Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's My Mom's Fault

OK, so when was the last time you blamed your upbringing, your environment, your culture or something that happened to you when you were a kid, for something you were thinking, feeling or doing at that moment? A year ago? A month ago? A week ago? This morning?

Based on my experience over the last couple of weeks, I would have to say that for most of us, it was probably this morning. Within the last three days, I've heard people explain their self-doubt as the result of failed efforts in the past. I've heard people explain their lack of energy and enthusiasm as a result of the culture in which they grew up. I've listened to people express fears about their current relationship, based on bad experiences with past relationships.

I've even heard people explain their lack of empowerment as result of their parents never having empowered them. Forgetting for the moment that this represents a complete lack of understanding of concept of personal empowerment, the attribution is in the past.

Do You Have Free Will?
So, my first question is this: do you believe in and have free will? For the purpose of discussion, we can leave out the whole debate about the universe being deterministic or not. I mean, from an everyday perspective, do you make decisions based on a live and active you, or are you simply doing what you do as a result of programming?

If you do have free will, then read on. If not, well, we'll have to take that up in another blog.

Do You Use It?
Now, if you do have free will, the next question is: Do you use your free will?

I know, this is kind of a silly question. By definition, having free will mandates using it. Even when we say that we're responding to something because of our past experience, we're not. Instead, we're actually using our free will in the moment to go with past experiences, expectations, and decisions.

The past actually has nothing to do what we're doing in the moment. Even when we act based "past" experiences, we're not; we're actually acting based on "current" beliefs that we built in the past. The events that helped us create those beliefs occurred in the past, but the beliefs themselves are ones that we are holding the moment.

Why is this important? It's important because although we can't change past events, we can change current beliefs. Imagine if we were really doing things today because of events in our past. We'd be stuck. We could never actually change. However, if we're really doing what we're doing based on beliefs we have right not, then the possibility for change is infinite.

There is No Middle Ground
From a physics perspective, there's actually no middle ground: either everything is deterministic or everything has the potential to behave in a way that's not deterministic. From an everyday perspective, there are actually two fundamental choices: either there is nothing I can do to change anything about myself, ever, or, I can change anything about myself anytime I want to.

I imagine that some of you are probably thinking, "change anything about myself? There's no way I could change anything?"

Here, it's important that we not confuse knowing how to do something with being able to do something. Any significant breakthrough starts with the belief that the breakthrough can be made, not with knowing how the breakthrough can be accomplished.

So Far...

In summary (so far):
  1. We either have free will or we don't.
  2. If we have free will, yet appear to be operating based on past experience, we're not.
  3. Instead, we're actually using our free in the present to guide our actions based on current beliefs (built on past experience).
Resuscitating Our Free Will
How do we apply all this to situations where we feel depressed or we lack self-confidence or we're fearful about our relationship or we can't find the inspiration to do what we want to do?

The first question, which we often skip over, is: do I actually want change? be depression free? exude self-confidence? engage fully in my relationship without fear? have inspiration in abundance?

Oftentimes, our unhappiness is there for a purpose. We may lack inspiration because we're afraid of where the inspiration may take us. We may use depression as socially acceptable reason to avoid doing something we don't want to do. So, it's really useful to decide whether or not I want to change, before getting into how to change.

The second question is: given that I want to change, why am I not changing? Remember, the answers to this question are a current belief. The belief itself is built on something from the past, but the belief is current.

As you explore the second question, you may find yourself bringing up past experiences. Great! Delve into them! Dredge them up with great clarity and specificity.

But then, after you're through, ask yourself, "even if all this happened in my past, what does it really have to do with who I am now?" Ask yourself, "how is it helping me to hang on to that old belief?" Ask yourself, "what beliefs might be more useful in accomplishing what I want to do?"

Don't let the past hang around. Explore it and get past it.

Free Will Defibrillator
If after all this you still feel stuck, here are some ways that you might jolt yourself back into the present.
  1. Go on a past diet.
    Spend a week where you never bring up anything prior to that week when talking about why you do what you do. Make every decision a current decision. If a week seems a little tough, stretch it back to a month or a year. But definitely preclude any data from childhood.

  2. Conduct a deep dive into your past.
    So often our beliefs based on the past are murky at best. We talk about our environment or our culture with a few vivid images and the rest blank. If we are going to use our past as motivational, then it's really useful to dive in deeply and explore everything with as much detail as possible.

    Often, the when we compare details from the past to details from the present, we see clearly that the past has nothing to do with our present situation. So, shine a bright light on your past and engage it.

    Note: This exercise might best be done with someone else who can help with questions.

