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Integrity

Our values are those things that carry the most significance for us. As such, it would follow that what we verbalize as most valuable is where we put our energy and actions. However, that’s not always the case.  We sometimes just give lip service to what we think are our values – like family, spiritual beliefs, honesty, etc.  But if our behaviors don’t match our words, then we really need to examine why that is.

Our values come from our core. Those using only lip service (chatter) about their values are often applying a thinly-veiled veneer that covers a center of greed and a *me first* attitude. Sometimes it feels as if the moral compass in our culture is pointing south. It’s not my intention to negatively judge these people. My spiritual studies have taught me that they are simply operating at a lower energetic frequency. (Our level of frequency is not good or bad, it’s just lower or higher in varying degrees as we each evolve). That said, I do have concerns that they are hindering the betterment of civilization as a whole.

But I’m convinced the majority of us sincerely want, and work to become better people, hence raising our energetic level. Lately, I’ve taken notice of how the character of a person can tell us a lot about whether they are someone who has a core value system that can benefit their own life (and all whose lives they touch), or whether they are simply using chatter to create an outer perception of strength; which ultimately leads to the decline of society as a whole. ONE PERSON’S ENERGY MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THE ENERGY OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

Frankly, even though this has been the case since the beginning of time, I’m still astonished to see so much abuse of power by those in the most powerful positions. Their actions and words seem to give permission to others to espouse similar views that (even if they thought it previously), used to be socially unacceptable to verbalize; using the phrase “politically correct” to put down those of us who want to encompass unity and equality in our speech and lives. I admit, at lease maybe they’re being honest about their beliefs. But our thoughts are energy, and as such, they influence our attitudes, emotions and actions. Speaking those thoughts out loud, strengthens attitudes of disdain towards others who are different from them; which in turn often fosters action in a similar vein. Violence (verbal or physical) is the crutch of the emotionally crippled.

So, I started researching what really constitutes a character of integrity. As I’m sure most of you do, I had my own ideas, but I didn’t want to get stuck on just my own experiences and concepts. First, I looked up antonyms for integrity in the thesaurus: corruption, disgrace, dishonest, dishonor, incompleteness. When I looked for definitions and characteristics, I found (which, of course is no surprise), that Integrity has to have a solid foundation of ethics, but that it also encompasses other characteristics.

A few weeks ago in my blog, I shared this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer about not getting stuck in our past:

. . . I use the metaphor of a boat going down the river. When you’re standing at the back of the boat, looking at the water as you’re going along at forty knots, what you see there is the wake. The wake is the trail that’s left behind. You can ask the question, “What’s making the boat go forward?” It can’t be the wake. The wake can’t drive the boat. It’s just the trail left behind. It can’t make the boat go forward, any more than the trail that you’ve left behind in your life is responsible for where you’re going now in your life. . .

Interestingly, in his book INTEGRITY, Dr. Henry Cloud describes a process he uses to assess character.  He calls it The Wake.  Again, it’s a metaphor about sitting in a boat and watching it’s wake.  While the wake obviously doesn’t drive the boat, you can tell a lot about the boat as you look at the wake.  For instance, if the wake’s in a straight line, you get a feeling that the boat is steadily on course, and the captain isn’t sleeping at the wheel.  It also feels that the engine or a shaft is not out of whack.  If it’s smooth and flat, you know something about the speed of the boat; and if it’s steep, you can tell something about it’s drag. But, if the wake is wavering, you begin to wonder.

Here’s the point he’s making. As a person goes through life, (s)he leaves a wake behind, and there is much to be learned from that history. The character of that person is what leaves the wake.  That’s what (s)he and others can point to that gives us a sense of the contribution the person has made and is continuing to make to the larger society.

So what are the qualities we might want in order to keep our wake steady? Here are some questions we can each ask ourselves to get started:

1) Am I able to establish trust? In other words, if I expect others to trust me, do my past behaviors confirm that I am trustworthy in my words and actions?

2) Am I oriented toward the truth? Am I willing to listen to all sides of an issue without prejudice (as much as is humanly possible) and come to a conclusion that encompasses a rational reality?

3) Am I focused on getting a specific result? Rather than arbitrarily going about my day, do I have a purposeful focus of my eventual destination (recognizing that I may never reach that destination, but the journey is what is important)?

4) Do I embrace the negative as it arises, instead of avoiding it, or allowing it to get me down and slowing or stopping any progress?

5) Am I continually trying to become a better person? Do I have a sense of who/what I want to become? And what am I doing NOW toward that end?

