Category Archives: Thriving


March 14, 2018


My husband and I have begun reading The Four Agreements, a Toltec Wisdom book by don Miguel Ruiz about the power of our thoughts and words. I remember the first time I was introduced to these ideas. It was the late 1990’s and I was attending a Truthought Criminal Justice conference titled Mind over Matters — Corrective Thinking. It was there I first learned a formula that has stuck with me ever since:

  • Our repeated, ingrained thoughts become our deeply seated beliefs —
  • Our Beliefs become our individual and collective values —
  • Our Behavior is a result of these beliefs and values.  As are our words.
  • ThoughtsBeliefsValuesBehavior (actions and words).
  • Feelings? They are the messengers…but, like our behavior, they are a result of our thinking, our beliefs and our values.

Our words are the building blocks with which we construct our world. But it all begins in our mind, with our thinking. You want to change your behavior? You have to first change your mind.

When the movie What the Bleep Do We Know? hit the theaters in 2004, followed soon after by the movie The Secret, positive thinking and manifesting abundance became a hot new topic. But as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 of the Old Testament, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Books on the subject had been coming out way before the movies of the early 2000’s opened the floodgates. Napoleon Hill’s 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, and Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 release of The Power of Positive Thinking were two well known books from the early 20th century.  The behavioral sciences had been studying the power of our thoughts as the conference I attended attests. In the early beginnings of the field of quantum mechanics (physics) researchers stumbled upon the impact that the thoughts of the observer of an experiment had on the experiment’s results, which has led to greater research into consciousness. Scientists studying water and the effect that our thoughts and words have on the properties of water have been going on since the middle of the 20th century.

And yet, none of our “discoveries” are new.

There are numerous references in the texts of various religions and spiritual practices that describe the importance of “positive thinking”. In the New Testament we are counseled to “take every thought captive to Christ” (who embodied love, compassion, forgiveness) and to think on: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

The Buddha taught: “What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.”  

Abu Amina Elias in his commentary about the teachings of the Quran wrote: “After understanding the effects of positive and negative thoughts, we then need to direct our thought processes towards positive trains of thought and learn to dismiss negative thoughts before they take us into a downward spiral. Many of the Prophet’s companions considered the skill to direct thought in a positive way as the enlightenment of true faith.” 

And then there are the Toltecs. The Toltecs lived thousands of years ago in southern Mexico. They were scientists and artists who formed a society to both explore and preserve the spiritual knowledge of the Ancient Ones. The Toltecs came together as Naguals (Masters) and students at Teotihuacan. But over time, due to European conquest and misuse of personal power by some of their apprentices, the Naguals were forced to conceal the ancestral wisdom. They embodied and passed it through the generations of different lineages of Naguals. Their ancient prophecies foretold the coming of an age when it would be necessary to return the wisdom to the people.

That “future age” has come. We are living in it. don Miguel Ruiz is a Nagual from the Eagle Knight lineage, and has come forward to share the powerful teachings of the Toltecs, one of which is, The Four Agreements. Ruiz says that if we were to take these to heart and live them, all conflict would be resolved. I believe him. Certainly all my conflicts would dissolve. These agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable (do no harm) with your word;
  2. Don’t take anything personally;
  3. Don’t make assumptions;
  4. Always do your best.

These agreements are where the rubber meets the road and expose how we really think. Being “into” positive thinking and intention and manifestation is a good thing to  be “into”. But, are we living it? How well are you able to live according to these Four Agreements?


Consider what behavioral values are really important to you in terms of how you show up in your relationships. Maybe honesty, or kindness, or with humor. Jot down a few.

Now think about what you believe about how life works that makes those values important to you.  Write down a few sentences about these beliefs.

For example, it is important to me that I show up with gentleness and grace. I believe that in doing so, the other person feels safe enough to be themselves.

Now, choose one of your values and think about the last time you violated that value. Lied, lost your temper, used humor to harm.

Now, here’s the tricky part. Figure out what belief was bigger in that situation than the one you just wrote down that made living that value important to you.

After you have identified this “other” belief, think about which belief more often runs your behavior. Many people doing this exercise, if they are really honest, find that their idealized values and their lived behavior are frequently not in sync. Rather takes the stuffing out of some of us.

