Connecting with Dad in Circus City

In addition to its beautiful beaches and peaceful energy, one of the things that drew me to my new home in Sarasota, Florida is the circus arts community. Sarasota used to be the winter quarters for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and many circus performers and their families still live here. There are nods to the history of the circus all around town as well as a museum, a college, a bridge, and a boulevard carrying the Ringling name. Not surprisingly, one of Sarasota’s nicknames is “Circus City.”

I have a joyful place in my heart for the circus. When I was a little guy, my dad took me to see “The Greatest Show on Earth” at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton, NY (my hometown.) It is one of the few memories I have with my dad since he died when I was just 7 years old. I’m guessing the happy association I have with the circus and my father is one reason I love living in “Circus City.” 

In my mind’s eye, I can still see the cavalcade of performers parading through the arena in their shimmering, sequined costumes. Some with elaborate headdresses sprouting giant feathers. Even the elephants and horses had bling in their blankets. This little boy was completely captivated by the pageantry and spectacle!

Interestingly, not many details of the circus acts themselves remain in my mind. I do remember laughing at the antics of the clowns and being amazed by the two motorcyclists who raced around inside a spherical cage without crashing into each other. I also remember my dad buying me a toy like a flashlight with a spinning top that resembled the swirling light on a police car. I’m not sure what attracted me to this toy, but I must have been thrilled to have it because I can still picture it 5 decades later!

That little boy could not have guessed that one day he would have a good friend who performed as a clown for 2 years in “The Greatest Show on Earth.” That friend now works for an organization here in Sarasota called the Circus Arts Conservatory. What an unexpected blessing to get invited to many of the local circus performances as his guest! 

This past weekend, he invited me to see the Sailor Circus, a show performed entirely by students enrolled in the Sailor Circus Academy. That’s the training branch of the Circus Arts Conservatory. From their website: “The Academy provides a rigorous after-school circus training program where students learn to develop life management skills, gain self-discipline, bolster confidence and a commitment to achievement, all in a safe and nurturing circus atmosphere.”

These young people were doing acrobatics, high wire, clowning, juggling, unicycle riding, silks, and even the flying trapeze. I was blown away by their courage and skill. When I was that age, I was eating Doritos and watching reruns of Bewitched after school. What they are able to accomplish is truly inspiring. 

While I appreciate their skills and commitment, what impressed me the most was hearing them talk about what this program meant to them. At intermission, they played a short video where the graduating seniors shared their stories. Each one emphasized how the program gave them a sense of belonging and an opportunity to make friends. They gained confidence and learned the value of working together toward a common goal. Many students teared up while talking about how impactful their mentors have been. It was very moving!

Having very few friends and zero interest in sports, I certainly felt like an outsider in high school. I couldn’t help but wonder if a program like this would have brought shy little John out of his shell sooner. Yes, believe it or not, I was extremely shy in my youth. 

Over the past 12 years, Family Constellations has taught me the importance of belonging. Bert Hellinger, the founder of this modality, felt his most significant contribution was his observations on belonging. He witnessed time after time that we will unconsciously give up everything to belong. It touches me deeply to know the Sailor Circus provides a place where kids (many shy, awkward ones like me) feel like they belong. 

Click the following links to see a short video about the Circus Arts Conservatory and to hear what graduating seniors had to say about their experience in the Sailor Circus

If you are seeking connection and community while expanding your capacity to love, consider trying our Transformational Tuesday online A Course in Miracles Study Group. It’s a joyful group of miracle workers dedicated to shifting their perception from fear to love. For more information about this weekly gathering, visit the Miracles page on my website. 

You will also find information there about Spiritual Coaching and Family Constellations. Both can help you move past a challenging situation or recurring pattern. Thanks to the internet, we can meet no matter where you are in the world. If you’re ready for a shift, send me an email or use my automated scheduler to book a session. It would be my great honor to work with you!

Until next time, may the joy in your heart lead to wonderful places where you know you belong.

The light that belongs to you is the light of joy.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-5.in.1:4

Broken Doors, Bad Burritos, and Second Chances

Over the past year, I have enjoyed lunch at the same Mexican restaurant most Tuesdays to take advantage of their Taco Tuesday special. Since I visit often, I have become friendly with the staff. Eventually, it turned into a weekly social outing as much as an inexpensive dining experience. 

