Inside the Reptilian Brain of Adoption

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birthday-present-headerMy mother is coming in today to celebrate Ella’s 6th birthday. She has been here for most of Ella’s birthdays. And every time she comes in I find myself in a chaotic swirl of emotions. You see this is my “first mommy,” as Ella calls her. She is my biological mother, the mother that, after being held by her for an hour on the day of my birth, I did not meet again until I was 23.

And her presence tends to awaken all sorts of old wounds. And when she is here for Ella’s birthday, that awakening is even more acute.

It was just this morning that I put some of the missing pieces into place. I woke up filled with a deep sadness. And, when I’m sad, my super sensitive little Ella tends to mirror that sadness back to me. So when she woke up this morning, on her birthday, crying and saying that she didn’t want to be six, I knew that it was time to get a grip on my stuff.

But how do you get a grip on stuff that is coming up from deep below the conscious level? How do you transform emotional content that is coming from a pre-verbal cellular memory? How do you turn off the infantile –literally in this case – fight or flight response to a 45 year old event?

Well, I’m still working on figuring that out.

And the piece that fell into place this morning seems to have helped. It’s a piece that comes from not quite so deep in my subconscious mind, probably not all the way down in my reptilian limbic system. It feels like about a 6 year old part of me. And I just now put that together with Ella turning six. Interesting how writing can help pull these pieces together.

It’s as if the six year old part of me is sad because Joan was never at any of my birthdays. And that part of me is angry and confused and, yes, even a bit jealous, that she is now showing up for all of Ella’s birthdays.

And even though this emotional content is coming from well below my conscious awareness, it is bubbling up into my consciousness in a way that I can connect with it. And once I can connect with it, I can begin to play with it.

So, without denying the truth of the sadness and anger and jealousy, all of which have their source in an old wounded place within me, I can begin shifting my focus to the present time. I can begin focusing on my joy that Joan has become such a constant presence in my life. I can focus on gratitude for the love that she shares with Ella. I can focus on Ella’s excitement and joy at turning six.

The shift doesn’t make the sadness go away. One of the insights I had on my recent Vision Quest is that the sadness will always be a part of me. It will always be present within me. But I am able to choose how much of my attention I devote to that sadness.

This morning, when I woke up, the vast majority of my attention was locked onto the sadness. And like a person with a toothache, who can’t stop focusing on the pain and poking and prodding at the tooth, amplifying the pain, I found myself unable to move out of that emotional stew.

But, slowly, step by step, I have begun to shift my focus, and move more of my attention to the present, to the joy that is here now. And as I do that the sadness becomes a softer presence within my awareness of the present.

It’s odd to notice that, as my awareness expands to include more of the world around me and within me, the sadness takes on a comforting tone. It’s like a “blankie” within me, something familiar and known and safe.

But just like a blanket this sadness can smother me, shroud me in darkness, block out everything else, and make it hard to breathe if I hold it too close and wrap it too tightly around me. But if I hold it as a part of my world, without having it become my entire world, it can be a positive, comforting presence.

So today I celebrate the birth of my daughter and all the joy she has brought into this world.

And today I also celebrate my birth and the knowledge that my mother was there with me, she was present for the most important Birth Day of my life!

Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter (So Far)

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Children bring a great amount of wisdom with them when they join us here in this world. I have known this for many years and have always loved being around children. But it was not until I became a father, a bit more than four years ago, that I discovered just how wise these little beings really are.Father-Daughter Beach

From the moment of my daughter’s birth (and even before that) fatherhood has been a truly transformative experience. It’s rare that a day goes by without learning something about life from my Ella. And in many ways I really do see her as one of my most effective teachers.

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the personal growth lessons I have learned from Ella over the past four years. If you have children you will most likely recognize many of these. If you do not have children, you may find some of these corny or silly. Trust me, they are not. Every one of these lessons has had a significant impact on my life.

So here, then, are the top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter… so far!

1. Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a New Day.
When Ella was younger she would ask me, “Is tomorrow gonna be a new day?” I assured her that, yes, indeed, tomorrow would be a new day. Now that she’s reached the ripe old age of four, she gets it. And now she reminds me: “Don’t worry Dadda. Tomorrow’s gonna be a new day!” It’s good to remember that!

I the only one hearing a refrain from Little Orphan Annie in the background? “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…” Sure it’s cheesy, but there is a lot of power in recognizing that, no matter how difficult today is, tommorrow’s gonna be a new day.

