The Return of the Light

  For millennia, winter solstice celebrations have heralded the return of the light and are a time of quiet reflection and intention. In many Native American cultures, tribes and families would gather to start up a new year at the solstice and have a special celebration where they would make a request to the Great Spirit to eliminate certain things that they no longer wanted in their lives. As a way of representing this, they would craft six arrows: three to represent the things they did not want and three for the things they did want. They called them “death” arrows and “life” arrows because they held respectfully, the things they wanted to be out of their lives and those they wanted to bring life to.    

One by one, they would each step into the ceremonial circle from the north, put arrows in the ground and say certain prayers, concentrating on that which they were willing to give up. Then they would go to the higher ground, and make the request to the Great Spirit for what they wanted to bring into their lives. They would leave the arrows standing for the Great Spirit throughout the year. During the sacred ceremony, what you requested to be taken out of your life would be removed, and what you wanted to come, came in. The Native Americans had unswerving faith that what they asked for would be granted through their intentions.
   

On the winter solstice, take the time to reflect on the things you want to let go of this year and the things you want to bring into your life. It’s an opportunity to name and release the situations or patterns in your life that are ready to be let go of and forgiven. Focus on what’s appropriate to your being at this time in your life. Sit quietly, open your heart and let the flow of energy move through you as you meditate on your intentions. If you feel inclined, write them down and put them in a special place to reflect upon at a later time. It is trust in yourself and your source that will manifest an abundance of all that is good, loving, and joyful in your life.

Practicing Self-Compassion During the Holidays

     Cultivating self-compassion during the holidays requires precious self-care—that is, nurturing ourselves with the utmost kindness and love, as we would someone we cherish. Such behavior is not self-indulgent but rather essential to enhancing our health, vitality, and our relationships. It increases our energy, brings peace of mind, and restores balance. Even setting aside just five minutes a day to nurture ourselves can help us reduce stress, calm the nervous system, feel renewed, and be more productive.

      Often we set aside our own needs while caring for others. Or we do not dedicate sufficient time and energy to self-care, due to the endless to-do lists, obligations, and distractions in our lives. However, disregarding our needs while instead focusing on the needs of others or on activities we consider more important takes a toll on us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It triggers such mindsets as “I must” or “I should” be doing for someone else instead of making our own needs as important as those of others. Putting off self-care may seem noble and selfless until we become stressed, exhausted, and even sick and lacking the energy to care for anybody, including ourselves—due to illness or compassion fatigue. The heart center is vulnerable to congestion because of the emotional processing that occurs there, especially for highly sensitive people, potentially causing health problems. And showing compassion to others while not to ourselves can result in loss of connection to ourselves as love source.

     Many of us who are deeply sensitive are dealing with compassion fatigue which can create feelings of spiritual depression. It is important to reframe these feelings as a time of “deep rest.”  Restorative self-care requires performing small acts of kindness toward ourselves, such as taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of every day to meditate, journal, or relax; transforming our daily shower or bath into a ritual to cleanse our energy field after a stressful day; or engaging in activities such as walking, yoga, massage, acupuncture, tai chi, or energy work to release tension, toxicity, and enhance the flow of positive energy. Making a compassion covenant with ourselves by agreeing to practice at least one act of kindness toward ourselves every day can sustain happiness, well-being, and self-compassion while also modeling self-care for those we love. In honoring our need for compassionate self-care, we have more energy to serve others.

     Cultivating compassion for ourselves by being kind, nonjudgmental, and nonreactive when we struggle, make a mistake, or feel unworthy supports our health and well-being. The more willing we are to treat ourselves this way, the more likely we will be to behave this way toward others. Such behavior generates a sense of universal love, inner peace, and spiritual attunement with everyone and everything.

  • Consciously chose to move through every moment with an open heart, with no expectations and operating as stress free as possible.
  • Celebrate each day no matter if the shopping lines are long, the traffic congested, and/or our interactions with people more challenging.
  • Practice loving-kindness and non-judgment with yourself.
  • Forgive yourself quickly and often.

       Let your mantra be to sow seeds of light and love where ever you may go so that you leave it a better place for being there. Shine your light so that others may benefit. Celebrate life, express pure love and sustain the light of your being.

