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  • Never Blend In

    Two of my favorite moments of the Academy Awards in 2009. Powerful, life changing words of courage in the acceptance speeches from the screenwriter, Dustin Lance and leading actor Sean Penn for the movie Harvey Milk. Talk about the power of telling a true story and changing lives. We know that Harvey made the ultimate sacrifice of his life by living openly, pursuing his dream of equal rights, giving hope and in some cases saving the lives of those who are in the discriminated gay minority of America. There's a new way to show your support for this minority with a small donation and the wearing of a thin white band that says "Never Blend In." The Harvey Milk site is where you can find them and your gay friends will love you for your courage to wear your support on your sleeve, or at least close to it. I also enjoyed hearing the words of Harvey Milk on this site. Although it would be easier, I agree with Harvey that we can't afford to blend in and surrender our rights. Equal rights should be the right of everyone in America, not just the majority and we need to fight for them until they are granted. Please join me in that fight by doing whatever small part you are called to do. Even if it is as small as speaking up when given the chance to oppose discrimination in any form. We cannot afford to blend in.

  • What Would I Do Today if I Were Brave?

    Jana Stanfield is one of the best songwriters alive today IMHO and she wrote a song that became the theme for the Girl Scouts of America, "If I Were Brave." You can check it out here: The song is awesome but the answer to the question is tied into what matters most. I think the only thing that stops me from doing what I love most is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what has gone wrong in the past when I have done it, fear that I won't be good enough, fear that I won't be able to make a living, fear that the world doesn't need what I love most -- telling stories that change people's lives. That's what I would do if I were brave. Like Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion or Dave Barry in his syndicated column, or maybe host a talk show like Bill Maher where I could say exactly what I think and feel and not worry if I offend someone. Maybe on second thought, Garrison's approach would get me fewer death threats. Story tellers, all of them, and they have changed my life. So this blog is my feeble attempt at getting up the courage to finally do what I would do if I were brave. Today a blog with 3 followers, tomorrow an HBO feature. What would you do today if you were brave?

  • There is No Such Thing as Failure, Only Feedback

    Why is it that when something bad happens, it feels terrible? I have been so conditioned to strive for success that when something goes wrong I feel terrible and I feel like a failure. But usually in time, after I get over myself, that failure turns into a valuable lesson. Of course to get to this point it normally takes time and perspective to see it as the lesson it is instead of the failure that it feels like. I truly believe that if I could remember this at the time I could get to the lesson sooner instead of dwelling on the failure and spend more of my time in joy. At these times this lesson serves me well, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. My failure is only a failure if I fail to see the feedback, to take the lesson and apply it so that it is only a step on the way to eventual success, even if that success looks very different than what my original vision might have been. Funny how my limited vision can be without the valuable feedback I need to see my success a different way. Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash

  • Claiming Our Power to Choose

    “The pandemic is the worst thing ever.” “The pandemic is the best thing ever.” While the truth is much more nuanced than either of these statements, one leaves me feeling like Eeyore and the other more like Tigger. It is incredibly sad to think of the sheer volume of people no longer walking this planet as a result of this tiny virus, and all their families left behind, as well as the people in the bottom of the privilege ladder who have been inordinately impacted. After all, “we may all be in the same boat, but not the same deck” (as social justice educator Victor Lee Lewis would say). I don’t want to glaze over the devastation wreaked. At the same time, we humans are presented with a unique opportunity to witness our inherent connection to the Earth and to each other, and to decide if the way we’ve been going about life is really working out so well from both happiness and planetary sustainability standpoints, and for whom (e.g. the ‘lower decks’ of the boat). This opportunity to slow down and reconnect with a more natural pacing of life, notice and greet our neighborhood trees, and heck, even breathe cleaner air than we’ve had in a long time are just some of the gifts presented in our current state. Where we land on the tragedy/opportunity continuum in any given moment is our choice. Even in the most desperate of circumstances, we have the power to choose our beliefs. Every thought that rolls through our mind can lean towards peace, ease and happiness, or discord, dis-ease, and isolation. It might not seem like we have much choice, sure. The cultural (and inherently patriarchal) conditioning most of us have grown up with would point us towards staying small, accepting our lot, believing only that which is before our eyes and nothing else. I’m not arguing to disregard facts, or to delve deep into conspiracy theories that point at a mysterious ‘other’ to blame our current challenges on (another outcome of patriarchal habituation). What I am saying is that in moments of suffering, grief, pain, anger or anguish, we can tell ourselves a story about how awful it all is, and perhaps then reach for our preferred “numbing agent”, be it booze, TV, mindless phone scrolling, or worse. Or, we can say, ‘this situation sucks, AND I demand to see the blessing.” Or, “I don’t like what’s happening AND I recognize that growth is often uncomfortable.” The stories we tell ourselves create our reality. “Yeah yeah yeah, I’m not here for this power of positive thinking mumbo jumbo,” you might be saying upon reading thus far. I invite you to notice that inner narrator, whatever it’s saying. That’s the first little step towards liberation. Sometimes the narrator is so quiet it’s impossible to decipher the words themselves. I’ve found listening to my body sensations is key to unlocking these stories from the subconscious. When I notice the vice grip feeling around my throat, nausea in my belly, or tightening around my heart and chest, my body is alerting me to something important. I can choose to listen, or not. Conditioning would tell most of us there is no choice. “It is what it is.” In English common vernacular, there are a million ways to eschew responsibility for our choices That somehow we didn’t have choice at all: the bank closed. The friend was late. Traffic. (See pages 7-8 here for more on this). So, believing in the myth of powerlessness makes perfect sense even from an English linguistics perspective. We couldn’t help but believe these things, especially as small children utterly dependent on our caregivers for our very survival. Yet, regardless of external circumstances, if I say, “I get to decide what to make of this situation”, I have a bit more power. And don’t we all want to feel empowered? Autonomy is a core driver imparted to every person I’ve ever met. There is this false either/or paradigm here, too. Either I exercise my autonomy, or I fit in. Whether it’s to be acceptable to our family, friend group, job, neighborhood, community, country, or society at large, the desire to belong is strong. That is the tension that pulls us away from choice, sometimes not even consciously. Byron Katie speaks of this very thing in the Work with her questions to ask about the stories we tell ourselves. Paraphrased, “Is this thought true? How do I know? Can I really know? What happens when I believe this thought? Who would I be without this thought? What might I think instead that feels better?” The conditions of the pandemic provide plenty of opportunities to decide what to make of things. “All the things I cannot do plain sucks.” Sure. Or, “Wow, here are all the things I can do.” The former thought leaves me sad, powerless, small. The latter is expansive with possibility. Sure, none of us signed up for this circumstance. And here we are, so how do we wish to be in spite of it? For me it’s a work in progress. Yet each time I reach for choice and claim the bigger thought, the more empowering idea (even if it’s about the tiniest thing), I find greater ease and more capacity to withstand challenges when they arise, and I invite you to give it a try! Where in your life would you like more empowerment and what new thing might you tell yourself to point you in that direction? Cassidy Meeks is our guest blogger this week. When not writing blogs, Cassidy leads the Youth and Family Ministry at Unity Minneapolis. Photo by Anisetus Palma on Unsplash

  • Timely Improvement Over Delayed Perfection

    Once upon a time many years ago, I started my career in marketing. Those were the days that everything we did was in person, print, video or radio. A marketing campaign took months to strategize, plan, execute, measure and then adjust or refine based on the results. Making a change in a print ad or a printed brochure was a major undertaking, nearly as arduous as starting over again. And you had to have patience to wait on the results of a direct mail campaign, sometimes up to 6 weeks before you knew if your response rate was 2% (crack open a beer) or 4% (pop the cork on champagne). And then Al Gore invented the Internet and I finally found my calling. For me, the Web is like marketing on crack. I can have an idea, execute it on my website, measure the results and adjust my campaign all within an hour if I have enough traffic to get statistically significant measurements (which I did at sites such as, Bank of America, Bluegreen Resorts and So this is my mantra; make timely improvements over delayed perfection. It fits with my belief that there is no such thing as a new idea but what defines success is in the implementation. Most ideas have been thought of before but few people are great at executing. Perfectionists tend to want to wait until their plan is perfected, their execution fully routed, proofed and tested and everything is tied up with a nice bow. But in the web world, implementation and feedback can dramatically change your plan or send you down a different path altogether. But not to worry, you can always change it in about an hour or so. You gotta love it! Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

