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.


Being Thankful in Messiness

Happy Thanksgiving!

Often, our circumstances don’t synch up perfectly with life.  Perhaps it’s a holiday, but you are blue.  Or you have to give a big presentation, but your laptop has crashed.

Today, I am wishing for a small, safe place for everyone to find peace and thankfulness, even in the messiness that inevitably happens.

A Poem for Autumn

Barn’s burnt down; now I can see the moon.  Mizuta Masahide


I love this poem by the 17th-century Japanese poet Mizuta.  Mizuta studied under another great poet, Basho, and was samurai.  There is something so appealing to me about the bushido code of the samurai that held duty, discipline, and honorable death above all.

This time of year, with the shortening days and lengthening nights, I think about all the holidays that honor the death of summer and herald the coming winter.  The Celtic celebration of Samhain is one of those traditions.  In this holiday, like Hallows or Day of the Dead, we are meant to celebrate the harvest one final time as well as acknowledge our ancestors who have gone on before us.

It is all too easy to be sad in the winter or at the closing of one chapter, before the next one begins.  But what about the moon?  We tend to forget about the moon when we are looking at the wreckage of the barn.

Our ancestors were a little closer to the earth and sky and didn’t have smartphones or television or jobs in a cubicle to distract them from the natural rhythms of life.  They understood that the circle or wheel of life does indeed KEEP TURNING.  It doesn’t stay stuck on “burnt barn” forever.  (Sometimes it just feels that way……  🙂

Have you had a barn burn down lately?  Did you see the moon yet?

Everybody Feng Shui Tonight

I feel stuck a lot.  Now, I don’t really think this is because I have worse problems than anyone else.  I am actually quite fortunate in many ways.  To be honest, my stuckness comes more from overthinking and from a masochistic reluctance to give up the pursuit of perfection.  I know that I get in my own way a lot–for instance, I will rewrite my own To Do lists if I feel like my handwriting was too sloppy.  Hence the stuckness.

The plus side of overthinking, though, is that I have a variety of philosophies to go to when I do feel stuck.  I like to flip through my mental Rolodex and find a paradigm to fit my problem.

For me, Feng Shui is a great option for many struggles.  It fits my personality, which likes action.  Moving furniture,  swapping out items, and even housecleaning all are right up my alley because I like the idea of getting out of my head and doing something physical.  Feng Shui encourages us to go with the flow literally, and in my Life Philosophy I feel it is our duty to be one with the Energy-Ch’i-Prana of the Universe.

Here are some examples of Feng Shui that help enhance the energy of your home:

  1. Rearrange the decor in a room to draw the eye in a clockwise direction.  Place something eye-catching in the left corner of the room to start the flow.  Keep the eye moving around the room, paying attention to the direction the accessories are facing.
  2. Remove from the bedroom anything that is work-related, high energy, or unfinished.  The bedroom should represent rest, relaxation, and relationships only.
  3. Get a plant.  The color green represents tranquility, and the living plant represents new growth.

Try moving something in your home tonight.  Open the windows and vacuum the rugs.  Swap the decor in your living room.  Make some physical changes in your space and see what other transformations follow!

I’m No Physicist, But I Know This. . .

As someone who greatly values learning, I have learned one lesson very well, and that is that there is a LOT to learn out there.  Luckily, I really like learning and reading and studying, and I love finding all the connections between philosophies.  For me, it’s kind of reassuring to see the common themes threaded throughout the various schools of thought.  Lets you know you’re on the right track, you know?

One of those commonalities is this: the only constant is change.  Now, most people I  know–me included–do not like change.  Change means going into the unknown, feeling unprepared and unarmed.  But I have found that if you at least try to embrace change, you can use it to your advantage.

With sincerest apologies to Sir Isaac Newton, I refer to the concept of “movement begets movement.”  Oftentimes, when things get overwhelming in our lives, we feel stuck and heavy.  I believe that these times of stuckness are signals that change is needed.  I picture it like this:  we’ve been doing our same old same old, and the Universe sends us messages that get increasing bigger and bigger.  Maybe the first few messages are small–you get a traffic ticket, you turn in a work project late, you quarrel with your BFF.  Then, if you continue your same old same old, the messages get bigger and bigger–your car dies, you get fired, you get dumped.

So now, the Universe is shaking you by the shoulders, saying, “Hey pal, you listening??  Ball’s in your court.  Whatcha gonna do?”

