Look for Coincidences

CoincidenceThe Universe is always willing to give you what you want if you just ask….and trust that you will get what you ask for. Trusting is the important part, if you don’t trust that it can happen, you won’t see the “coincidence happen”.

Coincidences don’t have to be big, or earth-shattering or life-changing. Mainly, they are just little ways in which the Universe reminds you that they are listening to you. You just have to be open to the idea of receiving and trust.

One of the most happy coincidences I ever experienced was on a visit to surprise my grandma for Christmas. I was living in Phoenix, AZ and she lived in Oakland, CA. She was in her 80’s and because I lived so far away, I wasn’t able to visit her as often as I wanted to. So one year, I booked tickets for the whole family to visit her a week before Christmas.

We arrived early in the morning on the day we were going to surprise my grandma and I wanted to get her a little tree for her apartment, (I had packed the decorations,) so we went in search of trees and found the most perfect one! It was still early, so we decided to eat breakfast then head to grandmas house. While we were eating, I realized that I had forgotten to pick up one of her most important presents – a roll of quarters. (My grandma played Bingo six nights a week.) The banks were closed and there was nowhere to get them. I was so sad because that was going to be her best gift. I was thinking about it out loud and wishing I had a roll of quarters, but there was nothing I could do about it now. I got up from the table to pay for breakfast and I had to stand in line because there was a crowd at the register. The whole time I was trying to figure out how to get those quarters when suddenly the man in front of me asked the cashier if she minded if he paid his bill with a roll of quarters. I couldn’t believe it! I tapped him on the shoulder and offered to buy them from him. He was happy. The cashier was happy and I was ecstatic. What a perfect “coincidence”!

That was thirty years ago, and by now I’m pretty good at asking the Universe for help and trusting it will come.

Last year an oak tree dropped a big limb in the garden. It was in the way of the garden and I wanted it for wood for my wood stove, but I had no way to cut it up and get rid of it. One morning I walked down to the garden wishing I had a chainsaw so I could cut up the log. As I was working in the garden, the gardener from next door came over and we started chit chatting about gardening. I mentioned that I wished I could cut up the big oak branch and he jumped up and ran to his truck. He came back carrying a little chainsaw he used for just such an occasion and chopped it up.

I smiled and thanked the Universe and then told him how I had asked for someone with a chainsaw to help get rid of the log. He smiled a big smile and laughed. He told me he had gotten in his truck that morning and was getting ready to leave when something told him he would need his chainsaw that day. We both smiled and thanked the Universe.

What coincidences have you experienced? Has anything ever just appeared at the exact moment you needed it? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

One Step at a Time

Rocks on a Hawaiian BeachWhen it comes to personal growth, you have three options: take a step forward, take a step back, or stay in the present moment.

One of the easiest traps to fall into when you first begin therapy is to get stuck on what it’s going to be like in the future when things have changed. But when my clients get upset and angry about how long it takes to work on themselves and feel better, I tell them it takes “one step at a time.”  You wouldn’t start kindergarten and expect to be promoted to fifth grade at the end of the year. It takes time, patience and staying in the present moment as much as you can. Thinking about your future and not paying attention to your present moment is not going to get you anywhere!

Once you’ve taken that trip to the future to see what you think life will be like, come back to the present moment and set it into motion by making a plan. But you can’t just think about it, you have to take daily steps to do it. But you also have to be aware of those daily steps to make it stick.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I often have clients that say to me “This is hard work. I don’t want to get better; I was doing just fine doing what I was doing,” or “I fixed the problem I am okay now; I don’t need to work on me anymore.”

That is like deciding to just keep wearing the same shoes you wore in third grade, even though your feet have grown since then. You can’t go back again after you have begun to change your thoughts, your perspective, and your life. You’ll always feel unhappy and out of sorts. Just like wearing those tiny shoes.