  • We Aren't Here to Solve Our Problems, We Are Here to Outgrow Them

    Awhile ago now I had the experience of a hurricane named Michael Beckwith. I use hurricane to describe the experience because our time together was powerful, it was uplifting, it rearranged some of my thinking and it destroyed some old thought patterns that no longer serve me. He said something in his talk that was such a relief for me and something that rang so true, "we are not here to solve our problems; we are here to outgrow them." What a relief that I don't need to figure out why my job was eliminated, how I'm going to make ends meet, why the stimulus package wasn't supported by any Republicans, how in the world will the health care crisis be solved. Michael suggested that any problem we are struggling with already has a solution, that the answer is within us. But we won't find it out there, the issues and problems I am dealing with are opportunities to go within and to go beyond my small view of myself to realize something even better. Even delays or obstacles along the way each deliver an important piece of my unique experience puzzle that will eventually complete a whole picture that I just can't see right now. So I need to go beyond that which is directly in front of me to see something larger and bigger than what my small focus may not be allowing me to realize. It isn't about obsessing on the stimulus package or my lack of a job but rather the time I have in my life right now to find a larger definition of who I am and how I will earn the energy/money I need to realize my true potential. I choose today to focus on how I can outgrow the obstacles in front of me to become something better and bigger than any problem in front of me now.

  • Life is Nothing But a Stage

    As a follow up to the meaning of life post last week, I sometimes wonder how in the world those around me can love me. Then other times I'm lucky enough to remember that whatever I might be doing for a job, in my social life, for my relationship, for my home, for my vacation -- everything is just a stage for me to interact with exactly the right people and to give my gifts and receive theirs. I oftentimes forget this and think that whatever stage I'm on is the important thing, like selling timeshares or servicing owners or making a widget or seeing the Himalayas but then something will happen to remind me that those are all just the props, the set, the backdrop to do the important work of our time on earth -- to give our gifts and receive gifts from others. Here are 2 of our favorite performers during a weekend visit and concert by Jana.Here are 2 of our favorite performers during a weekend visit and concert by Jana. The coffee mug song by Jana Stanfield Not gifts like packages, tied up in a bow, but gifts of caring, love, laughter, joy, sharing, connection - all of the things that define us as God having a human experience. I heard a great performer this weekend, Amy Carol Webb (she's the one on the left with the mug) and she sang a song called "God Has No Hands But Ours". It was a great reminder that if those gifts are going to make it to those of us on earth then it is up to me to deliver them and to receive them no matter what perfect incarnation of God shows up to bestow them. And if I'm caught up in whatever stage or drama that I happen to be involved in at the time, then I might miss that opportunity. So do me a favor, help me remember that life is just a stage where I am called to give and receive my gifts.

  • The Meaning of Life...

    We as humans increase the knowledge of our species by written and spoken word so I thought that maybe, just maybe I have learned some things in life that might be worth sharing. I also know that by sharing we also remember so life's lessons aren't just fleeting and lost moments that depart as quickly as they arrive. So I will start with the meaning of life, at least as far as I can tell -- To Give and Receive Love. I know we all live our lives as if education, job, power, money, position, title, etc. are what matter in life but in the end whatever job we have, whatever things we have, whoever is in our life are really just vehicles or our stage to do what matters most -- To Give and Receive Love. Anything besides these two acts are temporary illusions, perceptions and judgements that dissolve when our body temple no longer serves us. The only thing that remains is the love that has been given and received. Puppies and dogs know this, they are here to show us how to do what they do so well -- Give and Receive Love, unconditionally and without hesitation. Okay, so maybe you have experienced people who aren't interested in giving you love, as a matter of fact they give you more of a hard time than love. That's just a cry for love on their part. No matter how unlovable they may seem, it is our calling, our purpose, the meaning of life -- To Give and Receive love. I'm writing this to remind myself of this fact, I need the reminder, like everyone, I have more days that I forget than remember the meaning of life. But how much simpler and peaceful my life is when I do remember. My goal is to have those brief moments of remembering - to make each one longer than the last and to make the time between those moments shorter and shorter so that one day I can have that memory be my experience of life. Join me in remembering that the purpose of life is to give and receive love. In Service, Sheryl

  • Who Am I Anyway? My Journey...

