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A powerful, fun book to help you find your true Soul Expression


By Kute Blackson
North Star Way
An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Hardcover, 237 pages
$26.00 US/$35.00 Canada
ISBN: 978-1-5011-2724-4

Reviewed by Glenda Rueger Payne
Glenda Rueger Payne is an author, EFT and Core Shamanism practitioner specializing in caregiver and patient support for chronic and terminal illness.

When I review a book, I am not shy about marking the book to death. I highlight important passages and make notes to myself in the margins regarding whatever the author said in that line that I found really inspiring.
I had pen and highlighter ready as I turned to page one of this boldly honest, dare you to drop all pretense and really begin living life from your core, instruction adventure written by Author Kute Blackson. He tells his story through reflections upon his personal experiences as well as sharing his client’s experiences as they follow him on what he calls, “Liberation Experience” adventures in India or Bali.
Within the first few chapters, a strange thing began to happen. At first, the page margins were covered in black ink and nearly more words were highlighted than were not. If you pick up my copy, you will notice that toward the latter chapters there are nearly no highlights and the margins remain pristinely clear.
Is this because there were no more gems of wisdom and inspiration to be discovered? Au contraire, it is because if I continued on in my usual manner, there would be no words remaining clean of yellow ink and no more room in any of the margins. Instead, there are full pages marked with, “Wow!”
How far are you willing to go to drop all of the false personas keeping your true soul expression hidden? Would you travel to India or Bali to receive Kute’s life lessons? His gift is studying the moment to see what wisdom it offers. Life itself become the teacher. As you wind your way to unknown destinations through poverty-stricken areas, you have no choice but to confront all of the ways you keep yourself small and hidden.
Communing with the beauty of Bali, your heart softly opens. Transformation happens. Kute leaves no opportunity for avoidance. Trusting his well-honed intuition, he helps help you melt into your authentic self.
Would you stand with Carlos and Kute on the banks of the Ganges learning how to master your own thoughts by watching the local children? Or dive from a 40′ cliff with Jennifer into the river below shedding limiting beliefs on the way down? These clients took the risk. They learned how to break through the barriers of their old thought patterns. Their reward was to come face to face with the reality of their own souls and all it wishes to express in this world.
Kute delivers wisdom gems on nearly every page with the kind of creative inventiveness I most love in writers. He breaks the rules of grammar with such deliberate intent that the power of the message has no choice but to bore its way straight into your heart.
Kute’s clients are very successful business men and women who supposedly have everything we’ve been taught to believe will make us happy. Yet, they come to him because they feel empty inside. Can you find yourself in that statement? If so, Kute will be your very strong guide through the unknown territory of your own soul. Kute says, “You simply being your authentic self fully is the greatest gift you can give the world.”
Whether you embark upon an adventure with Kute via physical airplane to exotic destinations or simply by the turning the first page in this powerful, boldly honest work, you will find yourself looking into the mirror of your own soul. Ask yourself, “Am I living all that I can live?” Am I loving all that I can love?” If you are ready to find out, I dare you to turn the page and start finding the true adventure that is the real you!

A New Career for my Sixties!

As indicated in my earlier posts, I was forced into a medical retirement in December of 2010 at the age of 54. It took five years to finally get the diagnosis as I have a rare form of a rare disease called Mitochondrial Inclusion Body Myositis. The good news is that with the help of an Energy Psychology technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or tapping, I have been able to reclaim enough of my life and energy to become a certified EFT practitioner/stress coach. I particularly wish to work with those who have a chronic illness like I do and their caregivers. Below, please find one of my favorite case histories to get an insight into how EFT can relieve years of stress-related suffering. Please note: I am not a licensed healthcare worker and I do not diagnose or treat any physical or mental illness. I simply teach people how to get relief from the related stress. To view a short demo on what EFT did for me personally, follow this link

I want to note that since this demo was filmed, I have not used my scooter. Tapping has helped me manage my condition to achieve a much better quality of life.

On to the case study!

EFT releases a Blade of Guilt

By Glenda Payne
EFT Practitoner


This client, I’ll refer to her here as Tabitha to protect her identity and confidentiality, has been working with a professional therapist for several years on anger issues. She was the only daughter of three children raised by alcoholic parents. On her client intake form she checked, “chronic relationship challenges, chronic pain, stress/anxiety depression and grief, low self-esteem and weight issues” as categories that she wants to work on.

