Book Mentors

Using Loneliness to Get Comfortable in Our Own Company

I have loved Cheryl Richardson's work for decades.

In fact, her book "The Unmistakable Touch of Grace" was perhaps my first-ever exposure to the idea that grace, intuition, the divine, benevolence, whatever you want to call it, was actually aware of my existence, let alone willing or even eager to help me out.

I have read and re-read that book until it started to wear out. One of my particular favorite stories involves a phone call she got when she was just starting to launch her (now world-famous, thanks Oprah) coaching business. She was feeling that awful feeling so many of us get when we go to put ourselves out there and no red carpet appears.

Then she got a phone call - on her land line - and she actually answered it (this being pre-smart devices, let alone texting). The stranger on the other end politely asked if they could speak to "Faith Richardson."

Of course, it took Cheryl a bit to figure out this was an unmistakable touch of grace. But once she did, and after it began happening regularly, she wrote her book. And then I found her book and read it dozens of times. And now here I am today, still learning from her because (thank goodness) she is still writing and teaching.

Unlike with most of my social feeds, I'm pretty picky about my Instagram feed, because I use it to stay connected to my highest priorities of living a conscious, connected, intuitive, joyful life of service. And I need a lot - a LOT - of help to keep working on this, and Instagram is often where I go first thing in the morning and last thing at night to rediscover what I've forgotten in the long hours in between.

So my feed is full of mentors - Don Miguel Ruiz, Yung Pueblo, Sonia Choquette, and of course Cheryl Richardson.

Recently she answered a question from a reader who asked about how to deal loneliness by replying:

It's important to distinguish being alone from being lonely. Often we must go through a period of 'loneliness' to learn how to be in our own company.

I will admit I was familiar with the first bit - yes, there is a difference, and quite a distinct one, between being alone and being lonely.

But the second part was a big surprise.

Book Mentors

A New Definition for the Word ‘Discipline’

I have always loved words. I love nearly everything about them - their construction, the nuances of meaning they can convey, how they can combine and recombine in endless fascinating ways.

But I must admit I like some words much more than others.

For instance, the word "discipline" has never been one of my favorites.

I think this is because, for me at least, discipline brings to mind images of hardship, self-denial, sweat equity. So while to exert discipline may be admirable and even effective, it sure doesn't sound like fun.

I just took a look, and it seems my ambivalence is fully supported by textbook definitions of the word. According to the dictionary, "discipline" means to be taught to obey the rules by using punishment as a form of course correction.


So imagine my surprise when I recently came across this message in author and intuitive teacher Sonia Choquette's wonderful book "Your Heart's Desire:"

Choices....may require discipline on your part, but don't confuse discipline with punishment. Discipline means to learn, not to hurt.

You could have heard a pin drop inside my astonished brain just after it digested these words.

Book Mentors

Finding Strength and Solace in Life’s Slow Moments

I have been studying how intuition works for several months now, practicing techniques I'm learning through Sonia Choquette's books and other books as well.

And yet it continues to surprise and sometimes outright shock me when my intuition actually works.

Intuition is an odd word. It has different definitions depending on who is doing the defining. My favorite definition at the moment is "to notice," although I also like the definition "inner teacher."

But noticing is where I seem to have the bulk of my struggles. Reason being, my inner teacher can lecture all day, draw me pictures, send me GPS directions even, but if I'm not noticing it won't do me much good.

I especially tend to struggle to notice when things are moving fast, when I am jumping from one project or appointment to another with little time for respite in between.

But when life slows down, the noticing gets easier, at least in theory. In fact, the slow pace tends to send me into a place of anxiety, and that anxiety serves to fill up the empty spaces so I don't notice my life has slowed down as much.

Speaking of slowing down, recently I was wandering around Instagram and happened across a quote that stopped me in my tracks. The quote read:

do not be afraid of slow moments. 


