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." 


Turning Scarcity Into Sufficiency, One Thought At a Time

Over the past several years, I have been endeavoring to stop seeing scarcity everywhere I look and start seeing sufficiency instead.

As an example, let's take Exhibit A: my bank account.

I work full-time in the service industry as a freelance writer. Sometimes my clients need lots of articles. Sometimes they don't need any articles at all.

In either case, it is rare to get any kind of heads-up before my workload (and my monthly bank balance) increases or decreases accordingly.

There are pros and cons to working in this type of industry, and for me the pros consistently outweigh the cons (including having my choice of officemates).

But for all the enormous increase in "gig economy" type workers of late, when it comes to mainstream matters like paying health insurance premiums, buying a new vehicle when your 14-year-old ride finally calls it quits, coping with unexpected expenses like your young tortoise's CT scan tests and similar big ticket items, my protective, survival-based mindset has been firmly set to "expect scarcity" for as long as I can recollect.

However, this is not entirely accurate. I am just now starting to realize that if I get up, walk around to the other side, take a fresh look at my fiscal situation, what I see is actually one example after another of total sufficiency.

I see being able - one way or another - to meet my financial obligations each month in full. I notice how when emergencies do arise, a bit of creativity and determination has always provided me with the means to incorporate those expenses without undue hardship.

I perceive that I have even been able to take a week-long summer vacation for the last few consecutive years, complete with extra expenses for professional pet boarding, forgoing an entire week's income and emerging not measurably worse off for it.

This is kind Like, really cool.

Now, I will admit my definition of "sufficiency" as "making ends meet" could probably use some tweaking. 

Love & Feathers & Shells & Me

Getting Comfortable in Your Own Company

Over the last several months I have logged a significant amount of time alone with myself.

As a natural introvert, when I say I've spent a lot of time alone, I mean a LOT.

The other day, I was telling a dear friend how I hadn't left my casa for three straight days and nights - not even venturing as far as the end of the driveway (although Pearl and I had spent many happy hours basking in the sun on our little treehouse porch).

She expressed....shock. And that is when I felt it. SHAME.

Shame for spending three back-to-back days of time with only me.

I sincerely doubt my friend intended to shame me. No, this was an inside job. Her words touched some bruised hidden bit within me that reacted with an instant snap, snap, snap of its sharp, ashamed little teeth.

The day I shared this with my friend, I had at last ventured out to run errands, shop for groceries, do a bit of judicious thrifting, that sort of thing. Everywhere I went, everyone I saw seemed absorbed in....a certain small rectangular handheld object.

They were so intent! So focused! The day after that I ventured out again, this time to take a brisk walk at a favorite local park. What did I see? More of the same. 


Making a Wish Versus Setting an Intention

"Make a wish." Is there any phrase more universal, more central, more human than our ability to wish, to dream, to imagine?

I have found that, yes, actually, there is.

When I was little, I truly believed that the wish you get to make when you blow out the candles on your once-a-year birthday cake was a special wish. It had more power than my other daily life wishes. It would only come true if you didn't tell anybody what you wished for, ever.

I don't remember how good I was at keeping my own secrets (not very good, I suspect) but I do remember that a distressingly low percentage of those big birthday wishes ever came true.

The one I remember that did come true - my 7th grade self's passionate wish for a pet parakeet - only did so after a full year spent engaged in pestering, whining, hounding and begging my mom.

So was it really my "wish" for a parakeet that came true, or rather was it my dogged intention to make it come true no matter what? 


Lights! Attention! Intuition!

In the wake of separating from my long-time love of 15 years earlier this year, I made the decision to plunge myself headlong into a new way of living.

In some kind of happy coincidence that I now suspect was less coincidence and more genuine divine assistance, I happened across a short video talk by intuitive author and teacher Sonia Choquette not long after my love and I parted ways.

Of course I was searching for a different author and a different talk when this occurred. But something about her voice, her manner, her particular way with words, encouraged me to stay put. A quick internet search unearthed some striking similarities between us in the realm of recent catastrophic relationship losses.

I then learned she had written not one but two memoirs about how she healed and rebuilt her life after unexpectedly separating from her husband of more than 30 years. I ordered both as well as some of her other books and commenced to reading.

That was approximately four months ago. I am still reading. I have found the lifeline I was seeking to haul myself up out of a painful rehashing of my broken past and into a still hopeful, still chock-full of potential present and future.

I have found - in a word - intuition.

Sonia says that where our attention is focused is what we will create next in our life, whether we want to or not. This is a very challenging teaching! 


