Achoo. Sniff. Hack, Hack …

This week I have fallen victim to the common cold.

Here is how it went down, and I’m guessing this is kind of common (no pun intended). First, I felt unusually tired. Which, with the exception of dosing myself with some extra Vitamin C, I pretty much ignored, because hey, I’ve got things to do!

Then tired upped the ante: It tossed sneezy and achy into the lineup. In response, I upped my denial game: I went to Walgreens and got myself some stuff to mask the symptoms so I could trick myself into believing I was just fine.

Viola! The symptoms ceased. I zipped all around town – visited the car dealership, picked up the dry cleaning, walked the dog, met with a client, went to a party, had a blast.

Then the meds wore off. And the bone crushing exhaustion, sniffling, sneezing, aching, scratchy throat feeling returned with a vengence. At this point, I have no choice other than to cry Uncle and lay on the couch and rest.

Sound familiar? Have you ever ignored all the signals your body was sending only to end up feeling worse than you would have if you had just allowed for a little rest in the first place?

Why in the world do we do this? Our bodies are brilliant. They know exactly what we need, and they are always more than willing to share that information with us.

Starting last Wednesday, my body made it very clear: “I’m fighting a little bug here.  Pleeeaaassseeee slow down a bit so I can get on top of the imbalance that is happening. I know exactly what to do, I just need extra energy, which you can provide by resting.”

Was it so much to ask? Hardly.

Being tired is not a weakness. It’s a message from your body. A clear, concise signal from your brilliant, amazing, resilient, kick ass body. Today, I’m changing my game. Today I’m choosing to listen. I’m choosing to partner with my body — to work with it instead of against it.

Which is why this week’s blog will be short and sweet. Today, I will be chilling instead of writing.  Also, I might be spending a little time wondering why we humans must we make ourselves sick before we are willing to take a break. Rest is, after all, the balance that creates health. If all the ocean tide ever did was crash onto the shore – if the sea never drew back into itself, even it, with its vast and seemingly endless supply, would eventually get depleted.

So today, I wish you all health and the willingness to take the breaks you need to keep from getting depleted. And until next week, goodnight!

© 2002 The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers, Sarah Lorraine Feit

 

Love to the MAX!

Today is my puppy’s birthday. Sir Maximilian NewMaster The First. Or, as we like to call him: Max. He is the four-legged, fur baby, love of my life. And he has taught me so much about how to live. But pets do that, don’t they?

Truly, there is so much we have to learn from our animals.

I am not simply talking about the obvious things we all sort of already know about. Like unending love and unshakable loyalty. Pets, without a doubt, embody that. As their people, we are in the rare and amazing position of being another’s number one and only priority day in and day out, come what may, no matter what. Pretty amazing, right? That kind of giving is contagious.  Knowing how incredible it feels to have that in my life, I can’t help but want to be that for those beautiful people I call family and friends.

But the wisdom and inspiration of Mr. Max has extended far beyond the notion of love and loyalty. Here are just a few of the things he teaches me every day. (Often with great patience, for I openly admit, I am not always the most willing learner.)

Everyday, without fail, Max reminds me to play. To just set all the crap aside for a few minutes and have a little fun.  And every time I do, I’m that much less stressed for having done it. It is amazing what a little game of tug-a-war can do in terms of putting a smile on your face. It is the ultimate antidepressant.

Another thing Max reminds me of every day, usually dozens of times a day: It’s okay to ask for what you want. Even beg for  it if need be. He has absolutely no qualms about receiving T.R.E.A.T.S. And what a great lesson there is in that. Seems to me we are all entirely too reticent to allow others to treat us. There is this unspoken human agreement that treating ourselves ought to happen only on rare occasion and only after we truly have gone far, far out of our way to prove we deserve it. To that, Max Powers says, “Bah!” Treat me now. Treat me again! And again! And again! Good for you, Max. We all deserve the things that delight us. And we deserve them every day whether we have conquered our to-do lists or not.