Once you get started and you are serious about change, learning to stay in the present moment and taking each day as it comes with your new tools becomes so much easier. It’s okay to take baby steps. Life has its’ moments when things aren’t so great, but if you take one step at a time and practice what you’ve learned in therapy it is so much more fun!

Setting Your Intention

Setting your intentionI hate New Year’s Resolutions.

I think they’re just a stupid way to set yourself up for failure. So instead of setting goals for the year I like to set intentions. I think it’s a more spiritual approach to self-help and personal growth. So, I’d like to share three intentions I set for myself this year:

1) First and foremost I intend to practice what I preach more often. I am a teacher and I feel it is important as a teacher of spiritual practices to walk my talk. If I tell someone to practice forgiveness, then I need to work on my forgiveness of others. It sounds easy, but it is not. If I ask someone to try to open their heart or be kinder, I also practice opening my heart. My belief as a teacher is that I should be willing to listen to my own advice. It helps me to remember this stuff isn’t easy.

2) My second intention is to give back to the community in some small way, whether it is to help out at the humane society, volunteer to help or collect for a food bank or gather odds and ends to give to the local thrift store for charity. But I have to be honest, I really like doing this so it is an easy intention.

3) My most enjoyable intention is to make people smile more. The other day I was at Home Depot and as I was about to cross to the other side of the aisle an employee came walking down the aisle in the opposite direction waving two flags back and forth. Right behind him was a guy driving one of their little forklifts with a huge package of goods. They were moving it from one place to the next. As they passed me I said out loud, “I love a parade” and both of the guys – who were not happy with what they were doing – let out with a big laugh and smiled. That is when I set this intention.

What intentions have you set for yourself this year? I’d like to hear some of them in the comments section below.

Reflection and Review

Lake at Acadia National ParkSorry, it’s been almost a month since my last post, but I came down with a nasty flu on New Year’s Eve and my head is finally clear enough to share some thoughts.

One of the things I like to do at the end of the year is reflect on what I accomplished or ways I have grown during the past twelve months. It’s a little like cleaning out the closet before I go buy new clothes. I need to make room for the new stuff by taking a look at the old. Here are three things I changed last year:

1) I love my practice and I have been counseling in one form or another for close to 40 years now but every once in a while I need a break. So two years ago I took that break – which really meant just reducing the number of people I see each week – and I went to work at a friend’s resort in their little store. I loved it! I could meet, greet, and help the people in the store and never once did I have to ask, “how do you feel about that?” If someone came in and bought two cases of beer, I didn’t have to worry about their drinking problem and I enjoyed myself very much. But I started to miss helping people, either by counseling them or giving them readings. Technically I was working in the store, but I really took the job to play and after awhile it wasn’t fun anymore. I realized that I really needed to get back to work in my own field. I also liked being my own boss and there were times when I wasn’t in control of my own schedule and I didn’t like that. So I decided to let go of the job – even if it meant letting go of a steady paycheck – and go back to my own  business.

2) Last spring, I had to go to court because the HOA where I live accused me of building on someone’s property. This had been an ongoing problem for years and I had already written letters, had my land surveyed and had other property owners stand up for me, but ultimately, this was about control on their part.  I was very nervous because the HOA has been known to lie in the past just to get what they want. On the day I was scheduled for court, I was very nervous and called every angel I knew of for protection and had friends and family all over the world praying for a positive outcome. I asked for guidance and protection and then I presented my case. When they presented their case, the judge admonished them for bad record-keeping and inconsistent stories, so I won the case. This was very scary for me to do, but I did it and I felt so awesome standing up for myself and saying, “no you can’t do this.”

3) I also (mostly) gave up sugar when I realized how much I was eating each month and was appalled. I threw every sweet bit of candy, cookies, etc. out and I began monitoring my diet. I immediately felt better and realized I wasn’t tired or sluggish anymore. I was more energized and I felt healthier. And there was one nice side effect this summer when I pulled out my warm weather wardrobe and everything was loose. Yes!

In what ways do you feel you grew last year? Changed? What did you accomplish? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.