She became disabled due to depression and Fibromyalgia in 1998. It took seven years for her disability to become approved and through further dysfunctional family dynamics, she developed PTSD making her health issues even more complicated.

When we began exploring specific issues she wished to work on that day she mentioned that she had a very close friend of nine years. But with all of the crises and subsequent stress she was under, they had a falling out and were unable to resolve the situation before her friend passed away.

As I was pondering what to approach first she said that after her friend passed away leaving their conflict unresolved, she began to feel as if there were a blade causing pressure and painful headaches. The blade began just to the left of her nose and ran all the way down to her groin.

She’s had brain scans because the pressure was severe at times and she had also developed an arrhythmia. Subsequent medical tests, including brain scan, showed no physical cause for the pressure and pain and her heart appeared normal and healthy.

So we started with this. First, I demonstrated all of the tapping points, including the finger points. I had her describe the blade in detail asking pointed questions about the color, shape, size and material that made up the blade. She described it as about an inch wide, going all the way through her body to her back. It was an iron gray color and felt like it was made of steel. I asked her to close her eyes and focus in on the blade. I told her to ask the blade if it has a message for you. I then said, “When I snap my fingers open your eyes and tell me the first thing that pops into your head.”

Her answer was, “STOP!” She said she did not know what it means. I asked her in general what the “feel” of the blade was as in protective or antagonistic. She said, “No, it feels like a wound.”

Before beginning round 1, I asked her how much she believed the statement, “I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” At this time, she was uncomfortable with the statement, “deeply and completely love myself.” So for this first session, we worked with simply accepting herself and her feelings.

Before starting to tap in round one she stated that her SUDs on the blade of guilt was 9. We used the setup statement, “Even though I have this wound from my head down to my groin and I accept myself completely anyway.”

Tabitha was very responsive to the tapping and after just one round her SUDs reduced significantly. We tapped on all of the aspects of the blade; the color, shape, size and the feel of the metal causing pressure in her body.

After two more rounds with her SUDS reducing by a point after each one, I had her close her eyes and connect with the blade pressure once again. I had her ask, “Are you friend or foe?” The answer was foe. I did some Reiki energy work around her head and upper torso. I then asked, “What do you want to have happen? Do you want this blade gone?” She replied, “Yes.”

I had her close her eyes again. I told her I was going to count from three to one and snap my fingers. “When I do, I want you to tell me the first thing that comes into your head. Three, two one snap!” Her first word was, “mom.” She giggled nervously and said, “That’s not what I was expecting.”

I then asked her to complete the sentence, “I accepted this blade because. . .” three, two, one snap! She replied, “Guilt!” I then asked her, “Where do you feel guilt in your body?”

We tapped thoroughly exploring all the aspects she could feel in her body when she focused in on the guilt and her mom. She was able to recall a specific childhood event when her Grandma punished her for sassing back to her mom, which she then felt guilty for doing. We ran the movie technique until she was able to view the scene all the way through with zero SUDs on all aspects of the event and on the guilt she felt after being punished.

As we reassessed after that round I asked her, “What do you feel now in your body?” It feels a lot better. Where is the blade? It’s down to a 2. We celebrated the 2 with a, “Yay!” and some applause.

She described that the blade had shrunken all the way down to just a spot that was coming out of her shoulder blades.

We did one more round on that spot between her shoulder blades. I then had her tune into the blade again. She reported that the blade was all gone and her SUDs was zero. I had her go back into the feelings she had about losing her friend before their conflict was resolved. She remained at zero SUDs.

I said, “Great! Now we are going to fill up the empty space with Light.”

We did the final round on, “Even though there is an empty space where the blade was, I choose to fill it up with Light.

Even though there is an empty space where the blade used to be….

There is nothing left

And in its place, there’s just the Light

I can access that Light anytime I need it

Always there and always available

I am filled with Light and I feel great

I feel great


At the end, she said, “WOW! It’s gone!” Her SUDs on (blade and guilt) was a zero. Her final SUDs on the pain, pressure and guilt was zero.

We discussed setting up future sessions and that she needed to drink lots of water and be gentle with herself for the coming week. I asked her to pay attention to how she was navigating in the world and notice what’s different. I gave her a homework assignment of daily connecting with the Light and visualizing it filling up the space and moving through. I told her to just let her feelings flow freely through her with full acceptance.

I checked back in with her at her following session and the blade was still gone! She had even “expected” it to return, but it never did! I am extremely pleased with the client’s results from this first session. She was very pleased at how quickly and easily things moved through. She felt calmer and more relaxed than she had in years. She was very excited to schedule more sessions.

