Creative Connections

Last week, I wrote about my experience visiting Disney World with two dear friends from New Mexico. It was shocking to see sparse crowds and relatively short wait times during a holiday week. We were very grateful! I talked a lot about the rides and shows, but I didn’t mention the “character connections” that were actually some of my favorite moments. 

As soon as we arrived at Epcot on our first day, we walked directly to the back of the park to “let it go” on Frozen Ever After in Norway before making our way around World Showcase to France to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Along the way, we happened upon Snow White greeting guests outside a cottage in Germany. There weren’t many people waiting in line, so we decided not to pass up the opportunity to meet the original Disney Princess.

Having been a Disney character performer for many years, I remember how fun it was when guests asked us something other than the obvious questions. Imagine how many times Snow White recites the names of the seven dwarves in a day.

You may recall from the movie that Snow White has a gift for communicating with animals. After we had taken a picture with her, I asked if she heard the shrill calls of the limpkin echoing through the park earlier that morning.

If you haven’t heard of a limpkin, don’t feel bad. I hadn’t either until I moved to the West Coast of Florida. It’s a brown water bird that resembles an ibis and is known for its extremely loud calls at dawn and dusk. I found that out the hard way when one started visiting the pond outside my old apartment in the wee hours of the morning. Their persistent call sounds like a strange mixture of car alarm and choking goose. (Click here to listen to a little sample, but imagine it 50 times louder in person!) 

Not surprisingly, Snow White had heard the limpkin. I don’t think anyone in the park that morning could have missed it. Just to make silly conversation, I asked if she could please talk to the limpkin about being a little quieter first thing in the morning. Without missing a beat, Snow White put it back on me by asking if I had tried to communicate with him by imitating his calls. I had to admit I did not try that.

Before we left, I felt compelled to tell Snow White about a long-running joke with a Disney-loving friend who has a huge block on remembering the names of the dwarves. Even after giving this friend some clues, she could not name any of them. Some of her guesses included “Gus,” “Smarty,” and “Cantankerous.” Cantankerous? Really? 

Snow White giggled to hear this, and then easily and effortlessly rattled off their names as if she said them hundreds of times per day, which I’m sure she does. One of my friends caught the whole conversation on video, so I immediately sent it to my cantankerous friend. She was both mortified and thrilled to know that conversation happened and so grateful to receive that video. The whole experience brought me great joy!

On that same walk around World Showcase, we passed Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Her line was quite long so we didn’t stop, but I greeted her from afar with my best, “Bon Jour, Belle!” I then proceeded to sing a few lines from the opening song of her movie. “She really is a funny girl. A beauty but a funny girl, that Belle!” Sometimes I can’t help myself when it comes to Disney music. The words just slip out. 

After Remy and a delicious crepe in France, we spotted Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. While taking a photo with her, I commented on her pink dress, knowing there’s a funny scene in the movie where the fairies fight over what color it should be. With magic wands waving frantically, the scene escalates into a zapping war as they transform the dress and each other from pink to blue. I joked about the blue fairy, Merriweather, needing to chill out because there are vast amounts of blue in the world already, namely the sky and the ocean. Again, complete silliness, but so much fun!

Before leaving, I leaned in and quietly asked Aurora if she’d like to know a little secret. The poor girl was probably hesitant to say yes, but she did. I whispered that many years ago I used to stand next to her on a castle float in the Christmas Parade. She gave me a knowing wink as she turned to greet the next family. That’s a unique character connection that I feel blessed to have. 

For years after leaving the company, I chose not to reveal my “secret identity” as a former character to current performers. It didn’t seem important until my friend, Vito, another former character, offered a different perspective. He asked if I would have enjoyed knowing that kind of information when we were characters. The answer was yes. I would have found that very interesting! So now, if it feels appropriate, I share it discreetly.

As we walked away, Princess Aurora’s escort stopped me to ask why I wasn’t singing any songs from Sleeping Beauty. Apparently, she had heard my performance as we walked by Belle earlier and recognized me. Little did she know, I had “Once Upon a Dream” (a song I sang as Prince Phillip many times back in the day) locked and loaded! My friends just laughed. Did I mention Disney music sometimes just slips out of me?

We had another wonderful conversation with Alice in Wonderland by the gardens in the United Kingdom. I wished her a very happy un-birthday, as one does when they meet Alice. She thought it odd that we were celebrating our un-birthdays with crepes in France instead of cake. After hearing my ridiculous Mad Hatter imitation, she thought perhaps I drank a cup of “Insani-Tea” with my crepe. That girl had us laughing with her ‘tea” jokes. It was quite an honor when Alice invited us to the next Mad Tea Party. Before we said our “so longs,” she poured us each a cup of “Invisibili-Tea” which we held while smiling like the Cheshire Cat for a photo.

