A Dream of Forgiveness

Have you ever had one of those dreams that is undeniably your unconscious mind working out some stuff while you sleep? I had one of those last weekend. In the dream, my mom was still alive and she was quite inebriated. If you know my story, you know this would not be unusual for my mother. However, I seemed to be reliving the moment when I discovered she had fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety shortly after moving to Florida. Both then and in the dream, I was devastated. In the dream, I could feel my frustration and anger building as I shared the upsetting news with my brother.

As happens in dreams, time was not linear. Suddenly, I was watching various moments throughout the last years of my mother’s life. Specifically, times when I lost my patience and said or did things that were not kind were on display. Reliving these events all at once caused an overwhelming wave of guilt and remorse to wash over me. In the dream, I began to sob profusely. My pillow wasn’t soaked when I woke up, but it would not have surprised me if it had been. Those emotions felt very real.

My mother has been gone for almost 11 years now. I’ve done a lot of inner work since then, but I know that dream helped me release yet another layer of sadness and guilt that had been lurking in my unconscious mind. There are always more layers of that onion to peel. I’m grateful to A Course in Miracles and Family Constellations for helping me understand that I did the best I could with what I knew back then. If I want to experience more peace, love, and joy in my life, I need to let go of the guilt and forgive myself for the past, knowing I would do things differently today.

Is there something you are having a hard time forgiving yourself for? Maybe it’s too painful to process in your waking hours. It might be helpful to ask your higher self, guardian angels, or loved ones in Spirit to watch over you at night and help you release anything that no longer serves while you sleep. When you’re ready to try it during waking hours, please reach out for assistance. I would be honored to walk with you on your healing journey with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a Private Family Constellations Session. Both are excellent ways to give the forgiveness process a boost. Look around my website for more information and to book a session

May a host of heavenly angels lift any heavy thoughts up to the clouds tonight while you sleep peacefully. 

All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. 

A Course in Miracles ~ T-18.II.5:12-13

Have You Thanked that 10-Year-Old?

You’ve probably heard the question, “What advice would you give your younger self?” It’s an interesting question to ponder. Recently, I heard an empowering twist on that question in Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast. Her guest was Jason Reynolds, a #1 New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen books for young people. During their conversation, Jason asked, “What would you thank your ten-year-old self for?” Ten was a particularly tough age for Jason, but you can choose any age that feels significant. (You can listen to the entire inspiring podcast by clicking this link.)

When I think about a challenging age for my younger self, 11 comes to mind. That was the year I lost a consistent source of safety and unconditional love when my grandmother died. By then, my older siblings were out of the house, so it was just my mother and me at home. (My father had passed four years earlier.) Since it was now just the two of us, her alcoholism drastically affected my daily life. Despite being surrounded by sadness and chaos, I’m grateful that my eleven-year-old self found a way to keep going and keep his heart open.

One technique he used was to get lost in other people’s stories. He loved superhero comic books and television shows like Laverne & ShirleyThe Bionic Woman, and Bewitched. That little guy wanted to laugh, save the world, help people, and practice magic. I thank him for planting those seeds because I am blessed to do many of those things today. Although I don’t have aspirations to save the world per se, I still love to laugh and help people. My work allows me to assist those who have experienced many different kinds of trauma in childhood. As for magic, I may not be able to twitch my nose and make an object fly across the room, but in my Spiritual Coaching and Family Constellations sessions, I see magic and miracles happen all the time.

The life I live today is truly a testament to that eleven-year-old boy’s ability to keep his heart open and maintain a sense of childlike wonder. During the second half of my life, I have experienced more love and joy than I would have thought possible in the first half. So now I ask you the same questions. When you look back on your life, what was a challenging age? What was happening? What did you learn during that time? And for what would you like to thank your younger self? This simple act of gratitude might be the key to unlocking a whole new way of looking at your past, empowering your present, and creating a magical future.

If you could use some assistance in this area, I would be honored to be your guide with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Miracles and magic happen during both! Please look around my website or send me an email to book a session or ask questions. 

This week, may you find a plethora of reasons to thank your younger self. 

It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters, and circumstances are helpful. 

A Course in Miracles ~ M-4.I.A.4:5

Who’s on Next?

