Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Karma, what an interesting topic! It is not just the doctrine of eastern religions but a universal law - you reap what you sow, like attracts like, you give what you get, every action has a reaction. Some folks even believe that what returns to your life is actually three times what you dish out. So if you treat people poorly, cheat, or are deliberately unkind, you will get back consequences threefold. On a positive note, if you strive to be kind, reach out to others to help and act with integrity, the natural and divine law says the same will return to you in kind.

So what does this have to do with my reinvention journey? I made a conscious decision a number of years ago to better educate myself about the laws of karma and this has impacted how I deal with situations in my life. I strive to be as kind and generous as possible with my time, attention, love and material resources. Do I always meet that goal, heck no- but it is a goal and I work toward it.

The wonderful as well as frustrating thing about this concept is that laws like this have their own timeframe (not our emotionally driven schedule) and are universal. So you do not have to try and "make it happen." If someone does something awful to you, taking revenge is not the answer. Perhaps that is one reason that forgiveness is so important. The person will receive their due, it just may not come from you and you may not be there to see it. This is of course, much easier to say than to do.

There has been one time in my life in particular when I was so hurt that I really, really, really, really wanted to respond in kind and take revenge. I am not talking about self-defense- in my opinion, we have the right to do that. I mean revenge - to find a way to hurt the person who so hurt you. I restrained myself from going there and had a good friend who reminded me that "hurt people, hurt people." I am so glad that I remembered the lesson of karma during that time of pain. Now, many years later I have a broader perspective and have been able to retain relationships that would have been damaged with revenge. I was able to get through the experience with dignity and grace and I have some blessings in my life because of it. And when karma finally did catch up with the person involved, I didn't take any pleasure from it, it just made me sad.

Nobody goes through life jolly, happy and wearing rose colored glasses all the time. And sometimes it is hard to envision how all of this works when bad things happen to good people. But we are not privy to their lessons or their agreements with God or other people. I have to be honest and admit that I still struggle with the karmic meaning behind situations when children are hurt.

The whole idea of karma is on my mind this week because I have seen such wonderful things happen to two dear friends of mine. Friends who have endured some tough times and stayed loving, honest, kind and compassionate through their challenges. I can rejoice with them.

I have realized as well, that this universal law of action, sowing and reaping is sometimes hard to recognize because it doesn't always show up as we expect- we are not provided a balance sheet that says you do X and you get Y. Here is an example, I was talking to my daughters a few years ago about the importance of helping other people out when they need it. I have had the good fortune of being able to open my home as a place to stay on occasion when family and friends have needed a fresh start. My daughter said, "mom you must like helping people and maybe we (she and her sister) are your karma reward for helping them." Um, I think she could be more than a little correct. I tell that story NOT to pat myself on the back by any means but to demonstrate the intricate nature of all of this.

So when it gets tough and people around you seem to be getting ahead or gaining at your expense or the cost of another, remember there is much more here than meets the eye and as long as we stay focused on ourselves and our actions, the law of karma will take care of the rest.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Know your worth!

I have been helping a friend this week as she goes through the interview and negotitation process in her job search. Our conversations have reminded me once again that we often sell ourselves short and while we may at some level know our value and worth, we don't always express it to others and demand our due. Is it because we are women? Are we somehow taught that we are worth less, especially in the workplace? Shouldn't we just be grateful and quiet for what we have - unsatisfying relationships (at least you have one,) underpaid job, entry-level offer when our skills are worth so much more. Heck no, we shouldn't settle! I think we can learn a big, no a huge lesson from our male brethren on this one.

A guy will ask for a higher salary, will walk away from a poor offer, won't let someone take credit for or steal his idea, he will go for the CEO job, will expect he can get the woman of his dreams....somehow just assuming "of course I am worth it." And he is- and so are we. I wish I could put my finger on why we do this submissive dance and seem to feel that we need to take what we can get. So if you are doubting yourself in any area of your life- YOU are worth it. You are worth a partner who treats you well and with respect, you are worth success, you are worth equal pay, you are worth that top job, you are worth it all!

Ironically, the company would not raise the offer for my friend, but the recruiter said. "You did the right thing in refusing to settle for this pay, I have another position coming up that pays better and is more suited to your qualifications."

Here is my all time favorite quote from Marianne Williamson that sums it up beautifully:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Go for it and rock on!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Borrowing my children from the future

What a gorgeous morning for the first day of Spring! The wind is brisk and fresh with a hint of the warmth and heat that is coming for the day. There is nothing so refreshing to me than a full breeze. The sky is cloudy yet not menacing, as if to say while it may shower, it will not storm today. It is the kind of day that does what the first day of spring is supposed to do- bring you feelings of hope for the future and gratitude for what you have in your life.

