Listen to that Friend

I love the hopeful quote at the bottom of this page from A Course in Miracles. It was right around this time twelve years ago that my friend Gwyneth gifted me her copy of a book titled Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard. She had been telling me about this book for quite some time, but I already had a stack of books waiting to be read. Surely this one could wait a little while. When Gwyneth found out the author was scheduled to speak at my church at the end of January, she gave me her audiobook and basically insisted that I listen to the CDs before the event. Gwyneth and I were classmates in massage school. We had spent a lot of time together and I trusted her. She was absolutely convinced that I needed to listen to those CDs and go to that event. I did. She was right.

I had no idea the book was about A Course in Miracles, or that it would change the way I experienced life. At the time, I was a massage therapist living in Miami. In order to finish the audiobook before the event, I had to listen to the CDs in my car between massage clients. What I heard blew me away. Through frank and funny conversations between Gary and his teachers, Arten and Pursah, the principles of the Course are explained in a linear and easy to understand way. This book answered more questions than anything else I had studied thus far. Not only did it make sense, but the thought system it presents is also absolutely consistent. The principles felt true deep in my heart. After Gary’s workshop at Unity on the Bay, I knew this was the path for me, so I ordered my first copy of A Course in Miracles from The Foundation for Inner Peace. And so the year began in joy and freedom.

A dozen years later, these teachings still make sense, are 100% consistent, and ring true in my heart. For me, 2018 was full of big changes that came with some challenges, but the Course has helped me remember that what is true is changeless. As we begin this new year, I invite you to make it different by making it all the same. No, that doesn’t mean have the same thing for dinner every night or wear the same clothes every day. I interpret that to mean do your best to choose peaceful and loving thoughts no matter what appears to be happening in your life or in the world. True, it’s not always easy, but it is possible. I can tell you from experience, with practice, it gets easier.

When I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I ask myself questions like, “What would love do or say in this situation?” Sometimes the answer is “keep your mouth shut and don’t say anything!” Sometimes I ask for help to see things differently. That’s when ideas pop into my head that I don’t think would have if I hadn’t asked that question. Whatever the question, by asking love to guide the way fear naturally falls away. They are opposites.

If you would like to make this year different by making it all the same, maybe A Course in Miracles or one of Gary Renard’s books is calling you. I would be honored to help you begin this year in joy and freedom with a series of Life Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Both can be done from anywhere in the world by telephone or computer. Please look around my website or send me an email for more information or to schedule a session.

Until next time, if a friend you trust keeps telling you about a book or class, or it keeps coming up in different conversations with different people, you might want to pay attention. It might just change your life in miraculous ways.

So will the year begin in joy and freedom. There is much to do, and we have been long delayed. Accept the holy instant as this year is born, and take your place, so long left unfulfilled, in the Great Awakening. Make this year different by making it all the same. And let all your relationships be made holy for you. A Course in Miracles – T-15:XI.11

An Empty Seat on Father’s Day

As it does most years, Father’s Day snuck up on me this year. I remembered it and then forgot about it many times until the day actually arrived, which is why I didn’t write about it last week. I only celebrated a handful of Father’s Days with my dad because he died in 1975. Because I have lived much more of my life without him, and since I don’t have children of my own, this holiday doesn’t stick in my mind.

I’m not sharing this to elicit sympathy. Of course, I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had he lived longer, but life without my dad is mostly what I have known, so I don’t think about it much. My mom, my older brother and sisters, and even my mother’s longtime boyfriend did the best they could to fill that role when I was young. I felt very loved. Since then, many of my spiritual teachers have been like fathers to me, and for that I am extremely grateful.

That being said, in my adult years I never felt like I had much of a relationship with my father. That changed one special Father’s Day in 2002. That was the year I started regularly attending Sunday services at Unity on the Bay in Miami. The positive messages I was hearing from Rev. James Trapp along with the fun and uplifting music provided by the choir and music team were beginning to open my heart and mind even wider.

I showed up early on that third Sunday in June like I always did. It was standing room only if you didn’t get there by 10:45. I found an empty seat in the center section of the last row. The seat next to me was vacant too. As I pondered who might sit there, it occurred to me that perhaps that seat was for my dad. I didn’t think he would physically be sitting there, but his presence would be. I dismissed that thought as silly, knowing from past experience that one of the ushers would put someone in that seat after the meditation. To my surprise, that seat remained empty for the entire service. It might have looked empty, but I felt my father’s loving presence sitting there with me the whole time. My eyes are tearing up a little bit now just thinking about it.