It may seem trivial to have conversations about imaginary tea, fairies, and loud birds with performers dressed like animated characters, but these quiet moments were truly some of my favorites of the trip. It wasn’t about the topics of conversation. It was about finding creative ways to connect with another human being while having a little fun. I try to do that no matter where I am. It certainly makes life more enjoyable, especially in these divisive times.

If you would like some tools and practices to help you creatively connect with yourself and others, consider giving yourself the gift of Spiritual Coaching or a private Family Constellations Session. Both offer new perspectives on challenging situations. Thanks to technology, we can connect no matter where in the world you are. (I wonder if they have WiFi in Wonderland?) Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to connecting with you!

Until next time, may your days be filled with creative opportunities to connect.

It is solely a device of the ego to make you feel different from your brothers and separated from them.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-6.II.3.3

Finding Joy on a Hot Summer Day

As I mentioned last week, I spent the 4th of July holiday playing at Disney World with two fun friends from New Mexico. I’ll be honest. When they first suggested that week, I was a little hesitant to say yes. In my experience, being in the parks during the first week of July is not only extremely hot but also extremely crowded.

When I performed in parades at the Magic Kingdom many years ago, the 4th of July was typically a day when the parks reached capacity and they stopped letting people in. As we danced down Main Street, USA, people were packed so tightly together that it truly seemed like there wasn’t room for one more human. For that reason, I usually avoid Disney on holidays.

However, plans had been set in motion, and with our busy summer schedules, this was the best time for my friends to visit. I decided to surrender and trust we would have a good time regardless of the crowds. It was really about spending quality time together and not about riding every ride.

I’m so glad I didn’t let my fear or past experience keep me from joining my friends. We had such a great time both inside and outside the parks! And to my utter surprise, the crowds were remarkably sparse and the wait times were not that long.

On July 3, our first morning at Epcot, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in France was temporarily closed when we arrived at 9 AM. That line gets longer as the day goes on, so we decided to head toward that side of the park anyway and trust it would reopen soon. Sure enough, by the time we made our way around World Showcase Lagoon, it had just reopened! Because it had been down, there weren’t many people in line yet. We waited less than 15 minutes to be “shrunk down” to mouse size with Remy. What a great way to start our Disney adventure! 

On the 4th of July, the day I inaccurately predicted to be the busiest, we arrived at the Disney Hollywood Studios when the park opened at 9 AM and made a beeline for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It’s one of the most innovative and immersive attractions Disney Imagineers have ever created, and therefore one of the most popular. In the past, guests had to jump through technological hoops on the app at 7 AM and still wait for hours to get on that ride. Not us. We walked right on! I guess you could say that “The Force” was with us!

All kidding aside, I do think there was a force at work that day, and throughout our vacation, perhaps similar to the one talked about in the popular science fiction franchise. It was the force of love and joy that connects us all. Each day, before entering the parks, the 3 of us held hands and took a moment to set an intention and say a prayer. 

Our intention was to be the presence of peace, love, and joy wherever we went. And when we experienced joy, to extend that joyful energy out to the collective consciousness and across the globe wherever it was needed. I imagine it like a radio station sending out music through the airwaves in all directions. The intention is very similar to the fireworks visualization I shared last week. (Click here to read about that if you missed it.)

It may sound silly or “woo woo,” but I always feel better when I set that intention. And I can honestly say things do seem to flow better since I started this practice over 20 years ago. Many different spiritual teachings concur that the Universe responds in miraculous ways when our desires are in alignment with the greater good and not just for ourselves. 

So many times during our Disney trip, we arrived at an attraction or a show just as it was about to begin. Even when we had to wait a little bit, it was nice to rest a while and cool off in an air-conditioned lobby.

One striking example occurred at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when we were waiting for the 11 o’clock performance of Festival of the Lion King. I asked the cast member at the door what he thought our chances were of getting into that show based on our place in line. His response…“Not good.” We couldn’t believe our luck when they cut the line directly behind us making us the last 3 guests to enter the theater. But then again, that kind of luck was becoming usual.

That’s not to say everything fell into place exactly as we had hoped. Of course, we missed a few things and hit some obstacles, but we never let it discourage us. Like a GPS, we simply adjusted our course and moved on to something else that would bring us joy.

Speaking of joy, one of the highlights of our trip was meeting Joy from Pixar’s Inside Out and Inside Out 2. I loved the first film, but I haven’t seen the sequel yet. If the box office records that it’s setting are any indication, I think I will love the second one as much as the first. 