For many years, I’ve started my day reading a section or a lesson in A Course in Miracles followed by a short meditation. Recently, I’ve added something new to my morning routine. After meditating, I enjoy a bowl of strawberries or oatmeal while watching the show outside my living room window. I feel so blessed to have an apartment that overlooks a little pond and several large trees. A wide variety of birds visit the tree closest to my window. I’ve seen blue jays, cardinals, ibis, kingfishers, little brownish-gray birds with bright yellow throats, and several different-sized woodpeckers. On Sunday morning, there were 3 woodpeckers in that tree at the same time! All of them were tapping away at the branches in search of insects.

Yesterday, a large crow perched in the top branches of that tree. Her shiny black feathers gleamed in the morning sun as she cawed in the direction that another crow had flown a minute before. Meanwhile, a squirrel climbed down the trunk of that same tree, stopping a few feet before reaching the ground to raise one of his paws. He did this a few times as if he were saying “heyyyyyy” to another squirrel in the opposite tree. A lone duck paddled through the tranquil water leaving a V-shaped wake directly under the tree as the crow and the squirrel watched from above. Once the duck passed underneath, the crow decided it was time to fly off in the direction of her friend, and the squirrel finished his descent to the ground. That’s when I caught myself saying out loud, “Who’s on next?” It felt like this was a show and each animal performer had a designated time on stage. 

As if on cue, a female cardinal landed on a branch in that tree and began chirping happily. Another cardinal answered her from somewhere out of sight in another tree. These simple observations may sound rather boring to some, but they have brought me great joy and peace. It’s better than any morning TV show I’ve seen. Best of all, there are no commercials trying to sell me something and no upsetting news to start my day on a sad note. I believe this new morning ritual has helped me slow down and become more present while setting the tone for a more spacious, peaceful day.

I know some of you might be thinking there are too many things in your life calling for your attention to make time for such trivial pursuits. Or maybe you don’t have a tree right outside your window. Is there a patch of green somewhere in the vicinity of your home? Even those who live in large metropolitan areas probably have a park nearby or at least a spot where pigeons gather. If you have a morning commute, perhaps you could make it a game to spot at least one bird or animal along the way. I promise, even if you give yourself just 5 minutes to slow down, be present, and observe nature, something magical will happen. When we connect to the rhythms of Mother Earth, we feel a part of something larger than ourselves. Time slows down and things that used to bother us often feel less irritating. Try it and see. What have you got to lose? It won’t cost a thing!

If you’d like to learn more ways to slow down, be present, and live a more peaceful, spacious life, please consider giving yourself the gift of Spiritual Coaching. I offer single sessions as well as packages of 4, 8, and 12 sessions to suit your needs and budget. Nothing is more rewarding to me than witnessing miraculous changes occurring in my clients’ lives once they start seeing things from a new perspective. Look around my website or send me an email for more information and to book a session. 

This week, try starting your day with a few minutes of peace, tranquility, and maybe a few boring birds. Then watch the rest of your day flow with more spaciousness and grace.

A tranquil mind is not a little gift.

A Course in Miracles ~ M-20.4:8

Choose Discomfort Over Resentment Brownies

“Choose discomfort over resentment.” I recently heard bestselling author, Brené Brown, share this advice in a podcast. When confronted with an unpleasant situation or choice, she reminds herself to choose discomfort for a few moments rather than make a decision that will produce lingering resentments. She used the example of being asked to prepare baked goods for her children’s school fundraiser. Knowing she truly did not have time to bake a batch of brownies before Saturday, she had a choice to make. She could respectfully decline the request and risk the discomfort of knowing the teacher might judge her to be a snob or a bad mother. Or she could begrudgingly say “yes” and bake the brownies, adding as much resentment as cocoa powder to the batter. Later, when delivering those resentment-filled brownies to the teacher, she might not be able to stop herself from uttering, “Here’s your damn brownies! I hope you choke on one!”

I think she added that last comment to be funny for the podcast, but the point was made. If we say yes to something we can not or do not wish to do, we might very well be thinking those words even if we don’t say them. She offered that a better answer might be, “You know. I’m really swamped right now. I won’t have time to bake anything before Saturday. Can you ask me again next time?” That left an opening for the possibility of a future commitment without her saying yes to something that she would regret (and resent) later.

There are opportunities to choose discomfort over resentment every day. Sometimes they are minor situations like asking people to take their shoes off before entering your home. (I’m getting better at that one.) Sometimes they require risking more discomfort, like letting a friend, partner, or family member know how much something they said or did hurt your feelings.

