What I would Say to my Students at Graduation

As a college professor, graduations always cause me to reflect on what we have done to help our students find their way in the world. Many of our graduates will be asked, “What are you planning to do next?” Below are the four steps that I would share with them to transform themselves and their places in the world.

First, you must be able to recognize. The poem “in the inner city” by Lucille Clifton comes to mind, particularly one line:

in the inner city
or
like we call it
home

The line so eloquently captures how cavalierly we choose words about people and places. What one calls “inner city” another calls “home”, “home” with all its attendant meanings. I want you to understand that too often our words and images have little do with recognizing the reality of another. So susceptible are we to this type of thinking, the classification and categorization of people and places, that we see the label and think we see the person.

The world is changed by precise actions – millions of acts carried out by the right person being in the right place at the right time. If you want to be this right person in the right time and place, you must recognize the person before you, not the label in your mind. When you recognize the one who stands before you, something magical happens, the humanity within each of you is awakened.

People may or may not know the job you have. People may or may not know the car you drive or the house you own. Quite honestly, most people may not remember your name. What no one will ever forget, however, is how you treated them. Your sense of humanity, your ability to recognize another person, is the legacy that you leave behind. At the end of the day, I would argue, your sense of humanity is all that will be remembered.

The second way you transform the world is you move from judgment to accepting. When you judge, you no longer see, you condemn. When you condemn, you lose something powerful. We spend our time judging the most irrelevant of factors, believing, somehow, if we focus on the irrelevant, relevance will emerge.

We judge men by their color of their skin, as if this was the determining factor in one’s abilities, rather than the tissues, heart, mind and muscles, by which a man exerts himself upon the world. Judgments also exist for the language one speaks, as if one language could ever be “better” than another. What matters, significantly, is not the language spoken, but rather the ideas expressed. And, how can the act of love be judged? Love is the ONLY ACT in this world that is complete in and of itself. We are here to live in the grace of love, no matter the form. May none of you be defined by gender, as if this alone sets our course within the world. Male or female, we are human at the core, all having arisen from the body of a woman. For those who identify neither as male or female, or fall somewhere within the spectrum of it all, thank you and bless you. You have shown, with perhaps great risk to yourself, that our most firm, dichotomous definitions, the ones of which we have been so sure, could use dismantling.

I imagine many of you, hearing the above list, have been judged at one time or another. We are not born with such judgments, they are learned. While we often talk about learning in College, because that is what we do, may we not overlook the “un-learning” that may occur with education. The training of the intellect and the Mind is critical for one specific reason- There is nothing in this world that is more powerful than a Mind that believes what it is telling itself. The gift of education is to retrain the Mind to challenge its beliefs and come to knowing. My hope is that as a College we have played as much of a role in your “unlearning” as we have your learning. Otherwise, I fear we have not done our job.

The third step is when you begin to understand the world within you. When you recognize and accept, you can begin to define yourself in a way that is true and authentic. The problem is never in learning about one’s Self, for it is the call of the Soul to know its Self. The problems only arise when the “I AM” is transposed to “You are NOT”.

Not all questions are academic, are they? Most do not escape College without receiving the beautiful and profound gifts of self-inquiry at some point. Over these past years, you likely questioned many things about yourself. You may have asked for strength, the willingness to succeed, perseverance and more. You asked for so much during you College career, and what you most likely found is that everything you have been seeking is already within you. You are the strength, the success and the perseverance that you have been seeking. My hope is that we have served you well as a College, not in the questions we asked of you, but by enabling you to ask the questions of yourself.

Finally once you have recognition, accept others, and begin to understand that you are the answers you are seeking, you can become the answer for the world. They say there are two times in life when the breath stops for the briefest of moments. We all have had these experiences. Times of immense beauty, when the breath stops in wonder, and times of extreme horror, as the body and mind, so confronted, stop for a moment. I am not so naïve as to think you have never experienced these moments. I know many of you, if you were to share your stories with me, would have my Soul on its knees weeping for you.

When such horrors and struggles manifest, those that overwhelm the mind, the plaintive wail will rise, “Why, God? Why, God, why?” And I am here to tell you – leave the question of “Why?” behind, because it is not in your power. You are not here to answer “why”, but you are here to answer every other sacred questions. When someone asks “Who?” know… You…We…Me…is the answer. When someone asks “What?” understand You…We…Me is the answer to what is happening in the world. When someone asks “Where?” know… You…We…Me… is the answer. When someone asks “When?” or “How” know… You…We…Me… is the answer to “when” and the answer to “how”.

Leave “why” to the realm of the Gods or God where it belongs, however you imagine those Gods or God to be or not be. Instead, come to understand that your life is the answer to the most sacred of questions. You are the Who, You are the What, You are the When, You are the Where, and You are the How to what happens in this world.

