Some Questions Cannot Be Answered

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Last week I attended the funeral for the nephew of a friend. Franco was just 4 ½ when he left this world after many months of battling an inoperable brain tumor.

The thought that my daughter is just 6-months older than Franco kept poking up into my mind while I sat on the hard bench of the Catholic church waiting for the service to begin.

Questions came up: What if this happened to Ella? How would I react? What would I feel right now if it was Ella in that tiny casket? Could I handle it with the dignity and grace that Franco’s family was bringing? Why did Franco have to die? Why did a beautiful 4 ½ year old boy who brought such joy to his family and to the world have to die?

As if reading my mind – and probably the minds of many people in that church – the priest began his service in a surprising manner. He said that he didn’t have the answer. He said that he could stand up there at the service of the 95 year old grandmother and say that she had lived a “good, full, long” life. Why is her death “right” but not Franco’s?

But he couldn’t tell us “why” Franco had died.

Are there answers to that question? Of course there are.

You could say, “There is a reason for everything,” or “It was his time,” or “His death opened the possibility for those he left behind to grow and evolve,” or “Death is the natural flow out of life.” Or, as the priest said, “He is with God in heaven now.”

All of those may be true. But they are not The Truth. We just don’t know why a four year old has to die.

We just don’t know why thousands of people had to die during the attacks of 9/11.

We don’t know why babies are killed in wars.

We don’t know why anyone is killed in wars.

We don’t know why people are murdered.

We don’t know. We can’t know.

In the days following Franco’s funeral, I sat with the thought of Franco’s death and the priest’s acknowledgment that there are some questions that cannot be answered. And I began to play with the idea of letting go of the need for answers.

What if Franco just died and there is no reason, no answer? What if we are just meant to be with the experience and release the need for an answer?

I felt a huge surge of energy as that thought moved through me.

You see, we all have unanswerable questions about our own lives: Questions that occupy far too much of our time and energy.

For me, as an adopted child, the question that I have asked throughout my life is, “Why did my mother give me up for adoption.” And when I have been in a less positive space that question has been, “Why did my mother abandon me.” Or, “Why didn’t she love me.”

For the first 23 years of my life I sought the answer on my own. I would find an answer that felt “right” for a while, only to discover some new twist or hidden place inside of me that did not fit into that answer.

When I met my biological mother over 20-years ago, I began probing for information that could help me find THE answer. The question was no longer hypothetical. There was an actual person to ask and I was able to hear her answers. I could ask, “Why did YOU give me up for adoption?”

And in these last 20-years we have talked and cried and done healing work together, including rituals of forgiveness. And while her answers make “sense” to my mind, they can never satisfy the questioning of the wounded part within me.

That part of me, the wounded part within, will never hear THE answer because there is no answer that will satisfy that part of me.

The question itself is unanswerable.

How much time and energy have I have spent seeking that answer, the answer that does not exist? I could never even begin to measure how much of my life has been spent (wasted?) seeking that answer.

You could say that the answer to that question has been my holy grail. And now, with the help of a Catholic priest and a beautiful 4 year old boy, I see that the only way to find the grail is to release the question.

And I believe we all have a question like that.

You have a question that is unanswerable, a question that takes your time, saps your strength, and drains your energy.

Your question may be:

“Why did my father leave me?”

“Why was I abused?”

“Why didn’t my mother love me as much as my sister?”

“Why did my parents wish I was a boy?”

“Why did my brother have to die?”

You know your unanswerable question. You know the question that drives you, that directs your life. Are you willing to accept that this question cannot be answered?

To leave the question unanswered does not mean that you are denying what happened. It does not mean that you are denying the pain of the experience.

No. In fact, just the opposite. When you let go of the question, when you accept that the question can never be answered, you allow yourself to embrace the experience fully. You allow yourself to feel it fully. And in doing so, you open the doorway to the possibility of releasing the charge that this question and this past experience holds over you.

How much energy would you gain if you could release your unanswerable question?

