Category Archives: Awareness


Loving February’s Bloggers for Peace writing challenge so much, I am am starting in January (I know, it’s the last day of the month anyhoo!). Thich Nhat Hanh states, Peace in oneself, Peace in the world.


What inspires peace for people? 

What gives people the desire to work for peace?

I have seen so many people downtrodden by the daunting task of even thinking about peace in our world.  Their sadness from seeing the suffering on our planet instills compassion, and then to me- a natural desire inherently occurs- the desire to create peace within our own heart.  As a teacher of how perception affects our reality and the world around us, I truly believe that peace begins within ourselves and it illuminates each person we touch with kindness and a greater compassion for others.

Peace is not a futile effort. 

Seeing the joy and love within the images placed in my “Peace, Why Not?” billboard inspires me to sit with my own heart space and reflect on my motivation and how I connect with the world around me.  This contemplation, if instilled within all of us each day, would continue to grow and light a flame within each person we interact with like candles on a birthday cake.  Our personal work does have an effect on the world, and we must continue to do this work if we wish to change the world.

Mantra: I am a holy vessel of light being used for the greater good of all sentient beings.

This is a sacred mantra for me, and my motivation every day.  See how it works for you, modify it to work for you, encourage yourself to engage in self love and acceptance so your inner peace will light the way for others.

DAILY PROMPT: Confessions of a Co-dependent: Me, Myself & My Helplessness

loveyourselfchallenge_tumblrLooking back, living life as a co-dependent was like a personal hell that I would re-create through relationships for myself over and over again.  I started to feel like Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day only I didn’t feel like an omnipotent “God” with the advantage of no-calorie pastries, I felt helpless and cursed.  I lived my life like an addict, only I was addicted to being needed by others and when I was rejected I didn’t know where to turn.  Usually I would turn, but I would just turn in circles like an out of control top who could not tolerate the pain any longer.

Many addicts talk about when they “hit bottom” and my hitting bottom was definitely not something to write home about.  As for many, it was one of those experiences that has come back to haunt me in my own “hall of shame” many a time.  Understanding co-dependency is very difficult and frustrating for outsiders.  We can see certain patterns in people, but it can be trying and difficult to understand why they keep going back to that place of helplessness and loneliness whenever a relationship ends.  And why they choose partners that may seem dysfunctional or simply “wrong” for them.

For me, I had deeply ingrained worthiness issues, and I chose people that would prove to me my own personal belief system- that I did not deserve a healthy, thriving relationship that fed my soul on all levels, and that had good boundaries.  My lack of boundaries always set me up to fail because I compromised what felt right for me all the time due to my fear of conflict.  It would build up until I myself could not handle the situation any longer.  But if a breakup came out of left field, it felt like deep abandonment and I had no healthy coping mechanisms to help me get out of my personally fated riptide.

My rock bottom was not the end of my conflict, but it brought a turning point for me in my psyche that I had to take notice of.  I was young and already felt tired of having to go through the motions of life.  I was confronted with a break up that to me came out of left field.  I was a year out of college, and still very co-dependent.  When the break-up happened, I felt amazed at how people can make decisions for you and there was nothing you could do about it.  But mostly, I felt downtrodden and so helpless that life simply didn’t matter anymore.  There was a crack of light from my soul trying to expand itself into my ego-centered vision, but I was refusing to see it.

One night after going out with some friends and drinking I walked into my dark bedroom as if I was walking into a prison cell.   I looked out my window and saw the street lamp’s light, and the beautiful leaves from the trees rustling so peacefully.  In my heart, I wanted to be those leaves and not myself.  I was truly sick of my ego’s helplessness.  I then swallowed a bottle of pills.  Before going to the hospital, I simply remember this one thought- “why doesn’t anyone love me.”  What I had to learn is that my own personal love for myself and the divinity that coursed through my veins was undeveloped, and it was time to move forward.  And you know what? I am grateful every day for the grace and karma that I had to take life back by the reins from that experience and remember my truth rather than reject it so I could hold onto a belief system about myself that my ego used every day to create more separation.  The great divide within myself had to heal, as it does within all of us.  And I look forward to doing this with others for the rest of my life.


From Charter for Compassion, Article by Rita Hibbard, Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”

In my own journey, I have learned a great deal about compassion.  Not only for others, but compassion for myself and all my foibles in this life.  As most of you know, and at the risk of sounding utterly cliché at this moment, without our life’s foibles we would never grow- that is, if we have the wisdom to see our foibles as growing experiences rather than things “happening to us”.  If compassion does not begin within ourselves, then it is very difficult to have compassion for other people.  In fact, those that are very hard on others are most likely even harder on themselves.  Our outer is a reflection of our inner no matter how we deal the cards.