Opening Your Heart in Gratitude

         Opening your heart in gratitude releases a continuous stream of positive energy that supports spiritual clarity, creativity, personal effectiveness, strengthening of the immune system, elimination of energy blocks, and the diminishing of fear, stress, and negativity. As such, it brings us into emotional balance so we feel less irritated or angry when someone cuts in front of us in traffic or our partner makes an insensitive remark. It also helps us better observe our reactions, stop negative self-talk, and cease judging others. In response, we can access our inner guidance to make discerning choices in our health, relationships, and finances. Most importantly, the overall quality of our lives improves because we wake up each day with positive energy, inspiration, and a sense of gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.

     When we are grateful, the heart and brain operate synergistically. With practice, we can improve and actively control this synergy to prevent stress-producing emotions and enhance mental clarity. We can initiate self-love that leads to loving others by closing our eyes, placing a hand on the center of our chest, and focusing our attention on our hearts. We can attain inner peace by going deep inside our hearts, quieting our minds, breathing deeply, and focusing on radiating love in the form of gratitude or compassion to ourselves or others. By breathing out negative thoughts, emotions, and judgments about ourselves with each exhalation, we can eliminate any negativity and clear energy blocks.  

     Begin every day feeling grateful for opportunities to open your heart. No matter what your circumstances, daily bless yourself, your fellow human beings, and the earth; then express appreciation for your unique gifts. This opens your heart and helps you hear the voice of spirit guiding your life. Expressing gratitude for such spiritual guidance inspires you with the knowledge that you are not alone in your journey through life and strengthens your sense of connection with the universe.

     An affirmation that can be helpful in this regard is the following by poet e. e. cummings reminding us to affirm ourselves and life in this way: “I thank you God for this most amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky: and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”

     Acknowledge the blessings of who you are and what you already have, even if you do not necessarily feel this way. You can start with feeling blessed for being alive, followed by other blessings in your life. Continue the practice by repeating the mantra “I am a blessed being” or “I bless myself, my fellow human beings, and the earth no matter what.” Keep a journal of things you’re grateful for, sharing three good things that happen each day with a friend or partner, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others assist you.

Celebrating the Holidays without Expectations

 Celebrating the holidays without expectations can be challenging even for those of us who live an authentic life. How many of us dread the holidays because we have difficulty saying no, declining an invitation, or setting firm boundaries with our family members? Whether it be family traditions we feel obligated to continue, or relatives we feel we must visit, our minds are filled with endless to-do lists, expectations and obligations at this particular time of year. Instead of it being a time of beauty, quiet reflection, and a celebration of our hearts, it becomes stressful and anxiety-ridden trying to live up to the expectations of ourselves and others.  

As the holidays approach, we often have difficulty finding time in our busy schedules to be quiet and listen inwardly. Yet, this automatically sets us up to follow the dictates of our head instead of our heart. These mental dictates such as “I must” or “I should” can get us into situations in which we would rather not be involved, such as going to a family holiday gathering we would prefer not to attend. Such an expectation or obligation can also be triggered when a person suddenly calls and asks if you are free without telling you the plans they have in mind. You then may feel obligated to answer “yes,” leaving you vulnerable to committing to an event in which you may have no interest in or may compromise you in an unhealthy way.

In such situations, it is essential that you practice healthy detachment. Patterns such as approval seeking, people pleasing, or insecurity surface especially during the holidays because they are so fraught with expectations. Red flags such as blame, attack or defensiveness signal that a pattern has emerged. Practice pausing when you react, stepping back from the situation and asking yourself: Why am reacting to this person or situation? What is going on with me that I need to shift? Instead of taking another person’s reaction personally, stay detached by not trying to fix their problem, work out their issues, and remind them that you love them and are hear for them. Next, instead of reacting in anger, frustration or irritation, respond from a more positive perspective—for instance, asking if you can call the person back. Finally, affirm to yourself that you always have the power of choice and inform the person of your preference.

For example, I have hosted Thanksgiving at my home for almost thirty years. I look forward to creating a sacred celebration completely different from the chaotic, tumultuous, and conditional holidays I experienced as a child. This year, however, my daughter being separated from her boyfriend while attending medical school decided to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with him. At the same time, my son and daughter-in-law having just moved into their new home invited my husband and me to spend it with them. Instead of laying a guilt trip on my children for not coming home for the holiday, I had to let go of any expectation that Thanksgiving was at my house and with my entire family. Not having an expectation, I wasn’t setting myself or anybody else up for disappointment. I wanted my children to share the holiday with me not out of obligation but from their true intent of what was best for them. So I graciously accepted my son’s invitation. 

