Unconditional Love

​I struggled in high school and dropped out at age 15. At the same time. I moved out of the home I was raised in. There was no direction in my life. My inner compass was being ignored. My outer world was filled with confusion and scarcity. 

This brought me many opportunities to make horrible decisions. It also brought me the opportunity to experience Unconditional Love for the first time ever. 
 
At age 18, all my options appeared to be exhausted.  I had experience as a waitress. I was uneducated. I had no money; but I knew there was a better life waiting for me. 

It was my mother that showed me Yosemite National Park was seeking summer help. Three weeks later I rode the Greyhound bus to Mariposa, California. I can’t remember how I made it into Yosemite.  

My life changed overnight. Each day was filled with anticipation. My job was bussing tables. Clearing tables was not what I was living for, but it was good.
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Between Troubles

The old painter tells me that he loves to drive through small towns, so he can sketch the light and strike up conversations with the young woman who pumps his gas and the lobster fisherman who lets him bait his traps. He loves to meet life as it bubbles up between troubles. Last summer, he wanted to meet that poet from Nebraska, the one who speaks so simply of all that matters. He didn’t want to bother him, just to say how grateful he is for what his poems open. Eight hundred miles later, he was asking for the poet in the old bookstore. Then he drifted into the antique store in Garland where he bought four lanterns. It’s there the owner said, “Oh Ted, he lives in Dwight.” So the painter took his lanterns and drove the back road to Dwight where he left a note on Ted’s window that read, “Your poems matter.” Once home, he set up the lanterns and confessed that he needs more light as he talks to death. The next day, he painted a barn he saw in Dwight and sent it to Ted. In telling me this, he’s all aglow, a lantern himself. He takes my hand and wells up, “I love this life.”

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I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

There is a large courtyard in the building where I live. It plays an important role in my self-balancing to deal with the day ahead.


I wake up, meditate, get dressed, grab a coffee and go to sit in the courtyard – there is an overhang of the second floor so there’s protection from the rain.


My courtyard experience always starts with Gratitude. When I sit down of a morning, my thoughts turn to all the things I am grateful for, from evenness of spirit to beloved friends.


Second comes a visit, not from something majestic or mighty but from the lowly, common sparrow.


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." ---Matthew 10:29-31


Sparrows are sprightly birds, quick and attentive.


I have created a position that when I see a sparrow it’s going to be a good day. Look at them, going about their business, hopping and bopping, cocking their heads this way and that; in camouflage colours of gray and brown, when they explore around the woody branches they are visible only by their movement. And then they fly, quickly, to the hedge or the two Japanese upright maples. This being a chosen sign for me, I do not have the opposite idea – that if I don’t see a sparrow it’s not a good day. I just miss them when they don’t show up.

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What If You Could Turn All Your Wrong-Doers Into Angels

Imagine this…… one day - seemingly out of the blue - you have an awareness that all your rejections and “failures” are gifts, and all the “wrong-doers” in your life are actually,  angels and/or spiritual guides - leading you (or knocking you back) to your true path. 

If a person throws you away,

Say thank you.  

If you get fired from a job,

Say thank you.  

If your forever relationship ends,

Say thank you. 

If no one shows up for your event

Say thank you.  

If you keep hitting walls, 

Say thank you (and look for a door!)

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My Most Magical Mystical Weekend

I had the most incredible weekend with the coolest, most mystical, weird & wonderful spirit-loving people. We read Oracle Cards, we laughed, we meditated, we danced, we journaled, we cried, danced some more and we had a fantastic time together.

What did I do? I hosted the 2nd annual OraclePalooza®.

It was a dream come true to have close to 300 people join me for my yearly giant Oracle Card party and celebration event. Everyone brought amazing positive energy and dove into up-leveling exercises all while sharing their hearts, smiles, and so much joy. Even the tears were liberating in so many ways as people broke through their personal barriers.

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What I’m Thinking Ahead of this Fourth of July

The other morning when I sat down to meditate, my mind was bouncing all over the place and I struggled to access a place of calm.

 

One second, I was thinking about my children. The next, I was thinking about the children who have been separated from their parents at the border. I could feel myself feeling their fear and anxiety and I shuddered at the thought of what they must be going through.

 

Then, I found myself thinking about the terror inside the newsroom in Annapolis. I felt terror inside me as I thought about how unsafe everyone seems to feel these days. In fact, just the other day, I cautioned my kids not to get into a fight with someone on the road (or anywhere else for that matter). I cautioned them that everyone has so much rage and anger these days that you have to be careful in every circumstance. You just never know.

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In the Details

“God is in the details,” some wise individual once said. Different people interpret that sentence differently, but for me it means the Divine lives in every seemingly insignificant detail in the world. God does not show up solely for fiery sunsets, mountain panoramas, and sacred ceremonies. God is also in the tiny ant crawling across the picnic table and the voice of a neighbor singing off-key at 6 a.m. God exists beyond judgment and circumstance. God is everywhere.

 

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The Power of New Beginnings

“Your soul senses the world that awaits you.”


