What Kind of Wake Do You Want to Make?

A few weeks ago I had some new marketing photos taken. My plan was to use them as my profile picture on multiple social media platforms and also for new business cards and Family Constellations postcards. When I first received the edited photos, I was not thrilled. I thought perhaps I was just being overly self-critical as we all tend to be when it comes to pictures of ourselves. But when I showed them to at least a dozen friends and trusted colleagues, the best and most frequent comment I heard was, “They’re not bad.” Although “not bad” is better than “not good,” it wasn’t the response I was hoping for. Sadly, I agreed with them. One of my best friends told me that she couldn’t connect with my eyes in the photos. Another friend said the photos didn’t even look like me. That’s a problem. Not one person said, “Wow! Those are great photos! They really capture you.”

Needless to say I was very frustrated. Not only did I feel like I had wasted my money, but I still needed new photos before I could print new postcards and business cards. I was back at square one. A few people suggested I ask the photographer to retake the pictures. This seemed totally out of the question to me. After all, he fulfilled his part of the deal. He took a bunch of photos, I picked two that I liked, he retouched them and sent me the files a few days later. If I was unhappy, I should have said something the day of the shoot.

I tried very hard to make peace with the situation, but every time I saw that charge on my bank statement I felt resentment. Since I paid for them, should I just use these photos for now? After all, “they weren’t bad.” But they weren’t good either. The resentment grew each time I showed the pictures to someone new and got the same response. Cleary I needed a shift in perception. If I were the photographer, wouldn’t I want my customer to be happy? A happy customer tells friends about their experience. I have found word of mouth to be the best marketing tool ever. With the pictures I had, I certainly wasn’t going to recommend him. Was it fair to not let him know I was dissatisfied? Why was I reluctant to request a reshoot? That was the million dollar question, or at least the hundred and twenty dollar question.

After a little soul searching, I discovered the hundred and twenty dollar answer. I’m the kind of guy that does not like to make waves. Let me rephrase that. I’m the kind of guy that only wants to make peaceful, joyful waves, not annoying, confrontational waves. I’ll never forget an analogy that Rev. Chris Jackson shared at Unity on the Bay one Sunday. He proposed that we are all like boats traveling through a harbor. What kind of wake do you want to make? Do you race through the harbor causing all of the other boats to rock and sway violently, or do you gracefully travel through the harbor barely causing a ripple? I know my answer is definitely the latter.
However, this situation gave me an opportunity to see something about myself more clearly. My strong commitment to not make waves for others can actually cause the little boat in the harbor of my soul to rock and sway violently. That doesn’t feel good either. Was there a way to ease the waves both inside and outside? A Course in Miracles teaches that only situations where everybody wins is a real win. Couldn’t I be the presence of peace and let the photographer know I wasn’t happy with the pictures? I didn’t have to blame him for my dissatisfaction, or demand my money back. What if I spoke lovingly and honestly about the feedback I received? And what if I took responsibility for my part in the quality of the photos?

Truth be told, I was not thinking about what I wanted to project to future clients during that photo session. I was thinking things like: How long will this take? I have to get an oil change after this. Gee, this stool is uncomfortable. I feel like I’m balancing on a unicycle. I hope I don’t fall off. I wonder if my collar is crooked? Am I smiling too much? I want to look friendly, yet professional. Guess what. That’s exactly what it looks like I’m thinking in those photos! This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles:

Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. 

I know. Sometimes this can be a difficult truth to own, but if you spend some time reflecting on this quote, I think you will find it to be true. I had no one else to blame for what showed up in those photos except me. I truly wanted to turn this into a win/win situation, so on Monday I put my hand on my heart, took a deep breath, asked Spirit to help me choose the best and most loving words, and then I dialed the number to the photography studio.
The same perky woman that I spoke with originally answered the phone. I told her who I was and why I was calling. I also shared how difficult it was for me to make this phone call. Although she was surprised and a tiny bit defensive to hear what my friends said about the photos, I think my vulnerability allowed her to soften. I gave her my web address so she could see the picture I was currently using. When she saw me wearing a more casual shirt at the beach she asked if maybe my friends were not used to seeing me in a dress shirt. I guess that was a fair question, but I told her it wasn’t the shirt. It was me. After a little more dialog, she graciously asked if I’d like to come in to reshoot the photos. Nervously I said, “yes.” I was so grateful there was an opening the very next day. I certainly did not want to be thinking about this for another whole week!
The next morning I made sure to do my yoga practice. Yoga always puts me in a peaceful, centered place. After yoga I had a great coaching call with a new client. That added some joy to my heart and reminded me why I was getting these photos in the first place! I gave myself plenty of time between appointments to avoid having to rush to the studio. Furthermore, I did not schedule anything after the photo shoot so there would be no sense of urgency while I was there. Before leaving my apartment I grabbed my rose quartz angel and placed it in my pocket for some extra loving energy. I felt guided to listen to the celestial music of Steven Halpern on the way there while imagining that the photographer and the studio manager were earth angels whose mission was to assist me in shining my inner light. It sure felt like I did everything I could to be in a joyful, loving, and peaceful state of mind when I arrived at that studio.