From that day forward I have felt a connection with my dad like never before. I think he waited twenty-seven years for my heart and mind to open to that possibility. Ten years later, during my very first Family Constellation, I had another profound experience with my dad. Not only did it strengthen our connection, but it also released me from a false belief I didn’t even know I was carrying. That’s the miracle of Family Constellations. Even though I only knew my dad in the physical world a short time, I’m happy to say that today I feel his love and support behind me very strongly.

I know some of you reading this had a father with whom you did not feel safe or loved. Some of you may not have known your father. If that is the case, or if there was abuse of any kind, I understand why it might be difficult to imagine having any connection with him at all. However, I would encourage you to open your heart and your mind (like I did on that Father’s Day in 2002) to the possibility that the highest version of your dad wants to love and support you. This is the version that was never hurt by his life experiences. This is his true self that only knows pure, unconditional love. This is the version that wants to stand behind you when you’re ready. You are safe with this version.

Having facilitated or participated in hundreds of Family Constellations over the past six years, I have seen how accepting this love and support (no matter how challenging the relationship might have been) has healing ripple effects beyond what could be imagined. Closing your heart to one of your parents is like a jumbo jet flying with only one engine. You can do it, but you will fly much more efficiently and for longer distances with both engines. Let me be clear. This doesn’t mean you have to be in their physical presence. It is only an invitation to open a window in your mind and heart to allow unconditional love in so you can soar to new heights.

If you could use some assistance in this endeavor, I highly encourage you to try a group or private Family Constellations session. What happens in these sessions is usually beyond description and incredibly liberating. Most participants say that afterwards, they feel lighter and more at peace than they have in a long time. For more information or to set up an appointment, please visit my website or send me an email. I would be honored to help you open that window allowing you to live a happier, healthier, more prosperous life.

Until next time, be on the lookout for signs from your loved ones on the other side. Love is always trying to find ways to reach you!

“Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes.“
A Course in Miracles M-25.2

E.T. Phone Home

Have you ever felt like an alien…like maybe your ship dropped you off on this planet and then forgot to come back to get you? Now you’re stuck here with people who don’t seem to understand you or think very differently from you. If you’re reading this email, you’ve probably felt that way at least once or twice in your life. Maybe more. When we start to explore our connection with Spirit and each other more deeply, the way we move through the world is often quite contrary to the way others do. That’s why it’s so important to find your “vibe tribe” as I like to call it.

A vibe tribe is a group of people with whom you can totally be yourself without fear of being judged. This past week I had the honor of being the guest facilitator at the Monday night A Course in Miracles study group at Unity of Houston. I’ve also started attending their Sunday morning group. These groups definitely feel like my vibe tribe. What a blessing to have a safe space to explore and discuss the unconventional concepts found in the Course. Every week someone expresses gratitude for being in a group where they don’t sound crazy. Although A Course in Miracles is a self-study course, it’s nice to have the opportunity to hear different perspectives and gain insights from others. Having these conversations made me realize how much I miss the Miracle Monday group I left in Fort Lauderdale. To all of those group members who read my weekly stories, I extend a great big wave of love to you from Houston!

A Course in Miracles may not be your thing, but something is, and there are others that share that interest. I encourage you to find them. It doesn’t have to be around a spiritual teaching. One of my best friends began a Meetup group in Fort Lauderdale to get together with other vegans to share food and recipe ideas. Another friend gets together at a different location every year with four of his college buddies. Their lives may have changed a lot, but they still enjoy being together to support one another and laugh about old times. Another dear friend plans an annual gathering with seven women she has known since kindergarten! I have had the pleasure of hanging out with these “Iowa Girls” on two occasions, and let me tell you, they know how to have fun! I’m hoping to become an honorary Iowa Girl one day, but so far no T-shirt.

There are many benefits to spending time with your vibe tribe. In addition to fun, laughter, and support, it’s an opportunity to let down your defenses and just be you. Whether you are aware of it or not, it requires a great deal of energy to keep your shields up or to be constantly “on guard.” Vibe tribes can also offer empathy and guidance. That’s why twelve-step recovery groups are so powerful. Who better to help you find your way than someone who has walked the path before you. When I lived in Orlando I attended an Al-Anon group that was tremendously helpful.

For some people that safe space is spending time with family, whether that’s biological family or family of choice. For others, it’s a sports team or going out with people from work. Whatever feels right for you, I encourage you to find your own vibe tribe so you can march to the beat of your own drums together. Meetup.com is a great place to find others in your area that share common interests. If A Course in Miracles is your thing, you can find a local study group on the Miracle Distribution Center’s website under “services.”

