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Too Stupid to Fail

By David J. Martin

How to change your internal dialogue and change your life for the better

This article is about how my “Stupid” story became a business called Too Stupid To Fail and how I use it to help people find success by removing artificial barriers in their lives and eliminating negative internal dialogue. I would like to ask that you try not to feel bad for me as you read it as I have truly embraced every phase of my life, and I am grateful to have lived every moment of it because it has created me to be the person I am today. Every single one of us can define success our own way, through our own lenses, and, as I evaluate my life at my age and at my position in life, I consider myself to be very successful. Because of that, I have to share how I not only survived my past, but thrived in spite of it. That somewhere along the way, mostly because other people telling me I have a story to share, I learned that the events of my life can literally dramatically improve the lives of other people and help them thrive as well. So, welcome to my story. Welcome to my testimony of how I am Too Stupid To Fail.

I was born in September 1966 to an alcoholic father and chronically depressed mother. They divorced when I was two years old. My mother married another alcoholic shortly after divorcing my father. My stepfather, Frank Murphy, adopted my siblings and me when I was around 8 years old. So, my last name was Murphy for 10 years which served me well when I was in high school because everyone thought I was a pissed-off Irishman, and I believe that kept me out of a lot of fights. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 8. I also started smoking every day when I was 11, which is also when I smoked weed for the first time.

I got permission to smoke and got drunk for the first time when I was 13. When I was in eighth grade a friend of mine, Mark, used to steal rum from his parent’s liquor cabinet, and we would drink it in the back of the school bus on our way to school in the morning. I guess I wasn’t overly concerned about getting in trouble because we never stayed in one place for very long. It seemed like I went to a new school every year. I lived in 14 different houses and went to 11 different schools. When I was 11 years old, we moved to Forestville, CT. Little did I know that I would have a lifelong connection to Forestville and that my family, the way I knew it, would not survive it.

I remember my stepfather used to get drunk and pass out at either the liquor store parking lot at the A&P strip mall, our driveway at the house or at the end of Leon Rd. at the stop sign—just sitting there passed out cold. My friends and I saw him there and were like, “Murf, ain’t that your dad?”

I said, “Yeah, let’s go to Peck Park and get high.” On the other hand, my mother was in the house sitting at the table playing solitaire and crying a lot. When my stepfather finally did come into the house, he would go straight into the bedroom and sleep it off until the next day. They divorced when I was about 12. My stepfather wasn’t the only one leaving the family that year. My brother dropped out of school at the age of 16, joined the Marine Corps, and left the house at 17. It was about this same time my two sisters were running away from home all the time.

I am the youngest in the family. I pretty much hung out in the background, in the shadows, getting high and drunk…until I started getting in a little bit of trouble. No big stuff, I got caught smoking weed by the cops and was in a holding cell for half a day when I was 13. Another time, I got caught shoplifting cookie dough (I had the munchies), and then there was the time I got in trouble for skipping school and was suspended. Little stuff as far as I was concerned but later in life, when I thought about it from my mother’s perspective, I think my behavior was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She had lost control of all her kids. Her solution was to move to Canada with her soon-to-be third husband without kids. My mother brought me to my father’s house to live when I was 14, just before the beginning of my sophomore year. She dropped my suitcase next to my father, who was sitting at his table looking at a TV that wasn’t on mumbling to himself, and she said, “Now it’s your turn.” She turned and walked out. That was the last time I saw my mother. My dad didn’t give a crap about me, and I should have been happy.

He would give me money to go to the liquor store less than a block away, yes at 14, to buy him beer. The beauty of it was the same guy that sold me my dad’s beer also sold me weed! So, while my father drank himself to death, I would sit right next to him and get high. Believe it or not, that got old quick and I didn’t like living there. Also, there was no way I was going to any of the schools where my dad lived. I was going back to my old school. That meant that I had to make some decisions that many would think were, in retrospect, pretty stupid.

Going to my old school meant that I woke up at 4:00 am to get ready for the day. I would walk down from the third floor of my father’s apartment, walk a couple blocks to the bus stop and catch a public bus from New Britain to Plainville. Then I would get off of that bus and walk another block to another bus stop and take another public bus from Plainville to Forestville. Once I got to the center of Forestville, I would walk up a hill to the street to my old bus stop and wait for my school bus to pick me up and take me to school. Now, you might be thinking, “That’s pretty crazy!” or “Now that’s persistent!” and maybe I was in a way.

I really didn’t know about school districting rules at the age of 14. So, I didn’t know that if you didn’t tell the school you moved or you didn’t get in trouble, they didn’t know you no longer lived in the school district and you got to continue to go to school there. I learned a powerful life lesson from this experience, I learned we can chose to give or not give weight or power to obstacles placed in our lives. I would not live with my father for very long. I would elect to move six times in the next three years and eventually find myself living in the basement of a family who would have a profound impact on my life.

I remember the day Richard Lissy sat me down at the kitchen table as if it were yesterday. He said, “Murf, Judy and I have been talking and we know you need help. You can sleep in our basement, but you’re going to work and pay rent. You’re going to have to stay in school and pass your classes. And you’re going to have to get your own car, insurance, and gas. Oh, and stay out of trouble!” We shook hands and I officially moved into the Lissys’ basement when I was 17 years old, a junior in high school.

Little did I know just how much of a profound impact this family was going to have on my life and how much I was going to change over the next three years. Most people do not fully appreciate the impact they have on the internal conversations other people have about themselves because of what they say and how they act toward them. This is what I mean: The first 13 years of my life I grew up hearing things like, “You’re nothing but a Martin! What do you know!” and “You’re nothing but a Murphy!” From my mother, I would be told over and over again, “You know you were an accident, right?” and “You are a mistake, you should have never happened!”

This had a tremendously negative impact on my self-esteem, my sense of self-worth, and greatly damaged my confidence. I guess there are a thousand different ways to react to this kind of dysfunction. I dealt with it through drugs and alcohol, as previously mentioned, but I also sought out relationships with girls—always—and I dealt with it through humor. I was the class clown, center of attention, the bull in the china shop. I was “Murf” after all! Well, when Murf showed up at the Lissy house, a transition back to Dave Martin was about to take place.

Mr. Lissy and I pulled the queen-size mattress frame from the couch in the basement and threw a used mattress on it, and that would be my bed for the next three years. Thirty years later, as he lay dying on a VA hospital bed, I would be sitting next to him crying, just the two of us. I told him that was the most comfortable bed I ever slept on because that house was full of love! We wept together. That was the last time I saw Richard alive.

