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

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

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

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