Pathways To Joy®
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These entries are written to stand on their own and as such they contain individual lessons of my life. However when read in order, from the earliest to the most recent, you will see that they follow a natural progression with each lesson building on the one before, following the path taken through my life. I believe they present a more complete picture when read beginning to end.



The Thieves of Joy 

The thieves of joy are hiding within us. When we focus our attention and project it outward, we miss profound opportunities to know ourselves more deeply.  In my pre-conscious mindset nearly all of my focus was external.  How someone else behaved, what they said, how they had reacted, were all topics of thought that I gave importance to.  As my consciousness expanded my focus turned inward and who did what and why had less importance.  What I did and why became important to me.   

As long as we are looking out there, our thieves are free to plunder and pillage, undiscovered.   Asking why anyone else would behave a certain way is a waste of time.  Asking ourselves why we behave the way we do is to follow the hot trail.  It opens up a journey to a destination with meaning and purpose.

In my opinion, the only real answer there is, about why people do what they do, is that they are human. We all tend to respond unconsciously, in ways that were set in motion by our past experiences.  Why anyone does anything we would never do is because they had different life experiences.  They are responding from a place we cannot know because, we did not travel their journey.

Questioning the origins of our own reactions and beliefs, questioning our “truths” and allowing room for a new, more current truth to surface and find expression through us – that is powerful, self-transformation.


Have you looked deeply and courageously into who you are?  Do you question why you are who you are?  Is the voice in your mind worth listening to?  Do you look at yourself and others with compassion?  Are you comfortable spending time alone?  What do you enjoy?  Where is your passion?  Do you know?  

Carefully considering what you think are your dark corners and answering the hard questions about yourself will let in the most light.  Deeply, begin to explore.  Let go of all the distractions and fearlessly follow the path into who you are and why.  Be courageous in your self-discoveries.  Arrest your thieves of joy, reform them, release them – and by doing so you begin to set yourself free. 

                                                 © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved.
                                                        Posted by Pathways to Joy at 4/15/2012 12:58 PM


Sometimes People Who Are Not Joyful, Just Want to Have Mine

Sometimes, people who are not joyful just want to have mine. I have been on my path for some time and I have discovered, arrested, reformed and released more stuff on my journey.  I have learned to be courageous and relentless in my search and recovery of my joyful spirit.  I have not found any shortcuts.  We all have the same opportunity to confront our thieves.  You cannot confront mine for me and I cannot confront yours for you.  I can point you in the directions that worked for me, but how you walk the paths, the pace you choose, what you wear on your feet – these are all yours.   

You may find, as you open to more and more joy, that some people who are yearning for joy in their lives seem to think they can “catch it” from you.  They come with their heavy hearts and want you to fix their pain.  They misunderstand; they come to you to fix them.  What they are missing is that they need to go to their own pain and heal it.  As long as they are looking outward for a solution they are facing the wrong direction.  Ultimately, we each have our own set of obstacles and we need to find our own way through them.  I don’t get caught in the trap of “helping” people become happy.  I encourage them to stay on their path, to face down their own fears, and turn my attention back to my journey. 

It is hard to keep moving forward with people hanging around your ankles.  Whenever you look down and notice them, pry their hands free as lovingly as possible and keep going!  People in our lives are used to us being, thinking and acting the way we have always been.  When we change something as visible as our emotional set point it changes the dynamics of our relationships.  In my case I needed to set some clear boundaries in order to keep my progress on track.  

Some people are invested in keeping us where we have been.  There were some in my experience who were so set in their patterns that it became very difficult for me to maintain those relationships.  While I was reforming my thoughts and words in new positive directions, they were invested in me continuing to play my part in the old patterns.  Not everyone is on this journey, but they can respect yours!  Set boundaries, stay on course and keep choosing joy! 

                                                  © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved.
                                                          Posted by Pathways to Joy at 5/15/2012 3:17 PM


Whose Journey Am I On?

Whose journey am I on? I have overestimated my importance in the lives of others.  I have spent too much time trapped in the illusion of “helping” at the expense of my joyfulness.  I don’t know where my ego picked up the idea that I can or should fix anything.  Today as I look back, I think how unaware I was of the arrogance of that! 

Every healthy person has the ability to handle the challenges they face.  There is a difference between helping a friend and fixing a friend.  That difference has come to my attention most starkly on the receiving end.  As I have gotten older I have less tolerance for people who seem to come toward me wanting to correct me.   I find joy in the friends who can listen to me talk about a challenge and cheer me on.  I can count on them in a pinch, but they respect the fact that I have the skill to successfully live my life as evidenced by how far I have come.

“Fixing people” or “fixing things” for people is really saying, “I know I can do this better than you.”  That is a trap set by the ego.  It has taken too much of my time to figure out the difference between lending a hand to a friend in a pinch and rowing for all I’m worth on a sinking ship.  Someone else’s sinking ship. 

All that energy I spent looking outward robbed me of time and focus I could have put into looking inward, sooner.  I never managed to “fix” anything for someone else, when I gave up trying and brought my focus inward – my own transformation was accelerated.  I regret that it took so long to identify this thief. 

Today, I invite on my journey, the people who offer less advice and more questions, the relationships that offer less strife and more laughter.  Now, in my fifties, I want to travel toward the people who are ahead of me urging me forward on the path and away from the people who are behind me pushing.  I want to leave the side of me behind who used to push others to be what I thought they should be.  I want to be someone I would want to have, with me, on my journey!  I somehow never gave that a thought in my youth, never wondered what it was like for someone else to experience me.    
                                                    
                                                    © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved.
                                                           Posted by Pathways to Joy at 6/15/2012 10:15 PM

 


Life Review

There is a book written by a woman who was pronounced dead in a hospital, then lived to tell her story. Betty Eadie’s experience is beautifully told in Embraced By the Light.  During her time in heaven she was able to ask questions and receive answers.  One of those questions was about what we experience when we die.  It was given to her that we go through a “life review.”  In our life review, she said, we learn from our experiences by moving through each interaction we have had on earth as the other person, from their point of perception.  She said that we feel what they felt in their interactions with us.


The timing in my life when I read that was set for full impact.  I had just had an argument with my then husband and I remember thinking how badly I had behaved and how harsh my words had been.  I thought beyond my anger from that argument and put myself in his shoes, and came to the immediate conclusion that I needed to get to work on creating a better life review experience.

My plan was simple: minimize the stuff that would feel bad and maximize the stuff that would feel good in all of my interactions with people.  Putting that plan into action has not been so simple because my ego’s reactions are so quick.

When I come to my life review, I look forward to experiencing the interactions I am creating through my spirit when I am calm, breathing deeply and in good humor – my practiced emotional set point.  When I create a mess of things I realize it is my ego that has responded.  I see that it is because I have slipped back into my old emotional set point: high strung, anxious and reactive – not the space I want to be in when creating my life review.

When you think of all the people you interact with in your daily life, how do you think they experience you? Are you in conscious control of the experiences you are giving?  Are you offering love and understanding? Can you leave them feeling glad they encountered you today?  Every encounter you have, you are creating your life review.  Is the experience you are creating one that you will celebrate?
 
                                                    © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved.
                                                            Posted by Pathways to Joy at 7/15/2012 3:00 PM
 

  

Where am I?

In Ester and Jerry Hicks’ book, Ask and it is Given, there is a section that talks about our “emotional set points” – the emotional state we tend to return to most of the time.  As situations present themselves throughout life we react from our learned set points.  If we tend to stay high on the scale of emotions such as “positive expectation and beliefs” or low on the scale at “insecurity and unworthiness,” either becomes our reaction to circumstances that present in life.  That is why two people can have such different responses to the same event.  Each, are responding from their individual emotional set points.


