Spirithaven

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Old Guy And A Bucket Of Shrimp  
This is a true story, Hope you appreciate it and want to pass it along.

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, 'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say. Or, 'a guy who's a sandwich shy of a picnic,' as my kids might say. To onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogetherunimportant .... maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things,
at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida . That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were.

They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft..

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.
It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck.. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of it. Then they used the intestines for bait.. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait......and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued (after 24 days at sea...).

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull.. And he never stopped saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Reference: (Max Lucado, "In The Eye of the Storm",
pp..221, 225-226)

PS: Eddie started Eastern Airlines.  

Thanks, Jim, for sharing this with us

Lately, I’ve been working on being softer towards myself. Kinder. Slower. Why? Because it just feels so darn good, but also because I’m feeling anxious. You might be feeling the same way. Anxiety is fairly common this time of year. There’s lots of pressure to party, socialize, buy and give the right stuff, pressure to map out the perfect 2013, and let’s not forget the nagging pressure to finally dump the junk in our collective trunks.
Countless wellness bloggers are writing about solutions for these very timely issues. And while I have my own tips and tricks, we’re not going to chew on those today. This isn’t a blog about strategies or resolutions. It’s about a bigger question that often leads to the ultimate anxiety: How to find your purpose.
Just thinking about “finding your purpose” exercises can literally make folks sweat and pace — especially this time of year when our toes are curled over the diving board of 2013. Like it or not,we’re at a precipice. We’re being called to leap into new beginnings and all that jazz. Perhaps you’re reflecting on the last 365 days and saying “Well, I sure got a lot done, but what’s it all for? What’s my higher calling? How do I stop spinning my wheels and get down to business? And to be even more blunt: What the hell am I supposed to be doing with my life?!”
I struggled with this too, until I finally found my purpose (spoiler alert: or so I thought) with Crazy Sexy Cancer and then Crazy Sexy everything else. At first I felt very strong and proud. My feathers were fluffed. I had finally arrived spiritually. For the rest of my days I wouldn’t have to worry about the burning “what’s my purpose?” question. I used to tell myself, “Well, that’s one good thing that came from cancer …” It seemed pretty clear: My purpose was to help people get healthier and to teach prevention. Pretty rad. A karmic home run.
But here’s the rub. When our purpose is external, we may never find it. If we tie our purpose or meaning to our vocation, goal or an activity, we’re more than likely setting ourselves up for suffering down the line.
Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. That’s it. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and essential, but they’re not your purpose. Your purpose is much bigger than that.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot on a personal level lately. My deeper understanding of purpose feels right in my bones. It diffuses the ache of separateness I experience when my work isn’t appreciated or when my efforts are overlooked or criticized. Sometimes folks will treasure your work, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes you’ll get the gig, sometimes you won’t. You’ll be on the marquee and you’ll be passé. You’ll be thanked and you’ll be taken for granted. You’ll give and you’ll get nothing in return. You’ll be “Liked” and you’ll be unfriended. That’s life. But, so then what? You have no purpose or meaning? Absolutely, positively not. Can you see how tying your worth to that circus will only make you feel depleted, depressed and even resentful? Anchor your purpose within, sweet friend. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself drifting out at sea again and again.
What if your purpose is very different than what you’ve been taught to believe?
What if your purpose is to build an everlasting relationship with yourself? To fall deeply in love with precious you? This isn’t self-centered or selfish, it’s self-expansive. Interconnected. Conscious. 
What if your purpose is to forgive yourself and others? And by doing so, to allow warm waves of compassion to wash over the entire planet (yourself included). 
What if your purpose is to gently heal all self-injury? And by doing so, to become a mentor and role model for others to do the same. 
What if your purpose is to release all shame and feelings of unworthiness? Guess what you’ll find behind those feelings? Vulnerability. Roll out the red carpet for the V word because vulnerability is where your true strength and glory resides. 
Shall we talk about perfection? Yes, I think we must. What if your purpose is to teach yourself that there is no such thing as perfection and that your never ending pursuit of it is destroying your life and your relationships. Let it go. 
What if your purpose is to speak kindly to yourself so that you elevate your energy and the world around you? 
What if your purpose is to develop an everlasting faith in yourself? To remember your holiness and treat yourself accordingly. The deeper your faith gets, the stronger your connection to a higher power. 
What if your purpose is to take impeccable care of yourself so that you have the energy and joy toserve others? 
And lastly …
What if your purpose is to bear witness to your suffering? To acknowledge it and embrace it in order to move through it. “They” say that “suffering is optional.” I’m not so sure about that anymore. I used to think that was true. But that was before I had a deep and layered experience with suffering. Today, I think suffering is essential. The trick is to learn how to move out of suffering once you get the nugget and are ready to apply the lessons. Note: Residue of pain may remain (and that’s OK), but at some point you can fully release the suffering.
Seriously, what if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself? Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important ah-ha of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It’s that simple.
Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t love my job (or you) or that I’m going to quit in anyway. I cherish my work and all of my readers. And it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start an orphanage or save animals or empower women or teach people how to file taxes. It means that you no longer need to connect your personal self-worth with a plaque on the wall.
Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling and everything to do with how you treatyourself.
I’ve met brilliant and effective activists who I have gallons of respect for but who are dirty messes inside. Mean messes. Bitter messes. Sad messes. And guess what? Their reach and impact reflects their attitude. Imagine what they could accomplish if they moved from loathing to love, if they knew that no matter how important their mission, their inner purpose matters even more. Folks are like plants, we all lean towards the light.
You are the light. Your inner purpose is to connect with that light. Everything else will follow in time.



