This blog is intended to create a dialogue about learning to receive with grace and ease.

So much has been written about the importance of giving that we forget that in order to give,

someone has to be receiving.





Sunday, December 9, 2012

Thanks to Wayne Dyer



“You are important enough to ask and you are blessed enough to receive back.”
Wayne Dyer 
If you subscribe to Science of Mind magazine, you’ve probably seen that Wayne Dyer is featured in the January 2013 issue.  This got me to reflecting on how much he has given to me over the years.  I’d like to share of few of Dyer’s teachings that continue to bless me, as he is a masterful receiver:
·       “I never worry about money.  I know I can always make more.”  I heard him say this one time, and one of my goals is to be able to say this with as much conviction as he does.  I’m making progress!
·       “Don’t own that.”  By “that” Dyer was referring to other people’s issues, problems, gripes, and so forth. As a parent, it is especially easy to own our children’s problems, although the older they get, the less those problems are ours to fix.  This phrase might also be useful with spouses, co-workers, or anyone else who may blame us for something unjustifiably.
·       On a related note, Dyer once explained that you can't control your reputation, because that’s determined by others. What we can control is our character.  So let’s not own others’ opinions of us either.
·       Years ago Dyer pointed out that children can do more than we usually give them credit for. His children did laundry at the age of 8.  What can you empower your kids with this busy holiday season?
·       “Being against anything weakens you, while being for something empowers you.  Be for peace not against war.”  The first time I heard him speak on this, he referenced Mother Teresa who said she would never participate in an antiwar rally, but she would attend a pro-peace rally.  I wish more people had adopted this approach during this last election!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Are Not What You Feel



As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, many spiritual teachers caution strongly about the ways we phrase things. While I agree about avoiding limiting language, I do think the issue can be taken too far.  For instance, when it comes to weight loss, some say we should “release” weight, not “lose” it, I guess because we might find it again.  Or perhaps it’s because “loss” has such a negative connotation.  After working for Weight Watchers for five years, though, I’ve seen hundreds of people successfully lose weight, so I hold no fear of the phrase.

David Friedman makes a point about wording that I think is well worth considering, however.  He suggests that we should exchange “I am” with “I feel” much of the time.  As I understand him, “I am” statements are best reserved for declarations of truth about ourselves, describing characteristics that are immutable.  Let’s say “I am a child of God” but “I feel hungry.”  Or “I am divinely blessed” although I may “feel” frustrated, disappointed, or angry.  Saying we feel these things rather than we are them acknowledges that they’re temporary situations, not a way of being.

When it comes to enhancing our ability to receive, let’s keep the “I am” statements positive and know it’s okay to acknowledge our feelings at that moment: I feel limited from time to time, but in reality I am prospered when I remember that “I have a rich Father who’s taking care of this,” (to borrow one of Charles Fillmore’s most delightful affirmations).  I feel impatient, but I am on the way to realizing the abundance I desire.  I am grateful, and I am capable of receiving all I need with grace and ease.  How about you?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Where Do You Stand on Tithing?


Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 
Malachi 3:10
Many churches encourage their members to tithe, which traditionally means to give the first ten percent of your gross earnings to the church or entity which feeds you spiritually.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, tithing was the way the Hebrew people sustained the Levites who served as priests, rather than as shepherds or other forms of laborers who earned wages.  But is the practice relevant today?  Is it necessary in order to receive?

I’ve heard many sermons on this topic, from a variety of churches I’ve attended over the years.  Although they always encourage it, most have not gone so far as to say tithing is necessary to receive, while others have suggested that it’s sufficient.  Usually the verse from Malachi shown above is referenced as evidence that it’s a sound practice that will ultimately bless you.

From my personal experience and observation, I’ve concluded that tithing is neither necessary nor sufficient in order to receive.  However, I have been a faithful and joyful tither for over ten years and have no intention of quitting.  Tithing just makes sense to me: ten percent to God, ninety percent to me.  How many professionals do you know of who take only a ten percent cut?

I don’t know who said it first, but the expression “you can’t out-give God” rings true for me every time I hear it.  Although not everyone who tithes is wealthy, I don’t know of anyone who went broke tithing either.  While tithing may not be the only thing we need to do to manifest prosperity, I think it’s a step in the right direction, especially when money appears tight.  For me it’s a tangible indication that I’m putting my trust in the one true, unlimited Source.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Watch Your Mouth -- Part Two



As you may have suspected from last week’s article, the list of limiting phrases it would be good to avoid is long.  Here are a few more I’ve encountered:

·       “The other half” -- when people identify another “half” that they’re excluded from they’ve found yet one more way to restrict their ability to receive.  A small consolation I suppose is that they’re not alone.  If the Berlin Wall can come down, so can any imagined dividing line between us and those who seem to have more we do at the moment.  There is no “us” and “them”; we are one.

