How Small is Your Prison Cell – part 2 – You Can CRUSH It Even in Hard Times!

Canva - nullSo, we are still talking about the limiting beliefs that you might have that are making your self-made prison cell very small.  This particular entry is fitting for the situation we are in right now!

When we are faced with an “event” which is usually more of a crisis at first, most of us immediately go into victim mode.  We wallow in the agony of what has happened to us. OH! THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL!!!  How could this have happened to me?  This event will end life as I know it.  I will never be able to recover from this horrible thing that has happened to me.  I don’t deserve this, yada, yada, yada.

Let me assure you, when this pandemic happened and we were given the order to shut down businesses, close down beaches, don’t drive unless absolutely necessary and shelter in place, I nearly lost my ever-living mind!!!  I was screaming from the rooftops about how mad I was about this and that.  I was spreading negativity to anyone who would listen to me.  I was fighting with strangers on social media until I was having anxiety attacks multiple times every day.  Finally, it got so bad that I felt like something snapped in my soul.  I thought I was having an actual mental breakdown.  I shut down for 2 whole days.  I felt bad, I had a headache, I was exhausted and just needed a break.  Then I figured out that I hadn’t had a mental breakdown, I had actually snapped back into sanity.  It was at this point that I started to follow my own advise.

I turned off the TV, I stopped reading the negative posts on social media and I started filling my mind with positive things.  It wasn’t that I was sticking my head in the sand.  I wasn’t pretending the EVENT didn’t exist, I just came to the realization that I couldn’t change it no matter how mad I was or how much I screamed.  It was beyond my control.

In order to get out of the box of our self imposed prison cell, we have to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX – outside the walls of our belief that have bound us!  When things feel the tightest is when we need to stretch the hardest.  We can let the EVENT be the dead end or we can let the EVENT be the catalyst for us to forge a new path or look for a new trail.  I’m really going to age myself here, but I think about “The Dukes of Hazard” and the General Lee.  Those crazy country boys drove that car through some hair raising obstacles.  In my minds eye I see them racing down a dusty, country road being chased by multiple cop cars.  They are barely able to stay in front of them until they come to a white water stream.  Instead of slamming on the brakes to stop at the edge of the stream, they pour on the gas and fly OVER the stream.  All of the cop cars slam on their breaks and stop at the edge of the water.  The General Lee clears the stream and the boys are free.

The very first thing we all have to do is either believe that we CAN overcome the EVENT or believe that we MUST overcome the EVENT.  Sometimes desperation is the greatest motivator.  After you believe you must overcome, its important to separate yourself from the event and look at it from outside.  Look at it from an aerial view.  See it for what it truly is instead of how it feels to you.  What barriers does it put up?  How has it changed the rules?   Look at it objectively.  Don’t get sucked into what everyone else is doing because most of the time they are going to be screaming and shaking their fists at the edge of the event.  Don’t become part of the herd mentality.  If you look at it from above you might see the barrier ends just beyond what people can see by standing right in front of it.  Find the loop hole.  Find the path less taken.  Find a way to turn the event into your personal WIN.  What small alterations could you make to what you do to get you around the event?  How could you do it so that you still have a servant’s heart?

Restaurants have been hit hard by this current EVENT as have so many others, but let’s just look at restaurants right now.  They had to close their facilities to dine-in customers BUT they could do carry out.  Those who have done the best with the crisis are the ones who took carry out to a whole new level.  They made romantic dinners, complete with candles for the table, available for carry-out.  They played off the meals in a box we can now order that we prepare at home.  They came up with “make it yourself” boxes so people could successfully cook really good food at home.  Those who had a large social media following started making daily videos of how to prepare food then offered them the boxed meal that they could order.  They made sure to post mouth watering entrees in to-go boxes every day on social media.  They got the word out that they were alive and well.  They gave the impression that they were thriving during hard times.  Because they believed it and because they showed it to their customers, their customers continued to come.

Bar tenders could do a daily video or social media splash on “Drink of the Day” where they concoct and prepare a drink with specific instructions for their followers to make at home.  Of course, they could always offer the drink for carry out if the viewers didn’t happen to have all the ingredients at home.  The tag line would be something like, Just Add Ice!  By making a personal connection to customers online, they build trust with their customers and the following grows.

If a retail store was closed down, the owner could create a daily video with their dog.  They could show themselves opening boxes of new merchandise and showing it to a dog, or a baby, or a stuffed animal to emphasize that they were in quarantine but then turn to the camera like they just realized their customers could see into the store and offer the merchandise for online ordering.

