Monday, March 28, 2005

To Be Authentic, Follow Your Bliss

You can't be authentic unless you're following your bliss.
- Wayne Dyer, Staying on the Path

You can't claim origin or authorship of your life unless you're going in the direction of that which puts you in a state of extreme happiness or spiritual joy.

In other words:
If you're trying to live by someone else's rules, someone else's expectations, someone else's belief system, etc, you're not being YOU. Living this way will never bring you true happiness.

However, the bottom line is:
In order to BE YOU, you have to know WHO you are.... And that means spending some time with your Self and finding the answers to these questions:
  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
Since finishing grad school nearly two years ago, I have been wrestling with these questions and doing some major soul searching about my life and what I'm supposed to be doing with it. And in a lot of ways, this past month feels like its been a big test - like a final, comprehensive exam of my whole life!

One month ago, the end of February, I had finally come to a decision about what I wanted for my life. However, it was a bit tentative and I was still questioning whether I'd chosen the right path or not. So I asked for divine guidance.....

What I learned was that asking for 'divine guidance' is about the same as asking for 'patience'.... Don't ask for it unless you've got your seatbelt fastened and are ready for a wild ride!

Because what you get is a whole bunch of life experiences that offer you the opportunity to BE patient..... Or in my case, a surprise offer that made me question, re-think and re-evaluate my previous answers to: Why am I here? What's my purpose? and What the heck do I really want?

This re-evaluation process also gave me opportunities to 'speak my Truth'. And that's one of the key ingredients in my previous evaulations that had been missing. It's one thing to mull things over in your head, looking at different options and possibilities, but until you 'try on' different scenerios and situations to see how they feel, it's all just ideas floating around in your head.

When you speak the words out loud, it you gives a circular, whole-body kind of experience - you say it, you hear it and you interpret or digest it. Having a support partner for this is critical.... And I had several - to whom I am eternally grateful!

Basically, I'm back to "plan A". Except now I have a clearer picture of where I want to go and a stronger sense of "ownership" and knowing that "yes, this is the real, authentic Me."

Here's to continuing the Journey... and finding clarity and support on the road to blissful authenticity!


Need help knowing who you are and what you want? Try these resources:

Free Enneagram Test - based on an ancient system, discover which of the nine personality archetypes you fall under (site also has a comprehensive Enneagram FAQ)

Free Happiness Quiz - score your happiness level in 11 different areas of your life

Choosing Happiness - The First Step - a three-session starter coaching program designed for Happiness Quiz participants who are ready to begin the journey toward 'authentic bliss'

20 personal development and spiritual growth programs at Higher Awareness - a wonderful collection of programs to help you know and grow yourself

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Guilt - How are You Using it?

Guilt is an irresponsible choice. As long as you feel guilty about whatever you've done, then you don't have to do anything to correct it.
- Wayne Dyer, Staying on the Path

We all have our own sense of 'right' and 'wrong' which is built from childhood experiences, teachings from parents, teachers, religious organizations, as well as our own personal study and musings. Lumped together in one category, it becomes our 'belief system.'

When we do something that violates this belief system, we feel guilty. Peter McWilliams, in his book DO IT! defines guilt as "the anger we feel toward ourselves when we do something 'wrong'."

Trouble is, however, most of us have not sat down to really evaulate our 'rights' and 'wrongs.' And even if we have, we have a tendency to feel guilty for things we don't necessarily think are wrong.

Guilt becomes a habit. Even when we know it's a waste of time, we feel it anyway. Then we feel guilty about that! And if that's not enough, when we've blamed ourselves to death, we find something or someone else to blame. At that point we start chanting various forms of "The devil made me do it."

Avoidance is the outcome of guilt. We either vow to not do that 'offending' thing again, or we promise ourselves to avoid the person, situation or thing, etc that 'caused' our 'downfall.'

Either way, it's an irresponsible choice. It lets us off the hook for taking responsibility and it leaves us wallowing in 'poor me' thinking.

But what if we used guilt in a more healthy way?

Guilt is anger directed toward ourselves, and anger is the energy for change.... The gift of anger, however, is the physical, mental and emotional strength to make change.
- Peter McWilliams, DO IT!

Most of us are trained to use anger as a tool for blame and feeling bad. But what if we actually used it as a tool for taking responsibility?

What if, when we feel guilty about something in the past, we used that guilt energy to make amends and clean things up?

What if, when we feel guilty about something in the future, we used that guilt energy to not do the thing, or to do it if it's guilt over a potential omission.

