Wednesday, December 24, 2008


7 Steps to Eliminate Manufactured Fear

1. Reality Check. When consumed with fearful thoughts, ask yourself: is this thought constructive or is it of the "worst case scenario" variety? Sometimes playing the "what if" game can be a helpful tool in forward thinking; but, remember: true intuitive messages are constructive, offering direction and guidance, and do not appear in the form of never-ending, run-on dialogue in your head. Terrifying, debilitating thoughts, or those that encourage you to do something harmful, either come from manufactured fear or psychosis (i.e., think Son of Sam). If the latter, please seek medical attention--immediately!

2. Don't be a "Debbie Downer." Saturday Night Live does a crazy skit with a character called “Debbie Downer.” In each skit, Debbie is hanging out with a group of friends or at a social gathering and someone in the group will say something like, “Yeah, I ran 5 miles this morning. It was so hot that I drank 6 bottles of water!” Then Debbie chimes in, “Did you know that bottled water killed 10 million people last year . . .” As the camera zooms in on her depressive face, you hear this sound bite of trepidation and doom. Distance yourself from the rumor mill. People LOVE drama--entire industries are built on it—and they love to repeat as fact things that sound alarming but which may or may not be true. Sure, educate yourself but keep it in perspective! Refuse to participate in the fear-based chatter and drama going on around you.

3. Pull your own strings. Be selective about what you read or watch on T.V. If you are a news junkie, give yourself the gift of intervention. Don't worry--you're not going to fall into the abyss of the uninformed if you skip stories of terror and disaster. And if you can't bear to sever your ties to the news, then find a way to keep it in perspective. Remember, disaster sells. Refuse to manipulate or be manipulated by fear.

4. Be an observer, not a reactor. When you hear disheartening news and you're tempted to engage the fear, pull back and take an aerial view of society. Recognize fear-based patterns in human nature and don't go there; distinguish yourself from the masses. Learn to view world events with discernment.

5. Get to the root. Examine your deepest-held beliefs about what or who God is. Ask yourself some hard questions: Do you really believe that you are being punished by a vengeful God because you are an evil sinner? Why? Are there other possible explanations for why bad things happen to good people?

6. Live in the light. In her best George W. Bush impersonation, my mother once said to me, "You're an inspirator, not a negatator!" Develop your core of peace and happiness--it starts within. Then, as you move through life, you will inspire others simply by being a bright light in the world.

7. Awareness is key. Be the constant gardener of your thoughts and train them on the trellis of awareness. What you allow to take root in your mind will create unruly weeds or beautiful flowers. How does your garden grow?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is the Power that Beats Your Heart?