2. Sometimes it’s Better to Make Up Your Own Rules
I already wrote about this one in the post Life Lessons from Candyland. But it’s an important one so I included it in this list.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s best to throw away the rule book and make up your own!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Enthusiasm.
Ella is not shy when it comes to showing her enthusiasm. If someone makes a suggestion that she likes she responds in a number of different ways depending upon her level of excitement. If she likes the idea, she’ll say something like, “That’s gonna be a great idea, Dada!” If she really likes the idea, she’ll nod her head vigorously and let out a loud, “Uh huh!” And if she really, really likes an idea, she starts jumping and galloping around, shouting, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.” over and over and over and over…

My favorite part is when we’re at the dinner table and we make a suggestion (like for instance on a hot summer night when we, very rarely, suggest walking down to the ice cream shop in town) Ella will get so excited that she actually has to climb down off her chair so that she can run back and forth yelling “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh!” Sometimes her excitement is so powerful I’m afraid she’s going to fall off the chair!

Do you ever curb your enthusiasm? I know I do. Somewhere along the line most of us learned that stuff we really wanted or were really excited about could be taken away in an instant. Often the very things that were most exciting to us were used to get us to do or not do certain things: “Get dressed now or you can’t ride your bike today!” Or, “Stop saying that word or you’ll be grounded for a week.”

No wonder we’ve learned to hide our enthusiasm! We don’t want the good stuff taken away from us so we don’t let anyone know what we think is good! How messed up is that.

Well it sure is refreshing to watch Ella express her enthusiasm with no hesitation. Enthusiasm is contagious. People want a taste of enthusiasm. They want to know that it is safe to be happy about something.

So give it a try. The next time you discover something you really like, do a little happy dance and see what happens.

4. Feel your emotions fully.
Ella isn’t always happy. Like all kids she has moments of frustration and sadness. We’ve done our best to encourage her to fully feel those emotions and express them when they’re happening. It’s amazing to watch how Ella has learned to deal with these moments.

If something happens that causes Ella to feel frustrated or angry she’ll go into her room, close the door, lie down on the floor or on her bed and scream or cry for a minute or two. Then she opens the door, comes back out and says, “All better.” And usually she is. The frustration that was moving through her just needed to be let out.

How often have you held onto sadness, frustration, anger or grief? I know I’ve held onto stuff for a long time! And the longer I hold onto those emotions, the more powerful they become.

Much better to just let them out in the moment and let yourself be “all better!”

5. Walk On Walls Whenever Your Have The Chance
wall walkWhen was the last time you walked on a wall? Whenever I’m out walking with Ella and we pass a wall, whether it’s a curb or a retaining wall, Ella wants to walk on it. And now she gets me to walk on them with her: “Come on, Dada!” And I must say, if you haven’t walked on a wall in a while, give it a try. It’s a lot of fun!

The life lesson here is that we adult types tend to pass by opportunities for joy and exploration without even noticing them. These opportunities are all around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes and expand our perception. Hanging around kids (even if you don’t have your own) is a great way to do that.

6. Sometimes you have to do it alone (even if there’s someone right there who could help you).
I often feel a strong temptation to reach out to help Ella put her shoes on or put a puzzle piece in the right place. Simple tasks that I take for granted are a challenge for Ella, as they are for any child. If I were to constantly jump in and say, “Let me do that for you,” it would take her a lot longer to figure out how to do it.

It’s especially tempting to help her when she reaches that frustration point. But I’ve learned that if I let her go a little bit longer, just past that moment of frustration is when she succeeds.

In those moments I sometimes think of the scene in the movie, Ray, after Ray Charles has gone blind and his mother pretends she’s not in the room as he’s calling out for her help. In that moment, he discovers that he’s not as helpless as he thought.

It’s been a powerful lesson for me as a father and in my own life.

7. Know When to Ask For Help.
Now, while this one seems to contradict the previous lesson, they really work hand in hand. Let’s face it; there are some things that a four year old just can’t do yet. Ella is pretty good about trying to do things. And she is also pretty good about asking for help when she has reached the end of her patience: “Please help me, Dada.” Or if she’s tired or frustrated she might say, “I can’t do it, Dada.”

Her willingness to ask for help is a powerful lesson for someone like me: a die-hard do it yourselfer. Countless hours have been spent figuring out something that I could have easily asked or paid someone else to do.

Knowing when, and how, to ask for help is an important life skill to master. And I am learning from a master.