To my fellow Houstonians, you have an opportunity coming up this fall to find a vibe tribe and have an “Adventure in Faith.” Unity of Houston will be organizing small groups that will meet at people’s homes to discuss a preselected spiritual book. Look for more details on that coming soon. It was at an “Adventure in Faith” group at Unity on the Bay in Miami where I met the woman who introduced me to Family Constellations. That holy encounter changed the course of my life forever. Thank you, Michelle Blechner! Needless to say, I highly recommend joining a group this fall! If there’s a Unity Church in your area, be on the lookout. They might very well be organizing groups in their community too.

For an instant vibe tribe, I invite you to join me for an upcoming Family Constellations workshop. It sounds corny, but each time I facilitate a workshop, participants arrive as strangers and leave as family. Something miraculous happens that allows us to drop our shields and experience just how much more alike we are than different. Visit the calendar page on my website for information on my next group session, or Google “Family Constellations” to find one near you. It is a transformational experience like no other!

Until next time, don’t be overly concerned with “phoning home.” Just turn on your heart light and you will find others like you!

“Alone we are all lowly, but together we shine with brightness so intense that none of us alone can even think of it.” ~ A Course in Miracles T-13.X.14

A Healthy Dose of Nostalgia

The dictionary defines nostalgia as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” One of those happy places for me is what some call the happiest place on earth…Disney World. My seven years in the Entertainment Department there were some of the most joyful times in my life. At the risk of sounding cliche, it truly was magical. Not only did I love being in the parades and shows, I met some wonderful people who remain dear friends today. Whenever I look at photos from that time in my life it makes me smile. Just the other day I was feeling a little tired during my morning cardio walk so I selected my Disney Parades and Shows playlist on iTunes. As soon as the first few notes of the SpectroMagic Parade trumpeted into my earbuds those familiar tingles and a surge of energy ran all through my body and off I went!

Thinking fondly of the past is not a bad thing in moderation. In excess, it can be just as much of a trap as regretting the past and wishing it were different. We’ve all heard people reminiscing about “the good ol’ days.” Yes, some of those days were really good, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have good new days. If you are constantly looking behind you at something that already happened, you will miss what’s right in front of you today. It would be like walking into a room backward and hoping not to bump into the furniture, or as my friend Radleigh Valentine says, driving your car while only looking in the rearview mirror. You obviously wouldn’t do either of those things because you could get seriously hurt. The same is true when we can’t release the past. By the way, helping people to release the past with love is one of the most powerful benefits of Family Constellations.

Despite my recurring dreams about performing in a Disney Parade again, I know that time in my life is done. As fun as it was, I feel like I did everything I wanted to do there, including dancing in the Main Street Electrical Parade when it returned in 1999. I am grateful for all the ways that job prepared me to do what I do now. I probably wouldn’t have the confidence to stand in front of 250 people in a conference room at the Big Sky Retreat had it not been for my seven years at Disney World. After thousands of parades as a performer and float driver, hundreds of shows as a puppeteer, and countless hugs from kids and kids at heart, my soul was calling me to do something else. My journey led to me from Central to South Florida where I went to massage school, started attending a Unity church, found A Course in Miracles, and eventually learned to facilitate Family Constellations. It has definitely been an E-ticket ride since I left Disney, and one I could not have imagined or planned. Had I not released what was, and trusted that more fun and magic were waiting for me in the future, I would not have the rewarding life I have today as a Life Coach and Family Constellations Facilitator.

So go ahead and look back once in a while for a healthy dose of nostalgia if it gives you a smile or a boost of energy. But don’t stay facing that direction. Your happiness isn’t back there. If you don’t turn around you might miss the beautiful opportunities and blessings that are before you.

“For in the holy instant, free of the past, you see that love is in you, and you have no need to look without…”

A Course in Miracles T-15.V.9

Are you having a difficult time releasing the past with love because it was either really good or really difficult? Please look around my website or send me an email to schedule a Family Constellations session. You will be amazed at how quickly you can release something you have been carrying for years in just one session. I look forward to working with you and sharing this truly magical process.

Until next time, remember the good ol’ days might have been good, but you can make today even better!

Love is My Captain

A few weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of sailing the Caribbean Sea on a huge cruise ship with over 200 spiritual seekers. Dr. Kenn Gordon, the Spiritual Leader of the Centers for Spiritual Living, shared a message about trust using our ship as a metaphor. He spoke about having trust in the captain of the ship to get us to our ports of call and then home again. If he did not have this trust, he never would have boarded the ship. There certainly was no need for Dr. Gordon to go up to the bridge and steer the ship or direct the crew. Trust allowed him to enjoy the cruise and do what was his to do and let the captain and crew do what was theirs to do.

