The Love Month

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Thanks to mass marketing wanting us to believe everyone should be in a fairy tale relationship, February 14 can mean expectations from those in relationships and gloom for singles.

Someone told me that Valentine’s Day doesn’t matter because “it is just a made-up holiday”. Actually, that can be said for all holidays. Our cultures have decided we need to acknowledge significant times in our lives so we make up a special day for it. The word “holiday” comes from a root term meaning of “holy day”. If we truly want to honor our relationships (romantic or otherwise) every day should be a holy day/holiday.

Valentine’s Day, made up, commercial or otherwise, is a fact that seems here to stay. We can choose to celebrate it, ignore it, or allow it to ruin our day, week or month. “It” doesn’t do anything to us. As with everything else in life, we have a choice whether to affect our experience through empowered thinking or be at the effect of the situation.

If we are single this is not the time to run out and find the flavor of the month date to try to make some poor sod into the romantic valentine about which we dream. If our committed relationship is not where we want it to be, then take action now to clarify the union. Celebrating a love holiday as if all is wonderful when the partners are not happy is like whipped cream on top of garbage. The outer appearance looks fine for a day, but once the glare of reality and heat of conflict returns the whipped cream sours and melts into the strife we had before February 14.

All of our relationships are sacred, though we often fail to treat them that way. In the movie Same Time Next Year the woman says that she stays married to her husband because of so many shared memories. She says it’s comfortable. We never hear if her husband feels the same way. Are they really in love, or just too lazy or apathetic to create the life they really want?

Communication is the most important factor in any relationship because everything else follows in line after concise and clear communication. “He should know what I’m thinking” is ridiculous. Half the time we don’t seem to know what we want ourselves. How the heck are others supposed to figure it out! An Ashleigh Brilliant card I love says, “I need a map of your mind with the dangerous areas noted in red.” Wouldn’t THAT be helpful!

Resolve to have the happiest Valentine’s Day ever. It might be with the one you love more than anyone. It might be with the family unit you’ve come to call your own. It might be with the relationship you have with yourself, Nature or your Higher Power. Whatever it is for you, rejoice in it, love it and commit to that kind of deep and enduring integrity all year long.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Beauty or Danger – It’s Our Choice

It’s 5:45am on Tuesday, February 2, and I just walked outside onto our front porch after finishing my meditation. Rain is lightly falling on the half-inch of ice covering about three inches of snow in our front yard. The mini-dozer that removes snow across the street in the parking lot is gone and the only sound is the tinkling of invisible raindrops dancing on the ice-covered snow.

The tree in the front yard looks like an ice sculpture, with each bare branch weighed down by the frozen water, icicles soundlessly dripping down toward the garden. There is no other noise except the soft rain. No cars. No trains. No voices. Peace.

I grew up in a trailer park. It was not a “mobile home estate”. It was just a trailer park. We lived in a two-bedroom, 50 foot long by 10 foot wide Nashua, about ten or twelve feet from our neighbors. One of my most comforting childhood memories is lying there in bed listening to the rain on the metal roof. It didn’t rain often in southern California, but even the slightest rain sounded like ball bearings being dropped on the top of the trailer. It never frightened me; it was if the Universe was lulling me to sleep, soothing me.

I was reminded of that this morning as I looked out from the porch, two cats just inside the storm door wondering what this human was doing outside in the cold wearing only his pajamas and house slippers. The peace. The comfort. The quiet.

That’s when I notice the asphalt, which was so shiny. Soon neighbors would be getting ready to leave for work, school busses would be on the road in spite of a delayed start to the school day, and inevitably someone driving would have his or her mind on something other than slippery roads. Such beauty, yet such danger. Or was it?

When I moved to the northeast United States I was given one word of advice about driving on ice: DON’T! Life is like that, too. There are some things in life we really have no business doing. It’s not the same for each of us. I can have a glass of wine with dinner if I choose; a person who is a newly-recovering alcoholic may not be able to be in the same room with an unopened bottle. It is a different experience of danger brought about through our circumstances.

Where is there danger in your life that you could eliminate? Dieting with a full bowl of M’n’Ms in the living room by the chair your sit in to watch TV? Probably not a wise move. Trying to establish a more intimate relationship with your spouse or lover, but spending more time watching porn online than cuddling together? Not so much. Wanting to look our best, but haven’t flossed in weeks? You get the picture.