As I move more fully into accepting that I can never answer the question, “Why did my mother give me up for adoption,” I feel more and more energy flowing into and through me. The energy I have been using to seek that answer, both consciously and unconsciously, is now available for other pursuits. Now, I can focus that energy in new and powerful ways.

So what is your unanswerable question?

And is it possible that the time has come for you to accept that this question can never be answered?

I hope so.

And I wonder, could it be possible that Franco died so that those of us left behind might begin to understand that some questions have no answers?

Or is that just another attempt to put an answer on what is essentially unanswerable?

Have You Seen Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture?”

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Just a quick head’s up in case you haven’t seen this video from Randy Pausch. Randy is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University where the professor’s have a tradition of giving their “last lecture:” the lecture they would give if they were dying. Well for Randy, this is not just an exercise. Randy is dying of cancer.

He gave this lecture on How to Achieve Your Childhood Dreams

I could tell you more about it, but I think I’ll leave it to Randy. However, I will encourage you to spend the full 11 1/2 minutes watching this first video all the way through to the end. There are some truly powerful insights at the end.

Here’s the 12-minute “cliff”s notes version of the lecture he gave on the Oprah show recently:

And here is the full lecture he presented at Carnegie Mellon. This one is over an hour.


The Vision Board 2008 Invitational

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Are you up for a challenge? Do you want to get 2008 off to an intentional start? If so, I want to invite you to participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational. Last year’s Vision Board meeting at the January drop in Law of Attraction group – a group I host on the first Saturday of each month – was such a success that we’re doing it again.

But this year, I want you to join us, even if you can’t get to Santa Rosa on Saturday. If you do join us, not only will you start 2008 with a powerful burst of inspired action, but you also get a chance to share you vision with the world and you could win a fantastic prize! Read on to find out more. Whatever you think about the Law of Attraction and the ideas in the movie The Secret, there is one point that you just can’t argue with: Setting intentions works!

You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. But intention setting, on its own, is not enough. You need continuous focus on your intentions as well as inspired, focused action. And one of the best ways to stay focused on your intentions is to create visual reminders. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind author, T. Harv Ecker, frequently tells his students that, “Visual is memorable.” And Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools I know of for creating continuous, visual focus on your positive intentions. And there’s even a dash of inspired action thrown into the process of creating a vision board.

Now if you’ve never created one, a Vision Board is a collage or other collection of images, words and phrases created and used to facilitate the manifestation of desires. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools in the deliberate creator’s toolbox.

When you create a vision board you are doing three things that immediately put you ahead of 95% of the people who set resolutions:

  • When you create a Vision Board you are taking Inspired Action.
  • When you create a Vision Board you clarify and focus your desires.
  • When you create a Vision Board (and place it where you see it often) you have an on-going, visual reminder of your intentions.

The process of creating a Vision Board is straightforward:

  • Gather the supplies – board, glue, scissors, magazines, catalogs, markers, etc.
  • Clarify your desires.
  • Cut out images that represent those desires..
  • Glue them onto your board.
  • Place the board somewhere you will see it on a daily basis.

But while the process is simple, taking the action to do it is not always easy! I’ve seen far too many people say they were going to create a New Year’s Vision Board only to find that weeks and months into the New Year they still had not done so. If you’ve ever struggled to complete an “optional” project on your own, you know just what I’m talking about.

This year, I want to help to stack the deck in your favor and hopefully make it a bit easier for you to complete your New Year’s Vision Board Monday, January 14th and get 2008 off to a deliberate, positive start! So I’ve come up with a few incentives and some tips. First the incentives:

  • Share your vision with the world: Sure it’s great to create a vision board and hang it on your wall. But there is something empowering about sharing your vision. By sharing your vision you declare your intention to the world. You put your flag in the sand. So to help you share your vision with the world, on Tuesday, January 15th, I will post an entry here with a link every vision board that is completed by January 14th. (You’ll have to send me the link of course). You can post the photo of your Vision Board on your blog or website, or put it up at a photo sharing site such as Flickr.com. I’ll also feature images of a few of my favorite boards along with the link.
  • Win some great prizes: Everyone who submits a completed Vision Board by January 14th will receive access to the online version of my CD, An Introduction to Brainwave Entrainment Technology for Personal Growth and Success. If you haven’t experienced Brainwave Entrainment, you are missing out on a powerful personal growth tool.In addition, three winners will receive a $40 prize package that includes the physical CD listed above as well as the inspiring, award winning anthology, Healing the Heart of the World, which includes my essay, The Evolutionary Warrior, along with essays from Caroline Myss, Neale Donald Walsch, Bruce Lipton and many others.