That’s the last line of a poem by one of my favorite poets, John O’ Donahue. It’s called “New Beginnings,” and I just love the image that it conveys. A world awaits you and your soul.

Several years ago, I printed out the poem, put it in my wallet, and promptly forgot about it. Then last Sunday as I was sitting in a parking lot, I rediscovered it.

The crumpled piece of paper caught my eye as I was rummaging through my wallet trying to find one of those crazy punch cards for juice that my son makes me buy.

“What’s that?” I thought to myself as I spotted the wrinkled paper.

I unfolded it and found the poem. There, sitting in my car in a CVS parking lot, I read it once again. Tears streamed down my face.

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Life Is Complicated, Life Is Simple

We humans like to think life can be reduced to a list of tips or suggestions that will keep everything controllable and running smoothly. Social media and marketing promote this illusion with articles and ads that proclaim the “top ten” ways to health, wealth, love, or eternal youth. The truth is that life is not manageable. Relationships can be challenging, checkbooks may not balance, and the most carefully thought-out plans fall through. Is this the end of the world, reason for despair? Absolutely not. If life were predictable and reducible to easy steps for across-the-board success, it would be boring, and we would not grow and evolve.
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Conversations Around My Kitchen Table

My kitchen table is always a busy place. (Not as busy as newsrooms or the White House were this week, but pretty busy nonetheless.)

I love family, I love food, and I love to invite people into my home to sit with me at my table. Oftentimes, I invite friends of mine or people I’ve met through my kids. Other times, I invite people who friends have suggested I meet because they’re doing something interesting in the world. I invite people who have different perspectives on different issues. People who think differently than me politically. People of different races. People of different faith backgrounds. I’ve even been known to cold-call someone I’ve read about and invite them to join me at my table.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from those who join me. I learn how little I really know. I learn how vast the world is. I learn how wide-open people’s hearts are. How much suffering there is. How many creative and inspiring ideas are out there bubbling in people’s minds.

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The 5 keys For When You Are Feeling Lost and Confused In Life

Sometimes when you think you are most lost, you are actually much closer than you think.

As you face dark times, failure, or confusion, it’s easy to lose the faith and want to give up. It’s easy to feel alone and question yourself and the validity of your dreams.

In the midst of a difficult time, you may not always understand WHY things are happening. But TRUST that all things are happening for your good, even if you can’t see it right now.

The universe is cooking the blessings on your behalf.

So you must let go of the life that you have in order to embrace the next level of life that awaits you.

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Finding a ‘Yippee!’ Moment in Every Day

A profoundly simple idea came to me last weekend.

It came way before I watched the Comey interview. Way before the Time 100 list came out. Way before Jeff Bezos told us how many Amazon Prime customers there actually are. (OMG.)

The idea came to me as I was sitting in conversation with three old friends and a dog. I don’t know exactly whose idea it was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the dog’s. 

The idea came out of one of those conversations that traversed the news of the day, the bumps of life, and the challenges at hand. As we were talking, we collectively decided that we all needed more joy in our lives. “Yippee moments,” to be exact.

What is a yippee moment, you ask? Well, it’s a moment you consciously celebrate. It’s a moment where you decide that you get to feel joy-filled at least once per day, since most of us don’t focus on finding joyful moments on a daily basis.

Most of us are so bogged down getting through life and attending to life’s never-ending stream of responsibilities that before we know it, we aren’t playing anymore. We aren’t celebrating anymore. We aren’t thinking “yippee!”

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Gratitude Instead of Grievance

Celebrate the blessings in your life and let go of the perceived wrongs. At the deepest level, everything is a blessing, and those who challenge your identity or cause you pain play their role in your life too. It’s all a giant improvisational drama, this life on Earth. We came into this world with a soul framework, a few costumes, and a troupe of other players. Together we live the magic of life lessons and evolving epiphanies, which lead us forward on our journey.

In grade school, I had two teachers who each embodied different qualities: one, Mrs. Logan, was pure loving-kindness, and the other, Mrs. Wyman, was filled with anger and a need to control.* Both of them taught me human lessons beyond the classroom and had an effect on my life that I’m beginning to see more clearly now after all these years.
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Small Things With Great Love

Mother Teresa said, “We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” In my experience, the smallest things require the greatest love. The smallest things we do are the intimate and personal choices we make each moment before we act. These choices are always between the intention of love and the intention of fear – between gratitudecaring, and patience, among others, and anger, jealousy, righteousness, among others.

These choices appear to us as as the smallest of small things, as interior experiences that we alone can enter and alter. Yet with our choices of love or fear we create the consequences of our lives and the contributions we make to the world. These choices are the origins of all things, great and small, they alone animate the one who chooses. You are the one who chooses.

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I’ve Been Thinking About Gratitude

There I was, sitting in a small back room at Molloy College, waiting to go on stage to talk about my new book, “I’ve Been Thinking…”


This was Wednesday, two days into my book tour. I had just driven two hours from Manhattan to Long Island and I was tired. I was sitting alone. I was feeling anxious. (Yes, I still feel anxious when I have a new book come out.)