Then I fielded the next curve ball when my husband decided that he wanted to stay home. First, I had let go of my children coming home now I was being challenged to let go of my husband and I being together-we had never been apart for the holidays. At first, I offered every accommodation I could come up with such as driving instead of flying, bringing our dog Cammi with us, staying at a hotel, and getting an early start home. His preference, however, was to have relaxing down time. As much as I wanted to share this time with him, I knew I must release any expectation and let it all be. I am now flying to Washington DC by myself for Thanksgiving.

Having expectations of ourselves, others, or situations can create energy blocks that interrupt the flow of positive energy because, in becoming attached to particular outcomes, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Not honoring our hearts, leads to resentment and stifles the creation of new possibilities. Moreover, attachments to specific results often prohibit the possibility of even better outcomes by keeping us locked within certain perimeters of intention and perspective.

  • Be receptive to new experiences, ideas, and people in your daily routine. Let go of any comfort zones, expected outcomes, and welcome the enhanced love, joy, and play that streams into your life.
  • Practice letting things be. Focus your energies on your own life, and stop micromanaging others. Encourage yourself to live without judging present situations or resenting past ones.
  • Make more discerning choices by listening to your heart instead of your head. If anyone or anything does not feel aligned with your authentic self, trust your intuition, and change the situation as soon as possible.
  • Give yourself permission to break with tradition: Give yourself permission to take time for yourself. Be open to creating new experiences and breaking the predictable patterns of what you’ve always done around the holidays. Take a short get-away, visit friends, and spend more relaxed time with yourself.
  • Practice giving yourself permission by doing one or both of the following activities: (a) Telling yourself, “I give myself permission to __________.” (b) Expressing your authentic self in some way.

Embracing Transitions As Pathways to Transformation

     Transitions—intense periods of discovery, self-healing, and personal transformation—can catalyze the release of patterns, the resolution of grievances, and open space for new possibilities and spiritual growth. From a spiritual point of view, a person’s life is a constant series of transitions: changing jobs or careers, suffering from and healing an illness, beginning or ending relationships, having a baby or facing a death in the family, and initiating or completing creative projects.
 
     Although these transitions may make us feel that we are losing our bearings, they are spiritual signs that we are processing new and stored information simultaneously and expanding our conscious awareness. They can also be seen as times of gathering strength physically, mentally, and spiritually in preparation for the next step forward in life—just as it is necessary to spring up at the end of a diving board to gather momentum for a full twist into the pool.
 
     While moving through transitions, we may experience physical and emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and disorientation. Releasing past patterns and absorbing new information blows the circuits of the brain as it sorts through stored files trying to make sense of the new data coming in through the heart. At such times we might get confused and start misplacing items, bumping into walls, or dropping fragile articles. I get lost driving to places I know, careen into furniture, and even forget where I am. Fortunately, now that I am aware of what transitions feel like I no longer confuse them with early dementia, as I once did.
During a transition, we need to slow down and center ourselves, be aware of all that is happening around us, and remain true to ourselves and our vision for the future. To ground ourselves during such stressful periods when everything is in flux, we can breathe deeply; touch the center of the chest and open the heart; take a walk or work in the garden, using the elements of nature to calm us; or bathe to cleanse our energy field.
 
     An experience a few years ago reminded me that transitions are often initiated when spirit brings in new information to prepare us for the future. My husband, Doug, had presented me with a stunning, blue-violet tanzanite ring for my forty-seventh birthday while we were on vacation in Panama. Because we were traveling out of the country and needed to keep the ring safe, we affectionately started calling it “Precious.”
 
     Six months later, I stopped by the jewelry store and had the ring cleaned while I waited. As soon as they were finished, I immediately placed the ring back on my finger, put on my leather glove, and left the store. When I arrived home, I took off my glove to admire the sparkling ring and noticed a small hairline crack inside the stone. As the day went on, the crack grew larger until it looked like the stone had shattered inside. Doug and I called the jeweler and our insurance company to ask about our options for replacing the stone.
 
     Trusting that what was happening was not to upset but to inform me, with conscious awareness I observed the replacement process and contemplated the meaning of the incident for my life. First, the jeweler offered to replace the stone without any further charge to us. Then our insurance company sent a check to the jeweler to cover the cost of a new stone. Witnessing everything, I became convinced that the stone had imploded from the inside out as a spiritual sign of a powerful transition to come. My intuition was affirmed two weeks later when I had a suspicious mammogram that began a year-long process of self-healing and personal transformation.
 