Some of my Favorites


The Power of Mindfulness to Free Us from Fear
Jack Kornfield, PhD

Fear is a natural thing. It’s our organism’s way to try to protect itself, but as human beings, we can spin-out a great deal with it. Mark Twain said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.”

When somebody comes in and has anxiety and fear, first of all, I’m very sympathetic because it’s hard to hold, hard to carry, and the stronger it is, the more the separate sense of self grows.

In Buddhist psychology, the separate sense of self is sometimes called the body of fear because we feel separate and we have to protect ourselves in worry ... rather than sensing the field of being or presence that is actually well-being no matter what.

“Yes, this too is part of the tainted glory of humanity. This is part of life, my life and others. We all share in this.”I then teach people how to sit and acknowledge the fear as if to bow to it – pay respect – because it’s very powerful. How does it feel in the body? What are the stories that it tells? Are they true or not? What are the emotions that come with it?

Sometimes there’s grief with fear or there’s loss, or there are various kinds of pains that come, and we can tease those apart and realize that you can be present for them in a spacious way.

The image from Buddhist psychology is if you put a teaspoon of salt in a cup of water, it tastes very salty, but if you put the same spoon of salt in a lake, the water is pure and clear.

In the same way, you can make the heart more spacious and open and gracious so that fear and confusion are held in a spacious heart.

I’m using the word heart quite deliberately as well as the word mind because we talk about mental health, but it’s also the health of the heart.

To be present and to learn, to train oneself in mindfulness, or to offer it to others, you can only offer that if you’ve really found this capacity in yourself. It requires a wedding of love and awareness. I like to use the phrase loving awareness.

What we bring to the measure of fear – or confusion or sorrow – is this capacity of loving awareness to say, “Yes, this too is part of the tainted glory of humanity. This is part of life, my life and others. We all share in this.”

There’s a field of compassion, and we discover that we can be present with a kind of dignity for it. It doesn’t mean fear goes away, but rather that we befriend our fear and know that who we are is bigger than that.

Uncertainty is a description of reality, you’re always happier and healthier if you deal with the world and life the way that it is rather than some fantasy you have about it.

There’s the societal fantasy that if you have enough money in the bank, or if you have enough possessions, you’ll be happy – that’s a consumer fantasy. Another is that you’ll always have someone who’s going to love you in this perfect way, and even if they do love you...that’s today. You don’t know what’s going to happen next week or next year.

“We’re a river of change, and if we try to hold on, what we end up getting is rope burn.”Things change. We’re a river of change, and if we try to hold on, what we end up getting is rope burn. It’s a kind of recipe for suffering.

If instead, we accept the fact that everything changes and discover that we can float, that we can surf rather than try to stop the waves, then our life becomes more responsive. It becomes more of a dance and there’s a tremendous joy that comes in it.

There’s a certain grief and loss that must be honored and felt, but it’s not the end of this story, and it’s not who you really are. That’s a limited identity. You were that for a while. Now, you’re going to be something else and that’s the way life unfolds itself all the time.  

NUTS!
A Fun Way to End Negative Thinking

Negative thinking is so often a part of our minds that we rarely notice anything wrong with it. We just take it for granted that that's the way we are.  We let negative tapes such as “I'm not smart enough,” or “I'll never pass this test,” perpetuate our negativity.

It is important to know that you can only have one thought 
in your mind at a time.

We can choose whether that thought is positive or negative.  The more times we turn a negative thought into a positive one, we form new thinking habits.  We actually form new pathways in our brains.
So, how does NUTS work?  Each time you hear your self-talk being a negative barrier, yell STOP! Picture a large red stop sign with big, black letters that spell STOP!
And then say

NUTS!
This stands for Negative and Unpleasant Thought Stopping Now, it's difficult to picture a Stop Sign in your mind and yell STOP at yourself without smiling.  It is even more difficult to say NUTS! To yourself without smiling. So remember this little trick and pass it on to your students.  It works!