50 Shades of Salt Lake

Fifty Shades of Salt Lake

Who am I: A great grandma, grandma, step mom, sister, soul friend and wife; an extremely passionate, sensual woman who is still finding her way to wholeness even as she approaches her 60th birthday? Yes to all of that and so much more, as I am still discovering. I think all any of us ever wants is to know that we are seen, loved and accepted for who we are at the very core of our soul.

Tonight, I watched 50 Shades of Gray with my granddaughter (now mom to four children herself). I had never read the books or seen the movie so was not prepared for the depth of feeling watching it ignited within me. The spark was set to feelings already tender from returning as visitor to the city and a life I had escaped from 18 years ago.

There was a man in my life then who easily could have been my Christian had I been willing to go there. A 20 year on and off affair with him in a bizarre relationship too close to 50 shades of fucked up for my comfort. Leaving him and the children of my heart; my stepdaughter and her two children, which I helped raise from their infancy. It was like leaving an important piece of my soul behind. It has been joyously bittersweet to feel that part of me come alive again. Feelings of belonging as I have with this core family have found no equal since I left.

And the movie rekindled remembrance of one whom I once thought of as the man of my heart. I dreamed of converting our relationship from the twisted expression of fiery, but limited, sexual passion into a deep and abiding friendship. Unlike Christian and Anastasia’s long awaited morph into real family and deeper heart connection, I finally shut down all contact with him stating, “no more spice games for me, please.” For there can be no deeper wound than when you open your heart to someone only to be constantly relegated back into the position of “secret woman.” A bitter betrayal that came long after I thought we had moved way beyond game playing and into true and honest friendship about which there is neither shame nor need for secrecy.

There is little I find more difficult to abide than lies and secrecy. The fact that my Christian could not honor that in me meant he was not worthy of my time and I finally shut that door and threw away
the key.

I return in a little over one day’s time to the man I have been with for seventeen years and married to for seven. And this husband of mine whom I love dearly, deeply and passionately, and is one whom I would walk through fire with does not come easily into this deep space in my heart that belongs to my Salt Lake years. It has been fun reacquainting myself with the part of me who lived here then. The woman who was mom and grandma as deeply and sincerely as if these dear ones had been birthed from my own body; who was secret mistress to a player of a man in whose arms she had known no equal of pleasure. She will always mourn the loss of the deeper heart connection she once believed might have been between them had he been willing to trust her enough to explore soul as much as body.

So my 50 shades of Salt Lake chapter will soon come to a close. Will I once again sink only into the me who is wife to a soul wounded warrior struggling to find his own way to wholeness? And to the me who is friends with, but stepmom in legal name only to his kids? To the nearly 60 year old me whose compromised body simply cannot keep up with the demands of her fun loving spirit? I feel vibrantly alive here and I am loathe to lose that feeling.

Still, the current me found has found a whole new kind of passion with her husband. It is a passion that fulfills body and soul and is born on the surviving shores of devastating emotional tidal waves. I love my husband dearly with nectar that is made sweet from the ferment of our struggles. I will take that passion of the soul over mere passion of the body any day.

Still, as much as I love my husband and his family, I cannot say that I have ever felt that seen, honored and welcomed for who I really am as I do here with these beings from my former life. I hope that as I welcome back this Salt Lake part of me into my own heart that I will always feel that no matter where I am or who I am with that I am welcome, wanted and honored for who I am at the very core of my being. And wouldn’t it just be awesome if we all felt that way all of the time.

The Age of Aquarious is Alive and Well. . .

age of aquarius 1A throwback to the sixties title – I know! But I have to tell you something amazing I discovered in my personal healing work over this past week. You may have noticed my last blog post was a bit darker than usual. Since that post, I have been participating in Dawson Church’s Peak Performance Course. Dawson Church, PhD is a mover and shaker in the field of Epigenetic Medicine. His book, “The Genie in Your Genes” is full of ground breaking research in how our core beliefs and changes in our environment can actually turn our genes on and off. It’s way too much information to dispel in this short blog post, but check out this link if you’re intrigued:*Version*=1&*entries*=0

So what’s this got to do with The Age of Aquarius? Well, I learned in my personal healing studies years ago that our core beliefs actually determine how we view the world and how we allow ourselves to show up in it; and they color how we show up in our relationships as well. I’ve used the photography analogy before, but it’s the best model for my point. In photography, using certain filters dramatically changes how you see what you see through the viewfinder.

