The Value of a ‘Why Not’ List 

One of the big illusions about life is that somewhere out there … it’s better. Someone other than me is working harder, delighting more readers, and generally looking a lot hotter.

And so, presumably, they are on track to be the so-called winner. Maybe they even get to take home a big stuffed bear.

A part of our brain often gets fixated on how our lives should be … as opposed to how perfectly satisfying and wonderful they are right here and right now.

My friend Jon calls this sad habit ‘shoulding on yourself’.

As in ‘I should be working 50 hours weeks building my empire,’ or  ‘I should have a massive list by now’. And let’s not forget that perennial favorite, ‘I should be ten pounds thinner.’

If you’re like me, you slip into shoulding without even thinking about it. I notice I get particularly should-y when thinking about my work, no matter how much I’ve accomplished. And no matter what’s going on in my life.

I’m thinking about my wedding six months ago. These were the days of wine and roses! Yet my mind was squarely parked on how much work I could cram in before the guests start arriving … purely out of should-i-ness.

But was I actually getting it done? Not really. I was too distracted! I wanted to take a champagne bath, and try on my wedding ring fifteen more times. I want to call all the family and friends who were showing up for the big day.

I wanted to hold my love and look dreamily in her eyes.

Which I would have done … except for that taskmaster, Should, in my head. Silently, she tapped her stick against her hand.

Here’s the supreme irony of it all. We don’t actually get that much done when we are being all ‘shouldy’. We’re much more likely to really rock the results when we let go completely and honor what’s happening here and now.

Jon, who is a very wise soul, reminds me that even a state of inertia can be God’s will for us.

Think about that … even a state of inertia can be God’s will for us.

Wow.

After all, God’s not standing around, tapping a foot and impatiently waiting for results, right? We’re the ones who do that.

Instead, God, or the Universe, or Spirit (or whomever you recognize that great guiding Force to be), invites us all to let go and slide into the great slipstream of love. Here we flow from one task to the next, effortlessly.

Here we let go and surrender and find our way to whatever would feel right next.

So instead of a ‘To Do’ list, may I humbly suggest a ‘Why Not?’ list.
Why not take a walk and watch the clouds for as long as you want? For if you do, some inspiration will surely descend.

Why not call someone you love and tell them so. Then your heart will expand just a little more greatly.

Or why not take a chance and submit a story to that hot media outlet you’ve been craving because suddenly … it feels right?

That’s flow, baby. I highly recommend inviting it into your life.

When we get ball-and-chained to our To Do lists, there is no room for us to breathe. So we forget the very core of our aliveness. This is how we get so very, very tired. We can’t keep up, and the strategies we’ve invested our time, our money, and our belief in begin to crumble.

This is when the ‘shoulds’ begin in earnest. And rightly so because (gasp!) … we rall behind. And we know in our hearts we will never catch up.

This is how we wind up soundly parked in self-doubt.
Which is exactly where I was when I spoke to my friend Jon. I needed to hear him say that that there is no ‘there’ there. There really is nothing to push towards.
There is only the here and now, one beautiful day at a time.

May you join me in embracing what is, for all of its warts, bumps and obvious gaps. They, too, are God’s will … just as you are.

You have been given a sacred job of simply being, my friend. So the question remains: is that good enough for you?

Me? I say yes!

 

 

P.S.

Do you want to learn more about walking away from the to-do list? Listen to the latest episode of Before the Afterlife, How to Walk Away from the To-Do List – with Jen Riday

 

How to Know When Angels Are Around You

 

Did you know we all have signs when angels are present?

I know, I know … I didn’t believe in angels either. They always seemed obscure and just a little too otherworldly … At least until my daughter Teal died. Crazy thing is that for nearly the last five years since her death, Teal speaks to me all the time in a way that can only be called angelic.

Teal literally tingles through me. Or she laughs – a sweet, high silvery laughter that seems to come from somewhere outside my body as it bubbles through me.

All I know is that I’m not laughing on my own accord. I feel like a radio turned to the Angel Channel.

How do I know this is angelic Teal? Well, I don’t for a fact. But what I do know is pure Joy, basically. And that is very much who she was.

But back to tracking those angels.  First of all, I suspect they don’t always have long gowns, flowing blond locks or big white wings. George Bailey’s guardian angel was a fusty old character named Clarence who wore 18th century long johns.

If anything, angels are embodiments of light.