  3. Give yourself a new birthday!
    You pick the month, day and the year. Decide that nothing actually happened to you prior to your new birthday. Celebrate it big time. Let everyone in your life know that, the new you began on that day. Invite them to point this out each time you bring up a reason you're doing what you're doing that occurred prior to that day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trust No One, Trust Everyone

Lately I've been thinking about the operational implications of trusting people. I don't mean trusting their intentions or their sentiment; I mean trusting what they say as being accurate, factual and useful. On the one hand, trusting someone completely can produce amazing relationships and can accelerate learning and acquisition of new skills; on the other, trusting someone completely can result in belief systems that are houses of cards.

Let me explain...

Trust Everyone
When you're first learning to do something new, it's useful to trust your teacher. For example, if you're learning to ski and fearful of falling, it's exceptionally useful to trust the teacher who tells you that leaning down the mountain will give you more control than leaning up the mountain. Why is trust necessary? Because everything inside of you is screaming "lean up the mountain".

(Note: trust doesn't actually come into play until you disagree on what to do; prior to that you're not trusting, you're just agreeing.)

In the case of learning things that are new and challenging, trust takes the form of abandoning our own beliefs and buying into the beliefs of the person teaching us. This form of trust can be particularly useful in learning things that run opposite to our intuition and experience.

Rather than looking at something new and different and dismissively saying, "I don't get it! Why is so-and-so doing that?" We can say the same words engagingly with an emphasis on I don't get it.

Rather than taking the attitude of "prove it to me, and I'll believe it", we take the attitude of "I'm going to go with whatever you tell me to do."

This approach has served me really well. I've been able to learn and understand concepts that would have eluded me; I've been able to acquire new skills and capabilities very quickly. Quite often, I've ended up with a better understanding of what I was taught than that of the person teaching me.

Trust No One
So, what's wrong with trusting?

Trusting what people say as being accurate or "true" simply because they've said so lacks intellectual integrity. It's cheating.

Rather than thinking everything through and understanding what's been said, we just accept it without full and thoughtful consideration. If we build new beliefs on a foundation of beliefs that we've never fully understood, we effectively construct a house of cards. If the person we trusted later proves to be untrustworthy, the foundation fails and the house crumbles.

For example, I used to be a charismatic evangelical christian. I was totally and wholly bought in. I read the bible from cover to cover (repeatedly) and memorized verses. I donated a tenth of what I earned to the church. I volunteered every free moment (and then some). I participated in all the services, bible studies, outreaches, and so on. I actively told everyone I met about Jesus.

The foundation of my beliefs had been based on trusting those who taught me. Whenever I uncovered inconsistencies in my own studies, I attributed them to my lack of understanding.

Over the years, I discovered flaws in the people who taught me. I found inconsistencies in their teachings and inconsistencies in their lives. I uncovered case after case where the teacher didn't actually believe what they taught.

I started to doubt everything I believed, eventually ripping apart my entire belief system and rebuilding it from the ground up. I ended up in a completely different place.

For a long time, I was bitter and resentful about having been led down the path, so to speak. I didn't own up to the fact that it was I who chose to believe and trust. Yes, my foundation was flawed, but I was the one who had built the foundation, not my teachers.

The Truster's Dilemma
So, on the one hand, trusting someone with complete abandon makes it possible to learn things that we might never have learned, and to learn things quickly. On the other, it can lead to avoiding thoughtful consideration and full understanding of what we believe, resulting in a fragile belief system built on a vulnerable foundation.

What's a person to do?

Over the last couple of days, I've come to the conclusion that I've frequently confused belief and truth.

When I look at what is being said as a belief, then it's easy to temporarily adopt it so that I can fully engage what is being taught. I can quickly get to the heart of what is being said and view it from the perspective of the person saying it.

When I look at was is being said as truth, then it's kind of difficult to temporarily try it on. I mean, it's either true, or it's not true. Once you make it true it's pretty tough to drop it.

Essentially, beliefs are mutable and truths are not.

What to Do
So, step one is to treat trust as an activity of engagement in new beliefs. It's not unlike going to a science fiction movie and abandoning our beliefs about time travel so that we can fully enjoy the movie. The question of time-travel being true or not doesn't come into play. I'm just going to believe in time travel for the next two hours.

Step two follows closely on the heals of step one. If I'm trying on a belief simply because I want to understand it, not because it's true, then, I place no responsibility on the part of the teacher for the teachings being true. It's my decision to try it on, and my decision to adopt it or not. I have no one to blame, but me.

The Benefits
First, I don't have to go through all the rigor of proving something to myself before I try it. This is particularly useful as there are many things that are impossible to prove before trying them. I can simply try them and see if they work or not. (This gives me a great learning advantage over Europeans and Missourians).