Sometimes the easiest way to see where you are is by looking around!  Look at the people who are near you in your life and see if you can identify any theme or pattern of emotions.  Your set point is reflected in your relationships.

Wherever you are in your underlying emotions, you resonate at that vibration, drawing people and experiences that are a match.  That is why the people around you are a good indicator of where you are; they are mirroring your vibration.  As you lift your emotional state to a higher level, you begin to draw people and experiences that match the new energy; they resonate with your new set point.

I understood the principle of resonance best through an illustration using guitars.  When there are two guitars in a room and you strum a string on one guitar, the same string on the other guitar will begin to vibrate, untouched.

Our close associations are a good clue as to where we are on the scale – our underlying resonance is transmitting and being received, all without our conscious awareness.  Once we accurately identify our set point we can change it.

Using a copy of the emotional guidance scale, which you can find at www.abraham-hicks.com  identify the set point of your relationships to understand the underlying energy you are resonating.  As you take the steps needed to move your set point up the scale, your circumstances will rise as well. 

                                                    © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved.
                                                            Posted by Pathways to Joy at 8/15/2012 10:17 PM
 


Self-Judgment

Is it time to reform the words you speak to yourself?  If your inner voice speaks criticism, where did that start?  Whose words are you repeating?  You were not born with a self-critical monolog in your mind.  Your true essence is above criticism and it always has been.  The only possible place for you to have learned to be self-critical was from the people around you.  None of us comes into life less than who we are meant to be.  Who was it that planted those doubts?  How long do you plan to let them grow?  Those beliefs are passed to us from another’s unconsciousness.  Left unexamined, undiscovered, unquestioned, we are likely to pass them on and the story perpetuates itself into the next generation.


Once discovered, we can decide to arrest negative thoughts, any time we hear them in our mind, and reform them to a message of our choosing.  As we release them through our healing process of reform, we can see that the true source of negative self-talk is and has always been brokenness, unconsciousness and limitation that began generations before us.  It was never ours and yet we have lived it for how long now?  I believe when we heal, from any misguided, generational belief system, that healing takes place backwards and forwards across time.  I imagine our ancestors sigh with relief whenever someone finally ends the broken cycle and heals the wounds.

The collective thought patterns and beliefs, that we do not realize are false, are stealing our joy by robbing us of the chance to be free in new understandings, of everything.  Discover these thieves in your mind; wherever they came from, if you still have them with you, then you have become their keeper.  End the cycle.  Release them. Consciously choose higher thoughts about yourself and others.  Think the best thought you can access about everything.

Brokenness, limitation and unconsciousness are thieves we had handed to us.  Do whatever it takes to set them down and walk away.  Feel the lightness in your spirit rise as you reform your beliefs and release yourself into that new freedom. 

                                                            © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved.
                                                           Posted by Pathways to Joy at 9/15/2012 5:41 AM 

False beliefs and forgiveness

All the false beliefs…..Where did they come from?  What are they doing here? Who told me these things about myself and how long have I believed them?  


I became angry at the discovery of the origins of some of these and you may too.  If you keep that anger, it becomes a new thief of your joy.  Forgiveness is the key.  That can take deep and repetitious work, but the idea here is to discover, identify, arrest, reform and release.  Our purpose is to heal – that pathway leads to joy!  Forgiveness is one of the road maps, so spend whatever time it takes studying that map, becoming comfortable with the way, and then advance on that leg of the journey.  My forgiveness passage began here.…

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  I tried and tried and I could not find a way around those words.  It was clear.  I needed to give forgiveness if I wished to receive forgiveness.  I had to find some tools.  

Asking why someone did or didn’t do anything is a waste of time.  If you ask them directly, they likely don’t know.  If they think they know, there is a high likelihood they acted from a false belief they thought was truth.  Their answer would just reflect that false belief, and since it is their false belief and not ours we would then try to counter it with the logic of our false belief.  All of that keeps us spinning in our cycles and gets us no closer to joy.  So I decided “Why?” was not useful or important.  I abandoned the practice of asking, “Why did this happen to me?”  At some point I realized that was a question that was coming through my ego and that peaceful resolution would come more readily through questions of my spirit.  I had to set my ego aside over and over again.  To say that my resistance was strong at first does not even scratch the surface of the challenge that I faced moving into it.  For a long time I just lived in that resistant place.

Then I heard it said that our greatest points of resistance offer our greatest potential for positive change if we are willing to move through the resistance.  

If I was going to forgive I needed to find a way beyond my resistance.       

                                                           © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved.
                                                          Posted by Pathways to Joy at 10/15/2012 2:33 AM 


Stepping Stones

There is a stepping stone between the ego’s resistance and the spirit’s allowing.  I found that step through Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love.


Early in my discovery process my ego was holding on very tightly to the old negative perceptions.  It was easier to find blame than to confront false beliefs.  I swayed between my wish to be free and my ego’s resistance to allowing room for a new truth. This struggle was interrupted by one small piece of that book that changed everything for me from that day on.

Marianne talked about a prayer that is said to the Holy Spirit.  That appealed to me, because I have always felt a closer connection to that image of God.  So I decided to take it on faith and see if it might open me to any new truths.  

That simple and powerful prayer is this: I am willing to see this differently.

When I first prayed that prayer in earnest, I felt a great resistance rise up in me.  

My stubbornness and my ego went to full vigilance and my false beliefs told me that there was “no need for me to see anything differently because I was right!”   My resistance was intense.  I would say the words and then take them back over and over, on and on in my mind.  Yet somehow while I was repeating those words, I was forming a personal relationship with them.  Looking at both sides of the word “willing” I realized it was not only an allowing but also an invocation to a new truth.  I became aware that I was calling in a new perspective.  When I would say the prayer and take it back, I was made more aware of how intense my belief system was, how invested in maintaining “my truth” my ego was.  

Marianne had explained the importance of being in a state of complete surrender when offering this prayer, and for me, in the beginning that was the sticking point.  I was still in my false thought patterns trying the prayer, then instantly taking it back, saying, “I am not willing!” until at some point, after exhausting myself with my false beliefs, I would just let go and surrender.  Feeling a peace settle over me, I could say, earnestly, I am willing to see this differently.

                                                       © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 

                                                      Posted by Pathways to Joy at 11/15/2012 2:08 AM


Surrender – to yield, to concede

“I am willing to see this differently.”  When I read that Marianne Williamson’s prayer should be said in complete surrender, my ego fought hard against it.  It took real persistence to push past the years of armor, but the more I pushed through the easier it became and the revelations from that one prayer, said in full surrender, to the Holy Spirit, were profound.  I could not ignore my results.


In those moments, at those places of peace, I would arrive at new understandings.  Sometimes in near miraculous ways a forgotten detail or new piece of information would come to me, shifting my previous assumption.  Or in the calm of surrender I would realize that my initial perspective was the result of my misunderstanding.  Time after time I could clearly see where my thinking was inaccurate and I was amazed how wrong my perceptions could be.  There was no more denying that many of my “truths” were false.  I was now collecting examples of how my beliefs and perceptions were formed by my past and in many cases had no basis in the current situations.  It was so powerful I began to question all of my beliefs. The stronger the belief, the deeper I questioned it.

Out of that willingness, I was brought to compassion.  I had been wandering in the dark on the topic of forgiveness and then, through that powerful prayer, my path was illuminated by the light of compassion. If I looked with a compassionate heart, I could see the pain in the people I needed to forgive.  Humans are frail beings and that frailty is a place of kinship.  When you notice it, let go of your thoughts about any situation and respond instead from your heart.  I have forgiven actions and people that I never thought I could or would, and each act of forgiveness brings a deeper breath to my lungs, a returning lightness to my spirit – forgiving others is a gift I give to myself. 