The one ‘sighting’ I had of Teal in her angelic form was a waking vision in which she was pure white light emanating from my closed bathroom door. When I asked why she wouldn’t let me see her, she replied, “I don’t want you to get distracted.”

Good point. Angels in the flesh are probably mind-blowers.

I also suspect that angels come surfing in to help us via our own quirky preferences. I love to listen to music while I drive, preferably up,  fun, funk or R&B or even old disco that’s plenty cranked up. It just makes me feel good.

No surprise then that this ‘high vibe’ experience is where I most often encounter my angelic support team. The minute the right music comes on, in comes my angel, rippling through me with laughter.

Sometimes I get a visual in my mind’s eye of a pack of cartoon ghosts all doing the Electric Slide. They seem to love disco.

So yeah, there is a visual sometimes, too. It occurs in that small animal part of the brain where one sees things beyond the realm of logic. For me, the key has been allowing it, not judging it, and just accepting that there are things out there I just can’t ever understand.

Finally, it appears that angels love a sweet surprise, a good joke, and most of all, a critical save. Indeed, this is often their purpose. The stories abound. A friend tells how she feel asleep at the wheel only to be woken up as her car gently drifted down the exit ramp – a turn she does not remember making.

The Internet shares stories of those who have been saved by angels as they were about to drown or be raped at knifepoint. Others tell stories of guiding voices whispering in their ear, or of ‘knowing’ to do something improbable just in the nick of time. The solution is assured when an angel shows up.

I have often seen signs – multiple rainbows, for instance – as confirmation that something important is transpiring. Others report glowing balls, or orbs that pop up in photographs. Still others report a certain smell, a breeze, or a freshness in the air.

Is this truly evidence that an angel is nigh? I couldn’t say. What I do know is that from all reports the afterlife is a place of inestimable joy. And when my own personal angel arrives I have a complete and total joy transfusion.

In those moments I can love and embrace life in all of its messiness, and that – to me – is an angel’s ultimate purpose. (Think back to good old George in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’)
Have you ever experienced angels? I would love to hear your story – please share below.

If you’d like to find out more about Healing with Angels and All Kinds of ‘High Vibe’ Energy, listen to our new podcast with angel expert, Sandra Rea. 

 

 

 

 

 

What If You Can’t Hear Your Heart’s Desire?

It is said that the greatest guide to living a prosperous, happy life of love is to listen to your heart.

Just follow its guidance and you’ll be all set. At least that is the conventional wisdom that drives us to eschew the ordinary life and set off on the road less traveled.

And yet … there seems to be a design flaw.

I don’t know about you, but I have one hell of a time hearing my heart. I know its wisdom is back there somewhere. But it’s lodged behind the ranting of my incessant, worried mind, a million to-do’s, and a cacophony of mid-life emotions.

It’s also buried behind the subtle over-layer of apps, texts, emails, phone calls, appointments, traffic jams, calories, doctor appointments, instant messages, chats, whether to eat chocolate or not, and the frenetic microcosm of social media.

Bottom line: I can’t frigging hear my heart!

And yet … I know if I just stop and listen, like really stop and listen, I can hear it.

The fact is I don’t want to listen.

My heart will tell me that my constant ‘doing’ must end. That I must be willing to let go and hang out with the mystery of life for a while.

If I really want to feel my feelings, I must stop being so busy-busy-busy.

My heart will say that far more urgent than anything on my ‘must do’ list is my own – our own – continued healing.

Many of us are all in a state of subtle emergency most of the time. But we proceed as if this is the human condition. And yet … it’s not.

Underneath all the furor of modern life, we are calmly rational. Furthermore, we know exactly what to do at any given moment. In fact, our nervous system is always ready to chime in with its intuitive hit to set us straight. But really … we just can’t bear to hear it.

Then change might be required. Change for which we feel ill prepared. Change that might lead us to failure.

At least that’s what the ego thinks in its protective, if misguided way.

So we hang out in vagueness … longing for something … but unable to say exactly what.

 I have been quietly learning that I have no choice. If I want to be happy, I have to follow the directions of my heart whether I like it or not. Really, my heart’s the only sane driver on board.

Because when I slow down long enough to listen, life calms down. Then my faith returns and I remember I’m not alone. Instantly, I feel stronger, wiser. And somehow, I know what to do.

Bear in mind this: your heart will not ever try to set you off course. Nor will your heart ever try to hurt another. Instead, it only wants to lovingly steer you onward to become your best, every day.

That’s all that happens when you make enough time, and create enough peace, to finally listen.

