Monday, August 20, 2018

Book Challenge Day #2: The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements
There is something dangerous about gaining awareness: it can bite you when you forget.

Recently I met a woman who pushed ALL my buttons. Within minutes of meeting her, I had several valid reasons for not liking her. I won’t bother listing them as they don't pertain to this insight and probably aren't even true.

Yesterday morning, sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops, a vendedora came in with load of bags and other bright, colorful items, as well as her two, very cute, children. I’ve bought several things from her in the past, but this morning I didn’t need anything. 
We exchanged pleasantries as much as two people can without a shared language. Then, she pulled out a piece of paper, handwritten in English, obviously by someone else, describing her situation and why she needed money. The note encouraged the reader to be generous. It was a touching note and at the bottom, it was signed by the woman I recently met, whom I had written off and talked unkindly about to others.

I contributed some pesos to the mother, but it didn’t wipe away the guilt I felt about judging someone so harshly AND indulging in unkind conversation about her.

As I sat there, I thought of the Four Agreements, principles I have worked on for years, and obviously still need to continue working on. After reviewing them again, it was clear I was out of sync on at least three, and maybe all, of them:
  1. I wasn’t impeccable with my word. It was bad enough that I judged her so harshly but I spoke to others about my feelings as if they were the reality of who she is.
  2. I took things personally. The woman and I had a small exchange that I definitely took personally and felt offended.
  3. I made assumptions. I assumed many things about this woman and judged her harshly.
  4. I didn't do my best to be kind, and fell far short on one of my core values.
    How fortunate I was to have this interaction that held up a mirror that helped me see an unflattering view of myself. A Facebook friend shared a quote from John O’Donohue that likens us to a tower of windows. Moving to a different window shifts our perspective.

    Today I am choosing to move to a window that reminds me that what I see in others is not who they are, but rather a projection of who I am.

    Thankfully, today is another day.

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    Sunday, August 19, 2018

    Book Challenge Day 1: John O'Donohue's Anam Cara

    There are books I read, enjoy and immediately forget.

    And, then there are some books, slow books, books that take weeks or months to read, that demand to be highlighted and contemplated, books so beautiful I can never forget them.

    In 2009, I was at a low point, feeling homeless, abandoned, untethered. Some how I came across John O'Donohue's book and fell immediately, head over heels in love with his words ... and, more importantly, the possibilities of my life.

    I couldn't get to Google fast enough. I wanted to experience more of this person; I wanted a workshop. It broke me open all over again to find out that he had died the previous year. I had to make do with his words so I have read them again and again.

    Here are just a few that a Facebook friend shared this morning. It reminded me to download a kindle version since I left my library behind when I moved to Mexico.

    Savor and enjoy.

    “There is a beautiful complexity of growth within the human soul.
    In order to glimpse this, it is helpful to visualize the mind as a tower of windows. Sadly, many people remain trapped at the one window, looking out every day at the same scene in the same way.
    Real growth is experienced when you draw back from that one window, turn, and walk around the inner tower of the soul and see all the different windows that await your gaze.
    Through these different windows, you can see new vistas of possibility, presence, and creativity. Complacency, habit, and blindness often prevent you from feeling your life.
    So much depends on the frame of vision—the window through which you look.”

    Friday, August 17, 2018

    Love Letters to my Life #2: Wandering & Wondering, the twisting path of creativity

    It may be the middle of the year, but I’m still thinking about the Christmas letter I didn’t write … that actually I never write but always think about writing. 
    In the past year, I’ve created a mountain of art … well, it would be a mountain if it weren’t all stacked in my computer in neat, pixel-hungry Photoshop files.

    What I really wanted was an album where I could look at my art and share it with friends. The solution I hit on was a digital magazine: dump in the photos, make a link and send it out. Simple.

    Why is it that simple ideas seldom are?

