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

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

Broken Doors, Bad Burritos, and Second Chances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Joyful Airport Song

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

In April of 2017, I wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Gratitude, and Healing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Course in Miracles ~ W-195.10:2

What a Gift!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Course in Miracles ~ W-166.13:1

Laughing at Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving Up Love

An abundance of mints and a message from mom.

It took me two weeks to share the many miracles that helped me acquire the new laptop I’m using to type this story. However, there was a bonus miracle at the end of that journey which I’d like to share with you now. It involved an Earth Angel serving up love along with soup, salad, and breadsticks. 

As you might have guessed, this story takes place at the Olive Garden. There was an OG right down the road from Best Buy where I picked up my laptop. One of my sisters had given me a gift card, so I decided to celebrate my new computer with the aforementioned soup, salad, and breadsticks. 

It was only 11:15 AM, but there were already quite a few customers in the section where I was seated. From the conversations I overheard, many of them were regulars. I quickly noticed how kind and caring my server was to everyone in her section…even when that kindness was not reciprocated.

There was no “please” or “thank you” from either of the two young men sitting behind me. When she passed by their booth, one yelled, “More soup!” With the same cheerful tone in which she greeted me, she replied, “Of course, sweeties! What kind are you having?” Once they confirmed it was the Chicken & Gnocchi, she disappeared into the kitchen and returned with two fresh bowls.

I ordered the Minestrone, and this exceptional server returned with a bowl chock full of more vegetables than I’d ever received during any previous visit. She happily reported, “It’s a fresh batch and I loaded you up with all the good stuff!” She certainly did! 

The woman sitting by herself in the booth across from me didn’t have much to say when our server tried to engage her in conversation. That didn’t stop her from treating the woman like a dear friend. At the end of her meal, she asked if she had a purse…then promptly deposited a handful of Olive Garden’s signature mints on the table. “I’m only supposed to give you one or two, but they’re so good!” 

I couldn’t hear how the woman responded to all those mints, but I did hear her softly decline the offer of fresh breadsticks to take home. When she fumbled with a gift card, the server took extra time to help her with it and to show her how much was left after today’s meal. It truly was a joy to witness this loving exchange.

But what touched me the most was how this beautiful soul said goodbye to each of her customers. She gently took their hand, looked them directly in the eyes, and said, “It was an honor serving you today. I hope you come back and see me.” And I believe she meant every word! 

After watching her do this a few times, I had to tell her how moved I was by her ability to be so loving, compassionate, and present with each customer. She truly was an Earth Angel, and I felt compelled to share that with her. She thanked me for the compliment and said it was easy for her because she loved people.

She went on to tell me how she managed a restaurant for years, then retired early to care for her aging mother. After her mom passed, she was sad and bored, so she decided to go back to work part-time. She felt this job would be an easy and enjoyable way to make a little extra money given her restaurant experience. Her love of people was crystal clear, and I felt blessed to be seated in her section to receive it. 

Earlier, this Earth Angel had left an abundance of chocolate mints on my table. It made me smile because my mother loved those mints as much, if not more, than her meal. It felt like a wink from my mom. She was letting me know that she was with me and telling me not to worry about the expense of a new computer. I will receive all the abundance I need to pay for it.

Before leaving, I quietly thanked the server for the mints and shared the loving message from my mom. No hand-holding for me. This sweet woman, who was of the same generation as my mom, opened her arms to give me a loving motherly embrace.

My heart was full as I walked to my car. I was grateful for the miracles of the last few days, but especially for the blessing I had just received from that Earth Angel at the Olive Garden. 

Would you like to experience more miracles and blessings in your life? I would be honored to assist you in opening your heart to them with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you release unconscious blocks and old patterns that prevent you from the happy, healthy, prosperous life you were meant to live. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to working with you!

Until next time, may that server inspire you to choose love more and more frequently. I know she has inspired me!  

Joy is unlimited, because each shining thought of love extends its being and creates more of itself.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-22.VI.14:8

Peace in the Darkness

Our family cat, Cleo, comforted me during some tough times.

Last weekend, I had another opportunity to witness what’s possible when I keep choosing peace despite the presence of obstacles. The screen on my laptop went dark while I was talking on the phone Saturday night. When I tapped the space bar to bring it out of idle mode, nothing happened. I clicked the touchpad a few times. Still no response. 