Things got off to an interesting start. As soon as I walked in the perky studio manager said, “Oh. Your’e wearing the same shirt.” I laughed and reiterated that it wasn’t the shirt that was the problem, it was me. I thanked her and the photographer profusely for letting me try this again. I was so glad that the photographer did not seem annoyed to see me again. In fact, he was extra accommodating. Not only had he looked at the photo on my website, but he also came up with a plan to capture an image very similar to that one using different camera angles and lighting. I don’t remember if I mentioned the precarious stool to the studio manager, but I was delighted to see a shorter more comfortable stool that allowed me to plant my feet firmly on the ground. I intended to ask the photographer if I could stand for a few of the shots this time, but I didn’t have to because he recommended it first! Most importantly, I remembered to be present and to consciously shine light through my eyes and smile. I thought about the messages I wanted to convey to anyone who might see these pictures. “You are loved. You are beautiful. You are not alone. You are pure spirit. You are light. You are a miracle.”

What a different experience I had this time! I am trusting it will show in the new photos. I’ll let you decide in a few weeks when I start using them. I certainly learned some valuable lessons from all of this. With the help of Spirit, any situation can be turned into a win/win. It is possible to be the presence of peace and ask for what I want. And it’s true that only what I have not given can be lacking in any situation.

Could you use some help navigating your boat through stormy waters? Is your wake anything but peaceful? Both Life Coaching and Family Constellations can bring more grace to your life. Please visit my website for more information about both of these powerful opportunities.
This week I invite you to notice what’s missing in your picture, and then give it!

Mother Nature’s Symphony

I just returned from a wonderful five day trip to Serenity Farm in Virginia where I had the honor and privilege to facilitate many Family Constellations workshops and private sessions. Simply being on that land is a healing experience so to do the work I love there is a special treat. I had a very full schedule, but my Monday morning appointment had to cancel. That was okay with me because it gave me some extra free time to take a stroll down to the peaceful pond at the edge of the property. The pond is isolated from the rest of the farm by a small forest, so when I emerged from the trees into the clearing it felt like I was in another world. It was starting to get hot that day so I perched myself on a picnic table in the shade. From there I watched the sunlight glisten on the surface of the water as butterflies and dragonflies flitted and danced around everywhere. It truly was the picture of serenity.
Not only was this spot a feast for the eyes, it was also a feast for the ears. I decided to lie on my back and take in all of Mother Nature’s symphony. The cicada bugs were like the string section with their shrill humming sound rising and falling periodically. A woodpecker provided percussion from somewhere deep in the woods. Occasionally the wind blew through the trees causing the leaves to make a gentle rustling noise. There were several birds chirping, but one in particular had a unique call that stood out from the rest. She was the soloist of the concert. I could also hear the very faint sound of water trickling out of the pond by way of a tiny stream not far from me. I thought to myself, “For a peaceful little pond, there sure is a lot going on here!”

But something interesting happened as I lay there listening to this natural symphony. I suddenly realized the soloist bird had stopped singing. And then, little by little, the rest of the birds became quiet, and a hush fell upon the cicada bugs. The woodpecker quit pecking. Only the trickling water and the occasional leaves rustling remained. What had caused the silence? Where did the birds go? Why did the cicadas fall silent? Did the sun approaching its zenith let them know it was time to take a break for lunch?

Not that I wasn’t enjoying the multitude of sounds around me, but the stillness was also quite nice. That’s when it occurred to me that Mother Nature had just taught me another lesson. There are times when it sure seems like there’s a lot going on in my life. Different noises and voices are constantly trying to get my attention. What a great strategy to simply stop and become still. Become the observer. I wasn’t requiring those birds or bugs to be silent. I simply allowed them to be. Without me having to do a thing, the sounds eventually faded to nothingness all on their own. Instead of fighting against what is, or shouting back at those voices clamoring for my attention, what if I become still and simply observe what is happening? The best chance to hear the Voice of Love and my heart guiding me will be in the stillness. In the meantime, I sure do love that peace and quiet.

