What are your fondest memories of 2017? (Yes, 2017- creating a future memory)

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.” — Khalil Gibran

I know what you are thinking, ‘you can’t have a memory of something that hasn’t happened yet.’  This is not about time warping, but it is about playing a trick with your mind.  Scientists have demonstrated that our minds are not very good at separating reality from imagination.  Our bodies will physically react simply to our thoughts.  You know if you think about something embarrassing your cheeks begin turning red.  If you think about something upsetting your heart beats faster.  Our mind is a powerful tool and we can choose to use that tool to set some new intentions for the New Year.

In Solution-Focused Therapy there is a powerful technique called A Letter from the Future.  To do this, the client is asked to relax and envision themselves one year from now.  They have gotten through the difficulty or challenge that they are currently facing and are doing well.  The client is asked to feel that future self and to use their senses to experience what that future self, who is wiser and happier, now knows.  They are then asked to begin writing a letter from the future self where the future self describes where they are now at and what they are doing.  The future self describes the most important steps they have taken to get to that point.  It also offers wise advice and kind words of encouragement.

Our imagination is a powerful tool, but often we use it to create future memories of worst-case scenarios.  This New Years, take a few moments to use your imagination and create some fond memories of 2017 that you can’t wait to experience!

The Gift of Christmas

This week I would like to share some beautiful words that are not mine.  This passage is an excerpt from Neale Donald Walsch’s “Christmas is You.”  The entire story can be read at  http://www.lightparty.com/Spirituality/ChristmasIsYou.html.

“The gift of Christmas is US, fully expressed and fully realized. It is US — completely willing and totally ready — to love without condition, to give without restriction, to share without limitation, to create without fear, to celebrate ourselves without shame or embarrassment. It is US, choosing to forgive without hesitation, to help without being asked, to rush in where angels fear to tread.  Indeed, to lead the way for angels. Ah, to lead the way for angels. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’ve come to the Earth. To be a herald! Hark! The herald, angels sing. Glory to the newborn king. At this moment we can give birth to the royalty within us…the royalty that we ARE in God’s eyes. You know, someone once said…if YOU saw YOU as GOD sees you, you would smile a lot. Well, this season is a night for smiles. For now, if we really try, we can almost see ourselves as God sees us. We can feel it. That feeling is called love. Your love for life, and all those you love in this life. And God’s love for you. Now, the Magic of Christmas is that it gives us permission to take that feeling, to take that love, and share it with all those whose lives we touch. With friend, and with stranger. With those who agree with us, and with those who disagree. With those who look and act like us, and with those who do not.  We are invited during this time to feel this love, and to give it permanent place within our heart. To be the source of peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men and women everywhere. We are invited to walk the Earth not only as one who is BLESSED, but as one who is blesséd. Not only as the Lord of the manner, but in the manner of the Lord.  For that is what we are. We are the lord of our inner kingdom, and thus, of the outer one as well. And when we understand that, everything changes. We begin to experience the world, and to affect the world, in a new way.  That is the Christmas invitation. And should we accept this invitation, we really can bring joy to the world. And heaven, and nature, will sing. Only Love Prevails” — Neale Donald Walsch

A New Take on the Christmas Story

“Christmas makes me happy no matter what time of year it comes around.”–Bryan White

I have always loved the feeling that comes at Christmas time. People seem to become more giving, loving and peaceful. It is truly magical when we take time to soak in the season. While Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus during this time, several years ago I heard a new take on the Christmas story that is universal. I’d like to share it with you here.
In the Bible, it says that Mary had a strong faith that was unwavering. Because she was able to hold onto her faith, despite the difficult circumstances around her, she was given a divine gift. In our lives there are divine ideas which come to us. All of the great inventions and movements which changed the world began as an idea. Where do these ideas come from? Mary Morrissey has said that ideas are God’s currency. When we are curious, we are open to new ideas. There is a difference between a low level idea and a divine idea. Low level ideas are based on conditions, what I think is reasonable and possible. Divine ideas are the big ideas that come to us out of the blue. They are the ideas that grab our attention and make us take notice. These ideas are a divine gift. When the angel told Mary what was to come, her immediate question was, ‘How can this be, I’m a virgin.’ When we are given a divine idea it is something new. We have never done it before and it often feels bigger than we are capable of handling. Although Mary’s faith waivered initially, the angel told her of another miracle that was also happening and Mary resumed her faith. We too, can look to other people for inspiration. Amidst all of the negative news, there are stories of miracles. This time of year more attention seems to get focused on the good in the world. When we see what is possible, we gain confidence to follow our own divine ideas. Then there is the period of challenge. While Mary was pregnant she had to travel over difficult terrain. She was denied room at the inn and eventually gave birth in a stable. When we are given a divine idea there will be challenges. It may not be easy and people may not support the idea. It may even appear to be imperfect in how it is coming about. Holding onto faith and not giving up, even when others deny it or turn you away, is part of the journey. When we hold an unwavering faith, we too find that nothing is impossible. Mary is truly an inspiration and looking at her story from a metaphysical perspective gives it a new meaning. What divine idea are you ready to birth into this world?