The metamorphosis of the piece of jewelry ultimately foreshadowed another important transition in my life. First, I was led to replace the old stone with something new to symbolize letting go of the past and opening to the future. When the jeweler brought out a deep blue sapphire stone for me to examine, I chose it as a symbolic declaration for my future. Six months later, unbeknownst to me, my husband bought the damaged tanzanite stone from the jeweler, had it sent to a gem cutter in California, and on my forty-eighth birthday presented me with a beautiful tanzanite necklace. It was “Precious” transformed into two stones, a heart and a triangle joined together on top. Little did I know at the time that these two shapes would become the symbols for soul-hearted partnership, a concept I would channel for my first book within the next year.
 
The following are ways to remain positive and centered while moving through intense transitions.
  • Regard such shifts as natural life occurrences, seeing parallels in the natural world. This allows you to act in ways that direct more of your creative energies into new possibilities for your future.
  • Let go of relationships that tie you to the past and are no longer appropriate for your life while sustaining the others through healthy detachment and unconditional love.
  • Clear potential energy blocks so that you remain an open channel of creative energy. Be sure to release any pattern of resistance or avoidance, which only intensifies your transition and in some cases produces a physical, emotional, or financial crisis.
  • De-clutter your environment with people or things that are inappropriate to your being, drain your physical energy and generate stagnancy and illness.
  • Slow down, breathe, and ground yourself. Spending time in nature, getting into water such as a bath, shower or pool, taking a walk or doing yoga will calm and center your energies.

Moving through life from one transition to another without resistance, avoidance, or energy blocks allows us to open to these new possibilities and develop spiritually.

The Courage to Be Who You Are

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”  Brene Brown

 
     It takes courage to be who we are in the world. Courage comes from the Latin word for “heart.” To be courageous is to be open-hearted, speaking our truth honestly and openly with our whole heart. In other words, sharing our most intimate thoughts, feelings and experiences that comprise our true being.
Loving ourselves enough to reveal our deepest vulnerabilities is the most courageous choice we can make. Unlike bravery which is externally motivated, courage comes from within. It sources deep within our hearts as self-love, acceptance and self-compassion. Courage allows us to acknowledge our hurts, wounds and imperfections without escaping, distracting or resisting them.
 
     For example, I’m practicing courage right now by putting my thoughts, words and experiences out there for you to read. My mind is racing with thoughts such as, “I have nothing to share that they would want to read,” or ” People aren’t going to like what you have to say.” And all of these negative beliefs stem from my deepest vulnerability-that I’m not good enough. So for me to practice courage, I have to take that first baby step and trust being vulnerable by sharing my hurts, imperfections and insecurities.
 
     Here goes…When I received my first edited draft of Soul-Hearted Partnership, I was ecstatic. It had taken ten years for me to take the courageous step to give what I had written to an editor. And, now here was my life’s work in my hands. As I quickly perused the cover letter, my heart sank. Although there was a sampling of both positive and corrective feedback, all I focused in on was what I perceived as negative. Here is a litany of my thoughts that sourced from shame-“What was I thinking that I could write a book?” “Who did I think I was?” and “You’ll never be a writer so give up now.” I was so disappointed and devastated that I wanted to throw the draft in the fireplace and be done with it. I didn’t. This time I allowed myself to be vulnerable and practiced courage.
 
     First I let myself feel vulnerable, hurt and afraid. Then I went to my husband, my trustworthy partner who has earned the right to hear my story, and shared with him my pain of not being good enough. After a good cry, I then responded. I placed the manuscript in the freezer to take the negative energy off of it. I left it right on top of the frozen vegetables for several days.  When I was ready to face my vulnerability heart on, I took it out of the deep freeze and began to make the suggested corrections.
 
     Courage takes putting our vulnerability on the line everyday. Practicing courage means sharing our story with someone safe even when we are so ashamed, insecure or hurt that all we want to do is run, fight or hide. We don’t think or feel our way into becoming courageous-we take action.

Giving Yourself Permission to Just Be

   When was the last time you gave yourself permission to just be? People close to you may have ideas about how you should live your life, ideas that can come from love and the desire for you to be happy. At other times, they can come from a place of need within them-whether it is the parent who wants you to live out his or her dreams or the friend or spouse who wants you to play an a defined role. You can appreciate and consider those people’s input, but ultimately you must follow your own heart.

     Giving ourselves permission to “be” allows us to let go of our preconceived notions and beliefs of how we think we “should” live and choose to follow our heart. Remember, when we had twenty minutes for recess? The bell would ring, and for twenty precious minutes, time stood still and the universe of possibility opened up to us. As children, we yielded to this freedom of spirit knowing that nothing else mattered. However, as adults, we feel resigned, overwhelmed, and fatigued from the challenging pace of endless to do lists and tasks that require our time and attention. In the doing process, we lose a sense of ourselves, trapped in our roles and identities. It is crucial to our well-being that we must give ourselves permission to do what makes our heart sing and what makes our being come alive.