Now those of you who know Max know that his idea of treating himself pretty much comes down to one thing- food. And thus comes the next brilliant bylaw in the world of Max: Food is meant to be enjoyed. Even relished. If you really think about it, what the heck is wrong with snarfing down something delicious with abandon? We all have so much stuff around eating. We are constantly counting calories. Cursing carbs. Carving portions. You know what Max thinks when I put a plate of food in front of him? “YUM!” That’s it. A single syllable that says it all. It says happiness, it says gratitude, it says, bring it on I am willing to enjoy the experience! I know when it comes to eating, we are an unhealthy nation, but maybe a healthier attitude is part of what we need to turn things around.

Max, as well as any other pet I’ve ever known, is a master in the art of receiving. This is something we humans could stand to learn in bulk. Allowing others to take care of us seems to be considered a weakness in our culture. Either that, or we are so cautious about being a possible “burden” on another, that we would rather go uncared for than let someone else give us what we need. Not pets. They are more than happy to allow us to take care of them. They somehow innately know that’s the way it works. You have to be willing to give and receive. Otherwise the whole energetic flow in a relationship gets all damned up.

Something else worth pondering: Max doesn’t get bored wiht life. He is always excited to play with a ball. Every single time. And, I’m just guessing here, but I think that has a lot more to do with Max then the ball. He brings fresh, excited energy to every game of fetch because he’s just plain happy to be spending time having some fun with the people he loves. What else is there in the end? If he can find bottomless joy in a tennis ball or a frisbee, surely I can manage to not get bored with my rich and beautiful life.

I could go on and on with the lessons my little boy has taught me… That cuddling actually is a cure for much of what ails you. That there is always a reset button for your bad mood just waiting in a good, long walk. That it is very possible to communicate without words. And most importantly – most especially – that there is an unfathomable real richness and honor in being entrusted by life with the care of another living creature.  But at some point, I have to stop writing about Max and start celebrating with him…After all, there’s birthday apple pie to be had!

So with no further wordy ado, here’s to my child. My mentor. My greatest blessing.

Here’s to you, Sir Max — Happy Birthday, bubby!

© 2002 The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit

 

ORDINARY = EXTRAORDINARY

 I went to a funeral this week. Never a lot of fun, but always a thought provoker. However, unlike the usual thoughts such moments conjure up, this time it isn’t death that’s on my mind. It’s life.

As per the usual, there was a eulogy spoken, reflecting the life this lovely woman had lived. And, over and over, the priest presiding over the services kept using one phrase in particular. “Hers was a great life.” And he was right. I had the honor or sharing in that life. It really was great. And looking around at all the tearful people who loved her, there is no doubt she left behind an amazing legacy.

But here’s the thing about that great life and that amazing legacy – throughout the entire eulogy, I never once heard anyone talk about how much money Jane made or how many promotions she got. Nobody mentioned her investment portfolio, what kind of GPA she pulled down or how many exotic vacations she took. It never dawned on that priest to recall who she voted for or what her view of the socio-economic political climate was.

Could it be that after all our fussing over these supposed benchmarks of success, such things are really not what make a person or a life or a legacy great?

Because the things that were remembered – that brought tears of joy and sadness to the eyes of the people in that church – were of a different caliber completely. Things like how freaking awesome her homemade brownies were. How in her view, a good book always trumped a pile of laundry.  How much she loved her husband, her daughters, a cold Budweiser and the annual Fourth of July picnic. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the priest recounted how she would always, always greet her family with the phrase, “Look how beautiful you are.”

These small, seemingly insignificant things, in the end, were the ones that mattered.

And that notion, I must admit, has got me thinking that there is a very good chance we good people of the Earth have taken our eyes off the ball.

Does it really matter if a fifth grader gets a D on a homework assignment? Is the world going to implode if we all don’t actualize ripped abs or own our own homes? Will it be written on my tombstone that I never ran a marathon? Does it matter with whom we find love or just that we find it? Will the people I love feel any less loved when I die if my portfolio isn’t diversified? (Those of you who know and love me may be asking, “What portfolio?” Just hush, I’m making a point.)

And that point is this: Promotions. Portfolios. Bank balances.  Designer dresses. Corner offices. Red states. Blue states. Test scores. Football scores. Settling scores. These are not the things that eulogies are made of.

In the end, as far as I can tell, it’s the ordinary, everyday moments that we look back on with such fondness. In keeping with the odd sense of humor life seems to have, it appears that it is our little quirks, not our big accomplishments, that wiggle their way into the tender, eternal memory of the heart.

