Anybody Home?

My heart begins to race, and with a fleeting breath, I squeeze a smile up and out.

This is the moment, the one my mindfulness practice has whispered to me about, and I can sense the choice forming:

Do I get swept into the stream of disingenuous small talk and shallow chuckles, say something I don't mean, lean into a comment that I don't actually agree with

OR

do I take a breath, cognizant that I have a choice in my own response and experience in this moment?

What a challenging place to be. This is all about being brave and aware of choice. It's raw and gritty (and sometimes a little funky). It might be just a flash of time - the quick space in between the breath and the thought - but identifying the internal choice is the first step to honoring your greatest self. In that flash of time you must rally your courage.

I'm learning when my words and actions come from my deep, wise place of inner-knowing, they feel powerful and true. They have meaningful weight, and by saying "yes" to this self-honoring practice, I am able to say "no" to the things that I don't really want to be a part of, like disingenuous small talk.

Recently, in one of these hot and tight moments, I decided to take 5 and reflect. I'm a lover of words, rhythm, and visual representations. I wrote and created a poem to remind me of this sacred space within my body. It is a place that no matter where I am or what I am doing, I can call "home." And the happy news is, it's within each of us, always. Coming home - to this place in myself - has been the key to courageously choosing to be authentically me in challenging moments.

Feel free to download and take with you on your journey. -rachel

Are you at War?

I tiptoe through the house shortly after 4 am. I put on the teakettle, straighten the kitchen a bit, start the dishwasher. Remembering last night and falling sound asleep on the couch then making my way quickly into bed, I consider the disregard for a tidy kitchen upon awakening. Sometimes you let go. The body tells you to. I take my tea into my meditation space and sit. Such gratitude floods me as I realize I can sit today without the pulling fatigue of my body, without the deep desire to just lay down. Enjoying the next half hour, I simply am aware of the difference of feeling a sense of wellness within. Prayers of thankfulness arise.

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Work calls me forth. Three days of letting it go, being mostly still and resting. Taking care of my body with regret and inner resistance. I see it more clearly now and I am sad.

I walk to the kitchen and refill the mug. I step onto the deck and feel the lingering warmth of the night, before the cold front comes in later. The early rain begins, light drops fall and I lift my face to the sky to feel them, to welcome the renewing water that falls toward me. Tears spring forth, and I want to forgive myself.

  • I forgive myself for becoming impatient and judgey as soon as I feel unwell.
  • I forgive myself for wanting antibiotics so that I can feel better in a snap and get on with my work and feelings of productivity.
  • I forgive myself for still having an inner critic that wants me to be well, all day every day.
  • I forgive myself for not appreciating all that my body does for me, every day – I breathe, I release, I walk and talk, I hug and write, I sleep and eat, the opportunity to feel love.
  • I forgive myself for feeling such disappointment at losing days of accomplishing effort toward my goals.
  • I forgive myself for not readily allowing the need my body has right now to restore its balance, to regain an alignment, perhaps growing in ways I cannot understand.
  • I forgive myself for still working with these old patterns that work hard at holding on and not allowing a more consistent peace within.

The war is over. Peace descends and I am grateful. This is the practice of learning how to end a war from within. Peace is a practice, often of deep forgiving.

What are you at war with inside? I’d love to hear your challenges. I hope you are inspired to forgive today. What needs forgiving?

"Grow or Go" - Laurel's "Fight or Flight" System

Your fight or flight instinct keeps you safe. It's one of the inherent inner mechanisms of human intelligence. It works like this. If you perceive you are in danger, either fight or flee the situation to survive. It' a basic inner mechanism to promote life. Living in America and growing up in a nonviolent household, I didn't much need my fight or flight. Unfortunately though, it still kicked in. As a child when I wasn't getting the attention I needed or wanted, I often made myself and my needs invisible (took flight so to speak) so that I didn't feel like I was contributing any further stress or burden to our home. That instinct can still kick in today given the right set of circumstance.

Knowing your versions and patterns of how fight or flight shows up for you begins the change process. These patterns can do you disservice as well as to those we live in relationship with if you are not aware of them. Fighting and fleeing keeps unhealthy patterns entrenched, perpetuating more unhappiness and stress.This is where my more evolved system comes in!

When I am in a situation where I am repeating any behavior that I don't feel good about, I now call on my more evolved fight or flight mechanism - I call it my "grow or go" system. With this self-created system, I call myself to rise to the occasion and determine  how I need to grow in the current situation in my life.