A few weeks ago an announcement aired on every news station and media outlet across the nation: The United States economy "officially" is in a recession. That day, the stock market plunged—down 680 points—as people reacted with fear to the label “recession,” though we all knew that the economy was in jeopardy; it had been for quite some time. What is it about a “label” that makes us fear what we already know?
I laughed as I read the article on CNN Money, not because the state of our economy is laughable—no, indeed it needs help—but because of the predictable, fear-based response that is so common to the human condition.
Then I thought about Y2K—remember that? We all knew that the year 2000 would come. It was inevitable given the forward movement of time. Yet in the months, weeks and days leading up to the turn of this century, people scrambled to stockpile food, medicine and generators, move money around and get everything in order for the crash that would turn everything upside down come January 1, 2000.
Y2K was the hot topic of conversation. Analysts speculated on the expansive reach of the looming disaster—surely it would take over our banks and corporations, cities and states, even our traffic lights and microwaves, automobiles, computers and cell phones. Valuable television, radio and newspaper space was dedicated to the worst case scenario. Caught up in the rumor mill of disaster, people carried this information with them, repeating harsh predictions as fact, spending precious time talking, worrying and stressing about the impending crash over which they had little, if any, control.
We waited with baited breath as the New Year rolled in, surprised that virtually nothing changed. Well, maybe a few burps and hiccups along the way, but no “disaster.” And soon, the whole bit faded into our collective memory as if it never even happened.
And what about the Asian Bird Flu scare in 2005? Remember that one? People were frantic--stockpiling Tamiflu like the world was about to end, buying up gas masks and rolls of duct tape to seal off the windows of their homes, basically preparing for a new world order that would have us all walking around in protective body masks, no longer safe to breathe the air; meanwhile, creating a shortage in Tamiflu that could otherwise help people who actually needed it.
That fall, the sale of hand sanitizers increased tenfold. Government officials speculated on the capacity of our nation to meet the vaccination demands of a pandemic, while news channels reported facts and figures from epidemics past—polio, the plague, and let’s not forget cholera—filling the American people with fear and dread. All the while, rumors swirled that the avian flu was nothing more than a hoax designed to create panic and line the pockets of drug manufactuers. What's wrong with this picture? Are we that easily manipulated by fear?
Well, that was three years ago and I can’t recall the last time I heard anyone speak of it, much less get treated for it. And while, true, some unfortunate souls met their demise in the wings of Asian Bird Flu, life moved on—business as usual—and soon, it was all but forgotten.
Yet here we are again, reacting with fear to the news of the day: A depression may be close at hand—a forecast eagerly supported by fearful images of the 30’s. And, once again, we find people moving money around, stockpiling food, building fall-out shelters, pointing to the “End of Days” and prophecies from the Book of Revelations as the reason for our downfall, while dropping fear-based speculation as fact into nervous conversations with friends, family and co-workers . . . even strangers in line at the market. With this mindset, why would we ever get out of bed?
Have we learned nothing from the past?
I’m all about preparation; as a lawyer I’m trained for it. But consider the difference between preparation and a fear-induced, knee-jerk reaction.
At times our natural, instinctive fear kicks in—an internal warning device—to alert us to real danger or threat of physical harm: fight or flight. Sometimes that fear gets us moving in the right direction and out of harm’s way, like when a run-away truck is racing towards us with no brakes.
Other times, our intuition sends us early warnings--messages from the Universe in the form of persistent thoughts, signs or omens--that can be quite helpful if we're tuned into its wisdom, but fear almost always distorts our ability to discern the message.
With finances, there are real and necessary precautions that we can all take to protect ourselves when the economy is uncertain. Certainly, we can live within our means and structure our holdings to offer maximum protection before disaster strikes—preventive measures, if you will, that generally work best when thought of in advance, like getting your teeth cleaned twice a year.
But we cannot predict every bend in the road--we'll make ourselves crazy trying--so a bit of detachment goes a long way. Then, if disaster strikes, we do what we can to learn from the past, get creative and forge a new path ahead instead of clinging desperately to what was and making our misfortune the "story" we tell about who we are.
Yet when we’re running around reacting to this crazy brand of manufactured fear instead of responding to life, we limit our creative potential--that dynamic spirit within that guides us with supportive solutions--which operates best when fear is absent.
Think about it—everything we think, say or do will be motivated by love or fear. They cannot co-exist. All other emotions are borne from one of these two states. Just try to hold a loving thought and a fearful one at the same time. You can’t do it, can you?
Living with love means that we must eliminate the manufactured fear from our lives and get on with the business of loving--love as a state of awareness, a way of being in the world where we see ourselves as part of a greater plan and purpose, connected to everyone and everything and perfectly equipped to deal with the ever-changing tides of life.
Sure, protect yourself. Be smart. Plan ahead if you must, but do it from a space of love and absolute trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way. Then let go. Opportunities exist at every turn to try something different and create a new reality, but you'll miss them if you're cowering in the corner with your gas mask, consumed with fears of your worst case scenario.
Either way, it’s a choice.
What is the power that beats your heart?

Monday, December 1, 2008


Integrity is not a conditional word.
It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather.
It is your inner image of yourself,
and if you look there and see a man who won’t cheat,
then you know he never will.
~ John D. MacDonald

Once, on a fabulous travel adventure in Bali, I was introduced to a man I’ll call Franklin. Distinguished by a headful of grey hair and a peacefulness that permeated his being, Franklin had a story to tell and I was eager to hear it.