Our core beliefs are the filters on the lens of our mind.  Change the filter and everything you experience changes, too. Uncovering, shifting and healing core beliefs is actually one of the most thrilling experiences in life for me. What I discovered in the early nineties is that when I changed a core belief from, “no I can’t!” to, “yes I can!” my whole countenance changed. I brightened up, spoke up more and was more willing to express myself in the world with greater confidence than prior to uncovering the negative belief and shifting it to the positive one.

That said,  it seemed that every time I started to reach any goals that would widen my sphere of influence in the world, I found a way to shut it down. I’d get sick, my “energy disease” as I call it, would rear its ugly head. I’d have to cancel one of my Reiki or Shamanic healing groups and ended up locked away in my room under the covers. I was “too tired” to be creative and write my book or start a new course or class focused on assisting others with their emotional healing journeys.

Keep reading. You’ll get the sixties connection in a bit. Through this work in Dawson Church’s Peak Performance course, I uncovered a most debilitating core belief. It was, “if I show up 100% in the world using my gifts and talents, me and the people I love will die!” Wow – how’s that for a, “sock it to me” core belief. It says, “showing up in the world is far too dangerous so don’t even try.” Pretty much a no-win for someone like me who feels driven to be a force for positive change in the world.

Now we get to it – why the sixties references? During my session with Dawson, I realized that a deep-seated core belief was born the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. As I grew up, I watched every hero I had come to believe in who was striving to promote radical, positive change was subsequently killed. Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and John Lennon were all my personal heroes.  From watching these heroes that I so loved die, I had formed the belief that showing up in the world with radically different ideas and ways of expressing yourself is not safe. My subconscious mind decided that it’s far better to just get sick, instead. Of course, it follows that I developed a debilitating degenerative muscle disease to keep me and my loved ones safe. WHAT! No, thank you: I don’t want that one anymore! I worked with Dawson using EFT (emotional freedom technique) otherwise known as tapping. (link for more information on Tapping provided below)

This technique helped me uncover and release that debilitating core belief. At the end of our session, I couldn’t even make that statement anymore without laughing! Fears and tears just melted away. Only time will tell what will come of it, but here I am posting a blog about what many consider to be a radical new form of medicine, one that could absolutely shake up our current medical paradigm. I highly recommend checking out the works of Dawson, Joe Dispenza ( and other leaders in this exciting new field.

I am already noticing that I feel much more positive, hopeful and energetic than I have for a very long time. So pardon me for shaking the dust off of my old, Age of Aquarius LPs, my bell bottoms and fringed vests. It’s the first time since those days of my youth that my outlook on life is not overshadowed by a dark cloud of doom – the idea that being a spokesperson for positive change will kill me. NOT! Yet, even in the worst case scenarios they may have killed the men, but they never killed the ideas they birthed into the world. Positive change happened anyway!

The sun is out and the Age of Aquarius is alive and well for me!


age of aquarius  2

Follow this link for more information on tapping: 

Note: I used a belief management system I was introduced to in the early nineties to change, “No I can’t!” to “Yes, I can!” here’s a link to more information on this program:

No more longhand? Yikes! And what does that have to do with Powder?

Please write by hand with pencils and pen rather than use a keyboard, because the hand and the body, and particularly the heart, is linked through handwriting in a way that is virtually impossible to preserve through writing with a keyboard.

I’ve heard rumors that our schools are no longer teaching longhand because texting and computer keyboards have made writing via pen and paper archaic. I say “rumors” because I have no school-aged children who would tell me firsthand.

In any case, I am wondering what losing the art of writing in longhand may eventually cost us? As the above quote from Richard Harvey, Your Essential Self1  indicates, writing in longhand keeps us more deeply connected with our deepest, truest self, our heart centers.

Why is that important? Our heart center is where connection happens. Feeling connected, in my opinion, is how we conquer war, greed, hunger and poverty. A news story covering any one of those sad topics is just a news story unless you are personally connected to the people whom the story features. And often, the personal connection to the tragedy leads to wonderful acts of heroism. How can you cause harm to someone or something you care about? Caring inspires healing. This is why honoring connection is my passion.

An awesome moment of connection

An awesome moment of connection

Ever heard the phrase, “living a heart-centered life?” In my experience the feelings of joy, love, compassion, and forgiveness all come from our feeling connected in our hearts, not our minds. These feelings are the very best of us as human beings and what living a heart-centered life is all about.

