Do you like to be helpful to others? Of course you do.

Do you know why you like to be helpful? Probably not.

Diligently questioning our own motivations is incredibly helpful and important.

Maybe it’s a middle age thing, but as I go through my days lately I find myself really asking the big life questions like “what’s our ultimate purpose?” and “What happens after we die?” Some cultures, like Hindu sociateies, are so unafraid of death, they burn corpses of loved ones right in the center of their town and everyone participates in rituals which help to elevate the soul of the person to the next realm.  But here in North AMerica, we have done everything we can to avoid the idea of death, even its inevitability.  So, we all go around with a small secret fear that speaks quietly and insistenly, making us choose directions in life that may not optimize what we are capable of doing. Many people view talking about death as morose, but really if you think about it, it is death itself that gives us the best and truest perspective on living.

The questions surrounding death ultimately bring you back to the question of your purpose, and I concluded that my (and everyone’s purpose) is to discover their highest creative capacity for good and do that. “creative” in this case means making something that hasn’t been here before.  A sound, an image, a machine, an action, a decision, a direction, an interaction. Everyone has a skill, a passion and a talent. One day our societies will better support our ability to excavate what those talents and passions are and follow those through during our lives even as they shift and change.

Ultimately I think everyone wants the same things.  We are all finding that we have great similarities to each other as we grow and expand in our connection through the internet. Social media, as much as it is causing  a pervasive kind of loneliness and isolation in the world, is also disseminating information at lightening speed, and the best stuff we are learning, ultimately, is about each other.

Generally – We all want the basics – food, shelter, some form of daily safety. We all want love, companionship, purpose, acceptance and appreciation within a group of people (community). And at the very bottom of it, we all want to be purposeful and helpful.  I believe this is the basic nature of people, and that all the rest of what you see are layers of illusions that have to fall off before they discover this essential nature.

Some of the most difficult illusions that cling to us include our self-image.  This is one of the toughest to overcome, as our self image is the highest form of protection we carry around with us – like a turtle’s shell.  We fall back onto “who we think we are” with every decision we make.

Knowing why we make choices is the key stone to excavating our greatest inner resources.  This means becoming fully honest with ourselves about our inner motivations when we do anything.

Take, for example, a person who goes around helping everyone, and then complains that no one is appreciating them.  I bet we all know these kinds of people – the ones that go through the world gifting people, helping people, driving sick people around, making food, taking drunken friends late night phone calls and entertaining their suicidal ideations.  The door-mats.  They complain about not being repaid in kind, not feeling the gratitude they should, not feeling any reciprocity.

I am only in a position to discuss this unconscious insanity because I lived in in for so long.   It was a part of my upbringing to believe that the more helpful you were to people, the more they would want you around. It was a big deal for me to realize that i was running around helping people and feeling like “no one appreciated what i did for them”.  What I learned about myself, when I got brave enough to dig deep, was that i was afraid “I” wasn;t enough and that to want me ijn your lfie I ahd to be doing somethign for you. Ugh…exhausting.

A very smart friend once told I was attracted to needy people.  I discovered it was how I validated myself.  Deciding you are going to be helpful when you are doing it because you REALLY want to be helpful and not because you are looking to gain anything(including your own sense of self-worth)  from that other person, makes for MANY different choices – and some beautiful outcomes.  You will find your life will start changing: relationships that have been around for a long time may fall by the way side, but if you don’t fight the changes, then you will discover more honest relationships, higher levels of energy, more joy and peace and a feeling of security in your own self care.

**A word of caution – be extra gentle in your “appraisal” of your motivations: the kinder you are to yourself, the more you can be to others.


BellyThe third chakra, also called Manipura, is the energetic center of emotions in humans, located around the solar plexus of your body. In horses, the third chakra is the  center activated in forming relationships within the herd and is located along the spine behind the kidneys.

Emotions in horses and humans differ in a fundamental way: because horses do not manifest an ego like humans, they don’t see each other as separate. They function naturally as a unit – behaviours born of survival instinct.   This is so important to observe when you have a chance to be around a group of horses. In this way, horses have certain advantages over humans.  They can have relationships with their “feeling of the moment” rather than projection into the past or future.  No guilt, no shame, no fear, no regret – just presence.