In those processes of surrendering to willingness I found compassion, and compassion led me to forgiveness.  By being willing to see it differently I was able to bypass my ego’s need to be right and embrace a truth of spirit.

I next arrived at a new perspective about victims and villains.

                                           © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                               Posted by Pathways to Joy at 12/15/2012 2:22 AM 


Victims

In Embraced By the Light, Betty Eadie shares the story of her death experience. She had vivid memories of heaven and had much to say about our time on earth and how we come to have the experiences that we have.  She spoke of being told that we choose the life we will live for the lessons that lifetime has to offer our souls and that it is the greatest of souls who choose the hardest challenges.  


That prompted another full shift in my thinking.  If we, at a soul level, in a “pre-life” place choose to have the experiences of our lifetime, then we are not “victims” of our circumstances but architects of the design.  That is still difficult for me to comprehend when I apply it to people leading lives of deep suffering but I can truly see that they must be the greatest souls.  My compassionate heart still wants to “fix that” and end all suffering of all kinds.  My own story does not involve the kind of pain that exists at the deepest levels of human suffering, but I carried scars nonetheless. 

From this new viewpoint I had many new questions.  The idea that I, from some higher spiritual place, could have chosen my life’s experiences brought me to a sense of empowerment, and I felt my deepest held anger shift.  That new idea allowed me to reform and release lifelong negative beliefs about my past, and I have never been the same.  Now, when I am reviewing my past challenges, I look at how they have molded me into the person I am.  I wonder, did they teach me to be more compassionate?  Am I more empathetic?  Have those harsh experiences taught me to be softer or more aware when I act out in the same harshness?        

Look at the stories of people who have created great things out of deep tragedy.  The Amber Alert system created meaning from senselessness and pain.  That is reform and release at a high level.   What positive results can come from your life’s painful events?  Can you bring them to their highest outcome?  Can you ask yourself new questions?  For me, the shift from hapless victim of my life’s events, to the idea that my soul’s higher plan was being played out was empowering! 

                                                             © 2012 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved.
                                                            Posted by Pathways to Joy at 1/15/2013 2:34 AM


Villains

If we are not victims, could it also be that there are no villains?  


In Conversations with God, Book 1, Neale Donald Walsh approached this subject.  He speaks about the same kind of pre-life planning that Betty Eadie talked about.  He explains that in order to have the lessons we are seeking for the advancement of our souls' purpose, there needs to be someone willing to present the lesson or the challenge we will then strive to overcome.  He suggests that it is often our closest “pre-life” soul mate that volunteers to play the part of presenting us with our harshest experience or experiences in life.

That spun me around!  To look at the people who had put into motion my toughest lessons and hardest experiences to overcome as anyone other than villains?  To actually entertain that there could be a chance that these people in a spirit form could be my closest allies?  I will not sugar coat it: it took years, in some cases, to get my mind around that.  

I had to consider it long and hard.  I had to surrender to being “willing to see this differently” and work my way through the forgiveness processes more than a few times.  I examined my beliefs on “pre-life” existence and found that it was in keeping with my belief system, so then why wouldn’t it be possible that we would plan these things out?  

We each need to look at this idea for ourselves to know if this is a fit for us.  For me it was a good fit.  It put the pieces of my life together in a new way and made sense of things I could not previously understand.  It also gave me a sense of acceptance about why I had experienced some of my life’s events. I looked more closely at the journey I have been on and thought more deeply about my trials being “by design” – my soul’s design.  

If you were never a victim and there were no villains, what is left?  As Neale Donald Walsh asks in his books, “What if you were to become the grandest version of the greatest vision you ever had for yourself?” Who is to stop you?   

                                                            © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                           Posted by Pathways to Joy at 2/15/2013 2:22 AM
 


Spinning straw into gold

The trials in my life have caused me to dig deeply into who I am and why. Perhaps I have been on a richer journey by chasing my spirit and searching for joy than if I had not had to search at all.  Maybe the contrasts in my life have taught me to see the highs with a deeper sense of gratitude.  When you get something in your hands that you have strived hard for, you hold it as a treasure.  Today, I realize that when my body is relaxed, my breath is deep and easy and my mind is free of distractions, my thoughts in the present moment, that these are reflections of my search – the gifts I am gathering along my way.


Joy reveals itself in the present moments that I used to hurry past.  Now when it comes, I notice it!  

Joy experienced is gold!  Joy remembered is relived.  Joy shared is multiplied.    When joy is missed…it is lost.

In this moment, right where you are, is there anything that can reflect joy to you?  A thing of beauty you can appreciate?  We move through our days so quickly, so task oriented.  Do you drive into the sunset cursing at the brightness or do you stop and soak in the last rays and revel in the sight of the sun slipping away?  Have you ever been out on a late summer day, by a hill of freshly mown grass and given in to the urge to roll down it like a child?  I did.  I became so dizzy I had to crawl back up, and then I thought, maybe if I went down in the other direction, the world would straighten out.  Down I went in the other direction and I crawled back up again, laughing at my forty-something self.

Let your mind be playful!  Laugh at yourself and the human follies of your days.  Find something that frustrates you and be willing to see it differently.  Reframe the picture of whatever is in front of you and find a way to see it with good humor and optimism.  If you are likely to look back and laugh, just start laughing now!  Then laugh again later.  Joy relived!  I know people who are very frustrated when things “go wrong” and I know people who are doubled over with laughter at the same things.  They would be my choice for a road trip companion!

                                             © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                   Posted by Pathways to Joy at 3/15/2013 2:22 AM

Gratitude

In my forties I hit a very hard stretch in my life.  In a span of eighteen months I experienced three serious health issues.  I went from active, healthy, energetic and empowered to disabled.  My income dissolved along with my health.  During that time, when the struggle was at its depths, I was finding it hard to stay in a place of joy.  I was optimistic, but I was not joyful in my new reality.  My world and my thoughts had become condensed and isolated.


There was so much uncertainty, with my wages stopped for five months and then reduced to a percentage of what they had been.  My future was, very quickly, completely rearranged from what I had envisioned, without warning or preparation time, financially, mentally or emotionally.  It seemed as though everything stopped and my world tilted.        

Rather than focus on the picture of what was wrong with my new circumstances I realized I needed to revisit an old routine that had been lost during my focus on survival – the practice of daily gratitude.  Every night as I lay down I began to name three things that I was grateful for ­– truly, deeply grateful for.  

I listed the friends who had in some way taken the time to show up and the caregivers who volunteered their help.  More than once in that long course of events, when I lay my head down at night I would simply be most grateful for the small, sound roof over my head, my comfortable bed and that I had eaten that day.  There was something about feeling deep gratitude for those things I had previously taken for granted – that gave me such comfort and was such a humbling of my ego all at once.  That nightly practice of finding the gifts in a hard space and time empowered me, humbled me, stilled me and focused me back to what is best in me and most important in my life.  Simple gratitude fed my spirit. 

If your definition of your life has shifted, what can you find to be sincerely grateful for?  Is there anything to give you comfort and make you smile?  Find three things every day.  Set aside time for focused feelings of gratitude every night.  Notice how it is the simplest of things that bring the deepest feelings of gratitude.

                                                           © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                          Posted by Pathways to Joy at 4/15/2013 2:33 AM 


Coming from hard places – self-awareness awakening
 

I think that most of us have past experiences we wish we had not had.  For me finding a higher perspective was key to working my way out of the resonance of my past.  I was at a bit of a disadvantage figuring out what was underneath my patterns of reactions because I did not have access to the memories. Without them there was only a feeling of being flawed, an undercurrent of tension and anxiety that never left me.  That sense of being damaged, without the benefit of knowing why it was there, compounded the feeling that I was a substandard human being just as the repetitive messages delivered in my youth had claimed.

