To all the Magnificent Spiritual Beings
reading this Newsletter,
I had a couple of really wonderful "God-shots"
this past Sunday. "God-shots" are messages that come out of the blue
- unexpected surprises that are messages from my Higher Power telling me that
I am on the right path, doing what I am supposed to be doing. (Actually
the term God-shot is a term I hadn't used in quite awhile - and while I was
walking by the ocean in the fog earlier today, I decided to use a different
term: Goddess Strokes. I like this better - a little gentler
and more accurately descriptive, not such a macho sounding term. ;-)
Goddess strokes can come in a variety of
forms. They can involve seeing a whale or some dolphins, some deer
or hawks, at a particularly perfect moment. This morning I looked
out my window as I sat here at my computer, and a hummingbird came flying
up and hovered there looking in at me for a moment. In the Medicine
Cards, the hummingbird is a symbol of Joy - and a reminder to me of the
goal and the purpose of my path - Joy to you & me.
Goddess strokes can involve the perfect
words of a song being the first thing I hear when I start my car. (Although
not recently as my car radio hasn't worked for a while.) Or flicking
the channels on the TV at the perfect moment to hear the message I need
to hear. Or hearing that perfect message in the middle of a movie, or
buried in a book that has nothing to do with healing. Those messages
can come from a billboard beside the road or a snatch of conversation overheard.
The most powerful ones usually come from
people. In person, or through an e-mail - over the phone or in a
letter. Sometimes when I am feeling low, when I am feeling as if my
Higher Power has abandoned me, some feedback or message will pop up out
of nowhere to remind me why I have chosen this path. To remind me that
I teach best what I most need to learn. To remind me to surrender to
being Unconditionally Loved.
This past Sunday, I did a workshop in Santa
Barbara. I do my workshops there at a Unity Church. I do them
on Sunday so I can set up a table with my books on it in the morning through
the two morning services. Doing workshops, or any speaking in public
- or for that matter in private counseling sessions in person or on the
phone, or any opportunity to share my experience, strength, and hope - is
always a type of Goddess stroke for me anyway. Anytime I have a chance
to speak my Truth, to share the beliefs and knowledge which I so passionately
embrace, I get to touch the Divine. I get to be a channel for Love
to flow through. (One of the things I want to talk about in this Newsletter
is that it can be easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a
receptacle for Love to flow into.)
On Sunday, before the reward of reminding
people of Truth and Love in the workshop, I got a couple extra gifts.
One had to do with someone I had never met, while the other related to a
Mother and daughter that I had worked with.
The person I had never met, was a man who
passed on a couple of years ago. The woman who had been married to
him came to my workshop. I knew her because she contacted me several
years ago to get a copy of the audio tape set of my book - and had later
come to a workshop or two. It has probably been a year or so since
I had seen her last. She made a point of telling me several times
something that she had told me previously - something that obviously meant
a great deal to her.
What she wanted to reiterate to me, was
how important my tapes had been to her husband while he was dying.
She had bought the tapes for him because he had a terminal illness.
She told me again how important those tapes were to him, and how he had listened
to them over and over again in the last months of his life.
She said they were the only thing he wanted to listen to - and again expressed
her gratitude to me for how much my words had helped her husband find peace
and serenity while he was in the process of dying.
What a gift! What an affirmation!
What Joy to be able to be of that kind of service to another human being
and his Loved ones.
She had told me this previously, as I mentioned
- and in many ways I had felt the same reaction to her words as I did on
Sunday. I was profoundly grateful for the gift of such positively
affirming feedback. I felt a deep and awesome humility for the gift
I have been given of being able to be a channel of Truth and an instrument
of Love that can so profoundly touch the lives of other human beings.
I felt a great pride in the fact that I have been willing to do the work and
follow my path in such a way as to be available for this kind of service.
I also felt a great deal of Joy.
My reaction to her gratitude was also different
in some interesting and subtle ways. Perhaps because of my growth
over the last few years, or maybe because of the intensity and passion with
which she conveyed her gratitude, I was conscious in a whole new way, on a
much deeper level, of the gift those tapes had been to her.
Watching a Loved one go through any intense
experience - and dying certainly qualifies as an intense experience - can
in many ways be harder for the one who is observing, than for the person
actually going through the experience. I had not really been fully
conscious previously, of how great a gift it must have been for her to have
her husband accept and relax into his dying process. How that must
have helped her to flow with the process with a degree of serenity and peace.