The Universe is not a dangerous place. It is a place of love, peace and wonderment, just like the ice portrait outside our house right now. We set ourselves up for danger by placing ourselves in situations in which we should not, and often need not, be. Choose just one thing this week that you feel is dangerous to you – just one. We don’t need danger for excitement. We can find excitement in the fullness of Life, the beauty of Nature, and the touch of a loved one.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

What Resolution?

So did you make any New Year’s resolutions? How’s that working out for you?

I avoid the gym every year for the first three weeks of January. I work out most of the time at home anyway so it’s no big deal, but gyms are notoriously crowded for during this time of the year because everyone is going hog wild to absolve themselves of their guilt-ridden epicurean conduct over the previous month. A resolution to get back to the gym is usually in that mix. Never lasts more than a couple of weeks for those folks.

In fact, I seldom see many people following through on their New Year’s resolutions. It’s probably because people make them because they think they “should.” Doing something only because we think we “should” isn’t much of a motivator and it usually feels pretty crappy. I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t for a number of years. There are a couple of reasons for that.

I believe strongly in goal-setting, so that’s not one of the reasons. I work on at least ten goals at a time – ten top things or conditions I want to manifest in my life. Each time I achieve one I replace it with one I have yet to attain. I just don’t believe the guilt of the holidays or remorse over what I didn’t accomplish over the past year is any motivating force for change.

I do aspire to better my life and myself as a person – not just once a year, but every day. January 1 really isn’t all that significant to me as a turning point. A new calendar, sure; a need to make sure I’m careful when I write a check because of the new year, but other than that what’s the big deal? Is there really much difference between December 31 and January 1? Not really.

I celebrate change “officially” twice a year: May 23 and October 31/November 1. May 23 is my birthday, so I take the time to reflect on my life, take stock of myself, see where I can improve and celebrate my achievements. October 31/November 1 is the end/beginning of the earth or pagan year. It is the time of the year when the world is becoming darker, a time for reflection, release and preparing for the rebirth of spring. I like aligning myself with the earth and nature. It makes me feel more a part of our planet.

I don’t care if you create a goal every day or just make a resolution on New Years. If you did make some resolutions, well, good for you! It shows you care enough about yourself to affect a change in your life. That’s excellent. I have found, however, that making decisions to change based on information and decisiveness tend to last a lot longer than those based on reaction, fear and group pressure.

Take time at least once a day to take stock of your life. What’s working and what’s not? What do you want to get rid of and what do you want to acknowledge as a blessing? By doing this, resolutions will not be a once- or twice-a-year event – it will be the ongoing change that will help you create a life worth living.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Freedom in Darkness

Hope you missed not having a blog the last couple of weeks - my computer system and I had a "minor" issue. The system (Vista - and don't start with me!) froze, the system had to be re-installed, and the external backup drive failed. The result is that I lost all files from September through the first part of December.

Now, having said that, it wasn't such a bad thing. Yes, yes, I do go to look for something (like the template for my counseling intake client form or wedding planning sheet for a bride) and discover it's missing. And I have to recreate the whole thing. Meaning that I have to spend hours...again...creating it. But I digress...I want to convince you that this is not a bad thing. Grrrr....

Which, actually, it isn't. Loss is loss, but we often think of it as a negative. Another way of looking at it is that it is very freeing. Granted, it is annoying as well, but most annoying things have a delightful message for me if I'll just stop whining or screaming long enough to hear it.

I've discovered what's important through this experience. I miss not having the pictures I took at the FAB Gala of the three of us, but no one can take the memory from me. I am annoyed to have to re-design all my forms I just created for my new center, but they were based on previous ministries/businesses. Perhaps I really am creating something brand new.

I also lost all my email and addresses. Fortunately, I still had my blog eList on the old Gmail account for the center, so you're getting this! But all those cherished emails I had saved, love letters, evidentials (when someone tells you that you're worth something or they really appreciate you!) and information I was going to read "someday" are gone into cyber hell or heaven. Now my "in-box" is fairly sparse. I rather like it that way. Information that's important is being made into a document or scanned...and IS being backed up now!

Today is the winter solstice, then time when it is the darkest on our part of the planet and the time when, after 6:38pm EST today, the days get longer and the nights get shorter. Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are all festivals of light - life becoming brighter as we exit the darkness on our way to the birth of spring and new creation. As I come out of my cyber darkness, I hope you will take time to find what is important in your life, enjoy it, cherish it and celebrate it. Chances are, it's not going to be your computer, your Droid, your car or anything else that's mechanical.

