Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for December, 2014

Seek the Light Energy from the Universe

Mother nature has a way of directing us to the light and love that surrounds us. When we feel the need to redirect our energy for a more positive outlook we can just breathe deeply and look more closely at what nature has to offer. Nature is our ongoing teacher from the Universe – always available and at no cost!  We can be directed to greater peace and acceptance when we seek the light energy of creation.  

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The You That is Special

I found this anonymous write up in my favorite bookstore and after a few minor changes wanted to pass it on to you. Welcome in the New Year knowing that you are exactly as you are supposed to be. 

“In all the world there is nobody like you. Since the beginning of time
there has never been another person like you. Nobody has your smile. Nobody has your eyes, nose, hair, hands or voice. YOU ARE SPECIAL.

No one sees things just as you do. In all of time there has been no one who laughs like you, no one who cries like you. What makes you laugh and cry will never provoke identical laughter and tears from anybody else…ever.

You are the only one in all creation with your set of natural abilities. There will always be somebody who is better at one of the things you are good at but no one in the Universe can reach the quality of your combination of talents, ideas, natural abilities and spiritual knowing.

Through all of eternity, no one will ever look, talk, walk, think or do exacty as you do. You are special… you really are. And, as in all rarity there is great value. Because of your great value, you need not attempt to imitate others. Accept and celebrate your differences – even those parts of yourself that you judge to be not okay … because you really are just as you are supposed to be.

You are special. Continue to realize it’s not an accident that you are who you are and continue to see that you were created to serve a very special purpose. Out of all the billions of applicants for this particular mission on earth only YOU are qualified. You were the one with the best combination of what it takes. Just as surely as every snowflake that falls has a perfect design – and no two designs are the same – you are equally unique. 

Ask the Universe to continue to guide you in fulfilling your divine plan. Trust the process and let it unfold in perfect sequence and in perfect order. Be grateful for all you are and all you will become.”

Have a great few days!

The Best Christmas Gifts!

About this time in our rush to finish Christmas shopping we may begin to struggle with gift ideas for those hard to buy for friends or family members. We may have tapped out our resources and are beginning to get concerned about spending more money and for good reason. Did you know that the average family takes 2.6 months to pay off their Christmas bills? That fact helps to put things in perspective. Starting the new year with a mound of bills coming due places a lot of pressure on us yet we may think that a purchased gift is expected to show that we care. Maybe there is another way. If you are trying to come up with ideas for those last minute gifts which won’t break the bank here are six gift ideas that don’t cost a bundle yet can touch the hearts of those special people in our lives.

The Gift of Listening – without interrupting, daydreaming or planning your response you apply the skills of active, engaged listening to someone that really needs to be heard. No matter that you may have heard what they are repeating before you just honor their right for a caring ear when they need it most.

The Gift of Affection – being generous with hugs, kisses, pats on the back and words of encouragement help to remind the person how special they are to you and demonstrate the love you hold in your heart for them.

The Gift of Laughter – including a humorous article or reiterating a funny experience you had with them in a Christmas card or email tells the other person that you remember a special time when you brought out the laughter and joy in each other.

The Gift of a Note – taking the time to put in writing how you feel about the other person is a gift that just keeps on giving. Often, these words of love and appreciation are kept for a lifetime, reread throughout the year, and may even change a life.

The Gift of Something From Your Kitchen- whipping up a batch of cookies or brownies does not take an inordinate amount of time yet can help the other person who may not have an extra moment add a little something special to their holiday table.

The Gift of Time – setting aside 10 minutes to reach out and call someone to let them know that you are thinking of them warms their heart and tells them that you truly care. The positive energy they receive by hearing your voice can make their day.

We can purchase all kinds of things, wrap them in pretty paper and put a bow on top but the best – most valuable gifts – come from our hearts. Those kind remind the special people in our lives that they matter – that their presence in our life has meant something – that we are grateful for the shared journey. That message speaks louder than anything we can buy.

I offer my thanks to all of you who have read my blogs throughout the years. I hope I have been able to give you some food for thought from these postings. My next blog will be on December 31st. to usher in the New Year – stay tuned and have a wonderful Christmas!

Is it Time?

Christmas is only one week away – where did the time go? As you are wrapping gifts to give to your family and friends how about giving one to yourself. I am not talking about anything that can be bought in department stores or shipped to you from the hundreds of online suppliers. No, what I have in mind is too big, too valuable to simply be purchased. I’m talking about the gift of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the magic elixir, the thing that can seriously change your life for the better. If there is someone that you have unfinished emotional business with or even open wounds that haven’t healed when we talk about peace on earth remember, the peace must first start in your own heart.