I had always previously accepted that she was telling me what a gift my tapes
were to her husband - I had never been fully conscious of what she was saying
about what a gift they were to her.
A very cool process, this recovery.
The other wonderful Goddess stroke that
I received came when a woman, who I had worked with briefly while I was working
with her daughter, came up to me to tell me the latest news. I worked
with her daughter for a period of 4 or 5 months in the later part of 1999.
While I was working with her daughter, I convinced her to come in for a few
sessions on her own.
Her daughter turned 16 while I was working
with her. She was acting out and rebelling completely.
I never knew what bright, fluorescent color her hair was going to be - or
what new body piercing or tattoos she might have - when she came to see
me. She was acting out in very dangerous ways: sexually, with alcohol
and drugs, with strange people in dangerous situations. Her mother
was terrified for her and was reacting with anger and attempts to control.
Mother and daughter were stuck in a reactive dynamic that could have been
the death of both of them.
The news she had to share with me was how
wonderfully her daughter was doing. How she had finished high school
and was in college through scholarships and grants that she had arranged
for herself. How she had lost weight and gone back to her natural
hair color. How when a relationship she was in ended recently, she
had responded to her mother's offer to travel to the city she is in to help
her through the emotional crisis by saying, "The little girl in me wants
you to come, but I think it is better for me to learn how to go through
this on my own."
Now, is that cool or what?!?
It sounds like a happy ending - but actually
what it is, is a happy new beginning. They were able to make a transition
that ended one chapter of both of their lives - a period where they were
totally enmeshed and negatively empowering each other - and started a new
healthier beginning to the next chapter of each of their separate but interrelated
The mother needed to let go of the outcome
of her daughter's path, at the same time the daughter needed to let go
of punishing her mother for the past so that she could stop reacting and
start taking responsibility for her own life choices.
I Love it when people hear what I am teaching
them and start applying it in their lives. It gives me great satisfaction
and real Joy to see someone applying the tools that I share with them.
I feel very grateful that I can play a part in helping others to live their
lives in a happier, healthier, more Loving and functional way.
Playing a part is all I do however.
I have no control over the outcome either. I am powerless over rather
people hear me. I am not the one who is responsible for this happy
new beginning - any more than I would have been responsible if the daughter
had died of a drug overdose and the mother ended up in a mental institution.
If that had been the outcome, it would have been a perfect part of the Divine
Plan somehow, some way.
I sure do love the happy new beginnings
better than the ones that do not come out so nicely. I have had to
deal with a lot of grief over clients and friends who could not hear.
I also have felt a great deal of Joy when sharing my experience, strength,
and hope have proved a benefit to others.
I realized early on in doing therapy, that
defining myself by how my clients did was codependent. I had to learn
to let go of the outcome of counseling others. I had to get real
clear that I was powerless over rather anyone else heard me, but I do have
the power to choose to listen to myself. And I do teach best what
I need most to learn.
(I will probably be doing a web page about
my philosophy of counseling and therapy, using this mother and daughter
as kind of a case study to show how it works. I can't make any promises
as to how soon that will be however.)
In case you are wondering about whether
- in the instances above - I was giving too much power to outside validation,
I thought I would talk about that a bit. There is nothing wrong
with enjoying validation, affirmation, and recognition from other people
or outside sources. It is if we define ourselves by that outer validation,
and think we have to have it to be OK, that we are being codependent.
It is when we jump through hoops in an attempt to get that validation from
people that we are being manipulative and dishonest - which is, of course,
what many of us learned to do in childhood.
As with all aspects of codependence recovery
- it is a question of balance. Life and recovery occur in the gray
area between black and white. What we are trying to do is maintain
some kind of sense of balance in relationship to this dance we are doing.
That involves, as I tried to communicate in the later articles in the Recovery
Process for Inner Child Healing series I just finished, being conscious
of multiple levels simultaneously - or as close to simultaneously as possible.
And being able to have internal boundaries so that I am choosing how I respond
rather than reacting out of the old programming.