8. Don’t be attached to what you painted yesterday (or 2-seconds ago).
Ella is a prolific artist. She cranks out paintings and drawings faster than the fastest graffiti artist. And the beautiful thing about her creativity is that once she’s done, she’s done. There is no attachment to the painting she just created. She puts her piles of artwork into the recycling bin as easily as the Tibetan monks sweep their intricate sand mandalas back into dust. http://www.artnetwork.com/Mandala/gallery.html

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time letting go of stuff I created 10-years ago! Ella’s willingness to let go of her creations leaves her open to the flow of creativity. She is not attached to what she painted yesterday. She does not compare what she is doing today with what came before. She is free to be open and just let it flow.

9. Singing Makes Everything Better.
No matter how traumatic a situation might be, whether it’s an overtired and cranky before bed tooth brushing meltdown or a big boo-boo, singing makes it better. Ella and I sing together on our way to preschool. We sing the silly tooth-brushing song we made up together. We sing the pee-pee song. We sing our favorite bedtime songs. Just about anything that you can say can be sung (hey, didn’t the Beatles write something about that?).

Singing is fun. Singing makes you smile. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s research showing that singing releases endorphins. And most of us adult types tend to sing far too little. The 7-Dwarves knew what they were talking about when they whistled while they worked! So try adding a bit more singing into your daily diet.

10. Dance like no one’s watching (even when you’ve made sure that everyone is!)
Team Kadena receives free toysLike most houses with young ones, the phrases, “Watch Dada. Watch Mama. Watch everybody!” are heard on a regular basis. Ella loves to dance. And when she does, she lets it all hang out. She makes up new dance moves on a regular basis: There’s the running back and forth dance, the sneaky dance, the jumping up and down dance, the spin around until you fall down dance, and of course Ella’s famous Jiggy-Jiggy dance!

Somewhere along the way, most of us lose that uninhibited ability to express ourselves. The voices of self-doubt come in and we become self-conscious of our performance. Watching Ella dance with all her heart, whether she’s alone or in front of a crowd, is a great reminder of the innocence and joy that we all have inside of us. Isn’t it time we start letting a little more of it out?

So there are the top 10 life lessons that Ella has helped me learn… so far. What lessons have your children taught you? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below and share your lessons and stories.

What I Learned About Gratitude From A Cold And A Little Jumping Spider

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My family and I are back east for the Thanksgiving holiday. And with all the preparation and traveling , I haven’t had a chance to finish an article on gratitude. So I dusted off one of my old Intuitive Life Coaching ezine articles from way back in November of 2004 and put a few new touches on it for you. So here it is,

It’s the season of gratitude, yet last week I found myself in a sea of sickness. I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to be grateful when I’m sneezing, coughing, achy and generally feeling rotten.

I did my best to remain positive, reminding myself that I was being given a non- negotiable opportunity to relax and recharge. Still I found myself drawn towards the “woe is me” place with thoughts such as, “This is the worst possible time to be sick,” and “I have way too much to do.”

I even caught myself heading into victim mode, thinking, “Ella got me sick,” as if my one year old daughter had somehow conspired to transmit her sick germs to me. If anyone had conspired, it was me, or more accurately, a wise, unconscious aspect of my mind and body forcing me to take some much needed time off.

Still, it took me a full four days of acute sickness before I was able to stop and allow myself to enjoy the break. Even then it was no inner leap of enlightenment that catalyzed the shift. Rather it was a little jumping spider who had made its home in my car.

On that day, with my wife at work, and my daughter determined not to take a nap even though she was rubbing her eyes, yawning and crying, I decided to use the fool-proof nap-induction method known to parents throughout the western world. We went for a drive!

As soon as we got into the car, I noticed that the little jumping spider who had recently taken up residence was sitting on the edge of the steering wheel. He or she seemed quite content to sit and observe as we zoomed down the straight and narrow.

But then we came to a turn and that spider’s world suddenly and literally turned upside down. That little guy or girl held on for dear life as the wheel spun one way. Then on the way back, Spidey must have thought “I’m outta here,” because it dropped down from a thread in search of more stable ground.

While it was a good idea, it didn’t work out so well when the momentum of the turn flung the little guy right back into the steering wheel with a crash. At that point Spidey decided it would be best to hang on and ride out the storm.

When the turbulence ended and we were back on a straight stretch, that spider somehow knew exactly what it needed to do: It headed directly for the center of the steering wheel and sat down smack dab in the middle of the Toyota logo.