This is the critical point.

When I find myself there, I know that the cosmic Laurence Fishburn is offering me the blue pill or the red pill (apologies now to the Wachowski siblings).  What AM I going to do?

Here’s where I remember that change is the only constant and that movement begets movement.  OK, so things are piling up in my life and I know that change is going to happen whether I like it or not.  Therefore, why not go with it and head into the unknown on my own terms?  I know that ANY change that I make from my same old same old will result in transformation.

I think the changes can be small–take a different route to work, read a book instead of watch TV, take the green travel mug instead of the blue one, anything that represents a break from your old routine.  Since movement begets movement, just doing SOMETHING new will create a domino effect and start a new path.

Now, maybe that new path isn’t going to the best one either.  But at least YOU have taken control of the overwhelmingness and embraced change.  You’ve recognized the need to transform, and you are willing to do it.

How do you tackle the overwhelming times in your life?  What has worked for you?  Share your ideas here!



Saturn on the Move

Poor Saturn.  He gets such a bad rap from some astrologers.  I can understand where this reputation comes from.  After all, some of the words associated with Saturn are “limiting” and “restrictive.”  No one likes a party pooper, right?

My astrology teacher had a much more balanced view of Saturn, though.  She imagined one’s spiritual path as a train route and called Saturn the karmic conductor.  Saturn keeps the train and us on track and helps us reach our destination.  (For more on this, read her book:  “Discovering your Soul Mission” by Linda Brady.)

Saturn has an orbital cycle of 29 1/2 years, and so, astrologically speaking, we do not even become adults until Saturn returns to the same sign of our natal chart (called a Saturn return).  In other words, Saturn spends 2ish years in each sign, and after we’ve experienced Saturn in all twelve signs, we should have reached some maturity.

On October 5th, Saturn will leave the sign of Libra and head into Scorpio.  Saturn in Libra asks us to take responsibility in relationships.  We need to understand our actions and their consequences in relationship.  However, it also reminds us to learn boundaries in relationships, i.e. this is where I end and you begin.

Reflect on your past couple of years.  Have the lessons of responsibility and boundaries come up in your relationships?  How have you responded?

When Saturn moves into Scorpio, then, we will be asked to turn anger into passion and chaos into intensity.  Scorpio is all about emotions and transformation.  All too often, we forget that emotions are meant to be messengers, and instead we BECOME our emotions.  But with the solid and concrete qualities of Saturn on our side, we can take those emotions and transform them into something useful.

Enjoy the ride!


Transformational Scorpio

Be an Angel for Someone

Today’s guest author is intuitive psychic medium and life coach Rick Wood.  This article originally appeared on his own website (www.RickyWood.net) and is reprinted here with permission.


Think back to a time that you had help, unexpected help, that came at the right time.  Did it feel like divine intervention?  Did someone help you when you most needed it?

For a lot of us, the word ‘angel’ denotes an other worldly being wrapped in white and adorned with beautiful wings.  As many of you do, I also believe in angels that we don’t physically see who help & guide us.

I also believe Angels come in all kinds of packages. As a lot of you know, recently our beloved dog, Angel, left her adorable cuddly body and is also an angel again.  She was such an example to me of how we as humans can learn from our furry friends to listen more and love without conditions.  I am so grateful for the years she spent with us and losing her made me really think about how we can be angels for one another in so many ways.

It doesn’t have to be a monumental task or something that we have to spend tons of time or resources on.  It can be something as simple as a smile or a hello, a compliment or kind statement.  Everyday you have the ability to be someone’s angel.

A lot of you reading this probably already practice this on a daily or weekly basis.  So, I have a new way that I am practicing being an Angel and I invite you to join me.

We all have dreams, whether it is to start a business, travel somewhere, or try something for the first time.  Usually the biggest obstacle that people think about is how they are going to afford to do it.  They may even dismiss their dream altogether because they don’t believe it is possible.

Why not be an angel for someone and give them a jump on getting started planning, saving, and fufulling their dream. It doesn’t have to be huge, whatever you can afford – $20, $30 or if you are struggling even $10.  Whatever it is, give it to a stranger with a note to get started with their dream.

You never know whose life you may change!

How to find the person you might ask?  Be open to receiving guidance leading you to the person you should help. But don’t get too caught up in it, just do it!