Have you ever seen the 1995 American fantasy film called Powder? It is about Jeremy “Powder” Reed, who has an incredible intellect, as well as unusual powers given to him when his mother was electrocuted while he was still in the womb. The electrical shock caused him to be born with powder white hair and skin – hence, the nickname, “Powder.”  As stated on Wikipedia, “The film questions the limits of the human mind and body while also displaying society’s capacity for cruelty, and raises hope that humanity will advance to a state of better understanding.

Advancing to a state of better understanding happens when we feel connected. My favorite movie moment from that film illustrates my point perfectly. In it, Powder’s paranormal abilities help a hunter to feel what the deer he shot feels as it’s dying. He created a powerful connection that forever changed the hunter’s life. He could no longer harm what he felt connected to.

The key, in my mind, to living harmoniously with each other and the earth is to feel deeply connected. That connection starts from within; from knowing who you are in the deepest core of yourself – your true self, your authentic self. I agree with Richard that writing by hand helps us to feel this connection more deeply. For me, note-taking in college helped me connect to the material and retain it far better than just reading from textbook alone. So if writing by long hand connects us more deeply to our inner realms and to who/what we are writing about, what exactly are we losing as keyboards replace pen and paper?

I encourage you not to let the art of handwriting die. Write in your journals, write a note to a loved one. Send a thank you note to someone – and take notice. If you felt a warm, fuzzy feeling as you wrote it, you created connection. Let’s keep it alive!

1Richard Harvey,  (2013-07-01). Your Essential Self: The Inner Journey to Authenticity & Spiritual Enlightenment (Kindle Locations 473-474). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

Why this 50-something is a Twihard

“A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow.” ~ Djuna Barnes

While, of course, I find both Edward and Jacob very handsome, that’s not what makes me watch the Twilight series again and again. I admit I have the printed books, all of the movies, an Audible version and a digital version of each of the books. But I promise you, I’m not lost in teenage adoration. I also own many of the Ann Rice novels. The first in her vampire series, Interview with a Vampire started the whole obsession with all things vampiric and dark.

So what is the attraction for me? What truly excites me about the character progression in these novels is that to me, it indicates that we are beginning to accept that even “monsters” have souls. They quest for forgiveness, acceptance. We see them as the heroes.

Ann Rice brought them into the forefront of consciousness by letting us view reality from their perspective. Stephanie took it even further by creating monsters who desire not to give in to their baser natures, to actually protect those more vulnerable than themselves. In short, in my mind, it is the perfect illustration that we are beginning to be able to view, accept and integrate our Shadow Selves.

Jungian psychology identifies the “shadow aspect” of our personality as the part of us that we cannot acknowledge, and therefore, project onto others.[i] In Sigmund Freud’s, Case Histories II[ii], he states that “projection is the act or technique of defending yourself against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in yourself, while attributing them to others.” In my viewpoint, the more upset you are with someone else’s behavior is a good indication that it lives within you and is screaming for your attention to accept, heal and integrate. When healing happens, the emotional charge you feel from their behavior simply vanishes.

Both Edward, the icy vampire, and Jacob, the fiery shapeshifter, have a very difficult time accepting their “monster” selves. In the Twilight movie, Edward says to Bella, “what if I’m not the good guy. What if I’m the monster?” In New Moon, Jacob says, to Bella, “I used to be good, once.”

And yet, they are both capable of deep love and in the end, through Bella’s love, they eventually find acceptance and harmony. And Bella herself chooses to live in Edward’s world as one of his kind. But she never saw the monster in Edward or herself. She saw the possibilities. By accepting her shadow self, finding the strength in it, she flourishes. She finds her true, authentic self.

Having worked very hard, and it’s an on-going process, at acknowledging and accepting my own shadow self, and having observed others who do the same, I can say that Bella’s transformation is the perfect illustration of what we can all achieve by integrating our shadow self. In my opinion, it is the key to living authentically. So can you find where Bella, Jacob and Edward all live inside of you? If so, you are well on your way to integrated wholeness. Bravo to you!

Note: If you feel inspired to investigate further, please see the suggested reading list below.