Inside Out was a funny, clever, and thought-provoking movie that gave us a glimpse into the inner workings of a teenage girl’s mind. We saw how different emotions like Joy, Sadness, and Anger colored her many life experiences. Since Joy was our guiding force for this trip, not to mention one of our favorite Pixar characters, we had to stop and get a photo with her! 

I loved the opportunity to embrace Joy and tell her that I take her with me everywhere I go. For those who have experienced Family Constellations, you will understand why that felt significant and why I was so happy to get that photo as a reminder. 

Obviously, you don’t need to be at a theme park or on vacation to practice this. It works well in everyday life, too. When I set the intention to be the presence of peace, love, and joy wherever I go, and extend those energies out to the world, not only do I feel better, but things flow better. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself and see what happens. You may find yourself experiencing more miracles than you thought possible. And when bumps in the road occur, and they always do, you will be much more prepared to navigate them. 

If you would like some assistance with this, please consider giving yourself the gift of a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you see things from a new perspective allowing more joy to flow into your life. Pleae look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to creating joy with you!

Until next time, may you seize every opportunity to embrace JOY!

You can no more pray for yourself alone than you can find joy for yourself alone.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-9.II.6:1

Bursts of Light in the Sky

Last week, here in the U.S. we celebrated Independence Day with fireworks displays all around the country. Several years ago, a visualization dropped into my mind that has enhanced my experience of fireworks ever since. I felt inspired to share it with you here in hopes that it will enhance your experience too. 

It’s very simple. Whenever I watch a fireworks display, I imagine that each burst of color in the sky lights up the heart of someone somewhere on the planet who is experiencing darkness, sadness, or suffering. With all the sad news happening around the world these days, extending light and joy is more important than ever. And since we are all connected, I know it has an effect. If nothing else, it has one on me. 

The 4th of July has passed, but I invite you to try it the next time you see fireworks. Notice how you feel when you have this intention. I especially love the grand finale when the bursts of light explode so rapidly and consistently that there is no possible way to count them all. As the sky fills with light and color, I am filled with gratitude thinking about all the hearts being touched. It’s a powerful image that often makes my eyes well up with tears.

Speaking of Independence Day, would you like to be free of unconscious loyalties and family patterns that keep you from the happy, healthy, prosperous life you were meant to live? Give yourself the gift of a Private Family Constellations Session. Thanks to the Internet, we can meet online no matter where you are in the world. Please visit the Constellations Page on my website for more information or to book a session. I look forward to sharing this miraculous and liberating process with you!

The power of one mind can shine into another, because all the lamps of God were lit by the same spark.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-10.IV.7:5

Zen Master Gus

My recent trip to Montana was a blessing in so many ways. Being in that beautiful part of the country brought back many fond memories of attending the annual Big Sky Retreat since 2014. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with longtime friends from that retreat and make some new ones. One of those new friends was a Zen Master named Gus. You might be surprised to learn that Gus has four legs, floppy ears, and is very good at tail wagging. 

The cute little guy in the photo above lives in the house with two of the friends I was visiting. Gus seemed to really enjoy the puppy massages I gave him. While watching the Tony Awards, he jumped on the couch next to me and let me work on him for most of the show. He would reposition himself occasionally to allow better access to his back or hips and groaned to let me know when I found the right spot. It was quite adorable. 

Although that behavior is pretty typical, I can honestly say Gus is unlike any dog I have ever met. Most dogs on walks are either constantly pulling the leash to keep going or they stop for long periods of time to sniff something on the ground. 

Not Gus. When I joined him and his Uncle Charles on their walks, he seemed to be in no hurry at all. He sniffed the ground occasionally, but mostly he just walked at a very casual pace. Then, for no apparent reason, Gus would stand motionless and gaze off into the distance. Was he smelling something in the air or seeing something we couldn’t? In any case, he stopped for minutes at a time just taking in all that was occurring around him.

He did this several times during every walk no matter the time of day or how cold it was outside. Yes, it was cold in June. The temperature dipped into the 30s at night and there was a Winter Weather Advisory while I was there. Not funny, Mother Nature!

Anyway, during these pensive moments, Gus made it very clear that he was not interested in moving. He actively resisted the gentle tug of the leash when we tried to prompt him to keep going. It was both comical and fascinating to witness. 

I discussed this behavior with Charles, who takes Gus for about 3 walks daily.  We both agree that this little guy is a great teacher. He was reminding us how important it is to stop, be present, and take it all in. Inspiration and Peace are made welcome in the stillness. Gus has mastered this. That’s how he earned the name Zen Master Gus! 

Before I flew home, the 3 of us took one last walk together. That morning, Gus was very clear that he wanted to turn left and go up the road instead of our usual right turn down the hill. Not long into our walk, Gus suddenly stopped for one of his “reflective moments.” In the distance, we spotted a large elk walking up the hill into a small cluster of trees.