Second, I'm never limited by the skills and capacity of my teachers. I can learn from them in a manner that is fully engaged, and yet, gain insights that they might not yet have. It's all up to me.

Third, I'm never, ever going to feel bitter about someone having taught me something that didn't work out. It's always my decision to believe or not. Truth has nothing to do with it.

This is going to work. Trust me.

Supposed to...

During the last couple of sessions playing with David, the wonderful 5-year-old autistic son of Kathy, I have been wondering.

Now being in the playroom for three and a half years, David has decided to expand his vocabulary and I am amazed by some of the things he has been saying lately. Some of the things he says are clearly directed to me, other things I hear he seems to be telling to himself or maybe to his imaginary friends!

I have been celebrating his: "good to see you" that he has been saying to me at different times during the last two sessions. I also was deeply touched by his "Iris is here" he was chanting while running around the kitchen table when I was filling out the paperwork after our Sunday evening session. I must say it took me a moment to comprehend that he really says these things. It is so exiting! It is so amazing! It is so wonderful that he is clearly climbing out of his shell of silence.

There are things he says to himself that clearly indicate how much he picks up from his environment. The other day he is looking at himself in the mirror while talking about "kun-fu" and "martial arts". Now I know that he and his dad were watching sports on the television the night before, so it is possible he saw a commercial of some kind. I ask myself: does he know what these words mean? Why is he talking about that right now? Is he trying to share something with me? How much more is going on in this beautiful little head?

But this is not what I meant when I said earlier that I have been wondering. This is about the fact David has been saying "we are supposed to..." and "You and me are supposed to...". I never get any further than the words I have written down and I am so enormously puzzled by what it can mean. Does David know what something so complex as "supposed to" means? Does he believe there are things he is "supposed to"? Or is he just chanting a phrase he heard somewhere that he doesn’t understand?

I have been challenging David by asking "supposed to… what?", "what do you mean?" and "who says that?". I told him I do not believe in "supposed to" and I asked him if he believes in "supposed to". I have been repeating exactly the same words in the hope he would give me more, but it always goes back to the same words!

Personally I believe that David doesn't just chant words that have no meaning to him. So the fact that he says "supposed to" means to me he has an association with it. I would love, love, love to figure out what that is! When I know more, I promise to share it with you. Until then I will just marvel at the wonderful way David is starting to share more and more of his inner world...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Imaginary Friends

I am a morning person. This works out very well in our home as no one else would even dream of getting up at 4:30 am. The beauty of this for me is an entire 90 minutes of "quiet time". The only time during my day when I am completely alone and I cherish every second of it. Lately I have been using my "quiet time" to read random, senseless, uniquely thought provoking fiction. My latest treasure is "Sunday's at Tiffany's" by James Patterson. It is a book about a woman (Jane) currently living her life to meet the expectations of others (most significantly mom) who is reunited with her most admired childhood friend Michael. Michael is her imaginary childhood friend who left her on her ninth birthday who is now a "real person" others can see.

What I have been fascinated with is Jane's relationship with Michael. It is the same now that he is real as it was when he was imaginary (minus the sexual tension now that they are 32). It is a beautiful, loving, comfortable, easy, amazing relationship and for the first time in the book, Jane doesn't care what the people in her life think. She is once again "herself" when she is with Michael. I began to think back to when my daughter Aly had her imaginary friend. What was happening in our lives, how our family was interacting and realized that "Theresa" came into Aly's life at about the time David was diagnosed with autism and our family was a bit unsettled to say the least.

All imaginary friends have one thing in common, "unconditional love". We are all perfect in the eyes of our imaginary friends. We are all "good enough" for everything and anything we want to do or be. No wonder so many of us have imaginary friends as children. For those of you with children, introduce yourself to your child's imaginary friend. Get to know them. Who they are will give you priceless insight into what is important to your child.

I invite you all to experiment with me again. In addition to adding clowns to your lives, create an imaginary friend for yourself. Learn what you are craving in your life and then ask the real people around you for it! Let me introduce you to Tiffany... she says I am the most beautiful person she has ever met.

Love to all,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Most Repulsive Gesture Ever!

Even people living together can have very different beliefs and habits in different areas. This can sometimes lead to hysterical funny discussions and situations.

Today at lunch Mark was saying something. It might have been "what do you think about going home" but I'm not totally sure. I responded with a gesture that means (in my mind): good idea (brought with a joking touch)! It's meant to be funny and positive. Mark thinks very different about it! He told me that it is the most repulsive gesture ever! I had to laugh so loud and told him that he was so funny!

I said maybe I should make a little movie about it and put it on the blog. Mark's response in a serious voice: I don't understand why you worry at all about posting your music online when you are willing to post something like this on your blog!