The key is, no matter what event you are facing, there is always a more positive way to think about it and to deal with it.  Sometimes we are faced with things more difficult than being shut down by a freak of nature.  As a result, sometimes the way around the problem is harder.  The truth still remains – what you think and what you believe about your EVENT will have either a positive or a negative impact on your EVENT.  Enlarge your prison cell by thinking outside the box and seeing possibilities on the other side of the prison cell.

How Small is your Prison Cell? – part 1

1D306A54-8530-4F46-8650-FE4F34622AD9It has been said that we all construct prison cells around ourselves.  The walls, ceiling and floor are made up of the beliefs that define us, the people that surround us and the fears that limit us.

The question each of us must ask ourselves is how small have we made our prison cells and are we happy within the confines of our walls.  Let’s first look at our beliefs as these pour the foundation of our lives.  The funny thing about beliefs is that most of them are not even ours!  They are beliefs passed down to us by those who were around us in our earliest years – the years before we were even capable of forming our own beliefs.

How about your beliefs on religion?  If you were raised in a religious home or even an anti-religious home, these beliefs could be the very corner posts of your prison cell.  Those who raised you instilled these beliefs in you from the day you were  born and , in most cases, offered no room to deviate from the belief.  Even after you were grown and started to have questions about some of it, you would not dare bring up your wavering faith to those who raised you.   For those of you who chose your own religious path in adulthood, this may not apply.

Kevin and I were both raised in the Christian Church.  The religious rules he was raised under were decidedly stricter than mine, but we were both given a strong religious belief system.  There were no questions as to what was true.  We were required by God himself to live a life as close to perfect as possible.  Every single time we did anything wrong, we were sinning against God and he was disappointed in us.  We had to believe that Jesus Christ came to earth in human form, preached his perfect message, took all of our sins upon himself so we could be saved and then was brutally murdered so that we could live forever in Heaven.  After he was dead, he was thrown in a cave with the doorway blocked by a huge stone.  After three days, he rose from the dead.  Badda Bing, Badda Boom, believe it or dwell in Hell for all of eternity. Period.

Then one day the thought occurred to me that maybe there was more than one point of view.   !!!GASP!!!  The thought that started me down this rabbit hole came to me while in elementary school learning about the Native Americans.  According to the doctrine we were fed, they were obviously savages who believed in multiple, false Gods.  Our forefathers were appalled and demanded that they be taught proper religion so their  souls could be saved.  I looked up pictures of their religious sites and practices.  I researched how closely bound they felt to their version of God – how they worshipped and believed.  They believed in a higher power just as strongly as we did, it was just different.  When I asked the BIG question to a Christian scholar, I was shocked at the answer.  I asked if all the Native Americans that had ever lived and died, were now in Hell because they hadn’t been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  The answer? “The only way to Heaven is through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.  If they were not baptized, they were not saved.”   WOW!  That just didn’t sound like the God I prayed to in my endless prayer journals.  How could that even be a thing if these people had never had the opportunity to be taught about Christianity?  If their beliefs in a higher power were just as strong as mine, what made their beliefs wrong and what made my beliefs right?  How were we capable of judging when the Bible clearly tells us to not judge?

Think about this.  What if you had been born in a different part of the world?  What if you had been born to Muslim parents? Or Hindu parents?  Wouldn’t your beliefs in the religion you were raised with be as strong as your current beliefs?  Wouldn’t you then say that Christianity was completely wrong?  I mean, think about this –  what if YOU were raised as a Hindu and believed with every cell in your body that their multiple deity religion was the one true religion.  You would have Hindu holy books and scriptures that you would study just like we have our Bible.   You would believe that your Holy Scriptures were the true words given to you from the deities you worshipped.  Maybe you had never even heard of Christianity or whatever religion you practice?  Just take a minute to let that soak in.

The moral of the story is this:  if you have made your prison cell extremely small due to your rigid religious beliefs, is there any room to expand the space by at least opening the door to the possibility that maybe God is too big to be squashed into one tiny, confining box?  Maybe humans are not even capable of comprehending the concept of what God truly is.  Maybe trying to define God by a set of human rules is like comparing the color of the sun to a yellow crayon.  Before we condemn another human to eternity in Hell just because they grew up under different religious rules, maybe we could get to know that human on a personal level.   I am not suggesting in any way that anyone give up their own religious beliefs.  I know faith has given me a strong foundation on which to build my life.  I’m just asking, is there any room to expand our prison cells to be more accepting of others?

 

What if . . . We Chose Bliss?

31cca70c8ade7a51ecbd52addca84f19What if this virus vanished tomorrow?  What form of new normal would you choose?