When you are in line at a coffee shop, look at the business cards hanging on the board.  When you see someone online who says they ‘wish’ they could do something, or happen to visit a business where they seem to be struggling.  Wherever it strikes you.

Pick one and send them $20 with a note that says, “You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I wanted to send you this to help you fufull your dreams.  Whatever that may be.  Feel free to pay-it-forward!  All my best. Or something along those lines.

Remember no return address – you are an angel.

I think every single one of us is an angel, a lot of us just don’t know it.

The Lesson List

Coaching is one of those things that makes you pull your hair out with a smile on your face.  All season, you push, motivate, hound, and shake your head.  Every now and then, you have that glorious moment when your athlete “gets it” or scores or overcomes.  And sometimes, it all comes together for the whole team, and they dig down deep and find what they are made of ON RACE DAY!

This past weekend, however, it all came together for me.

On Saturday, I coached two teams at a local dragon boat festival.  A dragon boat is a long canoe for 20 paddlers, a steersperson, and a drummer.  It originated in China thousands of years ago, and most of the races are sprint distances.  Here’s what it looks like in action:

Dragon Boat Race

Now, I need to make a confession here.  To look at me, you might see a 5′ 2″ person who looks young for her age–in other words, I look like a little girl.  But in reality, I have a surprising amount of rage contained in that small body.  I HATE when people don’t use turn signals or when they throw cigarette butts out of the car window.  I FUME when people don’t say please or thank you.  You don’t even want to know what I wish upon animal abusers, terrorists, and selfish people.

So on race day, when a situation arose that I considered unfair and unsportsmanlike, well, I reacted rather strongly.  By the last race of the day, I was dropping more F-Bombs than Joe Pesci in “Goodfellas.”

The thing is, though, as a friend pointed out to me later, I actually managed to direct that righteous anger in the right direction.  In my pre-race motivational talk to one of my teams, I talked (okay, ranted) about racing with integrity, with heart, with purpose.  I wanted to fire them up to race as good sportsmen and sportswomen.

I don’t mean to justify my bad language or my anger.  It really did feel like a good lesson learned for me–I took a “character flaw” and tried to re-purpose it for good.

So all weekend I have been thinking about Learning Lessons and how that really is the main point of life, in my book.  It occurred to me that, instead of a typical Bucket List, where people usually just list fun adventures or vacations, maybe a Lesson List is what would motivate me.  (Hmm, okay, so that came out sounding a bit uptight and puritanical….. perhaps I should put “learn to have fun” on my list.)

Anyway, for me I think a Lesson List is the way to go.  It fits with my beliefs and my personality.  Here, then, are the beginnings of my Lesson List:

  1. Learn to have fun.  🙂
  2. Learn to play the drums.  I regret giving up music lessons in junior high, and I think music is so very important.
  3. Continue to learn how to use my “gift” of anger in better ways.
  4. Learn to be more compassionate.
  5. Learn patience.


How about you?  Would a Lesson List work for you?  What would be on it?



Of Mulligans and Mayans

In reading the news, seeing my friends’ posts on Facebook, and in looking at my own life, it seems to me that we’ve all got quite a bit on our plates right now.  Not that anyone else at any other time in history couldn’t say that as well . . . but right now it certainly feels like all of us are experiencing a couple of extra turns of the rack.

Now, the Mayan calendar, which has been in the news a lot this year, predicted an “end” in December.  Of course, the “end” doesn’t mean the end of the world; it just means the end of a cycle.  So, to me, it only makes sense that things would be heating up now, as we head into the transition.  I mean, haven’t you noticed how things always seem to get worse before they get better?

It’s human nature, I suppose, to want a steady, smooth, linear path to perfection.  None of us really likes mistakes or failure, do we?  And many of us carry around those mistakes as Regret for years and years.

But adopting the concept of the circle, with Renewal built right in, is very freeing in many ways.  Think of the Japanese expression “Ichi nichi, issho.”  This means “one day, one lifetime.”  Each day is a microcosm of one’s whole life.  In essence, each day is a fresh start.  So if we can learn to let go of Regret and look at every morning as a chance to “take a mulligan,” think how much happier, lighter, and wiser we’d be.

Circle of Life.  The tarot Wheel of Fortune.  The Mayan calendar.  You gotta love a philosophy which includes do-overs.


Wheel of Fortune tarot card

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!