A long time ago at a retreat for my coaching work, my teacher Debbie Ford came on stage holding a baby doll.  She brought to everyone’s attention how cute and sweet this innocent little child was.  Then, she started yelling and criticizing the baby doll and hitting it against the chair.  Afterwards, she noted that this is how most of us treat our own selves emotionally every day through constant criticism and fear.  We usually treat others better than we treat our perceived self because no one can hear how verbally abusive we can truly be when we are talking to our selves.  Sadly, not all stick to just verbal abuse with themselves.  There are many in this world that physically abuse themselves as well.  I am confessing in this moment that I was once one of those people.

What most don’t realize is that there is an aspect within ourselves that really is genuinely receiving this criticism and begging for love.  It is usually the piece of us that made that very mistake when he or she was a little child, and shamed for making that very mistake.  In taking on WordPress’s “daily prompt”, I googled the word “kindness”.  In that “googling” I was presented with the above image as the 11th.  It was a graphic on the article “Relying on the Kindness of Strangers” by Rita Hibbard for the Charter for Compassion website.  I love this graphic!  It was perfect, and brought me to one of my favorite topics- compassion!  All of a sudden the song “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine came on my Pandora station- and the lyrics (listed above) met me at the fork in the road concerning this inspiring graphic and word.  In the song Florence states that it is “always darkest before the dawn” and I could not agree more.

How many of you have been dragging a dead horse around so to speak on your back and you just can’t let it go because it gives you an opportunity to continue to criticize yourself?  What does this opportunity afford you?  Many people believe that attachment has to do with those things we love in this life- but this is not true.  We are also attached to the opportunities that allow for our inner demons to control our life.  Face the inner demon.  It will only get better from there, I promise.  I say that as testimony to my own darkness and how facing it changed me forever.  It gave me new opportunities to love and embrace the joy that I rejected because I didn’t think I deserved it.  The only way I could face it was through compassion.  I was enabled to see that little girl in me suffering and give her the love she needed to move on and own her light.

To express our light takes great courage, and I invite you to express your light and have compassion for yourself.  Let those foibles go and you will be of greater service to this world through the expression of genuine compassion for others suffering.  I promise.


This recurrence of feeling appearing from somewhere
Walking around this labyrinth of moments- singing and laughing
Something is happening as a dancing wisp of light
Lifts me into the sky and I am somewhere, again
Everyone wishing for this light to seep into their denseness
To become something other than the heaviness of the mind
Opening up my arms to the possibility
Where is everyone?
A leaf twists in a dollop of warm air that drops from my mouth
I shall blow my dreams upon you little leaf
And you will carry them for eternity
Even when your color turns in the midst of a changing temperature
You will ride another wind into a soft tuft of grass where I shall lay my head
As you blend into the earth beside my worn face
You will give me compassion and I shall cry
As I water the earth with my heart and tears
We shall become new again.

When I wrote this poem, I was sitting outside on my patio one evening admiring the New Mexico sky and all its amplified color.  Living in New Mexico I am lucky to live as a guest and witness to some of the most extraordinary light.  This light illuminates the world around me in a way that is inspiring.  Witnessing nature and all it reveals to us is a gift and a place of contemplation in simply being.  I am grateful every day for all that nature reveals to us through the movement of the sun and moon each day, and through the changing seasons.  Here we are again, fall…..autumn.

Autumn gives us a cyclical opportunity to remember that at every moment change has occurred.  My body, emotions, and mental state- they are changed and different with every passing second.  There is no permanent “self”.  My body that once was born and small enough to be held by my parents is now 5’7” and again- forever changing.  Nature has taught me that no matter how permanent my ego tells me I am, it is not true.  And I can use this as a subtle opportunity to remember to love and not be so hard on the world around me and my own perceived self.  Every moment of compassion brings about more change and what once “was” between me and another person may be anew with understanding and gratefulness.

I am grateful even for this small opportunity to write and share with you how your beauty that has been reflected in this season we call autumn has changed me, once again.

When All Is Most Right With The World…

When All Is Most Right With The World…
By: Jessica Burnham

“Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”
Ralphie, A Christmas Story

As a young child I remember seeing the classic film, “A Christmas Story.” This quote from the film, “Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us,” had a profound effect on me. I always loved the dance of the words, and how true it felt when I was most down on myself. But the big question for me these days regarding this quote has to do with that unshakeable part of being. That part of us that exists regardless of joy or unthinkable disasters. That part of us that always knows “all is most right with the world.”


I know it is mid-July, and Christmas is nowhere near our thoughts in this moment. But as I sat and pondered a recent experience regarding awareness and what it means to be free of attachment- I heard Ralphie’s famous statement echo from my heart to my mind. I knew it was the perfect statement that related to how I felt. I was exercising when it happened. As I ran, with the beautiful mountains and blue sky in my view, a breeze touched me ever so deeply. In the breeze I truly felt non-attachment and how it frees us from thinking that nothing is ever right in the world.