·       “I can’t” -- this pronouncement is usually code for “I won’t” or “I don’t want to.”  I remember a situation when for years a certain administrator claimed he couldn’t possibly take Labor Day off due to some scheduling requirements his employer had in place.  He got promoted and the very first year his replacement was in his former job she managed to take Labor Day off.  The word “can’t” limits our options and possible outcomes, so be particularly discerning with its use.

·       “My little guardian angel” - I like to visualize divine help for myself or others by calling forth our little guardian angels to watch over us.  I caught my phrasing recently and decided to replace it with “my mighty guardian angel.”  It makes sense when you think about it.  What could be more powerful than Divine assistance?

I hope my lists have raised your awareness.  After all, the most read book in the world begins with, “In the beginning was the word…”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Watch Your Mouth


Am I bringing back memories?  Did you have an elder who reminded you to “watch your mouth” if you said something out of line?  Today I suggest that you watch your mouth in the sense of the expressions you use.  I’ve caught myself or others using this limiting language which in the end only short circuits our ability to receive:

·       “Fixed income” -- many retired folks love to remind others that their ability to spend (give) is limited because their income is fixed.   While they may feel some sense of relief that others won’t expect much from them, this declaration severely limits the flow of good into their lives, since apparently they see the government, their former employer, or their IRA as their source. Roger has told me stories of how over the years he watched in amazement as his aging mother received income from the most unexpected places, just when she needed it.  Looks like she knew who her Source was!

·       “I’m just a poor [whatever] -- this is the working person’s corollary to the first phrase.  I heard a teacher state this once to explain why he didn’t have a cell phone (at a time when every adult I knew managed to have one).  Decide right now that you are not and never will be “poor” in any sense of the word.  There, done!

·       “Working at” or “struggling with” - one of my wonderful ministers, Rev. Dr. MitziLynton, observed for me how often I chose this phrasing.  No wonder I was exhausted and frustrated at the time!

Join me this week and let’s listen carefully.  It’s often easier to catch what someone else says, so enlist someone close to you to listen to what you say.  Let me know what you hear, and I’ll add them to my Watch Your Mouth list.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Second Chances


Last week I wrote about times when I was presented with opportunities to resolve situations that troubled me.  I said that I had decided to wait and that soon chances to rectify these independent conditions were more or less thrust upon me.  What if I had missed this divine timing?  Would it have been too late?

I don’t think so.  From what I have observed in my own life, and from watching those close to me, if we don’t get the message the first time, Spirit has an infinite number of ways of reaching us.  And unlike us, Spirit never wearies or grows inpatient.  (Must have something to do with existing in the realm of eternity!)  It occurs to me that, in fact, I may have already made a misstep by waiting to act.  Perhaps the reason my encounters with these significant others were so unavoidable was because I had overlooked my Source’s subtler messages earlier.  It makes no difference. We always get a second chance with Spirit.

I find this realization comforting, not just for my own growth, but also when my attempts to help others fail.  If I was truly called to assist someone and my efforts were unsuccessful for some reason, I have no need for concern.  It’s not all up to me, no matter what I may think at the moment.  Yes, life is easier when we’re receptive the first time around.  But if we’re still learning to receive with grace and ease, we’ll get another chance.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Gift of Perfect Timing



As a woman of faith, I may not know how to handle every situation, but I do always have a Source of guidance and opportunity.  Recently I’ve experienced people behaving in ways that weren’t what I was expecting.  These friends made choices that seemed out of character for them and didn’t make me feel good.  Thankfully I’ve reached a place in my own development that enabled me to avoid reacting.  Instead, I privately acknowledged my feelings, consulted my Source of guidance, and decided to hold off taking any action. 

This week, as I was moving through my usual routines and activities, I was given the opportunity to connect with each of these individuals.  By opportunity I don’t mean we just happened to be at the same event - I mean I would turn the corner and run smack into them!  In each instance my friend reached out to me.  Maybe after two and a half years of weekly writing about receiving, I’m finally getting it; maybe it was my guardian angel nudging me.  Whatever the cause, I didn’t miss the moment.  I accepted their warm acknowledgement and the fence mending began.

Receiving comes in many forms and often in unexpected ways.  To enhance your ability to be more receptive, take quiet time every day, not just for reflection, but to sit in the silence.  Give your Source a few minutes to be heard.  The outcome may astound you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Lessons from Space


I’m still thinking about our trip to the Kennedy Space Center.  One thing that touched me was the comments made by many of the astronauts stating that their space experience changed their perception of life and our world.  Being able to view the earth from space was profoundly moving for them.  They were struck with a sense of peace, unity, and awe.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if every inhabitant of the earth were able to have that view?  Would competition and strife be as rampant, I wonder?

