Saturday, December 31, 2011

What's Your Right Brain Doing These Days?

Recently I read My Stroke of Insight  by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor who suffered a massive stroke at age 37. It wiped out her left brain hemisphere, where we hold language and linear reasoning skills.

When only her right brain was functional, she discovered an incredible sense of the present moment and a feeling of peace and oneness with all, which is what mystics and spiritual gurus achieve through meditation.

Dr. Taylor is now fully recovered, but her stroke changed her. While recognizing that we need our left brain linear thinking skills, she encourages others to side-step negative left brain emotions such as anger and jealousy by choosing otherwise.

“The more aware I remain of what my brain is saying and how these thoughts feel inside my body, the more I own my power in choosing what I want to spend time thinking about and how I want to feel,” she says.

I made similar discoveries after a major life trauma in the early '90s shattered my psyche. Although not physically caused, I needed counseling to rebuild my broken sense of self. In the process, I became more conscious of my thoughts and actions, and learned how to non-judgmentally observe myself and be more accepting, compassionate, and loving. Toward myself and toward others.

I recommend Dr. Taylor’s book.

Or learn more about my favorite presentation topic: “The joy of self-discovery: Getting to the heart of who you really are.”

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Year, New Weight Loss Resolutions?

For many of us, the first of January means the inner diet genie emerges. "Gonna lose those holiday pounds," we proclaim. If we can be healthier by changing certain habits, we should do it---but let's make sure we're motivated, not by self-dislike ("I hate the way I look!") but rather, by loving self-acceptance.

After all, self-acceptance doesn’t mean you have to stay where you are. Our bodies are precious gifts and a blessing from our Creator. They can help us as we seek the Holy.
Let me quote a prayer from the pages of my book,
GRACE ON THE GO: Quick Prayers for Determined Dieters. 

A Prayer of YES!
"Dear Lord, I say YES!
Yes to loving myself.
I am as you made me.
 Dear Lord, I say YES!
Yes to healthy eating.
Being active.
Choosing right.
I surrender this area of my life to God.
Dear Lord, I say YES!"

 “O God Help me To believe The truth about myself No matter How beautiful it is!” (by Macrina Wiederkehr, from Loving Yourself More, AveMaria Press p. 31)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Cat's Tale

Lessons in life come in odd guises sometimes.

My son and daughter-in-law in San Diego owned a cat, a large gray and white puss named Oliver. Alas, Oliver began peeing on their furniture. After trying everything they could to stop the habit, they finally turned Oliver into an outdoor cat, something you can do in San Diego’s climate.

Every morning they put out food and water, but Oliver is never allowed inside. Recently, while visiting, I was sitting on their patio when Oliver appeared and jumped in my lap, obviously wanted to be petted. As I stroked him, he began to purr, and I thought: how sad. He likes to be held and loved, but chose behavior destined to lose the very thing he craves. And I wondered: don’t some human beings do the same?

Our actions inevitably do have consequences. If we want to receive love, we must act in a manner that considers the needs of others. Thank you, Oliver, for reminding me of a tough but necessary truth.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Encounter

There is a gift in simply being present with someone, even if the encounter lasts only 30 seconds. When I make eye contact with the supermarket clerk or my table waiter, my eyes say "I see you. You are not a thing to me. Or merely an appendage to the cash register. You are  a person."

As we rush through our days,  let us stay conscious of each interaction. Remember that everyone we meet is a God-holder. Honor each person with eye contact and a smile. It doesn't matter if the person smiles back.  We're offering a gift, not a trade.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A caregiver's grief

Riza is 33. Her husband Tod has early-onset Parkinson’s disease. She told me, “I am grieving the loss of our dreams.”  Their dreams of having children, of watching Tod's career expand, of continuing activities  they previously enjoyed—like hiking and camping.  Riza is feeling caregivers’ grief:  the relentless on-going process brought about, not by a loved one’s death, but by the changed aspects of life.

Caregivers’ grief seldom comes in a neat, orderly package: you might feel tearful and hopeful at the very same time.  Your emotions can take as many twists and turns as your loved one’s illness. Sometimes you'd  like to run away from it all.

Riza's Prayer: O Lord, as I travel this journey
I did not choose, 
Strengthen me to cope with the messiness.
The turmoil.
And most of all,
Comfort me and my loved one.
Help us to bear our tears.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fear of Flying

        Diana and Paul, my Colorado friends, own two dogs and a large parrot. One day their parrot escaped their house and flew to the top of an Aspen tree in their back yard. But the silly bird, though it knew it could fly up, didn’t realize it also had the power to fly down. Diana stood outside for 20 minutes cajoling until finally--nervously and very gingerly—the parrot crept down the tree, claw by claw, branch by branch.
       Even as I laughed at the story, I wondered: how often am I just like that silly parrot? How often do I fail to use all the power I possess? When we hold ourselves back, avoiding risk, it’s usually because we’re afraid.
      But as E. Hubbard wrote: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.”
      Scripture says, “Be not afraid.”
     A modern philosopher put it this way: “Feel the fear--and do it anyway.”
     Next time I feel afraid to take a legitimate risk, I’m going to think about that silly parrot. And instead of limiting myself, I’m going to spread my wings and fly.
     How about you?