I believe the verdict is in. Our words are raw, creative power. They do create our experience of life. It is our thinking, our beliefs, and our words that construct the world we live in. We are waking up to this powerful truth at a time when it is absolutely essential that we begin deconstructing the way we’ve been running the world, and build something better. We cannot do this with marches and posters and petitions and elections alone. We certainly cannot do it with violence — we’ve proven that over centuries of carnage! But maybe, just maybe, if each one of us begins to make serious changes in our own mental constructs of the world, if collectively we can imagine a thriving world, we will indeed heal our Earth, and build a world of peace, where all are allowed to thrive.

But even if I don’t live long enough to see such a world, I at least can heal my little corner of it. I can create my own wild, wonderful life, sending out vibrations of love and joy and peace. Who knows where the ripples will end — in what time, in what place?

Next:  The Power of Words — Part 3: The Ripple Effect 



March 11, 2018


The chaos and suffering in the world frightens me. It feels overwhelming, especially when I contemplate the fact that the power to change it not only lies within me, but the responsibility to do so is also mine, ours, all of us together. I echo what I hear others say, “What can I possibly do?”  The words are said with a sigh of defeat. I feel helpless. I want to turn away, go back to sleep. 

Waking up is hard to do, none-the-less living wide awake and taking responsibility for how I impact the world around me. Shifting deeply rooted paradigms and habits of being is no easy task, no matter how much I intellectually agree with the idea! But I see no other way. So I am choosing, day by day, to mindfully, intentionally co-create a thriving world beginning in my own small corner of it. Beginning with mySelf.


Words conjure images — paint pictures in our minds. Words generate feelings. Words create the structures of the stories we create and within which we live our lives.

Many years ago I read a number of books about intention and manifestation and how we create our reality with our thoughts. I was fascinated.  I dove right in. After awhile, the shine wore off. It wasn’t working for me. I saw it working in the lives of others, but I wasn’t manifesting what I wanted. I had a wish list. And I intensely wished for the things on it. Yet, my life continued much as it had been, and it wasn’t the life I wanted.

I’d get another book about positive thinking. I would try to shift my thoughts. But in too many of my real-time moments I didn’t have the energy to work through the negative thoughts inundating my brain. It felt more satisfying to wallow in the role of victim, to be angry, to hunker down in depression and despair, or to blame others for the lack of happiness and abundance in my life.

Then, eureka! One day it dawned on me that this power of thoughts and intentions thing was working! I was indeed creating the story I was living with my thoughts and words. I was creating the real experiences of my life with my beliefs about myself and others, with my assumptions, with the stories I made up in my head about situations and people. Yep, I had a wish list, but what I manifested was linked to what I actually thought, actually believed, actually felt, and from the words that I spoke, too many of them pessimistic and negative. I had a little tiny smear of positive thinking on top of a whole mass of negative thinking. Sweet frosting on top of a bitter, burned cake.

That was the turning point for me. What followed was a journey of exploration to search out old, gnarly and deeply rooted negative beliefs living in the shadows of my Self. Craggy giants, parasites quietly hogging all my energy.

I had to wake up. I had to face up. I had to ferret out the agreements I had made in my past as to what would keep me safe, or make me acceptable. I had to open my heart. I had to change my mind. The Old Guard had to go.

I often walk along the railroad tracks that run along a service road carved between the trees that climb the bluffs above my neighborhood. The tracks became a metaphor for the path to the life I wish to be living. The only way to manifest this life, is to keep my feet on the track, walking it every day, step by step. If I lose my balance and fall off, I must courageously step back up and keep on going. My life, at least the life that I wish to be living, depends upon my keeping my feet on this track: It is a path of Love and Joy.

It has been absolutely necessary for me to fire the Judge who pompously struts about within my mind and  arrogantly assumes she is in charge. Unfortunately, she keeps showing back up for duty, and sometimes I forget that I fired her and before I know it, she’s taken charge again, and I have to rein her in and dismiss her from her post yet again.

I have to choose each day, sometimes hour by hour, what I will think about, how I will perceive others, how I will respond to the situations I am experiencing. Sometimes it is as easy as choosing to smile when otherwise I may have remained glum of face, and a bit rough in my thoughts. Sometimes it is as difficult as choosing to bless someone that I have perceived has wronged me. Sometimes it is as crazy as imagining the world differently — cleaner, safer, happier, more compassionate. It is as simple as looking for the beauty in the world and in the people I encounter. It is as unsettling as trusting that health and wealth are flowing to me effortlessly.