I’m also working on a grand prize that I can’t announce quite yet. But if it comes through, it will provide the winner with an amazing tool for following up on their intentions. Now here are some tips to help you create your Vision Board:

  • Set a date and invite some friends and family members to join you. One of the reasons that last year’s Vision Board event at the drop in Law of Attraction group was so successful is because 35 Deliberate Creators came together to co-create their reality for 2007. When a group comes together, and focuses their collective energy on a single goal energy of the entire group is raised. So even just two people coming together can significantly raise the energy.And with a group you can also pool your resources – glue sticks, scissors, magazines, etc. And finally, when you commit to a date with others, you’re much more likely to “show up” and complete your Vision Board.
  • If you are going to create your Vision Board on your own, set a firm date and time. Go do it right now: Get out your calendar and block out 3-hours. That should be plenty of time to create your New Year’s Vision Board. And once you put that time into your calendar make it non-negotiable!
  • Keep your focus narrow. Don’t try to do too much with your Vision Board. Focus on just your top 3-5 intentions. Or create a board for just one area of your life – work, money, relationship, etc. If you try to do too much on one board, you’ll dilute the effectiveness. You can always do another board when you have attracted the intentions in this one or create another board for another area of your life.
  • Set a definite ending time. Creating a Vision Board is one of those projects with the potential to move into the continual “work in progress” category. And, in truth, a vision board is always a work in progress because you vision is always evolving. However, you definitely do want to complete your Vision Board. So set a firm deadline and make a commitment to yourself to finish your board by that time.
  • Let your board be “Not Perfect.” Start with the knowledge that your Vision Board will never be perfect. That way you’ll be more likely to sit down and finish it. And finishing it is far more important than making it “perfect.” whatever that means. This is also a good exercise in getting over any perfectionist tendencies you might have!

Participation Details: To participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational, all you have to do is complete your 2008 Vision Board by Monday, January 14th and use the contact form above to send me the link to your Vision Board. If you have a blog or website, you can post your Vision Board there and I’ll link to it from Evolving Times.

If you don’t have a website, you can use an online photo-sharing site such as Flickr, Photobucket. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your grand visions! If you have questions, you can leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as fast as I can.

And if you think this is a good idea, you can help me get the word out by sharing this entry using one of the social bookmarking links below. If you’re new to social bookmarking a good place to start is with a Thumb’s Up on Stumbleupon.

Curb Your Enthusiasm…NOT!

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[Authors’ Note. I wrote the first draft of this article almost 1-year ago. But while the event that triggered this article might be old-news, the lesson is timeless. Enjoy!]

One of my daughter’s, favorite activities recently is the wild and exuberant release of a sound that is a cross between a Tarzan yodel and a Native American war whoop. She starts out softly and increases the volume as she pats her hand on and off her mouth. It’s an expression of pure enthusiasm and joy for life.

There is no pattern that I can discern, no rhyme or reason to her whooping. It happens spontaneously and rises up from the depth of her being at unexpected and completely random moments. It’s as if the beauty, excitement and joy of this life become too much for her to hold inside any longer and she lets them out!

When we’re at the park or on the beach it’s great. When we’re home it’s usually fine. When we’re in the car it’s all right, although it certainly does echo quite a bit in that small space.

But when we’re in the grocery store, or a restaurant, or the video store, I feel compelled to moderate the volume a bit.

And when we’re on a plane, or at a funeral well…

On our trip to my father-in-law’s funeral, I had the opportunity to experience both of those.