    I'm one traveler on a journey together on planet earth with my fellow travelers (that's you). I believe we all originate from the same life force and incarnate here together to give and receive love as we learn life lessons. Everything else is just a stage for the real learnings in life to happen. My judgments about the things that happen are just an illusion as nothing that happens is good or bad, it just is. It is my thinking that makes it anything else and I get to decide at every moment how I will react. I am divinely blessed for where on this earth I incarnated. Yes I am grateful for being an American and realize that anything I can complain about is insignificant in relationship to 95% of the rest of the human population. I was born a Pentecostal, spent many years as an atheist reading books titled “Religion as a Creative Insecurity” and "A Course in Miracles." I also lived for one year at a Yoga Ashram founded by a wonderful teacher, Swami Satchidananda in Yogaville, VA. In addition I spent nearly 4 years living overseas in Brussels Belgium where I got to see Americans from the perspective of a non-American and found the experience terribly eye opening and self reflective. I now share a spiritual reality with those who attend the Religious Science Church (sorry, not Scientology) called The Center for Spiritual Living while I belong to a Unitarian Universalist Congregation called The River of Grass (very apropos for a South Florida group). I am seeking to find the way to experience peace in all things, no matter what is going on around me. And so it is!

  • What is Prayer?

    "Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view." Ralph Waldo Emerson I remember growing up that prayer was the time when I would be in need and I would beseech an outside entity to please hear my plea and aid my call. It was definitely a child/parent relationship. If I could just find the right way to ask for it, the parent would grant my wish. But then as I got older it changed, the whole pray and though shalt receive didn't seem to be working out so well, and besides, who said I really know what is best for me anyways. Creating the world in my own image is so limiting. I mean reality has much more imagination than I do. Why limit myself? So then I studied Eastern religions and their method of prayer was meditation, where I learned to find peace no matter what was going on around me or no matter what lack I might perceive that needed to be filled. An hour of meditation a day seemed to make all things fall into place, to help me gain perception and learn how to be grateful instead of needy. What a better place to come from. So no matter what name you give it, prayer, meditation or just being, Emerson said it best: It is a time for me to contemplate the facts of my life from an out of body point of view. Now if I could just find that hour a day that I need...

  • Do You Trust Your Inner Guide?

    So, I'm getting to be on a first name basis with Mr. Emerson through my class at The Center for Spiritual Living in Ft. Lauderdale. And I can see why his concepts were so powerful especially in his day. The single most important essay he wrote was the one on Self Reliance. How do you decide what is your genius and what is yourself making excuses for not doing something you don't want to do or maybe it's just a cheap excuse to buck authority? Well, that's the million dollar self reliance question. I think the acid test is in the results of my decisions and actions. If my inner voice tells me to do something and I follow it and in that following I am able to tap into a power greater than my own, then I know I am in the flow with my divine purpose. Ralph's essay goes on to say, " Trust thyself." "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind." Still he doesn't give us a clue as to what that might look like and how we might tell the difference. He is a big one for non-conformity. He says, "Whoso would be a man (I assume this is true for women as well), must be a nonconformist." He challenges us to not do something just because it is popular or expected. He asks each one of us to look inside our heart and make our lives from within instead of from without. He also states, "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think." I've heard that put another way by Wayne Dyer, "What other people think about me is none of my business." (This is very similar to a book published in 1988 by Terry Cole-Whittaker - What You Think of Me is None of My Business). And yet Emerson said it in more emphatic and passionate terms back in 1926 in his essay on self reliance. Some people think his essay is the best way to describe our great Nation and what made it great and how so many great people have risen from nothing to successes, no matter how you measure success. I only hope I have the courage and inner hearing to know what this means for me, to trust my inner self even if it means non-conformity, to find the strength of character to go beyond worrying about what others think of me and enter my greatness of purpose, even if it isn't socially acceptable. I hope you too my friend can find this as well.

  • How to Achieve Enlightenment

    I always thought that reaching enlightenment would require years of practice, hours of meditation and daily yoga, fasting, unlimited service hours and much much more! However, someone explained it to me that enlightenment comes one moment at a time. Everyone has had at least one moment of enlightenment, one moment of intense love, bliss, or happiness. It is what gives us hope to carry on. Like the most intense connection with someone else or the perfect golf shot, it is why we come back again and again. If we have experienced it once we know it can happen again. So someone wiser than I explained enlightenment as the ability to have those moments more and more often. And each time they come we strive to make them last longer and longer until one day they merge together and we live in an eternal state of love, bliss or happiness (however you define enlightenment). Now that is a goal I can work towards and just think of the fun I will have along the way! Won't you join me? In service, Sheryl

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