You can tell if a person has been sidelined due to their bitterness over something that happened in the past. When they talk about it (which they often do) they talk faster, louder and with such strong emotionally laden words that it sounds like it happened just yesterday. They seem to relive the time, date and place with such vehemence that you just have to wonder what toll it is taking on them on the inside. I wonder if they know about the research regarding the relationship between anger and cancer. Is it time for the gift of forgiveness.

Anger, bitterness or resentment can eat away at you. Even if you feel 100% justified in your feelings the only one paying the price is you – over and over again as you relive it in your mind. Simply put, you have allowed another person to rob you of today when you relive the negatives of yesterday. Sometimes we may feel that we want the whole world to know we were wronged. Here’s a news flash … the rest of the world really doesn’t care – not really – they are too busy dealing with their own challenges. Okay – something hurtful or wrong happened – now the million dollar question is do you really want to carry the enormous weight of that baggage on your shoulders for the rest of your life? If not, decide how long are you willing to carry it and write it down. Your answer determines how long you choose to be the victim.

Forgiveness is not easy but essential if you want to be truly happy. You might think that you are past the issue or do not want to give the person the time of day ever again. I get it – but just remember you are choosing to pay a steep price from your emotional bank account. If you continue to hold on to the grudge sooner or later you will be emotionally bankrupt as you join the ranks of the walking wounded. There are no blue ribbons for the person who has been hurt or wronged most deeply.

You can forgive but you needn’t forget. You have learned something from the experience and it has made you wiser more equipped to handle similar situations in the future. Perseverating on the past keeps you locked into a victim mentality. Little by little you begin to see others with a jaundice eye. Negative energy multiplies fast and will seep into your pores until you look for – even expect -more of the same in your life. You become primed for a hostile emotional take over and then wonder why life continues to be so tough. It all boils down to energy – negative attracts more negative.

Forgiveness is not simply a feeling it is a choice that you make. Are you ready to let go of the yuk from the past? Only you can decide if being in the role of victim, filled with grudges and unhappiness, is the role you choose for the rest of your life. Maybe it’s time to give yourself the greatest gift possible … forgiveness.

Have a great few days!

Three Distinctive Types of Happiness

Given the amount of human interaction involved during the holiday season it may be helpful to visit the topic of happiness in an effort to better understand ourself and others. A little knowledge is a powerful thing. It can help us remain calm, cool and collected and avoid judging others when they do not react as we would hope for or expect. Martin Seligman, known as the father of positive psychology has contributed much to the field. From his research he has discovered three highly distinctive types of happiness. The differences are real and identifying them empowers us to be our better self during this holiday season.

The first type of happiness Seligman called the ‘pleasant life’ in which a person strives to surround themselves with as many pleasures as possible. Folks in this category are in a constant state of accumulating stuff such as the latest technology, clothes, furniture, cars – the list goes on and on. They are driven toward making themselves happy first and foremost. Happiness to them is showing the world what they have achieved by having newer, better or more. As you might guess, the research shows that since this type of happiness is determined by accumulating things it does not result in lasting fulfillment or happiness. Thus, the cycle continues – as they decide to purchase the next thing to make themselves happy. The sad part is that there must always be – the next thing – for them.

The second type of happiness comes from ‘engagement.’ People in this category find happiness from deep involvement with their family, friends, or their jobs or career. They want to be engaged with others and find great personal reward by doing so. In fact, they receive such positive feelings from their connections that they can become totally absorbed in a life that revolves around others as their source of happiness.

Seligman found a third type of happiness results when we live a ‘meaningful life.’ Once we discover our personal strengths we find ultimate happiness and satisfaction by applying these strengths in service to a cause bigger than ourselves. A meaningful life is more than simply accumulating things or maintaining our connections with others. This type of happiness is achieved from making a difference – a contribution – in a field or to society in general. George Bernard Shaw wrote ‘A Splendid Torch’ which explains this particular view or orientation to happiness quite well.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

The reality is that each of us has our own take on what we need to be happy. Our challenge then is to learn to accept others and their own unique perspectives when they don’t match our own. Acceptance through greater understanding is key.

Have a great few days!

A Little Christmas Humor!

There’s only 14 shopping days ’till Christmas! The parking lots in the malls are packed and in some parts of the country policemen on horseback are attempting to oversee crowd control as they gingerly ride their horses between motorists coming from opposite directions who are both eyeing the same ‘soon to be vacated’ parking space. You know the one – it’s closest to the entryway to the store. You just know the policeman is hoping that this will not boil down to a game of chicken as the space is being vacated by a smug shopper who unlike many of us arrived early and with tons of bags in hand has finished their shopping. Not to be deterred we push on and once inside the department store we are confronted with 25% to 50% markdowns on many items. We think to ourselves, ‘How can I pass up that deal? And find ourselves buying two of something we had intention of purchasing! We will simply review our list and decide who still needs a present and purchase their size – voila it’s done! Never mind the ‘super sale’ was on winter jackets and the family member who is still in need of a gift lives in a climate that experiences 70-75 degree winters. We justify sending the ‘super sale’ item to them by thinking, ‘they may need it when they visit a colder climate’ and we triumphantly cross off their name on our list. Yes! Oh, the fun of the season.