During the 5-hour flight to Nashville, there were numerous repetitions of:

“Stop kicking the seat, Ella.”
“Why?”
“The person in front of you doesn’t like it.”
“Why?”
“It’s uncomfortable.”
“Why.”

And then there were the multiple refrains of:

“No we can’t walk up and down the aisle again.”
“Why?”
“The fasten seat belt sign is on.”
“Why?”
“Because the captain thinks it could be bumpy?”
“Why?”

And then there were those moments when I heard her winding up into one of those whoops. And I knew that wasn’t going to go over very well on the plane! A couple of times I actually had to put my hand over her mouth to muffle her whoops. Which, of course, made her think it was a game and caused her to do it with even more intensity.

You get the general idea.

When we arrived in Nashville, and connected with Melissa, Ella was able to let out some big whoops. And I encouraged her to get as much of it out of her system as she could before we got to the family’s house.

And then came the funeral. It was hard enough keeping tabs on Ella while we all waited to go into the sanctuary. (Thank goodness the funeral home had a kid’s room with books and puzzles and games!)

Finally the staff came and let us know it was time. They ushered us into the sanctuary and wheeled “Pop-pop” in. And the moment the preacher stepped up to the podium, Ella suddenly had the inspiration to start singing. And so she did!

Now, personally, I can’t think of anything more appropriate for a funeral than singing! Especially when it’s coming from the cutest three-year-old girl ever!

But apparently not everyone shared my opinion, and Ella’s. So we went outside where Ella could sing and dance and whoop it up as much as she wanted.

The whole experience, from plane flight to funeral, made me painfully aware of how often I was asking Ella to curb her enthusiasm. I became acutely aware of how enthusiasm un-friendly our culture really is. I mean how many places are there where a kid, or an adult for that matter, can really let loose and whoop it up?

How often do our children hear “shh,” or “stop that,” or “use your inside voice,” or “calm down or you’ll get a time-out?”

How often did you hear those things when you were a child?

Is it any wonder that the vast majority of us mature grown-up types have a hard time connecting with our passion and enthusiasm? Most of us had our passion “shushed” out of us by the time we were three!

Now I know I can’t always give Ella free-reign to let loose with her whoops, but helping her to grow up with her enthusiasm intact is more important to me than being socially acceptable. I want her to grow up with that zest for life still bubbling up from within her. So I occasionally find myself walking the fine line between what is culturally acceptable and what feels best for Ella.

Fortunately, we have found pre-schools that encourage that enthusiasm rather than attempting to stifle it, and Ella has wonderful “friends” (babysitters) that encourage and even join in her passionate expressions of joy.

And even I’ve gotten into the habit of joining her whenever possible, showing her that, yes, there’s even hope for the old-fogeys in her life!

If you haven’t tried it lately, I assure you, there is something truly thrilling and awakening in the pure uninhibited expression of joy and enthusiasm.

What about you? Where does your pure, uninhibited enthusiasm for life come out? Anywhere?

Well, if not, where do you begin to touch the edge of your enthusiasm? Where do you feel your excitement beginning to bubble up to the surface?

Sill not happening?

Well then, where do you begin to feel the ice of inhibition and constriction breaking? What activities, places, people, begin to awaken your joie de vivre, that innate joy for life that you carry deep inside you?

As you discover these activities, people and places, start making space for them. Allow your enthusiasm to awaken. And when you hear that voice in your head saying, “shh,” or “calm down,” or “Use your inside voice,” I encourage you to stick your tongue out in its general direction and get even louder!

And here’s a tip: There’s nothing like a good Tarzan yodel to break the inhibition and awaken that passion that’s waiting to come out. Come on; give it a try right now.

I double dare you!

How Do You Want To Die? Not A Rhetorical Question

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Earlier today I was driving my daughter to her play-date. Today was not my scheduled day to pick her up from pre-school but my wife has not felt good for the past two days and I’ve had to pick up a few extra Ella “shifts.” This, on top of an already overly full schedule had put me into a bit of a fluster.

I was driving a bit fast given the conditions. It was raining quite hard and there was a lot of standing water on the road.

