I Am On My Path, Are You On Yours?

February 8, 2011
What would happen if you asked God what you should do today? If you knew the answer, would you do it?

Path going through woodThis morning I had an interesting experience as I arose out of a dream of driving mountain roads too narrow to drive on, a baby given me by someone to keep for awhile, entering into a house with more rooms than you could count, and numerous unattached scenes only a dream can produce.

I don’t bother much with dream analysis so I can’t tell you what this means, but what happened few minutes later has set a tone for today (and I assume for tomorrow) that feels very good.

You see, I was thinking of all I need to do, from organizing my office to producing another post for the blog to making a video to contacting dozens of people to writing articles to sending birthday cards to planning a summer vacation, etc., etc., etc. I also thought about all the things other people tell me of what I should do. You can’t imagine how many emails I get sharing the fabulous news of how much money I will make if I only follow their secrets to unparalleled success.

I felt my stress begin to rise and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed.

However, this time of the day is probably my most meditative and, as I often do, I said something like, “God, what I should be doing today?”

The answer I heard did not turn my list into priorities but went straight to the point. What I heard was something like this, “Why do you ask? Just continue to turn your heart and mind toward the goal of making a difference in the world, of giving whatever gifts you have. Then you will find an unfolding, and do-able, path on which you can gradually get done what needs to be done. Stop thinking about what you think others think you should do. Let others do what they can do.”

It wasn’t an earth-shattering thought; a good one, but hardly original. After all, how many times have you heard that you should “be the best you can be,” or that “only you can live your life?” I’ve  quite often written those same words, or variations on the theme, for others.

What made this morning different was that those words went directly from the thought to an experience. Without any analysis, I knew the answer of what I should do was very simple and very true. Not as a philosophy I needed to adopt, but an experience I needed to hold onto deep inside.

As I said in the flash presentation of Explaining a Spiritual Experience, you can’t really describe such experiences. You can only have them. Then your responsibility is to live what you have learned.

As these thoughts became more clear, my body relaxed and I knew that I could do what I needed to do today, and in the future, without feeling I wasn’t enough. To say it was a relief is a vast understatement. It felt as though I was on a path created just for me, as corny as that may sound. The pressure to meet the expectations of others simply melted away. The pressure to prioritize also fell away. I knew that when I went into the office that I would do what needs to be done without worrying that I was leaving some other bit of work undone. Eventually everything will get accomplished. Or it won’t. In a universe so outrageously vast that it is beyond my comprehension, it won’t matter whether or not I finish everything.

All I can do is to do my part of what needs to be done as well as I can. And I believe I can do that if I stay on my own path and don’t take detours to follow the paths of others.

Do you know if you are on your own path?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Discriminating Between Need and Desire

December 13, 2010
No matter what time of year, you can better balance your budget (and your time) if you are clear that what you are buying (or doing) is something you really need to buy (or do), rather than something you can easily live without. That is especially true at holiday time.

Stress-free Suggestion Number Four

If you haven’t read the introduction to this series of suggestions for a guilt-free, stress-free holiday, read Talking Back to the Voice of Unhealthy Guilt.

Then write the following on a piece of paper and put it where you can see it throughout the day:

My needs are met to the best of my ability because I discriminate between my needs and desires and the needs and desires of others.

Ask Yourself: If you put this affirmation into practice, how would that affect your relationships?

See explanation on the left

This guy with the time of 8:49 pm on his tongue comes from the website Human Clock and was selected for the time that the post was put online. Actually, it slightly off because I had to put the screen shot into Fireworks (my photo program) and then upload to the site and then type this. But the time comes close enough.

Decided it would give me a nice way to have a graphic without spending a lot of time designing my own. (Remember, I am determined to not have any more stress this holiday than I have to.) If you’ve never been to that site, you may want to check it out. There are some outrageous and clever ways to display the time.

Did you enjoy this post?
Here are a some related posts from this blog, and articles from the Support4Change website:

 

Could You Laugh at Cancer?

April 26, 2007
Are you able to poke fun at cancer, as many survivors are able to do even though they are also fighting the disease?

Recently I received an e-mail from a cancer survivor who shared an approach to life I admire. It shows how one can move right through a difficult situation with a bit of humor. Christina, who gave me permission to use her story, wrote:

I thought that others may enjoy my real life experience. Let me start off by saying, I am 27 and have recently survived Breast cancer!

After my first treatment of chemo, all of my hair fell out and it took me months to leave home without wearing a wig. The very first night that I mustered enough confidence to go out with only a ball cap I went into a convenience store and right away noticed the people staring at me. A few people smiled and kept walking but the man behind the counter had something to say.

“Ma’am, are you ok?” he asked, almost wishing he had never said a word.

I smiled and after making my purchase, I lifted my ball cap and said “I lost a bet.”

[The picture comes from the Max Cap Company in England. Also, you’ll find neat hats at Stylish Noggins, whose hats, caps and snoods are not open at the back.]

Christina’s story is a good example of humor in the face of illness. I realize, of course, that joking about cancer is not to everyone’s taste, but I was introduced to laughing at illness through my work with The Wellness Community—Foothills, a cancer support program, in Pasadena, California. That’s where I became acquainted with Sydney Love, a cancer survivor, who has been a past contributor to the Support4Change website.

As I have written in the past, many cancer patients discover humor is a way to let a bit of light into the dark corners of their world. Betty Cea, a lymphoma patient, is one of them. When she emailed me her “Top 10 Reasons I Can’t Be Sick Anymore,” she said:

My hair left, my dysfunctional family whom I love very much stayed, and the cancer has come back. I might as well laugh while I fight … cancer hates a sense of humor …

As with all humor, the pleasure is in the punchline, the unexpected ending or twist to a story. And all such stories are, for me, all the better when they come from quick thinking. Too often my “clever” retorts are obvious when I’m on the way home from a conversation that got overheated, long after we needed something to calm the tension.

When have you been able to defuse a tense situation, or insert a little humor into a depressing situation, by thinking quickly and humorously?

A Guilt-Free Holiday Season

December 13, 2006
Reduce the guilt many people feel in the rush of the holiday season.

For those of you who aren’t traveling this holiday season, as I am, but worrying about getting ready for the holidays, I wanted to share an excerpt from an article previously published on the Support4Change website. It is one I wrote several years ago about the relationship between the this season and guilt, especially for women, and especially perfectionist women. Here is how the article begins:

Guilt creates more problems during the holiday season than the combination of a UPS strike, a power outage on the night of the school play, and a turkey that failed to thaw on time. That is because this is the time of year when it is assumed that people will demonstrate love, good will, and generosity to all. That’s a tough order for many of us when we’re trying to juggle work, family, community activities — and still find a little bit of time for relaxation and renewal.

For people (primarily women) who are afraid they won’t be loving enough, show enough good will, or be generous enough, the season’s expectations are a particularly heavy burden. Knowing they’re flawed, but wanting to hide that fact from others, they try ever harder to give their maximum effort in all they do. Dashing from one hectic activity to another, they act as though they were appointed God’s special assistants, doing lots of things they wouldn’t chose to do if they didn’t feel such pressure to perform.

Believe me, as someone whose gift-wrappings thirty-five years ago were photographed because they were so stunning, I understand this dynamic all too well. Now that I’m a recovering perfectionist and have even been known on occasion to give a gift in a brown paper bag (horrors!), I would like to offer you some suggestions for avoiding the pitfalls of taking ourselves too seriously.

I hope that you are able to discard unhealthy guilt. When you do, you will discover, that very soon, your family and friends will notice that what you have to offer them is the gift of being the best you, which is the greatest gift you can give anyone.