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Whatever stress is occurring, I consider the stress to be for my benefit rather than for my demise. I see it as my need to grow in ways I have not yet stretched and evolved, or to consciously and gracefully move along my path and leave the situation - to go. If I am not contributing positively, then my presence is not needed. It's a choice I hold myself accountable to on a daily basis. When I don't live up to contributing positively or moving on, I feel disappointed in me.

So how would you institute they "grow or go" system in your life? Try these steps.

1. Decide you will see stress as an indicator of growth and opportunity rather than a problem.

2. Ask yourself what behavior or attitude you are contributing that keeps the stress or tension a part of the circumstances.

3. Take a time out and determine how you want the situation to be, what changes you want.

4. Contribute in a new way, in line with what you want and your values.

5. Move on from the situation when you believe you have contributed all that you can in a positive way.

This system helps you improve your skills in beginnings and endings. It allows you to own your truth and your wants. It teaches you how to be responsible of your life and how you are contributing to the world around you. It promotes growth instead of stagnancy.

The next time you sense yourself in "fight or flight", see if you can institute the new "grow or go" system and alleviate the chronic stress patterns in your life.

 

 

How often do you swear? Do you judge others?

Are you using your voice wisely and effectively? If you knew that you were creating your current reality through the words that you utter each moment, would you pay closer attention to what escapes your lips? The more I learn and pay attention to my own personal speaking habits, I become aware of the great power many of us misuse or ignore. Your voice is a powerful instrument of creative force, as is mine. I am working diligently to put mine to the best use I can. My life continually feels more positive and I feel stronger because I challenge myself this way.

Here are a few simple habits you can practice. Experiment and see if anything changes as a result of these new patterns.

* Stop swearing (take at least a 3 week time out). Believe it or not, most people feel at least a little guilt whenever a swear is uttered. Swearing is a random statement of displeasure in the moment, but an indirect version of what you really mean to say. You lose an inner power connection when you swear, and often some credibility. Use specific words to describe your experience more accurately instead.

* Give voice to your gratitude and seek to increase your awareness of the good of your life. You raise your vibration to elevate the positive in your life every time you express appreciation. You attract more positive connections when you express gratitude. Pause and be sure to feel gratitude in your heart and in your energy. Go beyond the words and into the feeling.

* Notice how often you judge others and life. Whatever you are doing now is simply a habit. Most of the time, if you are judging others, you are habitually judging yourself. Judging wears away at self-acceptance and self-worth and this is deeply connected to experiencing the fulfillment we seek. Relentlessly seek to silence your inner judge and hold back judgmental thoughts and words. Withholding judgement challenges you to focus on what you want to create and cultivate instead of focusing on the lack of the experience. 

IntheFlow

Those are three powerful practices that can transform your life for the better. I still strive toward more consistency in all these habits, noticing the positive results, the way I feel stronger, more centered, more grounded, more influential, and happier.

If you live in the Richmond area and want to work on elevating your own inner strength, join me on Saturday, September 20th for an intensive workshop to grow your skills and awareness to Find Your Courageous Voice and Be Heard Now!

Vulnerability as a Path to Power

When you are unable to withstand feeling vulnerable you lose your inner power. When you suddenly feel vulnerable, this is great opportunity to grow into your most powerful and compassionate self. It's so difficult to remain steady in the face of feeling vulnerable, so this is not necessarily an easy path to tread. Here are effective steps to take to turn your vulnerability into one of your most powerful assets. Step 1. First become proficient at knowing and owning when you feel vulnerable. This might seem basic but it's an integral and empowering first step. When you feel vulnerable the instinct to protect takes over. This might arise as a withdrawal, an automatic move into a place/space that feels less weak (like getting angry), or shutting down energetically and emotionally. Notice what your automatic habits are and then learn to stop the habitual response. Instead still yourself inwardly and outwardly. Be still, be present and inwardly confirm - I feel vulnerable right now. This is an enormous first step.  Not having to move away from the feeling of vulnerability is the brave path.