Rather than fighting the crowds at the stores today I decided to try to put up my Christmas lights on the outside of my house. One of my friends bought those umbrella lights that you just stretch over the bush and it’s done. Well, I think to myself, why spend money on that convenience when I have 20 or so long string of lights from last year that could be used. As I drank my second cup of coffee I could visualize myself successfully placing the lights in the bushes and smiling at the fun of it all. My courage buoyed, I decided it was time to go outside and make it happen. How hard could it be? Success is right around the corner!

First, I diligently checked each string of lights to be sure they still worked. Next, I remember with trepidation that I will eventually have to figure out how to set the automatic timer – you know the one with 9 settings or variations on it. Not to be overwhelmed so early in the process I continued to string the lights. Then a strange thing happened… After all the lights were connected to each other I discovered I didn’t end up with the proper end that has the plug on it to connect to the extension cord. How can this be? I could call the manufacturer and tell them that they made a grievous mistake but what if some loving Chinese woman with hands the size of a five year old ended up getting in trouble over my complaint. No, I better go to plan B. Maybe I should take all the lights down and start again but wait – I realized the beginning of the first string did not have a plug either! Seriously! This can’t be happening! After trying at least five different ways of connecting the various strings of lights and noticing that some of the lights that previously worked were now refusing to light up when independently connected to the extension cord I feel myself getting terribly uptight. At one point I swear that one strand which wasn’t connected to a power source appeared to be on. OK – now I am really freaked out! Are the lights smarter than me I wondered?

I must go to Plan B and call in the Calvary. I remembered my friends close by that just seem to know how how things work – as opposed to me who still gets confused about which key unlocks my door unless I put fingernail polish on the ‘special one.’ Or I could go to Plan C – my local hardware store. Maybe they would have some sort of gizmo that attaches to this or that thing to make it all work. Then I remembered how challenging it is to communicate my needs to these strange men who know 50 names for something yet become apoplectic at the use of my words such as ‘thingy’ or ‘whatchamacallit.’ Maybe that should be my last resort I think to myself. So I tried calling my friends and they weren’t home. They are probably keeping the headless horsemen on the police force entertained as they circle the parking lot looking for someplace – anyplace to park. I realized that when we are frustrated it’s hard to think clearly so I took a break and decided to walk away from my project. I remembered the phrase, ‘walk away and no one gets hurt!’ and I did. As soon as I calmed down I remembered that I’m not the straw man from the Wizard of Oz who just wanted a brain. I already have one – somewhere – and decided that given enough time I will figure something out- just not today. Sometimes avoidance is the only worthwhile salve for a bruised ego!

Since wasting time is not an option at this time of year I decided to tackle the Christmas tree instead. Realizing the tree has lights already on it I felt I was halfway home but here is the caveat for those glorious faux trees. You need to be able to manage to hold all three parts of the tree (which together are quite heavy) to get them out of the box. You must be very careful because although the three parts are independent of each other they are mysteriously connected with delicate wires that one must be careful not to damage for the pre-lit effect to work (think of an umbilical cord here to get the picture). Well, the tree is up now and I look at my carpet…how can an artificial tree shed its needles? They are making fake trees too real for my liking! I’m not kidding – is this a conspiracy I wonder as my vacuum goes into overdrive to sweep up that mound of green.

By now, I’m exhausted and think to myself, ‘Maybe tomorrow I’ll attack the outside lights again or just take them down – after all Christmas will be over in 14 days. But who knows, if Santa is watching, he knows I have been good this year and maybe he’ll send one of his elves to my house tonight as an early Christmas gift and make those *+#* lights work! Hey… once an optimist always as optimist!

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of what we put ourselves through and yet the memories can make us laugh for years to come.

Have a great few days!

Be the Change!

Between the world and national events we need a little Christmas in our lives. What has happened may seem overwhelming and we may feel helpless as we struggle to try to make sense of it all. Without having all the facts we simply can’t figure out what really happened that has caused others such suffering as their lives implode. Maybe the best we can do is to remember that each of us can feed into the negative energy or choose to use our own positive energy to help ourselves and others realize the importance of life during this season. The challenge is not to be overwhelmed and forget our human purpose but to rise above it, as difficult as it may seem, as we remember that we are here to learn our lessons – the biggest of which is unconditional love of self and others.