While I was fairly familiar with the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, I’m embarrassed to tell you that much of the detail about the International Space Station was unknown to me.  In just a few days, on November 2, the ISS will have its 12th anniversary of continuous human occupation.  In that time, there have been 125 launches to the ISS and the space station has been visited by 204 individuals.  According to NASA, “the ISS has been the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken.”  The ISS was created and is maintained through the cooperative efforts of United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada.  To further elaborate, the European nations involved include Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, among others.  I am incredibly encouraged by the ongoing collaboration, cooperation and achievement demonstrated by these nations.

It’s easy to get caught up in the ubiquitous scarcity and limitation thinking and resulting conflict that confront us daily.  If we look, however, we can find examples that contradict these perspectives.  Next time you need a reminder that we really all are one and there is plenty for all, just look up to the skies and whisper a blessing to the inhabitants of the ISS.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nothing Is Impossible



Do you have a dream or goal that feels too difficult or complex to achieve?  Last week I visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  I discovered that I had no idea what complexity really meant!

Did you know that there were two million systems on an Apollo spacecraft? Two million!  How is it possible that mere mortals were able to design and operate so many systems at one time?  While I remember many of the launches (yes, I was very young!), I had no appreciation for how many spacecraft went up within months of each other.  I now understand that NASA had to be constructing several rockets at a time, adjusting the designs in process, as scientists learned from each flight.  In an interview of one of the astronauts who had walked on the moon, he stated emphatically that we should consider nothing as impossible.   Seeing the spacecraft up close and learning about how the various components worked, I have to agree.  It boggles my mind!

I was also very impressed with the intense training that went on and continues for all the space missions.  Did you know that there is a full-sized model of the International Space Station submerged under water that is used for training purposes?  How foolish we have been to take the accomplishments of all those involved in the space program for granted.  Just as surgeons caution that there is no routine operation, I now appreciate that there is no routine space mission. 

 Even if you can’t get to Florida, check the KSC out online, especially if you’re holding a big dream.  If we walked on the moon in 1969, it’s pretty likely that your dream is possible, don’t you think?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Default Thoughts



I've heard it said that most of us think the same thoughts over and over again.  The problem is that often these are negative thoughts or memories that serve no constructive purpose.  If this sounds familiar to you, here’s an exercise to try.  Just as your computer has default settings, create for yourself default thoughts that you can turn to as needed.

Construct a two-column chart, listing in the left column the thoughts or memories you find yourself returning to that you’d like to let go of.  If it’s a negative thought, identify the unpleasant memory behind it and write that down.  For instance, “I’m such a klutz!” could be a recurring thought you have based on the time you tripped walking into a crowded room.  So your list will be comprised of things you or someone else did that continue to make you feel bad.  Next to each item, in the right column write down a specific example of something the individual did that was kind or positive.  You might list “walked across the stage at graduation with my head held high” across from the tripping incident.  The right column will be your default thoughts.  Anytime you find yourself drifting back to an unpleasant memory, immediately substitute your default thought.

In reality, there are far more positive incidents than negative, although it’s the nasty memories that seem to linger.  For instance, perhaps someone you’re close to did something uncharacteristically unkind.  For some reason you find yourself mulling the incident over, replaying it as if eventually it will turn out differently.  Because this is someone you care about, there are likely to be many wonderful things this person has done for you.  Chose one that you’re especially grateful for as your default thought.  Anytime you find yourself drifting back to the unpleasant memory, immediately substitute your default thought.  Any feelings of hurt or resentment will be replaced with gratitude and love.  Not only will you feel better, you’ll put yourself in a position to receive even more good.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are you Willing to be Uncomfortable?




I had a powerful ah-ha moment last week.  I discovered that successful people aren’t necessarily the ones who work the hardest or are the best in their fields.  Yes, those things help, but they’re not enough.  Don’t you know hard-working people who are really good at what they do, but are just barely making ends meet?  Successful people are the ones who are willing to persist, even when they’re uncomfortable.  Here’s what I experienced.

I was at a networking event with a group of people I didn’t know.  They knew each other pretty well, though, or so it seemed, because everybody was in small groups chatting away.  I tried my best to work the room, but two different conversations I’d struck up with people were interrupted mid-sentence by another person breaking in.  No “excuse me,” just a turning away to speak with someone they knew while I stood there awkwardly.  Other times I’d spot an individual I wanted to approach but before I could make my way through the narrow, crowded space, someone had beaten me to them.  As my confidence plummeted, I became very uncomfortable and seriously contemplated leaving.  I stood there for a few minutes feeling the knot in my stomach and the tightness in my shoulders, scanning the room for someone to talk to.  Eventually I found someone to connect with, who led me to another, and then to another.  Ultimately I met at least six people I followed up with later, exceeding my expectations for the event.