What is your heart trying to tell you today that you may be avoiding?

You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.

Here are the links to iTunes and Google Play!

 

 

An Unexpected Road Back to Happiness

I’d like to offer a radical opinion. What if the most direct route back to happiness is through crisis, chaos and loss?
I know, I know … this is not a popular opinion. But this is what I learned after I lost my daughter Teal in 2012. Before her death, I was possibly the unhappiest I had ever been … at least since my tortured twenties.

By that point, my children were pretty much grown, and my marriage had ended. I’d moved across the country to a city I couldn’t quite relax in … And I’d found my way into a toxic relationship that I felt completely trapped in.

I worked constantly in order not to feel my pain. My work as an internet marketing coach was successful and even a little glamorous – so it looked like I was having lots of fun. But I wasn’t. This wasn’t my true calling and I knew it.

Really, in my heart, I was a writer. That’s how I started out in my twenties. But now, nearly twenty years later, I had no idea how to get back there. I’d chosen this path simply because I knew it would be financially successful. But instead of being able to leave it, I felt bound to it by ball and chain.

But by the time my daughter died, my lousy relationship was over, my business ended due to simple burnout, and I had no place to live. The Universe had conspired to ‘do for me that which I could not do for myself,’ and taken the whole damn mess away.

What followed was two years of grief and rest, during which I had to learn how to become very quiet, and let go of all the props that had been holding me up. This was followed by two more years of slow, gradual rebuilding.

Today, more than four and half years later, I really am the happiest I have ever been. My income became stable again when, out of the blue, I was hired to write a series of novels for an investor. I’d published a novel many years earlier, and now as I sat down to write again, I found … miraculously … I had become a much better writer.

Two novels, Transformed: San Francisco and Transformed: Paris, have been published and a third one, Transformed: Las Vegas, is on the way. Recently I also married the love of my life.

What all of this abundance is teaching me is that when you stop, relax, and ‘just be’ … the Universe starts to deliver up exactly what you want. It’s a great discipline to do nothing, ironically. In this age of pushing and striving, we are ever more fearful of having space, peace and quiet.

But may I recommend at least the occasional dip into these waters.
You may, indeed, be surprised what will come your way.
Don’t just do something … stand there.

You can find this episode below, or subscribe with any podcast player.

Here are the links to iTunes and Google Play!

 

 

 

The Magical (and True) Story of How My New Healing Podcast Came to Be

I drove up to Sebastopol on a foggy Bay Area morning last fall because something was pushing me. I just kept feeling the urge to go back  to this sweet town where I once lived. At the time, I felt stuck. I couldn’t move forward, though I badly wanted to.

In my meditation, when I asked what was next for me, the image of Sebastopol’s main street and it’s intersection in the middle of town was shown to me. It was an image that had come to me repeatedly since Teal’s death, at one point prompting me to live there for a year and a half.

Although I moved away, Sebastopol still calls to me and invites me in …this is a place where I resonate and where Teal’s spirit really comes alive for me. Especially as I drive up there.

While I was driving on that particular day, I felt so lost. I was at some kind of crossroads with my work. The novels were being published but I felt incomplete. I submitted an  excerpt from my memoir to an agent and was waiting for her feedback. I was ‘on hold’ and I didn’t like it.

So I prayed to Teal as I drove. “Please show me what I’m supposed to do. Make yourself apparent to me. Help me know what is next.”

After I got to Sebastopol, I did what I always do … I went into Infusions, ordered a cup of tea and a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, and put down my backpack. Then I looked through the big glass doors of the tea shop.

Standing there was a blonde woman talking to Magick, the psychic who usually sits outside. I studied her. I was instantly drawn to her though I really didn’t know why. It could have been because she is beautiful, but there was some other, bigger reason I couldn’t put my finger on. I thought perhaps I knew her.

Then I realized it was Michaela, the shaman who Teal had done a session with her only a week before her death. It was Michaela who’d gotten Teal so very interested in shamanic healing in the first place.

It was in this very spot that I’d run into Michaela several times over the last four years. I said hello to her, we hugged, then spontaneously sat down to tea together.

Ninety minutes later, I had a clear sense of my purpose moving forward.

Because Michaela is a shaman, she ‘travels between worlds’ and often talks to beings such as Teal who inhabit the other side. We started chatting and inevitably Teal’s essence began seeping into the conversation.

We talked about life, and then moved on to the topic of organ donation. Teal’s heart was donated to another young woman about her age whose life was saved, and who moves through this walking life right now because of Teal.

