Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for January, 2014

Do The Right Thing

Recently a full page article ran in our newspaper about an inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, who created a putter in 2009 called the Oracle GX1 that was termed ‘revolutionary’ to the world of golf. She created a company named Yar Golf to market the putter. According to the reviews it has a ‘sweet spot’ that is almost two inches square as compared to the ‘pin size’ sweet spot of most putters. It was designed ‘to be more responsive to the golfer’s movement and less resistant to the body’s twist.’ According to the article, the design was brilliant and her passion to make sure the putter was properly fit to the buyer serious. Words used to describe her were ‘brilliant’ ‘stunning’ and ‘an amazing lady.’ That is the good news, incredible news really.

Now for the rest of the story. It seems that last spring an over zealous freelance reporter covering the story of this amazing putter was not satisfied to focus on the product alone. Even though Essay had requested the reporter focus on ‘the science, not the scientist,’ he continued to dig deeper into her credentials and background. When the story broke recently it seems there were no records to substantiate her scientific credentials nor career experience. Yet the amazing putter, the actual product and topic that was suppose to be the real story became a secondary issue.

On October 18, 2013 she was found dead…committed suicide…according to her friend who attributed the suicide “90% to the reporting of the story.” You see, Essay was born male but by age nine identified in all ways as female except physically. Fifty years later she decided to undergo surgery to change her physical body to match her mental and emotional orientation. She went through all the challenges … according to a post operative patient-care assistant that involved emotional, spiritual and personal work to allow herself the opportunity to live a more authentic life.

Did she ‘create’ a past involving her educational training, credentials and work experience? Maybe so. Was there a different way to go about things? Maybe so. Was there reason for the reporter to delve into her background when she had personally requested that he ‘focus on the science not the scientist’ ABSOLUTELY NOT.

The article went on to say that ‘journalists who don’t frequently write about issues of gender identity can find the subject particularly complex and nuanced.’ That sounds shallow at best and more likely a weak excuse for shabby reporting. I asked myself, where is the integrity? Where is the feeling, the obligation even, to stop and evaluate how the impact of this type of story could effect someone’s life? Where is the heart? Does it simply boil down to journalistic sensationalism?

Essay is finally at peace. Maybe her life was more about teaching all of us lessons …you know the one about ‘judge not less ye be judged’ than about golf. She is in a better place. The freelance reporter, however, will have to live with this for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, golfer’s choosing to improve their game may decide to purchase the Oracle GX1 and most likely will never know the life that was ultimately lost in the process. Maybe that is the way Essay would prefer it to happen.

Tolerance, acceptance and love are more than mere words written on a page, they are life lessons that we are all striving to learn. Katherine Anne Porter, an American author wrote, ‘Love must be learned, and learned again and again; there is no end to it…’

Make it a great few days!

Synchronicity – Alive on Planet Earth!

The topic of synchronicity (defined as meaningful coincidences) is fascinating to me. So often, it seems, I am thinking about a person and the phone rings and there they are on the other end of the line. I am no longer surprised by this phenomenon but other instances of synchronicity still take my breath away at times. It seems whenever I ask the Universe for verification of something – such as my purpose and if I am following my intended life mission the messages comes through loud and clear. An example might help to clarify.

I had just finished a great new book entitled, ‘Embracing Coincidence’ by Carol Lynn Pearson, literally the night before my hair appointment (to hide the grey which seems to be continuing at light speed to change the entire color of my hair). During my appointment I was introduced to a gentle soul sitting next to me. Sadness seemed to radiate from her eyes as she explained that she had recently lost her husband to pancreatic cancer. A man she had spent decades with and the love of her life. The owner of the shop mentioned to her that I had written a book on grief and the healing process. She wanted the title, Just Behind The Door, and I told her she could order it from AuthorHouse or Amazon. At this point she looked at me seriously and asked ‘ What is your name again?’ I told her and also wrote it down because I know that when people are dealing with grief sometimes their memories can freeze momentarily on the pause mode. She looked at me, repeated my name and said ever so gently, ‘I know you.’

As the story unfolded, it seemed her husband had been one of my mentors for 14 years in a school district that I had worked in near the Denver area! He was absolutely the most gentle, caring and talented soul in the world and it became obvious that they had shared so much in their life. She could even tell me things he mentioned about me while working together 38 years ago! I had met a link to my past in a totally different state and discovered they had also experienced the death of their oldest son. Needless to say, our conversations have just begun. We will continue sharing stories about Jack, loss and healing from grief in the future. He was an incredible human being that I was privileged to work with many years ago. We will be able to celebrate so many of the memories of a life well lived.