6) Do I focus on letting go of human selfishness and self-centeredness and live in a reality that embraces the greater good of all involved? Allowing for the good of all inevitably improves my own life, even if I have to give up my original belief of what is “right.”

Integrity is a quality of adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character and honesty.  It’s the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified; internal consistency or lack of corruption. Some of the roots of the word include: in tact, integrate and integral. In human terms, it’s wholeness and effectiveness as a person – running on all cylinders.

It’s not about strength so much as it’s about courage. It’s not about how we appear to others, but who we REALLY are. Rather than stretching for our highest goals, it’s about digging for our deepest treasure from within.

The purpose of the veneer I mentioned earlier is to make something look like what it’s not; to conceal what is really underneath. So when we boast about our characteristics or talk about what we’re going to do without follow-up, we’re causing more harm than good. (In fact, if we feel the need to boast at all, it’s a red flag that we’re trying to be something we are not).

The true worth of our core values becomes visible through our actions. A strong core is what helps us weather the storms of daily life. We’re all exposed to the same storms from time to time, but how we respond to them is what shows our strength of character. We each have the tools available to us, but we have to use them. Just carrying an umbrella won’t protect us from the rain. We need to open that umbrella or put on our boots so we can wade through the floods to higher land. And sometimes we have to be aware enough to be able to change course and avoid the storm altogether.

I don’t want anyone to get the idea that if they don’t feel “whole” or “in tact”  or strong enough that means they’ll never measure up to this character trait.  It may feel like a tall order, but none of us starts out there.  We grow into it. That’s where courage enters into the picture.  Courage is only courage when there’s risk involved. That’s the point of recognizing when we’ve made a mistake, owning it, and making the effort to do it differently next time.

If I want you to remember anything from this blog, it’s that we each have a contribution to make to this world. It’s up to each of us how our own wake will look and, in turn, how we can help enrich the environment for all of us.

“We are all energetically connected and affected by each other. Each of us has an impact that far exceeds our current understanding. It’s a wonderful opportunity and a great responsibility to be conscious of that influence. . . . Each of us is a seed that has been planted within our world’s current vibration. When we raise our own frequencies by the growth produced by our life challenges, we raise the world’s frequency from within – like a single drop of dye added to a glass of water, each person alters the entire hue .  . .”                   -Robert Schwartz

 

 

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr

With all the division, hate and violence permeating our world these days, it’s hard not to feel fear and intimidation.  Martin Luther King, Jr aid “The only way to convert an enemy into a friend is through love.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer used to talk a lot about those we’re told to hate.  Here’s how he used to spell it out:

Throughout our history, there has been a long list of those we’ve been conditioned to hate. The British, French, Spanish, Germans, Japanese, Russians, Communists, Northern Koreans, Vietnamese, Iranians, Taliban, and both northerners and southerners in our own country are some of the people we’ve been encouraged at various times to call enemies and to hate. The list is long, and as time passes, those we were assigned to hate we later were told should be removed from our hate list. The enemy is obviously hatred itself . . .

Love heals all.  It doesn’t negate the horror or the pain that we had to navigate to get there.  That’s just the journey we all have to tread. It’s necessary to go through that, in order to get to the other side. Our trip will take it’s detours – but that’s just part of the design.  It gives us time to develop the emotional muscles to endure the reality, and when we are ready, the reality appears.  The timing is not ours; it is divine order.  But when we find the love and the ability to let go and experience the freedom, we can bask in the love that gave birth to each of us.

I hope you will take a few minutes this week to examine the path you’ve been on. Things have been so divided lately, that I’m guessing all of us has someone in our lives that we just don’t understand.  They’re SO different.  Don’t run from that and retreat to the comfort of your own tribe.  Seek them out; talk to them. Ask questions about why they are the way they are, or did something they did.  Share something from your life.  Talk about your beliefs – and why you believe that way.  I’ll bet you’ll find you have more in common with each other, than is different.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr

Bozos on the Bus

I’ve posted this blog several times, but it’s been a while. It’s one of my favorite concepts because I see this over and over in my office.  People come in thinking that whatever they need to share with me is the most horrific thing I’ve ever heard.  One of the reasons I love what I do is because I have an opportunity that many of you apparently don’t have.  I hear these stories, and I am reassured that I’m not the only weird, crazy person in the world!

It helps us to put it into perspective when we can realize that we’re ALL on that same bus!

I’ve been re-listening to the audiobook BROKEN OPEN by Elizabeth Lesser, and it blows me away. I read (listen to) a LOT of audiobooks – mostly spiritual and some “self-help”. I love doing this because they lift my day and inspire my work. But for some reason, this particular book  really hits me where I live. No new concepts – but a unique way of explaining things I try to help others understand.