I remember an incident with a former partner where I reluctantly chose discomfort over resentment. After listening to him share his frustrations about a work situation for several minutes during dinner, I began sharing a frustrating situation I was dealing with as we cleared the table. As I was talking, he began fiddling with his new AirPods that had arrived earlier that day. I could tell he was no longer listening to me and totally focused on syncing them to his iPhone. I felt hurt and unimportant. 

I stopped talking and walked away for a few minutes to let the sting subside. When I calmed down, I asked myself if I wanted to stay mad and silent or let him know how I felt. I chose the latter. When he heard me share what I experienced, he admitted that he had checked out of our conversation and apologized profusely. Although it was an uncomfortable confrontation, my choice to communicate how I felt diffused the situation before it became a very chilly evening of unspoken resentment. For a happier more peaceful life, I highly recommend adopting this mantra for yourself. Choose discomfort over resentment.

If you could use some assistance identifying situations where you can make a different choice, I would be honored to walk you through them with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you uncover more choices than you currently see. Look around my website or send me an email to book a session or to ask a question.

Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness. 

A Course in Miracles ~ T-2.V.7:8

The Let It Go Chair

It is no secret that I am not a fan of cold weather. I often joke when the temperature plummets below 60 degrees, I am quite unhappy. Late Sunday afternoon, the temperature was already in the 50s and dropping quickly when my friends asked me to join them for the drumming circle on Siesta Key Beach. Of course, I was hesitant. When they texted, I had just heated my bean bag in the microwave and was lying on it to warm my tight back muscles as I watched a TV show on my iPad. I have to be honest. The idea of leaving the comfort of my warm apartment and bean bag to brave the cold was not so tempting. 

What was tempting was spending more time with my friends, one of whom was only in town for the weekend. Plus, the chance to be near Mother Ocean is always tempting. Several people had told me about this drumming circle which happens on the beach at sunset every Sunday. After five months of living here, I had yet to make it there. Here was an opportunity to do so with fun friends, so I put down my iPad and promised my bean bag I would return soon. I donned a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, a hoody, grabbed my down jacket from the coat closet, and headed to the beach. (I realize those of you who live in much colder climates are either laughing or shaking your head at me as you read this, but what can I say? I’m a Floridian!)

As soon as I got out of my car, the lively sound of drum beats echoing across the parking lot from a nearby pavilion greeted me. I found my Floridian friends (who were also well-layered) just in time to see the last rays of sun sink below the waves. We decided to walk closer to the water to enjoy its beauty while some light remained. The spot where the sun had just disappeared was glowing pink, as you can see in the center of the accompanying photo. Mother Nature created quite a masterpiece with that little splash of pink among the silvery-gray clouds and waves. It was spectacular.

As we got closer to the water’s edge, we soon discovered that there was another masterpiece to behold. This one was manmade. Someone had built a semi-circular bench out of sand with a pyramid-like sand sculpture opposite it. Carved in the sand below the pyramid was the name “Let It Go” Chair with instructions to sit, take 3 deep breaths, then let go of what’s on your mind. This was followed by the words “Thank you for being you.” Nestled in the seating area was a Bluetooth speaker playing soft harp music. What a lovely sacred space this talented artist had created for anyone who strolled the beach that night. None of us wanted to miss an opportunity to “let it go,” so after snapping a few photos, we sat down to enjoy a peaceful moment inside that masterpiece. 

Even with the chilly temperatures, I felt so blessed to be outside in that space with two dear friends feeling the sea breeze on my face as the sound of the harp and the waves carried away anything that was unlike love. The angle of the bench was ideal for leaning back and allowing the sand to completely support us. Others chose to sit upright in lotus position while letting it go. Some marveled from the outside that this seemingly delicate sand structure could support the weight of a human! The artist carved a hole in the back of the bench, creating a window that offered a view of the pyramid and waves in the distance. It truly was a magnificent design.

The artist was standing nearby, observing people experience his creation. Someone asked him how long it took to create, and he replied that he had been working on it since 9:30 that morning. I’m not sure when he finished, but I’m grateful we were there around 6 PM to enjoy the fruits of his labor. When we finally opened our eyes and exited the sand structure, I spotted the artist several yards away. Without words, I stood to face him and gave him a deep namaste bow which he received and returned with his own. I trust he felt my immense gratitude for the space he created.