The Gift of Missed Connections

Lately it seems like Netflix has been featuring a lot of movies about suddenly-single people who are struggling to "get back out there again" and put their lives back together after a breakup.

Or maybe it is just me, suddenly noticing these types of flicks because, frankly, I might as well be starring in them.

Just like I never really noticed how many other people were buying new cars until I bought one myself a couple months back, now all of a sudden it seems I can't get away from the newly-single dramedies playing out all around me.

The thing is, they were a lot funnier before I started watching them for dating tips.

And even though I'm not quite at the point where I really want to start dating for-real again, I am very keen to make new friends and open myself up to fresh future possibilities.

But as I go about the process of inviting new people into my inner circle, I am finding it feels pretty much the same (i.e. terrifying, panic-inducing) whether the person is a new potential friend or a new potential dating partner, or perhaps both at some future point in time.

In other words, acceptance feels like acceptance and rejection feels like rejection, regardless of what type of connection it is.

Love & Feathers & Shells & Me

Faith & Confidence: Could They Be One and the Same?

Over the last month or so, I've been working my way through a wonderful book called "Your Heart's Desire" by author and intuitive teacher Sonia Choquette.

This book, first published back in 1995, is precisely the book I need now in 2019. If I had read it then, when I would have just been graduating college and launching into a new and extraordinarily ill-chosen career in the oil industry, it probably would have broken my heart.

But today, it lifts my heart and gives me so much more than hope. It gives me practical steps I can take to tweak and adjust and ponder and reframe and comprehend and heal and move ahead with confidence.

Or, as Sonia prefers to call it, with faith.

In the book, she writes:

One of my favorite definitions of faith is "confidence in the future based on what you have done in the past."

Can I just tell you how my mind broke out into its own peculiar version of the happy dance when it read this?

For so many years, decades really, my mind has been insisting that a reliance on "faith" is my weenie heart's weak attempt to get out of doing the brass tacks hard work of course setting, and, of course, course correction. 

Book Mentors

Do You Need an Adult Time Out?

I have realized lately that I am not always clear about what I want.

Whether in life, in love, for my future or for my present, it can be far too easy to get caught up in checking items off my daily to-do list, only to finish one day after another exhausted, spent, wondering if it will all ever add up to anything more than a mangled piece of paper full of check marks at each day's end.

I hope it will.

But I am learning it may take a bit more than just hoping before that actually occurs.

Specifically, I am learning this from my newest favorite mentor and teacher, Sonia Choquette, whose book "Your Heart's Desire" has been moved to the very top of my reading stack for the foreseeable future. This is because, while I feel like I understand most of the instructions she gives in each chapter, I don't understand yet how to follow those instructions.

After all, the book's title is "Your Heart's Desire," not "Your Head's Desire."

There is a big difference, according to Sonia.

And actually, I am starting to realize this myself, because when I ask my head what it wants it gives different answers to this question than the answers my heart gives.

My head's desires are all about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and even here it seems permanently stalled out at the ground level (food, shelter, safety, wads of extra cash....).

My heart, on the other hand, has desires it seemingly pulls out of every fantasy romance novel I ever read as a girl - true love ever after, starting and ending every day with beach-side sunrises and sunsets, taking a semi-permanent vacation while occasionally typing out yet another best-selling book featuring my precious trio of feathers and shells.

Suffice it to say we have a little inner disconnect standing in between me and a straight shot forward into my dream life.


No: the Complete Sentence We All Need to Say With Confidence

I have been in love with words for as long as I can remember. My mom taught me early and well how to read, and I took it from there and ran with it.

But over the years (decades, more like) I have begun to realize that I like some words more than others. Some words I really don't like at all. Some words are so wonderful I never get tired of them ("coffee" and "wine" being two particular favorites).

And some words I downright hate. Until only the past few years, the word "no" has been in this category.

Only just recently I learned that "no" is not just a word but also a complete sentence. I guess I've always known this deep down in the part of me that senses when a sentence is complete or not yet complete. But I haven't known why.