As we drove, the thought flashed into my head, “What if one of the oncoming cars skids and slams into us?” Admittedly, not a great thought, but it was a powerful motivator to turn inward for some self-exploration.

What if I died right then? What would my last thought have been? Something along the lines of, “I don’t have time for this. I’ve got way too much to do. Why couldn’t Melissa just get out and drive Ella like she was supposed to?”

Not the most positive thoughts in the world.

And what about feelings? What was I feeling in that moment? And if I had died, what would my last feeling have been?

Overwhelm, frustration, judgment. These are not feelings way up high on the emotional scale.

When examined in the light of the question,” How do I want to die?” it was crystal clear that I did not want to die with those final thoughts and feelings. I did not want to carry those thoughts and feelings back with me into Source. For I believe that is what we do when we die. We carry the thoughts and feelings that we are having at the instant of our death back into Source.

And with this clear awareness, it was quite easy to shift into better thoughts and feelings. What do I want to carry with me back to Source? Gratitude, love, peace, joy, contentment. These are the thoughts and feelings I want to contribute to Source when I return.

So this question, “How do I want to die?” can provide an extremely powerful inspiration on a daily basis. By holding that question in your awareness, it reminds you to monitor your thoughts and feelings and continuously reach for better ones.

How do you want to die? What thoughts and feelings do you want to contribute when you return to your Source?

We Are All One – The Taste of Connection

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My friend, Duane, has a license plate that says “WRALL1.” It’s one of my favorite plates. Whenever I see it, it reminds me of what I know to be true, but sometimes forget.

I’m sure you’ve heard stories of people who have experienced this connection when a loved one has died. Even if they were disconnected by a great distance, they “knew” that someone close to them had died.

I’ve heard many such stories, but have never personally experienced it, until last month when my uncle passed away.

It was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Since it was the first Saturday of the month I hosted the monthly drop in Law of Attraction group. I was showing the movie, The Secret, and had a surprisingly large turnout (25-people) considering it was the holiday weekend.

The morning was great. The discussion after the movie was deep and intimate and incredibly uplifting. I was vibrating at a wonderfully high frequency after the meeting.

I didn’t have to rush home for family time, so after cleaning up my office, my friend Mike and I went out to brunch. Coincidentally, or not, Melissa and Ella were in North Carolina visiting with Melissa’s dad who was losing his battle with cancer.

Mike and I had a great debriefing session about the morning. And then, as I was taking the last few bites of my pancake, I began feeling extremely lethargic. It was quite a noticeable shift from the powerful, high-energy state I had been experiencing moments earlier: Too big a shift to ignore.

I didn’t ignore it, exactly, but I did attempt to minimize it by saying to Mike, “I must have eaten too much of that pancake, because I just had a major crash. I think I’m going to go home and take a nap.”

I had planned to go home and pack for an overnight trip to a rustic retreat center with some friends. But instead of packing, I really did need to lie down. I told myself I would just rest for a “few minutes.” That few minutes turned into about two hours. I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I kept waking up and trying to force myself up, but I literally felt like my body was filled with lead. I kept dropping back into a deep trance or sleep.

Finally, I really did force myself up. Still feeling heavy and tired, I accepted that, for whatever reason, I was not supposed to go on this overnight. Something was up. I didn’t know what but with a feeling this strong I wasn’t going to push it. Maybe there was going to be an earthquake and I’d be safer staying home. Whatever the reason, I was clearly being given the message not to go.

What I needed, I decided, was some fresh air to help me get clear. So I went to a beautiful loop trail a few minutes from our house and started walking.

The heaviness would not go away. Even in the magical redwood grove where I always feel light and clear, my feet were dragging. As I approached the bench at the midway point of the loop I thought, “I think I’ll run. That will shake off this heaviness.” Wrong! I could barely make it up that last quarter mile. I pushed myself, but whatever I was doing certainly could not be called running!

It was not until I got home that I discovered what was happening. My mother had left several messages, none of which I had checked. My uncle had passed away earlier in the day, just at the time that I was taking the last few bites of my pancake.