I am aware of the ugliness and the cruelty and the insanity happening in the world, yes, but as I respond in the “now” — offering compassion or comfort, signing a petition, contributing money, attending a meeting, voting, teaching, writing — I also choose to imagine it transformed. I look for what already may be wonderful that otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed or may have dismissed in the face of the overwhelming chaos that surrounds us daily.

As the sun quietly rises this morning with feathered scarves of orange and pink and purple, I am happy. Because I choose to be. I am grateful for the blessings that fill up my life. I open my heart to the flow of Love, my mind to the Wisdom of the Creator who dwells within. I choose to allow the Light that is within me to shine today.

Next:  The Power of Words — Part 2: Nothing New Under The Sun 



March 29, 2015


It is grey here today and rain is predicted. The sky inside me is also grey, brooding. I listened to a presentation this morning about the deeper mysteries of the creation of human beings and of Earth that are coming to light; truths that are only beginning to be understood by the Western World. These are truths, realities, that many indigenous cultures have known for millennia because they were the keepers of the Mysteries, the keepers of the Secrets. I am wondering where I fit into this grander, bigger picture of the Universe, of Earth, of this shifting and evolving that is happening to us. My heart longs to understand what is veiled, to enter the full stream of the power of the Creator. I am irritated that we are fed riddles and enticed with visions of the possible–and yet most of us remain too weak or too dense to come fully into who we are. We have to work so hard, not only to overcome the unconsciousness and the fear within us–but to overcome the evil and darkness that aligns against us from without. I yank at the veil; I want to see things as they truly are, to understand fully who I was created to be! I kick at the doors; I want access–now–to all the desires of my heart. My limitations are a fiery itch under my skin that I cannot ease.

When I stop my kicking and my yanking and my stomping about, I grudgingly acknowledge that all I can do, the most important thing any of us can do is to cultivate compassion, love, kindness, forgiveness and courage. To keep faith and to steadfastly maintain positive thought creations while living from gratitude for whatever IS our experience in this NOW moment. How often have we heard it said, or read, that all we have is this present moment? How much better, how much brighter are each of those moments when they are lived with gratitude, compassion, kindness, and courage–moments strung together, connecting to the moments others are living with compassion and grace. Eventually a string of Light, like a necklace of pearls, reaches all the way around the world–spilling into new moments–lighting up entire days. The Earth turns and we spin through the years. And one distant day from this moment in which we stand today, the Light is complete and the Darkness overcome and Fear vanquished by Love.

The winds of change begin with the flutter of a butterfly’s wing. They begin with a choice to smile bravely; to forgive a wrong; to bless instead of curse. They begin when I steadfastly hold the vision that I am thriving even when in this moment there is no money to pay the bills, my child is ill and somewhere a bomb blows up some mother’s children.

I hold a stick in my hand. I wish it was a wand and that I could channel magic throu10857342_10152711930831439_858846269660153274_ogh it. I kick again at the door. I scratch the itch. I want to do so much more–NOW! I lift my face to the grey sky and let the tears of Gaia drizzle on my face, mingling with my own. I take a breath, and in this moment I offer thanks for this simple pleasure of the gentle rain that will bring the flowers.







November 3, 2014

“We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave–to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.”  – Malala Yousafzai –

For two hours now I have found really important things to do other than write this blog post. I paid some bills. I sent a birthday card to my beautiful niece in London. I sent some emails off to two school principals asking to interview some of their staff for my book. I responded to some texts and emails. I finished the grocery list. I heated up some of my husband’s delicious curried vegetables for lunch. I did some laundry. I checked my to-do list a half dozen times. I found some chocolate. And ate it. I did a writing exercise after reading the article it was about. That was freaky. I was directed to turn the brightness of my screen down until I couldn’t see the words so that I would focus on the feeling of writing and write faster and not be constantly editing. I toasted a piece of my yummy, homemade gluten free bread. And ate it. I opened my blog page and looked to see who is following me. A bunch of folks I never met. That’s cool.

Okay. So, I want to tell you about this amazing weekend I had. I want to use words that will show you rather than tell you, but the words seem to have scurried down the cracks between the floorboards. Or maybe they curled up in the afghan since its only 63 degrees in here. Typical November day–grey. All the leaves fell down so the trees are bare now. The hillside looks like a charcoal drawing–smudgy lines and streaks of grey and black with a few wispy shades of brown brushed through.