So I do what I always do when I don't know something and want to know it - I look it up. What I discovered is that "no" is a complete sentence because it represents a complete thought.  I like this.

After all, when I say the word "no," I am not likely to encounter anyone who shares my language who doesn't understand what I mean (whether or not they believe me is another story and also the building blocks of #metoo and other movements I admire).

And yet when I do say "no," I am also now realizing I often behave, and speak, as if the other party in the conversation isn't quite clear on my meaning. For example, I might say "No, but.....(fill in the blanks with lame excuse)."

Or I might say, "No, thank you," which of course I do because I am a good Southern girl and this is how my mom taught me to say it.

Rarely, despite more than one self-help workshop that delved into depth on this exact skill, do I ever just simply say "No" when I am saying it out loud and someone else is close enough to hear me.  


Are You Happy With Your Payday?

My newest beloved mentor, author and intuitive teacher Sonia Choquette, recently released a video on Instagram about manifesting money.

Now, every time I see the word "manifest," something inside me feels a little let down. It thinks (which I guess is a clue about which part of me is feeling let down) that "manifesting" is only for people like Sonia who don't first have to do battle with their mind which insists the whole exercise is just a worthless load of hogwash.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of battles with my mind on this very topic. After all, if it was as successful at manifesting money (or anything else) as it claims to be, we wouldn't need to be learning how to manifest, now would we?

So in spite of certain strenuous objections coming from the upper left hemisphere, so to speak, the rest of me has watched Sonia's new money manifesting video at least four times now.

Because the whole structure of manifesting is so alien to the system I learned growing up, where every success comes from something you build "out there" with 100% sweat equity instead of "in here" with visualizing, feeling, praying and sweat equity, I typically have to watch podcasts like these multiple times before even the basics begin to make sense, let alone sink in.

Yet there is some deeper part of me that understands what Sonia is teaching on a - dare I say it - intuitive level.

She says we get paid every day and in fairly equal measure to the amount of work we do. But until we can start tuning in to all the other ways that payment flows towards us, we won't ever realize it. This means we won't have the chance to choose a different payday if the one we have now isn't working for us.

Examples she gives of paydays include receiving approval or accolades from others, reinforcing a deep inner belief (such as that it is better to give than receive or that nothing ever works out for us), money of course, feeling good about using our skills and talents to help others - you get the idea.

Where things can get tricky is when the payday we get isn't the payday we want from the specific work we do.

Here is an example Sonia gives that resonates in many ways to my own work life as a freelancer writer.

So let's say an artist paints a lovely painting. People see it and give her lots of compliments, which makes her feel good. But no one buys it. Inside, the artist uses this as (more) proof of what her parents have repeatedly told her over the years - that she can never make a living doing what she loves, which is painting.

This is a type of payday. Instead of money, her payday is more input that is reinforcing her own learned belief her work will not support her. 


Attention! Intention! Action!

A few posts ago, I shared what I am learning from author, intuitive teacher and mentor Sonia Choquette about how focusing my attention inevitably creates intention, whether I meant to do it or not.

In other words, my focus in many ways determines what I experience in life. If I send my attention routinely to thoughts of lack, scarcity, loneliness, illness, I shouldn't be surprised when my life fills up with these experiences.

If, on the other hand, I send my attention to connection, friendship, love, laughter, I should expect more of these to show up on my doorstep and give a good, hearty knock.

As you might expect, as I've begun to work with my attention to be sure it is setting intentions I can get behind, so to speak, there have been a few mishaps and more than a few stressful moments.

Sonia says this is because being a person happens on multiple levels and it is important to get all the levels on board.

For instance, let's just say I want to attract a new close friend into my life. So I start very intently focusing my attention on all the wonderful attributes of this new friend. This person is funny, warm, trustworthy, kind, reliable, and so forth.