Since I like to ask questions and I’m genuinely interested in people, I probably learned more about the employee’s personal lives than most of their regular customers. What fun to find out the young woman who usually took my order was also a Disney World annual pass holder. We geeked out about all the new rides the first time we discovered our mutual fandom.

Most weeks, I go to the restaurant solo. Last spring, when my sister was in town, she went with me. As we approached the counter that same young woman yelled, “Oh my God! You’re not alone!” Yes, this weird guy who likes Disney and asks a lot of questions actually has family and friends. My sister and I still laugh about that.

I’ve also become friendly with the manager at the restaurant. She usually stops by my table to ask if everything is okay with my meal. When she did this a few months ago, she also told me that it was her last week at that location. She would be going to another location to help out for a while and then leaving the company completely. 

This made me sad.  I knew I was reaping the benefits of her excellent management skills. She assembled a great team and created what seemed like a very happy work environment. Numerous times, I witnessed her jumping in to help whenever and wherever she was needed. Every visit, I observed her checking in with the customers to see how they were doing. Because of her influence and leadership, my dining experience was always joyful and satisfying. 

I’m not sure if my mouth was full or if she simply walked away before I could formulate the words, but I didn’t have the chance to tell her the things I wrote above. I also wanted to wish her luck and let her know she would be a blessing wherever she ended up. I left the restaurant regretting this missed opportunity. 

It turns out my observations about her management skills were correct. Her replacement wasn’t able to create the same positive environment, and my experience in the restaurant started to decline drastically. My fellow Disney fan confirmed that things were not going well, so she took another job at Starbucks. Little by little, other employees started to leave.  

On Sunday, I had a craving for one of their burritos, so I took a spontaneous trip to the restaurant for dinner. It felt odd to not recognize any of the employees. Even more odd, the front door of the restaurant was broken that night. A paper sign on the door directed customers to enter using the side door. It’s as if the Universe was trying to prevent me from going in.

I wish the Universe had been successful! The energy in the restaurant felt sad and heavy. What wasn’t heavy was the burrito the young man brought to my table. It was probably the worst burrito I’ve ever been served. The stale flour tortilla was filled with mostly lettuce, a little shredded cheese, and barely enough black beans to fill a shot glass.  

When I took the burrito to the counter to show him how little was inside, he replied, “Oh. You want more beans?” He went back to the kitchen and returned with a tiny plastic cup filled with maybe two tablespoons of black beans. I was waiting for someone to pop out and tell me I was on “Candid Camera” or “Punked” (depending on your generation.)

Clearly, I wasn’t going to get a satisfactory meal, so I surrendered and went back to my table. Unfortunately, that burrito tasted even worse than it looked. After this terrible experience, I decided that would be my last visit to that restaurant. 

Knowing how much I love that restaurant, another sister gave me a gift card a few weeks before this incident. It still had a balance, so this Tuesday, I decided to try the other location. It’s a little further away, but I had some spaciousness in my schedule and it was a gorgeous day for a drive, so I went.

What a different experience! It was like when I first started going to the other location. The staff was friendly, and my tacos were delicious. And here’s the best part. The manager I wrote about earlier brought my food out to me! She was as surprised to see me as I was to see her. I thought she had already moved on, but this was her last week with the company. I’m so glad I was given a second chance to tell her all the things I didn’t get to say the last time. The quality of my experience that day proved she deserved every word.

Thank you to my sister, the broken door, and that bad burrito for redirecting me to the other location. I believe I was meant to deliver that message, even though I will never know how she received it. I do know that it felt wonderful to be the messenger. What a powerful reminder that joyful moments happen when I pay attention to signs and let my intuition (and my taco cravings) guide me.

Are you having a difficult time noticing signs or following your intuition? It would be my great honor to assist you in “tuning in” with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you release what no longer serves so you can be more open and aware of this guidance. Please look around my website to learn more about these opportunities or to book a session. I look forward to working with you!   

Until next time, may the signs be clear and your journey be joyful. 