The purpose of networking is to build relationships that can be mutually beneficial.  If I had left when my discomfort mounted, I would never have met the people I did.  No one would be blessed by my leaving.  Because I was willing to endure my discomfort, I had the opportunity to give and receive.  One woman I spoke with had three points of connection with me, and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.  Receiving something you’ve never had before will likely mean being in unfamiliar situations.  Be willing to be uncomfortable and see what you receive!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Does it Mean to be Generous?



Many people desire abundance so that they can be more generous in their giving.  I understand this kind of thinking. There are so many wonderful non-profit organizations and candidates for election that I’d love to support financially.  Giving money is certainly one way to be generous, but is it the only way or even the best way?

The dictionary offers several definitions of the word “generous.”  Two are particularly relevant to the subject of receiving.  One definition is “kind,” as in willing to give money, assistance, or time freely.  I like the broadness of this description, as sharing our time and skills is often more useful than money, such as providing respite services for a caregiver.  I like to expand the definition even further and include giving our attention as an act of generosity.  Children and the elderly are especially overlooked when they speak, and the simple act of really listening to them is a wonderfully generous gift. 

Being attentive relates to the other dictionary definition of generous that is relevant here, and that is to be “noble,” as in demonstrating forgiveness.  Isn’t it generous when someone overlooks a slight, gives us the benefit of the doubt, or pardons our shortcomings?  If we’re truly attentive often we’ll recognize that the other person is doing their best.  In reality, behaving with kindness and responding with graciousness are two of the most powerful ways to be generous, and they don’t cost a dime.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who’s in Control?




“You can’t be surprised, you can’t be tickled if you try to control it.” Dr. Joseph Dispenza

It seems to me that there is a debate in the New Thought community about whose will we should be focused on.  Does God have a plan for my life (the traditional Christian view) or is it up to me to make the plan and God will say “yes” (Edwene Gaines and Terry McBride teach this)? Unity appears to take a middle of the road approach saying that we co-create our lives with God  and should be specific in our prayer requests but add “this or something better” at the end.  I must admit, after reflecting on this question for years, I’m still on the fence.

Most of the time, though, I see it as a bit of both - that God’s will and my will really are the same, although I may not know it.  For the most part, all any of us really want is to be happy.  (It’s what will make us happy that we’re often unclear about.)  I believe God wants us to be happy, too, so we really do both want the same thing.  When it comes to receiving, I suspect we’ll do best when we dwell on the feelings we want to have, such as happiness, rather than on the specifics of how to accomplish those feelings.  I’ll leave you with this little poem I came upon years ago and still have memorized:

As a child brings her broken toy with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dream to God, because he was my friend.
But soon I snatched it back and cried, “how can you be so slow?”
“My child,” He said, “what could I do?  You never did let go.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Skate Slowly and Carefully



This phrase came back to me recently: All skate slowly and carefully.  The invitation would come booming over the loud speaker at the roller skating rink, calling us all back onto the floor after a special skate had ended.  This was a welcome request then, and I realize it applies now when we’re striving to receive.  Let’s all keep going, moving slowly and carefully.

With 4G speed and instant access, we have become an impatient society.  It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t manifest as quickly as we need or would like them to.  We see no progress and assume nothing is happening.  Without allowing time for the universe to work things out on our behalf, we abandon our efforts and scramble to try a different approach.  What we needed to do was “skate slowly and carefully,” continuing our efforts despite appearances. 

I remember giving this advice to my Weight Watcher members when they would fail to lose weight.  They would claim they’d hit the dreaded weight-loss plateau because one week they didn’t lose weight.  In the weight loss world, any period of maintenance shorter than three weeks is just business as usual.  A plateau is not called until they’d gone three weeks without a loss.  Thankfully, with encouragement, most were able to keep “skating” and soon found they were truly making progress toward their goal.  How about you?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Law of Substitution



Is there something you desire to receive?  Maybe more than one something?  If so, you may find it easier to receive if you know the law of substitution.  I first learned about this law from New Thought author Florence Scovel Shinn in the Game of Life and How to Play It, which she self-published in 1925.

Ms. Shinn tells the story of a woman who was interested in having a certain man fall in love with her.  The woman asked Ms. Shinn to treat (pray) for this.  The author agreed to pray for divine selection, the man who was meant to be hers by divine right.  If this particular man was intended to be her partner, it would be so.  The woman made no progress with this gentleman, but did attract another with whom she fall in love and experienced great happiness.  As Ms. Shinn explained, “This shows the law of substitution.  A right idea was substituted for a wrong one, therefore there was no loss or sacrifice involved.”