I lived in that state of tension at varying degrees into my early thirties.  If my feet were on the floor my toes would be gripping down as if to keep myself from sliding.  I would constantly find that my teeth were clenched.  Photographs reveal my right shoulder drawn up in defense throughout the years.  I often noticed that my hands were gripped tightly to each other or to the arms of a chair or just tightened into fists. I would go into a fight or flight response if someone surprised me.  I walked on the balls of my feet as a habit of being quiet.  I was living in this place of unending anxiety with no knowledge of why for decades.  I eventually sought counseling where my symptoms were diagnosed as PTSD.  My brain had shielded me from the details but my body held onto the patterns of self-defense and hyper- vigilance. Those were the skills my ego had developed for the purpose of protecting myself while navigating my childhood experience.

It was a messed up place to be stuck.  As an adult, all of my being was posturing to survive a nonexistent threat and there was nothing left from which to thrive.  That tense physical state was a tangible reflection of the subconscious legacy of my mental, emotional and spiritual starting point – my “you are here” sign at the start of my pathway to joy.   Looking back it is incredible to me that I lived in that tension unconsciously for so many years.  It was the pain in my body that brought me to seek relief and then to explore the source of all that tension.  

Does this part of my journey sound familiar?  Where would you rather be?

                                                          © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved.

                                                         Posted by Pathways to Joy at 5/15/2013 2:33 AM

Centering

What does that mean?  When I moved into myself to take up full-time residence, I noticed that I was scattered and unsettled.  There was unease and discomfort when I pulled my awareness inward and kept it there – something akin to the feeling of too much caffeine.  It was anxiety, intense and overriding anxiety – my early emotional set point.  Keeping my attention outside of myself had served to distract me from accurately experiencing my inner state of being, and once I was in it I was uncomfortable.


It is one thing to center your awareness into yourself and another thing entirely to be centered – to find ease there – and that is crucial to allowing joy to flow. 

We all go through nervousness and situational anxiety to one level or another but I was living in constant tension without even being aware of it.  The first step that I remember taking, to create an emotionally centered feeling, and bring myself to internal peace was deep, conscious breathing and the next piece of the process for me was something I would have to call mindfulness or bringing my consciousness to the present.  

The anxiety and nervousness was clearly established in the past, so by keeping my thoughts and attention on my immediate surroundings as I took three deep breaths, I would bring myself to a place where I could internally sidestep my lifelong patterns and allow my conscious thoughts to create new patterns of responses to the present situations.  I would also take note of the details in my surroundings as a visual connection to the present moment.  Sustained anxiety was an unconscious habit I needed to consciously correct, and I find it can creep back in if my awareness wanes.  Staying centered is a repetitive process for me.  I bring myself back to that space whenever I find I have slipped into old patterns.  Centering opens me to the joys of my current life, without the undercurrent of “waiting for the next shoe to drop.”  

When you bring your awareness fully inside yourself and keep it there, are you comfortable and at ease – centered?  

                                                         © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved.
                                                        Posted by Pathways to Joy at 6/15/2013 2:22 AM 


Just breathe

We can choose where we want to be on the emotional scale, regardless of surrounding circumstances.  We have spent a lifetime responding automatically from our learned set points, and it takes conscious effort to re-pattern them.  Ester and Jerry Hicks have a wonderful variety of ways to do this in Ask and It Is Given.  It is a great guide and I highly recommend it.   


My original set point tends to be rather high strung and anxious. When I realized that I carried a lot of tension in my body, I decided to find a way to unwind that spring.  In fact, it was the physical tension that I first became aware of and I began my journey there.  Is your body speaking to you through tension or pain? 

I began working with my breath.  Any time I noticed tension I took three long, slow, deep breaths all the way down into my belly.  I tuned in to where the tension was in my body and simply breathed into it.  I made a point of stopping to take a breath in conversations where I felt tense.  I began to repeat those three breaths throughout the day, scanning my body for areas to consciously relax as I did.  Breath is a simple means to affect profound changes.  

Over time, with unending attention and persistence, that deep breath became my new, physical reaction, interrupting my old thought patterns, resetting my internal responses.  Still, I find there are triggers that can throw me back into the old defensive pattern.  When it happens, as soon as I am aware, I begin to breathe deeply and I consciously redirect my mind.  I re-center my thoughts back to the patterns I choose. It has taken conscious effort to bring myself up the emotional scale.  I do envy people who are just calm from the start.  That set point is a gift!  

Throughout your days tune into your body, open your awareness, and identify areas of tension.  Arrest and reform those patterns with the use of breath.  Release whatever false thought you have that causes you to feel unsafe, less than, or unworthy.  Remember, those messages were given to you from limitation, unconsciousness and brokenness.  It is time to claim a new truth!  

                                                                © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved. 
                                                               Posted by Pathways to Joy at 7/15/2013 2:33 AM


Body, mind and emotions: Connections

Our bodies are record keepers of our emotions and experiences. We have something called cellular memory, and as you begin to release the tension and pain in your body you will also have an opportunity to release its historical source.  


A massage therapist can remove tension from your muscles and a chiropractor can align your bone structure, but if your emotions stay in fear or in any other learned tension, you will simply re-tense your muscles and misalign your bones again and again.  In the practice of Reiki we are taught that all healing takes place mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.  They cannot be separated.

You may think you are in a good emotional place today and still have repetitious tension and stiffness in your body.  That is where I found myself.  What I learned on my healing journey is that the source of today’s physical pain has roots in yesterday’s emotional pain.  Permanent healing took place as I found the source of the emotional injury I was carrying and healed that in conjunction with the physical therapies I was using.

The issues I carried in my body were hidden way down deep.  I used more than one modality to uncover and release them.  In the early days I sought traditional therapy and hypnosis.  I have used automatic writing with wonderful success.  I have a long history with this method and my subconscious wisdom responds to me sitting down at a keyboard.  Those hidden secrets slide readily through my fingers where I can reform and release them.  I also found my way to a gifted healer who was able to “read” the area of pain and tell me the story it contained.  Once the origin was identified we would release that trapped negative energy from my body and my next trip to the chiropractor would result in successfully setting that joint.  Following a car accident, I set both appointments back to back over a six-month timeframe and had great success eliminating long held pain.

If your body is carrying tension and pain there is healing to be done on a deeper level.  It is a physical call to an inward journey you will be richer for taking.  I promise you, the more you uncover and release the greater your return in joy.

                                                            © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved.
                                                            Posted by Pathways to Joy at 8/15/2013 2:22 AM


Over-Re-Acting

Acting out an old pattern with a lot of extra energy!


How many times have we all done that? 

I watched someone overreact today.  The old me would have judged that person, but the current me understood, they were having a human reaction to that moment.  I brought my thoughts into myself and examined the ways that I overreact.  

If I understand the process correctly, there are neural pathways in our brains that get more efficient with use.  For instance, if you are frightened repeatedly your body gets increasingly efficient at handling the threat with minimal direction from your mind.  Once the initial threat is gone anything that resembles the threat triggers the automatic response that can be inappropriate in the current situation. 

I think of those neural pathways like a bobsled track.  Once you have jumped in and shoved off it seems you are just along for the duration of the ride.  It is very hard to stop mid-trip.  Sound familiar?   

Whenever you find yourself reacting at a level of emotion that is greater than the immediate circumstance warrants, it is an indication that something in the present moment is triggering a strong re-action left over from your past.  If I had known that clue earlier on, it would have saved me some discovery time!  

Once I was aware, I thought I could simply stop my re-actions and respond differently, but I kept getting into my bobsled.  Initially, I would not even know it until I was climbing out at the bottom.  There I would be, feeling defeated.  How could I buy myself more time between the trigger and the sled ride?  Breath.