This metaphor really spoke to me. I believe we can trust that there is a force directing this cruise ship called “Life.” We can call it God, Spirit, the Universe, or not call it anything at all. I use all of those words, but sometimes I just call it Love. Just like the captain of the cruise ship, we can trust that Love will guide us to where we need to be and eventually back Home again. With Love as my captain, I don’t have to be concerned with how to get there, I just have to enjoy the ride and do the things that are mine to do along the way.

There have been many times in my life when I have had to let go and trust that I was being guided by Love. In 1992 I was guided to Orlando, FL. I did not know a soul there, but something told me I was supposed to be there. Those eight years turned out to be some of the most magical years of my life. I loved working with dolphins and Mickey Mouse. But eventually, I felt like my time in Orlando had come to an end. Once again I let Love guide me, and I started the new millennium in South Florida.

It was in 2001 that I experienced my “dark night of the ego,” for which I am extremely grateful. Yes grateful, because it forced me to do something different. The following year not only did I start going to church at Unity on the Bay in Miami but I also started massage school. My life changed in miraculous ways that year. I found a spiritual tribe and also my calling to help others on their path of healing and wholeness. It was one of my classmates from massage school that introduced me to the teachings of A Course in Miracles in 2006. That introduction was really my introduction to the Captain who had been steering the ship all along, and life continued to get better.

Because of a desire to open a spiritual retreat center with a dear friend, Love guided me to California in 2012. Alas, the retreat center was not meant to be, but during those nine months I met amazing people and learned many lessons. When I came back to Florida after what I call my “California Adventure,” I was pretty sure that the warm turquoise water, sandy beaches, and tropical climate would be my home base for the rest of my days. I knew I would travel for work and play, but the wave of gratitude I felt every time I returned home to Fort Lauderdale and looked out the airplane window to see that magnificent ocean below told me this was the place for me.

Well, now it is time to trust Love once again. I am feeling guided to move to Houston, TX where there are many blessings waiting for me in both my personal life and my professional life. No one could be more surprised by this than me! As I said, I truly thought Florida would be my home base for the rest of my days. However, if I truly trust Love, then I must go where the ship is taking me. This move isn’t happening until the second week of April, so I will enjoy Florida for the next six weeks. After the move, I plan to visit my amazing spiritual family and Mother Ocean in the Sunshine State as often as I can. Who knows? Perhaps one day Love will guide me back to Florida. But for now, I’m going to continue to enjoy the ride, do what is mine to do, and trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in every moment.

One of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles appears in Lesson 42 in the Workbook for Students:

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

I know this to be true for each and every one of us. Yes, it may not feel like it at times, but if we look back at our lives with an open heart and open mind, we can see how each event has led us to the next perfectly. If you could use some assistance seeing this or in trusting Love to be your captain, it would be my great honor to be the voice of Love with a Life Coaching session or series of sessions. All of my sessions are based on the strong principles of A Course in Miracles and other New Thought teachings. Once I share some of the tools and techniques that have worked for me, you can relax and enjoy the ride too. Look around my website or send me an email for more information.

Family Constellations is another great tool to help you surrender to Love. Please join me for an upcoming group session or send me an email to schedule a private session in person, by phone, or via Skype. For my friends in South Florida, the workshop at Bridges of Wellness this Saturday, February 24 from 2-5 PM may be the last one before I move so I hope you will be there to experience this magical afternoon of healing and soul connection.

Until next time, I invite you to enjoy the cruise, do only what’s yours to do, and let Love be your Captain.

A Happy New Year Ritual

I love rituals and ceremony. There’s something very powerful about giving physical action to a thought or intention. It tells the unconscious mind, “Something is different now.” It’s why so many people rent tuxedos or wear big white dresses, and invite their friends and family to watch them make promises to each other while exchanging jewelry. Despite how some perceive them, weddings aren’t just big parties. They are cultural rituals that make a statement to our community and our unconscious minds that something is different from this day forward.

One of my favorite rituals is the Burning Bowl Ceremony done at most Unity Churches on or around New Year’s Eve. In this ceremony, participants are invited to write things they would like to release from the old year on a piece of paper and then burn that paper in a sacred fire. Most people write down things like unhealthy habits or self-sabotaging behaviors. Deeper reflection may reveal relationships or beliefs that are no longer serving that are ready to be released. The sacred fire will gladly transform anything you are willing to give it into mere dust. Seeing that paper go up in flames is a powerful visual showing the unconscious mind that those things are truly gone.