When you think about living in the 6th largest city in the U.S. and being at the exact time and place to reconnect and verify that your life work – both past and present has made a impact on a fellow traveller it both humbles and amazes me.

Synchronicity just seems to work that way. The more you recognize it and appreciate it the more often it happens. There really is substance and Universal truth to the phrase , ‘Ask and it shall be given.’

Try this out for yourself this week. Look for the messages and patterns in your life – being in just the right place at exactly the right time to reconnect with someone or receive an answer or verification to a thought you have been pondering. It becomes evident that life is not a series of random events but entail significant moments and messages to us that reflect a greater theme. A theme, in fact, that we have been instrumental in designing before birth. Makes you sit back and realize the masterful effect of Universal Energy and the part of that energy that we all possess.

Have a great few days!

The Beauty of the Rose

We learn everyday in every way when we choose to be an avid participant of the Universe. When we take the time and apply our brains and hearts to observe events we see we begin to realize that life is not simply a series of random events that happen to us but are, in fact, all held together by a magnet of meaning, purpose and reason. Each person, place or thing that comes into our lives is serving a purpose. The question then is …what do we do with our experiences? Do we attempt to learn from them or pass through the experiences as quickly as possible in an attempt to accomplish the next thing on our ‘to do’ list? Is it possible to look at our constant need to rush as a modern tragedy of our lifestyles? If so, we can choose to do something about it. Even though we are moving faster and time seems to be speeding up, we can train ourselves to focus more intently on the various interactions we experience at the moment to gain a deeper understanding of what life is teaching us. In the process we achieve the divine grace … The lesson …intended in each experience.

It may seem a bit overwhelming to think about every person, place or thing that comes into our lives as a learning opportunity. It is rather like being in a 24/7 classroom where the instructor is continually giving us new learning. Yet, we can look at this concept with gratitude or choose to see it as simply information overload. It is an opportunity to grow or to stagnate. The choice is always up to us.

We may decide to look at all these experiences like Don Quixote did in the musical ‘Man of La Mancha.’ He chose to see the rough and degraded Aldonza for her inner beauty and, in fact, renamed her Dulcinea. When he chose to see her inner beauty it caused a transformation to happen. People – including ourselves – really do live up to expectations. It’s helpful to remember to bless the beauty of the rose and forgive the thorns.

Our spiritual growth is enhanced when we decide to see the opportunities presented to us as another stepping stone in our deeper awareness of ourselves and this life experience. You are going to live through them anyway – why not grab hold of the moment and learn from it?

Have a great few days!

Communicating for Deeper Understanding

Kaitlin Toner and Mark Leary found in a new study that the more extreme a person’s views the more they experience what is called ‘belief superiority.’ Sounds about right doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the study goes on to say that people with this belief system experience disdain for anyone who doesn’t share their views. Now that seems to be a potential issue that could serve to isolate the person and begin slowly, but surely, to cause their lives to close in on them. Their circle of friends and acquaintances getting smaller and smaller. Is this really the best way to live our lives?

The challenge seems to be to realize we have a right to our own opinions and beliefs but not to judge others if they do not share them. Maybe, just maybe, if we opened ourselves up to truly listening to others and trying to understand their point of view we may broaden our own horizons, consider nuances in perception and generally have a life that expands with age rather than closes in on us. When we communicate with others we take their words and associate different meanings to the words depending on our own life experiences. When you take the time to ask someone what they meant by a particular comment and they more fully explain, it is usually not at all what you had initially interpreted it to be. Could it be that saying to others, ‘Help me understand what you mean by that point’ or asking them to give you an example so you could more fully understand what was meant could be the winning combo to better understanding and a deeper respect for their point of view?

Do you have any beliefs or opinions that seem to separate you from other people? Is it possible to modify them slightly and find more in common with them? We all walk in our unique shoes, with life challenges to overcome and life lessons to learn. Knowing this it just seems logical to withhold judgment and accept the fact that we are all doing as much as we can at the moment to get through life in one piece.

Difference in others can be a growth opportunity for us if we choose to see it that way. I have never met a person who is 100% right or 100% wrong. Maybe a part of life is about learning to accept the shades of grey in others. The ability to compromise or at least more fully understand their point of view is a big thing. We can become better at it every day once we realize that life is exactly as it is supposed to be …warts and all … and we can choose to live it to the fullest or not. It is all up to us … that is the beauty of free will.

A quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn seems to speak to this whole topic.”To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking.”

Have a great few days!

Survivor Guilt

Survivor Guilt also known as survivor syndrome was first identified in the 1960’s. It was the topic of a CNN special aired this week and dealt with an important aspect related to loss, grief and healing. The program delved into the topic by reviewing aviation. In the history of air flight only 14 people have survived major airplane crashes that resulted in a sole survivor. Many live with the question of ‘Why was I spared’ which seems to be a burden they carry for the rest of their lives. During the interviews some of these survivors made the comment, ‘I’m supposed to be grateful I survived but…’

In researching this topic It appears that this type of guilt is more common that we might first imagine. We know that many of our brave servicemen who return from war suffer from PTSD which often includes this type of guilt. But in addition, this type of guilt may even surface when a person experiences the death of a loved one and can be a major challenge to overcome.

The symptoms related to survivor guilt can included anxiety, social withdrawal, depression, physical complaint and loss of drive. Basically, the reason, purpose and relevance of life is called into question by the survivors. Without help they can become stuck in a space of anger, denial and feelings of hopelessness.

Recognizing this in ourselves or others is paramount for healing. Regardless of the type of situation involved in the loss we are suffering, we did not cause the loss and, in fact, could not have prevented it. The Universe is much more powerful than we are and destiny plays a major role in our lives. Each one of us has chosen the lessons and lives that would result in helping us learn our lessons. The loss of a loved one and our survival was the result of a life agreement long, long ago. Unfortunately, being human we sometimes believe that we should have been powerful enough, smart enough or wise enough to prevent the loss from happening. That’s just not how the Universe works.The American Politician William Jennings Bryan said, ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved (and understood).

When we reach out to others to help them process their grief it can make their grief a bit easier to handle. Any one of us may say just the right thing at just the right moment to help someone begin to overcome survivors’ grief. It is always worth the try and even if we do not see immediate improvement it is again, worth continuing our effort to reach out to a fellow traveler who is suffering.

Being there for someone and encouraging them to talk about their loss experience
helps immensely. Everyone needs someone to listen to them from time to time and experiencing a loss intensifies this need. It is always better to surface the feelings regardless of their nature than to keep them bottled up inside. Think of it as helping a potential volcano release some of the pressure before a full fledged eruption. A person’s loss may, at times, be like lava seething, bubbling just below the surface creating the type of pressure that can cause them to explode unless the occasional stem vents ( in the form of conversation and connection) surface to help release the pressure little by little.

We are here to learn our individual lessons and make the world a little better place by being in it. Helping others through their loss allows us to become a conduit for healing.

Have a great few days!

Having Confidence in Yourself and Others

Learning our individual soul lessons in this lifetime is not easy. Any one of them could be compared to the class you had in school that you had to really work at passing and then even at completion of the class didn’t feel confident in the content area. Upon receiving the final passing grade you may have even chosen to take the class again or learn more about the topic on your own until you could exhale and say to yourself, ‘Now, I finally get it.’ As we live out our life lessons a similar thing occurs. At first we wonder why things seem to keep popping up as roadblocks, detours or simply additional challenges. Eventually we realize that those very issues that continue to surface in our lives are the exact things we need to push against, work around or get over to allow us to fully learn a particular lesson.

When we recognize the lesson as presented to us we have the choice to internalize it and move on with deeper understanding allowing us to be of greater service to ourselves and others or not. When we accept that the issue of blame or feeling that we were wronged was simply a way for us to challenge ourselves to be stronger, more confident and to accept the realization that there are no mistakes in our choices but simply different avenues to learn our lessons we are making progress. The ultimate lesson, of course, being, ‘All Is As It Should Be.’

We have been given the gift of free will in life. There are no right or wrong choices just different pathways to the same destination that we chose long ago. Once we learn a lesson we move forward with greater confidence and joy.

Is it possible that one lesson for us could be to be strong enough to allow others to learn their own lessons? Sometimes we are so busy trying to help others that we miss the point that maybe, just maybe, by continuously picking up the pieces for them we may be impeding their own growth. When do we know that it is the right time to back off and let others handle their own unique lessons? Actually, it’s easier than we think. We all recognize the feeling in our hearts through our intuitive sense when we are going overboard with others. A tell tale sign is when the same thing happens over and over and we begin to resent our involvement. This feeling can serve as a wake up call to us to let go and let them face their own lessons and learn from them. Are we strong enough to risk the possible momentary ill feelings when we finally get up enough courage to say, ‘I can’t do this for you.’

Our life lessons involve learning to love more fully – ourselves as well as others. Do we love ourselves enough to say ‘enough’ – do we love others enough to say ‘I can’t learn this lesson for you.’ Growth in life lessons is a beautiful thing. Let’s do what we can to learn our own and let others learn their own as well.

Have a great few days!