What if, when we feel guilty and there's nothing we can do, we used that guilt energy to change the belief about the aweful thing we did. (Bear in mind here, that I'm not talking about guilt over actions that cause physical harm to others or to yourself, like fighting, child, abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, stealing, etc. I'm refering to guilt that violates a self-established comfort zone built on a limiting belief system.)

The guilt habit is deeply instilled in our psyche. Changing it takes a lot of energy and perserverance.

However, because the anger of guilt comes with a lot of energy, there's a lot of energy available to redirect it. It's just a matter of remembering to refocus that energy toward change instead of blame.

And that takes practice.... remembering to refocus and redirect the energy over and over and over....

Which is what the "Journey" is all about!

Here's to continuing the Journey.... learning how to redirect our focus and turn guilt into the energy for personal change!


Friday, March 25, 2005

Inner Knowing

When you know rather than doubt, you will discover the necessary ability to carry out your purpose.
- Wayne Dyer, Staying on the Path

Here's the scene:

Accounting class - second semester, mid-semester test due back today. In walks the student - a musician, late 20's, slight 'attitude'.

Waiting anxiously for the test results, she thinks, "I'm pretty sure I did okay. I was familiar enough with the terms and concepts. Besides, it was multiple choice, how hard can that be!"

Finally, it's her turn. The teacher hands her the graded test, folded over so others can't see. She opens it up and looks....


She is shocked. Devastated.


It's in the "familiar enough with the terms and concepts" part. Being "familiar" with something is not the same as "knowing" something.*

When you really know something, you are able to express it to another person in words - whether on a test or in a conversation. It involves a 3-part integration process: absorb the facts/concepts, digest the information, then speak it out in your own words. This process solidifies the knowing. Up until that point it's just reciting or memorization.

What does all this have to do with today's quote?
  • Knowing = certainty
  • Doubt = uncertainty
When you get past the "absorb" and "digestion" stages of uncertainty and indecision, and begin to move into the knowing, where you can speak your truth with confidence, then all of heaven will work to synchronistically move you toward your intended destination.

Doubt is the beginning and the end of our efforts to know.
- Sir W. Hamlton

Here's to continuing the Journey... learning to let go of doubt and move into the knowing, where miracles happen!


(* Why in the world she was taking Accounting II in the first place is another story for another day!)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Abundance of the Heart

Against All Odds
Against All Odds,
originally uploaded by bwaters.
Doing something you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.
- Wayne Dyer, Staying on the Path

The key to understanding this "cornerstone" is found in the definitions of abundance and doing.

To me, abundance signifies more than just money. It encompasses our thoughts, our feelings, our attitudes and in a very real way, the essence of who we are.

Checking in with Webster and his 1989 edition of the Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, this definition called out to me:

abundance - overflowing fullness: Abundance of the heart.

Abundance of the heart.... The only way I know to get there is to be in love with life. And the only way I know to being in love with life, is to fill your life with the things you love! People, projects, work, objects, activities.... everything!

And all of these life aspects are embodied in the "doing" this quote refers to.

However, before you can get to the doing, you have to look at the being - the human being - which brings me to these important questions:
  • How can you know what it is you love if you never ask?
  • How can you know what fills your heart if you never notice?
  • How can you know who you really are - your essence - if you never spend quality time with YOU?
Once you know who you are and what makes your heart overflow in its fullness, only then can you begin to create a life of abundance.

And often, I have found, going in the direction of your abundance is very different from what other people think your 'abundant direction' should be!

That's why this picture, Against All Odds, speaks to me so loudly. (Click on the image or the title to read the description and see a larger version.)

This picture also reminds me of the 'defiant attitude' in the song, I Will Survive, recorded by Gloria Gaynor:

I will survive - as long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive; I've got all my life to live, I've got all my love to give and I'll survive; I will survive.

Here's to continuing the Journey... and having the courage to be who you are and do what you love... against all odds!


PS. I have always believed that if you hear something three times, it's a message from God and you really need to listen. I would like to thank my three recent "messengers" (Stephen, Tim and Paul) for their comments and encouragement yesterday and today. In my struggles to listen to my own essence and move forward in my own 'abundant direction,' your words have given me a second wind to keep on keeping on! Thank you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Are You Weakened or Empowered?

Being against something weakens you, while being for something empowers you.
- Wayne Dyer, Staying on the Path

It is said that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

In the same way, it takes a lot of energy to be against something. Through the years, many people have put lots of effort into fighting crime, fighting drugs, being against war, against abortion, resisting this, resisting that....

