Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘strength’

A Life of Meaning

‘We are gathered here together to get through this thing called life.’ This line from the musical icon Prince says it all. We have chosen this time to learn our life lessons and celebrate along the way. Prince showed us the power in diversity, acceptance and love. His message of unity is perfectly juxtaposed in a world of discord and division. He stood for social justice and lending a hand to those in need. The timing of his death seems to serve as a signal to all of us…to think, do and love. 
Prince challenged us to feel something bigger, deeper within ourselves. You could feel the Universal light force in him. He did not allow himself to be bound by time, race, gender or profit. He was beyond, above all of that, and pushed us to celebrate the importance and magic of life.
What causes a performer to be able to reach audiences spanning from their 20’s to their 80’s – beyond genres and generations? Simply, the universal values of truth, caring, acceptance and love – the ultimate wins in life. His songs, a true inspiration in themselves, were paired with a quiet philanthropy that only a few of his closest friends were even aware of – ‘just quietly do from your heart’ could have been his tag line. 
His spiritualism was evident from his famous 3 lens sun glasses (the middle lens designed to emphasize his third eye – the eye of enlightenment and higher consciousness) to the famous lyric, ‘I never wanted to cause you no trouble, no pain, only wanted to see you laughing in the Purple Rain.’ When we think of the words in that hit song we can imagine the rain as a cleansing element. When paired with the color purple which represents imagination, strength and integrity it signifies the union of body and soul in spiritual fulfillment. Faith in something bigger than himself gave him the personal power to carry on and on and on to produce 39 albums in 35 years – an unheard of accomplishment. 
Prince literally had his name taken from him (at birth he was named Prince Rogers Nelson by his mother) early in his life as both his music and name were hijacked by the music industry – all in the name of profit. He was also challenged by personal choices of escape. Yet through it all he continued to work to show us that no matter how grim things appear, we must never give up seeking truth to become a better person. 
The mark he made on our world was evident. Last night the entire New Orleans Super Dome was awash in purple light, the streets closing in Brooklyn so people could dance to his music and the emotional tributes offered by so many including the President. Kind just takes your breath away.
It’s not just his music but his message of inclusion, acceptance and celebration of the life force within us that will help us survive, thrive and evolve as we face tomorrow.
I visualize Jimmie Hendrix, Michael Jackson and David Bowie, among others, extending their hands to him as he passed on and with a nod and smile simply saying, ‘Welcome home brother, thank you for a life well-lived.’
Have a meaningful few days.

Adversity can be a Double Edge Sword!

We all know someone who just seems to experience so much more adversity in life than others. We may think to ourselves if they didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all. How do they cope with it? How do they continue to put one foot in front of the other and face another day? These individuals can teach us a great deal about compassion and resiliency.

Two studies soon to be published by Dr. David DeSteno and graduate student, Daniel Lim of Northeastern University help us understand the real effects of adversity in a person’s life. We may think that living through adversity would naturally cause a person to be more compassionate but there’s more to it than that. DeSteno says, “Living through hardship doesn’t either warm hearts or harden them; it does both. Having known suffering in life usually heightens the compassion we feel for others, except when the suffering involves specific painful events that we know all too well.”

In the later case it seems our minds can quickly move into a judgment mode. The studies indicate that when we see someone living through an event similar to one we have lived through the natural human response is to downplay the difficulty we had in dealing with our life challenge and think to ourselves, ‘Well, I made it through and they just need to buck up and move on.’ Oh, if it were only that easy.

Each of us has chosen specific life challenges for the lessons involved. We cannot equate or compare one individual’s ability to cope to our own even in similar circumstances. Another way to think about it is that no two dramas are the same because of the human factor. We may have overcome a hardship or life altering event but it doesn’t mean that someone else can heal at the same pace. That’s what the stages of grief teaches us. Everyone has a right to heal and overcome at their own rate and time. Recognizing the needs of the individual and giving them the gift of time and understanding is where compassion comes in.

When we live through the loss of a loved one or experience,moor example, emotional or physical abuse the loss, fear and anger affects each of us in our own way. Some scars are deeper than others and take longer to heal. There is no blueprint to follow for the complex task of healing. Each of us struggles to understand and accept life according to our own strength, tenacity and reserve.

The next time we hear of someone who is experiencing a difficult time coping with an event in their life maybe we could put aside our own life experience, especially our words of advice, and just be there to listen and show we care. The greatest healing energy comes from the power and honor in the human connection.

The pay off to accepting where someone is at and offering an empathetic ear and caring heart is double fold. The person has a shoulder to lean on as they attempt to right themselves after the onslaught of their latest challenge and by bonding with them during a critical time in their life we fuel greater compassion and resiliency in ourselves. Something to think about.

Have a great few days!

What Makes You Happy?

Pharrell Williams’ song, ‘Happy’ puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. Such a simple melody with uncomplicated lyrics yet it speaks to me. I am immediately transported to a place that tells my feet to dance and warms my heart. What puts a smile on your face? What makes you happy? It’s important to go to ‘our happy place’ as one my friends calls it, whenever we get a chance. It recalibrates our thinking and can give us a shot of much needed energy.

Positive energy is more than a concept. It’s a feeling of vibrancy, strength and even love which says, ‘I can do this, I am confident, I am worthy, I am grateful.’ You can actually feel and recognize this type of energy in others. Check it out as you are walking into work, or at the store. How many people do you come in contact with during a given day that radiate this type of energy? Are you radiating the same back to them? Remember energy is a like a magnet what you give off comes right back to you!