Horses do have emotional relationships, but not in the same context as humans, again because of the lack of ego, they don’t function on expectations the way humans do. They do not seek to reinforce themselves through their herd mates approval of their actions.  Approval, in the horse world means that a member is permitted to stay within the safe confines of the herd.  Non-approval, is when a herd mate may be acting dangerously (doing things that could attract predators and invite danger). In this case, the herd will push the offender out of its ranks until it realizes its mistake and puts its nose clearly to the ground as an apology.

I read a story once in an equine psychology book about a large herd of horses where a few of the mares had given birth around the same time, so there were a few babies who were all young and playful.

Two Thoroughbred Colt Foals, Playing, VirginaOne of the young ones however, just wasn’t getting that there were times when the herd had to stay quiet, and playing was not appropriate. It seemed the others got it, but this one just was full of piss and vinegar and would cause a ruckus at the very wrong times when he could attract dangerous predators.  So, his mother and the other female horses in the herd, his aunts and sisters – pushed him fifty yards from where the herd was eating.  The little horse, only a few weeks old, was in perilous danger in the mountains so near to a forest.  He tried to re-enter the herd, running back belligerently but the herd was united and wouldn’t allow his return.  The night came and the little horse was afraid, staying as close as he could to the moving herd without making a noise.  When the morning came, he stood at the periphery of where the mares would allow with his nose down and approached his mother who allowed him back into the herd. He had learned a hard lesson.Mustang / Wild Horse Filly Nosing Stallion, Montana, USA Pryor Mountains Hma

This story had a profound effect on my parenting.

One night my son, who had never said a sideways word to me in his life, shocked me after having had a bad day at school snapped meanly at me at the dinner table.  I was shocked.  He had never done anything like this. My own sense of unacknowledged parental guilt, post divorce, moving the kids to a farm etc… had worn me down and I found myself feeling guilt and shame and leaving the table and going to sit by myself in the garage while my seven kids and husband sat at the dinner table confused.

My son had been rude and had tested a boundary with me.  He had also won.  Not that it was a contest, but in the garage I remembered the story about that little horse and how important it was for him to learn the lesson of boundaries. I also realized I was the mare of this herd and I had allowed the herd to push me out – no one would benefit from this reaction.  I understood my guilt and why I had retreated, but at that moment, my kids needed me to set boundaries, and I was too embroiled in my ego and personal hurt to see what the more important thing to do was.

I returned to a tense table of confused people and sat down quietly and told my son to go to his room and not return until he speak more kindly.  There was an audible sigh of relief.  Things were back to normal – mom was mom. Boundaries are a part of loving people. Letting people step all over you is only a sign of how you treat your self and it teaches kids a bad lesson.

Observing Your Own Chakra:

Body language is important in horses, as it is in humans. Horses use an understanding of body language as a form of constant communication between one another. Actually, humans do this as well, but we remain unconscious of it most of the time.

Someone who speaks but keeps their hands covering the solar plexus area of their body is clearly trying to protect themselves emotionally.  By being aware of this in yourself or in another person, you can become conscious of a way to put yourself or them at ease by simply recognizing that something is there that is blocking them.

The third chakra deals with issues of willpower, ambition and action and is weakened by all forms of shame, embarrassment and self-consciousness.

Shame and related emotions come from how we feel about the opinions of others – the perception of the outside world on us.

It makes sense that we are concerned with what others think of us. After all, humans learn to survive by imitating the actions of adults and learning survival skills.  During our growing up, if we weren’t concerned with imitating our parents and gaining their approval to understand we were on the right path for understanding, our chance of survival would be greatly lessened.

However, there are certain things we learn which may have been functional and helpful as children which, as we grow up actually evolve into patterns of behaviour which inhibit making choices that promote our happiness or well being. So, being aware of (conscious) how much we govern our actions based wanting to have the approval of the outside world, is an integral part of spiritual maturity. By needing to gain the approval of the world, you became defined by what others told you about yourself.

The most important step anyone can take towards conscious emotional balance, is to prioritize loving themselves.  I don’t mean in an egoic manner, putting all your energy into filling your “wants”. I mean becoming centered and paying attention to your NEEDS. Needs and wants are not the same. WANTS are often distractions from NEEDS.  WANTS are negotiable – NEEDS are not.

