Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the month “November, 2012”


My main area of focus at work (healthcare) is behavior change. How do we help people get motivated to make healthy changes in their lives… eat healthier, exercise, quit smoking? I’d been thinking a lot about this notion of getting people to “do the right thing.” I mean, there is a lot of evidence that eating nutritious foods and exercising keeps you healthy. I’m not exactly sure where this rant (see below) came from or how acceptance fits into the whole healthy decision-making process, but the other day I sat down and the following words just leapt out on the page… feel free to add your two cents!

What if we stopped trying to change people? What if we asked them how much fun they’re having each day? What if we
focused on all the great things they manage to do in a day and that they woke up this morning and made it to the point of connecting with us? What if we just said… OK… and stopped fighting, pushing and screaming, into change? What if we started from a place of acceptance?

What would that look like? Every patient gets asked how much fun they’ve had this week? Every patient gets complimented on their lives…
whatever they’re doing right. We don’t talk about healthy eating, exercise or tobacco cessation… we talk about play, and fun, and feeling good. We ask people what it would take for them to be happy. to take good care of themselves. We ask them how they’re taking care of themselves now. We stop doling out drugs for every known symptom and start having a true conversation about the power of
positivity and self-empowerment. We stop judging our patients and start connecting with them as real people. People with busy lives. People with fears and concerns… families and churches… loved ones and careers. We treat them as vibrant, healthy people who’ve lost connection with their inner source of vitality and joy. We hold their hand as they quiet their mind and reconnect with their body.

Stop trying to change me. Honor, accept and acknowledge that I am perfectly wonderful exactly as I am.

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel


Giving of Thanks

Can someone be thankful and worried at the same time?

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”
~Harry A. Ironside

Well, I have to say I agree with Harry! Although it might actually be physically possible to be worried and thankful at the same time, it’s an unlikely mix. At least for myself, I know that when I start paying attention to all the greatness in my life… noticing all of the wonderful things, both large and small, that I have to be grateful for… there is a part of me that feels calmed and less worried.

Still… there are definitely times when I am both thankful for the abundance of material wealth in my life… my car, my house, my computer, my phone, electricity, running hot water!! And at the same time I worry about paying the bills and how the latest economic recession will impact my life. So, I guess on the one hand I do believe a person can be both worried and thankful… but maybe not both in the same moment.

So, of course the question is, “Why do we not spend more time being thankful… and how do we shift that?” There is the evolutionary theory that paying attention to goodness did not keep you from dying, whereas paying attention to any and all potential danger could potentially save your life.  I don’t know if you ‘ve noticed this before, or if it’s just me… but doesn’t it seem like people don’t get nearly as “into it” when you talk about how great your life is going… as they do when you complain about all the obstacles in your life? I think this instinct is intuitive. And yet… it’s beneficial to shift this train of thought, which begs the other part of the question, how do we shift it? It’s valuable to consciously consider how we might shift to a more thankful perspective… if for no other reason than that the benefits are so huge!!

So, the question becomes… how do we shift that instinctual perspective of paying attention to what’s wrong to the less automatic awareness of what’s right? Well… there are plenty of ideas on the subject, but none that seem to get the amount of press as a practice of gratitude.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  ―    Ralph Waldo Emerson

While I believe that last quote by Ralph to be true… it’s also a tough one to truly grasp in the more challenging moments of life. All things contribute to my advancement. Really? ALL things? It takes the practice of giving thanks to a whole new level. I’m thankful I didn’t get that job promotion… I’m thankful that loan fell through… I’m thankful… well… you get the gist! Being thankful for all things, with the belief that all things lend themselves to our greater spiritual well-being and growth, is the ultimate in Thanksgiving.

The giving of thanks, if you will, is one of the most spiritual and uplifting acts you can perform in a day. Live… Love… Laugh… and give THANKS! Wishing you all an amazingly wonderful day of Thanks… May laughter, joy and gratitude fill the hearts of you and yours!  ~Rashel

As Above, So Below…

What if everything in our lives is a reflection of our own current state? I know, right… scary! I can’t seem to get my mind of this train of thought recently. I’m tired (refer to earlier post… I’m tired!) I’m feeling disconnected from friends… I’m overwhelmed with work stuff… and home stuff… and all the other things I’ve signed up for stuff!  Sometimes I feel like I want to stop trying… but then I realize… it’s not that I want to stop trying… I just want to be really good at everything I do and I want it to feel like I’m not trying so hard to make it all work.