We eventually made our way to the pavilion to enjoy the rhythmic beat of the drums while a handful of people danced and twirled in the middle of the circle. Several minutes later, we noticed our artist friend had joined the circle and began adding cool beats with his own drum. A musician too? Was there no limit to this man’s creativity?

I am beyond grateful that I ventured out of my warm apartment that night. Had I let the cold stop me, I would have missed that fun and grace-filled experience with my friends. What a great reminder that joy and miracles are often waiting for us outside of our comfort zone. 

This week, perhaps you will be inspired to create your own “Let It Go” chair. It doesn’t have to be made of sand. It could be a cushion placed on the floor in a quiet corner of your home or in front of a window. It’s best to choose a chair or space where you don’t usually sit. That way, your unconscious mind will know something is different about this time of stillness. Then sit down. Play some soothing music. Take 3 deep breaths. And let it go!

If you could use some assistance with letting a particularly challenging thought or situation go, I would be honored to help with a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Both will allow you to see it from a different perspective, making it easier to release. Please look around my website or send me an email for more information and to book a session. 

This week, may you find the perfect place to let it go…

In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved. In conflict there can be no answer and no resolution, for its purpose is to make no resolution possible, and to ensure no answer will be plain.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-27.IV.1:1-2 

Oasis in a Warehouse

Last week, there was an empty spot on the shelf at Target where the “Beyond Sausage” should be. In the past when this happened, I have asked a friendly Target employee to check to see if there were any more packages of my favorite plant-based sausage in the stock room. On this particular night, I was a bit tired, and there was no employee in sight. Although it is less expensive to buy this product at Target, I decided it was not worth the energy to search for an employee, so I went home. The next day, while doing my regular grocery shopping, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a plethora of “Beyond Sausage” in the frozen case at Publix, and it was “buy one, get one free.” Score!

Later that day, I planned to visit the IKEA store in Tampa to purchase a second white cubicle shelving unit to match the one I had already purchased in December. Two of these units would fill my workspace nicely and give me more room to store things. When I checked the inventory on the website, it said the item was “low stock” but not “out of stock.” When I arrived about an hour later, I went directly to the area in the customer warehouse where I picked up the first one. I found stacks of boxes containing grey and black versions of the shelving unit, but no white ones. I scoured the piles of boxes for about 15-20 minutes determined to find a white one hiding amongst the others. Sadly, there were none to be found. 

I finally surrendered and continued browsing the warehouse to see if anything else caught my eye. I found two end tables that might work with my decor, so I put them on a cart and made my way to the checkout area. As I approached the self-checkout area, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A display of white cubicle shelving units appeared in the distance like an oasis in the desert to a thirsty traveler. No, it wasn’t a mirage. The same elusive item I had been searching for minutes ago was there on display. To my delight, this one had two boxes left on the pallet next to it. I scooped one up and put it on my cart as if I had just unearthed buried treasure. With current supply chain issues, I was extremely grateful to find another one without having to wait months for another shipment.

These two incidents occurring on the same day felt like Life making sure I didn’t miss two powerful lessons. Like the sausage, it was “buy one lesson, get one free!” The first lesson I have learned many times, but apparently, I needed to learn it again. When I stop putting so much effort into finding something I desire and simply live my life, that’s when it usually shows up. I’m not suggesting sitting on your couch and waiting for things to come to you. (Although Amazon and DoorDash make that easier these days.) We still have to do our part. Since I wanted an item that only IKEA sells, obviously I had to drive 60 miles north to the closest IKEA store. But my obsessive search of the original stacks of boxes did not yield the result I wanted. However, as soon as I surrendered, the shelving unit magically appeared right in front of me!

The second lesson goes hand in hand with the first. Release the need to make it difficult. If there is an easy way to accomplish a goal and a hard way, many of us choose the hard way without ever considering there might be an alternative. And we suffer greatly because of it. I’m not saying life will never be challenging, but so many of our challenges are self-inflicted. We set unrealistic goals or make choices based on what we think we “should” do instead of what makes the most sense. (See last week’s story about The Should Shed.) If we take a moment to examine the path ahead of us or consult someone who is skilled in this area, we may discover another way that is more efficient and feels much more peaceful. When I stopped thinking I “should” find a Target employee and honored the fact that I really just wanted to go home, the rewards were better than I could have anticipated.  

This week, I encourage you to examine some of your tasks that feel heavy and ask if there might be an easier way to accomplish the same goals. I also invite you to ease up on your search for that elusive desire and allow some space for it to be revealed in a miraculous way. If you could use some assistance, please consider giving yourself the gift of a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you stop spinning your wheels and get your life moving again on a peaceful path. For more information or to book a session, please visit my website or send me an email.