Moments later, we spotted a deer moving cautiously in that direction before she disappeared into the same cluster of trees. What a gift to see these two magnificent creatures on our last Zen walk together. According to the Native American teachings I study, elk brings the energy of “stamina” and deer brings the energy of “gentleness.” Thank you, Gus, for leading us in that direction to receive those blessings!

Now that I’m home, I found a way to incorporate what I learned from Gus into my morning walk along Sarasota Bay. Since my intention is to do cardio and get my heart pumping while being in nature, it’s not practical to stop during my walk. But afterward, I take extra time to sit by the water’s edge and be still, just taking in my beautiful surroundings.

The other day, while sitting motionless, a snowy egret landed on a rock just a few feet from me. I loved his company and his message to pay attention to what’s going on beneath the surface. In addition to his love, this time of stillness is another gift from Zen Master Gus.

Are you having a difficult time finding moments of stillness? I would be honored to assist you with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions where I will share tools and practices that have helped me find peace in challenging situations. Often challenges come from ancestral patterns of which we are not aware. Family Constellations are a miraculous way to release these unconscious loyalties so you can be free. Please look around my website for more information about these healing opportunities and to book a session.  

Until next time, may you follow Gus’s lead and take a moment of stillness whenever you can. 

The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-16.VII.6:5

Ten Years of Inspiration and Light

Here we are in June of 2024. It’s hard to believe I shared my very first story on Facebook 10 years ago this month. I find it interesting that I chose to write about a vision I had during a meditation as my first offering. It was a vulnerable experience to share, but the message was so beautiful that I had to share it. I posted that story on June 25, 2014, and have been writing stories fairly consistently ever since.

At the time, I didn’t have a plan on what to write about or how often to share them. It was just an urge to share what life is teaching me in hopes it would be helpful to someone else as well. Not long after that, I began sending the stories via email to those who had attended my Family Constellations Workshops, A Course in Miracles study groups, or were past or present Spiritual Coaching clients. Ten years later, I’m still writing stories that I hope are both helpful and entertaining.

It brings me great joy to hear from a recipient when something I shared was precisely the message they needed in that moment. It’s also been a great place to hone my writing skills while learning to trust that I will be guided on what to share each week. I will admit there are weeks I have no idea what to write about, but something always emerges.

To celebrate this milestone, I’m sharing that story from June 25, 2014, below. The image I received during that meditation was powerful yet very fun and playful. It might be a little too “woo-woo” for some, but as I wrote above, the last 10 years have taught me to trust my guidance on what to share each week. I’m trusting this message will be exactly what someone needs to receive.

One more thing before we get to those three short paragraphs. In this story, I use the word God. These days, I usually choose other words to describe the Presence of Unconditional Love because I know that word can be triggering or a turn-off for some. If that’s the case for you, please exchange that word for Love, Spirit, the Universe, the Divine, or whatever works for you. 

I’m laughing at myself because my introduction is longer than the actual story! Here’s what I shared ten years ago:

I was meditating at Bridges of Wellness last Wednesday just prior to facilitating “The Mystic in You.” I had an amazing vision of rising up on a cloud to a luminescent temple in the sky. The masonry of this temple was glowing with a golden-white light. As I walked down a column-lined corridor in the expansive main chamber, I noticed angels hovering on each side watching me make my way toward the altar. It felt like I was on my way to meet God. 

​It occurred to me that this was an old belief system that my Source was somewhere outside of myself; a destination to be reached. In that moment, a brilliant burst of light emanated from my heart and all the angels began circling me. The temple was filled with light and all of the angels had huge smiles on their faces.  

I got the impression they had just played a practical joke on me. “Indeed the light is within, John, not somewhere outside of you!” As they were laughing, one by one, a similar burst of light exploded from each of their hearts. This was to remind me that we all carry that light within. When we remember this, we remember where our power truly is.

That’s it! That’s the experience I had 10 years ago. With so much division and fear swirling around the world these days, remembering our true power and the light we carry may be even more important now.

Speaking of The Light We Carry, that happens to be the title of Michelle Obama’s latest book. I haven’t read it, but I have seen it referenced more than once over the last few days. And here is that phrase again in something I wrote 10 years ago. That’s usually Spirit’s way of telling me to pay attention. There is a message here for you, John. Below are two quotes from her book that jumped out at me. 

“When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it.”

“One light feeds another. One strong family lends strength to more. One engaged community can ignite those around it. This is the power of the light we carry.”

I would be honored to assist you in recognizing the powerful light you carry with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions. It would be my great joy to share some of the tools and shifts in perception that have helped me reclaim my light. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session

In the meantime, click here to enjoy a song by India Arie to help you remember the truth about yourself and the light you carry. 