If I had gone to the retreat center without checking those messages, I would not have been back until Monday evening. The funeral was on Sunday. I would have missed it and missed the opportunity to be back east with my family.

Remember the scene in the original Star Wars movie when Obi Wan Kenobi stumbles and has to sit down after feeling the disruption in the Force when the Death Star destroys a planet?

We are all one. Some of us are more sensitive to that connection than others. And the vast majority of us are more sensitive to that connection with certain people than others. We’ll feel that connection with our parents, children, and siblings far more powerfully than with strangers or even friends (unless they are very close friends).

But when you feel that connection, it is real and it is powerful. There is no denying it: Even if you want to write it off to eating to much of your pancake! No, once you have felt that connection, there is no going back. It’s like taking the blue pill. Or was it the red pill?

Until the majority of us acknowledge our interconnectedness, our oneness, we will continue to create conflict and violence.

And, when enough of us do get it, get that we really are all one, get it on a deep, visceral, level, then we will be ready to create a world where everyone and everything is respected and peace is our normal experience.

How Will You Spend Your Dash?

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Well Steve Johnson, at the Fast Lane, has again turned me on to a great link. It’s a quick little movie that is well worth the three minutes it takes to watch. Go check out The Dash.

No Time To Grieve

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Yesterday morning, as I was getting Ella ready for pre-school, my wife came downstairs and, after our good morning hugs, began telling me about some stuff that had come up around her father’s recent passing. She had just realized that the next meeting of her women’s group would be on November 1st, the Day of the Dead.

There was obviously some intense emotional content present, and yet, my first thoughts were along the lines of, “I don’t have time for this now. I’ve got to finish getting Ella ready so that we can get to pre-school and meet the physical therapist for her appointment.”

What was I thinking? Melissa lost her father less than 3-weeks ago, and there I was expecting her to be able to channel her grief into “appropriate” times. After a brief and not very positive interchange I went upstairs to get dressed, and quickly recognized my insensitivity.

I got dressed, went downstairs and sat with Melissa and Ella, giving her the time and space she needed to explore what was happening for her. If we were late for Ella’s PT session, it would not be the end of the world. It turns out that Melissa just needed a couple of minutes of connection. Nothing more.

With a bit of perspective, it becomes obvious how completely unreasonable is is to expect someone who has lost a loved one to experience their grief on a ‘regular” schedule. And yet, this seems to be a fairly common belief.

I have had several clients recently who have lost parents. Their struggle has been around giving themselves permission to fully experience the depth of their sorrow. They have internalize this cultural belief system that says you get a set amount of time to grieve and then you should be “over it.”

Sorry. Grief doesn’t work that way. Grief is a very unpredictable experience. Some people experience most their grief soon after the passing of a loved one. Others go into a period of numbness immediately following the death. This can help them get through the funeral and family stuff that surrounds a death. But as that numbness begins to thaw, the grief begins to come up in unexpected ways, places and times. It can take weeks, months even years to fully experience and express the sorrow present when a loved one passes.

But in our culture of go, go, go, do, do, do, there is very little space for that type of experience. We have truly created a culture in which there is no time for grief. What are we saying about grief when your work gives you 2-weeks off for bereavement (if you’re lucky)?

I find it interesting that the question I’ve been getting a lot lately is, “Are things back to normal yet?” Back to normal? What is normal? And how could things ever be back to normal? Certainly for Melissa, her life will never be “normal” again. This experience has completely transformed her life and will continue to transform it in ways that she is only vaguely aware of right now.

There can be no return to normal after a loved one dies. And yet that seems to be the expectation of our culture.

Don’t fall for it. Don’t get caught in the trap of seeking “normal.” And don’t fall into the trap of encouraging someone you know to return to “normal” after they lose a loved one.

There’s a lot more to come on this topic so keep your eyes peeled.

Light and Death

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With all this death swirling around lately – my uncle passed over the Labor Day weekend, and my father-in-law departed this past Thursday – I have been struggling with how to address the heaviness that surrounds death. I felt the heaviness when I returned from Boston after my uncle’s funeral and I feel it now as we prepare to leave Nashville where we’ve been saying our goodbyes to Melissa’s father.