Until next time, may you release the need to make it difficult, go with the flow of Life, and enjoy how much easier it can be.

Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping step to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-26.V.2:5

The Should Shed

Are you trapped in the “Should Shed?” It’s that headspace where we tell ourselves all the things we should be doing instead of what we really want to be doing. Yes, we all have responsibilities and commitments that require our attention, but how often do we examine which of those things are truly necessary and which ones can wait or be released?

Just the other day, I escaped from the Should Shed. I was telling myself that I should sit at my desk for a few hours and create a new online Family Constellations event for February. There are quite a few steps involved in creating an event, so I should at least start the process. I also should answer a few emails before going to visit my sister, Gail.

Then I asked what love wanted to do that afternoon. Love wanted me to take advantage of the fact that, for a limited time, Gail is just 60 miles north of where I live. For the past several years, she and her husband have spent the month of January in Florida to get a break from the cold upstate New York winters. My plan was to drive up after lunch to see them. Unfortunately, my morning activities took longer than I anticipated, so no work happened before lunch.

It really was not a difficult decision. I did not want to sacrifice a few hours of quality time with Gail to do something that was not absolutely necessary in that moment. The workshop and emails could wait another day, so I hopped in my car and drove north. I got there in time to join her and her husband for a peaceful late afternoon walk along the beach. We walked and talked up the coast to a little shopping district and returned just in time to enjoy the gorgeous sunset from the back deck of their building. It never ceases to amaze me how the pinks, purples, oranges, and blues dance between the sky and sea as the bright yellow orb dips below the horizon. This one was no exception, as you can see by the photo above.

When Mother Nature finished showing off, we went up to their condo to prepare and eat a delicious pasta dinner followed by two sweet treats. I brought brownies, not knowing Gail had made blueberry angel food cake for dessert. By this time I had been out of the Should Shed for a few hours, so there was no question whether or not I should have some of each. 

We ended our visit watching one of our favorite TV shows: This is Us. Gail and I have been fans of the show for years but never had the opportunity to watch it together. In the past, we would text each other during or after the show when something unexpected happened or when the writers did an exceptionally good job at tugging our heartstrings. If you watch the show, you know it’s best to have a box of tissues nearby. I rarely get through an episode without my eyes leaking at least a little bit. Sometimes, when we knew the other hadn’t seen the latest episode yet, we would threaten to share what happened or make up something that didn’t happen just to throw each other off the trail. That’s just one of many silly games that we have created over the years.

Much like the siblings on the show, Gail and I have been through a lot together. I truly don’t know what I would have done without her during some of those dark periods of my childhood. What a gift to watch the stories of 3 siblings who love each other deeply while sitting next to one of my siblings who I love deeply. I don’t regret my decision to postpone work one bit. It was a great reminder that sometimes the things I think I should be doing are not really the things I should be doing if I want to live a joyful, peaceful life.

Are you trapped in the Should Shed? It would be my great honor to help you reevaluate your options and make choices that bring you joy. Please look around my website for more information about my Spiritual Coaching Sessions and private Family Constellations Sessions. Both can help you break free from the Should Shed. Give yourself the gift of freedom and send me an email to book an appointment

Until next time, I encourage you to examine your “shoulds” and see if they might unnecessarily  be keeping you from joy.

Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now

A Course in Miracles ~ T-26.VIII.9:1-3

Setting Goals and Falling in Holes

It was a beautiful morning here in Florida on the last day of 2021. The sun was out, and the temperature was in the 70s. I was so grateful to be outside, burning calories on my morning walk. Since it was a holiday week, there were a lot more people at the beach than usual. I didn’t mind. I could navigate around them and still keep up a pretty good pace. A few minutes into my walk, I noticed a brightly colored kite flying high in the sky. The string was practically invisible, making it difficult to see who was flying it. While searching for this elusive person, I suddenly found myself face down in the sand.

It took me a moment to realize what had happened. While looking at the kite and scanning the beach for the person at the other end of the string, I walked right into a rather deep hole. I fell hard and fast! I’m sure it was quite amusing for anyone looking in my direction at that moment. My right knee stung a bit where the sand scraped off some skin, but other than that, it was just my pride that was injured. I shook my head and laughed at myself as I stood up, brushed off the sand, and continued on my walk. I’m still laughing about it as I type these words. I might be going viral on someone’s Tik Tok feed right now without even knowing it!