Along these lines, many spiritual teachers state that being specific in our prayers is fine, as long as we add “this or something better” to our request.  This addition allows the law of substitution to take effect.  If you’ve been stalled with your receiving, don’t be afraid to consider the law of substitution. Remember that according to Ms. Shinn, there is no loss or sacrifice when the right idea is substituted for a wrong one.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finding Help


I’m working on my final speech to earn my Advanced Communicator Bronze award at Toastmasters.  It’s an after-dinner speech called “Do the Impossible.”  One of my tips for accomplishing the impossible is to seek expert advice.  This suggestion also applies when we’re striving to receive something, as often acquiring our goal can seem impossible.


Thankfully help is all around us.  With care, you can locate good advice for free on the Internet, for example.  (Note the qualifier - with care!)  There are also experts and coaches for everything imaginable.  I have recently read two books by experts that are great resources for people when they need help.  The first is The Working Mommy’s Manual by Nicole Corning.  Nicole speaks from her own experience and offers a wide variety of ideas beginning with the pregnancy and continuing through raising children and keeping peace with the in-laws.  This is a terrific guide for mothers, fathers, and bosses who have working parents on their staff.

The other book is by one of my favorite authors, Steven Lane Taylor.  If you want to make life easier for yourself, read his book, Further Down The Stream: 101 More Tips for Living Life in the DivineFlow. It’s like a box of chocolates that doesn’t go to your hips or raise your blood cholesterol! 

If you’re looking for more help, check out the resources page of my website or email me.  I’m blessed to know experts in many fields that are sure to make it easier for you to receive with grace and ease.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

You Can Get There from Here




Learning to receive with grace and ease involves many elements, as I mentioned last week.  Another critical skill is being able to keep moving forward when we don’t know the way.  If we’re alert, we can see the next step, but typically we can’t see very far down the road, no matter how hard we look.

You may recall Jack Canfield’s comments about this in the movie The Secret. He advised us to think about the headlights on our car.  We drive at night, sometimes only able to see 200 feet ahead of us.  We just keep going forward, with small sections of our path becoming clear as we progress.  In the 2012 Summer Olympics you may have heard a similar story told about Olympian Michael Phelps’ experience in the 2008 games where his goggles flooded during the first lap of one race.  Soon he was unable to see anything!  Being a champion, he continued to swim, counting his strokes all the way to a medal.

The lessons here are threefold: keep moving, use what you know, and have faith.  It’s appropriate to stop and wait for guidance, provided we don’t get stuck.  If fear is what keeps you from moving, it’s probably time to get going again.  Remember what you know; for Phelps, it was how many strokes he took in one lap.  We almost always know more than we realize.  Finally, have faith that the way will be made clear.  You really can get there from here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Stone Was Moved




To achieve the life we dream of, we need to learn how to receive with grace and ease.  This is a process involving numerous skills, and one of those is the ability to keep making progress even when it seems like we’re not capable of doing what we need to do.  We may lack the knowledge we need or maybe we don’t have the resources experts say are required.  This can leave us paralyzed by confusion and fear.  Perhaps we’ve taken on more than we’re up for.

When I find myself holding these thoughts, I love to remember the New Testament story from the gospel of Mark where the women went to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body.  On the way there they worried about how they would roll away the large stone that sealed the tomb.  When they arrived, however, they found that the stone was already moved and their way was clear!  Furthermore they were told by an angel that Jesus had gone on to Galilee ahead of them, just as he had promised.

The thing to keep in mind is that the women didn’t let their concern prevent them from moving forward.  They gathered their spices and went to tomb. There they received exactly what they needed.  In addition, they were given the assurance that help and guidance were already in place, waiting to assist them as required.  Let us keep moving in the direction of our dreams, confident that the “stone” will be moved!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Darkest Just Before the Dawn?

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the time and place that the tide will turn.”  
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Novelist, 1811 - 1886
 Is it really darkest just before dawn?  I could not verify this, but it sure seems that way when we need to receive.  Based on the above quotation from Harriet Beecher Stowe, it appears she would have agreed.  I love her expression of hope, though!  In fact, my daughter gave me this quotation years ago, and I’ve had it taped on my desk ever since.
   
Persistence is critical when we are looking to receive.  Charles Fillmore thought so.  Consider the following words from this co-founder of the Unity movement: “There are many persons who will to be prosperous and who have made up their minds, as they think, very determinedly.  But they have not overcome all doubts, and when their demonstration is delayed, as it is in such cases, the doubt increases until they lose faith altogether.  What they need is more persistence and determination.”
   
If this issue speaks to you, recommit to claiming what you desire to receive-- an answer, a partner, greater prosperity, a buyer for your home--whatever it may be.  Make a list of the resources you have to help you stay in belief.  Include inspirational reading and music, friends you could contact who will stand with you, and your own list of previous experiences you’ve had receiving what you needed.  Finally, don’t forget to visit my blog at http://artandscienceofreceiving.blogspot.com/ to see all my posts on learning to receive with grace and ease.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foiled Attempts to Give


Most of us have heard the story about the old man caught in a flood who, waiting for God to save him, died after he turned down three different good Samaritans attempting to help him.  I’ve used that tale myself to illustrate the importance of being open minded about how our good shows up when we need to receive.  Recently I thought about this story from a different perspective, that of the would-be rescuers.