What if during this time of reflection you chose to follow your bliss instead of following the herd?  Would you go back to the job that paid the bills but left you emotionally, spiritually and physically bankrupt?

What if you chose an occupation that provided for all of your material needs but filled your emotional, spiritual and physical bank accounts to overflowing?

What if you chose to admit that emotional bliss is more important than financial abundance.

What if you chose to believe in who you truly are – who you were destined to be on the day of your birth – who God sent you here to be – instead of who others and society told you to be.  From the day you were born, your parents, community  and society started teaching you who you should be, how you should behave, how you should eat, when you should eat, when you should sleep, what you should study, how you should look, who you should love, who you should hate, how you should earn a living, what you should fear and what you should desire.

What if you saw that all of this conditioning is just the deep desire of others to make you be like them or what they acknowledge as acceptable?

What if you gave yourself permission to be who YOU want to be, to love who You want to love, and be who YOU find acceptable.

What if you chose to support the human race instead of the rat race?

What if we, as a collective, could choose to rid ourselves of the desire to climb that illusive ladder, to be better than anyone else, to compete with others until we could hold our competitor’s severed head high above the crowd to prove we were the victor?

What if we chose to see that we always need others in order to succeed?

What if we worked with a sense of cooperation instead of competition?

What if we chose to do whatever we do with a servant’s heart instead of a winner’s heart?

What if we chose to live our lives in tune with the rhythms of the earth instead of by the never ending sweep of the hands on the clock?

What if we chose to live our lives guided by the lights of the sun, the moon and the stars instead of the buzzing, flickering, false light of the flourescent  bulbs on the other end of the light switch?

It has taken me nearly 60 years, but I have finally decided to follow my bliss.  Do you know what I am at my core?  Do you know what I came here to do?  I am a writer.  I came here to write and to give my writings to anyone who wanted to read them as my gift – not with the singular goal to become wealthy but with the goal of gift giving.  If I am given an outlet for my words, I already am wealthy!  Do you know when I first knew I was a writer?  I was a second grade student in Mrs. Huff’s class at Fall Creek Elementary School.  Mrs. Huff was gone for the day so we had a substitute teacher.  Our morning assignment was to write a paragraph about anything we chose to write about.  In my mind’s eye I saw a glorious sunrise over the high-rise buildings of New York City.  I wrote about the rising sun spilling it’s golden rays over the tops of the buildings like syrup flowing over a stack of pancakes!  LOL!  So dramatic!  Anyway, we had to go up to the teachers desk individually so he could read them.  When he read mine, he swiveled his chair around, put his elbows on his knees so we were eye level, looked me straight in the eye and told me my writing was amazing!  In that moment I knew I had the ability to see something in my mind and get that vision on paper.  To this day it amazes me how we can string a group of letters together to form the threads of thought to weave the very fabric of life!  For my whole life I have kept my writings in  journals in a tote in the attic.  Why?  Because, like all of us, I let others tell me their version of their truth.  I let them tell me that becoming a writer was nearly impossible and if I ever did get a book published, I could never actually make a living at writing.  I needed to be more in life than a writer – more than a day dreamer.  So now, 50 years from that day in second grade, it’s time for me to be my authentic self and to write.  What if you chose to join me on this quest for the truth?  What would you be if you chose to truly be you?

Can COVID-19 be our Hero’s Journey?

EED6C999-B8E2-44A6-80F7-C5C8D805DE66Our quest continues as the unprecedented pandemic of 2020 evolves day by day.   How can this unique time in the history be equated to a Hero’s Journey?  I was not familiar with a Hero’s Journey until yesterday when we were watching the film “Finding Joe” by Takaya Solomon – which I highly recommend.   I found the premise of the hero’s journey fit our current situation  perfectly.

The Hero’s Journey is an odyssey we all take at one time or another.  Right now it is so strange that the collective of humanity,  including you and me, are all on a version of a Hero’s Journey at the same time.  Usually this is an individual event that happens in someone’s life while the rest of the world goes on pretty much without  notice.  Today we are all offered the opportunity to experience the journey both individually and collectively which is fascinating!

There are three parts to a Hero’s Journey.  The first is a separation, followed by an initiation and completed with a return.  A wonderful example of this process is when Jesus went into the desert for 40 days to be tempted.  He was separated from all that he considered his normal life.  During his time of isolation in the wilderness, he faced great challenges or obstacles before his return to his new version of life.  This is the definition of the Hero’s Journey – something happens to separate us from our normal life such as a medical diagnosis, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a divorce, a natural disaster, or maybe a life changing accident.  Once we are forced from what was safe or comfortable, we are left without a foundation to stand on.  So many questions come up.  How can I regain my health? How will I pay my bills?  How will I make it on my own? Where will I live? How can I ever recover from this?  We will all struggle for a period of time as we try to make sense of what has happened and to absorb the shock of the situation.  This is the initiation phase, when we feel all the feels, the anger, sadness, hurt and shock.  This is the phase that transforms us.  We have the opportunity to come out the other end stronger, better or more bitter than we were before.