Example: There have been instances,
over the years, where I have had the opportunity to be in close proximity
to someone that had been a client of mine while they were talking to someone
else. These opportunities have given me a chance to hear the former
client use words in describing some aspect of the recovery process - that
were the same words I had said to them - as if it were a revelation they
had arrived at themselves. This gives most of me a great deal of satisfaction
because I have worked hard over the years to find the best ways of helping
people discover the Truth within them in ways that help them not feel dependent
on me. But at the same time, my ego reacts in a negative way saying
"hey wait a minute, I told you that."
In my recovery, I have gradually over the
years been able to turn down the voices coming from the ego/from the wounded
inner child places/from the disease - and turn up the volume of the small
quiet voice of the Spirit. I have learned how to realign myself with
the Spirit instead of giving so much power to the disease - the old wounds
and old tapes, the damaged ego. But if I were to maintain to myself
or to you that I never have those reaction, that would be denial.
(That was part of the reason why I did a little ranting in the news addendum to the last Update about
a quote from Marianne Williamson that I believe conveyed the message that
being a human in process is somehow shameful.)
This is a relative process. Progress
not perfection. We can gradually increase the percentage of the time
our conscious awareness, our attitudes and mental focus, are aligned with
recovery instead of with the disease. We do not get to wipe out the
old ways of thinking and emotional reactions completely - what we do is
gradually disempower them.
I can remember a time in the spring of 1989
when I raged at God about how sick I was of the recovery process.
I said something to the effect that I was sick of only being relatively
happy - the great tool in recovery where we stop and force ourselves to
focus on the part of the glass that is full and be grateful, instead of giving
power to the disease's focus on the part that is empty and feeling like a
victim - and that I wanted to be happy without having to compare where I
am now to how bad it used to be.
It was about a year later, that one day
I realized that I had crossed a line someplace along my path. That
I had shifted my relationship with life enough that my life was now more
aligned with Recovery than with the disease, that my life was more defined
by Joy, Love, and peace than by anger, pain, and fear. That I was having
moments where I was just happy to be alive period - without having to force
myself to look at the relative improvement.
Forcing ourselves to own the power to change
our attitudes from negative to positive, working at learning to align with
Love instead of fear, are important parts of the process. The dysfunctional
programming is deeply embedded in our relationship with life. It can
be changed gradually. It will never be changed completely. Our
wounds never go away - they gradually have less power to dictate how we
We are works in progress - in process.
We are evolving back to an awareness of who we really are. But there
are levels and layers of gunk to be removed.
One of the most important ways in which
we know we are making progress is through feedback from other people.
It is vital to get feedback from other people in order to see ourselves more
It is important not to define ourselves
by that feedback, but rather to see it as just a part of an information gathering
process. We need to have feedback, knowledge and information, in order
to align ourselves with changing the things we need to change.
One of the first things I needed to do was
to stop accepting feedback from abusive, shaming people. In my disease,
I always gave the most power over how I felt about myself to people who
judged and shamed me. Because I was judging and shaming myself so much
I gave more credence to people who judged and shamed me than to people who
told me good things. (Of course, my ego wanted to grab onto the good
things and blow them way out of proportion - the old overreaction of telling
myself I was "better than," in order to deny the part of me that felt "worse
I had to realize - that though there might
be a grain of Truth in the messages that were shaming - that my first job
was to protect myself from abuse. I could then sift through the details
of what the person said to see if there was any Truth to look at - but I
needed to first reject the shame. (This is really about working the
first step - taking the shame out of our process by accepting powerlessness
so that we can see more clearly.)
As I learned to be discerning and have boundaries
about who I listened to, at the same time I was learning to have internal
boundaries to stop giving power to the disease and the feelings of the wounded
children within, I was able to start seeing myself and reality more clearly.
I learned to give power to the positive
feedback - not as proof of my worth - but rather as messages of encouragement
from my Higher Power.
I have inner child places within me that:
are starving for love, affection, and touch; are desperately romantic
and aching for my princess to come; that believe I am not worthy of
receiving love in a romantic relationship but that I will never be complete
without one; that are profoundly lonely. I also have an emotional
reality that as an adult I have - because of my issues and patterns - been
very deprived of companionship, love, affection, touch, etc. Because
of these factors, I would be emotionally triggered by songs. All those
wonderfully codependent songs about the type of codependent love we learned
about growing up. By giving power to those songs I was at the effect
of them - so that I could be driving along in a good mood and have a certain
song throw me into my deprivation pain.
