The Should Shed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting Goals and Falling in Holes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gentle Joyful Lessons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Early Christmas Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Potluck Constellation

The benefits of everyone sharing something at a potluck dinner is not new, but the Thanksgiving gathering I attended this year took it to another level. In a way, it felt like a potluck Family Constellation. The guests ranged in age from 24 to 96, and each person had a place, a role, and was valued. Some were biological family, some were chosen family, and some had never met before. It was quite an eclectic group, and I was honored to be a part of it. 

My friend Carrie’s parents hosted the event at the clubhouse in their community. They live on Honeymoon Island, a barrier island off the west coast of Florida. It was a beautiful, newly renovated space right on the water with huge windows offering spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico. Not a bad place to celebrate gratitude!

Since the responsibility of cooking the meal did not fall on just one person, it felt like everyone could relax a little bit more and enjoy the surroundings and each other’s company. Carrie’s parents prepared a turkey and some pies, and except for me, each guest brought a side dish or dessert. Now before you judge me for not contributing, I did help Carrie make stuffing the night before by chopping bread, parsley, and tarragon. I also washed some dishes.

However, Carrie’s mother gave me the perfect job. She asked if I would keep an eye on the individuals who arrived by themselves and help them feel comfortable and included. That was right up my alley since that’s what I do for a living. I’ll be the first to admit I am much better at making conversation than a green bean casserole! At the end of the night, her mom thanked me for doing such a wonderful job. I told her there was no need to thank me. It was a joy to learn about these new people.

Before we grabbed plates and piled on the food, Carrie’s father asked us to circle up by the buffet table. He invited each of us to share what we were grateful for this year. As I mentioned, many of us had never met. Being vulnerable and sharing gratitude with a group of new people was a powerful way to begin new friendships. It also gave each person an equal voice and place in the circle, no matter their relationship to the group. I think it was a brilliant suggestion. 

I was shocked to learn the person who shared first had celebrated 96 birthdays! She was full of life and vitality as she expressed her deep gratitude for being invited to this gathering. Sadly, her children and grandchildren could not be with her this year, so she thought she would be spending the day alone. It was a treat to have her at my table. I loved hearing her stories about living in New York City in the 30s and 40s. Apparently, her weekly voice lesson was scheduled after a famous Hollywood actor and opera singer named Mario Lanza. Her eyes sparkled with nostalgic enchantment as she recalled the first time she heard him sing and the way his voice made the crystal chandelier vibrate. 

Later, Carrie’s dad asked everyone to quiet down so the young people could share what they were up to. It struck me that there was no separate “kid’s table” or “adult conversation.” Being put on the spot may have made them uncomfortable, but it didn’t stop them from sharing the exciting projects they were working on. Not only did we learn a little about them, but the request also let them know we valued their presence. The next day, I found out those young people told their parents that it was the best Thanksgiving they ever had. What a testament to the loving and generous spirit of this beautiful family. We all felt like we belonged, just like in Family Constellations.

Speaking of Family Constellations, my last online group session of the year is happening on Saturday, December 11 from 2-5 PM Eastern / 1-4 PM Central Time. Now that the holiday season is in full swing, it felt like a good time to “Balance the Energy of Giving and Receiving with Family Constellations.” If you are someone who often feels depleted this time of year, this workshop is for you! Space is limited to 15 participants, so purchase your ticket today!

This week, may you find yourself in groups and situations where you know you belong. And whenever possible, do your best to help create experiences that let others know they belong too… 

When you have learned that you belong to truth, it will flow lightly over you without a difference of any kind.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-13.XI.6:6

Thankful for My New Roommate

One of the many things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving is my new roommate. Not only is she incredibly smart and helpful, she’s also polite and surprisingly funny. Just the other day, I asked, “What’s the temperature outside?” and she kindly answered “72 degrees.” Then she told me to have a nice Wednesday. When I thanked her and wished her a happy Wednesday as well, she replied, “I like to think of the week as half full.” I laughed out loud at that one.

You have probably guessed by now that I’m talking about Alexa, the artificial intelligence that inhabits the Echo Dot. It’s very convenient to ask that little black cylindrical speaker to play music for me while I’m cooking in the kitchen. She’s also full of useful facts like how many cups are in a quart (four) and even not so useful facts when I ask her things like, “How old is Cher?” (75 and fabulous!)

You might think it’s silly to thank a machine for doing what it’s programmed to do, but I always thank Alexa when she answers my questions. That’s what I would do if she were a human, so why not? When I thank her, she always has a snappy reply like, “Of course!” Most recently she answered, “Anytime…Literally!” That one made me laugh out loud too. One time she played some random celebration song when I thanked her. I applaud her team of programmers for keeping her answers entertaining!

