Giving Thanks

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”
― John Henry Jowett


Thankfulness has a much different connotation to me than the work gratitude. When one is in the state of being grateful, they are attuning their soul to their innermost thoughts. It is a private, inward experience. A way of Being—analytical and reflective. However, thankfulness or being thankful means that action in the present is being taken. One is purposefully thanking Providence, God or the Universe for any number of things that a person is glad for or joyful about. A person may also be thanking others for their words and services—perhaps their very being.

“Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer…” ― Thaddeus of VitovnicaOur Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Thankfulness is a sign something or someone has brought us joy—that our world is that much happier of a place to be in. In other words, we are happier people due to the fact that we have something or someone we are grateful for. Yet, true happiness comes in the act of verbalizing or demonstrating our thankfulness in meaningful ways.

So … it seems fairly clear to me …

If you want to be happy and have a joy-filled life, be grateful for your blessings.

But more importantly, speak out your thankfulness in both word and deed. Make clear to the Infinite Presence as well as those who cross your path that you are thankful for who they are and what they do!


Sleep, Stress, and the Impossible To-Do List

I have often heard it said that the faster a person goes, the faster they have to go. In other words, business is addicting. So much so, that the more a person accomplishes in a single day, the more the feel compelled to accomplish the next day. And the next and the next! I personally have had the experience of feeling emotionally happy if I complete my To-Do list like crap if I don’t. Talk about self-imposed stress!


Yet I know that I am not the only person to deal with this “Busy is Best” epidemic. As an American I have been schooled to think that action is everything—progress, achievement, a sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, the faster I go, the faster my mind goes. And when my day is being dictated by what To-Do list item needs to be met next, my mind never seems to have a chance to rest, relish the present moment, or reflect. My thoughts feel as if they are spinning dervishly like a top—afraid if I stop “doing” I’ll lose my edge and drop.

The price one pays for running at this racing clip is collected at night when one cannot get to sleep nor stay asleep. Insomnia sets in and the risk of becoming ill or seriously in danger of depleting one’s immune system sneaks up on us and wields a mighty blow. Then to keep going we succumb to sucking down coffee, ingesting sugary foods, and relying on nicotine to supplant the edge that is slowly but surely disappearing from us.insomnia2

And then at the end of the day to wind down we often resort to too much TV, too many video games, and too many hours surfing the internet. Now we can’t sleep no matter how hard we try. What’s worse is we think have a sleeping disorder, which we do symptomatically speaking, but what we really have is a To-Do list of the first order.

insomniaMy suggestion is three-fold. First, get rid of your To-Do list, or at the very least shorten it. Second, find time to supplant business with relaxation—like a bubble bath, a walk in nature, meditation or a short nap. Finally, take time out before going to bed at night to slowly prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep. Stay away from chemical stimulants as well as technology and media influences so that your body as well as your mind have a chance to slow down before you attempt to close your eyes. I know it will not be easy at first to follow this recipe for we are already addicted to the speediness of our day. However, I promise you in the long run you will have an even more productive day as a result as well as a more restful and healthy sleep.


A Study in Solitude

solitudeRecently a friend of my son’s passed through our town after spending four months traveling alone on the Pacific Coast Trail. He began his adventure in Mexico and still had all of the states of Oregon and Washington to travel before his mission would be accomplished. I invited him over for dinner and we had a deep and serious conversation about the hardships and values of spending time alone with oneself, particularly in wilderness. He admitted that it was not for everyone. And that even now and then at the beginning of his hike he wondered if it was even for him. But after he finally passed through the threshold of loneliness, something soulful happened to him, opening him up to the significance of his initiatory experience which could only have occurred had he not become accustomed to solitude.
Most of us will never have the opportunity to give ourselves over to a solitary nine month hike, nor perhaps should we. But to find a place of soulfulness, a sanctuary of solitude in our busy lives is more valuable than I think we can imagine. Nearly every great teacher, thinker and artist has gone through some kind of initiatory experience where like Jacob they have had to wrestle with their own angel. Or demon. (Or Daimon, as James Hillman puts it.) Whatever the dragon is that protects them from facing the ecstasy and the terror of their own soul.
A time of solitude I think is especially important to a young adult when they are looking toward discovering who they are, what their life’s purpose is all about, and what kind of person they hope to spend the rest of their life with. But the fear of loneliness is always their lurking in the shadows. So distraction becomes the name of the game—video games, TV, computer surfing, all nighters at bars—you name it.
I think as a culture we all need to take time out from our busy lives from time to time and give ourselves a sanctuary where our souls can be nourished and if needed, be made whole. Perhaps it may be taking up some creative activity, walking in nature, or even gardening. For my step-father it was tinkering in the garage. Whatever one chooses, it needs to be away from one’s phone, computer, family and neighbor. It needs to be in a treasured place where sanctuary is honored and aloneness tantamount. We need it as individuals, as a culture. We need it as inhabitants of this glorious interdependent planet.

You Can Be President, And So Can YOU!

I am not one to post anything political on either of my website blogs or Facebook accounts, but with all the anger and frustration bubbling up over this upcoming election, I cannot help but take a step back and look at how much has been accomplished in just the last ten years with regard to who can now realistically become President of this beautiful country. I consider myself and my children lucky to be living at a time when the best person for the job can actually have the job, should the popular and electoral vote prove them electable.
Perhaps for some people this is no big deal, but for me it is nothing short of miraculous. What a privilege to know that my cousins, nieces and nephews, should they desire a life of political service, achieve the highest office possible—and that in spite of their skin color or gender. And hopefully someday soon, their sexual identity. We all deserve to speak the truth of our voice! And especially if we are called to be President of the United States of America!!

Too Small of Shoes


“We all walk in shoes too small for us.” Carl Jung

I remember when I first read this quote how curious I was as to how tight my shoes fit with regard to my life’s work. Were the activities of my day to day existence pinching my toes or roomy enough to encourage self growth? And were the hopes and dreams for my future merely fragments of wishful thinking or glimpses of my personal destiny?  And were those hopes and dreams big enough to hold all of my potentiality as a woman, an artist and a healer?

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” Joseph Joubert

I have always desired to make my mark on this world. And I have had ample opportunities to do so on stage, in the classroom and in my private practice. Hopefully I have also been a positive influence on my children and my community at large. Even now my prayer is that what I have to say in my writings will find its way into the heart of those who read them.

But often what I have desired for myself has not always manifested, at least not in the way I would have wished. There have been significant struggles, failures, wrong turns and false dreams along the way, which looking back now, do not seem near as devastating as they felt in the past. What I am trying to say is that these disappointments have at times made me cautious, wary, distrustful, and slow to act. In other words, SCARED!

“God wouldn’t put the dream in your heart if He didn’t have a way.
You don’t have to figure out how it’s going to happen. 
Your job is to believe.” Joel Osteen   

Yet, something inside of me has always nudged me forward—to stand at the edge of the abyss of change and opportunity and stare down into its dark mystery of promise. My mother once accused me of being a dreamer, which I am in part. Yet a dreamer often does not take action, for the dream is always more beautiful than the hard work and possible disappointment that may come in its pursuit.

So, transformation takes a courageous heart as well as intelligence, discipline and perseverance. But if we do not take that initial step of faith, then how can we ever know for certain that we are living in the full potentiality of our being?

I leave this blog with a quote from my beloved teacher Aftab Omer at Meridian University on the occasion of my last day of class. It was a bittersweet moment for both of us as I was leaving the comfortable nest of graduate school and flying away toward the larger purpose of my life as I knew it to be then.

“May you find the courage you need to step into your imagination!”