Hmm, maybe I can post my most repulsive piece of recorded music another time! Today, enjoy the little movie I made. What comes up in your thoughts watching this? Why?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There is no Try, only Do or No Do!

I used to be the total "I'll try, lady". I would try anything and everything and would do everything half. I also used to leave all my decisions around the "try" to others, which for sure compromises to develop into a do. I always told myself in situations where I didn't know if I could do it, that I could try it. While writing this down I realize that this is what most of us are taught as a kid anyway! Ever heard: sweetie, I know that might seem hard, but give it a try!

This weekend I was hanging out with a friend who is a filmmaker. We got into a discussion around insecurities we carry and feed around our work (she criticizing her latest film, I criticizing my singing qualities). We discovered that criticizing is not motivating to perform better, but is holding us back from doing all the actions needed to get better. We learned, there is only do or no do if you want to get better, and better, and better and…

We decided to take the cow by the horns and immediately take action. We shot all the film for a short documentary about a starting singer (guess who!). We didn't use scripts, special clothes of make-up, microphones. We only used a very regular small canon camera and shot spontaneously without any practice. The results look very promising. The shots seem true, pure, and real. It was such an experience for us in getting over the worries and hesitations and just do it. I'm sold. This is addictive!

So, in the last eight weeks I not only became a singer and a drummer, now I’m also a movie star! I'm enjoying my developments through the do or no do principle and invite you to join this way of learning and exploring!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I believe I can learn it, but I cannot do it right now!

This Thursday evening I was in the wonderful opportunity to enjoy a Jazz concert of Melody Gardot. She is a young lady with an amazing voice and I believe that she was even better during her live performance than you can hear her sing on her CDs.

The whole evening was wonderful and mesmerizing. The six man band were clearly used playing together and created the most amazing sound together. Nothing to loud, nothing to soft, it was just perfect. Melody talked her pieces together with little comments that showed her witty humor and she got lots of us to participate in laughter!

Afterwards I talked excitedly with Mark about the performance and I told him that I would love to learn to sing that way. He said: "what if you would believe that you already can sing that way?" I thought about it and said: "I don't believe that, but I do believe that I can learn how to sing that way". He asked me if it would not be more useful to believe I already can sing that way!

This conversation I have been running in my head over the last days. A part of me totally dismisses the idea that I can sing like Melody right now and so I resist to go with Mark's suggestion. But I can see that if I could adopt the believe that I can do the same things Melody does with her voice in this moment, I would probably improve way faster in my want to sing like her.

So I'm looking over and over at this situation and trying to figure out more and more about my motivations. Maybe this is all about judging myself? If I can already sing like here it is so stupid I'm not doing it?! Ahhhh, so much to explore! So much to learn!

Do you have situations in your life where you might progress faster by changing a belief, but you hold on to it anyway? Why are you doing that?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Patience = Tolerance - Love

I was out to brunch last Sunday with a dear friend of mine and her parents. I brought along my 4 1/2 year old daughter, Sasha because this day was our day together. The restaurant was crowded and noisy and we could barely hear each other talk. There were lots of people which meant lots of distractions for little Sasha to enjoy as she watched the waiters go by and occasionally slipped out of her seat to explore the restaurant and go met new people. When she was at our table, she would from time to time demand my attention or come over to me and start whispering special secrets into my ear. My friend's parents were thoroughly charmed by Sasha and commented to me that they so enjoyed watching me and my daughter relate to each other. Intending to pay me a high compliment they said " You are such a good father, you are so incredibly patient with your daughter!" In a spasm of inauthenticity thanked them for the compliment and smiled demurely. But what I was thinking was "How strange they should think of me as patient. I am truly enjoying being here with Sasha and don't particularly feel that I am putting up with anything. Quite the contrary - I feel lucky to be here and that she is spending time with me." Now, Sasha is my typically developing child. I also have a son, Andy, who is on the spectrum. Andy will be 11 in July. More than once I have gotten similar compliments from friends who marvel at my "patience" when interacting with my son, at how I will happily answer him even though he has asked the same question now seven times in a row over the last five minutes. And once again it seems strange to me to garner accolades for this as my friends are simply describing how Andy and I are together. I feel as if I were getting a pat on the back for being so "patient" with the air every time I breathe.

So I got to thinking: If I accept that fact that my children's behavior would sometimes seem irritating to some people, what is different about how I look at them that leaves me feeling joyful and serene? It's really very simple - I love them. I enjoy my son's inquisitiveness, even if his curiosity is looping around exactly the same question umpty-ump times. I love it that my daughter is exuberantly outgoing and looking to have a blast wherever she is, that she is so intent on enjoying a little chat with me that she doesn't care who she has to interrupt to do it.