And the result is ....?

What about those people in your life you continually butt heads with. I know there's a few in my life! How has resisting, fighting or being against them made things better for you?

If you're like me, it's only brought you more of the same frustration. And how "empowering" does that feel?!

Truth is, what we focus on grows. You focus on frustration, you get more frustration. You focus on your resistance or fear or hatred of something or someone.... you get more opportunities to resist, be afraid and hate.

So, how do you turn it around? How do you start being for something so that you can start feeling empowered?

It begins with letting go, or at least being willing to let go.... letting go of the resistance, the fear, the hatred, the need to be right, the need to control.... letting go of the emotional investment in whatever it is you are against.

And it continues in each moment - each "now" - in the willingness of your heart to choose peace instead of fear, peace instead of resistance, peace instead of anger... peace instead of whatever negative emotion you are experiencing.

A great way to anchor in your new choice is to take a deep breath and put your attention on something that makes you smile. (If you're way into the negative emotion, then make yourself smile - even if it's fake!) Then, carry this thought with you throughout the day.

And remember, it never hurts to ask for help - divine or human!

Here's to continuing the Journey.... choosing to be empowered instead of weakened, for instead of against.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Going Beyond Enslavement, Living in the Now

Your lifetime in form is to be honored and celebrated. Go beyond your enslavement and live fully in the now, the only time you have.
- Wayne Dyer, Staying on the Path

Well... these are definitely words I need to hear today!

How much time have I wasted living in the past, wishing things were different, wallowing in 'poor me' or just living unconsciously, going through the motions, not really engaged in what I was doing or in the people around me?

Way too much!

In Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now, he reminds us that we are not bound by our "life situation" and that in the moment that is right NOW, we have the power to either change it, or let it go.

In any given moment of upset, he suggests that we ask ourselves this question:

Can I do something about this right now?

If the answer is yes, then go do it! If the answer is no, then let it go and put it out of your thoughts.

As long as our thoughts are pre-occupied or consumed by troubles, dislikes or uncertainties around our life situation, we are enslaved. And in this enslavement, we cannot fully honor and celebrate the now moments of our life.... which are all we really have.

This moment, this "now" is where life is happening. If we miss it... it's gone.

Here's to continuing the Journey... staying on the path and learning to be fully present in each "now."


Monday, March 21, 2005

Staying on the Path

Inspired by my friend Paul who is doing a series of special posts for this Holy Week at Off the Beaten Track, I have decided to also do something special this week.

After toying with several directions to go, I've decided to use randomly selected quotes from Dr. Wayne Dyer's book, Staying on the Path. My plan is to post one quote each day and then add my own comments.

Generally, I see this Holy Week as a symbolic journey inward. It's a time to bury, or let go of all the things that we've been holding on to – a chance to let go of all the things that keep us stuck, such as fears, hesitations, doubts, and ’yes buts'. It's sort of a metaphysical 'spring cleaning' for the soul preparing us for Easter.

Easter represents freedom, rebirth and renewal - a time where we become re-aligned with our joy in life. A time for starting over with new energy and excitement. Contemplating these things, the randomly selected first quote was no surprise:
Once you become detached from things, they don't own you any longer.
For me, "things" refers to much more than just material "things". It encompasses people, actions, events, affections, outcomes, job titles, labels... or anything that affects our self-worth.

Since there's no way to avoid coming into contact with these various aspects of life, I'm suggesting that we look at these "things" in a different light and ask ourselves these questions:

"Have I attached my self-worth to this 'thing'?"

"Would my self-esteem remain intact if this were taken away from me?"

Like Dr. Dyer suggests, if our self-worth or our self-esteem is linked to something outside of us, then it "owns" a part of us. We do not own our whole self.

One of my biggest challenges is that I like to be in charge, and as a result, I often pile way too much on my plate, only to become totally overwhelmed a few months later. I think the underlying culprit for this is that I tend to attach myself to the "labels" - or to the words that describe my different abilities and the roles I have played at various times in my life.

The biggest example of this has been in the past couple of years. Moving from a very large church in Atlanta, where I was in a full-time leadership role overseeing and directing several groups, and coming to a mid-size church here in Huntsville, where I am just a part-time organist has been an adjustment. However, I felt like I'd gotten this "beast" out of my system.... until a few weeks ago....