Longtime readers of these weekly stories know I am always looking for lessons that life is trying to teach me. This one came to me pretty quickly. It was such a clear example of what can happen when my head is in the clouds and not in the present moment. Bam!

One calendar year has come to an end and a new one has begun. Many of us are preoccupied with setting goals for the future with very little focus on where we are now. Not that there is anything wrong with setting intentions and charting a course for where you’d like to go. However, as I learned the hard way (again!), it is also very important to pay attention to where you are right now.

As we begin this new year, I encourage you to learn from my comical mistake. Set goals and envision the life you would love to live. Yes. Admire the beautiful kite flying high in the sky. But don’t forget to keep your eye on the ground and notice all the gifts and blessings that are right where you are. These are very challenging times with so much uncertainty around COVID, polarizing politics, and systemic social injustice. But even now, if we look for them, there are many things for which to be grateful. I know I’m thankful for the ability to laugh at myself even when I fall on my face in front of hundreds of people. 

If you are having a hard time finding a way forward through these quickly changing times or finding appreciation for the present moment, please consider a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions. All of my sessions are based on the strong principles found in A Course in Miracles and Family Constellations to help you experience more peace, love, and joy no matter what is happening in your life. For more information on the services I offer, look around my website or send me an email to book a session.

As we begin 2022 with cheerful expectancy, enjoy those beautiful kites and sights, set those goals, but watch out for the holes!

It is enough to heal the past and make the future free. It is enough to let the present be accepted as it is. 

A Course in Miracles ~ W-110.2:2-3

Gentle Joyful Lessons

The other day during my morning walk, I snapped the photo above of the black bird perched on a rock with its wings outstretched. It didn’t occur to me how appropriate this photo was to accompany the A Course in Miracles quote about “gentle lessons” until after I created the meme. The bird is an anhinga, and I will never forget its name or unusual behavior.

Whenever I see one of these birds, it takes me back to the 3 months I worked in the Education Department at Sea World in 1992. ( Obviously, I was only ten years old at the time.) In addition to answering questions at the animal exhibits, I also gave backstage tours. To be approved as a tour guide, I had to take a Department Supervisor on a mock tour and answer questions. I was grateful to learn I was giving Candace a tour for my final exam. During training, she seemed easy-going and fun. It felt like the tour was going well. Toward the end, Candace pointed to a bird with its wings extended (like the one in the photo) and asked, “Why is that bird doing that? Is it injured?”

I answered, “Possibly,” and immediately went into a monologue about Sea World’s extensive Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program. I explained how a trained team from Sea World responds to calls from people who discover injured animals. The team brings injured animals to Sea World, where they nurse them back to health and release them into the wild whenever possible. She nodded and listened intently to my description of the program and then we continued the tour.

When we returned to the office for my review, Candace told me I did a great job with the animal information but with one exception. The bird she pointed to is called an anhinga, and it was not injured. Unlike other water birds that swim or fish above the surface, the anhinga completely submerges itself and swims with only its neck and head above water. Once it emerges, it has to dry its wings before it can fly again. That’s why the bird she pointed to (and the bird in the photo) extended its wings.

Candace did not berate me for not knowing that about the anhinga. She smiled and said, “If someone asks you a question you don’t know, tell them you’ll find out the answer, and don’t make stuff up!” It was a good lesson for life as well as that job. Because I learned it with joy, I have not forgotten it.

This is not to minimize the value of lessons learned from challenging times like the ones we’ve experienced over the last few years. We can and do learn through painful situations, but we also learn and learn well from gentle lessons acquired joyously. It’s about time we pull the plug on the popular saying “no pain no gain.” It’s simply not true!

Think back to the school teachers of your youth. My guess is you remember the teachers you loved more quickly than the ones you did not like. I would also wager that you learned more from the teachers that made learning fun than the ones that made it seem like drudgery. I could not solve a calculus equation now if my life depended on it. Thankfully, I don’t think it does!  

However, Miss Wilke, my third-grade reading and vocabulary teacher comes to mind immediately when I recall teachers who made learning fun. To entice us to practice our vocabulary and spelling, Miss Wilke created a weekly game show with prizes for the teams who scored the most points. She had candy and stickers and a joke for every occasion. I could not wait for competition days!