When I turned the steering wheel to guide us into the next turn, Spidey just calmly rotated in the opposite direction, easily maintaining his upward-facing orientation.

As I watched Spidey do his thing an image flashed into my mind of one of those amusement park rides where you stand up against a fence as it spins around really fast, so fast that it’s nearly impossible to push, or is it pull, yourself away from the fence.

I realized that’s sort of how I had been feeling in my sickness: dizzily pressed up against a wall, unable to peel myself off. Only unlike at an amusement park, this sickness was an involuntary ride, and it was showing no signs of slowing down.

With Ella soundly asleep now in the back seat, I could pull over and contemplate the lesson in Spidey’s demonstration. I imagined the different experience riding at the outside of that spinning wheel and standing right in the center. And they were very different!

For me, being in the center meant being fully in my sickness, not fighting it, not trying to push myself off of that wall. So all that day and the following day, I acknowledged my gratitude: for the sickness, for Ella, for my wife, for the time off and, of course, for the little jumping spider.

I basked in my sickness, taking naps and baths, sitting for long periods of time doing nothing and just generally loafing. It was wonderful. And the amazing thing is that by the end of that second day I felt great. Certainly not completely better, but my energy level was vibrant and flowing whereas before it had been stagnant and dull.

I believe it was the gratitude that shifted me into the center of that ride. Instead of worrying about all the stuff I was not doing, all the meetings I was missing, and all the money that was not coming in, I was able to stop and accept exactly where I was, and, indeed, acknowledge my gratitude for being there.

Just like that little spider, we get to choose how we experience each moment of our lives. We can enjoy the thrill of riding out at the edge where the momentum of the ride pushes us up against the wall, or we can choose the more stable, yet no less enlivening, ride in the center. Certainly there are times when being on the outer edge is appropriate, and even necessary, but I don’t need to live my life there.

Neither did Spidey.

And neither do you. For many people the holidays can be a whirlwind of too much shopping, cooking, family, parties, eating, traffic, credit cards, and debt.

So this holiday season remember to periodically come back to your center. If you find yourself riding that dizzy edge, stop and take time to acknowledge your gratitude.

No matter how turbulent your life might get, find something to be thankful for and let that gratitude draw you gently back towards your calm, stable center.

I’ve quoted Meister Eckhart before, and I’m sure I’ll do so again, but he stated it so simply and beautifully when he said:

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”

Thank you!

A Life Lesson From Candy Land

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candylandHere’s a Fun Friday post in honor of next week’s sweet and spooky holiday.My daughter received the board game Candyland for her fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago. And since then, just about every night before bed she wants to play it.

But after a few nights of playing by the rules, she’s discovered that she doesn’t like playing that way. (I can’t imagine where she gets that trait from!)

Instead of picking a card and going where it tells her, she prefers to decide where she wants to go and then find the card that will take her there! For example, if she feels like going to the space with the lollipop, she’ll search through the deck until she finds the lollipop card.

Personally, I like Ella’s method much better.

And, in addition to being a fun way to play the game, it strikes me as a very effective approach to life.

Let’s face it, you can accept the “card you are dealt” and go where it takes you, or you can choose where you want to go and find the card that will get you there!

Your choice!

Note To Doctors: It’s Time For An Attitude Adjustment

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[Author’s Note] I need to begin with two disclaimers.

First, I freely admit that I am not a big fan of the conventional medical system. In fact, I have a fairly significant charge around it. And I recognize that, from a Law of Attraction perspective, as long as I continue to have that charge, I will continue to attract examples of why I believe the system is fatally flawed.

And second, I do recognize that there are many positive examples and shining lights in the field: doctors who have broken the mold and stepped out of the Standard Operating Procedures. To all of you who are out there, you have my deepest appreciation and I ask that you forgive me for lumping you in with the rest of the crew!

[End author’s note]

Ok. I admit it. I’m a bit irritated at the moment. I’ve settle down a bit since I wrote the first draft of this article last week.

On Wednesday, my wife and I took Ella to her first visit with one of the doctor’s who comes into the clinic where she receives physical and occupational therapy for her hemiparesis.

We didn’t get off to a great start when we were told that the doctor was running about 40-minutes behind schedule. That type of delay, standard operating procedure for far too many doctors, immediately sets a tone of disrespect and creates a hierarchy of power.

Once we (mostly I!) got over the initial frustration, we made the best of the time, reading with Ella and catching up on some family business.