And right in the middle of all this, Rob Brezny, the Free Will Astrology guy, came to the rescue with a bit of inspiration and assistance in my weekly horoscope. Here’s what he wrote a couple of weeks ago:

There was one main reason why America’s founding fathers gave Thomas Jefferson, not Benjamin Franklin, the job of composing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. They were afraid that Franklin, a compulsive teaser and trickster, would slip jokes into the document. In my opinion, we Americans would have been better served if Franklin had been chosen and allowed to mess around. After all, even the most profound commitments and weighty situations benefit from the leavening power of humor. Keep that in mind during the oh-so-serious games that are ahead for you, Virgo.

Hearing that gave me permission to lighten up a bit. Obviously, I’m not going to start cracking jokes when I hear of someone’s death or wear a clown costume to the next funeral I attend. But Brezny’s advice is sound, I believe, in that it reminds us of the importance of balance in all things, even death.

Is there really room for lightness and humor within the heaviness that surrounds death? I think so. Mark Twain, a master of bringing lightness to heavy subjects had this to say about age. “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” It’s not a great leap from age to death. Certainly, age and death go hand in hand. And what is true for one must be true for the other. Therefore, death also, is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.

Thursday morning as I was preparing to fly down here to Nashville for the funeral, I spoke with my friend Duane Vos of Creative Window Fashions. He reminded me to have fun. “Have fun?” Are you crazy? “Remember, it’s all about fun,” he teased.

Thanks for the reminder Duane. It truly is all about fun. We’re here for joy, to enjoy this journey, all of it! Even, and maybe especially, our transition back to our Source.

 

A Missed Opportunity

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This morning, after Ella and I woke up, I went into the kitchen to get her cereal ready. I noticed that she was taking a long time to catch up. Usually, she’s right behind, hungry and ready to dig into her first breakfast after a long night of sleep. I poked my head out of the kitchen door to see where she was and saw her standing by the TV holding something in her hand. I couldn’t quite make out what it was: a stray piece of clothing perhaps, or one of her toys that had a string attached to the end.

“What do you have, Ella?” I asked as I walked out towards her. She just stood there. And then the shape came into clarity and I saw what it was. “Put it down, Ella.” I said quite firmly, perhaps too firmly, as I realized she was holding a big dead rat!

When we lived out in the country our cats would bring us “gifts” on a fairly regular basis: gophers, mice, moles, birds, all kinds of treasures from the wild world. So much so, in fact, that we had to watch where we walked at night, having stepped on more than one of their “gifts.” But since we’ve moved into town, they’ve become a bit lazy, and there are fewer opportunities to catch little critters. So we’ve gotten used to a house that is free of dead rodents.

So seeing Ella holding a dead rat took me a bit by surprise. After Ella dropped it, I told her that we needed to take it back outside and then wash our hands. And so we did.

End of story? Unfortunately, yes. After I dropped Ella off at pre-school it dawned on me that the Universe had just provided me with a perfect opportunity to speak to Ella about death. If you read my post from last night about The Weight of Death you might remember that one of the questions I’m asking right now is how to find the words to speak with her about the impending death of her grandfather. And this morning I was truly given a gift, a “teaching moment” as they say in the education world. And I totally missed it.

I was so caught up in the busyness of the morning, that, instead of seeing this unusual occurrence as an opportunity, I perceived it as an unexpected, and unwanted additional “task.”

I wonder how often these unexpected “tasks” that upset our normal routine are truly gifts from the Universe, opportunities to learn and grow. More often than not, would be my guess. But we are so focused on maintaining our normal life that we miss these opportunities. We are so focused on completing the tasks on our to-do list that, when a monkey wrench gets thrown in to our lives, we immediately look for a way to dispose of it, not realizing that it’s exactly the tool we needed to finish one of our other tasks!

So all I have to say about this morning’s rat is, “Thank you Universe for sending me such a perfect gift. I’m sorry I was not awake enough to take advantage of it. Next time, I intend to see the gift for what it is.”

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