But then, in my search for a real-life new friend who fits this particular bill, I inevitably encounter lots of folks who don't fit the bill, whether a little or a lot. This can make me - and when I say "me" I basically mean my conscious mind - doubt whether the plan to make new friends is a sound one. It can also make me doubt whether I am someone who can make new friends.

Once these doubts start cropping up, my inner mental commentary can quickly get clogged up with thoughts like, "well maybe it isn't such a good idea after all to try to meet new people."

And here is where things can really get interesting. 


Tackling the Trolls with Love

I don't know about you, but I often treat the internet as a much safer, healthier place to hang out than it actually is. Like walking into a seedy bar assuming it is a posh hotspot, I fully acknowledge it is my own error when this occurs, and it my own job to make sure that it doesn't.

In one recent post, I blogged about a mentor who taught me how to "zip up" to protect myself from negative energy and unnecessary hardship.

When I go to our local park to walk, attend a concert or even enter a thrift shop, I have become accustomed to "zipping up" to safeguard myself in this way. If there is any source of chaotic, restless, overly dramatic or unbalanced energy lurking nearby, it won't find any place to plug in with me.

But where I all too frequently forget and outright neglect to do this is when I open up a web browser or app and enter the vast, still largely anonymous world of cyberspace.

In the so-called "real world" of the physical plane, my goal is to avoid being mugged, run over or worse. In the cyber world online, my goal is to avoid being trolled, bullied or worse.

While online trolls may give themselves faces and names, in that at least they post some type of photo and add some sort of moniker to their online profiles, this doesn't do much to repress their seeming natural inclination to give anyone and everyone everywhere a generous helping of their personal opinion.

This is particularly the case for anyone who ventures online and already possesses somewhat of an existing follower base. Like a playground fight between a known schoolyard bully and their target, it usually doesn't take long before a little scuffle turns into a school-wide rumble.

It happened to me again the other day. I won't go into the details, but let's just say I posted something about one of my pets that apparently irritated a great number of people. The next time I checked my app, there they were - all the trolls that I so haven't missed - spewing hate, judgment, very personal opinion and assessment. One individual even posted that they were "embarrassed for me."

(After doing my best to shake this off, it occurred to me that at least if they were embarrassed for me, there was no need for me to also be embarrassed for myself. So I can check that off the list. Whew.)

Of course I got really mad at myself when all this unfolded, because I really should and DO know better. I know that trolling can happen at any time and for the strangest of reasons. I didn't zip up, and so getting attacked by trolls hurt way worse than it had to. Totally my bad.

And I truly believe it would have hurt at some level anyway, because even if I was fully zipped up and protected, even armed as I am these days with my mentor Don Miguel Ruiz's life-changing Four Agreements, one of which is to "take nothing personally," encountering anger, judgment, shame, hate always hurts to some degree, whether expected or unexpected.

I can also share that in my more elevated moments, I have even done compassion meditations for the trolls, understanding that behind each relatively unknown photo and username is a real living breathing being who can't be feeling all that great about themselves or their lives, or else they wouldn't be so keen to inject misery where none existed before.

To my way of thinking, at least (and acknowledging this is totally unsubstantiated by more than personal opinion, since I have yet to see any formal research that locates, contacts and polls trolls to see why they do what they do and how they are feeling when they do it), no one who is happy, healthy, connected in loving friendships and relationships, and actively engaged in being of service in this world, is going to have any extra free time to troll.

Even though I wouldn't necessarily say I am scoring five stars in each of these areas myself, I can look back to times recently when I have happened upon blog posts or articles that offended, irritated or scared me, and I haven't commented on them. Maybe showing such restraint is a disservice in a way, but I just didn't have extra energy to spend on the aggressive and antagonistic comment thread that would have likely ensued.

In other words, in coping with the periodic presence of trolls in my own online life, I have been working hard to adopt this perspective: "trolls are people too."