The One Big Question for Every Relationship

“You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.”– Barbara De Angelis
Relationships are complex.  Whenever two separate individuals choose to spend a significant amount of time together and share living space, there are bound to be some differences.  While in a healthy relationship, most issues can be resolved without major disruption to daily life, there is one question that always needs a ‘yes’ answer.  When this one question is answered with a ‘no’ small differences become big issues.  What is this big question? Are you there for me?  Dr. Sue Johnson developed Emotion Focused Couple Therapy and came up with this powerful question.  She uses the acronym A.R.E. to focus couples on the three components that are crheart-1506255_640itical for emotional responsiveness.  ‘A’ stands for Accessibility.  Can the partners reach each other?  When they are accessible they stay open to each other, even when struggling to connect.  ‘R’ is for Responsiveness.  Can the partners rely on getting an emotional response.  Are they tuned into each other?   Are they picking up on each others emotional signals and providing comfort to their partner?  The ‘E’ is Engagement.  Do the partners engage each other and give each other their attention?

In our day to day life it is easy to get side tracked.  It is easy to focus on the kids, cooking, cleaning or work, while missing opportunities for connection with our partner.  There is no denying that most couples are busy.  I often hear that they just don’t have time to focus on each other.  The relationship becomes the last thing on the priority list and most days it never gets checked off.  One of the things I discuss is that feeling connected and knowing that your partner is there for you, happens mostly in small moments.  It can be a knowing glance or a smile.  It can be just a few words of support or a question about their day.  While often, these small moments are taken for granted, they are important for developing connection.  Each little moment is like a stitch in a quilt.  The more stitches, the more securely fastened the fabric is.  When we miss little moments we start to fall apart.  How many small moments can you make today?

Moving out of your comfort zone

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney

What does it mean to be comfortable?  Merriam-Webster defines comfortable as, “Affording or enjoying contentment and security.”  Their example was “a comfortable chair: was too comfortable to move.” There is a paradox in the word comfortable.  While it is something that we strive for and want, it is also one of the biggest barriers we face.  When we are too comfortable we stop moving.  We don’t want things to change and we do anything we can to keep the comfort we had.  While on the surface comfort sounds like something we would like, the reality is, life does not stop moving when we are comfortable.  Life moves on and if we are sitting back being comfortable, pretty soon life pushes us and we become uncomfortable.  I often thishoes-8373_640nk of comfort as something that needs to grow with us.  The shoes that were comfortable for us when we were five are no longer comfortable now.  We have to keep getting larger sizes so that we can remain comfortable.  Our life is like the pair of shoes.  We are continually growing, but many people would rather keep the same size shoes for years.  When they notice that things are starting to become uncomfortable they complain about the shoes and try to keep their life small enough to fit in them comfortably.  Changing shoes in life isn’t easy.  There is often a lot of discomfort when we take off the life that was too small and put on a larger one.  Many people mistake the pain of taking off the shoes as something that went wrong.  The failures, divorces, job loss, and illnesses are often looked at as things we label as ‘bad.’  Although it is true that they hurt at the moment, when we continue to move forward we put on the new pair of shoes and find that life has expanded.  There is a new comfort that can be experienced.  As Walt Disney said, curiosity keeps us moving.  When we are in the process of a major life change, be curious about what good can come from it.  What lessons were meant to be learned?  What relationships can be strengthened?  What opportunities lie on the other side?  Staying curious opens us up to our next level of growth and expands our comfort zone.  As Neale Donald Walsch has said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”