     So much of our lives is spent pleasing or seeking approval from others whether it’s our boss, partner or family member. We validate our existence from these outside sources instead of trusting our inside source. Yet, our brain stores patterns, mindsets, and beliefs that dictate what we “should do” instead of what our heart desires. We must give ourselves permission to dance in the light, play in the possibilities and fully express who we are.

     The spiritual principle of permission is essential to channeling information to guide our choices for well-being, abundance and fulfillment. This powerful tool can set us free from the negative thought processes that keep us in our confined comfort zones. It clears the way for us to make the discerning choices that are closer to our soul’s journey. 

     Here are a few ways to practice giving yourself permission:

I give myself permission to:__________________.

Express my true voice; play with joyful abandon; change jobs or begin a new career, leave a toxic relationship; open to a healthy new relationship; travel, or move to a new place; and follow my heart.

Give yourself permission to just be.

Opening Our Hearts to Awaken to Our Authentic Selves

Dare to love yourself

as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.

—Aberjhani

      Opening our hearts awakens us to our authentic selves, whose essence is love. Seeing ourselves through the eyes of our hearts, we can acknowledge that we are love and, therefore, entirely adequate and sufficient. In this state of awareness, we become our own safe havens, free to fully express who we are, for there is nothing we need to do except be in love, at one with our source of love, and at peace with ourselves. Seeing ourselves as love prepares us to cultivate loving relationships with others and living from the perspective of universal love.

     Awakening to our authentic selves leads us to letting go of who we think we should be and embracing who we know we are. Living authentically is like singing karaoke. At first we may be nervous; yet each time we trust ourselves and surrender our need for perfection, we come closer to living this way.

     An important aspect of living as an authentic self is communicating from the heart. We must speak our truth, our intimate thoughts and feelings, honestly, openly, and with our whole hearts. When we communicate in this way, our words take on a more profound and resonant meaning to the listener. Like nectar for thirsty bees, sincere, honest, and loving words encourage people to listen to us.

     When we communicate from our hearts, we feel secure enough to express our inner truths without fear of judgment, criticism, or retaliation. However, when we are feeling vulnerable and in need of support we must rely on people who can embrace us regardless of our struggles, such as individuals on our energetic team. As Brene Brown poignantly states, “We need to honor our struggle by sharing it with someone who has earned the right to hear it.”1 Sharing our vulnerabilities with such loving, connected, and trustworthy people enhances our sense of safety and deepens our experience of trust and intimacy.

     Even with such support, communicating about our vulnerabilities necessitates being aware of them and summoning the courage to share them. For example, when I unexpectedly became pregnant with my first child at the age of twenty-five and needed to share my paralyzing fear of repeating my mother’s legacy of abandoning her children, I called my best friend, a member of my energetic team. Shaken by feelings of shame for questioning whether I wanted to have the child, I reached for every ounce of courage I had to open my heart and tell her of my vulnerability. As it turned out, these revelations increased my self-love and compassion.

     Communicating about our vulnerabilities in this way and accepting our experience as valid even when it differs from the other person’s point of view creates a loving relationship environment that supports us in acknowledging that the essence of our authentic selves is love. Moreover, surrounding ourselves with such people, provided they listen well, respond meaningfully, and support our needs, helps us to stay connected to our authentic selves. When we know our authentic selves as sources of love, we understand that our authenticity is much deeper than our patterns, identities, and roles.

Transcending Fear and Negativity

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

As human beings, we are constantly bombarded with fear and negativity everyday. All we have to do is turn on the news, read the newspaper, or check the Internet. We may even find ourselves addicted to the incessant drama of the world, the people around us, or our own negativity. Unfortunately, many of us reinforce even more negativity when we co-miserate with our family, friends, and co-workers. So, it is important to remind ourselves that “misery does love company” and that all it takes to empower negative is more negative.

We have the ability to move beyond this addiction to fear and negativity by practicing compassionate detachment. We can open our hearts in loving compassion for ourselves and others and let go of getting caught up in the drama or suffering of everyday life. It is a great opportunity for us to see what does and doesn’t work in our lives, the futility of trying to fix the past, and to make distinctive and more positive choices for our future. This requires focusing our energies on the positive aspects of our lives and trust that all of us can transcend anyone or anything that blocks our spiritual path.