May your holidays and the new calendar year be filled with love, joy and prosperity!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Are You Reactive or Responsive?

A flight attendant colleague of mine asked me to write about avoiding negative energy from some of her customers. Her request reminded me of how different it is to “respond” to a situation instead of “reacting” to it. I began to think about how much energy we give to people and situations that challenge us.

Staying positive and upbeat around people who are constantly complaining can be difficult at best. Often we are just doing our job and people act as if we are trying to take their first born, e.g., when flight attendants have to repeatedly remind people to turn off electronic devices or stay seated when it’s too turbulent for even the crew to be up out of their jumpseats.

Part of the issue is allowing others to have their own experience while we are having ours. A passenger on an aircraft might be totally wigged out because the flight attendant doesn’t have complimentary pillows and blankets. Fine. That’s their experience. But does it have to be the same experience for the flight attendant? It can be, if s/he chooses to take responsibility for the upset.

The Universe reflects back to us that which we need to address in our own lives. If I take a deep breath and step back from uncomfortable or annoying situations (in spite of my initial human reaction to someone who is being plain ugly to me!), I usually find that Spirit is nudging me in a direction of acceptance, understanding or to just slow down. We often do not want to identify with the “Nellie Negatives” in our lives, but if we are honest we may be able to see some of the same attitude in us, just in some other circumstance.

The other issue is how much power we are giving that other person or situation. If we give others the power to “make us upset” then we have only ourselves to thank for the experience. The Universe does not require us to be victims or martyrs. However … and here’s the “Truth you love to hate”… if we choose to play the part of a victim or the martyr then the Universe (which only says “Yes!” through the Law of Cause and Effect) is obliged to provide the circumstance for us to play our part.

If we react to uncomfortable and annoying situations we will perpetuate the energy. It will feed on our upset and grow, just like oxygen feeds a fire. On the other hand, if we respond appropriately to our experience and in line with who we are then we can be at peace with what may have previously thrown us off course.

If someone chooses to be miserable and doesn’t want to change, let them be. S/he can only affect us if we let it. We do not need the approval of others to be happy. Of course, conversely, if you are a flight attendant dealing with a customer who is uncooperative, s/he can gently be informed that they need your approval to stay on board!

The people in your life who insist on being ugly, negative or nasty around you can be gently, but firmly, informed that they can take their attitude out of your space. After all, you’ve suffered long enough with crap like that. Aren’t you ready to try something else?!? The Universe awaits your command – order up something or someone you want, not something or someone that will make your life miserable! Life is too long to be lived in misery.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Affected or Effective?

Those of you who are old enough will remember the peace slogan, “What if they had a war and nobody came?” The same is true of anything negative, like what we continue to hear about our economy. What would happen if we all just decided not to participate in the recession, or whatever economists choose to call it this week?

People of all political persuasions were stunned at the results of the elections last Tuesday. Some were elated. A few were humbled. Several said they were terrified. In spite of the polls and predictions, few people expected an outcome that could affect our lives in the next two, four or six years in ways we began to immediately hear about in the media. The Patriot-News here in Harrisburg is filled this morning with stories on how a change in state government will affect our taxes, and how we as a country should prepare for a two-year-long period of uncertainty because of the gridlock predicted in Congress.

It’s easy to run from the problem – we’ve all done it and I’m no exception – or just ignore it, decide to be a victim of it, or become depressed because of the seemingly hopelessness of the situation. I’ve run from jobs, only to find the same boss. I’ve fled relationships and ended up with the same issues. I’m still trying to figure out why I’m on my third Catholic husband when that religion is not a part of my spiritual path! I’m guessing it has something with acceptance of others or flashbacks to that past life I led as a cloistered monk in the eight century … but I digress – sorry, ADHD moment.

We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can change how we think about what is presented to us. Will you be “affected” by the change in the political climate, or be the “effective” change you feel is necessary? The media helps us all become well-versed in what is wrong with our society and our planet. We know what we don’t like, but often have difficulty in articulating what it is we really want. Understanding our needs, wants and desires help us to plot a course that will get us to our destination. Use the recent change in local and national politics to review the ideals for which you stand. Then, take action that is in harmony with the life you want to live.