What if the tale were true?  Can you imagine how the three kind souls would have felt if they’d learned of the man’s demise?  Have you ever attempted to give guidance, feedback, or help only to have it rejected?  There may be a temptation to say “I told you so” or “I tried to warn you.”  On the other hand, you may feel guilty or frustrated that your good intentions were not well received, particularly if it involved someone you truly care for.

Having been in this position, I found it took time for me to realize that I had nothing to resent or regret.  Sometimes after considerable angst, I came to accept that I did all I could do and now needed yto let go and let God.  Givers cannot be responsible for the receiver’s actions or response.  Giving and receiving is a process, and givers only have control over the giving part; the receiving is up to the other party.  If they’re not ready or willing to accept what is offered, it does not diminish the giver’s efforts. 

Remember, this holds true with our children, parents, subordinates, siblings, and friends.  Go easy on yourself; give from your heart and let it go.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Unexpected Good Stuff

       Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
       Muriel: Most things don't. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.

This bit of dialogue from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of my favorite parts of the film.  (Leave it to Judi Dench (Evelyn) and Maggie Smith (Muriel) to come through for us again!)  It makes two very worthwhile points.

First, most things don’t work out the way we expect.  I’ve found that to be true in both directions: some things are better than I thought they would be (remember the TV show Doogie Howser?) while others don’t live up to my expectations (such as this fourth of July at the ballgame when the D’backs lost and two guys next to us got into a fight and carried on all through the fireworks).  It’s easy to receive when things unexpectedly turn out well, but how well do you accept the disappointments?  Can you see the blessings in those?  These might well be the times Muriel is referring to as “the good stuff,” a second memorable point from the film.  

To receive with grace and ease, we need to be ready for anything and then be willing to receive it.  My experience participating in an Arthritis Foundation marathon in Amsterdam is an example of the proverbial silver lining in the cloud.  After I spent months training to race walk the marathon, the event organizers were not prepared for walkers and began shutting the course down after I had been walking only 90 minutes.  To make a long story short, much to my embarrassment and extreme disappointment, I never completed the marathon.  What was the good stuff?  I ended up in excellent physical shape and met my primary goals of raising $4500 and taking my daughters to Europe.  In addition, I wasn’t sore the day after the marathon like everyone else was, enabling me really enjoy my first time in Europe!  The good stuff is there, if we’re open to receiving it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How Well Do You Receive Praise?

Many years ago I managed a department of about 40 employees.  The department had a major backlog when I was hired, and the company was hoping my fresh perspective and human resources experience would help eliminate it.  It took the work of everyone in the department along with several others throughout the organization, a new understanding of the work process, and about 15 months to get caught up - but we did it!

To celebrate, the team leaders and I held a party which included food (of course!) and a gift and personal recognition for each member of the department.  It was a private event held offsite during which each person was asked to come forward to receive his or her gift.  All but one person happily came to the front to receive their accolades and treasure.  One woman, a particularly strong performer who had been with us for many years, refused to come up.  After several minutes of coaxing by the entire team, she finally, painfully came forward.

If I had it to do over again, I would handle it differently.  While I don’t understand her refusal to be recognized, I learned that we cannot force people to receive.  She eventually took the gift but the neither the givers nor the receiver felt the blessing.  The team leaders and I were so determined to show our appreciation, and she was equally adamant in her refusal to accept it, although what her specific objection was I never did learn.  The irony of it is that her unwillingness to walk up, take the gift, and go back to her seat resulted in far more attention on her than if she had just complied.

People are so stressed and quick to find fault today.  Let’s remember the joy of giving praise, sweet music to almost everyone’s ears.  And when commendations come our way, let’s receive them with grace and ease.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nighttime

What is your favorite time of day?  Mine is the morning.  For years I’ve had the habit of rising before everyone else so I have the house to myself.  In the peace and quiet, I reflect, pray, read, journal, plan my day, and sit in the silence.  After exercising and eating breakfast, I do my best work of the day.  I’ve always been a morning person, so night people amaze me.  As I’m winding down, they’re just getting started.  That’s really different for me.

Nighttime has a unique meaning spiritually speaking, too.  When we have a nighttime experience in a spiritual sense it means we’ve gone as far as our own light will take us at that point.  Just as we wouldn’t move around our house in the dark, during our spiritual nighttime we’re called to stop and wait for more light.  Wait for - not seek, strive or look for.  No action is required on our part.  Maybe the waiting and inactivity are why nighttime has never appealed to me.