You see, once upon a time, many moons ago, Franklin had been a seminary student, training for the priesthood. He loved his work and spiritual life and believed that he was on the right path.

Then he met Ana.

At first, he remained faithful to his commitment to the priesthood, but as his friendship with Ana deepened, and the love in his heart grew, he found himself questioning his decision . . . the path that once felt so right suddenly paled in comparison to the color of love. He couldn’t stop thinking about Ana.

He knew it wasn’t fair to continue this way—in limbo. Making a choice, he thought—any choice—had to be better than the paralyzing effect of his indecision. And, not wanting such a monumental decision to be influenced in any way by the presence of a beautiful woman or his raging hormones, he took some time away—from the seminary and Ana—to clear his head and tune into his higher wisdom.

As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, something began to crystallize for him; the way forward became clear, as his heart spoke the truth: One can serve God and love a woman, they are not mutually exclusive paths. And there were many ways for him to serve his God, he concluded, without turning from romantic love; yet following the priesthood, by its very nature, would deny his right to live in both worlds.
So after months of prayer and contemplation, he resigned his seminary seat and followed his heart back to Ana . . . only to discover that she, too, had moved on. Ana was married.

Disappointed? Yes, he was; but Franklin remained true to himself and his decision. Breaking up Ana’s marriage was not the way forward, he knew; adultery would never be his path. And having made the decision to leave the seminary, that door felt closed to him. So he did the only thing that made sense: He enrolled in law school, studied hard and graduated at the top of his class. Then he took a job in the law firm where Ana worked as an attorney.

He only wanted to be near her, to have the opportunity to work with her and be in her circle of friends. And there he stayed, a platonic confidant, colleague and friend, for more than 25 years until Ana’s marriage came to its natural conclusion.

Then and only then did Franklin profess his love for Ana, and she for him.

As the story unfolded, I knew that Franklin was a man of great integrity. He knew who he was, what he stood for and what he would never compromise. Even when his path to Ana came to a grinding halt, he remained true to the personal standards by which he lived, never seeking for himself that which was not truly available to him, honoring himself and Ana’s marriage in the process.

Now Franklin provides ethics training for judges-elect, where he speaks to men and women about the inextricable nature of personal, social and professional ethics. They cannot be separated, he says, and he begins each session with this advice: “Before you read the law, you must determine where you stand on an issue—morally and ethically—because you will always find a way around, over or under the law to support your position. It boils down to what you believe to be true about that issue on the deepest level; start with that, and your way forward will be made clear.”

So it is with integrity, which says that when we’re connected with our moral and spiritual truth it cannot be shifted by circumstance. We assert that truth, quietly, through our choices, without self-righteousness or hidden agendas. There is no need to convince others of anything because whether they agree with us or not is of little consequence. No explanation, justification or excuse will do: The fact that no one else will ever know of our behavior or choice does not make it right in our hearts, because whatever “it” is acts as a personal barometer for us. When we act with integrity, we stand undivided; our thoughts, words, choices and actions are aligned, and that comes with its own kind of peace.

Think of integrity as the foundation of who we are and what we stand for (or won’t). When we’re true to it—not because some law tells us to or because we might get caught, but because we know that it’s the right thing to do for our life—we live in balance. From this place we are free and clear to create what we most want, in harmony with the very essence of who we are and what we believe in.

What about you? What do you stand for? Where will you draw the line?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Real!

7 Steps to Greater Authenticity
Connect with Yourself. Pay attention to how you feel in different situations, around certain people. Find what gives your heart the greatest joy. Then align with those people, places and things that reflect your highest truth. Don’t know what that is—your highest truth? Make its discovery a top priority for your life. It’s exhausting to be everything to everyone else; especially when you’re left behind. Be there for yourself!
Speak-up! Learn to be a good communicator and speak your truth with passion and conviction. You don't have to start a fight or discount what may be real and true for others in order to be true to yourself. Go ahead . . . rock the boat, baby!

