Without fail whenever I'm giving a talk, a completely unplanned thought will pop into my head and out of my mouth. I've learned to trust this divinely-inspired process because inevitably, someone will approach me afterward to let me know that that one thought was the thing they most needed to hear. My newsletter is late this week for several reasons, one of them being that I couldn't decide what to write in this space. Any topic I tried felt forced, and so late last night, I deleted yet again the words I had written and prayed for a topic that would touch someone. I awoke at 3:00 am with the words I needed to write. No, not that one! There must be something else! In my resistance, I will default to the faith I've developed in giving Sunday talks, and trust that what I'm about to say here isn't really for me, but for one of you. Perhaps it's just what you've been needing to hear in order to better cope with whatever is happening in your life.

I never planned to be a minister or teacher, but once I found myself on this path, I vowed to walk it with complete transparency and authenticity, experiencing fully what it means to be human, and sharing that with others. As St. Francis of Assisi says, "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching." And so I honestly share my experience in the hopes that it will somehow help another.

For 8 months now, I have been experiencing facial pain. Well that may just be the understatement of the decade! It seems I am having some sort of trigeminal nerve dysfunction on the right side of my face. After seeing many doctors, having a series of tests to rule out brain tumors and other serious problems, and trying an assortment of alternative therapies, I am left with no explanation as to what is happening or why, and it seems the only option left is that of pharmaceutical drugs. Because my body is very sensitive and doesn't do well with medications, at this point I'm opting to just be with the pain. If you've never experienced this sort of thing, allow me to attempt to describe it. It's the "uncomfortable" sensation of feeling like something is crawling under my skin and in my nose. It's the confusing sensation that half my face feels swollen like a monster, but a quick glance in a mirror reflects I still actually look like my normal self. It's a tear duct that has completely stopped working, resulting in stabbing pains in the eye, endless administering of eye drops, and only being able to 1/2 cry!  It's the sensation of being completely numb, and at the same time, experiencing intense pain. It's the electrical currents that seem to be running through my face nonstop, as if I am a robot short-circuiting. And finally, it's the fierce, almost constant zaps  that make their way from lip to cheek to nose and back again, sometimes consecutively, sometimes simultaneously, as if someone is holding a tazor gun to my face. I don't talk about what's happening or the extent of my pain much. What's the point, I ask myself, it just is what it is. But in my quiet moments I feel like a failure because I believe strongly in the power of God and metaphysics, and yet I can't seem to heal myself. I want to be strong and feel like I have it all together. And I am and I do, except when I'm not and I don't. 

I experienced a time of chronic headache pain after my brain-swelling incident almost 10 years ago. If you've read my book, you know all about that. At that time I had no coping tools to help me deal with it, and I ended up letting it cloud my judgment and wreak havoc on my sanity. This time around I have coping tools and I'm mindfully using them. I practice letting the pain and emotions around that flow through me. I practice focusing on what I'm grateful for and finding the gift in even this. I practice accepting and embracing exactly where I am, without allowing it to define where I am going. I believe in a mind/body connection so I'm doing my work of releasing any unhealed stuff that may still be affecting me and seeking physical expression through the pain. I'm attracting experiences of joy and moving ahead with creating a purposeful life of serving others through love. For the most part, I am handling it and moving along with my life, except for those times when it manages to get the best of me. This week has been one of them. Usually my reliable reprieve is sleep, but this week I was even being awakened in the middle of the night with the feeling of electrocution. It was too much and the pain won. I quickly found myself descending into that all-too-familiar darkness where victimhood thrives and the whole world feels bleak and unforgiving. It's in these moments that I have to remember "Oh yeah, I have tools!" With a sense of humor, I pick myself up, get out of the hole and keep going.

I believe life's circumstances are always conspiring for our good and that in many ways we are responsible for creating our own life, not always by the situations we choose, but by how we choose to respond to the situations before us. I don't understand why sometimes unpleasant things happen, they just do. Loved ones die. We get sick or experience pain. Relationships change or end. Our finances aren't what we'd hoped. Choosing to walk this spiritual path demands more than defaulting into negativity, bitterness and suffering. It asks that we remember and honor the light, even when we are feeling dark. It asks that we continue to focus on all the good, even when the not-so-good is begging for attention. It asks that we remain kind, even when life feels unkind. And it asks that we stay open and loving, even when we want to close and hate.

Our spiritual freedom comes not from the guarantee of a perfect, unencumbered life. It lies in knowing that more important than what we do or experience, is how and who we choose to be through the process.

Come January 16th, this theatre will house, for only one night, the beginnings of a dream. "The Melody of Flight: A Musical Experience" is a concert, meets theatre, meets dance interpretation, meets inspiration! It will be unlike anything you've seen before and definitely something you won't want to miss! In putting this together, first in my mind and now on paper, I've watched it begin to take on a life of its own. It seems the one-woman show, as my friend once called it, is turning into a full-blown production. 

In the spirit of transparency, which is how I roll, I will periodically be sharing joys and challenges of putting this together. I can tell you that this week, as I stood on stage with the manager of the Theatre and my co-producer, what once felt so sure was suddenly swirling in uncertainty. 