When we’ve tried everything we know to and still can’t see the next step before us, let’s recognize that it’s nighttime.  Let’s not be anxious, but rather rest in the assurance that this quiet time is as necessary for our growth as nighttime is for plants’ development.  It’s a time to rely less on our own personal efforts and more on Divine Law that is always operating on our behalf.  Let’s receive the time of respite and renewal free from concern, knowing that all is well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Free to Give and Receive

As I frequently point out, giving typically bestows blessings on both the giver and the receiver.  These blessings are not automatic, however.  An essential element which allows the good to flow is that the giving and receiving be done freely.

There may be times that based on the situation, we feel obligated to give, to reciprocate for a gift or act of kindness we received.  We may be subjected to family expectations or feel pressured from our employer or a group to which we belong.  Similarly, we may be pressed to accept something that we’d rather not receive.  I’ve had clients tell me stories about someone they know who always insists on paying, for example.  Giving and receiving under these circumstances is likely to restrict the flow of good to both parties.  I encourage you to avoid it.

My favorite Shakespearean quotation applies here, “This above all: to thine ownself be true.”  When faced with a giving or receiving opportunity that causes you to resist, stop and examine where the resistance is coming from.  Is there a history of one-sided giving that you resent?  Does the giver tend to hold the gift against you?  Do you fear feeling obligated to that particular giver?  If so, can you have an authentic conversation that would allow you to proceed comfortably?  For the process to work, both giving and receiving need to occur freely, with grace and ease.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Show Up to Receive with Grace and Ease

Showing up helps us become skillful receivers, too. To receive what we need or desire, we’ve got to be in the game; we’ve got to show up.  What exactly does that look like?

There are many ways we can show up and put ourselves in a position to receive.  We can literally say “yes” to invitations.   Most of the time, when I think I’m attending an event to help the organizer out, I am the one to be blessed.  To show up could mean responding to email, returning a phone call, volunteering for a project, joining a committee at church, or taking on an officer role in one of the groups to which we belong.  We can show up in a conversation by listening intently, noticing the other person’s body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions.  When we eat, we can show up by focusing on the food one bite at a time, noting its appearance, aroma, texture, and flavors. 

Perhaps the most significant way to show up is to stay in the present moment.  This requires an ongoing effort on my part, I’ve found.  When we’re dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we overlook the gifts of current moment: the beauty of our surroundings; the sounds that fill the air, be they birds singing, waves on the shore, or a favorite song playing; the smile from a stranger; or a door held open.  Showing up is what receiving with grace and ease is all about.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How Well Do You Receive Change?

Much is written and taught about handling change today.  Since receiving always involves a change, learning to embrace change will enhance our ability to receive.

How does receiving always mean change?  When we receive something, we now have something we didn’t have before, be it a tangible gift, an idea, an understanding of someone’s view (a compliment would fall here), or a greater sense of well being.  Resisting change also means resisting receiving whatever would come along with the change: a new boss, a different job, an end to a relationship, and so forth.  And as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, a loss (which is change we usually don’t like) always incorporates a gain, if we allow it.

 Here’s an exercise to solidify this idea for you: next time something changes for you, identify what is available to be received, if you permitted it.  For instance, when a favorite restaurant closes, we’re motivated to try new out venues that we may end up liking even more.  If a road is closed, we have to drive a new way, perhaps discovering a business we didn’t know existed.  The kids move out, and we have a room available for who knows what!  When my beloved dog died, I learned how compassionate my vet’s entire staff was, I got closer to Roger’s two dogs, and I started researching breeds that are unknown to me for when I’m ready for a new dog.

Receiving change without resistance is a great step to learning to receive with grace and ease.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Side Dish of Fear

Several years ago I was blessed to have a private coaching session with David Friedman, author of The Thought Exchange.  I told him that I thought the fact that I often felt fear meant that I lacked faith.  He assured me that this was not so.  David explained that after years of working as a composer on Broadway he had concluded that every good thing comes with a side dish of fear.  He told me, “It’s as if the Universe says to us, ‘Okay, here’s that dream you’ve always wanted, and don’t forget your side dish of fear!’”

David went on to say that all the stars he encountered on Broadway have some level of fear.  It’s inevitable, a natural part of the manifestation process, and in no way an indication that we’re weak or lack faith.  He said, as you can imagine, that we can’t let the fear stop us from moving into our dreams.  David told me that when he feels frightened, he reminds himself, “Oh yes, it’s just my side dish of fear!”

I love this analogy because the picture I get in my mind always makes me smile, which makes me less fearful.  I remember that I am a woman of faith.  I consider that the fear is only a side dish, not the entrĂ©e.  (Food analogies make me so happy!)  Let us keep fear in its place so that we can receive what we need and desire with grace and ease.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Balancing Losses with Gains

As I’ve mentioned before, giving and receiving go hand-in-hand; when we give, we receive and when we receive, we give.  They are inherently balanced.  What is equally true I’ve found is that losses are balanced by gains.  The trick is to recognize this so that we are able to receive what the universe is offering.

