Your Inner GPS

June 10, 2014

Write Your Way to Success

write your way to successMany years ago, I worked with a depressed woman in her 30’s, who had a rare debilitating illness. Growing up, she was raised in an abusive household and kept to herself. She believed she was stupid, ugly, and without much hope for the future. She could barely express herself verbally.

I asked her to write a few thoughts in a journal in between our therapy sessions and bring them so I could read them. Her first entry was one sentence, illegibly scribbled on a crumpled piece of paper. I thanked her for having the courage to open her life and share her words.

Over time, she brought in a journal which I read at the beginning of each session. Her simple sentences soon turned into paragraphs. Her paragraphs expanded to pages. Her pages blossomed into completed journals.

As her writing expanded, so did her life. She grew in confidence and became more verbally expressive. She founded a support group for individuals with the rare disability, started a newsletter, and built a remarkable organization that connected families affected by the disability. In essence, she created a supportive, loving extended family. Not too long ago, I received an email from her, telling me that her story was published in a magazine.

The changes all began because of the power of words. I have witnessed countless examples of individuals whose lives have changed as a result of writing. The late Maya Angelou used words to liberate herself, so beautifully expressed in her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Words provide the keys to unlock doors. Find the missing pieces and see the whole picture. Write your way to success and health!

Leonard

January 3, 2014

Let your dreams soar in 2014!

let your dreams soar

The best selling children’s author Beatrix Potter once wrote, “There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they’ll take you.

Beginning a new year is like writing the first words of a story. You can never quite tell what will happen during the year.

As I reflect on 2013, many events occurred that I had not originally planned. I climbed down the Grand Canyon with my two children, Melissa and Nate, and advanced to the quarter-finals (the top 100 in general fiction) of the Amazon Novel Contest for my novel, Kookaburra’s Last Laugh. During the year, I became immersed in helping a Holocaust survivor, Yvonne Carson, write and publish her memoir, Silence and Secrets: A Jewish Woman’s Tale of Escape, Survival and Love in World War II. www.silenceandsecrets.com

An unexpected health issue with my oldest sister made me pause and reflect on the fragility of life and recognize that each moment offers us a precious gift. I have become more grateful for the simple pleasures in life with a stronger commitment to practice love on a daily basis.

As I consider my intentions for the upcoming year, I know there are unknown forces at work that I have no control over. I can, however, clarify where I wish to place my energy and move forward in that direction with a sense of curiosity about the unfolding journey, not knowing where it will take me.

As you consider your intentions for the upcoming year, let your dreams soar. To paraphrase Beatrix, there’s something delicious about starting the beginning of a year. Happy New Year!

Leonard

March 14, 2013

Prickly People: If You Can’t Stand Them; Understand Them

love, forgiveness, and truthMany years ago, during a personal growth workshop, I participated in an experiential exercise. The facilitator of the group asked members to pair off with another person. To my horror, I was stuck with a woman who I considered the least desirable participant. Unkempt and reeking of tobacco and body odors, she related in an erratic, prickly way.

I had hoped for a partner who was capable of sharing on a deep, personal level, not someone who irritated me and the others in the group. Begrudgingly, I listened to the facilitator issue instructions: face your partner, look into the eyes, and, without talking, see each other.

I nervously glanced around the room at the other pairs, wishing I was with someone else. I reluctantly stared at the grizzled woman in front of me. Then it happened. Her brown eyes penetrated mine. My blue eyes peered deep into hers. Two powerful magnets locked our gaze. A door to her soul fell open; I tumbled inward – to her very Essence. Spirit touched my heart.

My previous judgments lifted like a fog dissolving in sunlight. Tears fell from her eyes; compassion filled my heart. Tears sprinkled down my cheeks and I connected with her – soul to soul. We hugged each other as if we had found a long, lost friend.

That profound experience taught me a life-changing lesson. Whenever I encounter difficult or prickly people, I have limited vision for I only see their outer shells, not their True Selves. Those individuals become my teachers and remind me to practice three powerful forces: love, forgiveness, and truth.

Love moves me to understand and accept others. It doesn’t mean I have to accept their behaviors, but I can appreciate that they have their own, unique spiritual path. If I look behind their masks, I can find their Essence which is love.

Forgiveness frees me from the tyranny of judgment. I can then release unwanted parts of myself that I projected onto others. When I let go of expectations and control, and even forgive myself for judging, I receive unexpected gifts and amazing grace.

Truth asks me to own my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so I can choose how I act. As Wayne Dyer says, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” When I acknowledge my discomfort, I can open up a dialogue with someone who triggers my reactions. That can lead to greater connection and intimacy with myself and others. When I act truthfully, I create an atmosphere for authentic relating.

So if you ever find yourself in a situation with a prickly person, someone who you can’t stand, try to see them through the eyes of love, forgiveness, and truth. With a deeper understanding, you can shift feelings of separateness into Oneness.

Welcome Home!