Until we begin to understand this, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, in this world changes.

You can transform this world. I do not doubt this. But, this will only happen when you know, not believe, that you are the answer to the most sacred of questions. I hope, in our own way as a College, we have been an answer to your most sacred of questions, as you have been to ours.

All In!

A Woman and Her Eggs

A Woman and Her Eggs

Sometimes, proverb be taunted,
You just have to put all your eggs in one basket.

I liked this image of a woman carrying her eggs.

Eggs represent potential, and this woman has taken the
time and energy to gather hers.

When we begin to gather our resources with a single-pointed focus, we begin to manifest summative power. The parts begin to fit together in such a way that the summed energy becomes greater.

I like in this image that the woman has gathered all of her power in one place. The eggs (potential) are not scattered here and there and she is not left running round picking up one egg after another, losing energy along the way.

She has gathered them all and she is walking with purpose and intent.

When a woman (and of course, we can extend this to men in the symbolic sense) has all of her eggs in a basket, you might want to watch out. At this point, she will be fully committed to her purpose and will not be easily swayed to think otherwise.

Think about what is has meant to gather all of your “eggs” in one place and what this powerful energy may manifest. Perhaps you looking to buy a home, begin a relationship, end a relationship, start a career, end a career, have a child, raise a child or whatever.

Times exist in life in which your power is tightly gathered- the storing of the potential energy before its kinetic release- the eggs in the basket.

The woman in the image speaks to this energy. The Time is truly Now.
——————
I really liked this image. I love the red of the dress and the other colors- it makes me think of fire and flames. I actually drew in energy wafting up from the eggs.

I love her stride and bearing of this woman.

A Portrait In Spirit

Lion Amongst Us

Lion Amongst Us

Spirit will use any means necessary to help us understand how wonderful the energy of life is.

The above picture is my current version of our family portrait.

Family and home have always been very important to me. The older I become, the more of a drive I realize this is. I became a college professor vs. working in industry for the simple reason I wanted more time at home. I had also at that point envisioned having 4 children and I wanted to be there for them.

Families and home, as we know, carry so much energy and power within them. They can be at once uplifting, joyous and one of the more tangible ways of coming to know love. They can also be frightening, tension-filled, and chaotic.

We do a very poor job in this society painting realistic views of families and family dynamics.

In this current portrait, I believe I am the ant with her Heart upon her back. Ants as totems, of course, represent hard work and diligence. As most of you know, I have put my heart and soul into creating a good home environment for my husband and stepchildren.

Ants symbolize to us that we are architects of our domains. Things may not happen overnight, but each brick we lay down serves as contribution to the life we are living.

According to Spirit Animals website the following sayings can be attributed to the ant:

“You are stronger than you think! Sure things are tough right now but KNOW you will soon be reaping the rewards of all your hard work.”

If you see yourself also as the ant with your Heart upon your back, this totem should give you hope. Things may not change over night, but every step you spend building your dream will pay off in the end.

The ant is crawling towards a bee hive. Bees and their hives are highly symbolic. They represent family and community and with their hexogonal honeycombs, they represent love and union. The bee and its hive represent domestic stability, wholesome child-rearing and harmony.

The hive is the home I hope to have.

The hive is protected by a lion-like creature. I purposely drew the face a little different. It’s a bit more heart-shaped, and the face is more questioning than the normal self-assured posing of most lions.

And as I sat and titled this image, only then, did I understand the lion represented my husband. My husband is a Leo, through and through, by the way. Always well-dressed, with a mane of hair that I have always referred to as “anchorman’s hair.” He can be King of the Jungle in all the best ways.

However, my husband recently began a new job and although it is going well, the King of the Jungle is feeling a little bit less than confident with all the changes afoot.

His job change has also substantially affected his time at home and his time with his children. Thus, we see him with his energy protecting the hive (home), as it is important to him, but he does not know what to do in regards to new job, changing children, and the changing home dynamic.

I place a winged-snake as the lion’s tail, to symbolize all of this awakening energy within him.

Lions are very strong solar symbols, speaking of hope and light. Thus, I drew the mane more solar-like in appearance.

And the clock on the right is a play on a grandfather’s clock (symbol of home) with an egg as the clock face. I think we would be well-served to have all clock faces egg-shaped. Eggs speak of transformation and newness and that is what time should represent to us.

Certainly, this represents my family at the moment. A new place of being waiting to emerge.

Spirit signs and symbols cross all boundaries. Above is my interpretation of a dynamic currently affecting my life, but I wonder as I look to this image, where are you today?

Are you the ant carrying the glory and hope of your dreams upon your back?
Do you believe every step you take is bringing one step closer to your dream?