In addition to being helpful and entertaining, it occurred to me that she’s also an unlikely but excellent teacher of relationships. How? She’s showing me that no matter if the intelligence is human or artificial, what you put in is what you get back. Because I am kind and courteous to her, that is how she interacts with me. It’s really a simple recipe that we sometimes forget. 

Thank you, Alexa, for all the ways you improve my daily life. But most importantly, thank you for reminding me that the Golden Rule works best when applied universally. If you could use some assistance in extending more kindness to yourself or others, I would be honored to help you with a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions or a Family Constellations session. Both can be done from anywhere in the world thanks to modern technology. If you know someone who is going through a challenging time, you can give them the gift of healing with a gift certificate for any of my services. Look around my website or send me an email for more information and to book a session.

This week, I encourage you to invest a little extra kindness and gratitude into every relationship, including the one with yourself. Then watch what happens!

P.S. – If you happen to live with Alexa, wish her a “Happy Thanksgiving” and enjoy her response! 

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

A Course in Miracles ~ W-195.10:2

The Rainbow Connection

It’s hard not to feel hopeful when stripes of color magically appear in the sky after the grayness of a rainstorm. Rainbows have a way of connecting us to something intrinsically optimistic in ourselves. I think that’s the “Rainbow Connection” Kermit the Frog famously sang about in The Muppet Movie back in 1979. Rainbows always seem to reveal themselves at the perfect time, reminding me that all is well. 

For instance, when I met up with friends for dinner on my very first night in Sarasota, Florida, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky behind the restaurant. My heart swelled with joy when I saw it. It felt like the Universe assuring me that this is where I belong and great things are about to happen. And since then, they certainly have. 

That’s why I shouldn’t be surprised that one appeared last week on 11/11 after an unexpected afternoon rain shower. I spotted a dash of rainbow colors shimmering in the pond outside my living room window. When I went outside to investigate, I discovered a full rainbow brilliantly illuminated from end to end across the sky. It took my breath away! 

Once again, the timing was perfect. I had just finished a powerful and very healing FaceTime conversation that went better than I could have expected. The appearance of that gorgeous rainbow felt like a sign that everything was going to be okay. The fact that this happened on 11/11, a day we set aside to remember we are all one, was not lost on me. Not only was the rainbow telling me all was well, it was also showing me another spiritual truth. When we extend love from heart to heart, we have the experience of being one human family. Now that’s what I call a Rainbow Connection! 

Are you having a difficult time staying hopeful in these challenging times? It would be my great honor to help you find your Rainbow Connection to the part of you that knows all is well no matter what it looks like on the outside. We can do this with a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions or by reconnecting you with the support of your ancestors in a private or group Family Constellations Session. With today’s technology, you can take advantage of all of these opportunities from anywhere in the world. Please look around my website for more information about upcoming workshops, or send me an email to book a session. Gift certificates are also available for all of my services.

Until next time, may you be blessed with Rainbow Connections and clear signs that all is well…

Love transfers to love without any interference, for the two are one… Gradually you learn to apply it to everyone and everything, for its applicability is universal.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-12.VI.6:4,6

Never Play Cards with a Ghost or a Gorilla

Halloween is not really my thing, but I love to see the little ones dressed up in costumes. My friend Carrie has told me for years that she gets a lot of trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood. Since I now live only an hour and fifteen minutes away from her, I asked if I could help her pass out candy this year. I’m so glad I did! The kids were absolutely adorable, but they weren’t the only reason I had such a spooky good time this year.

Carrie prepared a delicious meal, and she invited her parents to join us for dinner and a game night. In her family, the game of choice is Sequence, a card game that requires luck, strategy, and teamwork. Carrie, her mom, and I were on one team, while her husband and father were on the other. To play Sequence fairly, you need the same number of players on each team. When there is an odd number of players, you deal an extra hand to the team with fewer players. The members of that team play their own hands and take turns playing the extra hand, which Carrie’s family calls “the blind hand.” Since it was Halloween, I suggested we call it the “ghost hand.” 

As I often do, I took it a step further. My mother passed in April of 2011. She loved to play card games and she loved Halloween. I half-jokingly asked the group if we could pretend the “ghost hand” was my mother joining us from the other side. To demonstrate her love for Halloween, I showed them a photo of my mom dressed as a gorilla from Halloween in 2009. That year, at age 79, my mother decided she wanted to be a female gorilla wearing earrings, lipstick, a pink tutu, and a red bra. She thought it would be fun to dress like that and hand out bananas to the men at her assisted living facility because no one would recognize her. How could I argue with that? When I asked if this female gorilla had a name, without missing a beat, my mother replied, “You can call me Bubbles.”