I notice that there are times when I do feel that I am being patient with my children (or other grown ups for that matter) and that those are times when I am choosing to feel frustrated. I also notice that at those times I am much more distanced form feeling love for whomever I am being "patient" with. In fact, the best way I know of to get past that feeling of frustration is to focus on really loving that person. When I connect with my love for them, the tension disappears and I no longer feel to need to be "patient", I simply enjoy them for who they are being in the moment.

There is an interesting corollary to this phenomenon. If I change my mind and decide that I no longer want to go along with what a person is doing, I don't have to "lose patience" with them. I can simply decide to do something else than join them in what they are doing. I can tell my son that I don't feel like answering his questions right now or tell my daughter that I am no longer allowing her to wander freely around the restaurant and even tell her that if she doesn't want to abide by my decision we will leave the restaurant. But since I wasn't being patient with them I don't need to get angry to change directions, I simply act upon my new desire.

So, dear readers, what do you think?

Love always,


Monday, June 15, 2009

Eight days a princess

One week ago I walked into our house after working in the garden, ready for a nice shower before the rest of my day would catch up. Opening the door I heard the sound of streaming water. I was confused to hear that sound and asked myself where that could come from. Walking into the house I stepped in this big puddle of water and I found the hot water machine splashing huge amounts of water.

As you can imagine my next actions were closing the water to the machine, cleaning up the water damage and getting the machine fixed as soon as possible. Unforeseen circumstances made that now eight days later I still do not have hot water!

Luckily this helped me to experience something that most of us, in the modern days, do not experience anymore and I am grateful and fully enjoying for the experience.

This morning I used the hot water cooker to boil hot water for my bath. I mixed in a big bowl some of the hot water with cold water to get the ultimate perfect temperature. I undressed and stood myself in the middle of the shower. I drenched a big cloth in the water until every cotton vessel was filled with water and I splashed it on my cold body. The hot water dripped over my body and cooled down while I was warming up locally where the water and cloth hit me. I repeated this game over and over again, while some of my body was cold, some was warm, and all was wet.

I made more hot water and sat on my knees while I washed my hair in the bowl. My head warm from the water and the rest cold. I drenched the leftover water over my cold body. I put my feet in the warm bowl while the rest of me covers itself with goose bumps.

The experience made me feel so alive. My body was taking care of me by opening and closing pores, tensing and relaxing under the cold and warmth. It is something I normally do not experience when I am under the shower, because all the hot water heats up the bathroom and the walls and floors. I feel I have returned to earlier centuries, and I enjoyed the experience.

True, I still would like to get my hot water back. But until then I just pretend that I'm a princess taking a bath in the sixteenth century...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Bye-Bye... Have a Hug"

I have heard these words repeatedly over the last few weeks as they are the most beautiful words expressed by a child who only recently decided to speak and another who has never stopped speaking since she was a baby. It has been incredibly heart warming to watch Aly join in David's latest repetitous behavior and it has created lots of hugging throughout our home. People embrace in hugs, stuffed bears embrace in hugs, plastic cows embrace in hugs, Malibu Barbi and Ken embrace in hugs, even the dust bunnies hiding under the couch have been hugging. I never fully appreciated how incredibly wonderful hugging truly feels.

The hugging has been wonderful but the behavior following the hugs has been an interesting catalyst for reflection. The "bye-bye" part of David's ritual typically includes shoving someone out the door, throwing the stuffed bears across the room, flipping the plastic cows into their plastic pen, and the dust bunnies.... well, let's just say I'm never really sure where they will be found. Once the person or object is gone, David is quickly on to his next fascinating discovery.

After working through my discomfort the last time David slammed the door on one of our amazing volunteers while I was still talking to her and then had a tantrum when I held the door open to finish our conversation, I began to appreciate this behavior in a completely different way. Suddenly I was inspired by David's ability to let go of something he loves so deeply and move on to something else he loves equally with no apparent discomfort or sadness about letting go of the first. He seems to experience the world so fully and in such a unique way that letting go is the key to experiencing something new and believing it will be equally fulfilling. For me it has been a wonderful expression of living each minute of each day to the fullest with no concern about yesterday or tomorrow. David demonstrates a wonderful ability to create whatever expereince he wants to have with whatever toy or person he is with. He recreates a bonding experience full of love with himself, other people, toys, and yes... even dust bunnies simply because he knows he can.

How would your life be different if you fully believed that you could create whatever expereince you wanted with whatever circumstances you had? How would you feel if you believed that letting go was simply an invitation to experiencing something new that would surely be equally or more fulfilling?

Bye-Bye- Hugs to all,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Everything is a gift

written by Julie sando

Do you think you can see every situation you encounter as a gift? That includes the annoying habits of your co-workers, the fight you just had with your spouse, your child's diagnosis, and the flu you are in the middle of.