Step 2. Notice your vulnerability story. What's your history that caused this kind of "thing" to bring up vulnerability for you? Let me give an example. When I am in any situation in which it can seem as if someone is rejecting me, I feel vulnerable. This will show up as me moving away from the situation as quickly as possible - to withdraw, to disappear. I've had to learn to stay still, to feel the feeling of "inner shrinking" and to just let it be, without it necessarily being about "rejection". Instead I make efforts to be aware that it is just as much about whatever is happening with the other person or the general situation.  I've learned to remind myself this is not about me, but simply about whether I really want my voice to be heard. I've had to learn to assert myself well when it doesn't come naturally to me. Sometimes I do speak up, and sometimes I don't care all that much. I've grown support circles in which I am heard regularly and valued. I don't feel rejected by those I love and who love me well. It's just not about that anymore - that's my new story. And that's the story I now hear, instead of the old rejection story that had to do with other's not caring about or wanting me.

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Step 3. Let your vulnerability remind you of everyone's vulnerability, growing your compassion for the human race. As humans, each one of us is vulnerable and experiences weakening feelings. Observing your vulnerability and seeing your automatic protection methods gives you a chance to hold the truth that everyone has these feelings and can be in automatic protection mode. How sad that we adopt these patterns and habits in which we can't simply be our true selves naturally and comfortably! Let your vulnerability allow  you to grow your compassion for others who unconsciously mask themselves, turn on the offense or shut down in the many ways we do, to attempt to feel safe. Let your compassion be the ruling force inwardly.

Step 4. Learn how to create safety from within so that the outer environment is less important. When you know how to care for yourself and allow your vulnerability compassionately, non-judgmentally and lovingly, the outer environment is less important. You can become the guide to help others learn how to treat you well. When you no longer judge yourself, you will not want others judging you, in fact you will not want it in your life at all. When you treat yourself lovingly, you will want more loving and kind interactions with others as you become proficient at offering and accepting love.

Step 5. Embrace your vulnerability. When we forget that we are all vulnerable, we can develop unpleasant habits to be around. These can show up as behaviors and attitudes that state - I am stronger, greater, infallible and untouchable. Without knowing it, we often send signals that others are repelled by when we think we are making ourselves more attractive. Inauthentic behaviors and attitudes are acknowledged energetically by others even if they aren't acknowledged openly and consciously. These dynamics set us up to enter into conflicted relationships and experiences right from the beginning.

Embracing your vulnerability is authentically empowering and gracious, the most loving and kind expression of acceptance you can offer yourself. For those wanting a life of fulfillment and authenticity, it's a path with immense potential!

What Do You Stand For?

This weekend I went to The Art of Feminine Presence and I was wowed! A heartfelt thanks to the women who joined the experience and willingly opened themselves to the awesomeness of their femininity and power! I had an aha moment within the first hour of the process. As we were practicing a fun and enlightening walking exercise, I passed a woman whose name tag read "Laurel". What!!! Another Laurel? This had never happened before. In my nearly 57 years of life, I had not yet shared the space with another Laurel. I was jolted and became acutely aware of something in that moment.

I cannot rely on my name as a way to make me unique or stand out. In some subtle yet deep way, this was what I had been doing. I considered myself "special" because no one else had my name. Yikes. (I feel embarrassed just writing this).

What flashed into my mind is that I need my voice to let everyone know who I am, how I am unique and what I stand for. I will not rely on "Laurel" to get the job done any longer. If you have been reading my blog for a time, you know that I do have a voice and I stand for a few things. What do I stand for?

I stand for people knowing and loving themselves and valuing their unique gifts. I stand for finding the contribution that only you can make to the community of our humanity, the contribution that brings you joy. I stand for demonstrating kindness and respect, honesty and courage. I stand for discovering and claiming the essence of self, and dedicating to that experience. I stand for living in your deepest truth and aligning your life with that wisdom. I feel solid in my inner power because my life is a testimony to what I stand for and my voice aligns with all that I stand for.

On this lifetime journey of all that I stand for, I am not done using my voice in a powerful way. In fact, I may just be beginning :) And most importantly, the experiences that push me beyond my comfort zone - so that my comfort zone becomes greater - are the ones that open the doorway to discovering more of myself. As I stood before others and was held lovingly and appreciated fully, I started leaning into a stronger determination to claim more of who I am becoming.

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What do you stand for? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone to claim more fully what you stand for? How will you use your voice in service to yourself and the evolution of humanity? Where will your energy be directed? How will you be remembered when you are gone? I'd love to know. Please comment below <3

If you are interested in exploring your authentic self and leading your life from the inside out, consider attending my program this spring.

Don't Wait for Death

What you don't deal with in life comes to visit at the end of life. NOTE - What you DO deal with frees you to live wholly, honestly in this life. 

