SFLP: Part 7

So how have you been?  Are you learning things?  To me, it seems that lately most people have been feeling stretched thin and stressed out.  Have you been saying “WTF?” more often than not?

Any time we embark on a new course, things tend to get messier before they get better.  And right now, with Saturn in Scorpio and Pluto in Capricorn, there are powerful forces afoot, asking us to break down old structures and transform our innermost selves.

For Part 7 of this inner journey, I suggest taking some quiet time for yourself to ponder and write.  Consider these twelve topics, and then record your thoughts.

1.  Who am I, at the very innermost core?  What things, actions, thoughts define me best?

2.  What material things really matter to me, and what things do I really need?

3.  How do I best communicate?  What do I need to be an effective communicator, an effective learner?  Can I learn to understand others better?

4.  Is my house a home to me?  What do I need to feel “at home?”

5.  How can I be more joyful, more creative, more childlike?  Do I need to be?

6.  How can I be more practical, efficient, and organized?   Do I need to be?

7.  What areas of my life are out of balance?  How can I regain balance?

8.  What things am I passionate about?  Have I lost passion anywhere?

9.  Is it time to go back to school, learn something new, travel, or otherwise expand my horizons?

10.  Are there areas in my life where I need more structure?  Less structure?

11.  Are there areas in my life where I’ve become too detached?  Do I need to make new friends and join new groups?

12.  Do I need to forgive and forget and move on anywhere in my life?

Happy thinking and happy writing!


SFLP: Part 4

How has your Stretching Challenge been going?  Have you been able to work in five minutes daily so far?  Or have you skipped a day or two?  If you have been stretching, did you find it easier to do in the morning or in the evening?  Did it help you to wake up, or did it help you to relax and fall asleep more easily?  Or did you not do it at all and learn that you really don’t give a rat’s patoot about stretching?

No matter what your experience has been with the Stretching Challenge, I hope that you have made some realizations about yourself, either physically, mentally, or emotionally.  Experience is the best teacher, I think.

On to the next part, then.  This time, rather than adding something in, let’s take something out.  Call this phase Project Simplify.

In this age of technological overload and Faster-Better-More, it is all too easy to chase one’s tail in the pursuit of some perceived need.  Or to fill a perceived void.  And so, for the next five days, I suggest that you take a break from some form of Distraction or Convenience.

Perhaps you find yourself always grabbing fast food on your way home from work.  Perhaps you spend hours on Facebook sharing the latest pictures of your beloved doing something adorable.  Or perhaps you fill your time by focusing on perfectionist details meant to impress others when in reality they are done out of a need to redeem yourself and feel worthwhile.  But really, are these the lasting, important, and valuable things that a Warrior on the Path of Learning needs to do?

Slow down for the next five days.  Cook fresh, whole food with your kids and teach them healthy  habits.  Unplug and read a book instead.  Sit and be still for 15 minutes.  Find ways to let go.

At first, it might be difficult to have stillness and quiet and simplicity.  And in this discomfort, you may learn a few things about yourself.  Hang in there for the full five days.  Find a place of Quiet Confidence inside yourself.

In Defense of Discourse

Today, a co-worker and I had an earnest and intelligent discussion about food philosophies.  She espouses a certain food lifestyle that I wished to know more about.  I had read opposing views and seen conflicting statistics and wondered what the “real” story was.  To be perfectly honest, I leaned a little bit against her views, but sincerely wished to understand the other side better.  We had a wonderful and serious debate, where she allowed me to present the views which clashed with hers.  She listened to me.  I listened to her.  And then we went back to work.

Does it ever seem to you as if this situation RARELY happens?  Why does it sometimes feel as if you CAN’T express a contrary opinion, even if you are just searching for answers?  Why can’t we talk about our various beliefs and inquire about the why’s and wherefore’s of someone else’s views without it becoming a heated argument?

Now, perhaps someone’s dietary choices are not a sufficiently inflammatory topic, and so of course our conversation was civil.  Maybe if we had talked religion or politics, the outcome might have been very different.  (I really don’t think so, however, knowing what a sweetheart my co-worker is.)

Does the topic matter?  Do the personalities of the conversationalists matter?  I think “yes” on both those counts.

But wouldn’t it be a relief if we could all temper our egos a bit, let the other side to be heard, and allow for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the thoughts that rumble around in our heads might be incomplete, or even wrong?

Willingness to UNlearn

The other day, I read a quote from Gandhi in which he advises that “it is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.”  Holy cow! I thought, with no disrespect intended.  Of course!  Many people are willing to learn, but how many of us are willing to UNlearn what we think we already know??

The path of learning sometimes comes with hard lessons that remind us that we don’t, in fact, know it all.  I think many of us like to read about and explore and search for new wisdoms.  But if we take the view that there is a Body of Knowledge out there to learn, and we just have to learn it all and then we are done, then we are really being rather myopic.

If it is true that the only constant is change, then we can’t let ourselves think that we are ever done learning.  Even if we’ve learned some really Big Lessons and come a long way and had some Life-Altering Revelations, we can’t rest on our laurels.  There will always be more to learn.  Plus, what happens when you come up against a new situation in your life, one that doesn’t match anything you’ve ever had before?  Sometimes, applying your old knowledge doesn’t work for the new situation.