The Lissys invited me into their home and started rerecording the message in my head. They began to change my internal dialogue. I no longer heard “You’re nothing but a…” or “You’re a mistake!” What I heard from Mrs. Judy Lissy was, “Murphy, funny people are really smart and you’re really funny.” And when she said that, which was often, I heard, “You’re really SMART.” Mr. Lissy would always say things like, “Murf, you’re a good kid!”

This was the first time a man in my life taught me how to be a husband to my wife. I was able to learn how to care for my children. He was a mountain of a man and instead of the old record of “You’re nothing but a…” he laughed at my jokes and told me I was a good kid! He even went to a parent teacher conference one year when I was doing poorly in drafting class and talked my teacher into giving me a second chance, a new project he knew I could do better at. I ended up getting a B that quarter and after graduating from high school I went on to Hartford State Technical College to get an Associate degree in Architecture. Mr. and Mrs. Lissy had successfully changed my negative internal dialogue to an edifying conversation that echoed how I am smart and good.

While I feel I can talk to Richard in prayer, I still have Mrs. Lissy on this side of heaven and my favorite holiday is Mother’s Day. I send her a big bouquet of flowers every year and, at 53 years old, I still call her in tears with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the incredible impact they had on my life. And just like every year since, she always says, “David, it was in there. You were always a good man. We just gave you a place to let it out.” 

So, here’s the bottom line Stupid Nation, (a term of endearment I use to refer to my Facebook family of followers) it’s time for you to look at that seemingly insurmountable obstacle for exactly what it is, ARTIFICIAL! There is almost always a way over, under, around or through it! You are thinking, “Man that’s just stupid! You don’t know what I am going through.”

To wit I would say, “You’re right! I am pretty dang stupid. Now that we agree on that, get to work. You have more power over that obstacle than you know. The decision about giving that obstacle weight and power lies solely between your ears. No one else owns it but you! Now, do something about it.” Also, it is time for a new internal dialogue, a positive internal dialogue. If you hang around people that simply put you down all the time, crap all over you every chance they get, like my parents did, it’s because you let them, and it’s time for new friends (parents in my case). But you’re like, “Ahhh, Dave you don’t know me though! I have done some pretty bad stuff and I get what I deserve.”

I call B.S.! We have all done bad stuff. You do not stay married to the same woman for 30 years without going through some rough patches. I asked her for divorce twice and I am 10 years sober, but we have to get to a point where we forgive ourselves for what we’ve done in the past, make amends where we can, and we move on.

Like Natalie Rivera says in Transformation Coaching’s Happiness Life Coaching course, “We find happiness in the NOW, not in the past and not in the future. What we had is gone and what is coming isn’t here yet. What we have is now.” You could be good to you now! Be present today and let’s do what we can. Start with a new positive internal dialogue.

You see, being Too Stupid To Fail is a choice. It is a choice to see the obstacles for what they truly are and to choose to literally remove the power and weight they have over us. Being Too Stupid To Fail is a choice to reject all of the negative tracks that have ever been recorded in our memories and rerecording new positive, affirming recordings that build us up and propel us to success in every aspect of our lives.

David J. Martin is an accomplished teacher, preacher, counselor, mentor, and master life coach with 35 years of experience. He joined the United States Air Force in 1986, served for 30 years, and ended his career as the Functional Manager of Occupational Safety and Health for the United States Air Forces in Europe and Africa, ascending to the highest attainable enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt). After retirement, he went on to Pastor a non-denominational church in Somersworth, NH, and then moved to North Carolina. Dave is the owner of a Life Strategy/Coaching Company called Too Stupid To Fail. He has helped thousands of people transform their lives and create success in their relationships, careers, families, education, health and fitness through the various roles and responsibilities he has had throughout his adult life, both on and off the job. Contact Dave at tostupidtofail@gmail.com.

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The Rainbow of Happiness

By Terez Hartmann

Within every beating heart rests a compass that always knows the way to happiness.

Ah, sweet happiness! When you feel, express, embody and experience this light and lovely state of being, all most certainly is right with the world. Life has more sparkle. Things that once ruffled your feathers seem inconsequential. There is a soft breeze of music that fills your moments with a sense of serenity and contentment that then gives way to waves of bliss and ecstasy. It is the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, yet it is also the rainbow itself, pointing the way, while filling your world (and all who have the good fortune of crossing your path) with color every step of the way!

Though many of us were taught that feeling good is wrong or bad, or that we have to perpetually “earn” our right to be happy, isn’t it ironic to note that, when in a state of happiness, in addition to being healthier and more productive—and getting more enjoyment out of our life—that we are also more clear, more prone to excellence, and more loving, generous, and compassionate toward humankind? If suffering was the path to health, wealth, relationship success, and wisdom, don’t you think that virtually every human being on this planet would be an ultra-mega bazillionaire rock star by now?

Whether you are living in bliss or would simply love to feel a little lighter in this time of uncertainty and the coronavirus, every path to happiness begins with an open mind and willing heart, so, I ask you:

Are YOU open to allowing greater happiness and joy in your life?

Are YOU willing to do what feels best to YOU in any given moment?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, below are a few ideas that just may serve as catalysts for reigniting your fire of happiness, and for keeping your light shinin’ and your vibe high-flyin’!

The Fire of BEAUTY

Feeling good is indeed a beautiful thing, so observing or creating an experience of beauty can certainly pave the way for letting the bluebird of happiness perch in your heart and keep your fire of joy alive. Why is beauty such a great catalyst for happiness? It can offer a much-needed distraction from a less-than-stellar state of mind (which is the first step in busting out of a funk), and asks nothing from you but to be—and to be enjoyed, if you choose to do so.

DO THIS: Immerse yourself in BEAUTY

Go to spaces and places that inspire you. Beauty is an experience for all of your senses, so what beautiful things do you enjoy seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, etc.? Go for a walk; enjoy a meal; sniff perfumes, fine wine, or flowers; or simply sit in an environment that feeds your spirit. Here are a few places you may enjoy:

  • Your own back (or front) yard. Get a pair of binoculars to get a close look at beautiful local birds and wildlife.
  • Cute little towns, buzzing urban areas, or lovely historic districts.
  • Neighborhoods with diverse or interesting architecture.
  • Lovely outdoor dining establishments that offer great atmosphere and tastings. Savoring great food and drink can be a beautiful thing!
  • Parks, biking/hiking trails, and waterways, or anything that connects you to nature and the great outdoors.
  • Gardens of any kind. Even a garden section of a store can brighten your mood.
  • Your own home theater. Watch a feel-good movie or travel series featuring great cinematography.
  • The night sky. Go outside and gaze at those gorgeous heavenly bodies!
  • Your camera lens. Taking photos to commemorate beautiful moments or focus upon and capture beautiful things (that you can revisit) just may bring you to your happy place!
  • What would YOU add to the list? Write down your own ideas and then go there NOW!