The light in one awakens it in all.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-21.I.10:6

A Chorus of Grateful Frogs

What a relief to see and hear rain falling again here on the west coast of Florida after so many weeks without it. We had a powerful thunderstorm early Monday morning, and then it began to rain again after sunset. It was interesting to observe how the rain both calmed and uplifted my spirit simultaneously.

That night, as the gentle rain continued to fall, a chorus of frogs began to croak. I imagined they were singing a song of gratitude for their little pond being replenished. This is the first time I’ve heard frogs since I moved here, and wow, were they loud! It gave the evening a mystical quality, like being in the middle of a rainforest.

With more rain in the forecast the following morning, I woke up early hoping to get my walk in before it started. No such luck. As soon as I began walking, the clouds rolled in and a few water droplets fell from the sky. Ten minutes into my walk, it was lightly raining, but not a torrential downpour. 

It was a moment of decision. I could abandon my walk, run back to my car, and spare myself from getting wetter. Or I could keep going, but if the skies opened up while I traversed the bridge over Sarasota Bay, the only way back was to cross that bridge again. There was a distinct possibility that I would be completely drenched before getting back to my car. 

Play it safe or take a chance? Isn’t this a question we ask ourselves in some way, shape, or form all the time?

My desire to move my body was stronger than my desire to stay dry, so I kept walking across the bridge. Gratefully, the rain never got too intense. Yes, I got wet. But I actually enjoyed feeling the rain on my skin after the long dry spell we’ve had.

My ridiculously wide-brimmed sun protection hat blocked most of the rain from my head and face so my AirPods stayed dry. I decided to leave my phone in my pocket to keep it as dry as possible. I asked Siri to play my favorite Dance Music playlist so I wouldn’t have to take out my phone. Songs from this playlist always put a little pep in my step. 

Unfortunately, Siri misheard me and played Dance Songs 6 instead of Dance Songs 8. (Yes, I have quite a few different dance music playlists.) Rather than fight it, I decided to surrender and listen to Playlist 6. I rarely listen to this one, so it was fun to hear songs I hadn’t heard in many years! It also brought back a few fun memories.

In many ways, this was not the walk I had envisioned, but it turned out quite nicely. The rain let up by the time I crossed the bridge a second time, and completely stopped for my favorite 15 minutes at the end where the path is closest to the water. I’m so grateful I made the choice to keep going even though the conditions were not ideal. I would have missed out on the exercise and the memories. 

It was a good reminder that life is not always blue skies and sunshine when I want it to be. When challenges arise, I’ve learned it’s best to pause and take a moment to assess the situation. How do I want to feel? What choice will move me in that direction? In this case, I would have been more disappointed not getting exercise than getting wet.

I realize missing a morning walk is not a big deal, but I have practiced these same steps during much more challenging times with surprisingly peaceful results. Sometimes the guidance is to keep going. Sometimes it’s best to try another path. Here’s the good news. Neither is wrong. They are just choices. And you can always make another one! 

Are you finding yourself at a crossroads? Could you use some assistance in practicing these steps? I would be honored to be your guide with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session

Until next time, I’ll be walking with you in spirit and in the rain…

Think about the kind of day you want, and tell yourself there is a way in which this very day can happen just like that.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-30.I.1:8

Little Shifts

When you read “Little Shifts” in the subject line, I hope you didn’t confuse that with what my mother used to call us when we were being mischievous. Don’t worry. She said it with love. Mostly. As adults, we joke about it all the time. 

No, the little shifts I’m talking about are the seemingly insignificant changes I’ve made lately. Although small, I trust they are shifting the flow of energy in some way that will yield unexpected benefits. 

For example, after 10 months of living in this apartment, all of a sudden, I started reaching for the wrong kitchen drawer for silverware. Why now, after all this time? I don’t know. You would think my brain would be on autopilot for a task like this. 

Rather than fight the inclination, I decided to relocate the silverware tray to that drawer and place the large kitchen utensils in what was the silverware drawer. Occasionally, I find myself opening the wrong drawer for a kitchen knife, but this setup feels better for some reason. If I have learned anything from my friend Dorena, the Space Doula, it’s that making small changes in your home can create space for miraculous changes in your life. For now, I’m leaving the drawers that way. Let’s see what happens! 

In this same week, my navigation app started guiding me to use the back entrance of my apartment complex to the street I travel frequently. At first, I was reluctant to try the new way. The route I had been traveling for 10 months was perfectly adequate and seemed to be the most direct. But after the drawer swap, I decided to give the new route a try. 