Is something in your life represented by the egg in the clock? Currently, it is kept safe and sound, but is there something awaiting to hatch as time ticks by?

Maybe you are the bee hive today- a place of love and union. You feel secure and in that security you can be a home to others seeking a place to manifest their dreams.

Or are you the lion? King of the Jungle, smart and proud, but also a little concerned. What are you, with your beastly ways, protecting? Are you letting your solar mane shine your light or are you hiding?

For Anyone Who has Ever Made a Mistake…

Touching Hope

Touching Hope

“Error of My Ways”

What if every trial, tribulation…

What if every mistake, error…

What if every challenge, obstacle…

What if every weakness, fear…

led you to here?

Now!

For one simple reason,

that you

would grow to embody the confidence you would

need for the next great thing.

What if….?

Oh, Lord, the mistakes I have made. The confused attempts at a life well-lived. The hesitations, the horrors at what I have done. Clueless and unconscious I have been. My acts surprising me at time. If I could turn back time, oh Lord, I would.

Taking pity on me that day -standing as I was in the sunlight in the trees on the mini-golf course of all places, awaiting a stepson’s next shot -and I cringed inwardly, remembering again another silly, past mistake.

And in the sunlight, Lord, I saw the answer. I was worried about what was coming next. I did not have confidence given my track record, and these whispered words I heard,

“Every mistake, every failure you hold so dear, have never bothered Me. They have brought you here, so you would believe in your strength to overcome anything. The message is not that you failed, the message is that you persevered. The world needs those who persevere and you are such a one that I hold dear.”

Ding! Dong! Your Life is At Your Door…The One Principle you need to Remember to Create the Life You Desire

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Basically, we get from life what we are willing to put into it. (Of course, I realize tragedies and horrors exist in this world that no one should ever have to suffer or witness. But for argument’s sake, let’s say that the energy exchange of life is equal.)

I frequently say to my stepchildren when they are in a situation, “Well, this is your life showing up at your front door.”

My stepdaughter recently went out for the volleyball team at school. It had been 9 months since she last picked up a volleyball. (She would argue that there was ONE day this summer when she had her volleyball out).

To no one’s surprise, but hers, she is not on the “A” volleyball team. She is on the “C” team. She feels this is unjust and that she deserves better.

Not I, though. Not I.

To me, and I told her this- this is her life showing up at the front door. How much time and energy has she truly put into VB? Basically zero. Given the energy exchange of life, how much is VB giving back to her? Well, the same amount. She is on the “C” team and receiving not a whole lot of attention from the coach, nor is she receiving rewards or accolades. She is getting from life exactly what she puts into it.

I remember another time when my stepson had a new Nintendo game that he “found” at school. Hmmmm…..He said he found it and I asked if he had done anything to return it to the rightful owner. He looked at me and said, “Well, no, not really…”

And I said to him, “Life shows up with exactly what we put into it. Don’t be surprised that the next time you lose something that no one makes a sincere effort to get the item back to you. Life treats you as you treat it.”

He returned the Nintendo the next day.

I use these examples of childhood because the connections are somewhat easy to see. However, we ALL work under this principle. I can look at my own life that has shown up at my door. If I am honest, I see that those places where I have put in little effort have given me little results.

Sure, I may talk “big” and I may wish and I may hope “big”, but unless I put in the effort, there is nothing for life to give back to me.

Life works with the energy we put into it. If you do not put any energy into something, there is nothing for life to work with to give back to you.

It’s a tough lesson and I am sure my stepchildren think I am harsh at times. But so be it.

We are entitled to what we put into life, nothing more, nothing less. Put a lot of effort into life and you may be surprised at the life that ends up at your front door.

Write as You Want to Live

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My blog says more about me than I would ever reveal in a normal conversation.
I use my blog, almost daily, to inspire, encourage, and serve as a platform for a better way of living for me (and hopefully others).

I want to be the woman I blog about. Sure, in my blogs I use “me” and “I” and I write. I write about personal growth, inspiration, transformation and awareness. I even come up with a cute saying now and then to guide me along the way.

As I have looked at these writings, I have realized I want to be the woman in the blog. The one who seems sure of herself, the one who seems to hold to higher ideals, the one who never gives up.

She is me and she is not me. I can write a blog about positive thinking and 6.8 minutes after posting be mired in a negative thought. I am both writer and participant, and many times the writer is way out in front in terms of success.

But I take heart. I post frequently in the “comment” section on other blogs that if you can write it, you can live it. So many people, stuck in problems or a life that they don’t want to be living, lack the insight, dedication, and commitment needed to reach a new level of awareness about life’s situations.