I had the privilege of attending both Burning Bowl Ceremonies at Unity of Houston on New Year’s Eve this year. It’s a big church so they do two services to accommodate all the people that want to participate. With over 600 people at the first service and about 300 at the second, I had plenty of time to observe people of all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnic backgrounds approach the candles at the front of the sanctuary to burn their papers. As I watched person after person perform this sacred ritual, it occurred to me how very much alike we are. We may look different on the outside and have grown up with different cultures and traditions, but we all have struggles, unhealthy habits, and patterns we’d like to release before the new year. I imagine that many of the words written on those papers were exactly the same.

We all want to love and be loved. We want healthy bodies that allow us to do the things we want to do. We want fulfilling work that provides us with enough income to take care of ourselves and our families. We want opportunities to share our gifts and talents. In short, we want to experience more peace, love, and joy in our lives. A Course in Miracles calls this recognition that we are not different a Holy Instant:

Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough.

When that moment comes, peace comes with it. I am always grateful when those peaceful moments arrive. Since I burned my personal “release list” at the first service, I felt inspired to burn three things at the second service that could benefit us all: fear, the illusion of separation, and suffering. It felt wonderful to toss those in the fire. May you feel the absence of all three in 2018!

It’s not too late to have your own Burning Bowl Ceremony if you haven’t done one already. Write down all of those things that you’re ready to release on a piece of paper and then find a safe place to burn it. It is incredibly liberating to see those old patterns and belief systems go up in smoke!

Love, Miracles, Elves, and Pizza

Like everything, there are good things and bad things about the entity known as Facebook. Last week I was very happy when Facebook reminded me of a wonderful day I had four years ago. It brought such a smile to my heart that I felt inspired to share the story with all of you: 

When I said “yes” to be an elf with Unity on the Bay I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Somehow I knew it would be me receiving the gift today when a group of us from church donned elf hats and brought a holiday pizza party to the Emily C. Moises Day Training Center for adults with disabilities. I truly believe the beautiful souls I met today are angels on earth sent to remind me what is truly important, and that’s exactly what they did. 

When we first arrived I met a woman who serenaded me by singing the entire song “Stand By Me” as well as other Christmas carols and poems she was making up on the spot. This woman did not miss a beat! After her lengthy performance, the pizza arrived and we began passing out slices to all the guests. I called on the Spirit of Christmas to help me resist my pizza addiction. I wanted to make sure there were plenty of slices for all the guests and hardworking staff members. However, one young man must have read my mind. When I sat down with his group to talk with them he slid me a plate with a slice on it and insisted I partake. He did not speak a word, but it was very clear he was not taking “no” for an answer! How could I refuse? I didn’t want to be rude. Later, while I was talking to another guest, this same young man walked by me, stopped suddenly, put his head on my shoulder for a few moments, and then continued walking. No words were needed. My heart melted with this simple act of trust and unconditional love.

There was another sweet lady that I had a special connection with. She had some form of paralysis which made it difficult for her to speak, and when she did, I discovered that she only spoke Spanish! I took Spanish in high school, and living in South Florida has given me a few opportunities to practice, but by no means am I fluent in the language! Despite our communication challenges, we connected through our eyes, my limited Spanish, and by dancing and singing to “Feliz Navidad.” 

When we were done dancing, my new friend wanted to show me some photos from Halloween on her iPhone. In one of the photos she was dressed like a fairy princess. (Yes, I was a little jealous.) Then she insisted we have our picture taken together. One of the staff members did her best to take a picture with her iPhone, but she must have taken photography lessons from my mother. Our heads were cut off in almost every shot! We all had a good laugh over that. Eventually she got the one you see below.

After our photo session, the staff member and my new friend took me on a walk through their art gallery. Let me tell you, there are some talented artists at that center! The paintings were gorgeous! In fact, Bacardi is using one of these paintings as their holiday greeting card this year. As a thank you, Bacardi gave the center a nice check to buy more art supplies. That sounds like a win/win situation to me!

As the party wound down and my fellow elves were preparing to leave, the staff offered each of us a holiday decoration to take home with us. They had an assortment of Christmas Trees painted on wood frames created by the students in their arts and crafts class. I picked the Christmas Tree with the beautiful pink hearts and sequins in the photo below. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. When I asked who created it, the staff member looked on the bottom to see the name “Avigail” written there. I asked if she could point out Avigail so I could thank her personally. She looked around the large room and said, “There she is over there.” The woman she pointed to was my sweet “Feliz Navidad” friend! I’m not sure which is more miraculous, the fact that Avigail was able to create such a beautiful tree despite the paralysis which limits her motor skills, or the fact that out of all the trees I could have chosen, I picked hers. Since I basically started from scratch when I moved back to Florida last year, I don’t own any Christmas decorations. This is now my first one, and something tells me it’s going to be my favorite for a long time to come.