What would happen if we decided to be grateful in the face of challenge? You may feel compassion for your co-worker, you may understand your spouse at a whole new level and grow through the experience, you may encounter a completely different way of viewing life and inviting new groups of people to be a part of your world, or you may realize you are releasing toxins which will help you be healthier in the long run.

It is up to us how we view our day to day lives. By looking for the gift we are inviting growth.

What is the last thing you felt challenged with? What is one way to feel grateful for that experience? If that was easy, think of another reason to feel grateful for that same challenge. Now think of your biggest challenge in life. What is one small way you can be grateful for that challenge? Keep growing your thoughts of gratitude and the gifts you receive will soon start to be the kind you enjoy opening as you will start to know that this is a benevolent Universe.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Treating Myself!!!

I decided to run a treatment program for myself. I have some growth goals for myself, and since our home-based treatment program works for Jaedon (my 10 year old son diagnosed with autism), I thought I would expand on the concept a bit, to help myself. This might be a little confusing ... since I'm 2 people, the autistic child AND the play partner. I hope you can follow...

Let's look at life before I started by treatment program (the one I run for me...). I wasn't very loving and accepting of myself at all. My attitude was definitely not inspiring growth! The more I learnt about what I wanted me to be doing, the more I judged me for not doing it! This cycle definitely did not lead where I wanted it to go! One day it hit me. If I want to help myself to grow, why don't I start being with me the way I am with Jaedon?

The key to this particular treatment program is the attitude of loving acceptance. Being that way with myself challenged a long held belief that I am lovable because of what I do. That one wasn't serving me well at all! I could never do enough. I looked for evidence everywhere to prove that I wasn't doing enough to measure up. It was exhausting. So, how about changing that belief to "I love and accept me just as I am"? What a freeing thought! Loving and accepting me just as I am, believing that I don't have to do anything to 'qualify' for my own love. That means, I don't have to judge my beliefs, my behaviors, especially my less than loving comments/behaviors to my husband. I can love me no matter what!

Next is the concept of joining. The key element of joining is fascinated curiosity while engaging in the child's behavior, owning it and exploring it to discover the beauty in the behavior. So how do I join me? I notice that as I relax into the loving, accepting attitude, it's easier to notice my own discomfort, look with interest at how I'm responding, and ask questions about whether my response is really what I'm wanting and uncover what's really going on. And, loving acceptance comes in right here: I don't have to say "There you go, believing that again!" I can let go of all self-judgment and embrace another opportunity to grow and change. Plus, when I notice that I've moved further in the direction that I want, I get to celebrate me! Yup, pat myself on the back and recognize myself for what I've done. That feels so much better than what I used to say "About time you did the right thing!"

One of my overall goals is to show up BIG in my life. Part of that for me is to love people in a generous, extravagant way. I've made that my current playroom "challenge" starting with the person closest to me, my soul-mate, Isaiah. What an exciting ride that has been!!! Just to be able to notice myself holding back in any given moment, has opened up so many doors, so many opportunities to do something different and exciting! Of course, this is sooo much easier if I remain present, staying in the moment and experiencing it to its fullest.

Here's my advice: If you are wanting to grow and change yourself in some specific ways, create yourself a treatment program:

  1. Be loving and accepting to yourself

  2. Join yourself: look at what you do with fascination, like a happy detective, to explore what you are believing in that moment

  3. Celebrate your actions that are in the direction of your goals. Yeah!!!

  4. Be present with yourself and experience every moment to the fullest
By the way, this also creates the optimal environment for change in all our loved ones, even those with 'special needs'. Have a great day in the playroom!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I'm at the health club with Mark. There is a green wooden shelf at the wall. It is used to put gym Id's on before we start and we take it out after we are done. Mark and I have not been for a while and we forgot our passes. But the staff was so friendly to let us workout anyway! When we left and passed the wall I see that my gym pass is on it. Wow, I must have forgotten it the last time I was there. I put it in my pocket and leave.

At home I notice that it is not my pass. Someone had made a forgery to make it look like my card. A lady is using this card. She uses my membership as hers. She put her photo over mine, and made some changes to the address. I'm surprised. How and why did she do this? I contact the gym and they look in my file. It turns out that three months earlier someone had written them in my name that I was moved to a new address. We fix the changes and I'm a one person member again at the gym!

Another moment. My husband and I are at huge ferry terminal. We are planning a trip. We are looking at the times the ferries go to the different places. A lady is running towards one of the ferry's employees and asks if there is still a ferry going to Den Helder today. When the answer is "no", she gets angry at the man. Then she runs of to find a train that can bring her where she wants to go. Mark and I see her go and are amused by this picture. What you can invite into your life if you want, we're thinking! We walk with our dog back home through the quiet picturesque neighborhoods of Enkhuizen in the Netherlands.