And if that’s the case, then at the risk of oversimplifying, may I just say: Phew. Pressure is off. I’m going to take a little break from chasing the cultural carrot of success that is always beckoning me to move faster, do more, have more, be more.

You know what I’m going to strive to be instead of more? I’m going to strive to be myself. Quirks and all. I’m going to live and love as I am innately equipped to do.

And in the end, I hope with all my heart that whoever speaks my eulogy mentions things like my ability to listen. My willingness to support.  My gift of resiliency and how many times I have been able to put a smile on the face of another. I hope the little cards and personal notes I write get as much play as the best selling books. (Stay tuned; those are coming.) I pray that when it’s all said and done, I am remembered for what I have given, not what I have saved.

Sure, those little things might be ordinary. But guess what? They are also extraordinary. They define a life, how could they not be?

© 2002, The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit

WURD TO THE STRONGLY WORDED LETTER

 I read something inspiring this week. I mean really inspiring. It’s not so much the words themselves (although they are awesome), but the power those words had to fell a giant. I don’t know the girl who wrote it and probably never will, yet I feel totally compelled to turn over my stage this week to this miracle making letter writer.

The gist of the story is this: Her parents, like millions of Americans, we about to lose the home they had lived in for 23 years. An inflated mortgage, coupled with a stroke, job loss and piling medical bills, created to a situation in which they fell behind on their payments. And although were up front with the bank from the get go and tried to renegotiate all kinds of offers, the bank did not care to listen.

Until she wrote this letter. And they did.

Her words are an amazing reminder of the mountains we can move by simply speaking from the center of the heart. Her strongly worded letter contained no F-bombs or other colorful language.  She slung no mud whatsoever. She didn’t pull any punches. But she didn’t throw any either. She simply said what was in her heart clearly, directly and without hesitation or apology.

And once a letter like that, with energy so clear and strong, gets out into the world, there is just no telling how far it can go. In this case, it went to the upper atmosphere of the bank’s ivory towers. And, on the night before the house was to be auctioned, the bank called it off. Sent a workable agreement to her parents.

That, in my book is a modern day miracle. A Dr. Seuss fairy tale come to life with cold hearted, big business, bonus loving Grinch of a bank growing a heart and giving a family back its home.

I salute this girl. And send a special shout out to her parents — you raised her right in that home I am so happy to know you are still living in.

I hope this boosts you all the way it did me.

My “Strongly Worded Letter” to Bank of America

January 18, 2012

Dear Bank of America,

Walking through the front door of our house with tears in our eyes after a coach unfairly cut us from a sports team or a teacher treated us badly, my mom would always threaten that she was going to write him or her, a strongly worded letter. My mom and dad, like most parents, hated seeing their children get hurt. They saw the hurt in our eyes and wanted to make everything better.

Well, my siblings and I are all grown up now and we are seeing the same hurt in our parent’s eyes.  We saw the hurt in their eyes as they struggled to figure out how to pay for an inflated mortgage payment. We saw the hurt in their eyes when after job loss, a stroke and increasing medical expenses became too much, they could no longer afford their mortgage. Now we see the hurt in their eyes after countless nights of losing sleep, worrying about where they are going to live. Seeing this hurt in their eyes over the last year is what prompted me to write you, Bank of America, a strongly worded letter.

My parents, my four older siblings and I first entered the house on Alejandro Drive in the middle of winter twenty three years ago. In the time since, we have left quite a mark on the house.  I am sharing this with you because I want you to really understand what you are getting when you take that house-our home-on Alejandro Drive.

When you enter the house, you will notice the colorful walls and vibrant tiles. We call that my mom’s “mid-life fiesta.” Enjoy that. It was a labor of love. Each colorful tile was made by mom and laid by my dad.

Those book shelves, that mantel, the fence in the front yard…my dad built those. You are welcome.

When you look at the walls, you will see holes. The holes once held nails, which held some of the finest art you have ever seen. This is not art by Picasso or Van Gogh, but by the Bay Area’s best fiber artist, Oregon’s finest calligrapher and New York City’s best abstract artist. You can’t have the art.