Banish Fear. Come on, what's the worst that can happen—someone might think you're weird or disagree with you? So what! When you’re living your highest truth, you really don’t care. Dare to be different.

Suspend Judgment; Be the Observer. When we focus on improving ourselves we have little time to criticize others or worry about how they might perceive us. Monitor your thoughts and clean up the messy parts. Lose the negative self-talk. Learn to be your own best friend. Everything else will take care of itself.

Just Say "No!" When asked to participate in or attend an event, check-in with yourself: Do you really want to go there or do that? Only commit to those activities and associations that are meaningful to you. There are hundreds of ways to get involved and show you care. Be selective. Cultivate the art of saying "No."

Divorce Yourself of Guilt. Don't let this energy vampire bleed you dry! Either use guilt constructively to make needed changes in your life or lose it all together. When you connect with others authentically—being true to yourself in the process—what do you have to feel guilty about?

Drop the Mask. Not everyone has to like you or approve of your choices. As my colleague once said, “If everybody likes you, then you probably aren’t doing your job!” Be yourself, even if others disapprove. There’s beauty in authentic self-expression.

Remember, authenticity is next to perfection—little if anything can shake its foundation. Get real!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Behind the Mask: Your Authentic Self

Never for the sake of peace & quiet deny your own experience or conviction.
~Dag Hammarskjold
In the 4th grade, I went to school dressed as a cardinal—not the second-in-command of the Roman Catholic Church kind, but the North American Finch variety (cardinalis cardinalis); the state bird of Virginia. My mother helped me with the costume, which consisted of an oversized red sweatshirt, brown tights and a felt hood bearing the cardinal’s crowned peak. With nose painted black and fake bird feet strapped to my shoes, I boarded the bus with enthusiasm and pride. I returned that afternoon with trophy in hand—first place prize for “Best Virginia Day Costume.”

Later, in the 5th grade, I became a Dogwood tree. For this, my mother and I gathered flowering braches from the large Dogwood in our front yard, which I proudly strapped to my arms, legs and head, representing our State’s most cherished flower. Again, I took the prize.

By the time I reached the 6th grade, I was slightly conscientious about my look. To accommodate my more sophisticated tastes, I left behind my "childish" wildlife representations and dressed as the Governor’s wife--complete with my grandmother’s fox stole, pillbox hat and stunning silk suit; a mini-Jackie O in the making. I don’t recall if I took home a prize that year, but something tells me that I probably did.

Yet it wasn’t always about the prize for me. You bet I loved a good trophy—still do. But mostly, I was driven by the freedom of expression, connecting with that part of myself that lived in my imagination; always entertaining, always creating, always considering the next great idea. Back then, I didn’t care what the other kids thought. It never even occurred to me that I was one of only a handful of children wearing a crazy costume to school. I was living my creative truth.

But by the time I started high school—somewhere along the way—I had lost contact with my most authentic self. Instead, burdened with thoughts of fitting in, I learned to wear a different kind of costume—one that would help me to blend in with my surroundings, chameleon-like, so that I wouldn’t be thought weird or different.

We’ve all done it at some time: Feigning interest in things that we’re not really interested in just to be accepted by others, part of the crowd; withholding our opinions for fear of sounding foolish or ill-informed; hiding our true feelings because we don’t want to rock the boat or acknowledge the uncomfortable truth; holding back vital parts of who we are that might be met with disapproval by others.

Sure, I have always been an independent sort, more of a lion than a lamb. But my desire to be liked by others led me to connect with the externals of life—putting more emphasis on what others thought or said or did—conforming, rather than connecting with my personal truth. This was especially true in my early relationships where I found myself carried along on someone else’s agenda; wondering why, at times, I felt so frustrated and unfulfilled.

Old habits die hard. What started as an unconscious pattern took years for me to recognize as a destructive force in my relationships. Until I remembered my Cardinal-Dogwood Tree-Governor’s Wife-Crazy-Costume-Wearing-Free-Spirited-Self--learning to care less about what other people thought and trust more in the beauty of my uniqueness--I remained disconnected.