Would you like more peace and quiet in your life? Could you use some serenity? Why not walk the Pathway to Peace with me? You can find out more about this eight week Life Coaching program by visiting my website. Family Constellations is another great way to find peace by letting go of burdens you may be carrying for your ancestors. Please join me for an upcoming group session or schedule a private session in person, by phone, or via Skype.

Until next time, be still and enjoy the peace and quiet that your soul is craving…

P.S. Click HERE for a sample of Mother Nature’s Symphony.

Harmless Waves

I received another lesson from Mother Nature this week. The Atlantic Ocean was particularly rough the other day when I jumped in to cool off after my beach walk. I came up for air just in time for a large wave to crash into my head. Another wave followed right behind the first, so I instinctively turned my head to avoid being hit directly in the face. That move allowed the wave to deliver a forceful smack to my right cheek. I started laughing when I realized that I just got slapped across the face by Mother Nature. Those aggressive waves continued to roll in one after the other, so to avoid further assault, I made the decision to dive head first into them.

As I continued to pierce the oncoming waves with my body, it occurred to me that these waves were just like fear. When I turn away from them or try to avoid them, they have the power to hurt me or even knock me down. When I face them head on and dive right in, I emerge on the other side unscathed. True, in some cases fear redirects us to keep us safe. If a tiger is coming at you, it is probably wise to turn around and go the other direction…quickly!
However, most fears are based on limiting beliefs and false perceptions of ourselves. For instance, if you aren’t confident that you have the skills necessary to do something else, you will think you won’t be able to pay your bills if you leave that unfulfilling job. If you don’t love yourself or feel worthy of love, you will wonder where you will get love if you leave that unhappy relationship. If you don’t believe you can always make another choice, you will think you made a big mistake if things don’t work out in that new city. These are good examples of F.E.A.R. – “False Evidence Appearing Real” or “Forgetting Everything’s All Right.”

Caution tells us to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear keeps us immobilized on the street corner. As long as I stood there trying to avoid those waves, they continued to pummel me. As soon as I became proactive and dove straight into them, they proved to be harmless. I am going to do my best to remember this lesson in the next few weeks and months. Currently there are some opportunities in my life and some decisions that need to be made that are bringing up some F.E.A.R. I wonder what will happen if I trust that everything will be all right and dive right into them?

Is fear keeping you from moving forward? Does it feel like the waves are pummeling you where you are? I would love to share some of the tools and techniques that have helped me dive in and come out the other side. Life Coaching and Family Constellations are great tools to help you move past fear and into the joyful life you were meant to live. Sessions can be done in person, by telephone, or via Skype. Please look around my website for more information about both. Perhaps that will be the first wave you pass through.

Until next time, may the love and light in your heart carry you safely through even the biggest of waves.

Bird in a Chain Link Fence

While on a walk the other day, I noticed a little bird perched in the diamond shaped space of a chain link fence. As I got closer, he flew away. It occurred to me as I watched him leave that this was an incredible act of faith. That little guy could not spread his wings while perched in that fence. There wasn’t room. He had to jump out into the open air and trust that his wings and the air currents would lift him up and out of danger. There was a split second where he was neither safely perched nor safely airborne. I doubt he agonized on whether or not to leap. Past experience told him it was safe to do so.

There have been many times in my life where I have taken a leap of faith. Sometimes those leaps of faith worked out better than I could have imagined. Sometimes things did not go at all how I planned, but here I am typing these words. I survived. Not only did I survive, but by doing my best to learn from those experiences, my life has become more peaceful and joyful every year. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that I can always make another choice if the one I made doesn’t work out well. Nothing is set in stone. However, if I stay perched in that fence, I can be sure that not much will change. True, there is going to be that moment of discomfort when I leave the fence, but if I allow myself to feel it and move through it, off into the wild blue yonder I will go.

Are you like that little bird in the fence? Are you wanting to spread your wings and fly but feel confined by your current circumstances? I would love to help you trust the air currents of life to lift you to greater and greater heights. Try one of my four, six, or eight week Life Coaching programs to help you take that leap of faith, or try a private or group Family Constellations session to release something you probably had no idea was weighing you down. You will find more information about both on my website, as well as a calendar of upcoming events.
Until next time, may that little bird inspire you to take a leap of faith and trust that your wings and the air current of life will carry you beyond your wildest dreams.

You Had Fun Where?

Have you ever heard someone say, “I really enjoyed that call to Comcast!” Well, you will in a few moments if you keep reading. On Tuesday my internet service went down around 10 AM. For someone who works from home this is a big problem. I decided to call Comcast before starting my yoga practice to report the outage. A lovely automated voice told me that service was out in my area and technicians were working to restore it by 2:27 PM. While I appreciated her specificity, I needed service by 1 PM. I had a session scheduled that required WiFi for me to connect to that client. When that lovely automated voice asked me if I would like to have a text message sent to my phone when service was restored, I replied “yes.” Then I surrendered to my yoga mat, trusting there would be a text message announcing the restoration of my internet service by the time I finished. No such luck.