There are bigger holes in the walls of the bedrooms from when our teenage angst got the best of us and we slammed the doors so hard it left a bit a mark. Have fun fixing those.

You might see some screws, way up on the highest ceiling. Those were securing the famous “Schmidt family Christmas mulberry branch” to the wall. This probably warrants a bit of an explanation but quite frankly, you don’t deserve one. Good luck getting them out.

You will notice railings on the walls. Those are a new addition to our house. My brothers built them. They were for my dad, to help him learn to walk again after he suffered a massive stroke last November. You probably remember; it was right around the time when you sent my parents a letter telling them their loan modification had been rejected. We really appreciated that.

There is much more that you will never understand about the true value of this house. It is worth more than whatever monetary value my parents owe you. The dinner parties, the sleepovers, the birthdays, my first steps down the hallway, graduations, weddings, and funerals all happened within those walls but they also happened within each of us and you can’t take those memories.

Tomorrow that house, my childhood home, is going up for auction. I will go to my parents house this weekend and pack up the stuff that my parents have accumulated over the last forty-two years. Forty-two years my parents have lived in that town. They have been teachers, mentors, community organizers, coaches, and so much more.  They have given back so much to this community and now you and your corporate greed are kicking them to the curb and letting them fend for themselves. I hope you’re happy with that decision. I hope the money you get for the house is worth the loss that this community is going to feel in my parent’s absence.

Sincerely,

Mary Schmidt

Wurd, Mary Schmidt.

© 2002 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers, Sarah Lorraine Feit

 

BUSINESS TALKS

I made a startling discovery this week.  I realized that after nearly two decades as a “business woman,” I didn’t actually know the first thing about what business really is.  It all kind of happened in the blink of an eye.

I was reading a story about how corrupt and predatory banks and their payday lending practices are. Now, I don’t mean to single banks out, because you can pretty much flip to any channel and somebody’s talking about business being corrupt, being untrustworthy, being in a slump, being hard for the little guy, yadda yadda yadda.

But as I was reading about the banks, I found myself wondering when it all went so horribly wrong. Surely the first guy who went into the banking business wasn’t out to swindle his fellowman. Surely the first person who carved a wooden block into a wheel wasn’t motivated by a desire to overcharge everyone else who would, in turn, want a new fangled wheelie thing.

Surely business, at it’s core, is as full of goodness and potential as the rest of us.

Which is when it occurred to me.  Business and corporate culture are not the same thing.

Tada!

Wow. Turns out I haven’t spent two decades in business. I’ve spent two decades in the warped, mutated expression of business that defines Corporate America. And while I know corporate culture very well, I’ve never broken free from it long enough to truly get to know business at all.

So I opened up my journal and started a conversation with business. I said, “Hiya, Business! If you don’t mind me asking, who the hell are you?” And I’ll be damned if business didn’t start talking back.

Here’s what it said:

“I am the current of energy that is created when one soul says I am ready to give and another says I am ready to receive.

When one soul says I am ready to teach, and another says I am ready to learn.

When one soul says I am ready to succeed and another says I am ready to support.

When one soul says I am ready to open my doors, and another says I am ready to come in.

When one soul says I am ready to grow, and another soul says so am I.

I am the currency of connection. Of collaboration.  Of Creation.

And when one is in the business of truly living, then I am in the business of making living worthwhile.

By allowing you to create stock in yourself.

Exchange the commodities that lie within.

Expand your development.

Merge in order to grow.

Offer shares of your passion with the world.

Invest in human bonds.

Thus increasing your interest and true worth.

And profiting in every way imaginable.

Know this: There are no parody products in the eyes of business. For there are no parodies on this planet. Only unique, one-of-a-kind treasures. With riches beyond measure waiting to be distributed through this currency of exchange also known as business.”

Well, dang… Here’s wishing you all the best business has to offer!

       © 2002 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit

BIRTH. IT’S NOT JUST FOR KIDS!

A friend of mine had a baby this week: A little boy. He is perfect. Adorable. Irresistibly sniffable. (Seriously, what is it about the smell of newborn babies? Yummage.)

I was holding him at the hospital, watching, as he looked around his new world, totally wide-eyed. You could almost hear him thinking, “Where the hell have I landed?”