Meditating in Your Head Versus Your Heart

I had a very intriguing experience just the other morning in my usual morning meditation.

Lately, these morning meditations have felt somewhat more like morning wrestling matches as various aspects of me have been duking it out for the honor of having the last word.

With all of us in training to learn how to tune in and follow our vibes, instinct, intuition, whatever you want to call it, we are clearly making progress at differing rates.

My body wants to tune out the rest of me entirely, jettisoning logic, emotion, et al in favor of that old classic - the gut-level hunch.

My mind thinks that is just ridiculous. It favors logic, analysis, sound and rational reasoning in order to weed out "intuition" from all the rest.

My heart swings back and forth between feeling weepy and incensed, open and shut, trusting and intensely fearful about it much change! How will it ever recognize "real" intuition in the midst of it all?

My spirit just sits there patiently, waiting for the rest of them to either get bored and go find something else to do or just call it a truce already.

Underneath all the ruckus, there I sit, attempting to not empty my mind, but rather focus it sufficiently to tune in to our collective highest good.

This is a technique my newest favorite mentor, intuitive author and teacher Sonia Choquette, recommends that we do first thing in the morning and anytime guidance is needed (which is pretty much 24/7 in my particular case).

She says to first breathe in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth using the sound "Aaaah." She says this sound - "Aaaah" - is not only a sound the mind finds quieting, but is also like giving your spirit a heads-up that the rest of you is heading down into your heart to await further instructions.

This morning, by some miracle, in spite of all the chaos going on inside and around me, I remembered these instructions and commenced to breathing in and out, in and out, in and out - three times just like Sonia tells us to do.

Then something marvelous happened. 


A New Understanding About Kindness

The Dalai Lama said something I just love. "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."

This would be inspiring enough if anyone else said it. But the Dalai Lama isn't just anyone.

When he was 23, he staged a cinema-worthy escape from his beleaguered home country of Tibet into India with a small group of others. To avoid capture by the pursuing Chinese army, they traveled on foot and mostly after dusk through the Himalaya Mountains, where it routinely drops to 23°F or lower at that time of year.


Given his history, the Dalai Lama might be forgiven for not smiling, shaking hands or even showing up to meetings with the government leaders who are responsible for his exile and who continue to persecute followers of Buddhism back in his home country.

Yet he does none of these things. He smiles. He shakes hands. He shows up.




Are You Stalled Out or Simply Waiting Patiently?

This is a question I have been pondering a lot lately.

And when I say "a lot" I basically mean every morning, all day long and every night. Sometimes I also dream about it.

In these dreams, I am usually running late for something. Often it is a trip I haven't finished packing for or an exam for a class I forgot I was enrolled in. Sometimes I am racing around looking for something or someone I simply cannot find, or trying to dial a number that won't go through.

These days, my life is often more exciting in my dreams than when I am awake, although not necessarily in a good way.

At three and half months post-breakup from my longtime love, I think I am doing pretty well, actually. Definitely hanging in there, at least staying afloat, but wondering if the muscles that keep me treading water are at risk of getting overdeveloped compared to the rest of me.

Am I still moving forward or have I stalled out completely? I honestly cannot tell. 


The Creative Magic of Forgetting Who You Are

Over the past few months I have been immersing myself in the study of intuition, how it works, how I can locate mine, its purpose and potential, how it wants to help me - because I truly believe it does want to help me.

Over the past few decades I have experienced the small, still voice of intuition popping up right in the middle of certain highly stressful situations - like a tiny yet mighty eye in the midst of a hurricane (a particularly apropos analogy given where I live).

On these occasions, the contrast is unmistakable. There I am, immersed in chaos, nearly all aspects of me flying in every conceivable direction all at once, and then....blip. Brief commercial break for the voice to speak its piece. And then....more chaos.

It is very odd, I have to tell you.

When my longtime love and I parted ways early this year, I knew I wasn't going to be able to "do" this breakup the way I've handled all our previous breakups. For starters, this would be permanent, which meant building a new life literally from the ground up, and I really wanted it to be a good one. Also, the way I handled past breakups worked poorly, if I do say so myself. I would limp out of the relationship and then limp back into it, never really healing from any of it along the way as we would pick up in the exact same painful place we had just left off.

One great gift my studies of intuition is giving me is permission to set "me" aside for short spells to just see what that might be like. To do this, my self-selected intuition mentor, author Sonia Choquette, encourages asking a question like "what would you do if you were not afraid?" and just seeing what pops up.

I really hate this question, by the way. I've always hated it.