Perhaps it is the beauty of this day or maybe the tragedies happening in Japan and Libya but it is certainly a time of gratitude for me. Of course, gratitude for me always means looking to my daughters and their appearance and place in my life. I marvel, as usual, at how I could have gotten so lucky. Two baby girls living in different orphanages thousands of miles away in China each needing a mommy, a family. Me, back in the US wanting to become a mother...searching for her daughter(s.) And we all come together. Seems like something pretty miraculous to look on with gratitude.

Now as they grow, I marvel even more. It is pretty amazing to watch your little girls become young women. My oldest seems to be maturing at warp speed, I often shake my head and think, hold on now, I want to freeze time for a bit, don't grow up so fast. It seems as though they are little girls one minute and then all of a sudden, within a year or a few months they are no longer so young. I realize that I am lucky to be a small part of that transformation.

I am reminded of an old quote about how your children don't really "belong" to you you- they belong to themselves, you just borrow them for a little while... you host them for the future. I realize that in what will seem like a blink of an eye, they will be grown, off to college and their own lives. Yikes - that is going to bring a kind of bittersweet sorrow to me that I can only just imagine at this point. I will need to remember in those moments that I just borrowed them for a while.

As I am sure, all my fellow parents will attest, that bittersweet sorrow is all worth it. The joy, gladness in my heart, laughter and fullness that being a mom brings is worth any sadness, frustration and eyerolls/sighing that a pre-teen can dish out. It is easier when you realize that in growing up, they are going to begin distancing from you, separating into themselves- and that means that you have done your job.

For today, however, I am going to revel in being a mommy. I am going to remind them just how much I love them. I am going to pretend they are mine for today..let tomorrow get here when it comes.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Devastation in Japan...a global cosmic reminder

Like everyone else with connection to the outside world, I have been watching the reports of the devastating eathquake and tsunami in Japan. Incredibly sad footage and news coverage with a death toll that is mounting daily as villages are reached and appear to have literally been washed away. As always, when a tragedy like this strikes, people from around the globe rise up and lend a hand -donations of money, time, resources flow in to aid those who have been impacted. The wrath of Mother Nature seems to call us to action, be it a tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, drought - the human spirit responds to the resulting pain in a powerful way.

For a while, we forget our self-imposed separateness and we can imagine ourselves in that situtation. A crying child being held by rescuers, for example, seems to resonate for all - no matter if that child is in New Orleans, Africa, Haiti, Indonesia or Japan. For a while we remember that we are ALL connected despite boundaries both real and imagined. We remember that pain, loss and grief are universal and felt as deeply here at home as they are on the other side of the world. We remember compassion and are reminded that it could just as easily be us or one of our family members lost to the unforgiving tide. As one of my friends likes to say - "there but by a chromosone and a twist of fate go I."

This tragedy struck me as even more deep than most in reminding us of this lesson. The tsnumai did its damage in Japan and then moved into other targets - different countries, different continents sharing the same threat and fear. The risk of nuclear meltdown in Japan surely had huge consequences beyond the country's borders.

My pollyanna attitude is going to come out now, but why do we forget about this unity and connectedness once the initial horror fades? Wouldn't it be amazing if we could marshall this sense of connectedness and common purpose on a regular basis to deal with shared problems across the globe. How many times do we need to see a devastating weather related disaster before we collectively say "crap, we need to get our collective act together and stop mistreating the planet." And how many children in this country and across the globe need to go to bed hungry or die of starvation and malnutrition before we decide that it is unacceptable. Really, in 2011 with all the the technology, advancements, and brilliance in the world should a child be dying of hunger? Or should a woman be dying of cervical cancer anywhere when it is preventable?

Obviously, we get caught up in our own life, problems and challenges, I am by no means diminishing those - I have a few big ones if my own right now. And then, the earth splits, the ocean roars, the winds spin out of control, rain is non-existent and we take notice.. a fellow human being needs help. I am an eternal optimist who believes in the innate goodness of the human spirit. These tragic moments give me hope that we do remember..somewhere buried deep, the unity of our souls, the interconnected nature of our existence.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Feminist - why does the word get a bad rap?