Love’s messengers are gently sent, and return with messages of love and gentleness.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-19.IV-A.11:1

Let It Be Okay

Let it be okay. These words have been echoing in my mind for the past few days. Some of you may have noticed there was no email from me in your inbox last Friday. After a very full and rewarding five days of Family Constellations Workshops and Sessions in Virginia, I found myself needing a little more time to rest and rejuvenate last week. When Thursday rolled around, I had not started writing a rough draft, nor did I have a clear idea of what to write about. Although many miracles and a great deal of healing happened for me and for those I had the honor to work with, I felt I needed more time to integrate that experience.

Rather than force it and push past my tiredness, I decided to be gentle with myself and let it be okay to take a week off. As far as I know, the earth did not stop rotating last week. I’d be willing to bet most people who read my weekly stories did not notice the absence. And if you did, I imagine you were okay with one less email in your inbox while I practiced self-care.

Over the weekend, I had another chance to “let it be okay.” I intended to invest several hours answering emails and creating new marketing materials for upcoming Family Constellations Workshops. Instead, I found myself acquiescing to my need for more sleep and my desire to be at the beach for the sunset on both Saturday and Sunday. I answered the time-sensitive emails, but I felt no spark to design new marketing materials. 

Although not much work happened, my soul was soothed and recharged by the relaxing sound of the waves rolling into the shore on those evenings. While the sun dipped below the horizon, Mother Nature painted the sky with spectacular purple and orange hues. I’m always amazed by how different her artwork can be from night to night. And with my soul recharged, I found the inspiration to create those marketing materials the following day. 

Obviously, I’m not advocating avoiding work forever or abandoning our responsibilities. What I am advocating is stepping back to reassess the things we tell ourselves we have to do now. Is it true that they need to be done right away? Perhaps it is only a habit or the ego pressuring us to keep going and not take time to rest. It’s no secret that our culture places high value on doing and very little value on being. I am so grateful to have learned that both are necessary for a happy, healthy life.

Are you stuck in doing mode with little or no time for being? Perhaps today is the day you let it be okay to stop pushing and allow yourself some well-deserved time to rest and recharge. If I can assist you in breaking this cycle with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can learn more about these opportunities or book a session on my website. I look forward to being with you!  

By the way, I hope you can tell how much I enjoy sharing the lessons life is teaching me in these weekly stories. It makes my heart smile when I hear that something I wrote was precisely what someone needed to hear that week. Often, I forget anyone else reads these stories until I am out in the world and someone says something nice about them. It happens a lot when I travel to places where people have been on my email list for years. It’s hard to believe I have been writing these stories consistently since 2015! (They are all on the Blog Page of my website if you are curious to read some oldies.)

Whether you have been reading my stories for 9 years or 9 days, I thank you for inviting me along on your spiritual journey. Until next time, may you give yourself time to rest and recharge, and most importantly…let it be okay!

Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-18.VII.8:1-3

Music Makes the People Come Together

“Music makes the people come together” is a lyric from one of Madonna’s later dance hits. Her music certainly brought lots of people together at the Amalie Arena in Tampa last week when her Celebration Tour came to town. Madonna’s music has been the soundtrack to my life since she released her first album in 1983, so it was pure joy for me to experience this retrospective concert of her 40-year music career.

When her first album came out, I was in high school. My mom’s alcoholism was creating a lot of chaos and sadness at home during that time. Madonna’s invitation to leave your troubles behind and get up and dance was very appealing to that younger version of me. Truth be told it still is! Back then, I needed to escape my situation and Madonna’s bouncy pop music provided a way to do so. 

Madonna opened with some of the songs from that first album before pausing to explain the concept of the show. We would be taking a journey with her through the different decades of her career, but first, she wanted to introduce us to a younger version of herself. One of her dancers emerged wearing an opaque mask and clothes much like a 19-year-old Madonna would have worn in 1978. 

That was the year she arrived in New York City with just $37 in her pocket and a dream to be a professional dancer. She expressed her immense gratitude for this strong girl who kept going despite numerous rejections and many harsh life experiences. Madonna confessed that she would not be where she is today without her, and then she hugged her.