As we all know, not everyone radiates positive energy and that’s unfortunate. When we run into someone that seems to radiate a ‘ poor me’ mentality it’s important to give ourselves permission not to engage in their latest drama and simply recognize it for what it is …. an attention getting device that for some has been honed into an art form over the years. We can’t seem to make them better no matter how hard we try and that’s okay. They have a right to their mindset but it doesn’t mean you have to buy in or accept it. Think of putting up an invisible shield around yourself when you are dealing with someone who is negative. Don’t let them effect you.

As individuals, the way we generate positive energy for ourselves differs in innumerable ways. Regardless of our chosen form of ‘happy’ the importance of it remains. We have a limited number of days on this planet. We can learn the lessons we have chosen to learn through a mindset of positive or negative energy. When difficulties happen if we look for the lesson in them rather than allow ourselves to blame or become angry we win. Remember the saying – every cloud has a silver lining. The choice of how we face life’s challenges is always up to us.

When I am around a person who seems to generate positive energy it lifts me up and I am grateful for their presence. Being happy isn’t always easy but it’s important to constantly work at – little by little – until it becomes just a natural part of our being. The Universe doesn’t make mistakes. Recognize and celebrate all the good in yourself and others. It’s worth the effort!

As Pharrell ‘s song says, “No offense to you…can’t nothing bring me down, Happiness is the truth.” Yes it is …

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!

Everyone’s a Teacher!

The author William Arthur Ward wrote, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The traditional view of a teacher is one who has taken the content and methodology courses, earned the degree and is in charge of a classroom of eager learners. However, there is an expanded view of the role of teacher that effects us all.

We are all teachers in our own way every day of our life. Our thoughts, attitude and behavior speaks volumes and serves as a model to those around us in this classroom called life. As a life teacher we can see that sometimes what people need may differ from what they want – yet we help them learn to appreciate what they need because we believe in them and want them to be happy and successful.

Take a moment and think about a challenge that has been presented to you recently. How did you handle it? Did you demonstrate the strength and tenacity to overcome and work through it with grace? Did you look past the issue at hand and demonstrate with confidence the belief that ‘this too shall pass?’ Hopefully, you did because without even realizing it someone – a student – is watching…When you think about the role of life teacher to those you love the ultimate question is – are you satisfied with your teaching? Is it the best it can be? Are you helping to instill in them a belief that ‘All is as it should be’ and that life is a never ending quest of personal development?

Take a moment and think about the best teacher you had in life. I’ll bet that person inspired you to achieve, to reach a higher level of understanding, acceptance and achievement. They refused to allow you to use others or circumstances as an excuse but encouraged and pushed you to be better because they believed in you. Wouldn’t it be incredible if each of us became that ‘best teacher’ to at least one other person sometime in our life?

As a model for others the greatest gift we can give them is the understanding that although they can’t always control the cards they are dealt, they can control the way they play them. We can help them discover that they have the capacity to overcome against all odds and will actually develop more self-confidence from these life challenges along the way.

Life is difficult, not for the faint of heart, but above all it is fair. It is exactly what we chose for this incarnation even with all the challenging lessons we may be presently encountering. Each has a purpose, a reason for being.

There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher comes along. Be ready to be that teacher to someone in your life by modeling the behavior that you want to see in them. Your contribution will be immeasurable in helping someone further discover their strengths and change the world!

Have a great few days!

Extend a Hand

I recently received a heartfelt letter from a woman in California who had read my book, ‘Just Behind The Door.’ I thank all of you who have had the opportunity to read the book as well as those of you who have emailed me your impressions. Losing a child, regardless of their age, or a partner, parent, sibling or best friend causes us to walk a similar path through grief. It is so important to know that you are not alone and that yes, the feelings of loss can be so overwhelming they can take you to your knees. There is nothing wrong when you momentarily feel so deeply that you question life itself. The deeper our love the deeper our grief.

What IS important to know when you are troubled about anything is that you will make it through – not necessarily totally unscathed – but you will make it through when you reach out to others for help. Regardless of the type of help whether reading about someone else’s journey, joining a loss group, working with a counselor or simply talking, talking and talking to a family member or friend about your feelings enables you to get the raw, gut wrenching hurt and fear to the surface. It may take weeks, months even years to truly heal. It’s okay – we are each on our own unique timeline in this life journey. Getting your feelings to the surface is THE critical first step in healing. At the surface there is light and with that light energy the slow, deliberate process of healing will begin.

Some might think that a person is strong if they don’t fall apart at times and show emotion. You know the reference to the saying attributed to the upper class British, ‘keep a stiff upper lip?’ Well, originally that was in reference to sewing the mouth closed of a corpse before throwing it overboard at sea. Kind of puts things in perspective doesn’t it? Show me a person who doesn’t struggle with their feelings when loss or difficult things happen in their life and I will show you a person who is sad, angry and alone.

True strength is being willing to admit vulnerability and seeking out someone to confide in who will truly hear you. Just as you can either be someone’s lifeline or anchor you can also be your own. The choice is always up to you. Being your true authentic self takes courage and by sharing your feelings it gives others the chance – the honor even – of being there for you. Those who are the happiest in life seem to have learned this lesson.

Remember the lyrics from the song written by Tommy Page, ‘A Shoulder To Cry On,’
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on…
a friend to rely on…
you will feel better
if you let me walk with you…
by your side…
you won’t be alone…
a friend to rely on…
with you ’till the end.

Let’s show how strong we are by making a commitment to be there for others when they need us and to open up to others when we need a listening ear and caring heart. We reincarnated together, this time around for a reason and just like the links in a chain, together we are stronger.

Have a great few days!