When we were finally called into the exam room everything seemed fine at first. The doctor was friendly and playful with Ella. The other practitioners in the room – a nurse, Ella’s occupational therapist, and the clinic’s head therapist – were extremely friendly and helpful and all seemed to be going well.

But then, somewhere in the process, the doctor got on a roll. He began spewing out terminology that would have been over the heads of most normal parents. Fortunately, we’re not “normal” My wife is a naturopathic doctor and I am pretty obsessive about researching the latest information about hemiparesis, so the terminology did not phase us. But it was clearly, if unconsciously, meant to disempower us and to put him into a position of superiority.

His monologue continued, seemingly without a break for a breath. The more he talked, the more I felt placed in a box based on his experience and perceptions.

He told us that, as parents, we would naturally pamper Ella and cater to her disability (his word, not ours!).

He told us that as Ella grew up the other kids in school would make fun of her (he explained that kids were mean and that he had been the “fat boy” in school. Personal issues perhaps?).

Somewhere in his spewing he managed to point out that the most important thing was not whether Ella will ever have full use of her left hand, but rather whether who she really is shines through. If he had stopped talking long enough to really look at Ella, he would have seen her light shining out like a beacon. But he didn’t stop. He kept on going.

He told us that Ella would have problems doing this and that.

He told us that Ella would have this physical thing happen and that happen and other stuff happen. All based on his experience and perceptions.

He never stopped to find out who we are and how we are addressing this situation. He never paused to ask us if we had questions. He never opened his eyes to see any of us as unique individuals rather than as cookies cut out of the mold he has been “treating” for all of his many years.

And finally, my patience broke. I have a certain degree of tolerance for people putting me in a box. But I’m not going to let a doctor put my daughter into a box because his experience tells him that she is destined for a certain outcome.

So I stopped him. And I let him know that I didn’t appreciate him putting us into his nice, neat little box. I told him that he didn’t know us, and he hadn’t taken the time to find out about us. I let him know that he had been talking TO us not WITH us.

Based on his reaction I would guess this was probably the first time that anyone has challenged him in this way. The only way to describe his reaction is to say that he started pouting.

He cut me off and walked over to Ella to complete her examination and when he was done he walked out of the room without another word to us.

Does your doctor put you into a box or are you really seen for who you are? Are you treated like a cookie cut out of a mold or is your uniqueness recognizes? Do you feel empowered or disempowered by the contacts you have with the medical profession?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Calling All Deliberate Creator Parents – Input Needed

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I got stumped last night in my parenting. It’s rare that I find myself in a situation where I have absolutely no idea what to do when it comes to parenting. Sure, sometimes I might not do the best thing, but I almost always have some sense of how to handle a situation. Last night I was stumped.

And I’d love to get your input.

After dinner, my 3 ½ year old daughter wanted to go to the fountain at the library and throw some pennies in. So I told her to go find her purse full of change and pick out some pennies.

She brought the purse out to the living room, dumped it out onto the floor and began picking out the pennies. And then she began picking out the nickels and dimes and quarters and saying, “All of them.”

It seems that she likes throwing coins into the fountain so much that she wanted to toss them all into the water.

Now as a deliberate creator and one who is actively working to apply the Law of Attraction to my life, I understand and believe in the unlimited supply that is available.

And, at the same time, I also understand that, in addition to our connection to the infinitely abundant realm of spirit, we also live in this physical world in which there are some limits (albeit self-imposed) to our abundance.

So when Ella wanted to take all of her money and toss it in the fountain I felt myself confronted with questions and doubts and I had no idea what to do. I could tell the my money “stuff” was coming up when I watched her so easily contemplating tossing away hers.

And I most definitely did not want to foist my money stuff onto her. I’m doing everything I can to outgrow my money stuff, the last thing I want is to pass it on to her!

So, as she counted out her coins, I sat there and struggled with how to best handle this situation.

On the one hand, I wanted to encourage her to remain connected to that inner sense of abundance. I wanted her to know and believe that if she threw all of those coins into the fountain that there would be more available.

And, at the same time, I wanted to “teach” her about the “reality” of money in this physical world. I wanted her to know that, at least at our present level of abundance consciousness, there does seem to be a need to build up and store our abundance.

I tried reasoning with her desire. When she began adding quarters to the fountain pile I explained to her that every quarter she added was a Sunday morning farmer’s market honey stick. I even piled up three dollars worth of quarters and explained that she could buy a smoothie or a cone full of mango sorbet with that.

She didn’t seem interested. She wanted to throw them all in the fountain.