Lo and behold, it actually saves time because it avoids a very long traffic light. I have been enjoying a smoother and quicker trip to Sarasota Bay every morning for my walk. Again, it is a seemingly insignificant shift, but it feels better!

So here’s to little shifts everywhere! Maybe there is a little shift that wants to happen in your daily routine. If you’re like me, you might be resistant or simply unaware that something else might flow better. But with a dash of mindfulness, willingness, and openness, perhaps you can get the energy moving in a new and exciting direction. 

That’s exactly what we do in Family Constellations. I would be honored to help you shift the energy in your family dynamics so you can release intergenerational patterns that no longer serve. After 11 years of doing this work, I am still in awe of the healing that happens in one 2-hour session. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session

And if the energy in your home needs shifting, please consider giving yourself the gift of a session with my friend Dorena, the Space Doula. She works with the energy in spaces much like I work with the energy in families. Her extensive knowledge of feng shui, years of space-clearing training with Denise Linn, and laser-beam intuition combine to help reveal energetic blocks that keep you from your heart’s desires. She has helped set me up for success in all areas of my life in every space where I have lived since I met her! Visit her website and take her free quiz to get an idea of her brilliant work at SpaceDoula.com.

Until next time, may you discover and implement little shifts that lead to big, beautiful changes.

There is no order of difficulty in miracles.

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

The Most Romantic and Fearful Dance of My Life

The first weekend of June is upon us, and I’ve been thinking about a celebration that happens every year at this time that brings up lots of memories. Since 1991, members of the LGBTQ+ Community have gathered at the Walt Disney World Resort on the first weekend in June to kick off Pride Month. “Gay Days,” as it’s called, is not officially promoted or sponsored by Disney, but I have no doubt the company enjoys the boost in attendance and revenue every June. You’ll find lots of rainbow merchandise in the gift shops this month. 

It started small with approximately 3,000 participants at the Magic Kingdom on that Saturday. In the years that followed, it quickly grew to a multiple-day, multiple-park event attracting over 100,000 participants. I worked in the Entertainment Department during what was probably the height of the event’s popularity, and it was unquestionably the best day to be a performer. The energy we received from the crowd that day was probably more than we received on the other 364 days combined!  

Throughout the event, LGBTQ+ community members wear red shirts to identify themselves. The Magic Kingdom is still the designated theme park for Saturday, and the designated spot to gather for the 3 o’clock parade is “Castle Hub.” That’s the plaza area in front of Cinderella Castle where the pathways extend out like spokes of a wheel to all the other lands. Because of the high volume of LGBTQ+ attendees, guests wearing red shirts fill the entire hub and extend down Main Street, USA. It’s quite something to witness!

My first year performing on that Saturday in the Magic Kingdom, I had the unique privilege of being Pluto, Mickey Mouse’s beloved dog, in the Mickey Mania Parade. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when our float made the left turn in front of the castle. There was an ocean of red shirts as far as the eye could see. The exuberant cheers from the crowd sent lightning bolts of energy all through my body. I’m guessing it was a fraction of what Madonna feels when she takes the stage at one of her massive stadium concerts. It was intoxicating! To show his appreciation, Pluto danced his puppy tail off for the joyful red shirt-wearing revelers! 

The next time I experienced that rush of energy was in 1997, but the circumstances were a little different. We were performing a new parade called “Remember the Magic” to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World. Floats and characters from some of Disney’s most beloved animated films were featured in this new parade. 

For the first time in the park’s history, the entire procession of floats came to a stop 5 times during the parade. Guests were invited to come out onto the street to dance with us during these “show stops.” The performers sought out willing participants to join the fun and learn simple dance steps to be part of the show. Performing in that parade was always unique because you never knew who you would get as a dance partner. 

I was thrilled when I showed up to work that day and saw my name on the parade sign-in sheet next to my friend Shannon’s. We were one of six couples in Cinderella’s Royal Court, the unit that led the parade. We danced in front of an enormous castle float carrying Cinderella, Prince Charming, Mickey, Minnie and their pals. 

Our costumes were gorgeous! The women wore elegant white ball gowns with blue and gold trim, while the men wore matching white embroidered jackets with silver and gold epaulets. Imagine the Fairy Godmother collaborating with the Bridgerton costume designers and you’ve got the right idea. It was one of my favorite roles in the parade because the choreography was extremely fun and the costume made me feel regal. 

As we waved and promenaded across the bridge next to Cinderella Castle, Shannon and I could hear the volume of the red-shirt-clad crowd getting louder and louder. It was exhilarating. We were both smiling ear to ear for the opportunity to dance together in our favorite role on that special day.  