I don’t remember anymore what it felt like when I woke up in the morning as a kid. But since sometime in my mid-teens, with extremely rare exceptions, I have always woken up with a knot in my gut. The older I got, the tighter it got. There have been days when I woke up and it wasn’t there. Those days are so incredible that I remember vividly what it feels like. Buoyant. Light. Happy. Easy. I think the last time I was in New York City.

Over the past nearly 20 years I have been on a journey; a quest I supposeSoulCard 6. I have wanted to experience healing in my body, my mind and my heart. Despite feeling a lot of love in my heart for others I have struggled to allow that love to flow outward to them, afflicted with criticalness and judgment, anger and frustration. I’ve been on this hero’s journey to become Grace, to learn to love, to be a light in the world, to make a difference for good, to be the change I want to see–all the time wrestling with these monsters that rage and storm through me. NO TRESPASSING signs don’t work.  They barge in whenever they feel like it.

I’ve studied positive attitude. I’ve studied how to change by changing habits of mind embedded in old belief structures. I’ve worked at it. I’ve worked hard. To my credit, yes, I’ve grown. I’ve learned things and I’ve dismantled old belief and energy structures that were not healthy and did not serve me or my relationships or my work. At one time in my life frequent depressions would flatten my life completely. I used to say it was as though a Black Hole was constantly orbiting my life. I was aware of its presence at all times, wondering when it would suck me into its fathomless depths yet again. But it has been many years since I’ve even sensed that Blackness, none-the-less become its dinner.

And yet, I have still not known what it is like to wake up naturally exuberant and happy and eager to engage in the activities of the day. I love better and deeper than at any other time in my life, and yet, my inner critic is a brazen loudmouth who never shuts up and feels it his duty to include others in his constant critiques. Particularly husbands.

It has been a long journey. Ever been on a long road trip and have your passengers begin asking, “Are we almost there?” And then, more urgently, “Aren’t we there yet?” It’s the same with these hero’s journeys. (Why do they call them hero’s journeys anyway? They so do not feel like anything remotely heroic!) “GThe Hero's Journeyood God, aren’t I almost there? How much longer? This sure looks familiar, haven’t I been here before? Didn’t I already cover this section? Wait a minute–I do not have to go down inside that, do I? Really? It’s the only way through to the other side? Oh shit. Okay, so I made it through. I’m still alive. I’m on the other side… …So how come I’m still not there yet?! How much further? How much longer? I’m lost. This sucks. I just want to be happy, like, really happy. I just want to be able to do life successfully, to love well, to be light in the world, to do good work. Consistently. I feel like I’m battering on locked gates and kicking at locked doors and trying to find my way through a veil of fog. ARRGGHH!”

Yeah, that’s a hero’s journey.  Maybe it got that name because if you manage somehow to stick with it until you actually do come to the end of it, however battered and bruised, the very fact you didn’t give up makes you a hero of some kind.Beyond the Door

Okay. Last weekend. While I was sleeping, I guess, I came to the end of it. I arrived. I finally made it through the locked door into another world. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I don’t know why on Saturday and not last year or ten years ago or not until March 15th next year. It was now. I woke up and I could feel it in my body–something had shifted. It would be like having a pounding migraine headache for 3 weeks and suddenly waking up and it’s gone. Completely gone. It was like the morning I woke up years ago and I knew the Black Hole was gone. I just knew. And it was. And it never came back.

I feel light in my body. The knots and edginess are gone. The energy of those around me no longer feels like I’m trying to tolerate someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard. The thought of “work” no longer feels like an order to climb a mountain dragging a broken leg. Even thinking of the pile of bills for which there is no money elicits rising excitement to see how on earth this will all work out!

Whatever the blockages to the flow of Divine energy through my physical and emotional body have been, they aren’t there now. I feel love, warm and vibrant inside me. Flows of LoveI feel that love flowing through me and from me. I feel sorrow for the pain I have caused others–and oh, how clearly I can see it now that I don’t feel that knee-jerk egotistical defensiveness! I’m looking full in the face the ways that my self-absorption, selfishness, and especially all my fears have harmed others, but though I feel some grief and regret, I no longer feel worthless. Instead I feel renewed responsibility to do better. And I feel like I have the energy to do so.

The beauty in the world around me and in the people around me fills me up with happy joy! I marvel that so many people in the world wake up this way every day. I marvel at what we could all achieve in our lives and how much more loving a world this would be if we could all be free from the bondage of Fear that poisons and taints every aspect of our lives. Fear is the Dark Destroyer–the Dark Consciousness–the Father of Lies and Illusion.