Michaela began to receive all kinds of information from Teal, then, about what happens to the stored memories in the cells of the transferred organ. She went on to channel Teal at length, ending with these words.

When my heart stopped I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. My soul was ready to go, but I was not aware that my heart had a different trajectory … when I was young I didn’t understand the pain that my heart was in. And I didn’t know if I could sustain it. There was an aspect of denial that is part of being young, which prevented me from expressing the pain and working with it in a substantive way.

And yet, my heart’s journey was really to impart information from another dimensional aspect, so people could hear the wisdom of my heart and other hearts. I was not capable of doing that psychologically in my body, and with the personality that I had. I wasn’t evolved enough to understand that in order to heal the heart, I had to experience what the heart was harboring.

Now when I look at it, it’s more like I had to learn how to play the chords, so that I could improvise in a major way. I’m now improvising in a major way, but I didn’t have the tools to do that when I was young and alive.”

Then Michaela looked at me. “Teal says, ‘To be continued,” she said.

Michaela had no way of knowing that that Teal was a musician … a musician who loved to improvise. Nor did she know that when Teal was dying, she came to me several times as thoughts in my head. When I asked what she was doing, she told me, “I’m trying to reconcile my heart and my soul.”

At the end of our conversation we both felt great. Uplifted, serene, content, happy. And energized in an entirely new way.

And suddenly I knew exactly what I needed to do next – the path was crystal clear. I knew I was to create a podcast and have Michaela as my first guest … and a repeat visitor. It was to be an exploration of the Afterlife, and whatever we can learn from this side of the divide.

I got my confirmation on the drive home. Sensing Teal around me once more, I turned on my iPod which is always set to Shuffle. Immediately, I heard Teal humming the beginning of the introduction I’d recorded a few years earlier for a podcast that never happened .

Of the nearly 2000 songs on my iPod … this was the first one I heard Now it all made perfect sense.

I’m pleased to announce our podcast will begin on February 21. Naturally, Teal popped in with a name for it while I was interviewing Michaela … Before the Afterlife. I’ll be sharing my own stories, and talking to mystics, psychics, shamans, monks, brain geeks, authors and experts who deal in happiness. It’s about healing, spiritual guidance, and how to be happy before you go.

Now you know the story behind Before the Afterlife … I do hope you’ll give a listen.

Thank you. And as ever, Namaste.

Before the Afterlife will be available on iTunes by February 20 … Hope to see you there!

 

Tapping Into the Joy of Life — A Word From Teal

Photo: Britt Nielsen

Photo: Britt Nielsen

This is the week each year when I celebrate, and grieve, the loss of my daughter, Teal. Four years ago she died from a medically unexplainable cardiac arrest … and since then she’s been anything but quiet.

So my entire perspective about both life and death have shifted radically. I no longer fear other people, or face the world with my tough-girl game face of intimidation. Instead, I’m far more interested in fun.

No longer must I know how everything will come out, or ‘work hard’ to micromanage and coerce results.Turns out I don’t have to grip and hold on to be safe.

Instead I’m learning to tap into the gorgeous flow that surrounds us, and ride the undulating waves of life with unexpected ease. And to accept what comes as necessary and important.

So I just surf – and when I fall off, and get sidetracked into some unpleasant emotional experience, I do my best to shake myself off, get back on the board and … ride! It’s a practice. And that’s the other thing — I don’t have to do it perfectly.

And so life has become fun again. Even death isn’t a particularly big deal any more.

When the worst thing that can possibly happen comes to pass, you discover an unexpected sweetness on the other side of that crisis. A transformation comes that makes your entire life far better.

If you allow it.

This morning I felt Teal around me, speaking into that small, still space between sleep and waking. It’s the very same space we heard a lecture about only a few hours before her collapse … the ethereal passageway that shamans travel in between the afterlife and our world.

And so I received a message from her that I am meant to share with you here.

Do not judge death with the same limited mind that barely learns or understands the potential in life.

You feel that potential sometimes in life’s magic – the touch of a lover’s hand, the triumph of a long-cherished dream. Or in the laughter of a child.

But you are afraid of that power and so you hang back.

Do not hang back. Instead, become quieter and quieter until you are fully suffused with the power and majesty of God who lives inside of you.

Then let go. Do what you want. Allow yourself to truly feel your own deep, soaring magnificence.

The full, God-given gift of life is available to those who do not fear death. For loss is only temporary, a fleeting stab of pain.

Namaste!