The Fire of FUN and Happy ADVENTURES
Want to lighten up or simply keep your good vibrations flowing? Let the wheels of FUN and ADVENTURE start rollin’! Just like choosing to focus upon beauty, having the “frivolous” intention of finding things, people, and experiences that feel fun can also help to shift your state of mind and keep a happiness party currently in progress going even longer. Fun and beauty most definitely go hand in hand, but fully engaging in an experience can help you move from being a mere passive observer to becoming a more active participant. And often the physical act of moving your body or doing something that feels good can be even more effective in helping you shift into a happier state of mind faster.

First, ask yourself these questions:

What activities do you truly enjoy? What is something you’ve always wanted to do or learn? Write down whatever comes to mind.

Next, ask yourself, “What could be fun to do NOW?” and listen for an answer or feel for a natural impulse.

Follow your inspiration and do that NOW.

Repeat forever.

No matter who does what to whom, or what happens around you—including the coronavirus—it was, is and always will be up to you to decide whether or not you allow your happiness and life force to flow. Just like you and everyone else, I have experienced times of great emotional upheaval and things going very differently than expected, but when I realized that the prize was and always will be feeling happiness (joy, love, clarity, and alignment)—and that any other thing, outcome, or approval from whoever was nothing more than a potential path to happiness—I decided to lighten up, cut out the middleman and allow my fire of happiness to burn for “no good reason.”

Who knew that choosing to be light and easy, focusing on beauty, seeking fun and adventure as much as possible every day, and letting myself be happy now could be THE keys to allowing some of my longest-held heart’s desires to come to pass?

What if happiness really IS all there is, after all?

“Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth…”—Pharrel Williams

Now THAT’S what I call one heck of a bonus, upgrade and HAPPY surprise!

Terez “Firewoman” Hartmann,“Your catalyst for all things Fab-YOU-lous,” is the author of Allowing Your Success!, a proud contributing author of Transform Your Life! book one and two, a professional Keynote Speaker/Workshop Facilitator, Singer-Songwriter/Recording Artist, “Allowing Adventures!” & “Savor Vacation” Facilitator, and true Renaissance Woman, and Visionary. She keeps her fire lit by embracing and promoting a lifestyle of “Allowing,” and by using creative expression to elevate and ignite the human spirit, a passion that she shares with her husband, soul-mate and creative partner of over 15 years, John Victor Hartmann. Together they share “Allowing TRUE LOVE” workshops and experiences designed to help others attract, allow, and maintain extraordinary relationships, and create custom jingles and voice-overs in their studio, THE Creativity Express. Visit: http://www.TerezFirewoman.com

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What We Resist Persists

Photo Credit: Unsplash: Lina Trochez

By Mary Boutieller

Conflict is sometimes necessary for our own spiritual and emotional growth.

As we move into October, I imagine that we are all in a bit of disbelief that “this” is still going on. We are still dealing with the wrath of Covid-19, trying to make sense of ongoing information being presented to us, trying to decide best practices and actions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, and yet trying to have some semblance of life as we once knew it. On top of that, a major election is coming up, civil unrest continues and, sometimes, it feels as if the “plate of conflict” can’t get any fuller!

For me, “conflict” has been an underlying theme for most of the past month—conflict within myself, conflict with others, conflict with ideas and truths that are not my own, conflict between friends and family. And I kept hoping that something else would arise for me to write about—but nothing else has—so here I am sitting with the presence of conflict needing to be expressed. What is that saying, “What we resist persists?”

Dealing with conflict isn’t easy or comfortable for me. I was raised to not rock the boat. In many ways, this seemed easier. If I didn’t disagree with others, they would continue to like me; I would not be seen as a threat or a bother or different. I would not garner attention.

Krishnamurti said, “In seeking comfort, we generally find a quiet corner in life where there is a minimum of conflict, and then we are afraid to step out of that seclusion.” So true! Why make things uncomfortable? Why stir the pot when we can stay blissfully ignorant of our own passions, our own desires, our own thoughts? Why rock the boat?

Some of us are struggling with the conflict of our times and are trying to make sense of how we feel about all that is going on. What, we may be wondering, should we do? Do we evade? Do we react? Do we hide our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away? For me, the more important question to ask is, “How do I want to behave, respond and reflect when conflict is presented?”

Recently, there have been a couple of conflicts in my life, and I’ve had to sit with the energy and ramifications of both. I’ve had to question and examine my part in the play of drama that unfolded; I’ve had to sit with my unwillingness to get involved; I’ve had to set aside my ego to try to resolve things where I could. You see, I’m not perfect! My “Italian” gets all riled up and I can get very passionate about things! And, although I’ve let go of some of my need to fight the good fight on just about everything, there is still a part of me that wants to tell you a thing or two about that particular subject!

Oprah Winfrey said, “I am a woman in process .I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull.” I love this quote and couldn’t have said it better. We are all just trying to learn about ourselves, figure things out, do better next time around. I am trying to see others’ points of view, to get out of my own way, to walk in another’s shoes, and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.

So what do we do when conflict arises in our lives? Yoga provides one of the best tools for this—we can just breathe. We can wait, breathe, ponder and find the truth hidden beneath the layers of habit and happenstance. We can teach ourselves how to respond with compassion instead of reacting with righteous indignation. We can choose kindness and find understanding, and we can try to weed out the commonality instead of the division. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m unlikely to truly understand some of the stances I have heard lately. I’m not easily swayed from the truths I hold dear. Sometimes I’ll get it right, sometimes I’ll let it pass, and sometimes my passionate Italian side will take over and I’ll have to say what I feel needs to be said. It’s my hope that I can learn to do so with more compassion, more reason and less vitriol.

Alaric Hutchinson said, “Bravery is the choice to show up and listen to another person, be it a loved one or perceived foe, even when it is uncomfortable, painful, or the last thing you want to do.” I don’t know very much about Alaric, but I loved his byline: “Alaric is a lifestyle coach who advises people on how to become the master of their life by turning the negative energy in their lives into fertilizer that will help them bloom into happy and confident adults.” Is he saying what I think he is saying here?? Maybe all that negative energy really is a bunch of crap! And maybe we can transform it into something useful.