Still hopeful, I showered and ate lunch, expecting there to be blinking lights on my modem any minute. At 12:40 I reluctantly sent a text message to my client asking if we could reschedule our session. Still dead in the water at 3:15, I called Comcast to find out the latest information about the outage. For a moment I thought about how inconvenient this whole situation was and how this interruption was costing me money. I decided to forcefully let the customer service rep know this and demand a credit on my next bill. It occurred to me that being a little bit angry would give me strength to ask for what I wanted. The funny thing is, when I do my yoga practice and meditation, whatever was troubling me before I started doesn’t seem very important by the time I finish. In that moment I was feeling very Zen. Have you ever tried to be Zen and angry at the same time? It doesn’t work very well.

When I dialed Comcast again that lovely automated voice had no additional information for me so I asked to speak to a human. To my surprise, I was not put on hold for hours, but found myself almost immediately speaking to Santiago. After I explained my situation, Santiago promised to provide me with excellent customer service and to find out when my internet would be restored. He first sent a signal to my modem to get some information about what was going on. While we were waiting for the system to respond, he told me that a credit for this time without service would automatically appear on my next bill. How nice to know there was no need for indignant demands.

Suddenly I heard a lot of happy shouting on his end. He paused and then apologized for the interruption. I asked if it was someone’s birthday there at Comcast. He laughed and said, “No. They just announced that a few of my coworkers received a promotion and everyone is cheering and celebrating with cake.” I think I surprised him when I asked if he would please tell his coworkers that his customer said “Congratulations!” He giggled and said he would.

Apparently the computers were very slow that day. As we continued to wait for the system to respond to his inquiry, he started telling me about another internet package that I might like. For an additional four cents per month I could have three times the internet speed and also the ability to watch TV shows on my computer. This plan also included HBO. I thought, “Here we go again.” In the past, other agents have tried to convince me to upgrade my account, but there has always been a catch. Usually they want me to buy cable TV and rent a cable box, but since I choose not to have a television in my home, those wonderful plans end up not being available to me. However, Santiago assured me that I did not need a cable box, just the modem I currently have. He also said there would be no hidden installation or service fees, just those four extra pennies per month. All that sounded good to me so I said “yes.”

Finally his computer system responded, and Santiago let me know that about 32,000 other customers were currently without internet service. Wow. So it wasn’t the Universe conspiring against me personally. He told me that Comcast had a whole team working on this and they hoped to have it back up by 9:27 PM. That didn’t help me much in that moment, but Santiago reminded me that when it did come back up it would be three times faster. He asked if there was anything else he could do for me. When I replied that it would be really great if he could wash my car, he laughed and did his best to get back on his script by reviewing my questions and his answers. Before hanging up I told him to please go get a piece of that cake! The call ended with both of us laughing.

As I sat there after the call, I realized a miracle had just happened. What could have been a very unpleasant conversation and frustrating experience ended up being a lot of fun. I’m happy to report my internet came back on around 6 PM and it was indeed faster. I have to believe my experience was absolutely the result of my state of mind before dialing that number. From a place of peace, the result will be peace. From a place of joy, the result will be joy. This week, one participant at our Miracle Monday discussion group shared a similar experience at the impound lot after her car was towed. She believes her studies of A Course in Miracles allowed her to laugh and joke with the attendant at the lot as she paid him the $220 fee to get her car out of jail. Yes, it is possible to experience joy in the unlikeliest of situations if you set your intention to do so. I love Miracle Principle Number 9 in Chapter 1 of A Course in Miracles:

Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love to both the giver and the receiver.

I’d say my conversation with Santiago was a miracle. When I got off the phone I actually did say, “I really enjoyed that call to Comcast!”

Could you use a miracle right now? Is there a situation or circumstance in your life that feels like an unlikely place to experience peace, love, or joy? It would be my great honor to assist you with some tools and techniques that have helped me. I offer four, six, and eight week Life Coaching packages as well as individual sessions. All of my sessions are based on the strong principles of A Course in Miracles, Family Constellations, and other New Thought teachings. Miracles happen all the time during Family Constellations. You can attend a group session or schedule a private session in person, by telephone, or via Skype. Please visit my website for more information about all of these opportunities as well as the calendar of upcoming events.

This week I invite you to set your intention to have fun in the most unlikely of places and let me know what happens…