Authenticity demands that we get real, gently reminding us that the masks we wear will determine much about the substance and quality of our lives. When we hide our personal truth—for whatever reason—we disconnect further from what’s real and true within us. Then we may find that, while we attract people and experiences that match our false Self, we’ve done little to honor our authentic truth, keeping us evermore removed from our core desires and greatest potential in life.

Remember, little if anything can move what’s authentic from its foundation. Authenticity is next to perfection.
What masks are you wearing?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Say What? The Law of Communication

Let it out
Let it free
Let it all unravel
Let it out and it can be
A path on which to travel.
~Leunig, Misquoting Michael

In the first round of presidential debates between Senators McCain and Obama, the issue was raised about whether it was prudent to meet with world leaders without “preconditions,” particularly when those individuals or countries oppose us or threaten destruction of our allies.
Senator McCain insisted that any such meeting be conducted with preconditions, so as not to endorse their ugly propaganda; ridiculing Senator Obama for being naïve in his willingness to sit down with Iranian leaders without such conditions in place.
Senator Obama, on the other hand, offered the idea of tough, direct Presidential diplomacy when it came to exploring contacts with other nations, even “rouge nations” like Iran. He said, “Now, understand what this means "without preconditions." It doesn't mean that you invite them over for tea one day. What it means is that we don't do what we've been doing, which is to say, "Until you agree to do exactly what we say, we won't have direct contacts with you. . . the idea is that we do not expect to solve every problem before we initiate talks." (For an exact transcript of this part of the debate, please go to
Now, my point is not to debate the politics of the day; but this issue of communicating with “preconditions” really makes me think: How often in life do we attempt to communicate with our own set of conditions?
In our personal and business relationships, do we shut people out—or refuse to talk to them altogether—when they disagree with our point of view or don’t give us what we want? Or do we approach others in the spirit of information gathering, seeking first to understand before demanding that we be understood?
How often do we refuse to discuss a particular subject with a loved one or friend because our feelings are hurt, or somehow we feel rejected by something they’ve said or done—or haven’t said or done—in effect, manipulating through emotional blackmail that says, “Until you do what I think you should do, or think like I think, or until you acknowledge that I am right, I’m not talking to you. And by the way, I’m not going to tell you why I’m mad in the first place; you should know!” Does any of this sound familiar?
Meaningful relationships aren’t borne of dictatorships. Rather, bonds are formed and strengthened through effective communication with others, which comes, in part, from our ability to understand where the other person is coming from—why they do what they do, or think what they think. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree with them, for agreement and understanding are two entirely different things.
True understanding comes with the free exchange of thoughts, ideas, and information—when we’re open to hearing their truth, not just our own—without limiting that exchange by imposing our conditions on the other person. When we let ourselves explore through open communication, to our delight and surprise, sometimes we just might find that one or the other or both of us have been operating under false assumptions, which have colored our perceptions and tainted our views of each other. With such discoveries come great opportunities for change, enabling us to make constructive adjustments in our relationships and move forward in the direction of peace.
To create and strengthen our relationships, solve problems and overcome challenges, it is imperative that we develop our skills as communicators--making ourselves available to each other by listening and responding with the whole heart. How can we ever hope to connect with each other if we shut down or refuse to talk? Then what chance do we have of getting what we want or bridging the gap between our hearts?
I recall trying to initiate a conversation with a person who was very angry and perhaps felt that he had been wronged, though I wasn’t sure why. My attempt to communicate with him was an effort to understand, and to put this lingering, unnamed conflict to rest. I began with a simple question: “Why are you so angry? I want to understand.”
His response was sudden and swift, shooting daggers at me with his eyes while saying, “I’m not talking to you about this.” Then he turned away, ignoring me as if I wasn’t even there. End of story. There would be no discussion. While he may have acted out of his own fear and internal discord, which I can empathize with to a degree, his behavior destroyed the last bit of trust I had in his ability to act with integrity toward me; the last bit of trust I had in the purity of his intentions.