Ultimately I avoided a decision-making moment by playing the parental trump card of time: “Oh my gosh Ella, it’s eight o’clock. We don’t have time to throw all of them in. Let’s count out ten pennies, go throw them in, and then come back and get ready for bed.”

“That sounds good, dada!”

So how would you handle that situation? Lets see if we can generate some juicy, leading edge thoughts about this!

Does God Feel Sad When She Sees Us Struggling?

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Last week, when I dropped Ella off at pre-school, there was a letter in her cubby from the Adapted Physical Education Teacher. She had done an assessment of Ella’s gross motor skills to track the progress she is making with her delayed left side. The assessment listed her progress in specific skill areas and gave an overall “ranking.”

At 39-months Ella’s gross motor skills are at a 21-month level. While I am well aware of Ella’s physical delay and have read various assessments in the past, there was something about this one that caused a deep sadness to well up from within me.

For some reason, I was particularly struck by the description of Ella’s jumping skills. The contrast between my perception of Ella’s attempts to jump – adorable, focused, vibrant – and the clinical terms used in the assessment – “Ella is unable to jump off the ground at this time, but she is showing emergence of this skill.” – struck me right in the heart and the tears began to flow.

I have witnessed this deep sadness in other parents and I know that I have at times been the source of this sadness for my own parents. This sadness, however, is not limited to parents of children with disabilities. It is the deep sadness that comes from watching your child – or anyone you love – struggle. It is a sadness and sense of helplessness that comes from the desire to make everything all right for your child when there is nothing that you can do.

As I drove towards my office, heart broken open, I began to wonder how God/Source/The Universe feels when she/he/it sees us struggling and living far below our potential.

It has been postulated that most of us are accessing and utilizing a mere 5-10% of our potential. If God were to have an assessment done on any of us we would certainly fall well below the “baseline” level of our potential.

Does God cry when seeing this?

My guess is no. God doesn’t strike me as one who gets caught in the trap of attachment. I believe that God sees through our struggles and into our essence. God sees our light, our full potential, shining brightly even when we don’t see it ourselves. God knows that our struggles provide the most potent opportunities to explore our self-created limitations and expand our expression of who we are.

God doesn’t get caught up in wondering what he can do to make it better. He knows that everything is perfect. Including each and every one of us!

God doesn’t wonder if she made a mistake when she created these beings (us) with limitless potential only to see them floundering to access even a tiny fraction of their power. She knows that it is through our struggles that we will, eventually, access our limitless potential.

There are times, quite often, actually, when I hold that Divine perception of Ella and see the incredible light that shines from her eyes: When I watch the intensity that she brings to her playing and learning. When I see her struggling to do things that her peers do easily. When I feel the uninhibited tenderness as she sits with me in the rocking chair and lays her head on my chest. When she gets frustrated and says, “Need help Dada,” and I encourage her to try it again. I even can hold the Divine perception of her (usually) in those moments when she connects fully with her frustration and sadness and expresses it freely.

In those moments, when I see her light, her full potential, I don’t get caught up in thinking that she is less than perfect, less than whole. I don’t look at her as a number on a scale or compare her with anyone else. I don’t wonder if I did anything “wrong” or if I somehow contributed to her disability.

But when I read that assessment, I could not stop myself from going to that place of wondering, of attachment, of deep sadness that Ella is not accessing her full potential. I got caught up in the clinical rankings and began comparing Ella and basing my perception of her on that comparison.

This experience reminded me just how tenuous our hold is on Divine perception. Our ability to see the full potential within everyone is easily shaken by our perception of the “real” physical world.

As we make our way up the vibrational scale of the Law of Attraction and move forward on our path of personal evolution, the consistency with which we hold others in the place of Divine perception can provide a valuable feedback mechanism.

Begin to pay attention to the place from which you are perceiving those around you. Are you focusing on their light or their darkness? Are you seeing their perfection or their problems? Are you appreciating their presence in your life or blaming them for what is wrong with your life?

The choice of how you perceive those around you is not always easy but it is always yours to make.

Remember that what you focus on expands in your life. If you focus on the darkness in those around you, you attract more darkness into your life. If you focus on people’s problems, you attract more problems into your own life.

If you want more joy in your life, focus on the joy you see in others. If you want more peace, focus on the peace you see in others.

I know that Ella is getting the best possible care for her condition and I recognize that she will continue to be assessed and evaluated. And while I don’t agree with the underlying concept of assessment, I accept that it is part of the system within which Ella will receive her care.