If my outer life is a reflection of my current state… then my current state includes exhaustion… struggle… and discomfort, but it also includes happiness, joy and laughter. In fact, I’m a pretty glass-half-full kind of person, but even with my optimism, I find myself overwhelmed… and quite often, I might add. It’s not that I want or expect life to be easy… (well, maybe I want that, but I don’t expect it)… it’s just that I’m surprised at how difficult it is considering how optimistic I am and how much I enjoy life. I’m a nice person… I’m kind to others… I work hard… I think positively… I laugh often… I’m open to life… I find humor in most situations. I guess there’s a part of me that feels like… Jeez – I get it – I’m doing it –  let the good times roll, already! But I digress…

So back to this notion that whatever is showing up in my life is a reflection of my inner state. Well… there’s a part of me that just finds that disturbing! Is it just me? Is it really possible that everything that shows up is a reflection? There is a part of me that resists… remember how they used to tell you in school – if it’s always or never – it’s probably false? Then again, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s possible.  I know there are issues I don’t want to deal with, and they often get pushed down and ignored. Even though those issues get pushed down, they probably still  influence my reality. So, maybe some of the issues that present in my life are reflections of unconscious thoughts or things that I don’t want to deal with. Hmmmmm….

Action step… if you dare! Pay attention to the areas in your life that bug you… and think about why. What is it about that person or situation that upsets you? Now the fun part… think about ways that you might be exhibiting this trait. I know it sounds crazy… but it’s scary how often, if you’re really honest, you can see aspects of yourself in all manner of behaviors. I’ll give you a quick example from my life. I was really irritated with someone because I felt like they were not giving me enough respect and appreciation. At first I couldn’t imagine how this could be a reflection, because I feel like I’m very conscientious about being respectful and offering praise and recognition. When I pressed myself further and thought about where in my life I was withholding respect and appreciation… It dawned on me that I wasn’t doing a very good job of respecting and appreciating myself!  And yet, here I was expecting the other person to respect and appreciate me!  Ahhh… the irony!

The other part of this exercise is to pay attention to someone who you think is amazing, inspiring or fabulous in some way or another. What specific traits do you admire about that person? Then take time to acknowledge that you hold those very traits within yourself. If you did not have them, you wouldn’t notice them in others… it goes for both the positive and less positive aspects!

Something to ponder. Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel


Busy… Busy… Busy

I slowed down this week. I guess it happened because I’m tired (refer to last week’s post). The bottom line is this… I liked it. I stopped trying to “get it all done” … and it felt nice. My son had hockey on Saturday night and a good portion of the day Sunday. Instead of trying to fit 500 things in between driving here and there and bed… I allowed myself to be present and really enjoy the weekend. When we got home from hockey on Sunday afternoon, I felt like I should be cleaning… and doing laundry… and at least thinking about dinner. Instead, I took Lucy (our chocolate lab) for a walk. It felt good to walk… to take time for myself… to sweat a little and enjoy the outdoors.

So, the lesson is… slow down. The thing is… it’s hard to do! As much as I enjoyed it, the toilets need to be cleaned and there are dishes in the sink. I have one day off per week and I’m so thankful for it. On most Monday’s, I vacillate between taking time for myself and trying to get done everything on my to-do list. It’s a long list. I won’t go into it here. You’re welcome.

The crazy thing is that there are always 500 more things to do! It is never done. The house is never clean enough… potentially save that 5 minutes after you finish a cleaning frenzy… but other than that – no. Grocery shopping… continuous – if you like eating. Bills… yes, they keep coming. Laundry… dishes… cooking… you get the gist.

So, I guess this gets back to my post last week about wanting to leave a legacy. On some level, having re-read my last post, that is what it was all about… I want to leave a legacy but I’m too tired to find the time. I think there is a fear that if I slow down… if I allow myself to just be present in this moment and not push myself to do the other things… I won’t have time to do anything big. Not pushing myself to do “more” seems like settling for less than what I want. And yet… I don’t necessarily believe that more is always better. Sometimes more is just… more!

Maybe the trick is to come up with a set of core values that helps you decide what to focus on or whether to spend time and energy on a project or not. I’m thinking of Zappo’s – I read the book Delivering Happiness and loved it – in it they talk about how Zappo’s developed a set of core values that each employee could base decisions on. It’s a great idea for empowerment… instead of having to get approval on every question that comes up, the employees are empowered to answer the questions themselves by reviewing the list of core values. Zappo’s has a very cool culture and set of core values… check out  http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values

I wonder what would happen if I based decisions on a set of carefully constructed core values. Fun would definitely be a core value. I’m not sure cleaning toilets would be considered fun. I guess, potentially, there would be something about cleanliness and personal hygiene. Then again, maybe there would be something about hiring someone to do the jobs that do not make you happy!!

Here’s what I suggest… let’s make a set of core values and start basing out decisions on them! What do you say? Couldn’t hurt, right? Would it throw our world in a tail spin? Or maybe the better question is… would the tail spin that is inevitable proceed by spiraling in a good direction or not?

Let me know what you come up with on your list of core values… and how it goes basing decisions on them!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

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