It made me laugh in the moment. It still makes me laugh now. Mostly because I can so, totally, completely relate. One minute his world was familiar, warm and cozy. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, things started getting a little tight and uncomfortable. Life gave him no choice but to move forward, so he pushed through. And boom: A new world was revealed.

I go through that all the time. And once I find myself on the other side of what had been my comfort zone and in a new place, either physically or emotionally, I’m usually looking around wide-eyed myself. Scratching my head and mumbling, “Huh?”

Once we’re born, we never stop giving birth. To new experiences, new phases, new relationships, new careers, new understandings, you name it. And it’s not a big stretch to see those newborn experiences pretty much always unfold just like our first birth …

First, we find ourselves comfortable in the familiar. Then, something creates discomfort. We’re forced to push through. And without fail, life as we know it somehow changes.

It’s the “pushing through” portion of the process that has me thinking this week. Because something pretty spectacular happens at that point. Action is taken.

The growth that comes in times of comfort and even discomfort happens on the inside. But birth requires action. That baby had to drop into position. Move through the body and push himself out into the world.

That, of course could have never happened without the internal growth period he needed to reach that point. But it was action that made the difference in the end. It was action that changed his world. Without it, he’d still be swimming around in his comfort zone wondering what might be possible.

And it dawns on me that this action side of things is what might be missing from most of the new age books lining our shelves these days. Maybe the real secret to success is getting our butts up off the meditation pillow and showing a little faith in all our positive intentions and affirmations by taking action on their behalf.

Don’t get me wrong. I love those books. I’ve practically read them all. And I’ll probably continue to read them until the day comes that I can’t read anymore. They are inspiring and offer a great deal of wisdom and guidance.

But if I’m being honest, for all of the reading I’ve done about how all I have to do is think it to make it so, little has actually changed in my life. At least not in the dramatic, lottery winning, life-changing ways I’d like.

And, after sitting with my new little newborn pal this week, I think I know why. The mental exercises, the emotional healings, the energetic clearings … they aren’t enough. They are an absolutely essential part of the inner process, but without outer action they aren’t going to do much. It’s like building a car but not actually turning the key to ignite the engine. Not really gonna get you anywhere.

The true language of the Universe seems to be action.

When I think good thoughts, the Universe gives me more good thoughts to think. And that leads to better moods, more positive feelings. All good stuff. But when I speak to the Universe through action, it responds with action. Things actually start happening.

Make a move. And the Universe responds in kind. Moving all kinds of people and opportunities into place so that, miracle of miracles, you can then make yet another move. And step by step (aka: action by action) a path is laid out. That’s God helping those who help themselves.

And, this is jut a guess, but if that beautiful newborn boy, who is still in touch with all of Life’s Universal wisdom could talk, I bet he’d tell me  it’s we call it The Law of AttrACTtion.

©2002 The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit

MERRY CAROLE IN THE RAW!

Just for kicks, I went on a raw diet this past week. It was a post-holiday cleanse, start the new year right kind of thing. Want to hear a few things I’ve discovered?

A raw diet is not as extreme at it sounds. It actually wasn’t hard at all.

Food is most beautiful in its untampered with form. Truly. Every meal was colorful and stunning.

The detox your body goes through when you feed it only pure, raw foods is fantastic. And by fantastic I mean it knocks you on your tuckus.

Brussel sprouts make great juice.  (Just wait, it’s about to get weirder…)

Nut cheese is actually delicious. (Told you.)

Too many beets will turn your pee purple for days. Notice I said plural.

Taking cooking out of the daily schedule unexpectedly left me with a lot more time on my hands.

I kinda think my pots and pans miss me.

Not one single, solitary food coma no matter how much I ate.

My jeans are looser.

My moods have left the swing set behind.

My focus is clearer. So is my skin.

Minus the purple pee, who wouldn’t want all that? The most fascinating part is that all of these benefits unfolded in a relatively short amount of time. Just one week. It confirms a sneaking suspicion I have had for some time now —  that food is powerful medicine. And as I am discovering, the closer food is to its original state, the more powerful it is.

That’s an interesting thought. Things being most powerful in their original state. I’ve been wondering over the past few days if maybe that doesn’t apply to Merry Carole Powers as well.