A BEAUTIFUL STORY OF LOVE AND GENEROSITY

There was an unusual high school football game played in Grapevine, Texas.
The game was between Grapevine Faith Academy and the Gainesville State School, 
both in TX . Faith is a Christian school and Gainesville State School is located within a maximum security correction facility.
Gainesville State School has 14 players. They play every game on the road. 
Their record was 0-8. They've only scored twice. Their 14 players are teenagers 
who have been convicted of crimes ranging from drugs to assault to robbery.
Most had families who had disowned them. They wore outdated, used shoulder pads and helmets. 
Faith Academy was 7-2. They had 70 players, 11 coaches, and the latest equipment.
Chris Hogan, the head coach at Faith Academy, knew the Gainesville team would 
have no fans, and it would be no contest, so he thought, 
"What if half of our fans and half of our cheerleaders, for one night only, cheered for the other team?"
He sent out an email to the faithful asking them to do just that. "Here's the message I want you to send," Hogan wrote.
"You're just as valuable as any other person on the planet." Some folks were confused and thought he was nuts. One player said, "Coach, why are we doing this?" 
Hogan said, "Imagine you don't have a home life, no one to love you, no one pulling for you. 
Imagine that everyone pretty much had given up on you. Now, imagine what it would feel like and mean to you for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you."
The idea took root. On the night of the game, imagine the surprise of those 14 players when they took the field and there was a banner the cheerleaders had made for them to crash through. 
The visitors' stands were full. The cheerleaders were leading cheers for them. 
The fans were calling them by their names. Isaiah, the quarterback-middle linebacker said,
"I never in my life thought I would hear parents cheering to tackle and hit their kid. 
Most of the time, when we come out, people are afraid of us. You can see it in their eyes, but these people are yelling for us. They knew our names."
Faith won the game, and after the game the teams gathered at the 50-yard line to pray. 
That's when Isaiah, the teenage convict quarterback surprised everybody and asked if he could pray too. 
He prayed, "Lord, I don't know what just happened so I don't know how or who to say thank you to, but I never knew there were so many people in the world who cared about us."
On the way back to the bus, under guard, each one of the players was handed a burger, fries, a coke, candy, a Bible, and an encouraging letter from the players from Faith Academy.
What an incredible act of Christian witness and kindness and goodness that was.
Proverbs 11:17 says, "Your own soul is nourished when you are kind." 
Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good when it is in your power to act."There was an unusual high school football game played in Grapevine, Texas.The game was between Grapevine Faith Academy and the Gainesville State School, both in TX . Faith is a Christian school and Gainesville State School is located within a maximum security correction facility.Gainesville State School has 14 players. They play every game on the road. Their record was 0-8. They've only scored twice. Their 14 players are teenagers who have been convicted of crimes ranging from drugs to assault to robbery. Most had families who had disowned them. They wore outdated, used shoulder pads and helmets.  Faith Academy was 7-2. They had 70 players, 11 coaches, and the latest equipment. Chris Hogan, the head coach at Faith Academy, knew the Gainesville team would have no fans, and it would be no contest, so he thought, "What if half of our fans and half of our cheerleaders, for one night only, cheered for the other team?"He sent out an email to the faithful asking them to do just that. "Here's the message I want you to send," Hogan wrote. "You're just as valuable as any other person on the planet." Some folks were confused and thought he was nuts. One player said, "Coach, why are we doing this?" Hogan said, "Imagine you don't have a home life, no one to love you, no one pulling for you. Imagine that everyone pretty much had given up on you. Now, imagine what it would feel like and mean to you for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you." The idea took root. On the night of the game, imagine the surprise of those 14 players when they took the field and there was a banner the cheerleaders had made for them to crash through. The visitors' stands were full. The cheerleaders were leading cheers for them. The fans were calling them by their names. Isaiah, the quarterback-middle linebacker said, "I never in my life thought I would hear parents cheering to tackle and hit their kid. Most of the time, when we come out, people are afraid of us. You can see it in their eyes, but these people are yelling for us. They knew our names." Faith won the game, and after the game the teams gathered at the 50-yard line to pray. That's when Isaiah, the teenage convict quarterback surprised everybody and asked if he could pray too. He prayed, "Lord, I don't know what just happened so I don't know how or who to say thank you to, but I never knew there were so many people in the world who cared about us." On the way back to the bus, under guard, each one of the players was handed a burger, fries, a coke, candy, a Bible, and an encouraging letter from the players from Faith Academy.  What an incredible act of Christian witness and kindness and goodness that was.  Proverbs 11:17 says, "Your own soul is nourished when you are kind."  Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good when it is in your power to act."

HERE'S WHY TO GO TO RETREATS! 
After our retreat in WV,my co-leader Joann Malone wrote the following. I thought put it beautifully:


It was a great retreat, really great! Beautiful women, bonding, sharing from the heart.   I wish we could take "before/after" pictures to show the changes! A couple of the women looked like different people.  Such pain, grief, sadness, despair transformed so quickly into relief, acceptance, joy and hope. Just like these signs of spring that become more dramatic every day.

What we do on the retreat is simply practice mindfulness and meditation.  We quiet our bodies, minds and feelings, stop at the sound of the bell, BREATHE, relax, smile at one another, form bonds by sharing, seeing how much we are alike in both our suffering and joy.  We journal, look deeply into the causes of our suffering, find ways to hold the child within us who is afraid, while watering seeds of joy, peace, freedom and happiness.

Some of my Favorites