This story still touches my heart four years later. My eyes got a little leaky just reading it. I still have a lot to learn about unconditional love, but I will never forget that day or the beautiful souls who touched my heart. And yes, that Christmas Tree is still my favorite decoration.

You too can give a gift of love this holiday season. Gift certificates for Life Coaching and Family Constellations are available on my website.

Until next time, may your holiday season be filled with unconditional love, unexpected miracles, and pizza!

What Kind of Wake Do You Want to Make?

A few weeks ago I had some new marketing photos taken. My plan was to use them as my profile picture on multiple social media platforms and also for new business cards and Family Constellations postcards. When I first received the edited photos, I was not thrilled. I thought perhaps I was just being overly self-critical as we all tend to be when it comes to pictures of ourselves. But when I showed them to at least a dozen friends and trusted colleagues, the best and most frequent comment I heard was, “They’re not bad.” Although “not bad” is better than “not good,” it wasn’t the response I was hoping for. Sadly, I agreed with them. One of my best friends told me that she couldn’t connect with my eyes in the photos. Another friend said the photos didn’t even look like me. That’s a problem. Not one person said, “Wow! Those are great photos! They really capture you.”

Needless to say I was very frustrated. Not only did I feel like I had wasted my money, but I still needed new photos before I could print new postcards and business cards. I was back at square one. A few people suggested I ask the photographer to retake the pictures. This seemed totally out of the question to me. After all, he fulfilled his part of the deal. He took a bunch of photos, I picked two that I liked, he retouched them and sent me the files a few days later. If I was unhappy, I should have said something the day of the shoot.

I tried very hard to make peace with the situation, but every time I saw that charge on my bank statement I felt resentment. Since I paid for them, should I just use these photos for now? After all, “they weren’t bad.” But they weren’t good either. The resentment grew each time I showed the pictures to someone new and got the same response. Cleary I needed a shift in perception. If I were the photographer, wouldn’t I want my customer to be happy? A happy customer tells friends about their experience. I have found word of mouth to be the best marketing tool ever. With the pictures I had, I certainly wasn’t going to recommend him. Was it fair to not let him know I was dissatisfied? Why was I reluctant to request a reshoot? That was the million dollar question, or at least the hundred and twenty dollar question.

After a little soul searching, I discovered the hundred and twenty dollar answer. I’m the kind of guy that does not like to make waves. Let me rephrase that. I’m the kind of guy that only wants to make peaceful, joyful waves, not annoying, confrontational waves. I’ll never forget an analogy that Rev. Chris Jackson shared at Unity on the Bay one Sunday. He proposed that we are all like boats traveling through a harbor. What kind of wake do you want to make? Do you race through the harbor causing all of the other boats to rock and sway violently, or do you gracefully travel through the harbor barely causing a ripple? I know my answer is definitely the latter.
 
However, this situation gave me an opportunity to see something about myself more clearly. My strong commitment to not make waves for others can actually cause the little boat in the harbor of my soul to rock and sway violently. That doesn’t feel good either. Was there a way to ease the waves both inside and outside? A Course in Miracles teaches that only situations where everybody wins is a real win. Couldn’t I be the presence of peace and let the photographer know I wasn’t happy with the pictures? I didn’t have to blame him for my dissatisfaction, or demand my money back. What if I spoke lovingly and honestly about the feedback I received? And what if I took responsibility for my part in the quality of the photos?

Truth be told, I was not thinking about what I wanted to project to future clients during that photo session. I was thinking things like: How long will this take? I have to get an oil change after this. Gee, this stool is uncomfortable. I feel like I’m balancing on a unicycle. I hope I don’t fall off. I wonder if my collar is crooked? Am I smiling too much? I want to look friendly, yet professional. Guess what. That’s exactly what it looks like I’m thinking in those photos! This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from A Course in Miracles:

Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. 

I know. Sometimes this can be a difficult truth to own, but if you spend some time reflecting on this quote, I think you will find it to be true. I had no one else to blame for what showed up in those photos except me. I truly wanted to turn this into a win/win situation, so on Monday I put my hand on my heart, took a deep breath, asked Spirit to help me choose the best and most loving words, and then I dialed the number to the photography studio.
 