I am free. For those of you who are also free–you are blessed. For those of you who wrestle monsters in the dark, don’t give up. Don’t give up. And hold fast the thought that even if you cannot see or feel it, there is a loving Presence that is with you, always.

All Through the Night
Sleep my child and peace attend theeThe Guardian
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee
All through the night

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping
I my loving watch am keeping
All through the night

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night

O’er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night

Photos courtesy of David Jensen, Northern Visions Media
Soul Card images from Soul Cards 2 by Deborah Koff-Chapin of Touch Drawing



October 31, 2014

Bottle green she runs relentlessly at the shelf of cobblestones and the slabs of boulders. She falls back white and frothy, scrabbling at the pebbled beach, the stones rolling and bouncing. Along the slabs and towers of boulders she takes a run and heaves herself high into the air–ten, fifteen, sometimes more than twenty feet.  She falls back, a shower of sun-drenched diamonds filling up the grooves and gullies.  Exhilarated she bounces off the waves retreating from the shoreline and others coming in for their run. Like swaggering boys chest bumping, like two antler tangled stags, the waves collide and throw more diamonds into the sky. And the cobblestones roar and the waters crash and the diamonds fall.

Waves inside me roll and crash, battering the boundaries beyond which I cannot go–I cannot touch–I cannot control. Fear collides with compassion and all is reeling and roaring and colliding on the surface of my consciousness–throwing diamonds in the sky.  But deeper down, under the posturing and the macho chest bumping, the tumbling and twisting, I detect a  stillness. Below the chaos there is peace.

Perhaps in this now I can be happy.  In this now, and in the next now, stringing them together like buttons and beads on a thread, I might find many things for which I am grateful and awestruck, I might dare to believe that all will be well.  Once the chaos on the surface settles down what remains behind might be different than it was before–rearranged.  But maybe the changes will not be about loss, or destruction.  They could just as well be another way to see.  Something new to experience.

The Sea just rolled in a 20 foot jumper, showering me with diamonds even here below the tree where I thought it safe and dry. “Come and play!” she roars.


October 10, 2014


“I did not come here to this Earth to struggle or suffer.  Nor did you.  I came here to thrive.” 

Someone I greatly respect wrote this some months ago.  It has set me to thinking deeply about my own suffering and that which I witness daily around me; to reflect on what I have been taught about struggle and suffering.  Because, whether it is our purpose to suffer or not, we do struggle and we do suffer.  Some of us wear our struggles and suffering as a badge of honor.  I know I have at times.  But if we are here to thrive, if we are here first and foremost to experience love and joy, happiness and abundance, then we have to own that our suffering and our struggles are messes we create.  If we are here to experience love and create a world where all can thrive, then the suffering is the dross to be cleared away.

We are living on a planet in a dimension of duality, where all things have their opposite and we have been given the ability to freely choose between those opposites.  Even the teachings of so many Wise Ones and Religious traditions aside, we see the evidence before our own eyes that all of the Universe conspires to create Life–and where we see life thriving, whether it is a body of water, a garden or a child, we find plenty of what will nourish that life, including love.  Love in all its forms seems to be at the heart of Life itself.  Doesn’t it make sense that we came here to learn what Love is?  Where could it be better understood and experienced than in a place where we can also experience it’s opposite?

So, I agree.  We did not come here to struggle and suffer even though we will experience these.  We came here to thrive.  We came here to Love.  We came here to contribute good to this world.  We came here to be Light.  We came here to be filled up with joy and happiness.  We carry within us the essence of the Creator of all things– the pure energy of Life.   Why would we ever wish to choose to be miserable, filled up with anger and hate, to radiate energy that weakens and destroys?

Criticism creates an energy that does not feel safe, and those experiencing it instinctively engage their “fight or flight or freeze response”.  The energy of criticism and judgment is destructive.  I have suffered the fallout of this kind of energy, and I have too often turned it on others.  It has never once helped to nurture life.  What we are drawn to are those who radiate love, compassion, kindness; it is within this kind of energy that we are able to grow, to change if need be, to become our best selves.  It is within this kind of energy that life is able to thrive.

Love, kindness, joy and gratitude, these are the badges of honor to seek.  This is what I am here to experience, what I am here to do.

I am learning that it really is a matter of choice.  And I have been given the amazing gift to do so–to choose.