Being offered the opportunity to 'help out' and fill in the gaps in an interim position, I
started feeling the old 'pull' to start loading up my plate again, mainly because I have the ability and the experience to offer.

However, remembering the detachment process I went through a couple of years ago when I first moved to Huntsville, a move which allowed me to focus my life in other directions, I have had to stop myself and ask:

Would the time and effort needed to do these tasks energize me? Or would they drain me?

If the answer is that they would give me energy, then I need ponder no longer. If, however, I sense that they would drain me, then am I willing to let them go and allow someone else to do them?

Answering those questions has been a learning process - a process that constantly has me asking:

Have I attached my self-worth to this? If it were taken away from me, would my self-esteem remain intact?

Here's to continuing the Journey... staying on the path, and learning to detach from the "things" of life.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Duped Again!

... and I did it to myself!

Today's Beliefnet Daily Wisdom was right on....

The key, during both life and death, is to recognize illusions as illusions, projections as projections, and fantasies as fantasies. In this way we become free.*

You know, I would love to know how the hell to do that! For some reason, I always have trouble seeing 'reality' the way it really is.

For instance, this life-changing opportunity I thought I was given.... Last night I discovered that the 'opportunity' I'd been agonizing over was never there in the first place!

Once again, I had ignored the clues and made up my own fantasie 'reality'.

As I've agonized over this fantasie decision in the past two weeks of blog posts, a reader's comment about me being thrown a curve ball was an excellent premonition-type warning to me.... Unfortunately, I see now that it wasn't THEM throwing the ball, it was ME!

Do I feel like the Fool, or what!?

Here's to continuing the Journey... wanting hard to just throw in the towel and get out of the ball game altogether... but reminding myself that it's the process that matters.... and making myself take another step forward anyway....


The above quote came in today's Beliefnet Budist Wisdom daily newsletter. I could not find a link directly to that page. Sorry. Here is the credit info from the newsletter:

Quote came from Lama Thubten Yeshe, Introduction to Tantra.

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations, edited by Josh Bartok. Reprinted with permission by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A,

Monday, March 14, 2005

Body Wisdom

These past few days I've taken several more trips Around the Cup gathering and trying on new information concerning a decision I've been actively trying to make over the past couple of weeks....

And this morning, the choice of Which Direction to Go? was crystal clear.

Now, this evening, I'm starting to feel the fear of actually taking a stand... and announcing my decision.

Part of me wants to just disappear.... or at least stay in limbo about it. But I know that would be just prolonging the agony.

However, when I hold the two choices up side by side, my body is very clear with it's signals. One choice feels heavy with the weight of resistance, even though its pathway is familiar. The other choice feels light and 'freeing', with a slight tinge of excitement because its path is more open and unknown.

So.... really... it's just a matter of when.

((A little Divine Guidance.... or maybe even some Divine Intervention would be good here..... Thanks!))

Here's to continuing the Journey... paying attention to what my body is saying, and listening for 'when.'


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Asking for Help - Follow Up

I've meant to follow up on a post from mid-February, Asking for Help, for awhile. I can't believe it's almost been a whole month since I wrote that post! (February 12)

And I must confess, I haven't been consistently good about asking for help. But... that day, almost four weeks ago, I remember going extremly well. Everything seemed to go smoothly! If I encountered a problem or a questions, I literally, asked for help.... and the results were amazing! I found answers to questions and solutions to problems almost immediately.... or within the next 5 minutes! It was a day of continuous miracles and uplifted spirits!

So why did I not continue this strategy consistently the next day?

Was it too good? Did I not feel like a deserved such amazing help?

I know from years of metaphysical studies that you only allow into your life that which you think/feel you deserve....

Hm... something to ponder....

Today, however, I experienced a different "flavor" of asking for help.

For some reason, I was in a very pissy mood and could not shake it. I really did not want to go through the whole day pissed off. Especially knowing that Thursdays are one of my longer days.

I remembered the teachings from A Course in Miracles.... At any moment you can choose peace instead of this.... And if you're in a place where you can't choose peace yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to choose peace for you....

So I asked for help.... (Look, I'm pissed and I can't seem to shake it. I want peace. But I don't think I can get there right now. Help me. Choose peace for me.)

This prayer was uttered as I got in my car to drive to my first appointment. By the time I arrived, I realized that I was feeling more that just "peaceful".... I was in a really good, happy mood!

And the happy feeling stayed with me most of the day.... But even when my state of mind couldn't really be described as "happy" there was still an underlying sense of peace. And when I felt it waning, I just reminded myself to choose peace again.... (instead of worrying about whatever I felt myself about to dive in to.)

