Archives for Inspirational

Good News

When Your Body is Weak Your Spirit is STRONG

Trust me. I wouldn't say something like this if I didn't really mean it. And when I say "mean it," I'm not talking about a belief - something I say with my mouth and believe in my head. I mean I have experienced it first-hand with my body, mind, heart and spirit all expressing their willingness to go public to corroborate my story. Allow me to share a recent experience: One very early morning last month, my lower back woke me out of a sound sleep with two sharp, stabbing pains. Suddenly, I could barely move my legs. Not too many hours later, I bit down on my breakfast only to feel more stabbing pain issuing up through my jaw and across the right side of my skull. The only word I can think of to adequately describe that entire next week is "excruciating." My chiropractor did what she could for my back. I found an oral surgeon who introduced me to the dubious pleasures of "laughing gas" while she excised the offending root. In this way, most of my month was consumed by alternating bouts of upper and lower body pain, combined with regularly scheduled doses of antibiotics and pain medications and a startlingly high daily "nap count." As the days wore on and began to wear on me, I remembered something a mentor of mine had once shared - "when the body is weak, the spirit becomes really strong." Since I had nothing but time at this point, I decided to investigate her statement more fully. I started by becoming more deliberate about making daily time for meditation (versus snoring) and also taking more care to remember my dreams. As I did so, one "aha moment" after another began to emerge. Some of these aha moments unlocked repetitive dream-series I have been dreaming for years without any clue about what they mean. As this continued, I found myself wondering if physical weakness could be considered a divine gift of empathy, of sincere kindness, of unconditional love, because when we are living our conscious, physical-plane day-to-day lives, we are simply too present in the sheer "realness" of concrete daily life to even hear our spirit if it tries to reach us. Here is a very simple example of this that happens to me quite often: 
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Inspirational

No, I Don’t Feel Fat (and Yes, I’m Going to Eat That)

I had such a cool day today. It was the kind of day that makes every single day - all 2 decades of them - I spent recovering from an eating disorder worth it. More than worth it. When I left to meet my friend for coffee, I wasn't especially keen on what I was wearing or how I looked. I also felt like I might have a cold coming on. In short, I felt kind of .... iffy. But since I love this particular friend very much, I went to meet her anyway. We ordered. She got a latte. I got a giant cold coffee frappe and a tasty pastry. My friend is quite tiny (naturally so - not on account of any past history of an eating disorder). Where I curve, she hugs the straight line. When I offered to share my pastry with her, she turned me down, but not for the reasons I expected. My tiny friend told me her pants were suddenly way too tight and no way was she going to eat a pastry. And here is the best part. IT DIDN'T PHASE ME ONE BIT. 
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Celebrity Mentors

All About That Bass on the Dance Floor

A few weeks ago I tagged along for one of my boyfriend's many music gigs. This particular band happens to play mostly cover songs, and their singer is uh-mazing (he can sing anything - really - he's just that good). So I wasn't that surprised when, about halfway through their second set, I heard the familiar strains of one of my favorite songs. And with that, their tall, black, male lead singer launched into Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" (click HERE to read the song lyrics). He killed it. He sang the crap out of the bass, the treble, and all the parts in between. But that wasn't the best part. The best part was how the audience responded.
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Inspirational

Faith is Faith

So it is now early into month 5 of "The Year of Having Faith." This morning I had a startling revelation. I was contemplating one of my all-time favorite films, "Contact." In the film, Jodie Foster's character, a brilliant agnostic scientist, challenges Matthew McConaughey's character, a brilliant author and man of faith, to prove God exists. He asks her, "Your father - did you love him? She replies, "Yes - very much!" He says, "Prove it."
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Inspirational

When We Surprise Ourselves

I'm not sure exactly when I began to believe I didn't have any surprises left in store for myself. After all, I still learn new things about other people and my pets each and every day. But at some point I guess I just stopped paying attention to myself in that way...like there wasn't going to be anything new left to learn about me. That ended last month. It has taken me a bit of time to wrap my mind around what I recently discovered about myself, but it has been time well spent. By that I mean, I've needed the in-between processing time to finish a big task I set for myself - constructing my growing baby tortoise's new habitat. My red-foot tortoise, Malti, is one and a half years old and nearly 4 inches long. She is growing fast, and her habitat must grow with her. This is more challenging than just buying a bigger enclosure for several reasons: 
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Good News