When we lose something, such as a job or a relationship, the loss can be devastating, dominating our thoughts and emotions.  These then become so distracting and consuming that we’re unable to see the good that also came with the loss.  As I wrote last month, we need to realize we have something before we truly possess it.  I found that my mother’s death brought my relationship with my father to a new, deeper level, allowing us to talk about things we never would have previously.  In my HR career, I repeatedly observed people losing jobs only to move into something more fulfilling and sometimes even more lucrative.  I personally experienced this both times when I was laid off two times in two years.

It’s said that the universe abhors a void, so it makes sense that a loss has a corresponding gain built in.  Take a moment to mull this over and see if you find your own truth in it.  If you’re in the midst of a loss right now, expect the good to come, and you’ll be learning to receive with grace and ease.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Learning to Trust

Several years ago, I had a powerful lesson about doing my part and trusting God to do the rest.  I had been laid off from a middle management position and given four months of severance pay plus the support of an outplacement firm.  My daughters were in daycare full time at that point, and their father and I had just taken on a couple of new financial obligations.  I needed to get back to work as quickly as possible.

I took on my job search full time, going into the outplacement company’s office daily.  I did everything they advised me to do to the best of my ability and made a commitment to trust God.    As my severance period was winding down, I ended up being offered an HR management position that paid about 20% less than I had been making.  It was not my first choice of position, as I had been looking for a job out of state and outside the HR arena.  I knew, however, that if I turned the job down, my unemployment would end, because I had refused a management job in my field.  Yes, I could have lied to the Department of Labor, but that went against my commitment to trust God. 

I decided to accept the position, pay cut and all.  I saw several opportunities to make improvements in the HR department, and things went well.  Within six weeks, the COO reorganized the company and promoted me to a position equal to the person I had been hired by and was reporting to.  My pay was increased to what it had been in my former job.  I continued doing my best and six weeks after that, he restructured again, elevating me above the person who had hired me.  I was now his boss, and I was making more money than I ever had in my life.  Working at this higher level gave me wonderful new opportunities, including coming to Phoenix for a training program.  It was this exposure to the Southwest that prompted my move here. 

I can remember so clearly having to make the decision about accepting that job.  That profound lesson in trusting and letting go has stayed with me all these years.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Doing Our Part To Receive

I’m convinced that one of the things I’m to learn in this lifetime is how to discern what is mine to do whil leaving the rest to Spirit.  I’ve found it to be quite a balancing act at times: taking appropriate action, without shouldering what feels like the weight of the world.

The traditional American work ethic could be summed up as, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” and “God helps those who help themselves.”  We’re taught how to set goals, define action steps, and create checklists to get things done.  As a self-employed sole proprietor, I assure you it’s easy to get swallowed up in the doing, doing, doing.

Contrast this approach with the movie The Secret, which has been criticized for making manifestation too easy and too passive - just visualize what you want and believe you’ll get it.  I’ve seen the movie several times and read the book, and the presenters do talk about taking action when you feel moved to do so.  But, in hindsight, the taking action step is probably not emphasized quite enough, especially given the joyful ease with which the visualizing step is portrayed and how hard we’ve all been working to follow the American work ethic.

I think Emilie Cady described the middle ground well when she wrote, “There are some things that we are to do ourselves, but there are others that God does not expect us to do…They are His part, and our greatest trouble lies in our trying to do God’s part, just because we have not learned how to trust God to do it.” While I haven’t mastered the distinction between my part and God’s yet, I have gotten it right on occasion.  I’ll tell you about one such time next week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Knowing What We Have

Have you heard it said that those who have much will receive more and those who have little will lose the little they have? What’s up with that?  For years I’ve heard this story about three men receiving talents (or money) - one got ten, another five, and the third one.  The first two invested what they received and doubled their money. The last one hoarded the seemingly little he had and eventually had it taken away.  At first blush, this seems unfair.  Why should those blessed with abundance be even more blessed and the one with little lose even that?
  
The key to understanding the story is to dig deeper.  The first two men recognized what they had.  We don’t really have something until we know we have it.  Imagine a bank account in your name with a million dollars in it - only you have no idea it exists.  It’s yours, but do you really have it?  Once you recognize it as yours, you can be grateful for it, appreciate its value, and put it to use.  Only then do you have it, and only then can it grow.  The man who received one talent didn’t appreciate the gift.  In fact, the story says he was afraid of the one who gave it to him.  Gratitude multiplies and fear diminishes.
  
With this new understanding of the story, we can stop the next time we feel fear, and look for something to feel grateful for.  As Americans, we can certainly find something to appreciate, no matter what our current circumstances.  That will shift us from the constriction of fear to the openness of abundance, setting us up to receive with grace and ease, just like the two men in the story.