I think that conflict is sometimes necessary for our own spiritual and emotional growth. We tend not to grow when we are too comfortable, when we don’t question, when we don’t try to enlarge the protective bubble of our hearts and minds. And yet, in the end, what we will remember is how they or we reached out, how we became the better angels and extended the olive branch, how they bridged the gap between love and hate. For the truth is that we need each other to make it all work, and how we handle what life throws our way is up to us. Do we hold it all in and wonder why our relationships aren’t working, or do we try to find the ties that hold the weaving in place?

Aberjhani said, “This world’s anguish is no different from the love we insist on holding back.” So I ask, what are we holding back and why?

Let us find our center, practice peace and yoga and meditation, get out in nature and remember who we really are and why we are here in the first place. Lets decide what we are willing to carry along with us in this world, and what we are willing to let go of—once and for all.

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.

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Kindness During COVID

By Linda Commito

In this time of separation, there are many ways to spread goodwill and to help others to feel appreciated and more connected.

It’s easy to close ourselves off these days—in fact, it’s encouraged. But at what cost? It feels like there’s more distance and less connection and communication as we separate ourselves out of self-preservation. It’s harder to converse with others when we’re out, especially among the sea of masked faces, difficult to hear or speak even when we do make an effort.

How can we get to the heart of what’s important and find new ways of connecting based on our common experiences? This is a time when the whole world and most of its citizens are facing the same fears, concerns, loneliness from isolation, worry about the future . . . These feelings are universal and offer an incredible opportunity to relate with more patience, compassion and kindness.

In the past, we may not have had as much time to reach out, but now it’s one thing many of us have more of—TIME—to connect, perhaps not with our hands but with our hearts. How can we kindly engage with and experience the human being behind the mask, the voice on the other line, the people who provide us services?

Last week, I called about a refund, five weeks overdue, from an airline that had cancelled my flights. It took several tries and a very long time, but I finally got to speak to a real person. I was tempted to express my frustration, but decided to reach out instead. I asked this young man, “How are you doing? Are you working from home in Portugal? I hear that your country is beautiful and I look forward to visiting someday. How is the COVID experience for you?” He shared that he was working from home and he was well. I continued, “It’s interesting that all over the world, we are experiencing similar things, we’re all ‘in the same boat’. I hope that you, your family and friends stay healthy.” He responded warmly, “And you and yours, as well.” And although he tried his best, he couldn’t tell me when I would get a refund, saying there are many requests and we all have to wait our turn. I thanked him for his time and help.

“My pleasure,” he said, “I hope that you get your refund soon. Thank you for calling.” Somehow it felt gratifying. I didn’t get what I called for but I felt better—I was heard and appreciated and I enjoyed a heartfelt connection with a stranger.

Whether it’s being understanding with a harried customer service person, practicing patience with an unsolicited caller, or letting my eyes do the smiling when I’m out (masked), I’m trying to express kindness in this age of COVID.

There are many ways to spread goodwill and to help others to feel appreciated and more connected. Labor Day is a perfect time to acknowledge all of the workers who continue to provide care and service.

Do you have a kindness story to share or a favorite way to be kind during this pandemic? Share it on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JustAsk123Game/.

Afterall, we are all in this together. Let’s try to make it a better experience for everyone!

Linda Commito, author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and teacher, is passionate about her vision to leave this world a kinder, more loving, and interconnected place. Linda’s award-winning book of inspirational stories, Love Is the New Currency, demonstrates how we can each make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through simple acts of love and kindness. Her latest project, the card game Just Ask 1 2 3, was inspired by a desire to connect people of all different ages, beliefs and lifestyles to share our individuality and find commonality. Linda also created “Kindness Starts with Me,” a program, book and website for children. For more information visit http://www.LoveistheNewCurrency.com or visit the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Justask123game.

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Fall Out of Fear

By Arielle Giordano

The only power fear has is the power we give it.

Fall is a wonderful season. The weather is cooler and leaf colors are reminiscent of a beautiful painted landscape. It is a time of change.

The shift from summer to fall conjures a gentle, natural reminder of transition in our lives, and spending time in nature now encourages our connection with our deeper beingness. Nature tells us who we really are.

We can relax and just be in our bodies when we walk in nature. Take a stroll through the forest or a walk in the part: It’s an opportunity to enjoy watching the leaves turn colors and gracefully fall from the trees. Let each colorful leaf remind you that it is now time to let go of any long-term fears. You can be okay with any uneasiness leftover as you walk—but don’t hold onto it so tight that it stops you from being who you are and living life to your fullest potential.

When we are busy in our lives or at work, we often connect with fear on a personal level through the ego. We may worry about a variety of facets in everyday existence such relationships, career, finances and health and wellness. These concerns can impact us and stop our spiritual growth. They can cause stress, tension and fear.

Know in your heart that fear is not our natural state. Tell yourself fear is not real. There is only Love. Resonate with what you know deep inside, rather than what you feel coming to your from the external world. For the only power fear has is the power we give it! Whatever we feed and give energy to grows.

You can release stress and let go of fear by resting in your heart. You know that your fear is not serving you, and you can gently let it go. Relax your body. You can do this anywhere, any time, and all the time.

The only way out is through. You can step through your fear! You can go inside—into your deepest knowing—and sense that everything is okay exactly the way it is.

Transformational Life Coach Award-Winning Author & Speaker, Professional Dancer. Arielle’s Award-Winning book for Best Self-Help Award: Dancing With Your Story From The Inside is available on http://www.Amazon.com. Her professional career includes the Lead Faculty Area Chairperson and Professor for the College of Humanities, History and the Arts at the University of Phoenix. She is a published co-author of Transform Your Life Books 1 & 2 and author for Tampa Bay Wellness, Conscious Shift & Transformation magazine. She has published her 4th book, an Instructor’s Manual for Barlow Abnormal Psychology 4th ed. and authored Psychology, A Journey 3rd.ed. Study Guide published by Nelson Education, Toronto, ON. She has also studied philosophy at the College of Integrated Philosophy with John DeRuiter for twenty years. Arielle has been a featured guest on radio and television, in newspapers, and the media across the US and Canada. She is a certified Essentrics Stretch and Dance Instructor. Arielle offers coaching sessions, classes and workshops and a free 30-minute Consultation. Websites: http://www.dancingfromtheinsideout.com, http://www.ariellegiordano.com. Email: agbeautifuldance@gmail.com

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More is In Me Than I Think

By Natalie Rivera

In my sophomore year of high school, I was selected to participate in a unique educational experience called R.O.P.E. It stands for Reaching Our Potential in Education and was offered to 18 students per semester, selected in part because they represent a diverse group of students from all factions of high school life. I was one of only two sophomores. The rest were juniors and seniors.