When my dad passed last month, I became acutely aware of the gifts of dealing directly with old hurts, forgiving and letting go. My healing journey began 26 years ago. I spent many hours in self-reflection and in healing spaces with loving support that helped me grow into the strong and clear woman I am today. I worked hard and made a very deep commitment to myself to heal all that I can in this lifetime. I continue that commitment. It no longer feels like work, it feels like loving service to myself and others.

I felt very disappointed and frustrated with my relationship with my father for a long time. With persistence and the right kind of help, I came to accept my father for who he was and allowed him to be just that without internally anguishing about what I didn't care for. I also came to know who I am, allowing myself to be all of Me! My dad loved me in his way. I wanted more intimacy and connection in my relationships than I experienced with him. I want to feel known and heard and understood. In time I gathered a beautiful support circle (that grows and changes with life changes) that nurtured me into a true sense of wholeness. These people know me, understand me and listen well to me. They are my chosen tribe. I let go of the need to have a quality of relationship with my Dad that I had wanted but couldn't cultivate without him wanting those same things. I let it be. My gift was that I experienced wonderful love and support from others, and also found peace inside to let my Dad be who he was  - less able to navigate and cultivate intimate relationships.

Circle

During his last week of life I held space from afar. My youngest sister and dear niece, who is a nurse, tended him at his bedside. I sent loving prayers and attention and intention for him to have the end of life experience that he desired. I lit candles and created an altar that I could look at, reminding me to send peace and love their way consistently. This allowed me to feel like I was participating in a valuable way. I checked in with myself daily to make sure I didn't "need" to head north to see him one more time. I made sure he was asked if he wanted me there. He said,"Laurel knows".  We were at peace with one another.

We were at peace with one another because I wanted nothing less than peace and dedicated myself to the cause. I believe he wanted the same. So it was. But in order to get to that peace I needed to feel all the other heavier feelings that came earlier in life with the disappointment and lack of connection. I needed to cry those tears of loss, say what I wanted to him, voice the disappointment and then, Let it Be, release. And in doing that I opened a space within to become peaceful. I gained freedom from the old relationship of little girl and emotionally unavailable father. The relationship became spiritual seeker and spiritual seeker. I could tell him what I thought and not hold back. And that felt good because I like to think (I hope this is true) that I did so compassionately, boldly and clearly. I have my thoughts, opinions and path to walk Dad, and I am doing it.

Sadly, others in my family have not walked this healing path. My Dad did not know how to navigate that space with them and lead them along. The end of my Dad's life brought drama in this circle. Because at the end of life, what wasn't dealt with in life comes to visit. I am saddened by these new family dynamics, but I accept that this is the consequence of not doing the work while we are alive and able to make that conscious choice to create more healed, harmonious and loving relationships. We all have the opportunity to seek inner peace and healing. When we take that opportunity and run with it, everyone around us is served. We contribute to global harmony in our most powerful way. By creating it internally and in all the relationships we engage in as best we can.

ExamineWhat have you been avoiding, what creates conflict for you inside? Now is the time to learn to navigate those difficult waters, while you have time to create the peace you desire.

Life as a Koan

With birth (a new granddaughter!) and death (my Dad's passing) knocking at my door this month, my natural inclination is to become pensive. I draw inward and notice how I am feeling, what is happening inwardly for me as big life events jiggle my consciousness and emotions stream through my being. During the last week of my Dad's life, in the early hours before dawn, I was contemplating my Dad's life and my life with him, allowing a spontaneous life review to flow through my mind. Flashes of insight flowed throughout the review.

Suddenly I saw life as a koan. What is a koan? Here is the definition I like from the internet  "Koan :  a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment." Notice that one must abandon mental activity, at least momentarily,  in order for the enlightening moment to emerge.

I thought about feeling emotionally disconnected from my Dad early in life and the impact it had on me. Paradoxically, we made our way to a sense of emotional and mental peace, a true closeness with one another through our journey of simply being ourselves with one another - accepting all that this means. Suddenly I saw life as a journey that you can't know about ahead of time. You must surrender and live it fully to experience the truth of its meaning for you. Being ever true to Self leads to reaping the rewards.

I thought about my Dad's dedication to living with spiritual awareness, and his clear desire to support others on the journey into this awareness. Paradoxically, at times he could alienate those of us closest to him. He had a way of speaking at us about this truth that we must discover, and how to get about the business of doing this. That didn't feel spiritually aware, it felt bossy. At the end of his life, he was a demonstration of remaining ever-constant to his beliefs about the body simply housing his personal consciousness that will indeed make its transition onward one day. He lived a very conscious end of life process, very aware and very clear about his desire to be present to the entirety of it. I grew to feel even closer to him as he prepared to leave this reality.