Here’s an example: Elizabeth speaks of Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) who was the MC for Woodstock and has spent the rest of his life inspiring others through humor.

One of his one liners is how we are all “Bozos on the Bus” – in other words, we are all vulnerable, human, have problems and occasionally make huge mistakes. Direct quote from the book:
“We should welcome our defects as part of the standard human operating system. Every single person on this bus we called earth hurts. It’s when we have shame about our failings that hurt turns into suffering.”

When we’re engulfed in our shame, we assume there’s another bus. One whose passengers are all thin, healthy, happy, have fulfilling jobs and are from loving, functional families. These passengers never do mean or stupid things, get all the great jobs, and generally just manage their lives appropriately – living happily ever after.

“But we are on the bus that says BOZO on the front, and we worry that we may be the only passenger on board. This is the illusion that so many of us labor under- that we’re all alone in our weirdness and our uncertainty; that we may be the most lost person on the highway. Of course we don’t always feel like this. Sometimes a wave of self-forgiveness washes over us, and suddenly we’re connected to our fellow humans; suddenly we belong.

It is wonderful to take your place on the bus with the other bozos. It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus – that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going – is also filled with bozos – bozos in drag; bozos with a secret. When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up, and we become as buoyant as those people we imagined on the other bus. As we rumble along the potholed road, lost as ever, through the valleys and over the hills, we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.”

Resolutions/Commitment

Each year at this time, I post something similar to this message: I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions because they’re usually just a wish that lasts a few days or maybe weeks into the new year & then forgotten or given up on. I try to live my life by being a better person today than I was yesterday – more open to love and to listening to whatever the Universe has in store for me.

What I do believe in is stopping occasionally to reflect on all that I have been blessed to experience. That includes many positive, loving experiences. But it also includes a lot of times that I didn’t feel so positive, and I wasn’t so loving, and times I couldn’t wait to get through. At this point in my life, I understand (even in the moment) that I will be grateful for those times eventually – and sometimes I can even say thank you in the middle of them.

I know that some people don’t agree that things happen for a reason and I certainly want to honor their belief. Myy experience, though, is that those are usually people who don’t always take advantage of those difficult moments. The hard times can become lessons, but only if we allow them to be. One of the reasons we have to experience things repeatedly is because we don’t always take personal responsibility for them enough to recognize how we can avoid going that same direction the next time.

Mindlessly setting goals that I won’t be able to fulfill will not help me make changes in my life. Staying in the moment, living consciously and mindfully, is the only way to get there eventually. So instead of making a bunch of resolutions this year, make a commitment to be more aware of each moment, beginning now. You won’t remember to do it every moment of the new year, but when you catch yourself living in the past or future, just gently bring your mind back to what’s happening now. We can all get through anything for a moment. The design of this existence is successful because we are each unique and beautiful in our own way; traveling our own path.

Wishing each of you enough peace to find your center; enough pain to find your strengths; and enough love to be able to recognize your own worth in this world.

Sending Love for Your Holiday

This morning, I’m thinking back over all the hurtful and negative stories that have touched each of us this year, and I can get sick to my stomach if I stay in my initial reaction. There have been incidents involving racism and White Nationalists; a huge flow of men in power being outed for exerting that power over women, other men and children who are vulnerable because of their lack of power; ongoing investigations into our government and those at the top trying to uproot everything our constitution stands for; assaults on our earth, our internet, educational and healthcare systems, attacks on regulations that have kept us healthier and on science, itself.  All of this has created a culture of division between those of us who have historically stood together as the backbone of of our society.

I know, as a white, middle class female, I have no real concept of what it must feel like to be in  the shoes of black, Hispanic or LGBTQ men or women, a Muslim who is harassed just because (s)he is different from the majority, or immigrants who may be facing leaving the only home they’ve ever known.  But I have had the opportunity, thanks to many clients who have courageously opened their lives to me and allowed me to see the world through their eyes for just a few moments at a time.  And I’m in awe of the bravery so many people in this country exhibit because they are determined not to lose their own personal power.

I don’t know what the answers are to all these issues; but what I do know is that violence and hatred is not the answer to any of it. So I am re-committing to be open-minded about each situation as it arises and to those who come from different backgrounds and religions, rather than to lump them all together and make assumptions. I commit to continuing to learn more about other walks of life in order to understand a little better

I know not all of you may celebrate Christmas. I hope your holidays are full of peace; and I send you love and light, regardless of what you believe and how you celebrate. We are all so much more alike than we are different.

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”             

                                         -Martin Luther King