This is where that practice of taking three deep, slow breaths down into my belly was really helpful.  I would focus on breathing.  Consciously, relaxing my jaw, shoulders and any other tension I felt.  In the beginning I would often find I had one foot in my bobsled, just in time to get back out!  One foot does not mean you have to finish the ride.  With practice I began to avoid getting onto the track.  That is the way you progress out of old patterns.  First you identify it after the fact, then you catch yourself in the act. Eventually, you can choose a new response.  By healing the source of our overreactions, the need for that level of emotional response dissolves and our emotional set points rise up the scale.  

Take that breath.  Choose a new response.  Or, choose not to respond at all. 

                                                               © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC    All Rights Reserved. 
                                                               Posted by Pathways to Joy at 9/15/2013 2:33 AM


Courage and fear...

I have both.  It occurred to me as I approached my fears that courage can only be expressed in the face of fear.  If you have no fear, there is no need for courage.


How courageous did I want to be?  For many years my answer was “just a little.” Facing fear is not something I enjoy but living with fear diminishes me.  Every time I have expressed even a “little courage,” it left me knowing I could express a little more – reach a little higher.  Being courageous has expanded me.  
The level of courage needed was equal to the level of fear I was facing. 

The level of expansion I receive is greater than the courage I display.      

When I have faced down my fears, I have received a return that is many times greater because that thing I feared no longer has a controlling influence in my life.  Conquering each limitation becomes a source of “encouragement” needed for the next level of courageous act and so it has gone as I have faced each fear. 

I have come to see that most of my fears are based in a place of self-judgment or self-criticism, that voice inside my head that does not tell me the truth.  The things that I fear are nothing more than a story I am telling myself with a fictitious, unhappy ending.  In the same way “overreactions” take place I had mental “tapes” that would replay in a loop where my fears were concerned.  They were preprogrammed recurring thoughts – things I had been told about myself, that I had accepted as truth.  Some of those voices I have not yet conquered.  They still tell me there are things I cannot do.  I know I will conquer those fears, because I also know that I am courageous.  My life has shown me that.

Fear is something we all have in different areas of our lives.  Will you let your fears limit you?  How long will you let them?  Can you be just a little courageous?  Is there a small step that will lead you to another small step?  Is your fear around failure or perhaps success?  What fictitious tale are you telling yourself? What if the truth turned out to be great achievement and reward and we have simply been telling ourselves the story with the wrong ending?

                                                             © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                            Posted by Pathways to Joy at 10/15/2013 2:34 AM


Turning to face the darkness...
 

“Any fool can run towards the light.  It takes a master with courage to turn and face the darkness and shine his own light there.” – Leslie Fieger

I know of many people who only face the light.  They are focused on where they want to be to the exclusion of ever turning to fully face where they have been.  That did not work for me.  I had to go straight at my darkness and step back into it.  I had to spend the time to go after the fragmented pieces I had left along the paths of my past.   

I was not free to stand in the light of who I am until I began sifting through the darkness of what I have been.  It is as though I cannot be anything other than the thoughts and beliefs I have accumulated until I have identified and cleared their sources.  

There were glimmers of light streaming through me, but I did not see myself as a source of light.  I did not yet understand that we are all sources of light.

I started time traveling through my life when talk therapy was the norm and I found some answers there. As my discovery phase continued I made my way to alternative methods, and I seemed to be guided to the right healers at the right times to clear each arising issue.  Sometimes I have felt like I might never get to an end point, never feel whole and complete.  It seemed that I was spending my adult life discovering the origins of all of my shadows that were set up in childhood and my youth.  I wondered if I would ever get to just be.  

At this writing I am not yet at my highest possible outcome for the challenge that is my life, but I have learned to love the journey, down into the depths and out into the light, deep into my sorrows and digging behind my anger.  Profound sadness has a quiet that is so still it seems reverent.  Dark anger has a tale to tell, usually of my history.  The depths I have marched in to myself have equaled the heights I have climbed out of myself.  I have found that when I fearlessly face my shadows they disappear; when I run from them they multiply in size and number.  All have been less frightening than I have imagined.  I am learning to love it all.  

                                                        © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                       Posted by Pathways to Joy at 11/15/2013 3:22 AM


Discovery
 
As we discover all of the ways we have learned to think and believe that perpetuate negativity, we see clearly how they have been the thieves of our joy.  As long as we stay in that unconscious, preconditioned place we keep moving in the same circular patterns with only glimpses of the real essence of our spirits.  


It is in the rectifying of my past, the healing of my pain that the real joy within me has been set free.  

We think that if we hide our pain we are okay.  The problem is that hidden pain resonates.  That energy stays below the surface and attracts people and experiences that we are unaware we are calling to ourselves. 

Living unconsciously, in that resonance of unhealed pain, is like having one oar in the water and not understanding why your row boat is traveling in a circle.    

It is natural to want to avoid pain.  We fear if we feel what we are running from, we will be consumed by it.  In my experience the unhealed pain stayed alive, under the surface, stealing my potential, dulling my senses.  In that way it was already consuming me.  I have found that the more willing I am to feel and heal the wounds of my past the more joy I carry and express.  By removing what is in the way, joy comes forward naturally because that is what makes up our essence.  

Are you living up to your potential?  Are your emotions free flowing and fully honest?  If not, you are in need of some deeper inner exploration.  There is no justifiable reason to be held back from your full potential.  That limitation is something you learned.  It is false.  You have lived it too long already.

By spending the time to discover, identify, arrest, reform and release the patterns and habits that keep robbing us of our joy, we open more and more to allowing all of the ways we can express joy and appreciation in our lives.  Our natural state of joy awakens when we remove those things that have kept it in hibernation.

                                                         © 2013 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                        Posted by Pathways to Joy at 1/15/2014 2:12 AM



Anger as a discovery tool

My anger is a self-protective response, my ego’s way of feeling powerful in the face of anything it perceives as physically or emotionally overwhelming.  The problem has been that my ego is often misguided: based on programming from my past, it sees threats where there are none.  It can interpret my hurt feelings or even insecurity as a threat and strike back before I can explore the truth of the moment. The triggers of my anger are reactions stemming from patterns long forgotten by my conscious mind, but the neural pathways remain and my bobsled is polished and waiting.    (See post from 9/15/13 Over-Re-Acting) 


As I have given up my layers of anger I have become more closely connected to the pain that anger was covering up.  If I can bypass the angry response, I can very quickly connect to the clearer more honest pain and begin my work there. That has been difficult for me because I learned very young to hide my vulnerable side.
  
You might ask why I am talking about connecting closely to pain in an essay about joy.  It is because I have learned that I cannot pick and choose which emotions I will accept and which I will reject.  Life has taught me to move toward all of my feelings and then sort out what is underneath and accept or reject that.  Anger is a trail to my false beliefs, an arrow pointing to my unconscious and unhealed wounds. When I have used my anger in that way, I have opened to new truths and discovered outdated patterns to release.  When I have done that work, the angry response to those triggers dissolves and joy has more room to inhabit me.

One example is my feelings of abandonment.  With the passing of my father when I was three, I was stamped with a hypersensitivity to being abandoned.  Any situation that my ego related to that setup of abandonment would trigger a reaction of self-protection, oftentimes anger.  I stumbled across that truth after doing some automatic writing while angry.  I thought I was expressing my feelings about a present day event but when I reread it, it was clearly addressing the abandonment I had felt as a child and did not have the tools to express or put into any kind of framework at the age of three.  All those years later, that three-year-old was acting out.  It seems so simple now, but if I had not done the discovery, reform and release, I would still be locked in that pattern.  By using my anger as a discovery tool, I am more and more free. 