The screen had been sluggish the last few weeks. Sometimes it took up to 30 seconds, but it eventually came back on. This was an unusually long lag time. I waited and then tapped a few more keys. Still nothing. “Uh oh,” I thought. This might be it.

My laptop had been giving me signs that the end was near for quite a while. In addition to the sluggish screen, it was taking longer and longer to open an app or a document. The speakers blew out 2 years ago, making the sound so scratchy and tinny that I had to use my AirPods for Zoom calls.

A few months later, my computer stopped connecting to my AirPods or any Bluetooth device for that matter. If I wanted to Zoom, listen to music, or watch videos, I had to use earbuds that connected with a cord. It was not ideal, but it worked.

Perhaps the most telling sign that it was time to retire the laptop was the rattling noise it made when it had been running for a while. Sometimes when the rattling got very loud, I gave the base a loving thump to get the noise to stop. I felt like Fonzie from the TV show “Happy Days!”

Yes, I knew I would be investing in a new computer soon. I just wasn’t expecting it to be last weekend! In the past, I might have had a “freakout” moment thinking about lost data and the hefty price tag of a new computer. I was concerned, but I never had the freakout moment. Almost two decades of studying and practicing A Course in Miracles helped make that possible. Since I remained peaceful, I was able to follow guidance on what to do and where to go. 

My screen was still dark, so I could not go back to what I was working on. The guidance I received was to let the computer charge overnight and try again in the morning. Now that I had some unexpected free time, I grabbed my phone to research which Apple computer would best suit my needs if I had to buy a new one. The new 15“ MacBook Air looked like the best choice given everything I read online. Even though they are expensive, I knew I wanted to stick with an Apple product. 

The last time I bought a computer, I opened an Apple credit card with 0% interest for the first 12 months. That allowed me to pay for it gradually over the next year. It looked like I might be able to do this again since I closed that account two years ago. This possibility made buying a new laptop feel more doable. There was nothing else I could do that night, so I turned off my phone, spoke a prayer for guidance, and went to bed. 

I will admit I did not have the most restful sleep that night. I woke up before 4 AM and could not fall back to sleep. My mind kept working out scenarios of what might happen the next day. After reading a few chapters in my book, I was able to return to the land of dreams. 

And what sweet dreams they were! For the first time in I don’t know how long, I dreamt of our family cat, Cleo. In the dream, she curled up on the pillow next to me and began purring. Cleo often kept me company during times of chaos in my childhood. The sound of her purring and her presence was very comforting. It felt like she was telling me everything would be okay. Call it a miracle, a gift of Grace, a visit from Cleo, or a function of my unconscious mind. Whatever it was, I woke up with a peaceful smile on my face. 

After reading my ACIM lesson for the day, I reluctantly got out of bed and prepared a bowl of oatmeal and fresh strawberries. I intentionally avoided my laptop to enjoy that peaceful feeling as long as possible. Alas, I couldn’t avoid it forever. I opened my computer and hit the power key with cheerful expectancy, hoping to hear that famous MacBook chime. Still nothing.

Oh well. Knowing I’d want to be as centered as possible before a visit to the Apple Store, I decided to roll out my yoga mat and do my practice. Focusing my mind was like trying to walk a Doberman in a forest of squirrels. My thoughts ran in multiple directions trying to envision what might happen with my laptop situation. I had to keep bringing my attention back to my breath. It was quite comical to observe, yet I was still remarkably calm.

When I finished my practice, something told me to give the keyboard one more tap before packing up the laptop. To my surprise, the screen lit up right away! I was stunned and grateful! Now, I could complete a time-sensitive task, and then back up my hard drive.

I found the external hard drive in my desk, but the cord that connected it to my laptop was not with it. I consider myself to be a very organized and detail-oriented person, so the cord not being in the same drawer was highly unusual. I found several other cords, but none of them had the correct connectors. It was frustrating, but I had to laugh. The one cord I needed was MIA. There was no reason to panic. I simply needed to go to Best Buy to purchase that cord. 