What I did is change my relationship with
those songs. I choose to believe that those songs were about my relationship
with my Higher Power rather than a woman loving me. That turned those
songs from emotional triggers that threw me into pain to messages of encouragement
that could sometimes - because of perfect timing - help me to access Joy.
The same thing can be done with feedback
from other people. We do not define ourselves by what others tell
us. We can look at what others tell us as messages.
The ones who are shaming and abusive are
demonstrating for us how the disease works. Once we are able to start
having a more objective view of the process (to stop taking it personally),
we can see them reacting out of their own fears, out of their wounded inner
child places. They are being used to communicate with us and help
us learn about our own wounds and the disease. They are teachers who
- by acting out of their disease - are forcing us to start protecting ourselves
by learning to have boundaries.
The ones who are telling us good things
are passing along messages of encouragement from our Higher Power.
Goddess Strokes. That way, it doesn't matter what their motive or agenda
of is - because the are just being a channel, rather they know it or not.
It doesn't matter if they are being dishonest and codependent - they are
still capable of being a channel, and of giving us an opportunity to practice
My resistance to opening up to receive Love
would cause me to minimize positive feedback by telling myself that the
other person wanted something from me, or was just being kind, or whatever.
I spent several years in recovery practicing saying just plain "Thank You."
Instead of minimizing (oh it was nothing), joking it away, turning it back
on them (oh you are really the one who ___), or dismissing it because I
suspected the other persons motives or mental health. The feeling deep
within was that if someone was loving and positive towards me, it was either
a sinister plot or there must be something wrong with them.
By seeing them as channels rather than the
source, it doesn't matter what their motives are. By seeing
positive affirmation and validation coming from other people as Truly originating
from my Higher Power, then I can be grateful to them for being a channel
- not feel obligated to them because they are being kind to worthless, shameful
Now, through the miracle that this writing
process is for me, we have come back around to "it can be easier to be
a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into."
I didn't know I was going to write most of the above - and do not think I
have ever quite broken the process of discerning between giving power in
a healthy way to what other people say versus giving power to other people
in a codependent way, in quite this manner. I find it quite useful
- I hope you do also.
Anyway, what is up for me now - and for
the last few months since my last update - is being open to receive.
I am at a point of being in the process of surrendering the ingrained programming
that life is a struggle. And I do not mean that I am thinking that
I have gotten to happily ever after. What I mean is that I have gotten
to a point of doing a paradigm shift in my relationship with life away from
the valiant survivor fighting the noble fight against all odds. I
have been saying for most of my adult life it seems like, that I have learned
all the lessons I need to learn from poverty - now it is time to learn the
lessons that will come with wealth.
This little joking bit of Truth, was usually
said in relationship to money - but it is much deeper and more inclusive
than just about finances.
I am talking here about abundance on all
levels. In the ability to relax and enjoy life. In opening
up to more Love from other people - and in particular to Love from one
person in a romantic relationship. In having a safe and comfortable
space to live in. In having a level of comfort in my relationship
with material things. In not having to be afraid every time I drive
the 130 miles to Santa Barbara that my car will break down. In terms
of health and physical condition. In terms of having fun and laughing
and dancing. In terms of success for my book and my work. Everything.
What I find facing me, is an opportunity
to relax into the flow of life in a way, and on a level, I have never experienced
before. And parts of me are really resisting.
The rebel in me does not want to give up
the battle because that part of me thinks it is defined by battle.
The incredible resistance that I have encountered to Loving my own body is
rearing it's head and fighting for all it is worth. Some of my inner
children are terrified of trusting my Higher Power. And at the core,
as usual, is my fear of intimacy.
It is a good thing I made this a web page
newsletter instead of an Update mailed out - since I have a long web page
already and I haven't even gotten yet to what has happened in my life since
my last update. Obviously things have changed fairly drastically
- also obviously there is not room on this page to comfortably tell the
story of the last few months.
So, this is going to be a two part newsletter.
I am not sure how soon I will get the other part posted. Hopefully
within the next couple of days. I will put a link to Part 2 here now - but until I get it posted
you will get a page not found page if you click on this link. On
both the site index page and the New page, I have added a Part 2 which
is not yet linked. When I post the page those links will be activated.
I hope you have some cool Goddess Strokes
in your life this week,