December 12, 2012

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

the giftAs a young boy, I received a brightly colored Christmas present from my younger sister, Rita. Her excited face prompted me to tear open the package. Tossing the wrapping away, I found three pencils, an eraser and three comic books. My glee soon turned to glum when I checked the present she had given my older brother. His gift, a set of screwdrivers, seemed far better than mine. I ungratefully grumbled to my sister about her choice of presents. My lack of appreciation left her crestfallen, for she had given considerable thought to the gift.

As I grew older, I continued to receive pen and pencil sets for birthdays and holidays. I wondered why others couldn’t be more imaginative with their gift-giving. Then it struck me. I was the unimaginative one who couldn’t recognize presents for what they were – acts of love.

I also neglected to see the significance of the signs that Spirit kept generously sending my way. If only I had grasped the meaning of the constant reminders to express myself through words, I could have fully embraced my sister’s gift. I would have realized early on that I was meant to create stories and write books. Had I known that, I would have bowed in deep appreciation, love and gratitude.

That lesson taught me that when I expect certain outcomes from relationships or experiences, I often miss the unseen gifts. Miracles often reveal themselves when I become a treasure seeker. If I look through the eyes of a curious child, I can watch in wonderment the treasures of life – acts of kindness and love, nature’s magnificent creations, even the precious gifts of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

When you receive a present, look beyond the material object and find the hidden message – the treasure. And if someone doesn’t receive your gift with glee, smile at them with compassion. They might get your message of love and caring later in life.

May the upcoming Holiday shower you with gratitude – the gift that keeps on giving. Be grateful for all that you have, all that you have accomplished, the people in your life and the miracles you have experienced. And while you’re at it, consider this question, “What would others tell you if you asked them to list the reasons why they’re grateful you are in their life.” Celebrate the treasures!

Happy Holidays and Welcome Home!

October 24, 2012

I forgot my wallet and had an identity crisis!

license to be my self

license to be my self

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a recent drive to a friend’s house, I panicked. Clutching the steering wheel, I realized that I had left my wallet at home. My mind whirled with anxiety, “What if the police stopped me, or I had an accident?”

Feeling naked without my precious driver’s license and credit cards in my back pocket, I immediately thought of returning home. I desperately needed my wallet. After all, someone might want me to identify myself.

My ego likes to believe that plastic cards and cash stashed in a leather bundle offer comfort and security, and that I absolutely couldn’t live without my cell phone and computer. Hey, I’d be stupid to leave home without my smart phone. Someone important might need to reach me. And what would I do if there was a serious emergency – like forgetting my wallet?

As I continued my drive, I lowered the window and felt the rush of fresh air. I took a long, deep breath then laughed at my folly. My identity crisis showed me that I was more than roles, beliefs, expectations, personality traits, and plastic cards. In fact, holding onto a “false self” brought anxiety and fear, rather than security. On the other hand, my True Self, soulful and free-spirited, provided inner peace. And I didn’t need to carry a license to be my Self!

The challenge for me was to remember that I was far more than my identity or the things I carry around. The wallet crisis turned me inward so I could connect with what was truly important – my True Self.

So if you ever leave home without your wallet, purse, cell phone, or iPad, remember to open the window to your soul, breathe in love, let go of your preconceptions, be your Self, and return Home to inner peace.

Welcome Home!

August 21, 2012

Live Naked

live nakedI sleep naked.

What’s more, I can’t stand it when the sheets are tucked in at the foot of the bed. And whenever I travel and stay in a hotel, I’m compelled to liberate the sheets. Surely, they desire freedom like the rest of us! Okay, maybe sheets don’t give a damn about liberation, but I believe most of us do, and it’s called living naked.

Growing up, I was taught, like most children, to be nice and not get angry, to fit in and not cause trouble. My parents, like society, strengthened that message through positive and negative reinforcements. After awhile, the beliefs, expectations and demands of others acted like woolly overcoats thrust over my naked body.

Wearing thick layers of constricting beliefs is exhausting! We often plod through life, unconscious of the heavy, judgmental cloaks passed down from previous generations. Fortunately, wake-up calls rattle our sheets to liberate us from mental restrictions so we can find our unique, naked self. Not an easy task, as the poet e.e. cummings aptly wrote:

“To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

It truly is a battle to stay awake and naked, especially in a world that rewards us for fitting in and wearing “proper” attire. Stating how we truly think and feel takes courage.

If you’re reading this, you’re called to discover your authentic self. You may be asked to unearth and share parts of yourself that have been disowned or suppressed. But when you do, liberation occurs. You’ll experience the intoxicating freedom to be your distinctive, one-of-a-kind, special self. And you’ll want to do what you love and cherish, no matter what.

Living naked will foster childlike curiosity, intimate sharing, and heartfelt connections. So strip off your constricting clothes and live naked.

•        Take risks to be vulnerable with yourself and others.
•        Let your body and senses reveal heartfelt desires.
•        Welcome all your emotions as teachers.
•        Discover the light and dark sides of your psyche.
•        Eliminate blame and self-criticism.
•        Shower yourself with acceptance and self-love.
•        Find your unique voice and express yourself.
•        Create relationships that support authentic sharing.

Welcome Home!

Leonard

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