I love that she incorporated this powerful concept into the show! In my Family Constellations workshops, I often bring in someone to represent a younger version of the person I’m working with. We thank the younger version for finding a way to make it through and then show them how far they’ve come since those hardships. Understandably, we want to distance ourselves from those younger versions because they are associated with tremendous pain. However, when we acknowledge them and welcome them back into our hearts, we become whole again.  

At various times during the show, Madonna danced with younger versions of herself represented by dancers wearing costumes from her long career. Not only was it entertaining for longtime fans like me to revisit those iconic looks, but I’m guessing it was cathartic for her as well.

I was looking through the Family Constellations lens during another poignant moment of the show. Madonna sang a lesser-known song from her American Life CD called “Mother and Father.” It was a tribute to her mother who died when she was just 5 years old. During the song, she faced a photo of her mother projected on a large screen. Madonna’s adopted son, David, also lost his biological mother at a young age. He accompanied Madonna on guitar and sang with her while a photo of his biological mother appeared on another screen. It moved me to see mother and son share a moment of deep connection while honoring their biological mothers.

Of course, Madonna is best known for her dance songs, and the concert was filled with them! My favorite is “Vogue.” As soon as the base beats of that song began, tingles went through my body. It brought me back to my very first Madonna concert, the Blonde Ambition Tour. In 1990, that song and Madonna herself were at the height of their popularity. She was just a tiny blonde speck at the opposite end of the Capital Center in Washington, DC, but that didn’t matter. The vibration and the excitement of that song filled the gigantic stadium and I swear my heart beat in time with the music! It was a sensation of pure joy that I will never forget.

Throughout the concert, I reflected on the countless times Madonna’s music has evoked that feeling of pure joy in me whether I’m on the dance floor or driving my car. Or when one of her ballads helped me to cry. Or one of her anthems empowered me to make a change in my life. I felt such gratitude for this woman who has been part of my life for 40 years. It felt great to extend love and light to her and all the versions of her that helped all the versions of me through the years. I was glowing with joy and gratitude for days after the concert..  

Madonna has always been controversial, and you may not resonate with her at all. I haven’t always agreed with the decisions she has made over the years, but I have admired her courage to push the envelope and not be silenced by other people’s opinions. As someone who always strived to be a “good boy” and not make waves, she inspired me to follow my heart and stop caring so much about what others think.

There’s a great sound byte during the introduction to the show where Madonna says, “I think the most controversial thing I’ve ever done…is to stick around.” This fan is forever grateful that she has. 

Is there a singer or musical group that has provided the soundtrack to your life? Has it been a while since you listened to their music? Perhaps my story will inspire you to take a moment to listen and express gratitude for all the ways they helped you during tough times.

Maybe this story will inspire you to think about a younger version of yourself with compassion and gratitude. Acknowledge them for their perseverance and resilience, and invite them to see the life they helped create. When you welcome them home, you are empowered to connect more deeply with yourself and others, enhancing all of your relationships.

If you would like some assistance in this endeavor, consider giving yourself the gift of a private Family Constellations Session or a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions. Both can help you welcome these seemingly separated aspects of yourself back into your heart. Please visit my website for more information or to book a session. I look forward to helping you reintegrate all the versions of you!

Until next time, keep singing and dancing to your favorite music! It truly does bring people together! 

When I am healed I am not healed alone.

Workbook Lesson 137 ~ A Course in Miracles

A Well-Timed Lesson

It always makes me laugh when an opportunity to “practice what I teach” appears right before or sometimes as I’m teaching it! Just before logging into Zoom for our weekly online A Course in Miracles study group, I reached for my iPad while holding a water bottle. My water bottle knocked the iPad off its holder and into the burning candle in front of it. Although it was only a tiny tea light candle, it sent hot wax everywhere. What a mess!

I was relieved to see there was no damage to my iPad, but I noticed a significant amount of wax on the corner of the screen not to mention on my kitchen table and floor. I tried to wipe it off with a damp cloth, but that only spread the wax over a larger area. By then I was really frustrated. With just 5 minutes before the start of our meeting, I had no choice but to surrender the cleanup until after our group. 