Then I wake up. It is Sunday morning seven o'clock and I have not yet written the blog for today. I feel an urge to start immediately. My dreams are very diverse, clear and real, but are over for the day! When I wake up I am not always ready, because I first want to finish something in my dreams! At those moments the dream is more important than waking up, because in that moment my dream is my real life.

So, what is real life? Is my want to write this blog right now a dream? Is there a difference between my dream life and my life today? Is one more important then the other? Is one true and the other false?

I think I want a cup of tea! Good morning, and have a great Sunday!

Weekly Focus - Spring Cleaning (7)

The last day of the spring cleaning. How much of the list of things you wanted to do did you do? Are there still things open standing? Will you continue this kind of spring cleaning activities after this week or are you done for a while? How did you feel this week during your activities? What did you learn?

I'm still spring cleaning and I hope you guys are joining me today! Have fun!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What is the direction of our choices?

I'm more and more amazed about how many different opportunities we get presented during the day to make choices. Every minute of the day we make choices leading towards or away from love and happiness, but it is not always clear at the instant of the choice where it will lead. So, how do we choose?

When a choice occurs, can you imagine you hear yourself ask: does this choice lead towards or away from my wants? Does it lead towards God or Satan (I'm not grown up religious, but BW reminded me of this question)? Does it lead towards love and happiness? Does this choice reflect who I am? Does this choice influence me and who I am in the world? Am I the choice made? Does this choice support who I want to be in the world? What if I change my mind later?

If we have to answer these questions every time a choice is presented, we will probably move very slow and do not make decisions easily. Also if we first want to have proof that our decisions help us to get to our goals or will move us in a certain direction, we might never be able to make the decision in the first place.

So, what about creating a grid with supporting beliefs and wants that help you overcome these questions very quickly and tackle choices easily?

Let me give you some examples of things on my grid:

  1. I want to make choices that support my beliefs around how to be in the world.
  2. I belief that there are many ways in which we can be supportive of each other and I want find more and more new ways in which I express my want to be supportive.
  3. I believe that by tomorrow I have grown tremendously from my experiences today.
  4. In my vision of myself I am constantly developing new skills and deeper understanding in the areas of compassion, love and happiness, I believe that this filter will help me make choices that focuses on these areas.
  5. I belief it is never too late to change my mind, so if I make a choice today that seem not in line with my wants tomorrow, I can change them at that moment.

The beliefs above seem to really help me to easily make choices in the moment. It is not a my complete grid and I am working on reviewing and updating my list. What is on your grid?

If you would like to create a grid for yourself, but you don't know where to start, you can still take action by following one of more of the following suggestions below:
  1. Contact an Life Coach. Chris, Iris, Joy and other trained life coaches can help you clarify your ideas and help you create beliefs that will make you more empowered, because you don't have to question every choice that is presented to you.
  2. Read some of the books you find on our website.
  3. Find and participate in (other) groups that look at beliefs and help empower people.

Weekly Focus - Spring Cleaning (6)

Day six of the spring cleaning. How are you doing? I went to the chiropractor this week, something I had delayed forever and which turned out to be such a great thing to do. I contacted people that I promised to contact but which I hadn't. I started to clean behind my but, because looking at my beliefs finally showed me some quirks in my beleifs around cleaning that I decided to discard.

What did you do so far this week? What is still open standing?

Today, find another task that is open standing, even though you know you have everything needed to close it. Don't forget to be honest with yourself while looking at the reasons why this task didn't happen before. Learn from yourself and have fun!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Inspired by a little boy

I have just bought a photo by Matthieu Ricard - a French monk and photographer.

The photo shows a little boy - he is looking at something - he is wearing a beautiful dress - he looks neither happy nor said - he is just watching. I was told that he is looking out the window watching a dance festival. The little boy is called Tulku Ugyen Tenzin Jigme Lhundrup, Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche - it is a long name for a little boy.
But he is not an ordinary boy. At the age of 4 he was found to be the reincarnation of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse. H. H. Dilgo Khyentse was the teacher of Matthieu Ricard who took the photo - and H.H Dalai Lama has said that Dilgo Khyentse was his own most significant teacher.

Why do I tell this? Matthieu Ricard was very touched when he told me how he took the photo - and how he had taken a photo of his teacher in the exact same position watching the exact same dance festival from the same window. Two pictures taken in the same situation: a great teacher and his reincarnation.