I thought about my family dynamics and the lessons I learned by living through, and also by leaving behind, the dynamics I no longer wished to perpetuate. My determination to live a clear and consciously directed life set my course onto a path of deep healing. I remain grateful for the challenges of ending old patterns, of leaning into being forgiving and open-hearted. It is often through overcoming personal inner difficulty that we grow to become our strongest and wisest self, able to serve the world in the best of ways. Paradoxically, those difficult dynamics, when worked with consciously, become a gift. They are the fire that burns away the clouded conditions that keep us from seeing our own inner truth. With this kind of consciousness we may launch into our best life.

Life as  a koan - a thought that brought comfort and then clarity in many ways. Suddenly I want to consider everyone's life, and presence in my life, as a koan. Each life a paradox that I can meditate upon, to sit with in wonderment, in curiosity about the purpose, the meaning of it all. And in that wondering, in that spacious holding lightly for review, perhaps I will be gifted again and again with these little enlightments, with the release of reason, opening me to the greater gifts of intuitive insight and deep personal peace.

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The Cure for Overextending Yourself and Imbalance

I am embarking on an amazing journey this year. For the first time in many years I am becoming the client for one-on-one time. Rachael Jayne Groover , author of Powerful and Feminine, will be mentoring me this year; I am thrilled to have been accepted into her private mentoring program! And guess what comes with this excitement - fear!!! You bet - because I have a tendency to put too many good things on my plate - overextending myself.  Even too many good things is too much and creates imbalance. This will be a year to practice what I teach about boundaries and making conscious choices moment-to-moment. Do you overextend yourself on a regular basis? If so, you can expect to experience problems like resentment, anxiety, and fatigue that won't go away with a good night's sleep. What if you learned that overextending yourself was a self-created experience and you actually have a choice about overextending or not? Would you choose differently?

overextention

How do you cure the cycle of overextending yourself? Your mind will fight you (and me) with all the reasons you must continue overextending yourself. Therefore one of the essential aspects of changing this pattern means not reasoning through the change, but instead honoring yourself by simply making the change. You must acknowledge that you are creating an unhealthy situation in your life and decide you will reverse the process.

Changing the chronic pattern of overextending means you are learning to set healthy boundaries. Many of us struggle with this when we are surrounded by others who applaud or endorse overextending, or grew up with a family who overextended. It's baked into our subconscious belief system that overextending is the "right" thing to do.

When you are ready to stop overextending, you heal your own life by creating an inner balance and renewed energy stores. Here are suggestions that will support your change and create new beliefs about what is healthy and right for you.

1. Stop comparing yourself with anyone else. Instead honor your amount of energy, your inclination for giving, your desire to connect, your need for service, and every other particular aspect of how you extend yourself to the world. What is the right amount of service for me is unique to my energy and my talents. The same is for you. It's that simple.

2. Discover how you can serve without it feeling like it's draining you. When my parents were in a health crisis a couple of years ago, my sisters and I rallied to be with them round the clock for a few months. What came easily to one of us, was a real chore for another of us. When we were doing what was "easy" for us individually, it was less tiring. It reminded me to honor what was natural for me to give and what wasn't.

3. Identify what truly restores your energy so that you refuel yourself consistently. Sleep is essential, but so are recreation, relaxation, and receiving kindness. If you did not have a television or computer, how would you relax? If you don't know, find out.

4.  Be honest with yourself about your personal resources. Don't give money you don't have to give freely. Don't give time that you don't really have to give - even if it's for good stuff!  Think of every resource in your life the same way. Empty inner resources lead to illness.

5. Learn to say no kindly, honestly and simply. If you can't say no right away (like me for a while), say, "I'll get back to you after I think about that." And then, think about it and decide if you can give freely without any resentment. Practice saying no out loud and then a simple answer like, it really won't fit into my life right now.

om balanceNow consider the  following thought!

Women (most of us) are naturally nurtures. The deep inclination to nurture is inherent in our being. Therefore, we must recognize when we are nurturing, it is often a self fulfillment, even though it looks like we are "taking care of everyone else".