As we discussed placement of musicians, dancers, measurements of the stage and other details, my head started to swim. You see, it's likely that the only full rehearsal in the theatre will be the actual night of the performance. Because of cost and the way things are structured, our time in the theatre is very limited. The amount of detail to be handled in rehearsals off premises and then entrusted to the faith of divine flow once in theatre, is staggering. What was I thinking? Can I really pull this off? Ah, the way of dreams! We will inevitably hit the point when fear sets in, leaving us questioning the perceived impossibility of it all. All too often, this is where we stop, where all forward motion ceases, and fear ultimately wins. But I've learned enough now to understand the process. The fear will not go away, but I can see it for what it is and keep going. It's really only here to alert me that I am entering unfamiliar territory, and how true that is! This project is going to test every ounce of courage and determination I have. It's going to require discovering new skills and recruiting willing helpers. I have set up a small network of people who can hold the dream in those moments I start to falter, the ones who know I am capable of accomplishing this, even when I forget. And so having already received my first pep talk to overcome fear stage 1, I'm on my way. And here we go!!!!

We all have dreams. Not only does pursuing those dreams require courage and the willingness to step into a new arena, it also sometimes requires help. This continues to be my leading edge of growth. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to create something fresh and magnificent with your help!  In order to keep the ticket prices affordable and help cover the growing costs of putting this production together, I have set up a GoFundMe site. Here you will find more detail on how the dream came to be and what the production is about.

I'm thrilled to announce that the designated charity for this event, Peace Village, will receive 10% of the proceeds from ticket sales. Their vision is a world where people have the tools and inspiration to build and sustain a peaceful way of life. Peace Village began in 1995 as a summer day camp, created in collaboration between the Congregational Church of Lincoln City, the Peace Studies department of Pacific University and the Native Youth Council of the Siletz Nation. They now have over 20 camps across the nation and programs for children of all ages, families and adults. They have created a dynamic curriculum that utilizes four main elements as it’s foundation: Conflict Transformation, Connection to the Natural World, Media Literacy and Cultivating Inner Peace.

Thank you in advance for your financial support!!  I look forward to the day when I can financially pay it forward, helping another to step into his/her dream. Blessings to you and may all our dreams come true!

Yesterday was a magnificent time for aligning with Source. I spent the morning sharing my thoughts on abundance and directed faith at Unity by the Sea, and then got to hear, in a group discussion, the thoughts of others. It’s very rewarding to realize that something I’ve shared has made an impact. It took me many years to discover and embrace it, but what I know now is that empowering and inspiring others is what I’ve come here to do. I’m so grateful for all the wonderful opportunities that are allowing me to do just that.

From there the day moved into a couple hours on the beach, toes in the sand and warm sun on my face. Soaking up the movement of the waves helped clear any stagnated energy within me, leaving me feeling refreshed and open to possibilities, and then it was a hike to Drift Creek Falls. Though the tall needles of pine functioned much like an umbrella, now and then a faint mist made its way through. The lush greens, isolation, and setting sun made the dark forest trail a definite contrast to the light, crashing, airy beach. Each unique aspect of the day served as a way to acknowledge the divine Spirit within.

Connection can look and feel quite different, depending on what I am needing.  Sometimes it’s the gathering with others in community, to see in so many ways how similar we all are.  Sometimes it’s the chaotic noise of self-reflection, the necessary ability to shift perspectives and work through internal barriers.  And sometimes it is simply the need for a deep silence, hidden from the world, remembering that I am walking this path hand-in-hand with my creator.  I am blessed by that extraordinary day in which I got to experience it all!

Standing under Shellburg Falls

Last weekend my family enjoyed a trip to Shellburg Falls.  We walked about 1 1/2 miles up a gravel road to where the official trailhead appeared at our left, then walked the rest of the way following the call of the water.  Sunlight filtered through the canopy of moss-covered trees and lush ferns accented the decor at our feet.  After about a half mile, the trail opened up to reveal a glorious 100 foot waterfall.  The pool below beckoned to each of us in its own way.  I knew that no matter how cold, I was going in!  Anytime I've seen a waterfall, I've wondered what it would be like to stand underneath and today was the day!  Removing my shoes and sliding in, I could feel my body start to go numb in the ever-deepening water.  Emerging on the other side near the falls, the splash grew stronger as I carefully made my way out onto the mossy rocks, standing to get the full effect.  I couldn't help but laugh in delight as the powerful gush fell over and around me!  Looking up, the consistent flow seemed to separate into individual drops, each plummeting to its new home below. It was extraordinary!

A few years ago, I would have wanted to go in, but fear, anxiety, and the embarrassment of what others would think would have kept me an observer at the edge. It's such a wonderful feeling to know I no longer allow that kind of hesitation to stop me from experiencing joy.  These days I welcome and embrace life with a spirit of appreciation for all that it has to offer. 

As I reflect back on last weekend's experience, I see how it ties into the series on prosperity I am giving at Unity by the Sea.  When we become fully engaged in our life, willing to swim in a pool of gratitude, incredible blessings rain down upon us!  Part 2 this week is about moving outside our comfort zone.... hmmm...CHECK!

At a recent visit to Crater Lake, the visitor's center held a sign that said "Tranquility From Turbulence: The present tranquility of Crater Lake was born out of a turbulent past when the mountain erupted violently and the core of the volcano collapsed."

Oh how that reminds me of life!  There was a time when everything in and around me appeared to be collapsing, but with a lot of patience, faith and self-forgiveness, I was able to adjust to a new internal landscape. What resulted is a state of tranquility and joy unlike any I've experienced before.

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