I was touched when I saw the photo - that's why I bought it. - It wasn't only to support a project helping children in Tibet - I was very, very touched when I saw the photo. And I do not believe in reincarnation. So why did I get so touched?

There is something fascinating about the wisdom passed on generation after generation. All these people who have wanted to be happy, wanted to learn how to be useful for others, help others to reach the Buddha mind - to be happy - to be free.

How are you helping yourself to be happy? How are you being useful to others? Are you passing on old family wisdom?

Or are you letting go of the past? Creating your own world? Discarding what you learned - holding on to new wisdom?

Can we ever let go of the past or are we always connected? Connected to our past and the history of our ancients?

These are questions which come up for me when I watch my photo - and as I look at my questions I smile as I think: the easiest way to happiness is neither in the future or in the past - it is just choosing happiness now - in this very moment.

Nameste, Joy

Weekly Focus - Spring Cleaning (4)

Where are you with your spring cleaning? I feel exhilarated by looking at what things I can close and than move on. I notice I get clearer on what I make important, what I invite in my life, what I want to focus on. How are you experiencing this?

Today, find another task that is open standing, even though you know you have everything needed to close it. Don't forget to be honest with yourself while looking at the reasons why this task didn't happen before. Learn from yourself and have fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weekly Focus - Spring Cleaning (3)

Isn't it absolutely fun and hilarious to clean out? How do you feel after you have intensionally made decisions and took action on them in the last two days? Was it easy? Was it hard? Do you have a long list of things you want to clean out or are there only a couple of things to finish up in the spring cleaning? What have you learned from this exercise so far?

Today, find another task that is open standing, even though you know you have everything needed to close it. Don't forget to be honest with yourself while looking at the reasons why this task didn't happen before. Learn from yourself and have fun!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weekly Focus - Spring Cleaning (2)

How was it for you to close a task yesterday that was open standing? Which beliefs did you find that kept you from doing it earlier? What can you learn from this?

For today, find another task that is open standing, even though you know you have everything needed to close it. It can be in relationship with others, or at work, or something that you wanted to do for yourself for a while but didn't. Be honest with yourself while looking at the reasons why this task didn't happen before. Learn from yourself and have fun!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Vote For More Peace and Harmony

Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in --Frances Moore Lappe.

My brother Tim and I have been having some interesting conversations lately. Tim is a philosopher of ethics...not surprisingly our discussions have lead me to lots of great questions! We've been talking mostly about doing what we should or ought to do versus living from our this a question of morality? Now I am wondering, what is the goal of morality? Hmmmm, this brings me to another question, which is the one I want to discuss most:

What is the most effective way to stimulate change so that everyone lives in peace and harmony?

Coming from an happiness lifestyle, I am all about living from my wants versus doing what I should do. 'Shoulds' are based on judgments which create resistance and separation versus unity. Living according to my wants is liberating and a loving way to choose my actions.

Has my self-awareness and emotional freedom replaced my use for morality or have they become my own internalized sense of morality? Would this work on a societal level?

My brother pointed out that living in a society focused on materialism and consumption, we are taught to simply satisfy our desires (particularly material desires: e.g. drink coke and be happy, buy a new car and be free and cool, etc.) without thinking much about why we want what we want or about the consequences of fulfilling our desires.

Perhaps people need to buy, buy, buy, until THEY realize that buying things will not make them happy?

Does happiness matter when it comes to morality? People are driven towards feeling good and away from feeling bad. Therefore, talking about happiness is an effective way of creating a more peaceful world. I am not referring to stimulus-dependent happiness. I am talking about that which is underneath the happy feelings (our beliefs) related to drinking coke or driving a new car. Happiness is our natural state of allowance, freedom and love which is in each moment available to us for how best to relay this message?

To be the most effective inspiration for peace and harmony, I am reminded to be the change I want to see in the world (Mahatma Gandhi). When living by example, 'shoulds' are redundant--actions speak louder than words. I am not saying we shouldn't should people, that would be silly! I am questioning the effectiveness of they transfer into change? Is it long lasting change?

I feel a greater sense of conviction behind my actions of looking within, making my own changes, and sharing these changes with others as a way to create more love in this world.

Thank you for reading!

Weekly Focus - Spring Cleaning (1)

In the Berkshires the temperatures start to slowly rise but we still have cold and freezing nights. What could be nicer than start our personal spring-cleaning during the brisk mornings of this week?

Let's take the next seven days to clean out seven things that we have been carrying with us.

For today, find one task that is open standing, even though you know you have everything needed to close it. Your task will be to get done with it today. For example: you have not contacted someone, while you promised? What has held you back so far that you didn’t finish or didn’t start at all? Look at the beliefs involved and make changes where needed. Close this task. Afterwards, don’t forget to celebrate your work for the day!