When you don't recognize this deep inclination to nurture consciously, it is hard to put limits on it, creating a healthy life balance while nurturing. It helps to look at your life in the ways you are overextended and ask, "how is this about my need to nurture?" Answer the question honestly. This will be a journey in itself. Then remember, you can care for yourself consciously, just as you care for others. When you overextend, you eventually drain your inner well, finding your way to burnout. Some part of your being breaks down because it becomes a matter of survival to get your attention to stop. With practice, it's easier to read the signs along the way and honor your limits in extending your valuable resources.

You can practice the deepest and most important nurturing of all - nurturing your inner truth. With this practice, your life becomes a series of authentic and respectful interactions, leaving you feeling like a person of integrity. This is medicine for your inner wellness - the template that creates your outer world!

I welcome any thoughts about how to manage overextending, since this is a year for me to grow my awareness and take this skill to the next level! Please feel free to send a comment along - they are most welcome, as always.

Here are additional resources that may be of use to you if you are challenged by symptoms of overextending. The links blow relate to articles with good content about overextending and how to recognize and reverse the process.

HealingWell.com and HelpGuide.org

Acceptance = Peace by Kelly McCoy

michael-suit-1A few months ago, I came across an article about Actor Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future, Family Ties, Spin City). In it, he talked about his family, his new television series and his challenges with Parkinson's disease. His story was funny, scary and inspiring. I walked away unable to stop thinking about one of his comments. When asked what he has learned from his disease, he said that he has recognized that his happiness increases in direct proportion to his acceptance and his happiness decreases in direct proportion to his expectations. Read those two sentences a few times and let them sink in. Happiness decreases in direct proportion to expectation.

Happiness increases in direct proportion to acceptance.

I found these thoughts about acceptance, expectation and happiness fascinating and started trying them on for size in my own life. Does this mean anything to me? Is that how it works in my life? As I examined my responses to life I found that when I expect something and it doesn't happen, there is disappointment or stress or anxiety. When I accept whatever comes along, whether it meets my expectation or not, I feel calmer, less stressed, more...at peace.

Michael's magazine revelation seems so simple, yet so profound. It has become a private litmus test for me in many situations. When I expect a client to like a draft of an ad, a letter or a brochure that I've created, their reaction holds power over me. If they don't like it, I often feel defensive, insecure, even guilty, that I was unable to give them what they wanted. Yet, when I enter the same meeting consciously, knowing why I have made the creative choices I have and leave myself open - and accepting - of whatever their reaction is, I feel less stress. If they aren't happy with what they see or read, I am open to the comments and ask questions about how we can better meet their requirements. If they love what they see, all the better.

I am continuously reminding myself that it's not all up to me. Every human interaction is just that, a relationship, a collaboration. I should not EXPECT to have it all right all the time in the eyes of another. I can ACCEPT that things are not always what I EXPECT them to be. This makes everything okay. We're all just doing what we think is best at the time. Perhaps there's another way to look at the situation or challenge and reach a peaceful solution in which both parties reach acceptance - and feel good about - the outcome.

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This is wrapped up in the concept of not taking things personally. It's not all about me. However, for those of us who were raised to BE RESPONSIBLE, this can be a challenge. When I enter into a situation with my husband, one of my children, or a client, I feel responsible for the outcome. That feeling has been cultivated in me since my childhood and it's not easy to release. However, when I consider the honest intent of what my mother and father insisted on from the time I can remember, it was "be responsible for yourself." They never told me to be responsible for another person's happiness, reactions or feelings. They taught me to be kind, to finish my homework, to clean up my room. In hindsight, I understand that these simple things were designed to keep my own life moving forward in a positive way.

When I really consider the intent...they were saying, "Always do your personal best so that you can be comfortable in any situation." The key is to be comfortable with yourself, not to be right in the eyes of anyone else. If you are comfortable inside your own skin, then it is much easier to ACCEPT whatever comes your way. If you know you have done everything you can...open, let go, accept. This lack of tension and anxiety is a magical thing.

peaceThe only place that I differ with Michael is in the word "happiness." In examining his words of wisdom, I prefer to insert the word "peace." I am more peaceful when I accept what comes along and less peaceful when I expect anything. I find that to be less qualitative than "happiness," which I've been somehow trained to think is a good thing. Peace, for me, is simply a state of being in which you experience less conflict and less struggle. Peace is possible when acceptance happens and expectation ceases. What a powerful thought and lovely way to be.

So, in the future, perhaps I can sit with Michael J. Fox to tell him how much his words impacted me and to debate semantics on this. I will never expect this to happen, however if the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely accept.

Be well and revel in the peace you can create for yourself each moment of the day.