Solutions to certain problems may or may not appear, but we can all reach new understanding and awareness if we simply try. And in the trying, we are held accountable, we learn of our own power, and we are stronger for it.

You can not write about something if you are completely in denial and don’t even understand the issue exists. If you can write about, if you can articulate your situation, even if it is “ugly”, even if you feel it clearly marks you as “failure”, you have already won.

If you can write it, you understand it, and if you understand it, you have the power to transform it.

Write as you want to live.

Want to Change Your Life?… The Exponential Effect of Momentum

The other day I taught the first section of a microbiology course. We managed to get through 12 powerpoint slides with approximately 16 interruptions.

For some reason, it seemed that every idea that entered a student’s head culminated in a raised-hand and a “I have a question” comment. My favorite was the sudden request about the possibility of a study guide for the FINAL exam- a mere 16 weeks and 32 classes away.

I knew I needed to rein this class in otherwise my projected 16-week microbiology curriculum was going to end up being more along the lines of an 18-month program.

I knew what I wanted to say to this class this morning. I had my speech planned and was sitting at my desk working on my leadership book when I came across a great line for success in life in general- and it definitely applied to this class.

The quote had to do with momentum. And I realized this was my point to this class. By interrupting so much, we had no momentum as a class.

The workbook I was reading stated that momentum was the “great exaggerator”. When you have good momentum, everything seems possible, mistakes seem like challenges, challenges become opportunities and so on.

When you have no momentum, every little thing seems to be insurmountable. You feel the world is against you and nothing is going to change.

The quote made me realize that momentum is something you create for yourself (or in my case, the class) and momentum has an exponential effect. A little momentum can carry the energy leading to the most profound changes.

Even tiny things done to create momentum have the potential of exponential growth.

What I am trying to say is that the small things you are doing for yourself matter. So take the time and build some momentum.

Write a paragraph or two. Go to the yoga class that you know helps you. Get out your art supplies even if you have “no idea” what to do. Go to therapy, read a book, make a conscious effort to evaluate your life.

Momentum is the result of your thoughts and actions. Baby steps build one upon the other, and momentum is the secret, exponential factor in the mix, leading to success.

You create the momentum, and it gives back to you, several-fold.

A Prayer for When You Realize that Your Old Ways No Longer “Work”

I am in a difficult situation right now, yet can’t seem to feel confident in how to handle it. I seldom feel this way. I face challenges, of course, but am usually sure of my instincts.

This poem speaks to the fact that perhaps I need to change my way of Being. My current “map”, way of being in the world, has led me here. Perhaps I need a new map- or at the very least- some guidance in creating the next step.

I think sometimes the best and most smart thing we can do when we feel this way is to pray and let the issue go for the time being- assured we will be shown the next step as we create a new map.

The White Room

Lord, oh Lord.

I have followed my map to this place.
I have been led to a room of white.

White is too much for me today.
White speaks of possibility.

Lord, oh Lord.
Yet, here I sit- paralyzed by possibility.
What happened to my map?

My map used to make everything fit.
That same map led me here and now I sit.

Lord, oh Lord.
I clutch map and can not find “You are here.”

So this is my prayer, Lord, oh Lord,
Where do I begin when my map no longer fits?

Why on Some Days I love the Words I Write more than I love some of the people in My Life

Kim and Her Words Sitting in a Tree....

Kim and Her Words Sitting in a Tree….

Days exist in which I love the words I write. I, at times, love these words more than some of the people in my life. This is why…

The words I write have never spoken harshly to me.
Likewise the words I write have never once ignored me.

They have never insulted, demeaned, or chastised me.

My written words have, on occasion, revealed needed insights.
These words have also cajoled, pushed, prodded and cheered me to new
ways of thinking.

My words have never hidden the truth, nor have they shredded me
for daring to tell it.

My written words believe I have the right to exist.
They stake their claim to this simple idea.

My words will battle for me, the truth, and what is right.

These words place me first and refuse to let me hide.

My words weave a sense of safety for me- a literary hug,
and I am better for it.

And for all those people who refuse to do the same for me as my words, I really
must question-
Why are you in my life?

The Most Simple Prayer for Peace

Choices

Choices

Upon going to bed last evening, I asked God for one thing. What is the most simple prayer for peace? And this is what became:

You always have a choice.

Unless we are children or in some extreme situation, we always have a choice. The choice is the gift. We can choose to stay, to leave, to continue on, to quit, to fight, to flee, to create, to destroy. All that matters is that we have the choice.

The world is not so simply divided into can and can not/ should and should not/ must and must not. We create these parameters and bind ourselves in the process, thinking we have no choice.

But the gift is to realize that in all matters, we do have a choice. And in acknowledging we have a choice, we can come to choose that which will become part of our lives.