I had been dwelling on a news piece as I ran, and this burst of energy just whipped through me with the understanding that no matter what I thought about that situation, it didn’t matter. And any emotions I put into the whole idea that something was just plain wrong didn’t matter either. Next, I thought- what if I just acknowledged that it didn’t actually matter? That is when I had that feeling, that understanding, which all really was right with the world. My feelings, my thoughts, my desire to be angry- really didn’t have any consequence to that situation directly. Suddenly this burst of joy just ran through my heart, and I knew the only thing that did matter was my love and how I chose to express myself as divine love in this world.

As humans, we have this great gift that I always yammer on about. Choice! My choice had nothing to do with this deep feeling of everything being right in the world. This feeling was simply there, always- and the minute I knew from my deepest innate nature that no matter how I chose to color the news piece, I would always be unchanged as my awareness. Nothing can change what we are made of, our essence, our being. We are blank coloring books underneath all our projections, thoughts, viewpoints, perceptions. As we grow, we choose different colors to experience a new picture. But underneath all those colors, we simply are awareness.

This glimpse was a beautiful gift. And, it gave me a reference point whenever my viewpoint begins to get out of hand. Each time we find ourselves traveling down that familiar road to defensiveness, judgment or troubling perception, we have the ability to take a deep breath and just act as the witness to this mind activity. There is something deeper that is always simply witnessing without any of these attachments. That is who we truly are, and the more we open our hearts to the possibility of fully engaging in this beingness, the more we will regularly go there without all the drama.

Inner drama, outer drama- it is all the same. Anything we experience inwardly as a rocky experience and attach to will eventually manifest in some perception and/or interaction with the world around us- usually in an unfavorable way. We are the commander of our vessels. Yet, our vessels are part of a larger picture. When we look at a painting, we can see various subject matters. A ship in the ocean is taking part in something. But, the ship is also just there. There really is no place for it to go, except simply be in that moment. And when we stop to enjoy the painting of that moment, we become a part of it. This is life. I am grateful for the beauty of moments. Being present and recognizing that all is right with the world yields a gracefulness that is surely connected to the purity of our beingness, our awareness, no matter the unthinkable disasters.

Attaching to Self Sabotage

Attaching to Self Sabotage
By: Jessica Ahlers
Have you ever had someone ask you the question- “Are you a self saboteur?” If someone did ask you that question, how would you answer it? I feel asking ourselves this type of powerful question strengthens our ability to truly be honest with ourselves. After all, if we can’t be honest with ourselves, then we’re definitely not being honest with others about who we are underneath our many worn masks, nor are we kidding anyone. Most of our relationship view points are truly our own, and if you ask someone else what they think about their relationship with you- you will most likely get a response that differs greatly from what you think you will hear. I have found in my own life that no matter how much I might try to lie to myself about how others like to play the truth is always there for me to see in my reactions to others around me.

It takes the deeply hidden intricacies of the mind to develop the many unsuspecting pathways to self sabotage. In the end, we usually are not aware that we are trying to sabotage ourselves because it is a difficult subject to approach and be honest about with ourselves. Have you ever experienced a breakup, where the conditions yielded a person you never even thought existed due to the self developed perception you already maintained about them? This is a very common feeling after the ending of a relationship. Most of the time there are plenty of circumstances that yield this situation. I feel all of them are rooted in the understanding of what it means to be honest and open to the possibilities of the world around us. When we can remember that we are one with all, and whole beings, then our awareness that all traits exist in every one of us- no one excluded- is heightened.

Buddhists believe that if we can look at every person in the world with the understanding that everyone is suffering, just like us, then we will cultivate more feelings of compassion and understanding, rather than seeds of anger or frustration which typically lead to a dead end and more suffering for ourselves. In trying to practice this challenging way of viewing the world, I have found it opens many doors to self reflection and kindness. When we can be honest about our own suffering, as well as the suffering of everyone around us, a major part of the human condition, we can live a life that shines authenticity. With authenticity, our abilities to sabotage ourselves become weakened. Transparency within our own world leaves more room for opportunities on all counts- especially when it comes to happiness.

Recently I lost a friend that I had known for years. I have gone through many stages of mourning this relationship. I have felt anger, sadness, and helplessness. But in the end, I can see how both of our commitments to self sabotage caused our relationship to end. It was very difficult for me to accept this person’s behavior, and couldn’t believe how I was being treated. Basically, I was in disbelief of my own self generated view point that I had for years, and had to come to terms with the fact that not only do the qualities I witnessed exist in this other person, but they also exist within myself- I just have not accepted them fully, which is why I felt so angry and plugged in.

Our issues got in the way of enjoying one another without the limitations we placed on our relationship through our view points. We both judged one another in some form, and the judgments got in our way of simply having a good time and being grateful for the manifestation of awareness we both represented. Our quest to reject an opportunity for happiness in our relationship with one another was our own self sabotage. The most any of us can do is walk away from these experiences wiser, so we can continue to be open to the joy of being that we all deserve rather than repeatedly living out life times of suffering.