When trust is lost we cannot feel safe to let down our guard with another and speak openly about our issues; we’re too busy protecting ourselves. Then the ego steps in, posturing and finger-pointing, looking for affirmation that we are right and they are wrong; blaming each other for our own shortcomings. In this place, we have no hope for meaningful communication. And without that, there can be no compassion, which is the cornerstone of all true human understanding.

This is but one example of the way that we impose our "pre-conditions" on others; the way that we demonstrate to them through our actions that we’re holding all of the cards: That we'll talk to them and show love and kindness to them if and only if they don’t irritate us, make us angry or say the wrong thing. We’ll talk to them when and if we’re ready, with little thought or concern for their desire for clarity or willingness to listen and understand. Then, when we do talk to them, we put our energy into defending our position, convincing them that the responsibility for all that’s wrong between us rests squarely on their shoulders. This gets us nowhere, and does little (if anything) to improve our relationships and build trust with others.

We’ve all done it at some time, in some way, to greater or lesser degrees. We may be locked in this pattern now. But, remember, without meaningful dialogue we will never get to the root of the problem; and when we can’t get to the root, we cannot possibly understand what’s motivating those we’re in conflict with, much less solve the underlying problem. Instead, the ego will continue to play out its dramas albeit on different stages, with different characters—ever-more angry and misunderstood—never reaching common ground.
True, there may be times when setting boundaries and conditions to our communication may be in order; for instance, when we need to have a crucial conversation with someone who has been emotionally or physically abusive to us. We might say, “I will talk with you only if you’re not drinking;” or “. . . if you don’t threaten me;” or “. . . after you've entered therapy.”

Being open to communication does not mean that we must put ourselves in harm's way in order to understand the other person. But beyond these basic self-protections, if we—or the other person—continually block or sabotage communication, we must ask ourselves: Do we really want to work it out? Do we really want to move toward better relations? What are we committed to--being right or getting real and creating a peaceful life?
What about you? Do you have preconditions to open communication in your life?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wheels Keep on Turning . . .

8 Things You Can Do During Cycles of Change
Travel light. Clean out those closets--physically and emotionally! Do you really want to carry all of that "stuff" with you on the next part of your journey? Lighten your load!

Get organized. Set new goals or revisit old ones. Finally, put those photos in albums; write thank-you notes to your friends; start planning your next great travel adventure; update your household budget and savings plan. You'll be glad you did when your new cycle begins.

Explore your spiritual side. Make prayers of gratitude not worry. Develop a meditation practice. You don't have to sit in an ashram to connect with your spirit. There are lots of fantastic guided meditation cds out there. Start small--commit to 10 minutes of mind-clearing meditation a day for 30 days. Your life and outlook will improve dramatically.

Surround yourself with positive people. While you may not be able to weed out every Negative Nelly in your life, you can be selective about what you give your energy to and what you share with others about your personal issues and plans. It can't be stressed enough: what we give our attention to expands. Choose positive thoughts and ideas for moving forward with your life.

Get inspired! Books of triumph over struggle abound. Do some research, make a list of books that interest you and get busy reading. The inspired mind is a playground for creativity.

Help humanity. Ask yourself: How may I serve? There's no better way to get out of yourself than to give to someone or something else. Connect with volunteer work that ignites your passions.

Expand your mind! Take a class, join a group or develop a new hobby. A busy, focused mind has little time for obsessive worry.

Get physical. Start a new exercise program and commit to healthier eating. Everything brings energy to your life--for better or worse. Take good care, for how you treat yourself will set the stage for how you allow others to treat you. And it's a known fact: exercise causes your body to release those "feel good" chemicals that do wonders for a weary mind. So get moving!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Full Circle -- The Law of Cycles & Timing

Not so long ago, I had one toe in the Pacific Ocean and another in the Gulf of Mexico; bicoastal, some would say. Yoga kept me flexible. Meditation kept me grounded. Gratitude kept me sane.