It is International Women's Day, a time to recognize the accomplishments of women in history and highlight the issues that remain for females around the world. We tend to sometimes think only of our own experiences and assume that the cause for gender equality is no longer necessary. Remember, it was not that long ago when women could not buy a home or even get a credit card without a husband and his approval (yikes, makes my skin crawl just typing this.) The future for my daughters is much more open than in the past and they will have so many more choices about how to create their lives than their grandmothers and great-grandmothers were given. And my daughters and I have all of the women who went before us to thank for those choices. As a mother, I say thank you to every woman and man who fought for our right to vote, own property, attend college, the list goes on....

However, lets take a look at issues that still exist here and around the world that impact the status of women:

* Lack of gender balance among those in political power - even though women make up at least half of the population. Take a look at a photo of Congress and watch an interview or two during election season with someone who "just couldn't vote for a woman"... enough said.

* In spite of the phrase "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, the role of a wife and mother is seen as a secondary, lesser purpose. Stay at home moms are still viewed as not having a "real job."

* Women (and children) make up a disproportionate number of those living in poverty around the world.

* Instead of teaching our daughters to honor and OWN their sexuality and that it is a gift belonging to them we are teaching them that it should be fostered, packaged for others and given away. We are sexualizing girls at even younger ages instead of teaching them that their brains, talents and personality should be their focus.

* Cultures and religious traditions that consider women second class citizens and not as worthy as their male counterparts. It is easy to jump out side the USA for these examples, but lets look close to home also.

* The international sex trafficking trade- very young girls (and boys) kidnapped or sold into the sex trade. Innocence and a life destroyed. I guess we have gotten immume to horror because I still can't figure out why decent people around the world, governments around the globe, the UN, and every parent out there hasn't risen up and demanded an end to this crime.

* Rape as an act of war. Go ahead and google mass rape in the Congo and see what innocent women and children are experiencing right now as you are reading this blog.

Imagine your daughter, sister, mother in these very real circumstances that exist around the world:

* Girls are not allowed to attend school (read Three Cups of Tea or Reading Lolita in Tehran for real life searing examples.)

* Women cannot cannot divorce (but their husbands can drop them in a heartbeat.)

* Women can't drive a car

* Women can't own property

* Women are viewed as property to be bartered.

* Women can't seek preventive medical care because a man may see their body.

* A girl baby is born but her birth and life are not celebrated because she is not a boy. She may be abandoned.

* A girl has no right to say no so she is married against her will at a young age to an older man.

How does the word feminist fit into this blogpost? Somewhere along the way, the word feminist became a bad word. Women and men are afraid to call themselves one. A feminist is simply a person, man or woman, who cares about any of the issues highlighted above. A feminist is not a man-hating, bra burning scary woman, but a person who feels that women and men are equal and should have the same basic opportunity to shape their lives. Feminism is not about taking from men but about partnering with men for equality for all. What is so scary about that?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The urge to purge!

Yes, the urge to purge (no not in an eating disorder, Black Swan kind of way) but in a real term "stuff" kind of way. Purging stuff - both literally in terms of junk, clutter, old clothes as well as outdated ways of thinking, attitudes and habits can make you feel lighter, fresher and renewed.

It is almost time for spring cleaning where I live and our recent early warm weather has pushed my purging drive into overtime. As my neighbors will attest, I get a dumpster once a year or so and get rid of junk - they often add their own junk as well. It seems as though in spite of my best efforts I accumulate extra stuff - water stained junk in the basement, old rugs, toys we don't use, holiday items, furniture, clothes. Of course, we give as much as possible to charity but there still seems to be stuff to get rid of, hence the dumpster. It is time!

I think spring cleaning is a very healthy exercise, both in terms of reducing clutter but also to clear out the mind and psyche. Not to get too "woo-woo" here but there is something real in the ancient Chinese theory of chi and energy flow- sometime you have to make room in your home and your life for the energy, ideas and air to flow. Breathing room...

The physical helps release the emotional, psychological and spiritual as well. Stuff from the past has energy, often negative or sad and memories are attached to it and tossing it can lighten the load. That is why you often hear of folks buying a new bed after a divorce. The act of cleaning, sorting, organizing, donating and tossing can be almost zenlike for me and gets me thinking about what else I need to remove from my life- any remaining baggage, old hurts, resentments or disappointments, habits I would like to change or even relationships that no longer are positive and support my growth. Ironically enough, deciding to let the past go really does work- making a decison, releasing it and then changing your thoughts impacts your mood, emotions and life.

I am working on reinvention, changing some key parts of my life and letting things and stuff go is a necessary part of the process. So it is time to clear, clean out and create. Look out neighbors- the dumpster is coming soon!