How to Get to Know the Real YOU

I have spent years searching for the "real me." Every so often I would catch this fleeting glimpse of someone - a free, funny, warm, spontaneous, creative, loving, laughter-filled being - as she moved through me. I would try to follow her, but she was very quick....so quick she often seemed to be formed out of sheer wishful thinking or my (always) overactive imagination. But I kept searching for her anyway. I kept searching because she was irresistible. She was marvelous. On the days she would spontaneously flit through me, the effect was not unlike finding out the FBI had just caught the real suspect and the handcuffs could finally come off. The jail cell door was opened and I could go home now. I was free. 
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Inspirational

Learning to Ride a Bike Again

When I was 15, I had a Schwinn bike that I loved. Then some mean people came and stole it out of our garage. Fast forward 30 years to, well, this year. I am 45, and guess what I am learning to ride again? One day several weeks ago my mom called me up out of the blue. She mentioned a sale (my mom is great at finding sales) and a three-speed bike and how if she got it for me, I could take my young & restless tortoise, Malti, for rides in the handlebars basket. This sounded like a great plan and I enthusiastically agreed. Yes, a bike would be wonderful, thank you. In fact, I told her, I've been having what I call "biking dreams" for several years now. In the dreams, I'm riding my old Schwinn, flying around my childhood neighborhood and feeling totally free. So she hit "add to cart" and the bike was on its way to me. Then the anxiety kicked in. 
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Animal Mentors

How Parrots Can Help People with PTSD

Out in California, something special is taking place. At a sanctuary called Serenity Park, traumatized parrots and traumatized people are connecting for mutual healing. What is interesting about this is, well, pretty much everything (of course, as a lifelong parrot lover, I may be just a touch biased here). The people participants are formerly homeless veterans (both men and women) victimized by the many and varying traumas associated with wartime military service. The parrot participants have been victimized by a different kind of war - mainly abuse by or loss of their human owners. On both sides, there are emotional and mobility issues to contend with. But in all cases, it is clear that the interspecies participants' minds are still sharp and eager to heal. Speaking of minds, there is no doubt in mine that the pioneering work of Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her now-passed African Grey parrot, Alex, (two of my own most cherished mentors) are responsible for laying the foundation for what is going on at Serenity Park right now. Thanks to Alex & Dr. Pepperberg, we know that parrots can display emotional and cognitive abilities to rival young humans. We know they feel deeply, form intense social bonds, understand abstract reasoning and have the capacity to develop complex and extensive vocabularies. This means that, in some capacity, parrots may be even better suited than dogs to participate in animal-assisted therapy as service and support partners. Perhaps this is what veteran volunteer Lilly Love meant when she told New York Times reporter Charles Siebert, You can look in their eyes....any of these parrots’ eyes, and I myself see a soul. I see a light in there. And when they look at you, they see right into your soul. Look around. They’re all watching. They notice everything. It’s intense. 
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Good News

How I Know You Have What it Takes To Live Well as “You”

The first three decades of my life were a pretty rough ride. I just didn't think I had what it takes to do a good job living life as "me." So I kept trying to delegate the responsibility to someone else. For example, when I had a decision to make, I would waffle and wait, stall and stumble, ask others (ad nauseum) for their input, and frequently choose poorly even after all that. I just didn't trust myself. Even worse, I didn't respect myself....or like myself. It is hard to do your best job when you don't like, trust or respect the person you are working for. Today all that has changed. Today I firmly hold the steering wheel of my own life, and I steer with confidence (if not always with impeccable directional sense). What changed? Well, for starters, I began to really grasp - on a much deeper level than just my mind - the unique opportunity that being "me" really is. No one else can do it - and that is because there are no other openings. There is only one "me." Only ONE. But maybe for some of you, that reads like a tired cliche, especially if you feel like you've been in a headlock with yourself for the last day or decade. If so, I get it - truly I do. So here is something else that changed. I realized I am the one with the most to lose - and the most to gain - by learning how to live well as "me." Yes, my parents would care, my mentors and friends would care, my pets would care if I ended up doing such a bad job at living my life I was no longer here at all. They would care. But not as much as I would care.  
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