How do you figure out your needs?  You listen to your emotions.

Emotions have been described to me as “energy in motion”. This means emotions are your way of communicating your needs.  The problem is, we exist in a society where we do everything in our power to avoid our emotions – alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, books, movies, music – we have developed some very intricate ways to avoid our feelings over the centuries.  In turn, we have developed immense technological capacity to fulfill our every desire. And the result is a planet in complete chaos, both at an individual and a global level.

So many people around the world now are turning to eastern spiritual belief to develop a more satisfying way to live. Studying chakras is an effective way to connect to a higher sense of yourself. You will find that you can develop a more solid and peaceful experience in your day by staying focused on what your emotions are trying to tell you rather than what you can do to rid yourself of them.

Meditate – don’t complicate!

To connect to your most important feelings meditation is crucial. Don’t complicate it. Many people don’t meditate because they have complicated it for themselves.  Just sit there – breathe.  If you have a thought – just have the thought. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just a thought. Meditation is when you cease fighting anything just for a while in your day. If you’re sad – be sad. If you’re mad – be mad.  Allow yourself to go beyond the first emotion to the real reason why it is there. There is always a reason behind the reason.  Keep looking – you will find at the base of it, there is something you are not taking care of for yourself.  No one can do that for you. Not a therapist or your spouse or friends or family. Only you can find the thing inside you that needs to be taken care of. Happiness cannot be found through evasion. Daily meditation – just sitting and being with yourself – is fundamentally important as your life progresses in this way. Eventually you will find that it is much more effective to sit with your emotions, and do nothing to avoid them than it is to evade through chasing your wants.  One option is exhausting while the other is peaceful.

The more people choose peace and connection, the more peaceful the world will become, one person at a time.

Keepin’ It Real – Resolution 2015

The new year is here and I have been struggling to find what I would write about right now.  It was much easier to write when I knew less.

I used to think I had lots to say.  My exterior goal in writing was always to try and share ideas to help someone else feel better about their own situation. My interior goal was to stay sane.  Writing helps me sort things out – take the inside thoughts and put them on the outside so I can gain some perspective.  Without some form of externalizing, we can all go a little loopy.

I didn’t want to just write about new year resolutions. We all seem to be finding a trend where we reject resolutions because really – they are just disappointments waiting to happen We think that resolutions are grand gestures meant to “fix” the larger problems of our lives. Our addictions, our nasty habits that create illness or un-wellness in us in some form.  We all have bad habits, unconscious self destructive beliefs. New Years is a perfect time to invite ourselves to become aware of these habits without berating ourselves.  We have to learn to love ALL of our 2000 parts, as they say.

Mechanisms created over time to help us avoid uncomfortable feelings or what we may perceive as unresolvable situations.  As children we found many things out of our control,. so we develop ways of behaving and believing that may have served to protect and keep us safe then,  But now are unconscious hindrances to what we believe and how we behave towards ourselves and others. We turn to anything that distracts:  food, sex, booze, drugs, relationships, books, movies – whatever it is we feel that can return us to a state of ‘contentedness” and peacefulness By using any technique to avoid anger, resentment, sadness –  we resolve to avoid our avoidance.

Year after year I hear this – from my self and others: I will quit smoking, loose weight, spend more quiet time, meditate, exercise more.  Really, what we are saying without saying it is –  “I will be kinder to myself by __________” you fill in the blank. I will honour myself more in my thoughts, actions, words and deeds.  We want to rid ourselves of the things that cling to us – what brings us down.  That’s the big picture we are trying to paint for ourselves.  But how quickly those fickle thoughts disappear back into the mire of daily grind and unresolved emotions.

I think what I have really understood his year is that you can’t get rid of things that are clinging to you by hating them – you have to love them.  The things that seem to be beginning you down,. are your best friends. They are your greatest teacher and until you recognize what they are showing you about yourself, I guarantee you that they they will hang around.  In fact, my conclusion is that our ONLY job in this life is to wade through he circumstances that are presented to us, and find ourselves still in a state of awe at who we are.