The best way to describe this class is to say it was a wilderness survival class. But, that doesn’t really capture it. The program included four weekend trips and requires no homework, no papers, no desks and no grades. While not on our adventures, we learned about surviving in the wilderness and actively practiced group problem solving. We focused on questioning our self-imposed limitations and boundaries. In this class, the subject was me and the tool for learning was survival.

I survived it, barely, but in the final weeks of the semester, I did not feel I had accomplished anything. I had mixed feelings about the experience because some of it was wonderful, while some of it was horrible. My final exam was to write a speech that I would present to my class about what I learned during my R.O.P.E. experience. I sat down to write my speech. This is what I wrote.

I had run through my head a hundred times all the things that had happened and all that I had been through in those few months. I weeded out the most significant and even some insignificant things that happened that I thought would best illustrate what my experience in R.O.P.E. had been. Trying to arrange them in a logical manner on my paper to form a speech proved much harder than I ever thought writing could be. Something was missing. A list of events and a lot of complaining was not enough. There was something in those jumbled words, those confused thoughts, trying to get out.

There had to be some purpose, some realization, something more. The problem was that I did not know what it was. So, I started writing and hoped the meaning of the speech, the whole meaning of the class would reveal itself to me as I wrote.
I wrote about how the original reason I had signed up for the class was because it offered a half
credit for gym that I needed to graduate. I was scared to take it because I was afraid I would fail. I secretly knew that the real reason I chose to take it was to face that fear.

I wrote about the first trip we went on and how much I hated it. It was a 3-day, 20-mile hike carrying 40-pound backpacks, in September. I have camped all my life and hiked on occasion, but after 2 days and 13 miles with my 110-pound frame carrying a 40-pound backpack up a mountain, I had had enough.

I had more of enough than I ever thought possible. At one point I had collapsed on the trail. I took off my hiking shoes and looked at the giant, torn blisters on the back of both of my heels. I did my best to bandage them, but even to put on my shoe was excruciating.

I felt like a toddler having a temper tantrum. I did not want to get back up. I did not want to walk another foot. In fact, I couldn’t do it. I would rather stay there for days until someone rescued me. But, my logical mind knew I had to go on, despite the fact that my body had already reached its limit. So started a 24-hour, 7-mile long war between my body and mind that drove me closer to insanity than I have ever been before.

A kid in my class pretty much summed up my experienced when he stated that (excuse the phrase) “taking a crap in the woods” was the highlight of his weekend.

At the end of the trip, we wrote letters to ourselves. I re-read that letter to remind myself of what I felt then, and I was surprised that my feelings expressed in it had not changed much. Some of the phrases from it were “hell is not a strong enough word to describe it” and not only would I never do it again, but I wish I could erase the memory”.

In the past, when I have hated something at the time that it happened, when I have looked back on it I always thought that it was not as bad as I remembered. But, for some reason, this was something I could not shrug off. Why did it bother me so much? It is a question I did not know the answer to until after I wrote my speech.

Now I know it was my fear of failure. It had happened; I had failed. I may have made it to the end of the trip, but that was never a question in my mind. I logically knew I had no choice but to make it back; it is not like I could stay out there forever. I failed by not living up to my expectations. I have always had to be in control of myself and on this trip I lost that for the first time in my entire life.

For the next three or four weeks I was severely depressed, and I almost dropped the class. I
thought about quitting, but I couldn’t do it. I stayed. I did not stay to face my fear, for at that point I did not know that was what depressed me. I stayed because my classmates and I had formed a bond, and we had already felt the loss of two other members. I am thankful for that bond; without it I would have missed out on what was to come and the memories I have.
I wrote about the second trip. It was three days of sleeping under a tarp, mild hiking and extensive rock climbing. I went into it expecting to hate it, but I was wrong I ended up loving it, that is, except for the hiking, which brought back too many bad memories. So, rock climbing proved to be great, and I proved to be stronger than I had thought.

At one point, I was climbing, and I stopped to take a break. Holding onto the rock made my right leg start shaking. My left leg lost circulation from the harness and started tingling, and my arm
cramped up from holding on to a small crevice in the rockface. I noticed my fingers were bleeding and I was actually sweating, which I usually don’t do. If I felt that way right now I would be completely miserable, but at that moment I was able to put it out of my mind. I was on top of the world, literally, and in flow. I couldn’t have felt greater.
The third trip was a community service project at a wilderness-style alternative school. I loved doing the activities with the kids and being the “root puller” as we worked together to clear a hiking trail. With the third trip said and done, it was time for the final trip: four days and 17 miles of camping and hiking in the middle of winter in January.

I have poor circulation and I hate the cold. I had also discovered how much I loved to hike. When I decided to stay in the class after the first trip, I secretly planned to drop out before the winter trip. Well, I did not, partially because I had already made it that far and partially because I did not want to live the rest of my life knowing I had bailed out. So, I went.

This last trip pulled together everything we had learned; to trust each other and work as a team, to trust ourselves to handle more than we thought we could, to pack appropriate gear, food and supplies that would literally keep us alive, to cook in sub-zero temperatures, and to sleep outside in the winter. Aside from days of frozen rain, a three-inch layer of ice atop the snow making it hard to walk, and below zero nights it turned out being the best trip of all.

I was afraid to continue after the first night. I lost my body heat part way through the night and woke up shivering, which is a very bad sign when it’s negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I remembered what to do; I left my tent and started doing jumping jacks. I realized I had to use the bathroom, which was the last thing I wanted to do. But I used the outhouse and realized I did not know it was possible for my butt to the that cold. I joined a couple other students who had woken up cold too, and we did more jumping jacks.

It was exhausting when we would set up camp at sunset and then have to spend the rest of the evening keeping each other moving, up and down the path, up and down the path. Don’t let the warmth of the fire lure you in, keep moving. We sang a chant as we trudged through the snow, encouraging each other to keep going and looking out for anyone with signs of hypothermia. I snuggled a bottle filled with hot water while I was tucked into my sleeping bag, with the draw string tied above my head. When I awoke on the second morning, still alive, and the tent was covered in a blanket of soft snow, giving it the appearance of an igloo, it was magical.

In fact, it was the greatest experience of my life.