  1.    [i]  Young-Eisendrath, P. and Dawson, T. (1997). The Cambridge Companion to Jung., Cambridge University Press, p. 319
  2.    [ii]Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 132


Suggested Reading List

Abrams, Jeremiah, and Connie Zweig. Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature. Tarcher, 1991, ISBN 0-87477-618-X

  •          Bly, Robert. “A little book on the human shadow“. Edited by William Booth. Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1988, ISBN 0-06-254847-6
  •          Campbell, Joseph, ed. The Portable Jung, Translated by R.F.C. Hull, New York: Penguin Books, 1971.
  •          Johnson, Robert A., Owning Your Own Shadow : Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche, 128 pages, Harper San Francisco, 1993, ISBN 0-06-250754-0
  •          Johnson, Robert A., Inner Work : Using Dreams and Creative Imagination for Personal Growth and Integration, 241 pages, Harper San Francisco, 1989, ISBN 0-06-250431-2
  •          Neumann, ErichDepth Psychology and a New Ethic Shambhala; Reprint edition (1990). ISBN 0-87773-571-9.
  •          Vandebrake, Mark. “Children of the Mist: Dwarfs in German Mythology, Fairy Tales, and Folk Legends” 135 pages. A work that interprets dwarf depictions throughout German history as shadow symbols.
  •          Chopra, DeepakMarianne WilliamsonDebbie FordThe Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self. HarperOne, 2010. ISBN 0-06-196265-1.


Finding your Shire

Just came in from the garden – fresh faced, rosy cheeked, slightly chilled from the damp, windy weather. My hubby planted more seeds and flowers while I harvested the strawberries, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. Yum! Fresh greens on the menu today!

Spring Harvest

As I was carrying my freshly picked basket, the smell of strawberries wafted up on the morning breeze. It put me in mind of the scene from the Lord of the Rings movie when Frodo and Sam were lost in the desolate, barren land of Mordor and near giving up. Sam said, “do you remember the Shire, Frodo? It would be spring there and the first of the strawberries ripe for picking. Do you remember the taste of fresh strawberries and cream?”

Living with a metabolic myopathy (a from of muscular dystrophy) is my Mordor. Like Sam, I find my inspiration in the simple pleasure of smelling fresh strawberries on the early morning breeze. My days always start with a list of things to do: dishes, projects, a few house cleaning or garden chores, posting a blog.  I move until I can’t and at the end of the day there are often still five out of the six tasks left undone.

There are times when I don’t have the choice to rest as much as my body needs. For instance, we spent a wonderful weekend at our grandson’s high school graduation. A joyous event celebrated with a family picnic at on Saturday afternoon and attending the graduation on Sunday. I also have Celiac so I prepare all of my food to be sure there is something yummy available for me to eat. Thursday and Friday were spent cleaning house, food prepping and packing. By the time we arrived at my step- daughter’s house on Friday night, I was so exhausted I could barely make it into the house.

On Sunday, I was having trouble breathing (a sure sign my body is exhausted) and still had to make it through family photos with the graduate, and a long walk to the ceremony. If I move very slowly and have support, I can keep from collapsing. Probably could have used a wheelchair, but I’m not yet ready to surrender to that. I cut the photo session short by not posing for a photo of just me and my step- grandson. I chose that option for two reasons: Micah hates being the center of attention and I was running out of steam to stand and pose.

I spent all of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in an exhausted stupor unable to find my way out of bed, check emails, prepare food, etc. Those moments feel much like being lost in barren desolation like Frodo and Sam. There is muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath – all too overwhelming to fight.

So here it is Friday morning. I finally made it out to the garden. It is my Shire – my place of renewal. When I was first struggling with this condition, I kept expecting that I would get better. I’d get so excited when I’d have a good day, only to feel bitter disappointment when the pain, weakness and exhaustion returned even stronger than before. I wrote this poem on a warm, Spring afternoon while gently swaying in my hammock chair with kitty on lap:

Lilacs by the garden gate
Wisteria on the Wind
Come lovely garden mine
My broken body mend

For both my hubby and I, the garden is our haven away from the parts of life that aren’t so fun. We weren’t going to put one in this year due to my diminished ability to help and his need to put his energy into remodeling a rental house.

But we are connected to our personal little Shire. As we sat on the deck with our coffee one warm spring morning, we could feel it screaming at us for love and attention – it begged to be planted and we had no choice but to answer. And as I harvest what will be tonight’s dinner, I send out a little prayer of gratitude that we listened; we said, yes!

Say yes to what life brings you and there will always be a way to handle what must be handled. A very Taoist way of being, “do without doing.” Check out this article for a great explanation of that philosophy:

What is your garden of joy? What feeds your soul? I encourage you to find it, acknowledge it and cherish your time there. Those moments nourish us through the times of barren desolation. Wishing you many moments of joy in whatever your garden hammock chair may be.