What I do know is that I will continue to hold as fully as possible onto my Divine perception of Ella. I will continue to see her perfection, her light and the joy she brings to this world. And I will hold onto the knowledge that her physical struggle is providing a powerful opportunity for her to expand her perception and expression of who she truly is.

Focus on Debt in 2007 – NOT

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Here’s a great example of why I very rarely read the newspaper anymore. This is the front page of the Press Democrat Business section from yesterday. What do you notice? Think in terms of the Law of Attraction.

Hint: What you focus on expands.

Do you think a newspaper has a certain amount of credibility? Do you think that when a newspaper advises its readers, in BIG BOLD LETTERS, to Focus on debt, that people are going to listen? Yup. And what will the result be?

I’ll give you one guess and in case you forgot, here’s that hint again: What you focus on expands.

If you focus on debt, it’s going to expand in your life.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you ignore your debt. If you’re from the Ostrich school of financial planning, (I was enrolled in that school for a number of years!) I suggest you get your head out of the sand immediately, and take a good look at your financial situation.

But it’s one thing to take a clear, honest look at your finances, it’s another thing to FOCUS on your debt.

I am most definitely suggesting, that you do not FOCUS on your debt. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t allow debt to become a major element in your thinking. And certainly do not allow debt to become a major source of your feelings.

Remember that the Law of Attraction works on feelings. So consider how you feel when you think about your debt. You want to do whatever you can to stay away from those feelings.

You want to focus on cultivating feelings that are nurturing and supportive. You want to spend a lot more time thinking about financial freedom and getting in touch with the feelings of financial freedom.

Your feelings activate the Law of Attraction which is a very powerful ally and guide on your journey towards financial freedom.

When my wife and I set an intention to become debt free, within three-months of our intention a friend offered to loan us enough money to pay off all of our personal credit card debt. (Not an insignificant amount of money).

(For debt consolidation loans from friends and family such as this, I highly recommend Circle Lending).

So how do you get out of debt without focusing on the debt? Here are some suggestions and tools for cultivating positive thoughts and feelings on your way to Financial Freedom… Debt-free is just one little stop along the way!

Set up a workable debt-reduction plan that will work mostly on “autopilot.”

Choose a debt reduction plan that will work for you. I recommend the Debt Reduction Process in Ask And It Is Given. (Dave Ramsey advocates a very similar debt reduction process he calls the debt snowball here).

If you’ve always heard that you should pay down the high-interest debts first and feel like you want to use a high-interest debt first plan, Five Cent Nickel has an entry comparing Dave’s plan to a plan that pays down your high-interest debt first.

Once you have decided on your debt reduction plan, set it up to run on “autopilot.” You’ll know what your monthly payments are for each credit card, so set them up to be paid automatically each month either through ebills or your bank’s online bill paying service. This way, you will spend very little time and energy focusing on your debt each month. Instead, you can use that time and energy to focus on your future financial freedom.

Find statements from all of your credit cards that show a zero balance. (If you don’t have old statements, than use white out to cover up the actual balance and write in 00.00). Post these statements in strategic locations where you will see them on a regular basis.

Create a collage or a vision board with images that reflect how you want to feel about your financial situation. Choose images of people relaxing and enjoying life. Include images of activities you would enjoy doing with the money that is currently going towards your debt payments. Place your collage where you will see it on a daily basis.

Start saving for your financial freedom now! Don’t wait until you’re debt free to begin saving and investing. Remember, what you focus on expands. For more on why this is important, I highly recommend reading this.

Take The Time To See The Sunrise From Another Perspective

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This morning my daughter and I went to the window to admire the beautiful sky just before sunrise. A pink, orange glow outlined the horizon and illuminated one long thin cloud that hung low in the deep blue sky.

As we stood at the window, I said, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Ella seemed slightly less than wowed. And then I had one of those “aha” moments. “Can you even see it?” I asked as I bent down to look from her level. Sure enough, the Camellia bush outside the window completely blocked the lower half of the sky.

I lifted her up so she could see the horizon. Admittedly, even then, she was less impressed with it than me. But at least she got the chance to actually see what I was seeing.

Perspective is an amazing thing. From my vantage point, the Camellia provided the bottom frame of my view of the horizon. It really wasn’t even something that I was aware of as I took in the beauty of the sky. But just the three-foot difference between my eyes and Ella’s moved the Camellia from the edge of the frame to the foreground.