Change around us can give us the courage to forge ahead or provide the excuse for pulling back. You probably know people who blame their financial woes on which party is in power. Yet there are plenty of people who, year after year, are still happy, have not lost everything and do not seem to be so affected. The latter have found the answer: It’s a choice to be at the affect of our circumstances or to be the effective force of change in our lives. Which will you choose?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

National Forgiveness Day

October 30 is National Forgiveness Day. I didn’t even know we had a “National Forgiveness Day” until yesterday, but I’m glad we do.

In truth, every day should be a forgiveness day. Holding onto grudges, hurts and pain is not healthy physically, mentally or spirituality. Letting go of the past, however, is not always an easy thing to do.

Take being a victim of child abuse. I once heard about a woman in her 40s whose life was a mess. She was unable to maintain an intimate relationship, couldn’t hold a job and seemed constantly angry at the world. She blamed all her problems on her child abuse. When questioned further about it, however, it came to light that she had not endured years of sexual or physical torment from adults. What she referred to as the reason for her life of misery amounted to being touched inappropriately on her thigh by an uncle while fully clothed…once…when she was four years old.

While admittedly a traumatic event, she had built a life of failure and disappointment on this one incident. When it was suggested she forgive her uncle, now long dead, she refused saying she could never forgive that horrible act and it would be the reason her life was miserable. As we know, the Universe only says “yes” to our words and beliefs. Given that she was unwilling to change her thinking there was little to do.

The woman refused forgiveness because she didn’t believe her uncle deserved it. That’s not the point. The point is that she deserved the forgiveness. Holding onto hate and disappointment with others only creates a psychic link between them and us. It doesn’t punish the other person one bit. The only person suffering is usually us.

Learn to “forgive as you go”, just as it is the habit of many of us to “pray as we go”. No matter how bad the situation looks, consider the possibility that everyone involved in the situation in question did the very best s/he could at the time. Could things have been different? Probably. Instead of fretting about the past, think about changing the future by altering our response or participation in what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Then, let it go. If you feel you can’t, then write that person’s name on a piece of paper and place it on hold (in your freezer), or in a “God box” (somewhere you consider sacred that you can give it to God to handle). If we give it away, it’s no longer ours.

Make it a goal to forgive at least one person today. You don’t have to tell them, unless it’s appropriate. We are One, so on some level there will be a change in your relationship with them anyway. Can’t think of anyone? No problem. Starting with ourselves is a great place to begin!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

Big Girl Panties

Our challenges are unique and very personal. What may be appear to be a huge obstacle in my mind, may be mere trifle to you. However, having said that, I am brought to the reason for the title of this blog, Big Girl Panties, as in “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!”

Challenges can be opportunities for growth or they can be just the reason we are looking for to stop us from moving forward. Most people are far more afraid of succeeding than they are of failing. Most of us know really well how to fail at something. How will we deal with success? What will change? Will we lose our friends? Staying stuck can actually be comfortable.

At times like this – and understand that you are the only one that can determine if the time is right – we have to grow out of Pampers® and put on our big girl or boy panties. How will you know? My answer to that is that if you have to ask you’re probably not ready. Just stay where you are for now – when you’re ready you’ll know it, so don’t force the issue.

For me, I know when I have to suck it up. It is when I start to lament to people about my latest challenge and halfway through the story I start getting bored! There’s that still, small voice inside my head going, “Really? Seriously?”

Take a moment today to ask yourself what “little” irritation has been going on long enough in your life. Determine that it has outlived its usefulness and make the necessary changes to move forward. Reach out for help if needed, but decide today to blast through one problem child this week. Let me know how that turns out for you!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

Equal or Special?

This article is bound to piss off someone, so you can be sure to love it or hate it! Read on…

There is a familiar theme with any minority group that feels they are experiencing discrimination. It can be lesbians, transgender, blacks, gays, seniors – it can be any group. It does not matter.

What we all say we want is to be equal. Fine, as far as I am concerned. There is no reason why anyone should be put down for the color of his skin, her cultural or ethnic background, with whom one sleeps, or how old one is. The problem occurs when the group or individual who cries foul that s/he is not being treated equally turns around and wants special accommodation. If they are equal then why do they need something special? Does that not negate their desired equality?

I recently saw an article written to accommodate transgender people by replacing “he” and “her” with “ze” and “hir”, more gender-neutral terms. Some would say that if a person who is transgender is finally living her life as a woman then “she” should be proud of that. But the transgender person might still need to let people know that “she” has made a choice to live “her” life in a way very different from the past. It not only allows her to transition, but also lets her come out of the trunk (sorry….”t” for transgender and looked for something more than a closet – there are enough of us coming out of there already…).