The feelings of the Christmas season, regardless of our backgrounds, elicit a sense of peace, joy and understanding. It is a time when we remember those less fortunate than ourselves in both big and small ways. A smile to the clerk who is frantically trying to keep up with the line of people at the checkout counter, dropping a dollar in the red buckets outside the stores as the Salvation Army volunteers continue to ring the bells reminding us of the need of others. Even a simple phone call, email or visit to someone to brighten their day, can help to change our part of the world. We can make a difference, in so many ways, if we just take a moment to remember that we really do have the potential – obligation even, to change the world – one heart at a time. Although we can’t fix what has happened we can stand tall like a beacon in the night pulsating a signal of light that directs others and guides them home to the truth buried in their heart.

It has been said that it is darkest just before the dawn. Could it be that we are here to help the dawn – the light – surface in the lives of others as well as our own? Maybe this is a test to see just how strong we can be as we are faced with the anger, violence and hatred from the senseless random acts in our world that tear down rather than build up.
One thing is for sure, to quote Winston Churchill, ‘Never, never, never, never give up.’ He repeated this phrase when England was being brutally, continually attacked and all seemed hopeless. His statement reminds us of the importance of holding on to our strength, courage and belief in truth. We must stand for something or we will fall for anything.

Not being privy to all the facts of world and national events can leave us feeling both hopeless and helpless. Remember the phrase from Churchill and do not become overwhelmed or defeated. We can never give up on our truth. What we can do is to make a commitment to be the change we want to see in the world. A critical mass, believing in truth can accomplish what even the best minds in our world cannot. We have the power to change the world because we have truth, peace and love on our side. Visualize the effect of tossing a pebble in a pond and watch the motion of the water as the impact radiates out to the larger body of water. It was just a pebble but yet the effect changed the entire pond!

I believe there is a critical mass of us out there who believes justice will prevail and complete truth will eventually surface as ultimately love conquers even the most deep seated hatred that is directed at us. No one can stop us because, ultimately, love will prevail.

This week let’s go out of our way to project our beliefs. Together we can make the change we so desperately want to see. Just think it all started with a pebble – our belief – that love conquers all.

Have a great few days!

Who Has ‘Text Neck?’

A recent article in ‘The Week’ magazine entitled, ‘The Text Neck’ refers to an ‘epidemic’ that is worth becoming aware of – the craze of texting – which for some has devolved
into a dependency behavior. The latest research on the topic by back surgeons has concluded that those who are constantly looking down at their phones to text are subject to neck cramps, pinched nerves, herniated discs and even early degeneration of the spine especially in the younger generation.

The reason for the effect is quite logical when we think about how our bodies are designed. The normal head weighs between 10-12 pounds. Using computer modeling the researches found that when the head is angled or bowed at 60 degrees (looking down from an upright position to text for example) the strain on the neck increases to 60 pounds – about the weight of four bowling balls! Our bodies simply cannot support that weight over time.

For those who have become addicted to texting (yes – this has become a recognized addiction which has even been linked to increased depression) maybe it’s time to share this information with them. The data is in – permanent physical damage can happen when texting becomes habitual. Further, when we replace active engagement with other people to mere texting we lose our ability to read social cues or develop a stronger sense of self.

When someone creates a limited comfort zone around them using texting as the main way to communicate with the rest of the world they become less rather than more. Real communication cannot be reduced to a quirky three or four word response. Deeper, more engaged communication is critical for healthy family relationships as well as success in the work place. But how does someone develop the critical skills of active communication if they don’t practice them continuously in the real world setting?

Often we can observe families at restaurants or on the mall and the parents as well as the kids are not interacting with each other but are busy texting or playing a game on their phones. The opportunity for true human connection is lost as their fingers tap out their current abbreviated comment to someone – anyone – and they anxiously await a response.They seem to be saying to themselves … ‘I am important to someone out there – just watch and ‘they’ will respond to my latest comment.’ Their phone has become their ‘go to friend’ and they have become so dependent upon it that they can have a melt down if their battery is low. Really?

The benefit of this powerful technology cannot be downplayed. It has changed the world for the better. It can make us more efficient and effective when we need to communicate with someone quickly and even allows us to share something funny with a friend without interrupting them at the precise moment we send our text. However, like anything in life the question boils down to balance and moderation. If those two concepts sound a bit boring to you – think about living without them in your life. Not a pretty picture!

If each of us would consider these implications in our own lives and take the time to gently encourage our family members to consider them as well we would improve our ability to communicate authentically and see the deeper value in the human experience.

If you try to discuss these points with someone you care about who seems to have become addicted to texting and they refuse to listen or engage in the discussion you know you have hit a nerve. That can be a good thing if you don’t give up. After all, we know that sometimes a point needs to be repeated four or five times to get through to a reluctant learner. Don’t we owe it to those we truly care about to share information that would help them in the long run?

Have a great few days!