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Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness – Available Now

“Here’s something I’ve learned. I never know what’s going to happen next. Most of the things I worry about never happen and life is seldom exactly what I expected it would be. I’ve had my share of disappointments, but these are far outweighed by the gifts I’ve been given.
I’m grateful to so many people.”

This is an excerpt from the Acknowledgements page in my new book Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness, which is available this week from Amazon and at The Book Loft in Fernandina Beach, FL.
I am grateful for all the support, encouragement, and assistance that made this book possible. And grateful, as well, for the stories that the book contains, both my own and those of others. The book is a meditation on how we are all of us, all of the time, traveling the path of wholeness and some memories and reflections about the ways that path unfolds.
I hope that if you read it, you will find something there that eases or inspires your travel.

Stories help us do that. I hope you find something in these stories that connects to yours and that my stories encourage the telling of your own tale in whatever way suits you.

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Buy Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness On Amazon

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Buy Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness at The Book Loft Amelia Island’s Bookstore

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Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness

Grace Notes is a collection of stories and essays about the paths we take to discover and claim our wholeness. The title comes from the term I have used over the years for my journal entries that describe moments of joy or unexpected solutions to life’s challenges, and from my fervent belief that when we journey onward with honesty and effort, love and grace accompany us. 
I also believe in stories. Within the complexity and singularity of each individual story is a reflection of the larger human story and that we are joined, each to the other, by these stories. We travel together and we learn together.

Stories help us do that.  I hope you find something in these stories that connects to yours and that my stories encourage the telling of your own tale in whatever way suits you.

Buy Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness On Amazon

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Buy Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness at The Book Loft Amelia Island’s Bookstore

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Coming Soon!

I’m happy to announce that my new book, Grace Notes: Traveling the Path of Wholeness will be available real soon, well, October, 2017.  It’s been a labor of love writing it and getting it ready for publication and I’ve had lots of support and help to get it done.

I’ll have more information, photos, and availability information soon, and announcements about when and where I’ll be signing and speaking.

Very excited.

 

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The Book of Joy, Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama

Two world spiritual leaders engage in a week long conversation about joy. So much to learn from these men.  I came away feeling hopeful and inspired.

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Mama Kate

Life is generous with its lessons. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve all encountered many teachers. This is the story of one of mine to whom I’m deeply and enduringly grateful. 

Katherine Jones was born in 1896 in rural Pike County, Georgia. She was one of seven children and said to be the most beautiful of the five Jones girls.

She married John Clements when she was 19 and was widowed at 26 when John died from gunshot wounds received on 12th street in downtown Columbus, GA. Their only son was 2 at the time of his father’s death.

A news account from the time stated that Katherine was in critical condition from nervousness following the death of her husband, but by the time I knew her, she was the most carefree person I’d met so far. She was my Mama Kate and that 2 year old was my father. He remained her only child and I was his only child. She loved us both extravagantly, but we rarely saw her because she was always on the go. She was my lighthearted, world-traveling, exotic, glamorous grandmother.

But, oh, when she came to town, she brought laughter and sunshine. She thought I was beautiful and talented and could do anything I wanted, and, when she was around, I thought so too.

Mama Kate, widowed at age 26 in a time when there were few options for women’s employment, when women couldn’t own property or have a checking account, and had only recently gotten the right to vote, was a single mom and a liberated woman long before either became fashionable. She was the first person in our town to own an automobile. She played poker with the men, and won, and laughed out loud.

In our small town, grandmothers were people who went to church and cooked Sunday dinner and wore plain clothes. Mama Kate came to town once or maybe twice a year, wearing her elegant outfits, telling stories of distant places and interesting people, and then off she’d go again. When she was there, the world became a brighter, shinier place, a place with charm and laughter and excitement. A place of possibility, a place where a girl like me might find her future.

I wish I knew more of her story. Much of it must have been hard. I don’t know how she made her way up and out of the critical nervousness that followed her husband’s death or how she managed to care for her son. I don’t know what gave her the courage to become or where she found the strength to carry on. I don’t know how she had the wisdom to break the rules that needed breaking.

But I do know this. Because of Mama Kate, I always knew that the world was a big and fascinating place. Because of Mama Kate, this little small town Southern girl always knew that a woman could dream and dare, and sometimes laugh out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thinker

Feelings aren’t facts…..or maybe not.

There is a phrase that is often quoted among those who are interested in personal growth and healing – feelings aren’t facts. I’m not sure where it originated, but it’s been around a while and I believe it’s helped a lot of people. That’s reason enough to keep repeating it.

However, I don’t really agree. I actually turn it upside down and say, “Feelings are just facts.” In order for this to make sense, you’d first need to know that I’m not that impressed by facts. There are probably hundreds or thousands of facts that make up any reality, any moment, any situation. But those facts, singly or in combination, are never quite equivalent to the truth of the matter. And I think truth is ultimately so much more important than any fact could ever hope to be. So, it’s a fact that I’m sometimes grumpy and it’s also a fact that I’m sometimes easy-going, but neither of those facts represent the truth about who I am, which is both of those and everything in between because I’m a complex, complicated, ambivalent human with a wide range of moods and aspects and an ever-changing flow of feelings – just like every other human being.