Once the castle float made the left turn in front of the castle, it stopped for our 4th show stop. All the parade supervisors were on duty that day, and they gave us very specific instructions before the parade stepped off. Treat this like any other day in the park. Male court dancers were to select female partners from the crowd, and female court dancers were to select male partners. They would be stationed all along the parade route to ensure there were no transgressions.

Little did I know, I was about to transgress. My partner (I’ll call him Eric) and I had been together for 4 years at that point. Eric loved to take videos with a handheld camcorder. Younger readers may have to Google that. This story happened way before people captured every moment of their lives on smartphones to post on social media. 

Anyway, Eric had strategically stationed himself in front of the castle among the throngs of red shirts to get a video of his boyfriend performing in the parade on Gay Days. Unbeknownst to me, he had another agenda. A gay agenda, if you will. When the parade stopped, he handed his video camera to the woman next to him and asked her to please keep filming. As he walked onto the street toward us, I thought, “Oh no! What is he doing?!?”

Before I could even think about choosing another dance partner, Eric joined hands with Shannon and me, and the three of us waltzed to “So This Is Love” for just a few beats. Quite unexpectedly, Shannon broke away from us to find her own dance partner, leaving Eric and me dancing with each other. The crowd went crazy!  

The swell of cheers and applause was deafening. Who knew two men dancing together in front of Cinderella Castle would elicit such a response? I’m feeling tingles through my body just writing about it. Unfortunately, the only thing I felt in that moment was dread. The first thought that entered my mind was, “I wonder if Universal Studios is hiring?” I’m not making that up. I actually asked myself that question.

I know. I know. Eric had orchestrated an incredibly romantic gesture. Not to mention an empowering and affirming moment for us and all the members of the LGBTQ+ community who witnessed it. Instead of savoring the experience of love and support, I let fear completely hijack the moment. I was furious with Eric for putting my job at risk with this stunt!

For the rest of the parade, I was sweating it out. Not because it was a hot summer day but because I wondered which parade supervisor had seen us dancing and when would I be called to the office for disciplinary action and possible dismissal. Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy the last show stop or finishing the parade.

Would you like to know what happened after that? I’ll tell you. Absolutely nothing. No one said a word to me about it. No reprimand from a supervisor. No call to the office. Not even a bad show note from the staging specialists. Nothing! 

When I look back on this from a higher perspective, this shouldn’t surprise me. Being gay in the Entertainment Department was not a big deal. The parade supervisors were either gay or gay allies. Yes, they did their due diligence and told us to pick a partner of the opposite gender, but if any of them had seen what happened, they probably would have been cheering too! 

Maybe none of them did see what happened. There were so many people jammed into that area it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to find a spot to watch from there. So all my worrying and all that anger was for nothing. I let fear ruin what could have been the most romantic and joyful dance of my life.  

I never did see the footage from Eric’s camera, but I would probably be embarrassed to see fear and anger on my face instead of joy and gratitude. I try to live without regrets. Every choice is a learning opportunity, and each one has led me to where I am now. Even so, this choice comes dangerously close to falling into the regret category. 

Yet, I certainly learned a profound lesson from this experience. It taught me how powerful fear can be if we let it lead the way. It can sabotage even the most uniquely joyful moments. As A Course in Miracles teaches, fear and love are mutually exclusive thought systems. If one is in control, there is no room for the other. As I often invite representatives to say during a Family Constellations session, “If I could do it differently, I would.” And in the immortal words of the seemingly immortal gay icon, Cher: “If I could turn back time!”  

Perhaps my story will help you choose love over fear the next time you find yourself in a heightened experience. It would be my great honor to give you some tools to help with that in a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or to create a new story during a Family Constellations Session. Please look around my website for more information or to book a session with my automated scheduler. I look forward to helping you choose love more consistently.

Happy Pride Month!

Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love…

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

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

I’ve been having very intense dreams in the early morning hours lately. I know my unconscious mind is working out something because, in these dreams, I’m doing a lot of problem-solving. While I can’t recall specific details, I know that the dreams are filled with challenging situations involving an assortment of characters and settings from my past. 

I’m aware that in the state between sleeping and waking, I still feel very upset and unsettled. When I am fully awake, I am relieved to discover whatever challenge I faced in the dream is gone. When it happened again the other day, I realized that these dreams have been giving me a simple but powerful reminder.

If I want to feel better, I need to stop giving my attention to thoughts and things that take away my peace, and there seems to be no shortage of those lately. After these stressful dreams when I realize I am safe in my bed, the anxious feeling fades away. Before doing anything else, I infuse my mind with peaceful, loving thoughts by reading a section or a lesson from A Course in Miracles. It helps anchor me in my right mind before I continue my day.