The same perky woman that I spoke with originally answered the phone. I told her who I was and why I was calling. I also shared how difficult it was for me to make this phone call. Although she was surprised and a tiny bit defensive to hear what my friends said about the photos, I think my vulnerability allowed her to soften. I gave her my web address so she could see the picture I was currently using. When she saw me wearing a more casual shirt at the beach she asked if maybe my friends were not used to seeing me in a dress shirt. I guess that was a fair question, but I told her it wasn’t the shirt. It was me. After a little more dialog, she graciously asked if I’d like to come in to reshoot the photos. Nervously I said, “yes.” I was so grateful there was an opening the very next day. I certainly did not want to be thinking about this for another whole week!
 
The next morning I made sure to do my yoga practice. Yoga always puts me in a peaceful, centered place. After yoga I had a great coaching call with a new client. That added some joy to my heart and reminded me why I was getting these photos in the first place! I gave myself plenty of time between appointments to avoid having to rush to the studio. Furthermore, I did not schedule anything after the photo shoot so there would be no sense of urgency while I was there. Before leaving my apartment I grabbed my rose quartz angel and placed it in my pocket for some extra loving energy. I felt guided to listen to the celestial music of Steven Halpern on the way there while imagining that the photographer and the studio manager were earth angels whose mission was to assist me in shining my inner light. It sure felt like I did everything I could to be in a joyful, loving, and peaceful state of mind when I arrived at that studio.

Things got off to an interesting start. As soon as I walked in the perky studio manager said, “Oh. Your’e wearing the same shirt.” I laughed and reiterated that it wasn’t the shirt that was the problem, it was me. I thanked her and the photographer profusely for letting me try this again. I was so glad that the photographer did not seem annoyed to see me again. In fact, he was extra accommodating. Not only had he looked at the photo on my website, but he also came up with a plan to capture an image very similar to that one using different camera angles and lighting. I don’t remember if I mentioned the precarious stool to the studio manager, but I was delighted to see a shorter more comfortable stool that allowed me to plant my feet firmly on the ground. I intended to ask the photographer if I could stand for a few of the shots this time, but I didn’t have to because he recommended it first! Most importantly, I remembered to be present and to consciously shine light through my eyes and smile. I thought about the messages I wanted to convey to anyone who might see these pictures. “You are loved. You are beautiful. You are not alone. You are pure spirit. You are light. You are a miracle.”

What a different experience I had this time! I am trusting it will show in the new photos. I’ll let you decide in a few weeks when I start using them. I certainly learned some valuable lessons from all of this. With the help of Spirit, any situation can be turned into a win/win. It is possible to be the presence of peace and ask for what I want. And it’s true that only what I have not given can be lacking in any situation.

Could you use some help navigating your boat through stormy waters? Is your wake anything but peaceful? Both Life Coaching and Family Constellations can bring more grace to your life. Please visit my website for more information about both of these powerful opportunities.
 
This week I invite you to notice what’s missing in your picture, and then give it!

Love is One

There are pink and red hearts everywhere you look this time of year and lots of talk about love. I am going to invite you to do the same thing that Rev. Michael Gott asked the congregation to do during the opening meditation last Sunday at Unity of Houston. Recall a time in your life when you felt completely loved. It could be with a child, pet, parent, partner, or perhaps even by yourself. Sit with that memory and let yourself marinate in it for a while. Go ahead. I’ll wait… Are you smiling? If there was anything bothering you a moment ago, my guess it that you forgot about it for a few moments.

What came to my mind during this meditation surprised me. About four years ago I joined a group of volunteers from Unity on the Bay to throw an annual Christmas Party at a day care center for people with disabilities. I made a heart connection with one woman in particular that day. She didn’t speak English and my Spanish is only so so, but somehow we managed to communicate. While I was talking with her, or trying to anyway, a young man with whom I had shared pizza a little earlier walked by me. As he passed he suddenly hugged me with all his might and leaned his head into my side for a few moments. A wave of unconditional love washed over me. It felt so pure. No words were necessary. Although I barely knew this kid, I felt completely and utterly loved. I’m so grateful Spirit reminded me of this powerful experience.

There were many years that I jokingly referred to Valentine’s Day as “Black Tuesday” (or whatever day of the week the holiday happened to fall on) when I didn’t have a special someone to share it with. I know many feel sadness on this day for a variety of reasons. This memory was a beautiful example that love can come from an unimaginable number of sources if I just open my eyes and heart to it. I can get caught up in wanting it to show up in a certain way from a certain person, or I can release my hold on it and allow it to show up in unexpected ways in all of my experiences. Maybe we should leave the pink and red hearts up all year as a reminder that love is always present. I find comfort in these words from Lesson 127 from A Course in Miracles.

