found out the one he wanted was only in Oregon.  The missing feature though was a certain kind of wheel.  My very hard-working husband had been feeling hesitant which he put down to it being such a big expenditure but when the wrong wheels came up he balked.  I said “What do the wheels look like that you want?” and he took me back out to the parking lot to show me (with lovely salesman in tow who looked for all the world like a dear friend of ours Jerry Smith).  During the process of checking out the wheels he “noticed” a car he hadn’t really seen and instantly fell in LOVE with it and suddenly all apprehension fell away.  It was such a noticeable thing and he felt so buoyant we went ahead with the car purchase but with a COMPLETELY different car!  And because I kept telling him (and reminding myself) “we don’t have to buy today, we have everything we need, please guide us HS” we were relaxed enough to keep asking for stuff and got a great deal, a low percentage and all kinds of extra’s thrown in.

Mercy B Indeed!

Mercy B Indeed!

The real HS sign is how very delighted and happy and boyish he has been with the car.  We had thought to “not” get the car until at least one child was done with college  but we got such a go ahead from HS that we did it.  I can’t tell you the number of times I can see a guilt free love flowing through my beloved husband, an innocent delight, so many qualities of love unleashed for HIM to experience.  The car is like a gift FOR him from his own holiness, who he has long felt and listened to but hated discussing it in any way.  The greatest cherry on top is that when we told our youngest daughter she instantly named the car “Mercy B” which we all love.  So yeah, go with your desires and interests, and “Be sure He will give you the desires of your heart.”.

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I was dealing with the shame and surprise of hurting another.  It was a stupid thing really, an impossible situation that couldn’t be helped and the words spilled out of my mouth and I watched helplessly as the shadow of misery crossed  her face.  I asked prayerfully for a practice to help me in the face of this suffering I had caused and the suffering “I” was experiencing in being the bearer of such harshness, however unintended.

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The Awful, Beautiful Truth

I had this conversation with my husband soon after my verbal debacle:

Me:  I don’t like to see people suffer. (especially if I caused it)

Husband: People suffer.  Get over it.

Me:  I don’t like it though!

Husband: That’s like saying “I don’t like the sky being blue or the days getting shorter or the leaves falling”  People suffer. You don’t like it–too f’ing bad!  Get over it.  Suffering happens, yours and other people’s.

“OH!” I thought, “Here is my practice.”  This time, my husbands words were the Voice of Love for me.  Notice:  Suffering IS.  Extend acceptance, innocence, being to the thought of suffering.  As soon as I heard “Suffering IS” I relaxed and quit fighting it.  In extending acceptance I wasn’t saying “Oh thanks so much” but more “OH, this really hurts.  It really, really hurts and that is ok.”  In extending innocence I simply noticed the hurt and knew that it was completely innocent, meant no harm and would not last forever.  In extending being to the suffering I honored its presence and let it BE for as long as it needed to BE, ie, I allowed the hurt space without my agenda of getting rid of it quick smart.  In the space that “Suffering IS” created I found myself much more relaxed, open, and gentle with the idea of suffering.  In my rush to brush it away I didn’t see the necessary beauty in it nor accept the gift of stillness and truth.

I continue my practice of “Suffering IS” anytime I notice I am suffering, either with the effects of too much greasy fish and chips or with the news of a TB diagnosis with one of my children.  Suffering is.  I am.  God is.  Love is.

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So, the other day I found myself saying to Holy Spirit “If I knew I would WITHOUT DOUBT flourish, enjoy, grow and be happy in this endeavor I would go ahead.  So HOW do I do this without doubt????”  Naturally the HS’s response is priceless:

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HS:  Extend love to doubt.

Daily.

Make it a loving practice to daily recognize your doubts, doubting, double-mindedness.

Sit quietly with peace, joy and delight pouring from your heart ont, over, surrounding your doubts with loving-kindness.

Let now doubting lead you into anything other than extending love.

We can call this practice “Daily Doubtfire of Love”.  Your doubts will come with you for as long as you need them.  They are pacifiers of sorts.  Dearest One, practice loving each day these doubts rather than doubting your heart and resolve capabilities.

Doubting is another name for fear, resistance and subterfuge.  IT is a negative flow of energy.  Fear and loathing are its base metal.  Do not let this worry or bother you.  All that you need to do is to continue your daily, on purpose practice of extending love to the doubt, doubting & double-mindedness.  Your happiness is your true nature & you can be in a state of happiness in all forms–even doubting.  Just pause, extend love to doubts, feel the Holy Spirit, ask a question; express God’s Voice, acknowledge you hear and speak this Voice of Love, right now.

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hearts_rosesWhere there is fear, there is anxiety

Where there is anxiety, there is turmoil

Where there is turmoil, there is indecision

Where there is indecision, there is blockage

Where there is blockage, there is opportunity

Where there is opportunity, there is willingness

Where there is willingness, there is hope

Where there is hope, there is openness

Where there is openness, there is awareness of Love

Where there is awareness of Love, there is Love

Where there is Love, there is no fear”

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