Sure, it may seem easy to dismiss upsetting circumstances when they occur in a dream, but what about dealing with them in the so-called “real world”? Whether awake or asleep, it’s ultimately still a story, and we react to them similarly. For a deeper discussion on this topic, join us for our weekly online A Course in Miracles Study Group on Tuesdays.

Regardless of their origin, I do my best to identify the thoughts that bring up fear. Then, I ask Spirit to help me see them differently. It’s simple, but not always easy. Especially when fearful thoughts have been running on well-worn pathways in my mind for years, decades, or in some cases, my entire life. 

No matter how long they’ve been there, I truly believe it’s possible to break the pattern and think new thoughts. That’s exactly what Family Constellations can help with. It’s not about making the old thought wrong. It’s about “expanding the landscape,” as my teacher Suzi Tucker often says. When we have more context for the story, we have the opportunity to see the situation from a higher perspective. Then we can make a different choice on how to move forward.

Jeremy Renner, the actor who survived a near-fatal snow plow accident last year, recently shared his story and what he learned from the experience on the Tonight Show. I was very moved by how he described his recovery process. He echoed what I’ve been pondering over the last few weeks. He credits his survival to being mindful of which thoughts he chose during that extreme situation. (Click here or to watch his conversation with Jimmy Fallon.)

And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that choosing a new thought is always as easy as flipping a light switch. Sometimes those thoughts and beliefs are buried deep in the subconscious mind and we don’t have easy access to them. Luckily, we don’t have to do this work alone. There’s no shame in seeking help. It’s one of the most courageous and self-loving decisions you can make.

I would be honored to assist you in creating a new story and a new path forward with a private Family Constellations Session. Thanks to technology, you can experience this powerful healing modality online, regardless of where in the world you live. Please contact me or look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to working with you.

Until next time, may your thoughts be peaceful and your dreams be happy.

The only way to dispel illusions is to withdraw all investment from them, and they will have no life for you because you will have put them out of your mind.

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

Trusting the Timing

My sister, Gail, is in town for a visit this week. She takes daily exercise walks too, so it’s been nice to have her company during my morning walk along Sarasota Bay. Walking with her again reminded me of something that happened last spring when she was here. We began walking under clear blue skies with a few puffy white clouds floating overhead. About 20 minutes later, we both noticed a very dark, ominous-looking storm cloud in the distance. And it was heading our way!

Since we were already quite a distance from where I parked the car, we decided to keep going and take a chance that we might get wet. No big deal. We have both walked in the rain before. A little water wouldn’t hurt us.

Well, things got ugly very quickly. The gray storm cloud got bigger and began releasing a few raindrops on us just as we finished crossing a large bridge. As soon as we walked underneath that bridge, the skies opened up and sheets of water pummeled the ground. Other walkers and joggers scrambled to take cover under the bridge, but we were already safely sheltered from the storm. 

As we watched Mother Nature’s show, we commented on how lucky we were to be under the bridge at the precise moment when the torrential downpour began. Had we started our walk five minutes earlier or five minutes later, we would have been drenched! I mentioned to my sister that this experience felt significant given the week were were having.

We had been waiting for some things to fall into place, but everything was moving slower than the sloths in Disney’s Zootopia. (If you don’t know this reference, click this link to see an amusing video clip.) This occurrence under the bridge was a powerful reminder to trust the timing and let everything fall into place as it should. That day we were protected from the storm.

After a few minutes, the storm cloud passed, the rain stopped, and the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds. We resumed our walk in the sunshine with a bit more pep in our step, grateful for the shelter and the reminder.

Yes, we do our part to keep things moving along in the direction of our intentions, but once we’ve done our part, it’s best to let go and stop trying to push the river. Experience has taught me that trying to manipulate things to go faster rarely helps. In fact, it only makes me more frustrated. It feels much more peaceful to trust that things are unfolding for the highest good, even when it doesn’t appear that way. When I keep following my heart and not the paralyzing voice of fear, a way forward is revealed. 

Not surprisingly, this is the message I needed to hear this week so I’m trusting it will be helpful to some of you reading this as well. It can be frustrating when changes we desire seem to be moving at a sloth’s pace. Remembering the story about the rainstorm and the bridge has helped me to relax and trust that everything is unfolding perfectly. Something tells me I’ll be needing this reminder many more times!

Are you having a difficult time trusting the timing of events in your life? I would be honored to help you discern what’s yours to do and what’s yours to release with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both are excellent ways to see the bigger picture and return to peace. Please look around my website to learn more or to book a session with my automated scheduler. No matter where you live, we can meet online to do this healing work using Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. I look forward to working with you! 

Your passage through time and space is not at random. You cannot but be in the right place at the right time.

A Course in Miracles ~ W-42.2:3-4

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