Miss Wilke is also a big part of why I love to write these weekly emails. After an initial assignment to write a short story, I continued writing stories about the sad little character I created who slowly turned his life around by taking chances and making new friends. It thrilled me to get the stories back and see Miss Wilke’s encouraging comments and signature smiley faces in red ink. I must have written at least a half dozen stories for extra credit. Thank you, Miss Wilke, for teaching me that putting words together to inspire and entertain can be fun!

As we wrap up the current year and set intentions for the next one, let’s imagine our teachers to be more like Miss Wilke and less like the coronavirus. You can start next Saturday, January 8, with a joyful online experience as we “Release the Old & Welcome the New with Family Constellations.” Each participant will have the opportunity to reflect on the lessons of 2021 and create a powerful container for blessings in 2022. Space is limited to 15 participants, so click this link now to purchase your ticket. Visit my website for more information on this workshop or to schedule a private session.

Many thanks to all of you who read these weekly stories, attend my Family Constellations Workshops, allow me to assist you through Spiritual Coaching Sessions, and share miracles in my weekly online A Course in Miracles Study Groups. May our teachers and lessons be gentle and joyful in the New Year. 

There is no need to learn through pain. And gentle lessons are acquired joyously, and are remembered gladly. What gives you happiness you want to learn and not forget.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-21.I.3:1-3

An Early Christmas Miracle

I had an early Christmas miracle this week on my way to the Honda dealership in Sarasota. There was nothing wrong with my car. It was just a routine 25K maintenance appointment to get the oil changed, tires rotated, and fluids topped off. Halfway there, fearful questions started creeping into my mind:

What if they tell me I need new tires? Am I ready to make that investment right now? Will they find anything else that needs fixing? What if I have another shady experience like the one in January at the Honda dealership in Houston? What if the service advisor tries to sell me things I don’t need? What if they are rude? The voice of fear was on a roll!

Luckily, I remembered one of my favorite teachings from A Course in Miracles. The Course recommends using the power of the mind to decide what you want to experience before an event happens. Thus, you will be looking for evidence of that intention and more able to dismiss anything unlike that intention. Most of us use our mind to ask why something happened the way it did after the fact. If you’d like to learn more, this process is explained beautifully in Chapter 17, Section VI titled “Setting the Goal.” In this section, the Course advises: 

In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is “What do I want to come of this?”

My answer was simple. I want the entire experience to feel peaceful, harmonious, and easy. Once I got clear on what I wanted, I envisioned a stream of pink hearts flowing from my heart to my destination. That way a loving field of energy would be waiting for me when I arrived. In that moment, I had experienced the miracle, a shift from fear to love. What happened next reflected that shift.

My service advisor, Beverly, was incredibly friendly and helpful. After gathering some basic information, she scanned the VIN on my vehicle to check on her computer what services the last dealership had performed. Her exact words were, “Let me see what they did so I don’t charge you for something you don’t need.” What a refreshing sentence! It took me a few seconds to absorb what she said before I could thank her. I signed the necessary form and then found a seat outside to do a little work and make some phone calls.  

While the mechanics were working on my car, I asked Beverly if they had a carwash, and if so, could they run my car through it before returning it to me. She said they do, but it’s a hand carwash. She’d be happy to have them wash my car if I didn’t mind waiting an extra 30 minutes. Since I had blocked off the whole afternoon for this appointment, I said, “Sure!” That’s how long it would take me to go to a carwash later, so why not? 

It turns out, the only thing my car needed was the oil change and tire rotation. The inspection revealed everything else was fine. Not only did I leave in less than 2 hours with a bill under $50, but my car was squeaky clean too! The whole experience was exactly as I had asked for…peaceful, harmonious, and easy. I am incredibly grateful for that teaching from the Course that helped me shift from fear to love on the way there. 

So, before you head out to that holiday gathering or even just to the grocery store, take a moment to ask what you’d like to experience. Then send a little love on ahead of you. You just might experience an early Christmas miracle.

There’s still time to give a miracle to yourself or someone you love this holiday season. You can purchase Gift Certificates for Spiritual Coaching or Family Constellations sessions by clicking this link. Gift Certificates can be sent electronically or by mail. Now is a great time to purchase them before some of my prices increase in 2022. Please look around my website or send me an email for more information.

Extending waves of love from my heart to yours for a peaceful, harmonious, and grace-filled holiday season…

The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-17.VI.4:1

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