This experience reinforced just how easy it is to assume that others are seeing what we are. How often do we attempt to communicate about something when to someone who is seeing something totally different? And how often do those different perspectives get in the way of clear communication?

I can imagine a conversation between Ella and me comparing our experience of the morning sky.

“Isn’t it beautiful Ella: the way the pink and orange fade so quickly into the deep blue?”

“All I see is green, daddy.”

“Green. There’s no green in the sky.”

“It’s all green, daddy.”

How often have my wife and I talked around in circles because we were looking at some issue from slightly different angles?

How often have you gotten sucked into a downward spiral of missed communication because you were looking at something from two different angles?

Taking the time to explore the other person’s perspective can instantly open the way to clearer communication. So the next time you’re looking at something with a child, take the time to bend down to see what they’re seeing.

And the next time you find yourself stuck in a conversation that’s going around and around but getting nowhere, take a moment to see if you can change your perspective to see what the other person is seeing.

Tagged: Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

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I’m it.

Alexander Becker over at WOW has tagged me in the Five Thing You Don’t Know About Me game. Thanks for the tag, Alexander.

So here they are, five things you don’t know about me.

1. Let’s start at the beginning. About one-hour after my birth, I was given up for adoption by my biological mother. Six-days later I was picked up by my adoptive parents. At 23, I searched for and found my biological mother. Six months later I flew to Phoenix to meet Joan and my half-brother, Noah.

At 28 I searched for, found and visited my biological father. He’s a fly-fishing instructor and guide for Orvis. So most of our time together was spent fishing. Fine by me.

Much of the psychological, emotional and energetic healing work I have undertaken in the past 20-years has focused on the many complex issues connected to this event. One of these days I may actually complete the book, Raised By Strangers, An Adoptee’s Search For The Truth, which documents my healing journey into and out from the shadow of adoption.

2. My Virgo nature comes out in full force around dishwashers. I’ve been known to unload two-thirds of a dishwasher just to squeeze in two, maybe three additional plates. My wife teases me mercilessly about my “system” for the silverware tray: Each utensil has its own section, knives in the back left corner, teaspoons middle left, big spoons front left, you get the idea.

Sounds a bit obsessive, I know, but if you try it sometime, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can unload the silverware tray!

3. I spent 7-months working with Jean Leidloff, the author of The Continuum Concept (aff). We were writing a parenting book that would have followed-up and expanded on the ideas in the Continuum Concept.

The book was never published – that’s another story – so I never got paid since I was working on a percentage basis. (Silly me!). But even without the money, I am extremely grateful for the time I spent with her and the information I learned.

4. In 1983-4, my sophomore year at Syracuse University, I was a member of the cheerleading squad. It was pretty incredible doing back-flips in the end-zone of the Carrier Dome in front of 50,000 people after SU scored a touchdown, or walking around with beautiful women standing on my shoulders during a basketball time out.

5. When my daughter required 5-days of care in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) immediately after she was born, I dropped everything and spent most of my time there with her. There was no way I was going to let her stay isolated in that plastic box. (Are you seeing a theme here? Adoption, Continuum Concept, Attachment Parenting, isolation in NICU?) It was a profoundly healing experience for me. It was as if, by being there for my daughter, I was able to heal some of the wounding I experienced being left alone for the first six-days of my life.

And here’s a bonus one since I couldn’t decide which one to cut out!

6. I spent most of my 8th grade year completely wasted. (I guess this means if I ever run for president I won’t be able to say “I didn’t inhale.”) It was the thing to do: at least it became the thing to do among the group of friends I had hung out with since first grade. One time I actually passed out and fell off the bench at our local Brigham’s ice cream shop. As you can imagine I didn’t do so great in school that year!

One day during the summer before 9th grade, I walked into my friend’s house and saw lines of cocaine on the table. A voice inside me – my guardian angel? – screamed at me to leave. I did leave and never hung out with those guys again. I’ve never smoked pot since then either.

I know it sounds pretty boring. It was for a while, but lately, I’ve found plenty of non-drug-induced ways of getting high!

So that’s it. Five Six things you previously didn’t but now do know about me. You can’t ask again, because there’s really nothing left. All my secrets are out. Well, most of them, anyway.

Thanks for asking Alexander. Now, I’m going to tag, my friend, Christine Sisk, David at the Glittering Muse, MsQ at Qmusings a relative newcomer to the blogosphere with some great writing and great ideas, Richard Lemmon at MindPlunge and another relative newcomer worth visiting, Andy over at Thoughtful Consideration.

You’re it!

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