                                                                © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                               Posted by Pathways to Joy at 2/15/2014 2:34 AM


A change of perspective
 
“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”  That is one of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes. 


I come from a background where misguided, inappropriately expressed anger was the norm.  Any frustrating event was the catalyst for anger to erupt, and the list of frustrations seemed endless and unpredictable.
 
Fast forward to my first exposure to a different approach—in my early twenties I dated a man whose family saw every level of frustration during the day as a humorous tale for their dinner conversations.  The frustration someone had experienced that day became fuel for laughter during the evening meal and if they had acted out that frustration in any way, and especially if that acting out had made the situation worse, the story became funnier.  In this family, compounded frustration was transformed into compounding laughter. 

What a stark contrast that was for me to experience as a young adult.
  
Imagine my shift in perspective.  It was my first experience with the idea that things going very wrong can be a gold mine of humor—that it was not only okay to laugh at ourselves, but in some circles it was expected, that multiple layers of frustrating events and irrational human responses that make the circumstances worse…are funny! 
  
I married that man and over time I claimed that new perspective.  As things would begin to go wrong and my body and mind would begin to tense up, reacting by default, I was always astonished at how incredibly calm my husband would stay.  In the midst of the most uncomfortable situations, he could be reminded of a joke and stop to tell it to me.  Nothing of our day to day life was too big to be overcome with humor. Nothing was so frustrating that we wouldn’t be laughing soon.  That shift of perspective created a great joyful awareness in me.  It brought me to an understanding of the meaning of enjoyment—it is the choice to bring the joy with us, to infuse whatever situation is presented, with our own embodied joy.  The energy of frustration can be transformed into joy by shifting perspective.
 
                                                                 © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                Posted by Pathways to Joy at 3/15/2014 2:11 AM


Judgment

This week I came face to face with a whole lot of judgment!  In my old patterns it would have triggered me.  From my old emotional set point I would have reacted and quite possibly overreacted.  In fact, I did that not too long ago, but this time I was much better.  I stayed in a clean, centered place. I breathed into it.  I allowed the energy of judgment to stay with its source rather than take it in.  I acted from my spirit and gave love to the situation.  Reacting and overreacting is ego driven.  This time, this response came from my spirit.


The difference was so worth the effort.  When it was done I had a wonderful feeling of calm.  I had risen beyond my pattern and I was lighter for it.  As I master each shift I am working toward, I rejoice in my victories over my shadow self.        

I collect those good feelings the way I collect sea shells.  


“Getting it right” feeds the energy of getting it right more.  I have become easier on myself about “getting it wrong” too.  I used to turn judgment onto myself and be very self critical when I mishandled a situation.  Now, I dust myself off and move on with more ease.  I realize that I “got in my bobsled and it took me to the bottom.”  Now, rather than curse the track, I just get out and climb back to the top, collecting information along the way about how to do it differently next time.  

Judgment is unwelcome whether it is from someone else or from me.                        

Our judgments are opinions that we have about others but they most accurately reflect our own attitudes and ideas.  They are negative projections of our inner world onto someone else.  I have enough to do facing my own shadows.  I will keep minding my own stuff and leave other people’s judgments with them. It is another layer of standing in my truth and acting from a space of love.  

There is a lot of judgment in the world.  We are either adding to that energy or diffusing that energy by our projected judgments or our responses to them. 

Which do you choose?  Are you aware of your participation?  Are you adding to the energy of judgment or diffusing it?

                                                            © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 

                                                           Posted by Pathways to Joy at 4/15/2014 3:17 AM


Knowing my truth

As I turned my focus inward and became an observer of my responses to my life, I came to recognize patterns.  There were common threads that would trigger my automatic responses.  One of those threads was in the posture of self-defense.  I was discussing it with a friend who explained to me she never defended herself.  When I asked her how she could do that she smiled and said, “There is no need to defend myself because I know my truth and that is all that matters.  I don’t need to convince anyone of anything.”  That seemed so stress free and relaxed!


I decided to adopt that idea.  I would stop defending myself about anything ever.

I have already talked about the strength of my ego.  As it turned out, it was my ego that did all the defending and with good reason.  My “need” to defend myself gets triggered out of an intense, old emotional pattern.  My ego likes to strike back, and standing quietly in my truth is counter to its goal of self-preservation.  

So, I have found this challenge to be ongoing.  Much of the time, if I stay aware, I can master it and calmly, stand quietly knowing my truth, without the need to defend or convince anyone of anything.  My reactionary response started out at the other end of the scale.  With awareness and practice those responses are now rare.  When I do back slide and re-act I gather information I can use to avoid re-acting next time.  Each time, I get a little better as my ego relaxes and my spirit takes more control.         

Are you in the habit of defending yourself?  What if you stop?  Have your attempts at defending, explaining or convincing ever ended in peaceful resolution or does your response create more conflict?  What can you do instead?  Can you focus on breathing?  Tell the other person you will be taking a few days to consider their point of view more carefully.  Then if it is still important in a few days you can thoughtfully respond. You are in charge of when, how or if you respond to everything.  Exercising that power has made a difference in my life.  I have found that very often, no response is the most empowering decision I make.  

                                                            © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                           Posted by Pathways to Joy at 5/15/2014 2:33 AM

 


You Can be Right or You Can be Love


You can be right or you can be love “On this day of your life, dear friend, I believe God wants you to know…
That every day—nay, every moment – you will have a chance to be
Right or to be Love.  Your choice will define who you are.”
                                                                                                  – Neale Donald Walsh

I am signed up for a daily email from the Conversations with God website, and this one came some time ago.  I move through my days hearing people making this choice all around me.  I hear married couples bickering and correcting the smallest detail that is not even closely related to the story being told, each getting fixated on whether it was a Wednesday or a Thursday and why each thinks they are right, when the day it happened, has no bearing on the interesting part of the tale.  I want to scream, “Who cares!  Can you just let them tell the story?”  But as the bickering goes on, you can tell they care.  Each of them, or one, as it goes, has a vested interest in being right.  That scenario plays out in all directions.

I can see it clearly in others as it happens in front of me.  When it comes up in me I generally need the vantage point of hindsight.  Sometimes I am locked into my idea so fully, I completely forget I can choose to be love instead.  


Then there are those sweet times when I am fully there in my spirit, actively choosing to be love.  Letting go of all need to correct or inject my thoughts into someone else’s moment.  I like to think I have gotten better and that I am still improving on this.  I remember—it is my ego that cares about the small stuff.

I ask myself what does love look like responding to this moment?  I am only sure of what love looks like from my point of view.  Love listens without correcting.  Love is present in the moment.  Love is not thinking of my point of view.  Love is interested in hearing yours.  Love looks for the feelings that are unspoken and sees the truth of who you are without judgment.  Love does not care who’s right.

My spirit does not care about the small stuff, whether a detail is right or wrong.  My spirit only cares that you know I am hearing you, that I am enjoying you telling your story however you tell it.  We can be Right or we can be Love….

                                                         © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                        Posted by Pathways to Joy at 6/15/2014 2:53 AM

Divine Discontent

For a long while I avoided confronting a deep down discontent.  I did everything I could, not to look at it, not to feel it.  It was uncomfortable so I did not want to face it.  I don’t remember where I first heard or read the term “divine discontent” but when I did it seemed to describe that thing I had felt stalking me for so long.   It was a restlessness that was telling me I was not living up to my potential.  My life was not supporting a higher calling or feeding a sense of deeper purpose.  