Since one of my favorite Mexican restaurants is near Best Buy, I decided to go there for lunch before buying the cord. While waiting for my burrito, I did a little more laptop research on my phone and narrowed it down to my top choice. That’s when I remembered Best Buy sells Apple products. I could check out that laptop while I was there. If I liked it, once I had the right cord, I could complete the backup and then go to the Apple Store the following day to make the purchase. This seemed like a great plan! 

What a scavenger hunt to find the cord I needed among a wall of boxes containing all sorts of cords and connectors! Perseverance paid off. With my prize in hand, I walked over to the Apple computer section. There it was. The 15” MacBook Air that I had been eying online. 

I stood in front of it and began tapping the keyboard. I liked how it felt. The screen and the touchpad were much larger and easier to navigate than my current laptop. I tested the built-in camera because I use Zoom a lot. The video was sharp and clear. When I looked at the specs on the tag next to the computer, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was on sale for $300 off! 

Not having the right cord turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I would never have known about this sale had I not gone to Best Buy. When I went to the front to purchase the cord, I asked the cashier how long the sale was running and he said it ended that day! Well wasn’t that interesting timing?

The cashier put me in a cue to speak with a sales associate, so I had another 15 minutes to play with the laptop. I really liked it! Everything about this felt right until the sales associate arrived. He was a nice enough young man, but he talked very quickly. I told him what I use my computer for most often, and asked him which one would be best for my business. He quickly steered me away from the MacBook Air over to a MacBook Pro. 

I don’t doubt that the Pro is a better machine, but he was rambling on about screen definition and processing power, all of which are not high priorities for me. I just need a computer to host Zoom calls, answer emails, and write these stories. He went on about how the MacBook Air was less sturdy and might overheat because it didn’t have a fan. 

He also told me that I would need an external camera because the built-in camera was not great on the MacBook Air. Gee. It looked fine to me when I was playing around with it earlier. The more he talked, the less peaceful I felt. This young man claimed he didn’t work on commission, and that he was only trying to help me buy the best computer.

That may have been true, but I was still feeling pressured into something that did not feel right. The MacBook Pro has a significantly higher price, and it was not on sale, so there was no advantage to purchasing it right then and there. Thankfully, I have learned to trust my intuition when something feels off. I thanked him for his time and left the store.

I will admit, once I was in my car driving home, I asked Siri if Best Buy employees work on commission. Siri confirmed he was telling the truth, but I still did not resonate with his energy. Even though the sale ended that day and the store closed in an hour, I was not going to rush into a big decision like this from a place of scarcity or fear. 

As I tell my coaching clients all the time, there is no urgency in Spirit. No part of the river rushes past another to get to the ocean. Each droplet of water gets there at the perfect time. 

After that yucky experience, I called a dear friend to share what had happened. She asked if I wanted to talk with her husband because he buys computers for his job quite often. Speaking with him was so helpful. He had not heard of any issues with the MacBook Air overheating. In his opinion, the Air was a better choice for my business needs. 

I did a little more research online and saw only excellent reviews for this machine. The only thing left to do was to take the question into prayer and ask what would be the highest choice. Of all the options, including “wait,” the only answer that felt peaceful was purchasing the MacBook Air on Best Buy’s website before midnight so I could take advantage of the sale. 

Once I had that clarity, everything went smoothly. From the comfort of my own home with no fast-talking salesperson, I purchased the computer for $300 off and was approved for the Best Buy credit card. Like the last one, I will be paying off this computer a little at a time for the next 12 months with no interest. 

Picking up the computer at a different Best Buy location the next morning was so easy. All I had to do was show the cashier my photo ID and the email saying my new laptop was ready for pickup. He stepped away for a moment and returned with a box with my name on it. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.

My heart is filled with gratitude for all of the events that led to me typing this story on a brand-new MacBook Air. Although I love it, the miracle isn’t that I have a new laptop. The real miracle was my ability to remain (mostly) peaceful while navigating the obstacles that popped up. By remaining calm, I was able to receive clear guidance on what to do next. I trusted that everything would be okay, just as Cleo promised when she appeared in my dream.

If you are having a difficult time navigating a stressful situation, it would be my great joy to assist you with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you return to peace where miracles are waiting to happen. Look around my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to working with you. 

A tranquil mind is not a little gift.

A Course in Miracles ~ M-20.4:8

Honoring a Miraculous Friend

I love this photo of Jan and me at a spiritual conference in 2011.