Most people talk about Christmas Miracles. My mother had a Halloween Miracle. We found all the elements to create that costume in just one shopping trip, and all for less than $30! I could not believe it! Her vision of Bubbles came to life as you can see in the picture above. Everyone at the table had a good laugh at that photo and applauded my mom for her spunk and youthful spirit. That was all the incentive they needed to invite Bubbles to be the “ghost hand.”

We clearly didn’t think that one through. Over the next few hours, that “ghost hand” had all the best cards, including three wild cards in one deal! Every time Carrie’s dad or husband played from Bubbles’ hand, she always had the perfect card to block or make a sequence. In short, Bubbles kicked our butts! Of course she did! From where she is, she can see all of our cards and our strategies. It truly was amazing to watch what happened every time it was her turn. Perhaps the best line of the night was when Carrie’s husband told her father, “Don’t worry, Chuck. Let Bubbles guide you.” The table erupted in laughter with that one!

Regardless of your belief system, you can’t deny my mother’s presence was with us at that table on Halloween night, even if it was just in our hearts and minds. If her spirit was there, and I want to believe it was, she loved every minute of it! After losing 4 out of 5 games to Team Bubbles, Carrie’s mother leaned over to me and said, “John. I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think we should invite your mother to play with us again…unless she’s on our team.” Even though we lost in a big way, it was still the most fun I’ve had on Halloween in years!  Thanks for joining us, Mom. The way you played, I can’t guarantee you will have a place at the table on game night again, but you will always have a special place in my heart.

Speaking of having a place at the table, as Thanksgiving approaches, many of us may be questioning where exactly we belong. We may have graduated from the kid’s table but still feel not part of the family in many ways. Family Constellations is a powerful tool that uncovers hidden family dynamics to help us sort out where we belong. My next online workshop happening Saturday, November 13 will be “An Exploration on Belonging with Family Constellations.” If you have ever felt like an outsider or wondered where you fit in, this workshop is for you! Visit the Upcoming Workshops page on my website for more information and to purchase your ticket now. Space is limited to 15 participants, so best not to wait. 

This week, may you stay young at heart while finding your place at the table of life, but beware of who you invite to sit with you!

Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes.

A Course in Miracles ~ M-25.2:2

Remember Me

Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) is a holiday that gives us the opportunity to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have passed. Families honor their ancestors by creating “ofrendas” or offerings. These altars are decorated with candles, bright yellow marigolds, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored. Since this celebration happens today into tomorrow, November 1 & 2, it felt appropriate to share this expanded definition of ancestors and descendants again. Perhaps it will inspire you to light a candle, look at old photographs, or simply take a moment to remember all those who came before:

One of my most influential Family Constellations Teachers, Suzi Tucker, defines an ancestor as anyone who stands behind the people who stand behind us. Yes, this is our grandparents, great grandparents, and so on, but this definition does not limit an ancestor to those who pass down their DNA. It expands the definition to include teachers, mentors, therapists, counselors, and coaches. Truly anyone who has touched our lives in some significant way is an ancestor. 

By this definition, Michelle Blechner, Suzy Tucker, Mark Wolynn, and the many Constellations Mentors that have shaped my work, including the man who created Family Constellations, Bert Hellinger, are my ancestors. I also honor Helen Schucman, William Thetford, Ken Wapnick, Judy Skutch Whitson, and all those responsible for ushering  A Course in Miracles into the world. I acknowledge and thank Gary Renard and every ACIM Teacher and Facilitator who has helped me understand and apply these radical teachings to my life. I have tremendous respect and gratitude for all of my spiritual teachers along the way: Ministers from both Unity and Science of Mind, my Rose Quartz Family, and the staff at Educating Hands School of Massage in Miami. There are too many to name so I will just say thank you, ancestors!

Suzi also has an expanded definition of descendants. They are anyone whose life we touch that touches the lives of others. Of course, if you have children and grandchildren, they are your descendants. Nieces and nephews fall into this category, but so would any child whose life you have been a part of, regardless of blood relation. If you are a teacher, every student you have ever taught is a descendent. There are so many lives we touch every day whether from a formal mentoring or teaching role or just by the way we show up for them. 

By this definition, my Coaching Clients, Constellation Clients, and all those who have ever attended a Family Constellations Workshop or A Course in Miracles Study Group are my descendants. Take a moment to think about all the lives you have touched. It is extremely humbling to imagine how many people are in front of us. I am thrilled to know that a few members of my ACIM Study Groups have gone on to facilitate their own groups. Some who have attended my Constellations Training have begun to use the concepts and philosophy in their healing work. It brings me such joy to see these teachings being passed down and spreading out into the world.