Back then, I never imagined that I would quit my job, sell my home, pick up sticks and reorganize my life in this tiny mountain town at the top of Boulder Canyon, with little more than a pocket full of dreams and faith in the path I followed. In hindsight, I can see clearly the natural progression of things—the seeds of discontentment growing deep within my heart, forcing me to reevaluate my life.
Here’s the thing about seeds—they don’t grow overnight. You can plant them, water them—even talk to them—and you get nothing, or at least that’s how it seems. But there’s business going on underground: Roots are forming, intertwining with others for mutual support and growth, while decisions are being made about how many flowers, or apples, or tomatoes will grow from that seed. Then one day, just when you thought nothing was happening—BAM! Signs of life emerge from the ground, reaching for the sunlight. Suddenly, it all makes perfect sense.
So it was with me.
Today, almost three years later, my life looks very different. As I look out from my mountain perch surrounded by nature’s beauty, I’m reminded, once again, of how temporary it all is—this earthly experience called Life. Seasons change. People come and go. Time marches on, waiting for no one, yet moving us forward in rhythm with the silent longings of our hearts.
Just as the Aspen leaves turn green, then gold, falling to the ground with winter’s early warning, I’m reminded that we, too, must first die to one life before experiencing the new growth of spring.
Consider the Aspen—do you think it spends the winter fearing that it will never again experience the joy of having beautiful leaves adorn its branches? Questioning its Creator? Wishing things were different? Regretting its inherent change?
I doubt it. Rather, I like to think of the Aspens as hibernating, like the bears; conserving energy for the new cycle of life that will emerge in the spring.
Why should it be any different with people? Consider what you do between cycles of change. How do you fill your time? What do you give your energy to?
When your destination is uncertain, do you live in fear that your cycle of change is the beginning of the end of your life? Or do you get busy doing what you can to organize yourself, energize your thoughts, and develop a good plan before moving forward?
Even when change comes from a conscious choice to restructure some aspect of our life—to let go of a dead-end relationship, change careers, start a family, create a new business or embark on a great travel adventure—the temptation is to spend our time in an anxious state, questioning our decisions, worrying that it will all go horribly wrong; expecting signs of new life to emerge immediately on the heels of our decision to change.

Then there’s the frustration that comes when we’ve been in a cycle of change for a long time, because it feels like our transition is all our life will ever be. But if we could step back and observe ourselves from a distance, we would see that we aren’t done yet: We are still moving toward a destination that we can’t quite see because we’re consumed with the day-to-day experience of our change, slowed by the natural timing of things—like watching seeds grow underground.

That’s where understanding our cycles and timing can help. Remember: To everything there is a reason, a season, a cycle and right timing. Work with the energy of change, not against it. Be patient and mindful of your life’s rhythms, using the down-time to improve yourself—turning your weaknesses into strengths—as you prepare for a new cycle to emerge.

Nations can benefit from understanding this as well, helping us to see with broader vision and make changes that we've needed, but neglected, to make. We live in a time that calls for more awareness and personal responsibility than we’ve ever known before—a global economy and environmental network that inextricably links us all together. We can no longer afford to give our power to others and then criticize them from the sidelines when some aspect of society fails.

Yet we keep inching closer to the edge of chaos. As a nation, we must ask ourselves “why?”
Isn’t it possible that when “we the people” grow dissatisfied on some level with the way of our world that our collective dissatisfaction—conscious or not—demands expression in the light of day?
If we can disengage from the fear-based rationales fed to us by the media, our communities, and the world at large, we might just get to the truth: This crisis isn’t happening to us, it’s happening because of us--the collective "us." And we are responsible—all of us—for turning it around.
Like a snake preparing to shed its skin, it may feel like we’re beating our head against a rock, and that can be painful. But I believe that what's happening in our world today is a prelude to the kiss of new life that will emerge from this massive restructuring; but one part of the story unfolding in the evolution of humanity.
So as we move through this cycle of change, remember: Everything in life has its own right timing. Trust the wisdom that created you and the purpose behind all things, while doing what you can to keep your side of the street clean. And prepare yourself . . . for a bright new tomorrow will emerge just as surely as summer follows spring.

Will you be ready?