I did not feel cold, wet or tired the entire trip for the simple fact that I did not let myself. Plus, I had learned how to survive in the wilderness by bringing the right gear.

On our second to last day the temperature raised, which was a welcome change, but it started to frozen rain. Some of us got wet. We took inventory for changes of dry cloths and in the end we decided as a team, a family, that it was too risky to stay the final night and complete our treck down the ski slope in the morning. We did not come this far together to lose someone to hypothermia. We were all a little disappointed when we hiked to meet the bus at midnight. But despite the early finish, we had made it. Together.

This trip proved what I had begun to doubt after the first trip, that I have control over myself and how I feel. All of this I had written in the first draft of my speech. I had written strait through and it was at this point that I stopped and read it over. It was after I read it over that I realized how much I had learned.
First of all, I learned that my fear of failure kept me from taking any real chances in life, and never taking any chances caused me to believe I could do anything. By not succeeding at that first trip I realized my fear of failure, and by being forced to face it I proved to myself that I was right in the first place. I can do anything.
I learned that the class is not about making it to the top of the mountain or through the cold night.
It is not about learning how to make a shelter, start a fire, get along in a group, rock climb, camp, stay warm in the winter, prepare, or heal blisters. It is not about the small victories. They are merely obstacles, stepping-stones to the bigger picture.

It is about breaking down boundaries and realizing there are no limits.

It is about learning that you are whom you make yourself.
One last thing I learned was that I do not know myself quite as well as I thought I did. I have
found some qualities I did not know I had, like stubbornness and what I call ‘chicken syndrome’, but due to the new confidence that I have gained I know, now, that I can change.

So, out of my list of confused, jumbled thoughts came a speech and a realization of who I am. I have finally made amends with the first trip. I no longer want to erase the memory; rather I would like to keep it forever to remind me of all that I have learned. I am proud of my achievements. I have faced my fear and realized that I will never stop learning  about myself.

I no longer live behind the mask of day to day life. I now look beneath my achievements and bring as much to the surface as possible. As for any fears that have yet to come, I welcome them, for often it is only through an experience of sadness, pain, fear or difficulty that we learn our most vital lessons and make our greatest achievements.

I no longer doubt myself, for like the R.O.P.E. slogan says, “Plus est en vous'”.
More is in you than you think.

Natalie Rivera is a firestarter, speaker and entrepreneur. She is passionate about empowering others to GET REAL and live authentically. After a decade of living a life that wasn’t hers and developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Natalie let go of everything and completely transformed. Through her journey to healing she rediscovered her true self and greater purpose—to inspire others to transform their lives. Natalie “retired” from the rat race at 24, put herself through school as a freelance designer, created a non-profit teen center, and later created Transformation Services, Inc., which offers motivational speaking, curriculum development, life coaching, event management, and publishing. She is also the Publisher of Transformation Magazine. Visit http://www.transformationacademy.com.

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Coronavirus & Me

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Joshua J. Cotten

By Jo Mooy

The virus has been silently teaching me things that I might have spent several lifetimes learning.

My pandemic pause began in March, 2020. I expected it would be short, maybe a month or two. But March became April. Then, each day in April felt like it was a month long. April morphed into May and June and now it’s October. My life of action, of daily doing, of moving about and accomplishing whatever was so important stopped. Suddenly, there was nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to do it with. Staring at four walls filled the days.

For a while, companionship was found on Facebook groups. Everyone was dealing with the pandemic together. Until once respected friends began to subscribe to absurd theories. They reposted wildly false information with the zeal of evangelical recruits. Snarky comments and strident conspiracy views began to filter into online conversations. I unfriended a few. Then I left Facebook. Leaving showed me how much distress I was experiencing—even from friends.

As the months morphed into one another, the pandemic was changing me and my safe little world. Old familiar ways were disappearing. A quick phone call to meet friends at a restaurant for dinner was now a memory. Grocery shopping was relegated to one day a week. Even a once enjoyable early morning walk on the beach wasn’t possible. Frequent sewage spills contaminated the water near Sarasota, FL, and people without masks disregarded the order to social distance.

One day, inside the sanctuary I called home, the first tears fell. They carried the grief and the sadness of losing what was once precious. Friends texted they were having similar issues. We all wondered if any part of our previous life would come back? And if so, how? More importantly, when? As the tears fell, they watered a barren place growing in me.

Coronavirus is insidious. Some people are felled by it. Millions test positive but have no symptoms. Yet it affects everyone in some way. The fears about it are palpable. Those fears seep into once cherished beliefs, twisting them into bizarre theories that are used as weapons. Individual rights are declared, while those meant to protect the whole are ignored. Health and science are at war with biased opinions.

Physically, the virus attacks human respiration. That’s when I noticed my own side effects. The virus was constricting my breath. There was a constant heaviness around my heart. Mentally, I’d become lethargic. Spiritually, it was strangling my soul. With isolation in its seventh month, I went into the yard. A Great Blue Heron flew low over the water, heading straight towards me. Passing 10 feet over my head, I felt the wind currents from its wings. The wide wingspan rhythmically sounded whop whop whop as it swooped over my head.

In that moment the wind sounds broke through my lethargy. I recognized the virus had been silently teaching me three things that I might have spent several lifetimes learning. It taught me Silence— Stillness—and Simplicity. In the new normal I sat for hours in Silence. The virus reduced my world to a small, contained version. In Silence I walked from my office to the living room to the lanai. On the walk I observed my thoughts in that limited world I now occupied, without being absorbed by them. My office needed a good clean out. I didn’t do it. The living room is always tidy but needed to be vacuumed. I didn’t do that either. In the Silence, when thoughts floated by, there was no need to discuss them. They came and went.

In the Silence, there were spiritual practices I could easily follow. The best one was meditation. But the virus taught me that meditation can be done differently. Sitting on the lanai became a gateway to the outside world of nature. Watching ducks swim in the lake was its own form of meditation. It was breathing without focus. It was observation without thinking. There was no judgment. It was meditation without a timer. Two hours would go by in complete silence—simply sitting, breathing and observing a family of ducks making Vs across the lake. I became a duck, making a V on the lake, in a state of Silent awareness.

The second quality the virus taught me was Stillness. My pre-Covid life was seldom still. It was constant action, movement, doing and accomplishing. Every day there was so much to do. Deadlines loomed. Calls had to be made and schedules confirmed. For what, I wondered? If we’re quarantined for more than a year, why bother with all those to-dos? I unshackled the bonds and relaxed into Stillness. Without a schedule and nothing to do, I embraced Stillness.