No one likes to be humbled or to admit flaws.  It’s one of the hardest things in the world to look in the mirror and say, “You screwed up, pal.  You’ve got some soul-searching to do.”  Most times, when we run up against stuff we don’t want to hear, we deny it and fight it.

But what would happen if we were always willing to learn AND unlearn?  Let’s say someone challenged your beliefs or stated an opinion opposite to yours.  Or, harder still, pointed out a personal item that you might want to work on.  Generally, when someone pushes a button like that, most of us react angrily or feel wounded in some way.  What if, instead, we chose to see that emotional response as a Messenger?  We could say, Hmmm, there’s that Messenger again.  Perhaps he’s telling me that I have an opportunity to learn, unlearn, and grow here if I put ego aside and examine the issue honestly and objectively.

Hard work?  Definitely.  Worth it?  Always.


Thoughts on Communication

The art and science of communication is always on my mind.  In my own natal chart, I’ve got Mercury Rising, the planet Mercury representing communication in astrology.  Plus, as a writer, coach, and mama, I’m always striving to find better ways to teach and learn.

As I write this, we are smack-dab in the middle of a Mercury Retrograde, and while that arrangement doesn’t usually trip me up too much, this one has proved to be a little challenging.  I’ve really had cause to re-examine communication styles.

In a natal chart, the placement of Mercury describes the person’s communication style.  Since there are twelve zodiac signs, and therefore twelve possibilities for Mercury, there are twelve different communication styles.  No wonder we have trouble understanding each other!  It can be tricky to remember that not everyone will hear, speak, and process in the same way.  One person might focus more on the emotional aspects while another only sees the facts.  I suppose a truly great communicator would be able to speak and hear in twelve different styles.

As a parent, I’ve found a great resource in Thomas Gordon.  Dr. Gordon is a psychologist who created several models for group leadership skills and who wrote a terrific guide called “Parent Effectiveness Training.”  This book describes great techniques for ensuring that both parent and child feel comfortable talking and that both are heard.  (Check the website for more details:  http://www.gordontraining.com/.)

As a coach, I find myself constantly learning and adapting.  The makeup and goals of a team are always evolving, and a good coach needs to be able to read both the individuals and the group.  Personally, I believe that a good coach needs to be (or have been) a competitor also.  It’s the old “walk a mile in my shoes” concept.  How can I teach you what it feels like to have a rival breathing down your neck at the finish line if I haven’t been there myself?

As a writer, I think there’s no better mindset to have than that of the student.  Reading, paying attention, learning, thinking, applying–these are the most important tools in a writer’s toolbox, in my opinion.

What do you think?  Have you had any communication challenges in the past few weeks?


What if world peace were possible?

What if it isn’t?

What if everyone always gave his best?

Can you really truly be completely non-judgmental friends with people of other religions, political beliefs, lifestyle orientations?

Is ignorance really bliss?

Why is “the high road” usually more difficult?

What if rude people were put in your path to teach you patience, tolerance, or understanding?

What if they are just jerks?

What if there really are parallel, alternate universes?

If there were, would you trade this one for a different one?

What if you did and couldn’t come back to this one?

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then shouldn’t we just stop trying so hard?

If you think bad thoughts while doing a good deed, is the act nullified?

What do YOU think about??




The Wisdom List Winner!

A few weeks ago, I asked for your contributions to an idea I had –The Wisdom List.  Since this blog is dedicated to learning the lessons along one’s life path, it made sense to collect some of our experiences and then share them here, my online salon for the polite exchange of ideas.

There were some great comments on this post–go back and look now if you want!  I am hoping that this column continues to generate comments as time goes by, but I did promise that I would pick a winner in September.  And soooooo………

I choose the comment submitted by Rachel:

When you feel paralyzed and buried by life, take a deep breath and one tiny step forward–each tiny step forward will build on the previous and before you know it you have forward momentum.

For me, this philosophy sums up the whole point of life, in a way.  It’s not too bold to say that this one statement could apply to just about everything.  Feeling stuck? Keep moving!  Had a bad experience?  Keep moving!  Got a lot to offer?  Keep moving!

It’s the Circle of Life, it’s the ongoing Lessons of Your Path, it’s just the way it is.  So thank you, Rachel, for your submission, and please look for an original “aim4wisdom” prize coming your way!

Keep moving, everyone!


Happy Independence Day, everyone!  Today I’ve been thinking about freedoms.  We are very fortunate here in that we are free to vote, free to express ourselves, and free to think.

For this blog, of course, the freedom to think is most important.  From there, we are free to learn, to fail, to learn again, and to grow.  I very much hope that everyone exercises those freedoms every day, especially the freedom to fail.  Mistakes and imperfections are difficult for most of us.  But adaptation and learning cannot occur without failure.

So while you are enjoying your barbeques, pool parties, and fireworks, please take a moment and be grateful for your freedom to fail.  I think you will find a glorious new opportunities for wisdom there.

Wisdom Begins in Wonder

Welcome, fellow searchers and seekers!  As Socrates said, wisdom begins in wonder, so this blog is dedicated to making both of us, you the reader and me the writer, wonder and question about everything in life.  What is our purpose here?  How can I be my best?  What is the meaning in my life?

Please join me in learning as much as we can about our minds, our bodies, and our spirits.  Questions, comments, and suggestions welcom!