Could it be that I, too, am most powerful in my original state? The one I came into this world embodying. You should see pictures of me as a kid. I was a fireball and a half who didn’t have a care in the world. But somewhere a long the way, life turned up the fire and that little girl had to duck and roll so as not to get burned.

But she’s making a comeback. Merry Carole in the Raw is re-emerging.

It’s kind of a cool notion, right? That we, just like food, have a raw, pure, completely natural state in which all our molecules and properties are completely in tact. What exactly might that raw state be? Well, seems to make sense that, just as with food, follow the path right back to when we first sprouted. Or, as some people like to call it, birth.

We are, literally, born happy. Ready to love. Open to experience. And, for a relatively few awesome years, totally self confident. That is our all-natural state.

Think about it. As a small child, if you wanted something, say a cookie, (probably not raw), you just went for it. You didn’t wonder, “Do I deserve that cookie?” or “What will people think if I eat that cookie?” And, chances are, if you didn’t get that cookie, you let your feelings be known. Loud and clear.

We didn’t question ourselves or hold back in our raw, childhood state. If we were hungry, we ate. If we were frustrated, we cried. If we were happy, we laughed. Whatever it was, we let it out. Then let it go.

That is raw living. Simple Pure. Healthy.

So how do we get back there? Well, I’m no expert, but what if, for starters, we all stopped cooking up excused about why we aren’t good enough, pretty enough, rich enough, successful enough.

Perhaps its time we stop getting steamed. Avoid simmering in indecision. Take a break from stirring up ruckuses. Separate from people who enjoy brewing trouble. No more boiling anger. Half-baked ideas. Fried brain cells. Stewing over past mistakes.

If we all start feeding our brains and our hearts the raw, pure thoughts we were born with, who knows how mentally and emotionally healthy we might become.

That’s right, I’m saying it – nut cheese for the soul. Who’s with me?

©2002, Book of Duh. Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit

 

HAPPY NEW WORLD!

Wow.  2012. The year we’ve all been waiting for. The end of the Mayan calendar. And the long prophesized end of life as we know it has arrived. And I’m happy to report that as far as I can see, the world is still standing.

So, it would appear the end of the Mayan calendar did not mean the end of the world. Not to play Monday morning quarterback, but despite all the predictions of gloom and doom and the movies that brought them to life, that’s what I’ve suspected for some time.

Maybe what the Mayans, in their great wisdom and foresight, were saying is that 2012 is the dawning of great new age for us. Not one not that marks the end of the world, but just the end of the world as we know it. Which, for my money, can only be a good thing.  Because the world as I’ve always known it isn’t really all peaches and cream. People hurt one another. Hate one another. Forget one another. Swindle one another. We as a human race have definitely not been on the top of our game.

But hey, if those days are fading into the past and the human spirit is ready to start expressing itself in happier, healthier, more team building kind of ways, then I say huzzah! Just think of the possibilities. Let’s say, just for fun, that life as we know it on Wall Street disappears. What that means is that greed would go away. Corruption would go away. Deception would go away. Stealing from, and lying to, those who have put their trust in advisors and investors would go away.

And if all that went away, then what might take its place? Possibly honesty. Openness. A system that operated with an understanding of what money really is. Which, if I may take a momentary diversion, is so much more than we give it credit for. Money is currency, right? And currency derives from current, which is, by definition, a flow or circuit.   Well, currents don’t just come into being by themselves. Generally, they occur because there is an energetic center releasing that currency and another energetic center pulling that current to it. Things that flow have a beginning and an end point.

Looking at money through that lens, it’s not hard to see who each of us might be in that dynamic. We are, all of us, always working, scheming, dreaming, hoping, praying to bring money to us. That pretty much defines our lives. So, if we are the energy centers pulling money to us, it kind of begs the question, where is that currency originating? What is the source we are pulling it from?

Surely it’s something other than banks and Wall Street. Money has been around longer than they have. It outdates ATM’s, mortgage equity, investment portfolios, paychecks and credit card advances. Which means that jobs, banks and economies are actually not the source of money.

Could that mean money comes from a greater place? A less man-made place, more infinite place? I am hedging my bets yes on this one. Because if there is a greater source from which prosperity and worth stem, one that is somewhere beyond the scope of the financial machines and institutions we’ve created, then my guess is the kind of energetic flow that fires it up is one of positive energy.