Stillness became Wu Wei, or the art of doing nothing. “Nothing” became whatever it wanted to be. Some days Stillness was passively watching an old movie in the afternoon. Other days Stillness was reading a historical novel at 10 in the morning. Ten o’clock used to be a pre-Covid hour when I was immersed in planning projects. Stillness was delicious. In Stillness a gecko I named Estelle drank water from a droplet on a leaf. Stillness was the foundation of what I was becoming.

The last lesson was Simplicity. Pre-Covid I’d go through a dozen rolls of paper towels in a month cleaning the house. Simply and easily, old cotton kitchen towels replaced them and did a better job. Instead of calling a guy to fix it, cabinet doors that wouldn’t stay closed, now did with Velcro. I always traveled in summer. This year I traveled daily to the simplicity of my garden. It’s how I met Estelle, who now lives her simple life on the lanai.

In the Silence, Stillness and Simplicity of Covid I was most changed by the Sanskrit phrase Tat Tvam Asi. It means, whatever you see, whatever it is, you are that! The people distanced six feet away, the interactions, the places, the pleasant or difficult situations are all me. I’m connected to all of that. Everyone and every thing I call “other” is me. It’s still unfolding and waiting to be further experienced. But that flash of sensing such a profound Truth would never have happened without this pandemic.

Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to http://www.starsoundings.com or email jomooy@gmail.com.

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The Power of Meditation

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Elijah Hiett

By Mark Pitstick MA, DC

“Silence is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation.”—Father Thomas Keating

Meditation confers many powerful physical, mental and spiritual benefits. If you don’t want to take my word for it, consider the following:

Alan Watts, in his book Meditation, states: “Most of us think compulsively all the time…If I think all the time…I’m living entirely in the world of symbols and I’m never in relationship with reality…The difference between myself and all the rest of the universe is nothing more than an idea—it is not a real difference. Meditation is a way in which we come to feel our basic inseparability from the whole universe…By going out of your mind you come to your senses.”

A Harvard Spirituality & Healing conference noted: “For more than 25 years, laboratories at the Harvard Medical School have systematically studied the benefits of mind/body interactions. This research has shown that when a person engages in a repetitive prayer, word, sound or phrase—and when intrusive thoughts are passively disregarded—specific physiologic changes ensue. Metabolism, heart rate, and breathing frequency all decrease and distinctive slower brain waves appear.”

Further, “These changes are exactly the opposite of those induced by stress and can help reduce hypertension, palpitations, insomnia, infertility, pre-menstrual syndrome, chronic pain and the symptoms of cancer and AIDS. In fact, to the extent that any disease is caused or made worse by stress, to that extent is this physiological state an effective therapy.”

Regarding the spiritual benefits of meditation, Paramahansa Yogananda wrote, “Why should you think He is not everywhere? The air is filled with music that is caught by the radio—music that otherwise you would not know about. And so it is with God. He is with you every minute of your existence, yet the only way to realize this is to meditate.”

Finally, French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Pascal said, “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Meditation, Anyone?

If you are wondering how to meditate: Classes are taught at many colleges, health facilities, enlightened churches and holistic retreats or seminars. With regular practice, learning to meditate is easy.

There are several methods I can recommend from personal experience:

• Transcendental Meditation (TM), taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

• Kriya Yoga from Self Realization Fellowship, founded by Paramahansa Yogananda

• Integral Hatha Yoga taught by Sri Swami Satchidananda

The latter two also teach yoga postures and breathing techniques that I have used for many years. I also have used the exercises described in Peter Kelder’s book Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth.

Other excellent resources include Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook by Ram Dass; The Varieties of the Meditative Experience by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.; and Beyond Biofeedback by Elmer Green, Ph.D. and Alyce Green.

One simple meditation technique involves working with the breath and/or sound while you sit quietly with eyes closed. Focus your awareness at the tip of your nose as you breathe in and out deeply but gently at a rate that is comfortable for you. Or, with each exhalation, silently repeat a mantra or word that has spiritual significance for you.

Recommended mantras include the creational and manifesting sounds OM and AH. Depending on your spiritual path, you may want to use names for the Light that contain the “AH” sound: God, Allah, Buddha, Ram, Wanka Tanka or Krishna. Others are Peace, One, Great Spirit, OM Shanti (Sanskrit for Divine peace), Shalom (Jewish for peace), Jesus or any other word that reminds you of Divine Oneness.

Use the mantra in three phases: aloud for a few repetitions, then more quietly until just moving the lips without sound and then silently. For beginning meditators, mentally repeat the mantra with each exhalation. Later, you can use the mantra only when you find yourself thinking too much or getting drowsy.

If you become aware of the mind wandering excessively, quietly return your focus to the breathing and mantra. Don’t chastise yourself for letting the mind drift; meditation should be an effortless and gentle process. While meditating, the mind may generate many reasons why you should be doing something else. Like a wild elephant, it may temporarily become even more agitated after initially being chained.

At first, meditation may seem like a practice in self-discipline. In time, however, your mind will naturally gravitate toward becoming more clear, peaceful and blissful. This level of consciousness can eventually generalize into your normative state.

Components of successful meditation include:

• Find a quiet spot where you won’t be bothered by the telephone, excessive noise, or interruptions.

• Program your mind to ignore any outside noises.

• Most teachers recommend meditating at dawn and dusk. Others recommend meditating just before lunch and dinner when your stomach is empty and you are somewhat fatigued or stressed.

• Sit with the spine straight. For some, a half or full lotus position works well. A pillow or two under the buttocks assists a proper upright posture in this position. For others, sitting on a chair with feet on the floor is more comfortable.

• Place your hands on your thighs or in your lap with palms up.

• Use diaphragmatic breathing. Let the abdomen move downward and outward as you inhale; gently pull the abdominal muscles upward and inward as you exhale.

• Breathe at a slow, rhythmic pace through the nostrils. Breathing through the mouth causes dryness that may interfere with a peaceful experience.

• Let the jaw and facial muscles relax completely with your lips parted slightly.

• With eyes closed, shift your focus on the sixth chakra, the “third eye” just between and above the anatomical eyes.

• Let the breath and/or mantra proceed naturally and effortlessly.

• Meditate for 15 to 20 minutes but don’t set an alarm. Simply open one eye to check a clock when you feel the time has elapsed.

• Sit quietly for a few moments before arising.

Remember to be patient and continue meditating every day. Soon it will become a highlight of your day, an oasis of tranquility amidst life’s hectic demands. A subtle but very important distinction will also become apparent. Thoughts may still come and go, but you’ll be in touch with the part of yourself that isn’t doing the thinking.