    Beautiful though digital magazines are, it didn’t take long for that solution to reveal it’s complications … and expense. However, I was just about to leap into the new software and monthly expenses when a friend recommended iBooks Author
    At first, I rejected the idea. I didn’t want to publish another book and go through getting an ISBN number and publishing it to some e-book site. And, I definitely couldn’t afford to actually print a full-color book of art.

    My friend let out a not-so-patient sigh and said: 

    So, I opened up the free software, somewhat determined to prove her wrong … and fell into wonderland, substituting my own letters: OMG!

    Suddenly, I was on a path that allowed stories, poetry, lessons and bits of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way to be part of the journey. It was like a life collage forming in front of me … with no glue bubbles to try to eliminate.

    Slowly, it turned into a book. But, not a 50,000-word book … more like a 5,000-word book with lots of pictures. A picture book for adults, especially adults trying to navigate "this stage of life."

    In the process, the book became my second love letter to my life. And, to celebrate the completion of it, I’m giving away the pdf version for a month to my friends and all their friends and friends of friends.
    So, if you would like a FREE copy, click on this link … before September 16th at 10:00 p.m. CST. At that point, I'm either going to sell it or retire it.

    In case you would like to see small views of a few of the pages ... if you click on the image, you'll get a bigger view which you can actually read:

    Chapter 1 - WONDER, page 7

    A major question ends each chapter.
    Chapter 3 - WANDER has a lot about Oaxaca - the story behind the frame is a favorite.
    Chapter 6: CONNECT, page 63 ... all art is mine.
    It took 10 pages to say Adios (to god) and required a brand new piece of art.

    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    FREE Book

    Free until September 16th, 10:00 pm CST.

    First review made me cry: "It’s fabulous - it’s amazing - it’s unique - it’s uplifting - it’s courageous."
    Hola! It's here ... my new book filled with stories, art, and bits of wisdom about "this stage of life."
    Just click here to get yours:
    We are in such a challenging, exciting, confusing, oh-my-god-what-is-this time. If you're healthy and financially secure, you may be having the best of times. If you're on the other side of that divide, you may be wondering what hit you. Either way, there is much to learn in these times and I've tried to include as much wisdom as I could put together from my own experiences and the words of dozens of much wiser people who have touched on some of these issues.

    Click here if you would like to hear more about how this book was created.
    If you think any of your friends would like to have a FREE copy ... BEFORE the deadline of September 16, 2018 at 10:00 pm ... just copy and paste the above blue link in an email to them ... or post it on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform you use:
    I hope you enjoy the book ... and I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2018

    Rumi: What Was Said to the Rose

    What was said to the rose to make it open. Rumi
    Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.
    -- Rumi

    What was said to the rose that made it open
    was said to me here in my chest.

    8/17/2017 -- Rumi's words this morning drew me into creating this image and contemplating the unending beauty that flows through the universe. It's an easy thing to forget in these days of turbulence.

    Today's guidance from The Rumi Card Book:
    Reward Card -- Eat on and on, you lovers, at Eternity's table; its feast is forever; and spread out for you.  Prosperity of all kinds is now open to you.
    Category explanation from the book: The divine Love that urges our journey ever onward also constantly and lavishly rewards us for every sacrifice we make and every action of true generosity that we undertake.  When the eyes of Love really open in us, we see that life is an unbroken stream of ordinary miracles and that just to be alive is a matchless reward.

    8/8/2018 -- What an interesting world. Eryk Hanut, author of The Rumi Card Book, and I have become friends on Facebook, where I learned what an absolutely amazing person he is. His Rumi deck is so important to me that it's one of the few things I brought to México with me.

    It is available at

    What Was Said to the Rose

    What was said to the rose that made it open
    was said to me here in my chest.

    What was told the Cypress that made it strong
    and straight, what was

    whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
    sugarcane sweet, whatever

    was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
    Turkestan that makes them

    so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
    like a human face, that is

    being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
    language, that's happening here.

    The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
    chewing a piece of sugarcane,

    in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

    Poem by Jalaluddin Rumi

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    translation ©2005 — Coleman Barks