Friday, December 26, 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Heart

On Christmas Eve I woke up and walked past the mirror and glanced at my reflection. I do not have high expectations of how I look when I first get out of bed and often laugh at my Hiawatha hair. But this was different. I almost didn’t recognize myself. Something was wrong. I looked at my eyes. They looked flat and dull. Still in logical, rather than spiritual mode, I got out a flashlight and looked a little closer. Then it occurred to me, my eyes lost their sparkle.

Knowing my life needed a spiritual boost and not a visit to the optometrist, I sat down in front of my altar and began to pray. I’m a devout Buddhist and my daily ritual includes reciting part of the Lotus Sutra every morning and chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Since this is something I have done daily for more than 20 years, there are times when my prayer – or chanting – is not as powerful as it can be. On this particular morning I made certain I would not just go through the motions. I took a deep breath, thought about how grateful I am to have the ability to use prayer to transform my life and I connected with the enlightened state that all of us have within.

However, I still felt I needed something more to get me through the holidays. I went to the library and looked for Sonia Choquette’s newest book, The Answer is Simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit! The city library had been facing deep budget cuts and this included a cutback on the purchase of new books. However, much to my surprise, they had a copy of Sonia’s book. Unfortunately it was checked out. I put my name on a waiting list and was told they would request the book from another branch. My spiritual pick-me-up would be in my hands in a couple of days.

However, I still felt like I had a little work to do. I went back to the library shelves and found two other books to generate a little internal good will. I made my way to the self checkout desk and proceeded to check out a book on aura cleansing and one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. However, when I scanned the book the computer screen directed me to talk to a librarian. I figured something must be wrong with the book’s barcode. My initial reaction was to forget about the whole thing, but not wanting to leave empty handed I marched over to a librarian for assistance.

Much to my surprise, less than 10 minutes after requesting Sonia’s book, and before I could hightail it out of the building, someone returned the book, a library clerk checked it back into the system, and it sat on a cart waiting for me to take it home. Even Scrooge would have to take note of the incredible timing of this little Christmas miracle.

Before I left the library parking lot I took the CD that came with the aura cleansing book and popped it into my CD player. My mood shifted into a more spiritual realm as I considered my good fortune. When I returned home I began reading Sonia’s book. Within the first few pages she outlined the symptoms of a disconnected spirit – right down to the description of eyes that have lost their sparkle. I was living through my ego and not my authentic, spiritual self. No problem, I was ready to reconnect again.

All of the serendipitous events of this Christmas Eve were not lost on me. I was fortunate enough to take note that my eyes lost their sparkle and I took the initiative to do something about it – pray. With a body fueled with good intent and a desire to make positive change, I went to the library at the right time to get exactly what I wanted and needed. And not what I needed two days from that time, but at the exact time I needed it most.

On Christmas morning I was in the mood for a little levity. During the holidays I have a silly, little Christmas comedy medley I enjoy listening to. Unfortunately, no one else in the house shares my enthusiasm for these songs. And to make the matter worse, my favorite tune, the first one on the CD, had been skipping. My spouse (who usually hates hearing these songs) suggested I play it. Now this is not exactly a Christmas miracle, but for those who know CB, it is pretty darn close. However, there was one caveat, if the music skipped, I’d have to play it another time (when CB was running or hitting golf balls in the yard). I turned on the CD and it played with no problems. To my delight, CB listened and even laughed at the clever lyrics.

As the day progressed I went on to enjoy a wonderful Christmas luncheon with my siblings and nephew, and another get together with my ex husband, daughters, son-in-laws and granddaughter. These gathering are sometimes stressful, and the weather was cold and rainy, but my mood was sunny. It was a glorious day. My one-year-old granddaughter, Rosannah, was an absolute delight. Her zest for life reminded me that life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. Of course she enjoyed her presents, but she was just as happy to rip paper, play with the boxes, smile at everyone, and show how she not only had mastered walking, but she could do it with her hands behind her back.

When I woke up the day after Christmas I walked to the bathroom and glanced at myself as I walked past the mirror. I still had Hiawatha hair, skin that bore the imprint of wrinkled sheets, and the typical stench of morning breath – but something glorious had happened. My eyes were sparkling again.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Chop, chop!

I remember accompanying a friend of mine to a workshop and taking part in a little demonstration. We were put in teams of two. One person held a disposable wooden chopstick firmly in front of them, holding one end of the stick in each hand. Their partner took a business card and was instructed to break the chop stick with the business card.

As soon as this little game was explained I had a powerful thought. “I’m going to break that chopstick on my first try.”

I don’t know what made me feel so confident, but I just knew I was going to do it. Now mind you, I’m not particularly strong or fast. However, I was feeling particularly powerful and wanted to prove to my friend – and myself – that I could do whatever I set my mind to do.

My partner, Andrea, went first. She whacked away with her business card against the chop stick until it was a pulpy mush. Other people smacked, hacked and swiped to no avail. It took a while, but eventually one person broke the chopstick. Then another and another succeeded. Now it was my turn. I took the card and made a bold swipe. The stick instantly broke in two. Andrea looked at me in disbelief. I just smiled. I did exactly what I imagined I would do.

I wish I could tell you that I’m always so successful. It’s not that I (and you) are not capable of these little (and big) victories in life. We are. But little nagging voices of self doubt come marching in like ants to a picnic. Those old, sad stories of how we aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or talented enough, tug at our self confidence and stop our efforts before we start. I have heard these nagging doubts referred to as “your evil twin” mocking any attempt at success.
You can’t tell other people to shut up (not safely anyway) but you can tell your evil twin to take a hike. And you should – as often as the little creep whispers nasty nothings in your ear. As long as you believe these sad stories, they will continue to have power over you. Make it a practice to rewrite your life’s script and choose to believe the winning moments of your life as your model. Our actions are the direct result of what we believe we can do.

Robert Collier once said: “Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives.”

The proof of this is illustrated as my little story continues. I went home and repeated the chopstick demonstration to my 14-year-old daughter, Brittany. I got out a pair of chopsticks and a business card and tried to replicate my earlier success. There is something a little intimidating about a teenager’s disbelief and mocking smile. I took the business card and swiped it against the chopstick. It didn’t break. I took a moment and thought about my plight. What was different? It only took a second. A little self doubt had crept in. I paused, took a deep breath and mustered up the power I knew I had within me. WHACK!. The chopstick broke in two. Brittany was amazed. I was proud and relieved.

So what is the moral of this story? If we believe in our personal power, rather than focusing on our failures, we can be heroes in our own life story. So, don’t just sit there reading. Go out there and do something amazing. Chop, chop.

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