Many of us who are deeply sensitive are dealing with compassion fatigue. This sensitivity to other’s energies can create feelings of spiritual depression, anxiety, and lethargy. So we can reframe these feelings as a time of “deep rest” so that we don’t become bogged down or beat ourselves up for not being or doing enough. At these times, we must affirm that we are enough and give ourselves the restorative rest we need.

It is also critical at this particular time that we create energetic boundaries so that we keep from being sucked into this whirlwind of anger, fear, and negativity. To do so, we have to be discerning of whom we spend time and share our energies, and which environments we inhabit. Because we tune in energetically to our environment, it is important to carefully consider the location in which we live.

Like a periscope in a submarine, we must lift up out of the shadowy aspects of human consciousness and elevate our physical perspective to a more spiritual one. We must remain clear that we are first and foremost spiritual beings navigating the sea of human processes. Trust that love opens our hearts, raises our vibration, and dissolves negativity.

You can transcend fear, anger and negativity by allowing things to be without resisting or avoiding the changes. Give yourself the freedom to follow your heart and move through your day without trying to control or force anything to happen. When you give way to control, you give away your self-control. Therefore, soften your position or opinions and trust yourself to create positive intentions, make discerning choices, and let your light expand out into the world.

Invite in blessings of love, peace, and abundance and let go of any fear, anger and negativity. Resolve to complete every moment with gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness for everyone and everything that has brought you to this point in your life.

Sustaining a Sense of Humor Through Life’s Challenges

Sustaining a sense of humor cultivates lightheartedness. It connects us to the deepest reaches of our soul and is crucial in healing. Most people express that they would rather die than live a life without laughter. Research shows that laughter lowers blood pressure, increases vascular blood flow, reduces stress which in turn reduces anxiety and depression. Most importantly, when we laugh with others, we share a sense of interconnectedness and belonging which assists in healing as well.

For me, laughter that originates deep within and assists us in communing with others in an intimate way is soul laughter. Soul laughter lets us share our sheer vulnerability with another. It communicates a loving presence heart to heart without spoken words: “I am present and share this moment with you.” Writer, Anne Lamott suggests that such “Laughter is a bubbly, effervescent form of holiness.”

Maintaining a sense of humor assists us in moving outside of whatever is happening in our lives so we can assess situations with healthy detachment. Every experience we have, no matter how trivial-an impatient driver who cuts us off in traffic, an irritable waiter who will not look our way, the unexpected loss of a close relationship, or a downpour that drenches us to the bone-can be viewed as something wonderful, humorous, or simply an opportunity to discover more about ourselves.

Here is an example of sustaining a sense of humor so that I remained lighthearted while preparing for a book signing in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Right before leaving on my trip, I received an e-mail notifying me that a shipment of books I had sent to a distributor had arrived damaged and covered in oil. They needed the shipment yesterday so I quickly packed another box of books and this time sent them through UPS instead of the US Postal Service. This time I also remembered to insure them.

I arrived home in time to meet my dad who was driving with me to Ann Arbor. As I opened the back door excited to be on our way, my golden retriever, Cammi dashes through the doorway deciding that this would be a great time to explore the neighborhood. As I chased her through several backyards, she gleefully flees from me reveling in our new role as a flight risk. When I finally caught up to her, treat in hand, I felt success but then I fell. Did I mention I was wearing linen white pants?

After a challenging drive with my dad who wanted to share with everyone in Michigan that they were bad drivers, I arrived at the bookstore ready to greet the eleven hundred people who had responded on Facebook that they were attending the signing. Yet, the eleven hundred soon turned into eleven including my dad. On the bright side, I was still able to videotape my presentation except that my camcorder chose that moment to die and the backup was two hundred miles away.

My presentation went well and just as I was letting out a sigh of relief and getting ready to wrap things up, a young University of Michigan graduate student decides to ask a question. I didn’t realize questions could actually last fifteen minutes. Isn’t there a time limit, or a rule of etiquette about the length of questions? By the time he was finished, I had completely forgotten what his question was; yet, obviously it was to make a point. So, I answered him with a smile and the first thing that came to mind.

I finally made it home around midnight happy in my heart even after my dad pointed out that after gas, dinner, and the earlier loss of books, my profit was the change in his pocket. This day was perfect just as it had unfolded. Being flexible, keeping a sense of humor, and allowing spontaneity and playfulness, sustained the flow of love energy through me supporting responsive rather than reactive choices.