When I opened my book to see where we left off the previous week, I laughed out loud. That night we would be reading a section called “The Obstacles to Peace.” How funny that just moments before I experienced one! It was a well-timed reminder that only my thoughts prevent me from experiencing peace. I could continue to berate myself for not being more careful, or I could let it go and be present for the joy and miracles in our loving group. 

With each smiling face that entered the Zoom room, I felt more and more peaceful. The annoyance of what had just happened began to fade away, and I joked about it during our miracle sharing. It truly was a miracle that I was able to shift from frustration to joy so quickly. 

Later, we had an excellent discussion about the obstacles to peace from many different perspectives. One sentence from that section summed it up beautifully. “You are its home; its tranquil dwelling place from which it gently reaches out, but never leaving you.” In other words, peace begins with you and then radiates outward, all the while staying with you. Many of you probably recognize this as the message of the Peace Song sung at many spiritual gatherings. 

By the time we finished our meeting, I had forgiven myself for spilling the wax. The task of cleaning it up still felt daunting, so I decided to make a batch of banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with the overripe bananas on my kitchen counter first. While mashing the bananas in a bowl, an idea spontaneously dropped into my head. Rather than any kind of spray cleaner, try a plastic gift card to scrape the wax off the surfaces.

It worked like a charm…even on the iPad screen! Any residual wax on the screen came off with the cleaning spray and scratch-resistant cloth my eye doctor gave me to clean my glasses. In less than 30 minutes, there was no sign of the messy wax spill. It was a great reminder to get my thinking out of the problem so inspiration on how to proceed can drop in. 

Yes, spilled wax is a relatively minor setback compared to some of life’s bigger challenges, but in my experience, this approach still works. It’s best to stop judging myself or others for what happened and stop wishing that it didn’t happen. From a place of acceptance, I can return to peace, even if it means focusing on something else for a while. Then, from that peaceful place, I am open and available to receive inspired solutions. I encourage you to give it a try and see if it works.

If you would like some assistance with this endeavor, I would be honored to help you with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. My Spiritual Coaching sessions are based on the strong principles found in A Course in Miracles, my 10+ years facilitating Family Constellations and other metaphysical practices. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. You can also join us any Tuesday for our weekly online A Course in Miracles study group. I look forward to creating miracles with you! 

I could see peace instead of this.

Lesson 34 ~ A Course in Miracles 

A Joyful Airport Song

At the beginning of this year, I got quiet and asked my heart what it would like to do this year. The answer came quickly. It said it wanted to travel more and facilitate in-person Family Constellations Workshops again. I’m grateful that several opportunities to do just that have already revealed themselves this year. And more trips are coming up in the next few months. That being said, I thought I would share this story from 7 years ago to remind myself and anyone reading this who might feel overwhelmed or stressed that love shows up in unexpected places.

In April of 2017, I wrote:

I have been on a lot of airplanes the past few weeks. Although I love to share Family Constellations in different places around the country, traveling can be tiring. With only one day at home in between trips, I found myself wishing I had given myself a little more time at home to recharge my battery. 

The crowds at the Fort Lauderdale airport last Thursday evening felt a bit overwhelming and a little more pushy than usual. One woman decided to cut in front of me at the TSA line, and then once we were through the security check, she rushed past me and bumped me with her bag. My first thoughts about this woman were less than loving. In my tired state, it took me a few moments to shift my perception around this perceived attack. Of course, it wasn’t really an attack. That woman was probably unaware that she cut in front of me or that she hit me with her bag. She was most likely running late for her flight and was only focused on getting to her gate in time.

When I arrived at my gate, I discovered my flight was delayed at least fifteen minutes. The passengers were getting restless waiting to board the plane, and I was feeling the uncomfortable energy of the situation. As I leaned against a pole near the ticketing agent, I watched another woman run toward the counter, see that our flight had been delayed, and then let out an exasperated, “Mercury Retrograde!” I couldn’t help but smile at this unexpected but welcome tension breaker. We were indeed in a Mercury Retrograde, but I’m guessing most people waiting at that gate had no idea what those words meant. Even with my limited knowledge of astrology, her outburst thoroughly amused me.