So here we find ourselves today.  We are in the initiation phase of our collective Hero’s Journey.  It is the decisions we make right now that will impact who we are when we come out of this crisis.  What can each of us do personally to make our lives better and what can we do as the human race to make our world better?   Do you have a secret dream?  Is there something you have always wanted to do but you were  worried about what people would think?   If you have lost your job, is there something else you would really love to pursue?  The opportunities are ripe for the picking right now.

Another fascinating thing I have discovered is that in the Chinese language, there are two symbols combined to represent the word “Crisis”.  Some sort of crisis is always the thing that causes the separation phase of our Hero’s Journey.  The first symbol means “Danger” and the second symbol means “Opportunity”.  Maybe it means there is the opportunity for danger in a crisis or maybe it means there is opportunity hidden within the danger.  The interpretation is really up to each person.  We all know those who have had something terrible happen to them and they never really recovered.  They re-enter their world as a shell of the person they were before.  On the other hand, we also know people who had something terrible happen to them and they rise above it to re-enter the world better than they were before.   For the vast majority of us, we are being forced to choose our new paths.  Even if you have not been negatively impacted by the pandemic, this is still a time you can choose a different path if that is what you want.  What will you choose?

Thanks for being here today.  You are very much appreciated!

 

 

What is the lesson from the Pandemic of COVID-19

 

It has been over a year since I have written.  It has been a year filled with new changes in more ways than anyone could ever have predicted!  When thinking about this time period, the word that most aptly fits is “suddenly!”  So many things have happened “suddenly that our lives look completely different than they did a year ago. 891CD4B7-F5D3-4720-8464-35330C3B1A0A

A year ago our dream of moving to Florida “suddenly” happened.  We decided to sell our house instead of the business and run the business remotely.  Our house sold very quickly so “suddenly” we were on a plane to our dream location to find a house.  “Suddenly” we were packed up and leaving everything we knew behind.  As soon as we settled into our new home in sunny Florida, “suddenly” we had a buyer for the business.  “Suddenly” we had no more ties, other than family, to Indiana.  “Suddenly” we were hosting guests in our home all the time!  We constantly had visits from our loved ones up north and we LOVED it!

 

And then “suddenly” everything stopped.  The virus was here and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt.  “Suddenly” we lived in a world filled with fear – fear of each other, fear of becoming sick, fear of losing jobs and livelihoods, fear of economic collapse, fear of the unknown.  “Suddenly” we were alone, locked in our homes with no idea of what might come next.  “Suddenly” the entire world got quiet.  “Suddenly“, in the midst of the quiet, I knew that I could either be part of the problem or I could be part of the solution.  I can’t make the virus go away and I can’t cure the sick, but I can spread hope for the world when this enemy leaves us.

 

We have all had the experience of walking into a room where 2 people have been fighting.  The air is filled with heavy, fear laden energy.  If feels terrible!  We have also all had the experience of walking into a celebration and felt that energy.  It is light and joyful and exciting.   “Suddenly” the entire world was heavy laden with a world wide blanket of fear.  Depression became the norm for huge numbers of people.  During this time I had to get myself out from under the burden of darkness.  I went inward to spend time in the divine light.  “Suddenly” I was able to see that maybe this pause wasn’t all bad.  Maybe this slow down is a time of pause to reflect on how we want life to  be in the future.  Maybe we want to re-enter a world where we can have lives filled with peace, harmony, oneness with the earth, oneness with all of humanity and oneness with God.

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I had a vision of a ray of pure, white light passing through a prism where it breaks down into the entire spectrum of color.  I saw humanity as being the prism in reverse.  Every single one of us has a light within us.  Because we are all different, our lights are all different hues of the spectrum of light.  No color is better or worse than another color.  Green is not better or worse than orange – they are just different colors of the light spectrum.  By coming together with a desire for a better world, we could join all of our individual lights, focus our light through the prism to form one beam of the pure, white light of the divine.  Maybe this is a great battle between good and evil, the light and the darkness.  I don’t know.  I do know that by focusing positive energy towards the future, better days will come.

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Suddenly” the time is here for us to focus on the future we want for our children.  We can choose to focus on fear and darkness or we can choose to focus on the light.  What is your choice?

Thanks for joining me today.  Please leave comments below so we can focus our light.