And if this new world 2012 is ushering in is one of more positivity, awareness, kindness and honesty, then that bodes very well for us. And maybe that’s what the Mayan’s saw: An end to us mistreating and mistrusting each other. An end to the greed, the scarcity, the fear and the disconnection from the richness that truly lives inside all of us. Maybe they saw the dawn of prosperity for all. Prosperity in every way — in our hearts, in our health, and here’s hoping, in our bank accounts as well. Money is an incredible resource that can allow each of us to live the life we came here to live.

And that is my wish for all of us in this new year.

May we all discover the gifts we came here to give and make the world and ourselves more prosperous by giving them. Something like that can only mean better days ahead. So welcome, 2012. And thank you for being the gateway from life as we have always known it to life as we choose it to be.

          ©Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers, Sarah Lorraine Feit, 2002

LOST AND PROFOUND.

It was a year ago this week my father passed away. Needless to say, last year was not the merriest of Christmases. But I’m not looking back to dredge up sadness. There is no sense in that. As far as I’ve been able to figure out, the only reason people should ever look back is to learn. And, in doing so, allow themselves to move forward with more grace and ease.

And as much as I would have loved to skip the lessons of the teacher called death, that isn’t an option. So, in the spirit of moving forward with grace and ease, I look back on this past year with a lens not on what I lost when we physically bid my beautiful father farewell, but on what I found.

Which was a lot. Because as it turns out, death is one profound mother effer.

And I mean that literally. If you break down the word profound into its parts: “pro” meaning to be for or in favor or something, and “found” meaning to discover or unearth something, you’ll get my point. Death is all for us finding a deeper way of living.

The hole it leaves is cavernous. Beyond deep. And if we are going to crawl out of it, we have to get deep as well. Once there, in that new and uncharted territory within, you can’t really help but find something to take with you as you journey back to wholeness and happiness.

One of the things I found in my journey back is how much different it is to bury your second parent. When my mother passed away, I still had my dad to tether me to life as I knew it. But as that sweet, sickly, adorable little man left his body and flew to his greater place of being, he took with him the umbilical chord that tied me to this Earth.

With him died the very foundation of who I have always known myself to be – my first and longest running identity – that of being daughter. From breath one, I was a daughter. Every other role that I came to play in my life came after that. Every other title I ever adopted was built upon it.

But with the death of my dad came the identity shattering reality that I was no longer someone’s child.

And in that moment, I became an adult, really and truly, for the first time. While I have been a successful, independent, self-functioning grown up for quite a while, what I came to discover is that as long as I was someone’s child, I was not fully an adult.

No matter how old or accomplished you are, as long as you get to be somebody’s kid, a part of you resonates to that and draws from it. I drew the most incredible sense of love and support from being my father’s daughter ever day of my life. I didn’t have to think about it, look for it or try to feel it. Until it was gone. And I did.

When my deepest source of love and support slipped into another dimension, I had no choice but to reconnect into the only love that could ever be more vast than the love in the heart of my father. And, as it turns out, that was the love found in the heart of Life.

This past year has been one really dig deep inside myself to find the place that connects to the Universal source of love and support. The center of the core of the nub of the nucleus of the hub of the heart of it all.

Talk about profound.

Talk about life altering.

Talk about a pain in the ass.

Obviously, I jest. But in all fairness, growth on that level, when you really commit to it, can be a tough row to hoe at times. And in many ways my first steps into true adulthood were much like my first steps into childhood. Wobbly. Uncertain. Lots of falling down.

Yet every step was worth it. Looking back, I can say my entire life, and probably a great many more before this one, have been leading me to the visceral discovery of the simple truth that I am loved. Regardless of whose face is or isn’t in front of me and whose heart is or isn’t sharing it, Love is mine. It is my birthright as a child of this Universe.

That has been the ultimate find in the loss of my father.

I now truly understand on all levels that it is not, nor has it ever been, a matter of deserving love. We all deserve it. We don’t have to look a certain way, do a certain thing or make a certain amount of money to attract love. The very act of doing those things is born from some quiet, hidden belief that love isn’t already ours.