Then a miracle happened. Among all the chatter and grumbling, I heard a sweet voice humming softly behind me. It sounded like an angel. I turned to see a custodial worker patiently waiting for the crowd to dissipate so she could empty the trash can near where I was standing. Seemingly unphased by the number of people around her, that woman’s soft humming eventually turned into full-out singing. If my eyes were closed, I would have thought she was in church singing her favorite hymn, not emptying trash cans at a crowded airport terminal full of disgruntled passengers. Her joy was not dependent on outside circumstances, and it helped me shift my state of mind immediately. A wave of peace and gratitude washed over me for this Heaven-sent messenger.

Twenty minutes later, as I was about to step onto the airplane, I got another loving sign. I noticed a romance novel by Danielle Steel lying on the control panel of the jetway. My mother used to read Danielle Steele’s books all the time, so I recognized the font and shimmer of her name on the cover. Perhaps someone had left the book on the plane or the jetway operator also enjoyed being immersed in her stories of star-crossed lovers. Either way, seeing that book made me smile. It felt like a sign from my mother reassuring me that this trip was going to go well and there would be plenty more miracles. I’m happy to report it did and there were. 

Seven years later in April of 2024, we are approaching another Mercury Retrograde as I prepare for more travel. I will be on the lookout for signs and loving messages in all the ways they want to appear. I’m also grateful to have learned the lesson of leaving more space in between trips. I can be taught!

Are you going through a stressful or challenging time? I would be honored to assist you in opening your heart to more miracles and loving messages with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a personal Family Constellations Session. Both can help you shift your perception from fear to love which is the real miracle! Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to helping you see the signs in unexpected places! 

The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.

A Course in Miracles~ T-in.1:6-7

Love, Gratitude, and Healing

It made my heart happy to be in 3D with these mighty companions from our weekly online ACIM Study Group.

My heart was overflowing with love and gratitude as I sat in Hobby Airport on Monday waiting to board my flight back to Florida. The five days I spent in Houston were filled with joyful reconnections and lots of healing. A big thank you to all those with whom I got to share Family Constellations at the Sunday workshop and in private sessions throughout the week. And thank you to those who made time to share a meal, a tea, or a walk with me. I’m still basking in the glow of all that loving, healing energy!

This was the first time I had been back to Houston since my departure in June of 2021. As some of you know, I lived there for just over three years. It’s a great city with lots to offer and lots of wonderful people, but despite my best efforts, it simply never felt like home. Before I left, I went up to the rooftop deck overlooking the downtown skyline and spoke these words to the city of Houston. 

“Dear, Houston. Thank you for the blessings I experienced here. Thank you for all the lasting friendships I made and all the kindness the people of Houston have shown me. Thank you for the many opportunities you provided to introduce more people to the powerful healing of Family Constellations and A Course in Miracles. I also thank you for the life lessons and even the difficult times that helped me gain clarity on what I want and where I belong.” 

Then I gave Houston a deep bow as I said, “And now I release you with love and gratitude.” 

This is one of the most helpful practices I have learned from Family Constellations over the last 11 years. If you find yourself leaving a place, a job, or a relationship, I highly recommend making time to do this simple but powerful ritual. When you acknowledge what happened for the blessings and the lessons it provided, you free yourself from the gravitational pull that can keep you stuck and looking backward. Once you release it with love, you can turn around, face the future, and start moving forward to your destiny.

True, it’s not always easy when a situation has been going on for many years and we feel hurt and angry. Eventually, there will come a day when you are able to acknowledge what was and accept that it was just part of your journey. That timeline is different for everyone, so there’s no need to feel bad if you aren’t there yet. The day will come when you are ready, willing, and able. Until then, please be gentle with yourself and know it is a process. 

I’m pretty sure the experience I had in Houston last week would not have been possible had I not practiced what I preach. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I received more hugs in the last 5 days than I have received in the last 5 months! My soul battery is fully recharged and I thank everyone I encountered who extended their loving energy. Every step of this trip felt Spirit-guided, and I am extremely grateful for the healing I received by following that guidance.

If you are having a difficult time escaping the gravitational pull of a challenging situation, I would be honored to assist you with a private Family Constellations Session or a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions. Both can assist that shift in perception from fear to love allowing you to experience more peace and joy in your life. Thanks to technology, sessions can be done from anywhere in the world. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to creating miracles with you! 

Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found.

A Course in Miracles ~ W-195.10:2

What a Gift!

I have been listening to the inspiring and uplifting music of Karen Drucker since a friend gifted me her “Songs Of The Spirit, Vol. 2” CD back in 2002. That CD lived in my car stereo for many years. The beautiful lyrics of each song touched me deeply and helped me to remember the truth about myself. The timing of that gift was perfect because that year my spiritual journey took off like the accelerated launch of the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at Disney World.

And like that coaster, my journey took many spectacular twists and turns after that launch. One of those twists took me to the Big Sky Retreat in Montana where Karen Drucker was invited to be part of the event’s 40th Anniversary. What a treat not only to get to hear her sing live but also to meet her! I soon discovered that I loved her as much as her music, and I’m so grateful we’ve stayed in touch over the years. 

Since Karen lives in California, she rarely comes to the East Coast. I was thrilled when she sent me an email a few months ago saying she was facilitating a March women’s retreat in Orlando. I was even more thrilled to reconnect her with some beloved Big Sky Retreat family members at the Center for Spiritual Living in Ocala. To my delight, the timing worked out, and Karen was the special guest speaker and musician on March 10. I’m so glad I made the 2.5-hour drive to Ocala to see her! 

On that drive, I asked iTunes to shuffle songs in my Karen Drucker playlist, which has grown to 75 songs since that first CD. I listen to her music all the time and it still uplifts and inspires me. Even though I was running late, (which I blame on setting the clocks ahead an hour!) I remained peaceful and joyful singing along with Karen as I drove north on I-75. The service began at 11 AM, but I think I arrived right on time at 11:11!

In between lovely songs from her extensive catalog, Karen shared a beautiful message about the power of kindness. She illustrated her points using fun personal stories from her travels as well as stories she had curated from Facebook and other sources. I will be repeating some of those kindness stories with my clients and groups because they were so moving. What a gift to experience all of that in a community that has welcomed me with loving, open arms so many times over the last 9 years.

And speaking of gifts, during the service Karen sang her song titled “I Am a Gift” which reminds us how loved and valuable we are at every age. Coincidentally, (if you believe in coincidences) that was one of her songs that “randomly” played on my drive to Ocala. I hadn’t heard that song in a long time, so hearing it twice in one morning felt like Spirit telling me to pay attention to those lyrics.

For anyone reading this who may feel like time marched on without them, I encourage you to listen by clicking this link. In fact, I encourage you to check out all of Karen’s music on her website. It truly is balm for the soul during these challenging times. 

If you are going through a particularly stressful time, I would be honored to assist you with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both will give you tools and perspectives to help navigate the storm. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to working with you!

Until next time, may you always remember that you are indeed a gift. 

The gifts are yours, entrusted to your care, to give to all who chose the lonely road you have escaped.

A Course in Miracles ~ W-166.13:1

Laughing at Myself

One thing A Course in Miracles has helped me with is recognizing my split mind. One side comes from love and the other operates out of fear. There’s a lesson in the Course that invites you to set aside 30 minutes to write out all of the thoughts that cross your mind. The idea is to get them out on paper without editing or analyzing them. 

When the 30 minutes are up, go back and read them. You will most likely discover that some of your thoughts are in direct opposition to each other. “I’m going to start eating healthier. Maybe I’ll bring donuts to work tomorrow. I’m completely overwhelmed with my schedule. Should I start a new weekly meeting? I’m craving more time for myself. I wish my partner paid more attention to me.” How could we possibly be at peace while unknowingly holding these conflicting thoughts?

This week, a very clear and ridiculous example of my split mind revealed itself. I love that the grounds of my apartment community are very well maintained. The bushes and trees are trimmed, the sidewalks are clear, and colorful flowers greet me when I drive through the front entrance. It brings me great joy to see them!

Yet, when the landscaping crew arrives every Tuesday morning and the leaf blowers and lawn mowers start up at 8 AM, I am anything but joyful. How silly of me to be annoyed by the people responsible for keeping the grounds looking so beautiful. It makes no sense! But that is typical of the ego’s thought system. It is ripe with contradictions and judgments. It will use anything at its disposal to keep me feeling bad, no matter how nonsensical.