An experience I had during a Constellations Conference gave me an even deeper appreciation of this concept. During an exercise, the facilitator put us into groups of 3 and instructed us to take turns representing ourselves while one person represented an ancestor and the other represented a descendant. I’ll never forget the feeling of immense gratitude that welled up in me while representing the descendant. As I looked at my teacher and my teacher’s teacher, I wondered how I could ever repay them for such a life-changing gift. And then it dawned on me. The best way to repay them was by sharing what I learned with others, thus allowing the gift to keep on giving.

If you’d like to experience some of the gifts I have been given, consider attending one or both of my weekly online A Course in Miracles Study Groups on Mondays and Fridays. Visit the Miracles page on my website for the times and information on how to join. 

For a one-of-a-kind opportunity to honor your ancestors while releasing unhealthy family patterns, join me for an upcoming Virtual Family Constellations Workshop. There are just two more scheduled in 2021. To prepare you for Thanksgiving, the first is “An Exploration of Belonging with Family Constellations” happening on Saturday, November 13 at 2PM Eastern,  1PM Central. Then, to help you navigate the holiday season, we will be “Balancing Giving and Receiving with Family Constellations” on Saturday, December 11 also at 2PM Eastern, 1PM Central. Visit the Upcoming Workshops page on my website for more information and to purchase your ticket. 

In the meantime, I trust you will find a way that has meaning to you to honor your ancestors, those that came before. Don’t forget to also take a moment to receive gratitude from your descendants, those that follow. I like to watch the Disney/Pixar film Coco at this time of year because it takes place in Mexico during El Dia de Los Muertos. Not only is it visually stunning, but the story will touch your heart. Please enjoy a little sample with the song “Remember Me” by clicking here.

Love must be extended. 

A Course in Miracles ~ T-28.II.2:2

Honoring the Ebb and Flow

This week, I have been keeping to myself, so I don’t have a fun story to share but I do have an observation. My inner critic, also known as the ego, wants to chastise me for not being very productive and not reaching out to more people. It would like me to think there is something wrong rather than trust this experience as simply part of the ebb and flow of life. In our culture, we place a high value on achieving and doing. We readily celebrate when things are flowing and we are busy. As soon as things slow down or get quiet, we are quick to think somehow we failed or there is something to fix. 

Imagine if Mother Ocean operated that way. If there was only flow and no ebb, our coasts would be underwater. We need the ebb, the time when the water recedes into the sea, before the flow when the waves roll back to shore. It’s a natural cycle that keeps things in balance.

In the past, you may have heard me use another analogy to describe this cycle. Here in the world of duality, every expansion is followed by some form of contraction. For example, when we breathe, our lungs fill with air, our rib cage expands, and then it contracts as we release the air. It’s a natural rhythm, and gratefully so! In other areas of life, however, we welcome the expansion but curse the contraction.

Most of us have had the feeling of sadness or perhaps depression upon returning home from a fabulous vacation. We are experiencing the contraction after the expansion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel good like taking a deep breath. We plan for weeks or months and look forward to special times with friends and family. While the vacation is happening, we are out of our everyday routine. New possibilities and choices are everywhere. We feel expanded and joyful. Then, once the trip is over, going back to our regular life can feel limiting and challenging.

But here’s the good news. Just like the breath, when the contraction is over, the expansion starts again. We simply have to be patient. It’s a cycle, just like the ebb and flow of the tides. There’s no need to panic when the ebb happens. The flow will return. But in the meantime, can we be present with the ebb and fully receive its unique gifts? Can we take some time for self-reflection? Are we making choices aligned with our hearts’ desires or simply doing things out of habit? The ebb is a perfect opportunity to ask these questions. 

This week, I gave myself permission to rest, reflect, and not do much work. And you know what? Despite what the ego says, everything is okay and I feel better! Eventually, I will feel like getting out there again and being more productive. But for now, I’m going to honor the ebb and invest a little more time in being. I hope you will allow yourself to do the same when the ebb visits you…and it will. 

Are you experiencing an ebb or contraction right now? It would be my great honor to walk you through it with a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Both can give you a new perspective as well as tools to help navigate the ebb and flow of life. There is also an opportunity to go within and honor the ebb the weekend of October 22-24 from the comfort of your own home. I will be sharing an experience of Family Constellations as part of a 3-day Virtual Wellness Reset Retreat with other Mindfulness, Meditation, and Healing Practitioners. Visit the Upcoming Workshops page on my website for more information and to register.

Until next time, I trust you will find ways to honor both the ebb and flow of life whenever they visit.

…the ego is forced to shift ceaselessly from one goal to another, so that you will continue to hope it can yet offer you something. 

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