With practice, thoughts will drift through like fleecy clouds instead of incessant static. Just watch them pass by.

Any subject that repeatedly surfaces during meditation may indicate an imbalance that needs attention. Intra-psychic material, layers of negative thinking, and repressed emotions may be released over time. Inspirational ideas may also come to your attention. I keep a notepad by my meditation area so I can jot down new insights after the session.

Mark Pitstick, MA, DC is an author, master’s clinical psychologist, holistic chiropractic physician, frequent media guest, and webinar/workshop facilitator. He directs The SoulPhone Foundation and founded Greater Reality Living Groups. Dr. Pitstick can help you know and show—no matter what is happening to or around you— that your earthly experience is a totally safe, meaningful, and magnificent adventure amidst forever. Visit http://www.SoulProof.com for free articles, newsletters and radio interviews with top consciousness experts.

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Gain Freedom by Making Amends

By Noelle Sterne

Facing up and apology will cleanse the soul.

We often hang onto self-condemnation and guilt for things we have the power to set right. Even if we think our heavy feelings are gone, they probably lurk just under the surface, taint our lives and sap our energy for other activities. When we make amends, we clear out all those dark, depressing, and dragging-down guilty feelings. This process may take a little or a lot of effort, but it’s very worth it.

To make amends may also mean we have to gulp down some pride, muster some courage and take actions we’ve been too embarrassed or uncomfortable to take. These feelings are exactly why we should act. We’ll feel lighter and freer and will grow and gain strength from the dreaded action(s).

So, return the book to the library. Send the thank-you gift. Make the date you’ve been avoiding. Repay the debt. Arrange a payment plan. Call and apologize. Write the letter. Explain why you did/said/didn’t do/didn’t say it.

If you think you absolutely can’t do it—whatever it is—prepare. Talk to a neutral person. Start writing down what you want to do or say. Rehearse. For example, you can start by saying, “This call is long overdue. I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time but haven’t had the courage. “

A family friend taught me this lesson. He visited my husband and me to explore avenues to raise funds for a new business he wanted to start. After dinner, as we discussed his financial circumstances, Gardner became so anxious and agitated that he shouted and left abruptly. Fifteen minutes later, in a rage he called from his car. He said he couldn’t find his good pen and accused the valet of stealing it.

Later that night, Gardner phoned again and said simply, “I apologize for my inappropriate behavior. I found my pen wedged between the car seat and the door.”

I admired Gardner’s dignity and courage—and his language. He didn’t berate himself but labeled his actions as simply “inappropriate.” I thanked him and complimented his action, promising another brainstorming session for the funds he needed.

When you face up and make amends, what’s the worst that can happen? The other person may say, “It’s about time, you so-and-so!” Or, possibly, and with great relish, “I told you so. I knew you were wrong, but you never listened.” Or, “I hear you, but it’s been too long and the hurt is too deep. I never want to speak to you again.”

Any of these responses is possible but hardly probable (except maybe the one we all love to say: I-told-you-so). Even if the other person responds by cutting off the relationship, what’s more important is what you did: you took the risk for yourself.

Remember that you’re not in charge of how and if the other person has changed or softened. If he or she remains intractable, you can then say, “I wanted you to know and I wish you only the best.” Even if the person harumpfs and hangs up on you, you’ve done what you needed to—taken the risk and faced your guilt. But most of the time, none of those negative responses you fear will take place.

Yes, to make amends takes courage and the willingness to make the leap. I’ve always found that facing up and apology cleanse the soul. Whenever I’ve taken the right actions and said the right things, often holding my breath but daring to expose the egg on my face, the other person has had one or more of these reactions: surprise, delight, gracious acceptance of what I had to say or appreciation.

Today’s incessant (and annoying) phrase “My bad,” although a little too easily rolled off, is actually a step in the right direction. It says that the speaker is willing to take responsibility for the mistake or erroneous behavior. By its very casualness, this phrase is asking the other person not to take the whole thing too seriously.

If you cannot make amends in physical reality, do so in your mind or on paper. Set a quiet time alone and visualize the ideal setting. Sit down with each person involved, actually or in your imagination. Say or write the words you really want to say clearly in your mind or out loud. Listen for the other’s response. You will hear. Allow the dialogue to flow until you feel complete. Then thank the other person and consider the matter done, resolved, closed.

If you need a little more help before, during, and after your session of making amends, I recommend Louise Hay’s words in her Love Yourself, Heal Your Life Workbook (p. 97). These are wonderful affirmations for forgiving that apply to making amends in any situation we want to heal: I forgive whether I/they deserve it or not; I take responsibility for my own life; I release myself from this prison; I am strong when I forgive and let go; I refuse to limit myself; I am always willing to take the next step.

Another powerful pair of affirmations hones right in. You can say these aloud to the other person or silently (and frequently) to yourself while visualizing the other. 1. Whatever you’ve done to offend me, I forgive you. 2. Whatever I’ve done to offend you, please forgive me.

Practice these steps or your own variations to remedy situations that have been pulling you down, consciously or less so. You may discover new solutions to problems, find you have unsuspected creativity and depths of courage, or reclaim and regain a missed and cherished relationship. You’ll certainly feel lighter, happier, and more energetic. And you’ll realize, maybe astounded but joyful, that you have the power and strength to make amends.

Author, editor, writing coach, workshop leader, and academic mentor, Noelle Sterne has published over 600 stories, essays, writing craft articles, spiritual pieces, and occasional poems in literary and academic print and online venues. Publications include Author Magazine Chicken Soup for the Soul (most recent November 2019, The Forgiveness Fix; podcast Jan. 2020), Inspire Me Today, LiveWriteThrive, Journal of Expressive Writing, Mused, Pen and Prosper, Romance Writers Report, Ruminate, Sasee, Textbook and Academic Authors Association blog (monthly),Transformation Coaching (bimonthly), Two Drops of Ink blog, Unity Magazine, WE Magazine for Women, Women in Higher Education, Women on Writing, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle has assisted doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations (finally) for 30 years. Her published handbook to assist doctoral candidates is based on her professional academic practice (PhD, Columbia University): Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Psychological Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015). In Noelle’s spiritual self-help book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), she draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to support readers in reaching their lifelong yearnings. Continuing with her own, she is completing her second novel. Her webinar about Trust Your Life can be seen on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95EeqllONIQ&feature=youtu.be Visit Noelle at her website: http://www.trustyourlifenow.com.

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