I rarely visit Facebook these days unless I have a specific reason. This weekend, I went on briefly to watch a video that a friend recommended. When I opened up the app on my phone, the first thing that popped up was a post announcing the passing of my beloved friend, Jan, who celebrated her 92nd birthday in November. Her son wrote a beautiful tribute to his mom accompanied by a video taken a few years ago on Christmas morning.

In the video, Jan’s children surprised her with a giant teddy bear that she had seen at Walmart. Apparently, Jan had commented on how adorable and huggable this big stuffed bear looked, never expecting her children to purchase one for her. Well, they did. And the look of sheer delight and surprise on her face followed by a burst of uncontrollable laughter was a delight to watch. What a perfect video to convey the joyful essence of this beautiful soul who touched so many lives. 

Jan and I met in 2011 when the leader of my A Course in Miracles study group asked if I would be willing to give her a ride to our meeting. At 80, Jan was still full of life and spunk, but she wasn’t comfortable driving from her home in North Miami to an unfamiliar neighborhood in Miami Beach. Her house wasn’t far from where I lived, so I happily agreed to take her to our meeting. Looking back, I have no doubt this was a divinely orchestrated meeting. 

I enjoyed my conversations with Jan during our drive as much as the meeting itself. Not only had she been studying the Course for quite a long time, but she also had lived a very interesting life. I loved listening to her stories and her insights. Eventually, we both realized the study group wasn’t a good fit for either of us, so Jan suggested we meet in her living room on Monday afternoons instead. 

What a gift those Monday afternoons turned out to be! I learned so much from her. And I had the honor of introducing Jan to Gary Renard’s book, The Disappearance of the Universe. That’s the book that introduced me to A Course in Miracles. Many Course students credit Gary’s book with helping them simplify and comprehend its often challenging language and concepts. I know I would have been intimidated by the Course had I not read that book first.

Even though Jan was a longtime student, she said Disappearance of the Universe helped her practice the Course on an even deeper level. While sharing something she read that expanded her mind and understanding exponentially, Jan would often say, “John. That really blew my cookie!” I’m smiling as I type these words because I can hear Jan’s voice in my head right now. To this day, I have never heard anyone else use that phrase.

Over a decade later, I still share things I learned from this remarkable woman in my ACIM study groups and with my coaching clients. One of my favorite stories she told was about a time her husband said something that hurt her feelings. Because she was hurt, Jan decided to give him the silent treatment. She went about her business that morning while intentionally avoiding her husband who was reading in the living room. 

A few hours passed, and Jan started to feel badly about her decision to disconnect from her husband. She knew it wasn’t the loving choice, so she walked into the living room to apologize. To her surprise, he had no idea what she was talking about. He was so engrossed in his book, that he hadn’t even noticed she was giving him the silent treatment! 

They both had a good laugh over this silly misunderstanding. Jan quickly realized the only person suffering that morning was her. It’s one of the ego’s greatest tricks. As the famous Buddhist saying goes: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” I love Jan’s story because it demonstrates that so perfectly and humorously.

Life took us in different directions in 2012 when I moved to California, but I will always cherish our time together. I also celebrate Jan’s life and legacy. She touched countless souls during her career as a school teacher, during the years she and her husband volunteered with hospice, and by simply being the presence of joy and peace in the world. I envision a glorious Homecoming Celebration happening in the Light now that Jan is free from her body and reunited with her beloved husband in Spirit.

Blessings of grace and gratitude to you, my miraculous friend. I know our meeting was not an accident. I trust you know your wisdom and light really blew my cookie! 

If you’d like to learn more about the unique spiritual thought system that brought Jan and me together, join me any Tuesday evening for our A Course in Miracles study group on Zoom. We have an equal mix of brand-new and longtime students, and, like Jan, we love to laugh while we learn. Please visit the Miracles page on my website for more information.

For a more personal approach on how to use these teachings to create miracles in your life, consider gifting yourself a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions on my website. I love sharing this life-changing path with others. As Oprah Winfrey used to say when introducing Marianne Williamson’s radio show, “A Course in Miracles isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you!”

Until next time, may your days be filled with miracles, blessings, and wonderful friends…

There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship.

A Course in Miracles ~ M-3.1:6-7

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