Perhaps you think that different kinds of love are possible. Perhaps you think there is a kind of love for this, a kind for that; a way of loving one, another way of loving still another. Love is one. It has no separate parts and no degrees; no kinds nor levels, no divergences and no distinctions. It is like itself, unchanged throughout. It never alters with a person or a circumstance. It is the Heart of God…

If you are having a difficult time feeling the presence of love, I would be honored to help you remove whatever seems to be keeping it from you. I offer four, six, and eight week Life Coaching programs based on the loving principles found in A Course in Miracles. Family Constellations is another great way to open your heart to more love. You will be amazed by what happens in these sessions. Please join me for an upcoming group session or schedule a private session in person, by phone, or Skype. You can find more information about Life Coaching and Family Constellations on my website.
 
Until next time, may you always remember that you reside in the very Heart of God.

P.S. Click HERE to see another example of how “Love is One” and why I chose the above photo for this blog.

Time Flies… Or Does It?

Here we are in the second month of 2017. In prior years I might have made a comment about how hard it is to believe that February is here already, or how January flew by. I’m not feeling that way this year because I decided to do things differently. I did not want to be watching Fourth of July fireworks this year and wonder where the first half of 2017 went. This year I set the intention to pay even closer attention to the events of my life as they are happening. Every so often in January I deliberately paused to look at the calendar and say to myself, “Here I am on this date in 2017.” With gratitude and appreciation, I made a mental note of where I was, who I was with, and the blessings I was receiving in that moment. There have been a lot of them so far!

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, this year started off quietly for me. I stayed in on New Year’s Eve, but on New Year’s Day I had a wonderful lunch and walk around a lake with one of my best friends. It was great to reconnect with her because we hadn’t seen each other since before Christmas. January 2 was a Monday, and following our weekly A Course in Miracles study group at Bridges of Wellness we had a fun party to celebrate one year of sharing miracles and laughter together. In mid-January I had another joy filled week in Richmond facilitating workshops and private sessions with that loving Virginia community. Virginia really is for lovers! (I’m happy to say I will be going back April 20-25.) The following weekend I had that beautiful day at Unity of Naples which I wrote about last week.
 
As if that weren’t enough, one of my sisters is here in Florida on vacation with her husband this month, so I have had several opportunities to spend time with them. I’m so glad she retired last year so I can see her more often! My schedule allowed me to join the Men’s Group of Unity of Pompano last week for a spectacular movie and pizza night. I enjoyed the fellowship, conversation, and pizza with these great guys. My month ended with a powerful afternoon of Family Constellations at The Center for Inner Wisdom on Sunday. We had been trying to get that on the calendar for months, and it finally happened. I continue to be humbled by the transformations and miracles that occur every time I facilitate one of these workshops. I am looking forward to doing another one there on March 5, as well as one in Ocala, FL at the OakBrook Center for Spiritual Living on February 19, and one at Bridges of Wellness in Wilton Manors on February 26.
 
On the last day of the month, my brother’s plans unexpectedly changed, so he arrived a day early for his yearly escape from the cold weather up north. That meant three of the Moore siblings were in Fort Lauderdale, FL at the same time. We took advantage of that opportunity and had some quality time together after my coaching appointments on Tuesday evening. It was a great ending to a great month.

In the past, all of that activity might have felt overwhelming. If I hadn’t consciously taken a moment once in a while to notice the date and be present with what was happening, this month could have slipped by like the last four months of 2016. (I was on so many airplanes, I lost count.) I’m happy to report my experiment is working! Believe it or not, time actually feels like it is slowing down. If that sounds good to you, perhaps you’d like to try the same experiment. Make a mental note of today’s date and then think about what happened today. How did you feel? Who were you with? Did you try something new or take a step towards your dream? Did something make you laugh out loud? What wonderful things happened in January? Maybe some not so wonderful things happened last month. Take a breath and allow those moments to be part of your journey too. If you are experiencing a difficult time, what I know for sure is this too shall pass. Later, you might be able to see the gift in those moments too.

I’m going to do my best to continue this experiment all year and see if I can continue to slow down time. Will you join me? If you do, I’d love to hear how it works for you in the comments below. Maybe you are already doing this and have been for years. Is it still working? If you are having a hard time, I’d love to share more tools and techniques that have helped me. Look around my website to learn more about Life Coaching based on the time bending principles of A Course in Miracles.
 
Until next time, keep noticing your surroundings and tell Father Time to slow down so you can enjoy the ride!