Do you hand out chocolates or cod liver oil?

I think we often go through life too caught up in our self-bubbles to recognize our own impact. Yet, we are very much aware of the impact other people have on us. Have you ever spent a piece of time lost in thought about what someone said to you – either for good or ill? We always notice how others make us feel – but it’s more difficult to notice how we impact others.

I remember when I had the “aha” moment of first recognizing my impact. I once had a friend who was a Unity minister. I allowed him to read through my journal, which was mostly about my struggles and inspirations in my own spiritual growth. There was something I had written that impacted him deeply.

He facilitated a weekly study group. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at group one evening to find my own words written upon the black board. The really shocking thing in that moment was to see the impact of that quote upon the others in our group; to realize it became an inspiration for them as well. Until that moment, I never knew that who I am touches other people.

In my daily transactions, even with the grocery check out person or my bank teller, I  choose to communicate that I value and appreciate them. I am not always successful and have to pull myself up short when I realize my own angst and frustrations are being dumped on others. What can I say, it happens!

And it can also be argued that if you are strong in yourself, you won’t feel the impact of another’s words or actions. But does that thought come from your heart or is it a defense mechanism? If you feel tension in your body as you ponder that concept, it is more likely to be a defense mechanism worth investigating. To me, creating deeper connections starts by inviting others to feel valued and appreciated in my presence as long as it is authentic vs manipulative.

How do I measure authenticity vs. manipulation? If I am attempting to influence how they feel about me with my words, it is manipulation. If I am genuinely interested in giving to them just for its own sake, it’s authentic.

It is hard to pause enough in the “bus-i-ness” of our lives to recognize that our words and actions always have impact on those we come in contact with every single moment. Yikes – that can be overwhelming! It is also a huge responsibility to recognize that you can touch another so completely with your words and actions. And the choice is always yours to decide what kind of impact you wish to have.

It can be an interesting tool in greater self-awareness to recognize your impact. Start by taking a moment at the end of each day to review your interactions with others. This is a great exercise if you are stuck in rush hour traffic. View your conversations from the perspective of the  person you had them with. Is there someone at work or home you are struggling with? Try to imagine how your words make them feel rather than focusing on your own feelings. If you realize there are words you wish you could take back or change, don’t waste time on self-punishment or regret. Just find a way in your next transaction to communicate what you value about that person. When you get really good at this, you can even recognize you are probably exhibiting the same behavior you chastise them for. That recognition is a moment of true power and freedom.

And be aware that there are those with personality disorders who simply cannot recognize the damage they do to you with their words. They have no ability to empathize. As always, it is important to set your own boundaries and move on to greener pastures when necessary.

However, in usual circumstances, when you begin to communicate from a place of appreciation rather than resentment, deeper connections happen. You may be amazed at how much joy you feel when you see how much joy you give to others with a simple smile and honest validation of who they are to you in your life.

It’s like chocolate – even though another’s path in life is not your responsibility, you still have the power to sweeten their moments. Even helping them recognize a harsh truth can be done gently and lovingly. What would you rather be giving – chocolate or cod liver oil? What would you rather receive? Just be assured of one thing – we are not islands to ourselves and our words definitely have impact.

Wishing you many moments of chocolate transactions!



The Unspoken Moment

True Heart Connection often happens without words. Experiencing and inspiring those moments is my passion and my joy. These rare and precious happenings often occur randomly and cannot be forced or manipulated. One of these precious moments for me came from what many would consider an unusual source.

I have four step-children with my current husband. Two of them come from a previous, 20-year marriage. In my mind, 20 years of family experiences simply cannot be erased or negated, but deserve to be honored. And while they were an unsuccessful couple, they remained an extremely successful family. They continued to co-parent as their children grew and eventually, life drew us all together.

We now share our holidays as an extended family unit. We also all share a passion for music and Karaoke singing is always a big part of our gatherings. We take turns and the performances range from the hilarious with accompanying dance moves, to the heartfelt. Speaking of the latter, the girls’ mom took a turn singing with her eldest daughter. As I listened to the words from “The Loving Time,” by Mary Black- a beautiful ballad about passionate love without a happily-ever-after ending- I felt chills along my spine. I turned to look at the youngest daughter who was listening beside me – our eyes held for a moment. The song as the story of their parent’s love, and my own past loves, rang true and touched me deeply. It was also true for her having just ended a deep and significant relationship in her life. There was as much, if not more, said between us in that one unspoken moment than we have shared in all our years of knowing each other.