Somehow I knew it would demand change on a profound level if I looked it in the eye.  If I turned and faced it squarely, it would tell me to change many of the things my comfort seemed to rest on—my marriage, my home, much of my life, all of those things I thought defined me.  How that could be defined as divine discontent I was not sure because it felt like impending chaos when I brought it to the surface.  Where would I be if I walked away from what I had spent my adult life creating?  When those circumstances I had defined as me were gone, who would I be?  Did I have the strength to find out?    

I believe there are times when we know what it is we must do, even though we might wish we did not have to do it; when moving forward will be to allow some higher purpose to open within us and remaining in place will stifle us.  I was at that place in my discontent.  How do you leave what you love in the hope of finding what is missing?  I knew what I would be leaving behind, but I had no vision of what I was headed toward.  Maybe, the divine part of that discontent was coming to the faith to just move forward and watch and see what appeared, my trusting in an unknown ending and letting go of the fear that held me in place.

That was the choice I made out of my divine discontent.  My life to that point had taken me on such a worthwhile journey of self-discovery and healing but now it was holding me back.  My discontent was telling me I had hard choices to make if I was to claim a higher truth for myself.  Who I know myself to be today, is as much defined by my decision, as by the way I chose to execute that decision.

How do you leave what you love in order to find what is missing?  The answer I came to is gently, as gently as I possibly could and that decision turned out to be as self-defining as my decision to leave…

                                                                                         © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                     Posted by Pathways to Joy at 7/15/2014 2:53 AM

 
To love, honor and cherish

How you leave a relationship is as important as how you enter it, and how you play your part is defined by your level of consciousness.        

I gave a lot of thought to ending my marriage before I put it into words.  Where we once brought out the best in each other we had slid toward discovering the worst.  At the base of our feelings for each other was the love of our 20 years together, the adventures we had shared, the laughter we had generated, but at the end of those 20 years what we needed from each other had shifted, and we each seemed incapable of offering to the other that safe place that is the glue in a good marriage.  Together, we were no longer living our highest expressions.  We were letting each other down with increasing regularity.

I took my marriage vows very seriously—to love, honor and cherish.  When it seemed I could no longer do that from inside my marriage, I decided I would love, honor and cherish him in our parting and beyond.

When we leave something as sacred as a marriage so many people become focused on winning in a situation where no one will.  At some point we had chosen to give our heart to this person and to pledge our love, and it does not make sense to me that we then replace that with anger, blame and destruction as we go out the door.  They disappointed us by not living up to our expectations.  They turned out to be different than we thought they would be.  Does that have to be someone’s fault?  Is punishing them really necessary?       

He and I made the decision to avoid those pitfalls.  I made the decision early on that if I left with my dog, my cat, my car and my clothes, I had all I needed.  Together we made the decision that we would divide much more but I would not have made anything into a fight.  Committing to that kept me centered. 

Stuff is not what life is made of.  In the end, for me, it’s the memories – and he and I have two decades of great memories.  It is holding my head high knowing I have left him better for knowing me and hoping he smiles when he remembers.  It is keeping the vows I made before God and honoring all the pieces that were right.  In my view, that has so much more abundance to it than who got the stuff. 

                                                              © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                             Posted by Pathways to Joy at 8/15/2014 2:53 AM

 A lesson not learned will be repeated.

The ending of a marriage is one of the times when it becomes very easy to shift all of our focus outward and leave it there.  Our ego wants to blame and not take any responsibility.  That blame takes us to our anger and sometimes the strength we draw from the anger is what gives us the courage to make a needed change, but staying in that anger becomes a thief left to pillage joy from our future.  Are you divorced and still angry at your ex-partner?  Are you willing to see it differently?

As always it is best to move our focus back to ourselves, our own behavior, and our own reactions.  Those are the things we can shift – our place of personal power.  How could we have done it differently?  What is there to learn about ourselves from the dynamics of that relationship?  Did we give what we wanted to receive within the marriage?  People we travel through life with are meant to be our teachers.  What did you learn about yourself from the time spent with your partner?  Do you see the ways you let them down?  Could you have been more giving, more understanding?  Did you give your partner the best you had to give? 

These lessons are gifts if you choose to open them.    

Beating yourself up is not the goal.  As Maya Angelou says, “You do what you know how to do, and when you know better you do better.”  The point of self-examination is to know how to do it better so we don’t keep spinning in the same circles—to work through our stuff the first time, so we can stop repeating the lesson and get on to a new one.  There will always be lessons.  I have found I prefer to move into new lessons rather than keep repeating the old ones.

Take a gentle, honest look at yourself.  What pushed your buttons?  Why?  When were you re-acting or over-re-acting?  See if you can trace those reactions back to the source and heal that.  In what ways did your relationship repeat patterns from your past?  Would you like to repeat them another time, in a new relationship, or does arresting those thieves now seem like a good idea? 

Reflecting on my marriage has been a goldmine of self-healing information when I approach it this way—discovering, identifying, arresting, reforming—releasing!

                                                     © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                               Posted by Pathways to Joy at 9/15/2014 2:00 AM

What we focus on expands.

The very act of focusing on anything expands its energy.  Thoughts plus emotion are creative forces. 

By deciding not to make my divorce about “the stuff” I stayed aware that it was about separating from a man I had loved for half of my lifetime.  By choosing to keep my focus on the highest outcome for both of us, I was raising the level of the outcome to its higher aspects.  It could have gotten ugly as so many divorces do, and it certainly had some very tense moments.  There was no shortage of people telling each of us how we should move into “the fight.”  When I spoke to my attorney the first time I told him that I was far more committed to preserving our memories than any other goal, and when that commitment slipped from my mind he gently brought me back to that stated goal, of preserving those memories, and I am grateful that he did.

It is our ego that wants to win, to punish and exact justice for what it perceives to be harm done by another.  The more we give way to its urges the more it wants from us.  I have talked about how strong my ego was at the outset of my journey, but by the time I was at this juncture, nearly a decade into my inner expedition, I was understanding that the way to peace was usually in the opposite direction from the one my ego was pointing at and wanting to stomp toward.  By then, I had some experiences of success at turning down the volume of my ego’s ranting and connecting instead to the quieter paths of my spirit. 

When we connect to spirit we find solace and peace.  I think our ego tells us that blame is easier to maintain than sorrow is to face.  The difference is the way we feel on the other side of either choice.  From my observations blame is open- ended and unproductive.  Sorrow or sadness can weaken me if my choice is to stay in it, but when I choose to move into it and through it, I come out the other side stronger for that passage.  The kinds of anger and blame that are generally expressed in situations that are as hard as divorce remain if you let them, and they are thieves.  It is best to keep them out altogether if you can, but if you have already let them in, go find them and release them.  They are blocking the truer, higher path to your inner peace, integrity and, yes, joy.  Where you focus your attention matters.

                                                                                    © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                     Posted by Pathways to Joy at 10/15/2014 2:34 AM

Where is your focus?

I used to focus on things with no awareness of the creative nature of my thoughts.  But now, after all of the reading I have done on topics from Quantum Physics to fluffy mind over matter stuff, I have been impressed with the importance of carefully choosing my next silent or spoken thought, and the one after that, and after that.   

Since habits formed across lifetimes can creep back in if not watched closely, and my habits were largely negative thought patterns, I have made a decision.  This year I decided to commit myself to a daily practice of inputting positive reference points.  I am feeding my mind something wonderful to ponder as early in the day as is possible, and I return to it often.  As I write this I can hear people thinking, “I don’t have time in the morning for anything like that.”  I never did either, so for me the very simplest thing is to use one of those wonderful little decks of cards you can buy at bookstores.  Each card has a word or a positive message written on it.  Then it is as quick in the morning as pulling a card from a deck and taking that word or thought with me for the rest of the day.