So, a feeling is a fact. It’s a fact about now, this moment, and one I’d be well advised to pay attention to. Our feelings are there for a reason. They arise from a deep, ancient part of ourselves that only wants the best for us. Though often misguided in terms of their response to this present situation, they are always true and real and meant for our good. And they always have a message for us. Sometimes the message is factual about the present situation – if that lion is chasing us, it’s our fear that tells us to run. If our sweetheart smiles, it’s our tenderness that smiles back. And sometimes, the feeling doesn’t fit the situation at all, but it still carries a message that we need to hear. And that message is about who we are and where we’ve been and also about where we may need to go.

And that message is the one we most need to hear regardless of its relationship to the “facts” of the situation. My fear tells me that I’m feeling unsafe. It may or may not describe accurately the current situation, but it’s impeccable in its description of my inner state and that’s the information that will help me most. Of course, I do need to make some discriminations about how well my feeling fits with the external realities and base my response and my decisions within a context that contains both my feeling and the realities that my good rational mind observes, not one or the other.

To deny my feelings is to deny myself. And the practice of self-denial, carried out day after day over a lifetime, leaves me disconnected from myself and thus disconnected from life. The only possible route to wholehearted participation in life lies squarely in the path of self-awareness. When I can know who I am and accept who I am and work hard to become the best of that, then and only then can I fully receive the gifts on offer and make my contribution in return.

So when I feel something, it’s a fact! And I can take that new information and use it to learn and grow and become the best of myself. Isn’t that wonderful?

Courtesy of Carollee Addams

Who Am I?

All my life, I thought of myself as — well, I have to give it to you the way I thought it – I’m not athletic. I told people I couldn’t do this or that because I had lousy eye/hand coordination. I never thought much about it unless questioned: I just didn’t do things. It’s true that I am naturally inclined toward mental activity, but I often envied those with natural athletic ability and thought I might enjoy playing some of the games they played if only I could.

Anyhow, when I was about 45, I accompanied my husband to a convention that was being held at The Cloisters on Sea Island. It’s a lovely oceanfront resort with many amenities and it was a treat to be there. One afternoon, my husband decided to go to their sporting clay shooting club. I was along for the ride and he said, why don’t you try it? I said, I couldn’t do that – I’ve never touched a gun and —- I have lousy eye/hand coordination. Well, he wouldn’t settle for that answer and I gave in. The staff was very helpful and found the right gun and a vest so I didn’t hurt my shoulder and a gentleman took me out to the range to give it a go. He was patient in his instruction and helped me hold the gun correctly and showed me where to aim and generally guided me through the whole thing, literally holding the gun with me and helping me aim. I hit a clay every once in a while, but not often. After a while, I said, can I try on my own? He said sure and I did and I never missed after that. Turns out I’m a great shot. Who knew? Who even imagined? You see, you can’t do that if you have lousy eye/hand coordination. You just can’t. And that turned my view of myself upside down. Since then, I’ve learned to play tennis (pretty badly) and golf (pretty well) and I’m a great fisherperson and eager to try new things – new athletic things.

I don’t know why I thought I was not athletic. I don’t remember any painful events and my parents didn’t tell me that. If I had to guess, I’d say I probably tried some things as a child that I didn’t know how to do and just decided on my own that I was limited in that way. But I do know that those beliefs held me back and limited my view of my self as well as my opportunities for decades. I’m grateful I got the chance to revise them in light of new information. This little experience also led me to look anew at other limiting beliefs and ask myself hard questions about them and to do that for other people with a new conviction that doing so would be helpful to them.

A very long time ago, around 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Socrates wrote, the unexamined life is not worth living. I think he may have been onto something. Self-awareness is the key that unlocks the door to everything else. Without it, nothing changes: we are stuck with the same old limiting beliefs and behaviors. With it comes hope and possibility.

No matter where we are in our lives, young or old or in the middle, succeeding or failing, striving or resting, reaching or retreating, it’s always the right time for self-awareness. We are all more than we know and the more we know, the more we have to give. It matters.

 

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Just How Perfect Do You Want to Be?

In the Greek myth, when Persephone is abducted into the underworld, her mother, Demeter, pitches what my mother would have called “a holy fit.” She cries; she wails; she pleads, she pouts; she punishes. She will not accept – she refuses to be consoled. In the end, she strikes a deal with the devil himself and agrees that her daughter can stay to live with Hades half the year if she is allowed to return to earth for the other half. Bargain done, she restores fertility to the land and thus assures abundance for all the people.

A client came to me seeking a solution for her “depression.” She said that she had lost her cherished child several years before and had never recovered from that loss. She felt she was being unfair to the people in her life….

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Life Itself is the Best Teacher

Not everyone is a candidate for psychotherapy, some because they don’t need it, some because they don’t have access, and some because they are reluctant for any number of reasons.

Psychotherapy is a powerful tool for healing, growth, and change of all kinds, no question. I have seen miracles in my own life and the lives of others born in the consultation room. However, I never forget that life itself is, in the end, the best teacher.

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