Take a look around your life. Those spouses, friends, children, pets, playmates… They are not the source of the love you feel. They are simply the priceless venues through which Life is delivering the experience of Love. The person, place or thing bringing that feeling to us is a spectacular stand in for the Great Love of Life. Which is fantastic news. It means when that person, place or thing goes away, the love remains.

Love is. Simple as that.

You can fight the is. Ignore the is. Deny the is. Embrace the is. Expand the is. It doesn’t really matter; love can’t be made weaker or stronger by our reaction to it. But we can. Our ability to receive what is always there waiting for us will strengthen or weaken us to the extent we really learn to let love in.

Somewhere, a long time ago, I heard a saying that went something like this: When someone or something moves on, leaving a void your life, something will always grow in its place. And usually that something is you.

I warned you this would be profound. Boom.

 

A STAR IS BORN

I celebrated a birthday this week. And, for the record, it was a very happy one. They always are for me. I love celebrating being here and being me. But this year, as my favorite people sat around my birthday cake singing fantastically out of tune, life itself gave me an unexpected gift. It gave me a bona fide, happy birthday Aha moment.

I looked around. Saw candles lit up. Saw faces lit up. And in the background, saw all kinds of Christmas decorations  lit up as well. And suddenly the message from life became pretty hard to miss: “See the light.”

Specifically, I believe it was talking about the light within.

Because, in my opinion, that’s what was really born those not so many years ago. Not just the red-headed girl, but the spark inside that lights her up. Truth be told, this face I see in the mirror – the one that loves to smile, and these legs that love to dance and these arms that happily hug … they’re all expressions of the light that shines within me. They are ways for the light to get out there, show itself, pass itself on. (And hopefully, on and on and on.)

So, if that is the case, then it begs the question: Why in the world are we all focusing on the number of candles on the cake when the real message is found in the glow they’re giving off? Perhaps birthdays aren’t a reminder we are getting older but rather, are a reminder that we (just like our cakes) are destined to get brighter.

It’s a lesson, right? It has to be … the more you shine your light, the brighter and more brilliant life becomes. It makes me think of a really happy memory involving the daughter of a dear friend.

When my friend’s little girl was learning to say my name, instead of Merry Carole, she used to call me Merry Candle. (Ummm …Awesome!) We loved it so much we convinced her for years that it was actually my name. Looking back on that from today’s perspective, maybe we didn’t just love it because it was cute. Maybe it struck a chord deep down inside. Maybe just maybe, subconsciously, it felt really good to have another human being call me a light. In a world that often considers it boastful and self aggrandizing to embrace and celebrate the light within, that little lady gave me permission to shine.

Shining is what we were born to do. I honestly, truly, cross-my-heart-and-kiss-my-elbow believe that. We are all stars. Every one of us. We have something to give and a way to shine that is uniquely ours. We don’t have to light up the entire world, to shine. That’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on our light. A little shining can go a long, long way.  Take, for example, my dentist.  He has this incredibly gentle manner. And, knowing how I am illogically fearful of my visits, every time I sit in his chair, he has a set of headphones waiting for me, with classical music to help soothe my anxiety. That, in my opinion, is a way to shine.

Every time I drive through the bank, this one particular teller gives my doggie a treat. That’s a way to shine. My dad used to give little frozen Milky Ways to all the neighborhood “kiddies” as he would call them. They would ring our doorbell constantly, and each and every one of them was that much more happy when they walked away with the treat. That was a way to shine. An amazing way to shine.

We don’t have to have our names up in lights to be stars. We can shine brightly on the stages of our lives every single day. The simple, manageable ways we come up with to illuminate our gifts and brighten the lives of those people we come in contact with are all ways to shine.

All this talk about shining our lights brings to mind one of my all-time favorite pieces of writing. One that I’m sure many of you are familiar with, but in my opinion, can’t be read enough: (Thank you, Miss Marianne Williamson.)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Seems to me that a human afraid or unwilling to shine is like a dolphin being afraid to swim or an eagle refusing to fly. It’s an unnatural state, one that leads to missing out on exactly that for which we are born… the very thing that defines us and gives us our ability to move around our world with joy and freedom.

And yes, just to bring this post full circle, I got all that from a birthday candle.