Can I continue this tommorrow? Obviously, I can.... but WILL I?

Here's to continuing the Journey... learning to ask for help consistently, and being open enough to accept the good things that come my way.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Starting Over... Letting Go

Monday.... A new week.... A new day.... A new beginning....

I woke up this morning with a sense of "starting over."

Last night, I finally got the March issue of my newsletter out - a project that I forget how much time it really takes, sending it out only once a month.

Also, I feel a great sense of "letting go" concerning a decision I'm in the process of making. (See There's Always a Choice and Walking Around the Cup for background info.)

Over the past two weeks, I've become clearer on more and more details of what I want in my music and teaching studio, in my coaching practice, in my personal life, and in the potential opportunities that are on the horizon.

Now, the only thing left to do is hand it over to God - which I have done. Throughout the discerning process I used the "letters to God" approach found in The 11th Element, refering to God as our Inner CEO.... "This is what I think I want. Please give me this or something better for the highest good of all."

And in essence, I have let go of attachment to the outcome. I've never realized before what a tremendous sense of relief that could give.... Or, maybe I've never really let go...?

Anyway, now, I can get back to concentrating on my day-to-day activities and projects knowing that my "Inner CEO" will let me know when there's something specific I need to know or do.

Meanwhile.... think I'll clean my desk and get ready for this week's surprises!

Here's to continuing the Journey... letting go, starting over, and listening for guidance.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Walking Around the Cup

A friend of mine in Atlanta lovingly refers to my thinking process as "walking around the cup."

I admit it.... I can not get from point "A" to point "B" in a straight line. I am very much a circular thinker! I can not, for the life of me, figure out how people make a list without considering all the options from all the various different angles first! How in the world do you know what to put first on the list, then second and so on?

Anyway... this "life changing opportunity" (see There is Always a Choice) has basically thrown me for a loop! I've been mentally and emotionally worthless most of the week. A friend said to me, "Don't do it unless you mean it." Well, it has taken me several times around the cup, with each one being a sort of "clearing" process getting me more and more focused on what I want and what I don't want, to finally get me to the bottom line.....

I can no longer hide from 'speaking my truth', as I call it.... and I can no longer make choices without being in full integrity.

And I can now at least say, "yes, I want to explore the possibilities of turning this opportunity into a reality" and mean it.

The unexpected benefit, is that I also now feel a sense of "release." I can stop being all wrapped up in this decision and get back to doing the things I need to be doing! I can get back to living my life!

I've said, "yes, I'm interested." What else can I do besides get back to doing what I was doing before..... heading in the direction I was going.... and wait for further inspiration and guidance?

Here's to continuing the Journey.... listening.... and walking with integrity around the cup.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

There is Always a Choice

Monday afternoon I was handed a totally unexpected life changing opportunity.... One that, if taken, will change the direction I was headed in 180 degrees.

What to do? Use this as a 'sign' that the direction I had decided on was incorrect?

Or use it as a 'test' - testing my resolve and committment to my previous choice?

This seems to always happen. Once I finally make a choice and DECIDE, another opportunity comes up - usually offering something completely different.

I know in every moment of life we make choices - but they're usually not this BIG! I feel like I'm at the threshold of a major change in my life.... And I can't seem to concentrate on any of the other things I'm supposed to be doing! It's like I'm caught in a time warp or something....

What if I make the wrong choice? What if I make the right choice? How will I know the difference?

My friend said to me, "Don't do it unless you mean it."

Can I sustain the "meaning it" through each day? On those days when things aren't going well or when I get discouraged can I still mean it? 100%? In either choice these days are bound to happen.

There are pros and cons to each direction, and either choice offers its own unique path toward self-growth.... because that's what life is all about.... our journey toward wholeness....

So... is it just a matter of choosing the scenery?
.... There are scenery and lights and a cast of thousands
who all know what I know.

It's in everyone of us to be wise.
Find your heart open up both your eyes.
We can all know everything without ever knowing why.

It's in everyone of us to be wise by and by.
- It's in Everyone of Us (David Pomeranz)
I don't know yet. And all the fretting and flittering about doesn't change that fact in this moment. Guess I'm trying to think too much. I need to let go of logic - it's just spinning me in circles!

What does my heart want?

What does my heart want? Therein lies my wisdom.

Heres to continuing the Journey.... learning to let go and listen for inner wisdom.