I know”state of awe” can seem like a big leap from barely tolerating yourself, which is what most people do.  We put up with ourselves. We ignore out authentic feelings which are there exclusively to give us pointers – like a compass- giving us a direction as to what we need. Needs are non-negotiable.  Wants are very negotiable.  But, understanding what and why you want and need – is your job. No one can do that for you.  Then, discovering how to honour your needs – is your job too. Not your parents, your husband or your friends or siblings. Not your boss or your work mates.  This year, we will resolve to be MORE REAL and less NICE.  Asking for what you need can go very contrary to what you think you deserve.  Finding out why you think you deserve so little – is very important.  Without this, you will make yourself and everyone around you miserable.  This is the year of being personally accountable.

I know you’ve probably heard it, but know this to be true – none of us can find interior happiness based on an exterior circumstance. No one, nothing, no event can bring it to you.  And by the way – happiness isn’t your goal You may think it is, but happiness is an emotion dependent on a moment, or a circumstance. We all want something more permanent like feeling OK in every circumstance.  We want serenity – peace, balance. strength, absolute sureness.  I’m pretty sure some people would call that faith. i don’t have a word for it yet.

What that means is that, the quiet current of discomfort you constantly feel in your belly, cannot be alleviated with a pill, a person, a new job, a new situation, a new relationship.  You will carry that feeling of discontent (judgement, anger, resentment, …etc…) with you until you LOVE it as part of yourself.

Lots of people resolve NOT to resolve now at new years.  We don’t want that pressure. We don’t want to discuss what is lacking and where the spaces can be filled.  We want to just forge forward, keep going, or DIG Deep – like Brene Brown says in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”.  We fill our lives with material stuff – go to work, pay the bills, jockey the kids on weekends, back to the ol’ grind stone Monday. Please. That isn’t a life.

While travelling I have seen the way other people live, and although we think we have sense of this with our online connection now through the internet, to really experience a people you have to be in the place where they live.

In South America for example I observed that every day men and women go to work, kids go to school – but no one is stressed or exhausted. The day is not spent in work and school isn’t everything that a kid does.  Communities work and play together every day.  Here, people still go to church, and are involved in their outside communities and each person feels they have a vital role to play in the world. In west Africa children would go to school int he mornings and afternoons were spent helping mothers carry wood and water for the fire the village would make for dinner.  Everyone would cook around the same fire.  Can you imagine how different our lives here would be if we were forced to cooperate for our daily survival needs?  There is authentic beauty in what we in North America would call poverty.  They have a greater wealth than any of us will have the fortune of experiencing here.  

Here in north america we have been terribly lost and disconnected, but there is a trend towards greater connection and authenticity that is unmistakable.  In many cases, we are so isolated in our thoughts and expectations of our lives that we don’t have any feeling of accountability nor belonging to our outside community. So, it becomes less and less important to discover the personal talents you have that can contribute to the greater whole, giving your life meaning and purpose.

It wont feel “meaningful and purposeful if all you find is YOU. Just lonely.  Once you discover your “spiritual nature” – there are a zillion terms for this but we can call it enlightenment =- you will discover that you had nothing to discover, nothing to learn, Nothing more to do than be yourself. Nothing more to be than everything that you are.  Newsflash: You’re perfect. There is nothing to “change” – only much to come to understand. namely – that your “imperfect self” is absolutely perfect – exactly the way it is.

You might be thinking I have read too many self help books at this point and have lost it.  Most of you can;t read “you’re perfect” and accept it.  we all suffer from some form of fear based on shame and not-enough-ness.  But because we believe it – doesn’t mean its true. the TRUTH is that the greatest service you can render yourself, your life, the peopel in your world and the world around you – is to discover that even your imperfections are perfect! Everything contributing to the whole of who you are – a unique awesome entity that has never been and will never be the same again. This is it.

I guess every time i write I am thinking about what i want to leave my children. That’s always in my head somewhere.  I want them to be proud of me, and to follow my “footsteps” in living a life full of excitement and adventure and self learning. I want them to see themselves like I see them:  Perfect. Even when i don’t agree with the, or when the choices they make cause them to feel like they are going backwards, i want them to know there is NO backwards, and there is NO imperfect. there is just YOU. 

We can’t give our kids what we don’t have for ourselves so I guess the old song was right…let it begin with me.