I was trying to take a few moments to gather my thoughts. Trying to calm my mind and heart. Trying to remind myself why I had written this book and why I was doing all of this in the first place. Then, thoughts of self-doubt started to fill my head. (Yes, I gave up self-doubt for Lent, but like anything hard, this is a process.)

“Will anyone like my book?” I asked myself. “Of course, they won’t.”

“Oh my God, I should have added this line and not that one,” I thought.

There I was feeling a bit like “God help me.” Then, I heard my name introduced on stage. I walked out from behind the curtain and saw a packed room sitting before me. People filled the auditorium all the way up to the rafters. I looked up and around and the first thought that came to my mind was, “I’m in the wrong room! God help me! I’m in the wrong room!”

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12 Ways I Would Live if I had a 24 Hour Redo on Life

What is the greatest marvel? Each day death strikes and we live as though we are immortal. ~The Mahabharata

 

On the morning of January 13, 2018, out of the blue, the people of Hawaii were confronted with apparent catastrophe. Every radio, television and cell phone in the state received a message that a ballistic missile was heading inbound towards the islands. People were advised to seek immediate shelter. The chilling last words of the messaged warned that “this is not a drill”.

 

For the next 38 minutes, facing what appeared to be a nuclear attack, people were forced to make decisions about how they would spend the last moments of their lives. Videos posted online showed people running through the streets in a panic. Twitter was inundated with tweets from people reaching out to say goodbye to those they loved. One woman wrote that she, her husband and infant child were sheltering in a closet, the husband shielding the baby. A reporter who had just dropped his son off at the airport wrote about having to decide whether to go back to the airport to be with his son, go to his wife’s place of business or head home to his two youngest children. He couldn’t possibly get to them all.

 

After almost 40 minutes, a second message was sent stating that it was a false alarm. There was no inbound missile. There was no nuclear war. No one would die in a conflagration of unimaginable proportions. Life would go on, at least for now.


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Try Starting Your Day Like This…

Here we are in a new year, with the promise of a new day. New days. New years.

 

Earlier this week, my dear friend Oprah Winfrey delivered a powerful speech about a new day being on the horizon. I love that imagery, I love her, and I love that truth.


I, for one, believe this new day is already here, and that its arrival will make 2018 our best year yet. (Read NY Times columnist Nick Kristof’s excellent piece about why 2017 was also the best year yet for humanity. It will really make you think.)


Last week, I wrote that my intention for this new year is to lead from a place of love. Shifting my perspective in that way has already enabled me to make another unexpected shift — one that is changing my day-to-day life for the better. Now, instead of waking up each day and saying, “I ‘have to’ go to work… I ‘have to’ write something smart and insightful… I ‘have’ to meet with so-and-so…,” I have decided to turn my “have to’s” into “I get to’s.”

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Your Body Is a Freaking Miracle: Loving How It Works (Instead of JUST How It Looks)

You might’ve heard it said that your body is the most amazing thing you will ever own. Your body is a miracle, a wonderland, a brilliant machine. I’m sure you’ve heard all the catchphrases.

But let me ask you this: do you believe it? Have you ever taken to heart all of the ways that your body shows up for you without your having to lift a finger?

Think of all the things that your body can do. Your heart keeps beating right on cue. Your lungs keep breathing without needing reminders. Your cells keep regenerating themselves without your help. This means that you have an entirely new set of taste buds every ten days, new fingernails every 6-10 months, new bones every ten years, and even a new heart every 20 years.

It’s performing incredible feats of endurance and protection at every moment of every day. And it never takes a single moment off … that in itself is nothing short of astounding.

But so frequently, all we focus on is that our body is beginning to creak. It’s getting fat. It’s not fast enough, strong enough, or pretty enough to make us happy. We focus on scars and call them ugly. We see a number on the scale, and if we don’t like it, we blame our bodies.

Hardly seems fair, does it?

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The Sweetness of Giving

More than 25 years ago, my stepfather, Doc, saw me give a homeless man $20 and he asked me why I did it.  The question took me by surprise, partly because I had never thought about the “why.”

After a few moments, I told him “because it makes me feel good.”

My dream job is to be a philanthropist, which I plan to make into a full-time job when I win the lottery (I already have a plan on how to give away millions).

In the meantime, I consider myself a mini-philanthropist with big dreams.

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These Are the Things I’m Grateful For

On this Sunday after Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting. I am reflecting on the larger world we share. I am reflecting on our country and all that is going on here at home. And, I am reflecting on my own, smaller, world, right here within myself.


Through reflection, I find that I am able to be both optimistic and deeply troubled by the state of our world. I am troubled by the violence that exists in our society, by the state of men and women’s relationships right now, and by the hopelessness that so many feel about our politics and our national discourse. But, I am also optimistic that we are in the midst of a national awakening. I believe that we are in an awakening about our politics, about power, about the realities of sexual harassment, about economic inequality, and about the importance of having a free press that can do its job.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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