Now that doesn’t mean I have to love the sound of a leaf blower outside my window. I think we can all agree that sound is quite unpleasant. But, can I shift my thoughts from anger to gratitude when the noise starts?

By the way, on Tuesday mornings, I usually leave for my daily walk along Sarasota Bay soon after the crew arrives. This week, I was in the middle of my morning meditation when they arrived. Having recently noticed this crystal clear example of my split mind, I decided to stay put and extend love to them as part of my meditation practice. 

As the roar of the leaf blower got closer to my window, the visual that dropped into my mind surprised me. I saw the landscapers clearing debris from a path that led to a beautiful alcove in the forest. In my mind’s eye, I stepped into the clearing, sat down in the middle of the tall trees, and continued to breathe. Despite the obnoxious sound, I was smiling at this image and shift in perception.

When the time I set aside for meditation was over, I laced up my walking shoes, filled my Hydro Flask with water, and headed out the door for my walk. As I passed the crew, I gave them a head nod as I usually do, but sent them extra loving, grateful thoughts as well. Now my thoughts were in harmony, and it felt much better. 

This is just one small example of the conflicting thoughts that live in my head. There are plenty more to examine! Much like cleaning items out of a closet, I can take them out, observe how they make me feel, and then decide which ones to keep and which ones to release. If the thought doesn’t feel peaceful, loving, or joyful, it’s probably time to let it go.

It would be my great honor to help you clean out the closet of your mind and sort out any thoughts or beliefs that no longer serve. Both Spiritual Coaching and Family Constellations are great tools to help you do that. Please visit my website to learn more about these healing opportunities and to book a session. Thanks to technology, we can connect no matter where you are in the world. I look forward to clearing and sorting with you!

A split mind cannot perceive its fullness, and needs the miracle of its wholeness to dawn upon it and heal it.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-7.IX.4:4

Gratitude for the Drama

Recently, a friend casually mentioned she would be attending the ceremony at her son’s high school where he would be inducted into the National Honor Society. I was surprised when those words brought up a slightly uncomfortable feeling attached to a not-so-pleasant high school memory. I’m pretty sure I never made it to the ceremony where I was to be inducted into the National Honor Society. My mom had way too much to drink that evening, and I was adamant that she not embarrass me by showing up inebriated. 

We got into a huge fight that night. It was so emotionally charged that I don’t recall if I went without her or not at all. I think it was the latter. What I do remember is being extremely hurt by her “choice” to drink that night. Alas, I had much to learn about addiction. Whether she drank or not had nothing to do with me or what was happening later that day. It was just a way to numb her pain.

Interestingly enough, that incident ended up being a pivotal moment that helped me to pursue my secret dream of being an actor. After high school, I was accepted into the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University as an Ad Design major. I wasn’t even able to admit to myself that I wanted to be in theater. Looking back, it’s clear that I chose SU because it also had an excellent Drama Department.

During my sophomore year, I took an “acting for non-majors” class and loved it! My professor helped me turn the events of the Honor Society night into the monologue I used to audition for the Drama Department. Unlike now, the emotions attached to that evening were still pretty raw. They must have come through loud and clear because I was accepted! 

My training at SU helped me get a job in Entertainment at Disney World. Performing in those costumes in front of thousands of park guests helped me overcome my shyness. Without that experience, I doubt I would be able to be in front of people and do the work I do now. It all fits together like some cosmic plan that I could never have mapped out. 

I hadn’t thought about that Honor Society night in a very long time. Although I felt a twinge of sadness, it didn’t stir up the hurricane of feelings that helped me get into the Drama Department all those years ago! I’m certainly not done, but the spiritual journey I’ve been on for the last two decades has helped me process and release many of those emotions.

Today, I can look at that night with compassion and gratitude. It was exactly what needed to happen because it led me to where I am now. And where I am now is pretty sweet. 

The ability to take the charge out of a painful situation or memory and shift it into something beneficial is exactly what Spiritual Coaching and Family Constellations can help you do. Please look around my website to learn more about both of these miraculous opportunities or book a session with my automated scheduler. I look forward to working with you!

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

A Course in Miracles ~ M-4.1-A.4:5

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