It gave me such great joy to experience that with her. All of the sadness and pain from both experiences, her recent loss and the divorce of her parents, was there in her eyes. What I felt was empathy with that from my own past, but way beyond that was the joy in sharing such an intimate, vulnerable moment.

It deepened the bond I already feel with her and her mom. It is strange, perhaps, but a bond of women who have all survived heartache and loss and found an inner strength and eventual return to harmony goes beyond the boundaries of ex-wife, step-mom, or step-daughter.

In the experience of a life where we dare to love passionately, deeply, to whatever end; we break through barriers to find true, magnanimous love. I am more grateful than I can say to be sharing this life and the love we all share for the same man with these amazing women. We each love in our own way. Like the different flavors from Tillamook, it’s all still ice cream. Whether it’s wife-husband, father-daughter, or the love from a friendship born of surviving the loss of a 20-year marriage, it’s still love. And for me, I get to add that bond of woman-to-woman respect and love. It comes from knowing we have all cried the tears of troubled times and rediscovered the joys of great ones.

As we bring in the New Year, find a quiet moment to reflect on the Unspoken Moments in your life. Who inspired them for you? Were yours, like mine, perhaps from an unexpected source? Let your heart be filled with the gratitude from the privilege of sharing that precious moment.

Looking for Proof

I wish I could say that a lesson learned once was learned forever. It seems there are certain themes in my life I find myself bumping into again and again. One I’ve struggled with the most is recognizing that what I look for, I will find.

Having spent my early years with a camera glued to my eye, it’s easy to use photographic metaphor to illustrate my point. Slide a yellow filter in front of your lens, and everything you see through the viewfinder will be tinted with yellow. Recognizing that you are viewing life through the filter of your belief system, and understanding what the belief is, can be the hardest part.

The filter most difficult for me to recognize, even though I’ve dealt with it time and again, is rejection. Relationships are the best tool for self-awareness if we choose to perceive and accept what is offered. I spent two years in a not-too emotionally rewarding relationship. Yet, the time was well-spent as it was the vehicle in which I first recognized that I was viewing it through a filter of rejection. Perhaps it was also a rite of passage for it was the first time I was able to honestly acknowledge that the pain I felt inside relationship was of my own creation.

It was in the midst of a phone argument that I realized I was demanding proof of rejection. Look for it, and you’ll find it! So I made a decision to begin looking for proof of love. Guess what – I found that, too! It made it easier to be in that relationship, though it eventually became evident that we simply did not want the same things from it and went our separate ways.

That first awareness was over ten years ago. I learned that lesson well enough to not struggle with it in my current marriage. Lo and behold though, I realized I am still dealing with the same filter in my friendships and other family relationships. In my quiet time this morning, I found myself running scenes of imagined slights in my mind. And the light once again dawned that I was doing it again – seeing those relationships through the filter of rejection. I reran the scenes replacing that rejection filter with the “I am deeply loved” filter and wow – I could certainly find the evidence of that, too.

When tempted to feel frustration at still dealing with the same filter I thought I had banished long ago, I remember a powerful meditation experience. My guidance said, “you must choose for Spirit.” I replied somewhat impatiently that I already had. I then heard, “you must choose in every moment.” Oh – duh!

Why is it the simplest truths are often the most difficult to grasp? So really, it’s not a matter of getting it right so that we never repeat the error in thought again. It’s a matter of recognizing and then choosing in that moment to look through a different, more loving filter. I once heard in a Sunday sermon that when a 747 jetliner is flying by autopilot, it is off course 90% of the time. Does the plane freak out and go, “oh no, I’ve done it again! I just can’t get it right!” I certainly hope not for in those precious moments spent in reaction rather than recognition and correction, the plane could very well crash. The autopilot program simply recognizes and self-corrects and repeats the process as many times as necessary.

Working with the filter metaphor can be a fun, self-learning exercise. Ask yourself what filter you have struggled with again and again. Put a name to it. Run a scene through your mind where that filter was in play. Take three deep breaths; now remove the filter. Take a moment to connect into your heart by breathing directly into it. Find that place inside where you are connected to the love of Spirit. Now create a new filter to replace the self-limiting one. Take another moment to review your life through this new filter. Check in with your body – are you more relaxed, calm and centered with this new filter? Make a commitment to yourself to be consciously aware of this new filter as you go about your day. Acknowledge the proof when it comes that the new filter is in play. Remember, if you look for the proof, you will find it!

Peace and healing to you.

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