Yesterday my word was Attention.  Today my word is Potential.  See how they can just tickle your mind?  Yesterday, I paid attention to everything.  I was in the moment and at attention.  My awareness was sharpened.  Today I am smiling, musing on the topic of potential.  My mind goes in many directions, as there is much potential to the word—my potential, today’s potential, the potential of my words to make a difference somewhere, somehow.    

That topic I put into my awareness early in the day can focus me in the most wonderful ways and keep me in the kind of positive resonance that increases my experiences of joy.  From that place, I am calling in those matching energies and inviting more playful and magical happenings into my reality. 

With that one simple addition to my morning, I am setting myself up to have a day full of conscious awareness.  I am aligning my thoughts with an emotional set point that I am consciously choosing by focusing my attention.  I have come to look forward to each day’s randomly picked muse.  As I write this, I glanced at the next card in the deck, tomorrow’s word is Passion!  See what I mean?   

                                                                                    © 2014 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                    
Posted by Pathways to Joy at 11/15/2014 3:33 AM

Where’s your fire?

During that time when Audrey was noticing my joy I was engaging my passion.  Passion hibernates alongside joy.  To awaken one is to stir the other.

Deepak Chopra once said, “Your passion is the thing you are doing when you completely lose track of time.” Using that description, identifying different areas of my passion was initially easy for me.  I had a new home and I was gardening full scale for the first time in my life.  I would set down my morning coffee half finished and be working a shovel or trowel until my husband would be calling me in for lunch.  Decorating, painting and wallpapering all held me captivated and fed my spirit.  I found passion through physical, creative activities.  When my health declined, those familiar activities went missing from my experience.  I had to cultivate new activities to create that level of heightened enjoyment.  Looking for a common thread among my long-time passions, I found that if I am creating I am in my passion and writing provides that important element for me.

I think passion and purpose are meant to be intertwined.  When we become so absorbed in an activity that time has no meaning it seems to me we must also be engaged in the same energy patterns as our purpose. 

Are you aware of where your passion lies?  Do you schedule time to spend there?  If your first choice is not within reach can you bring passion to whatever you are doing?  Can you decide to become so absorbed with an activity with your child, your partner or your pet that time spent with them dissolves? 

You do not have the luxury of ignoring it.  You cannot be too busy not to lose yourself in your passion at least once a week.  If you cannot have your first choice then bring passion to something you are doing.  Bring all your attention and interest to something you love consciously, consistently.  It is the fastest way I know to connect to your essence—your joy….

We express our passions though our love of what we are doing.

                                                                                   © 2015 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                  
Posted by Pathways to Joy at 12/15/2014 2:33 AM


Engaging in our passions       

When we engage our passion we are resonating at a very high level of energy.  Our busy mind is turned off.  We are focused—connected to our essence.  In that space, giving ourselves to the moment, we are shining our light, emanating a very high energy.  We are sending our love out into the world by just being in that timeless space.  

Our thoughts coupled with emotions are creative forces.  That means that moment by moment, through our thoughts and feelings, we are calling in our next experience.  With that in mind the more we learn to spend time in positive thought and joy the more experiences we create from that space.  Engaging in activities that cultivate joy keeps us interested in our lives and focused in directions that keep our energies bright. 

What we see in our outer world is a reflection of our inner world, so cultivating our passion and creating space for activities we love doing, creates more of those positive thoughts and feelings.  When we know there is a time set to enjoy an activity in our near future we spend time thinking about our next opportunity to get back to what we love doing.  We plan and get excited.  We smile more.  Bringing that energy into our day to day life is what life is supposed to be.

Some people think they don’t have time.  Some think they will do those things “someday” after they reach certain goals or pass a milestone.  My dad was not yet 40 when he died.  I learned young that life stops on its own terms and nothing is promised but this time, right now. 

If today was your last day, would you spend it cleaning the house and telling yourself and your children you did not have time to play?  We do need to maintain our worlds and do certain things, but if we never have time to follow our heart into an activity where we completely lose track of time, we will someday run out of time to do it at all. Life ends on its own terms and nothing is promised. 

What gives my life its highest quality is not more stuff to become a slave to.  My sense of peace, my internal comfort and my joy has never come from how much I can acquire, those qualities have come from what I chose to think and do.

                                                                                    © 2015 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                   
Posted by Pathways to Joy at 01/15/2015 2:33 AM


Choosing my experience

Looking back to the time of that meeting with Audrey, described in my introduction, I have questioned why she was seeing such joy in me.  I had been on my healing journey for nearly a decade at the time of our conversation.  I was newly single and enjoying the freedom to explore all of my interests as they arose.  I felt at home with the meditation group, a kinship with the members.  I was excited about the opening of so many new directions.

That combination of freedom, exploration, comfort and kinship at that time was the magic.  I had cleared away many of the outward distractions and I was passionate about moving toward my unknown destination.  All those feelings were coming together and expressing themselves through me, as joy. 

During that same time in my life, there were also many changes and much uncertainty.  I could easily have focused all my attention on my fears and self-doubt.  I was heartbroken, as well, that my marriage had ended, and that loss was real and with me day and night. 

I think that is often the way of things.  Our losses hold within them the seeds of positive possibilities and our great joys hold the seeds of possible loss.  That time in my life of great loss in one area was also a time of great joy in other areas.  I was choosing when to invite grief into expression and when to allow myself to be in the joy of the moment, making conscious decisions to fully feel the joyful events and allow myself to separate them out from those areas of loss and sadness.  When loss happens without warning it certainly can be overwhelming and sweep us into the depths, but my situation was a carefully and thoughtfully made choice that I moved into with a great deal of respect, and that made it possible for me to choose which feeling I would allow to govern the moment. 

My joy was as real as my grief and neither emotion overran the other.  I felt each emotion deeply in its turn without allowing either to overshadow the other.   

I was staying true to living in the feeling of the moment...and by doing that I was free to be authentically joyful during an uncertain time in my life.

                                                                                    © 2015 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                   
Posted by Pathways to Joy at 02/15/2015 2:23 AM

Joy’s Pre-dawn


Today was the kind of day that beckons me to spend my time in reflection.  I looked back over the writings of my journey and I spent time thinking about how I have progressed through my lifetime.  My early years were not without happiness but I did not know the presence of joy.  Happiness is something I experience as an aspect of my personality.  It is fleeting and generally created with some external ingredient such as time with a good friend—but joy as I have found it is a deeply personal mix that I have come to discover through my search.

I read once that it is the vibrations of the songbird’s notes that call the spring seeds to life and in that same way I call my joy to life by singing the songs of my spirit—I have learned that the action of being joyous is mine. 

If I think of joy’s progression as the light of day, then my first three decades were spent in joy’s pre-dawning.  It was that time of my life when I was unconsciously living out the unquestioned patterns from my past.

As I have let go of all the mindless activities and habits that used to occupy my thoughts and time and turned my attention instead to the deeper questions of what is truly important to me, I have begun to scratch the surface of understanding of what awakens joy in me.

 It is being present, in the moment.  When I can focus my attention in that way I become free of worry, I stop projecting my thoughts into the future or the past, and experience the peacefulness of now and joy begins to stir.  It is in the easy company I keep, the gentleness of the people I choose to spend my time with.  As I uncover the secrets of what things are of real importance to me, joy stirs and stretches, quietly making its way out of its slumber.

I connect to joy when I fully experience gratitude for the simplest of pleasures and privileges such as good food, natural beauty, and a warm fire on a cold night or a kind word of encouragement from a friend.  In taking the time to notice and appreciate all of these, my joy awakens and calls itself to rising like those seeds of spring reaching for the songbird’s voices.

                                                                                    © 2015 Pathways to Joy LLC   All Rights Reserved. 
                                                                                   
Posted by Pathways to Joy at 03/08/2015 4:44 AM