My point is that we do not get to tell others how they need to express themselves. Conversely, those who feel they must use alternate terms to define their lives cannot expect everyone to understand those needs without informing others. If you are African American and I refer to you as black, and later you tell me “black” does not work for you or offends you, then I will, from then on, refer to you as African American. When I used “black” at the beginning of this blog it is because there is little if any agreement within the black/African American community about what should be used when and with whom. I use both “black” and “African American” interchangeably – half my friends of color prefer one, the rest prefer the other – so if they cannot agree with each other what is a fifty-five year old Caucasian male who was raised a poor white boy in a trailer park to do?!?. Society also went from American Indians to Native Americans to First Nations Peoples, but many of the communities who were here before white Christians invaded their land are not even familiar with the currently political correct term. So what is the answer?

There is a passage in A Course in Miracles that says something to the effect that all of us are special and yet none of us are special. Does that sound like metaphysical psychobabble? It is not. In truth we are all one. You can base that statement on the scientific fact of quantum physics, the metaphysical law of universality or Jesus’ teaching of unity with the Father. We are all one. And yet, we are special. We are special because we get to individually express Spirit in a unique way that no one else can. We each have a gift to give to the world. If we are “hiding our light under a bushel basket” we are robbing people of the light we could be shining.

Do you really want to be equal, or do you want equality only when it suits you? Do you want to be special, but afraid that you will be called upon to do more than you are willing to do? Tough – that is life. But it is your life and you get to decide how to live it. The Universe will reflect back to us what we truly believe about ourselves. I would proffer to you that if you are currently experiencing doubt about the future or resistance from others around you to change then you are having reflected back to you your gravest fears and deepest reservations. No one is better than you, but what looks like inequality can often be the fact that someone else took an opportunity you missed. Claim your equality by taking the opportunities that are yours to enjoy. You are special – shine your light brightly, powerfully, loving and consistently, and let God show off through you!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

Open-Minded or Wishful Thinking?

“There is a difference between having an open mind and believing something because we want it to be true.” I heard that a few weeks ago on an NPR program. I had to pull over to write it down.

It is imperative that we keep an open mind when we live a life that is based on thinking positively. Circumstances may not always turn out the way I expect them to, but in the long run it is always for the best…even if it takes a while for me to figure that out. When I pray or treat for change I usually end it with “this or something better.” I have come to realize that Divine Mind is NOT stupid and often has a much better idea of what I need than I do. My friend and teacher, the late Rev. Helen Street, used to say, “For heaven’s sake! You’re dealing with Universal Intelligence, not Big Dummy in the Sky!”

But that open mind we have can lead to an endless pit of being used as a doormat if we allow it to happen. We must realize at some point in certain instances that change is not going to occur the way we want it to occur. Trust me – those Nigerian and Kenyan emails will never pay off and be the windfall for which you might be hoping. The same is true of our relationships. If he’s been cheating on you for the past five (or three or ten or how ever many) years, begging your forgiveness each time, promising it will not happen again and you believe him, then you deserve all the heartache you have set yourself up to receive. If you believe that the next time there is a vacancy in your company that the boss will finally appoint a woman to the position senior vice president, even though he has been committed to do so for the last eight vacancies, then you might want to take a reality check. What color is the sky in your world, precious?

Being open-minded and positive does not mean we have to be naïve or live in la-la-land (apologies to my LA friends!). Jesus the Great Teacher told us to be “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). We must have the faith that our prayers are answered, but not expect money, people or situations to be delivered to our front door while we sit idly by. We must forgive those who have wronged us in the past, but we also acknowledge our part and make sure not to place ourselves in that situation again. Forgiveness does not mean automatic trust…”cautious as serpents.”

It is a fine line between open-mindedness and wishful thinking, believing in something that will never happen. The latter will not be our experience if we build our hopes and dreams on a firm foundation of faith instead of the shifting sands of popular thinking. Who decides which is which? We must all make that decision ourselves and at the same time, seek to avoid judging those who appear to be locked into making what we consider to be the same mistakes over and over and over again. We would be wise not to think we know what is right for others. How very arrogant to think that we, rather than Universal Intelligence, could possibility know what is best for someone else.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry