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Carol's Column
AUTHENTICITY

The idea of being authentic has caught our attention much like the word empowered did a few years ago. It's curious why authenticity seems so valuable to us that we talk about what it means, wonder if we have it, and search for ways to find it and express it. What makes us think we aren't authentic?

The other day I was talking to a thirty-four-year-old mother of two small children who lives in Minnesota. I'll call her Rae. She told me, "I'm not real thrilled with life right now. My kids are two-and-a-half and four-and-half, and I went back to work last January selling real estate. I've done sales, customer service, and public relations but I don't like the idea of hopping around in my jobs. Real estate is okay, I guess, but I really love metaphysical stuff. Reading books on spirituality recharges me. My family all goes to church, but church doesn't seem to fit for me anymore. I need to find my life purpose!"

Becoming Aware

She went on to describe her inner restlessness, her feeling she is "not doing something right" and her growing conflict with her parents and husband. My hunch is that Rae is in a process of shifting values within a milieu that is familiar but not very supportive of her search for fulfillment. Like many of us who are unhappy with where we are, Rae was putting the focus on finding her purpose-which for her meant finding the right career. However, finding the right career can be a mythical panacea that is not the answer to our deepest inner longings to feel recognized, happy, and fulfilled.

Last month in this column, I mentioned the book by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, The Cultural Creatives. In that book the authors describe three main streams of consciousness operating in the United States: the Traditionalists, the Modernists, and the Cultural Creatives. As Rae and I talked about the values and interests of these three groups, she realized that most of her friends and family held beliefs that sounded like the Traditionalists-e.g., a patriarchal view of family life, traditional roles for men and women, family, church and community are where you belong, and adhering to conservative customs that maintain familiar ways of life. She felt particularly at odds with the idea that all the guidance you need for your life can be found in the Bible. Her desire to work and have an independent income was not only viewed with criticism by her parents who thought she should devote herself completely to being a wife and mother, but also by her husband. Their frequent fights over her work hours is costing her much anxiety and guilt.

Original Nature is Shaped by Conditioning

As children we have no trouble being authentic. Remember when you woke up in the summer happy with anticipation for the day? Remember the joy you took in having your friends sleep over? Remember your parents' mixed reaction when you blurted out some delightful, albeit disconcerting, blunt truth? Growing up, we naturally question authority or the status quo because curiosity and the need to understand how the world works are prime motivations in our developing psyche. At some critical point, however, it is inevitably driven home to us that in order to get along in the world, sometimes we need to withhold our opinions, listen to our elders, deny what we see and hear, lie low or even lie. We begin the process of putting a lot of stuff-beliefs, opinions, self-criticisms, pain, fear, disappointments, humiliations, anger, rage, feelings of distrust and abandonment in a closet-with the idea that maybe it will go away or we'll sort it out later.

Making a Break

Each of us is born into a family or a situation that already has a code and a belief system that works to some degree. For those of us who are adventurous enough-or unhappy enough-to search for personal fulfillment, we may find we are attracted to interests, cultures, lifestyles, or beliefs that don't jibe with past conditioning. Usually, without any conscious intention to upset the status quo, we find that we're "not in Kansas anymore, Toto," as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz once said. One of the most poignant interviews I had was a few years ago with a teacher named Jim who lived in the Mid-west. His wife was also a teacher and one day they were looking over the salary schedule for teachers. He said, "My wife looked at it and was excited to know that every year she would receive a 5% pay raise and would retire at 65 with a pension. We had just bought a house and all the furniture we would ever need, and when I thought about how the next forty years were all mapped out for me, I got profoundly depressed."

By his family's standards, Jim and his wife had everything. He said that given his family's outlook, he would have found it easier to commit suicide than to get a divorce. Eventually, he told his family he was going west to give himself a chance to pursue his dreams of being a comedian. As painful as the decision was, he later divorce, met the love of his life, and now is active in spiritual teachings and is a master of ceremonies in a comedy club. Jim's need to live an authentic life was literally a life or death issue.

Inner Listening-Alert Presence

The voice of the authentic self seems to be the same as the intuitive voice, that quiet, but persistent voice that whispers new ideas to us in the middle of the night, on vacation, or after meditating. Intuition speaks in short, clear messages that are qualitatively different from the repetitive mind chatter that makes us feel anxious. Intuition tells us where the authentic choice is-for us.

When we are birthing a more authentic version of ourselves-especially when we are unconsciously growing away from the familiar unspoken contracts and agreements we have with people, we experience some or all of the following feelings, which Rae expressed in our conversation. I asked her to state what she does not want as the first step in identifying what she does want. She said, "I don't want to be dependent on anyone. I don't want to feel unsure of myself. I don't want to be tired all the time. I don't want to be negative, to always see the down side, or to expect the worst. I don't want to be a fearful worry wart. I don't want to be a people-pleaser. I don't want to feel that I am not being authentic."

In a recent article in Noetic Sciences Review (March-May 2003), Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, says, "More and more, you realize that you are not your thoughts, because they come and go. They're all conditioned; they're all just the contents of your mind. Instead of deriving a sense of self from those contents, you realize that you can simply observe the contents. A deeper sense of self arises then. That is the aware presence, and it feels very spacious and peaceful, no matter what happens in your mind."

Below is a list of some of feelings that comprise a syndrome of inauthenticity- which occurs when our inner needs, values, and self-image don't match our outer expression, behaviors, and accomplishments-and some major characteristics of an authentic person.

Inauthentic Self
  • Feels anxious
  • Is a people-pleaser
  • Second guesses every decision
  • Rationalizes
  • Is rigid
  • Wants to impress others
  • Says or does things he regrets
  • Doesn't expect much
  • Placates
  • Hides or denies feelings
  • Feels like a victim
  • Is paralyzed or hyperactive
  • Uses addictive behavior
  • Confused and overwhelmed
  • Feels helpless or hopeless
  • Is depressed or angry
  • Trapped in endless mind chatter
  • Authentic Self
  • Feels optimistic
  • Is honest and open
  • Commits but is flexible
  • Thinks for himself
  • Goes with the flow, open to change
  • Wants to do her best
  • Knows when to apologize
  • Knows how to accept and receive
  • Negotiates
  • Listens to feelings
  • Takes responsibility
  • Acts when appropriate
  • Makes healthy choices
  • Knows when to stop and reevaluate
  • Knows how to ask for help
  • Feels happy a lot of the time
  • Tuned to a larger field of intelligence
  • Challenging Situations

    It's easy to assume that once you learn the secret of authenticity, you are going to be confident, balanced, wise, and resourceful all the time! However, some situations carry more stress, which may cause us to regress into old patterns. Think of the times you have attended cocktail parties, business meetings, job interviews, high school reunions, and blind dates. These are the Authenticity Olympics for most of us!! Begin to notice with which friends you feel more yourself-more authentic. You may feel more comfortable in small gatherings--or oddly enough, meeting a stranger on a plane where you find yourself spilling out feelings you haven't shared even with family members. It's easier to be authentic when your identity is secondary to other actions, like chatting with the owner of an adorable and friendly dog. A good sign that you are feeling authentic is when you feel expanded and relaxed. Feeling hemmed in or contracted is a sign that you are shutting down and not being as present as you could be.

    Start Now

    Becoming a self-confident, happy, and fulfilled person who uses her talents to create prosperity and well-being--as well as to give service to others--is a life-long task. How might you increase your sense of being truly authentic?

  • MEDITATE. Practice clearing the mind regularly. Observe passing thoughts as if they were clouds.
  • SPECIFY THE FEAR. When you feel fear about some new action or decision, write down exactly what you are afraid might happen. Get very clear about the shape of the fear and what you are actually dealing with.
  • FIND THE ROOT. Ask yourself, Whose voice is talking to me? Who is making me afraid? Is it my voice? My parents? The voice of mass media?
  • MANAGE AROUND THE FEAR. Write down specific things you could do to work around the fear so that you can take a small step in spite of it.
  • DROP SELF-DOUBT. The best way to feel good about yourself is to complete something that you have been putting off, or to set one small goal and achieve it. Nothing begins to erase self-doubt more easily than a little string of successes.
  • LOOK FOR A THIRD SOLUTION. Whenever you are agonizing over two choices, remember that this polarization serves a purpose-to keep you from taking any step. When lost in black and white thinking, look for a third option.
  • APPRECIATE YOUR UNIQUENESS. Everyone has a special knack, talents, and skills. Everyone.
  • STOP STRUGGLING. There is a time for perseverance and a time to let go.
  • ENJOY THE MOMENT. Take delights in small pleasures and beauty. Be with people you love and enjoy.
  • TAKE TIME. Slow down. Avoid the tendency to fill up the space.
  • STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE. Nothing drains energy more than suppressing action, passion, and commitment.
  • SIMPLIFY. Troubles arise when we set ourselves up to do too many things or to manage too much stuff. Being authentic is being able to say yes when you mean it and no when you need to.
  • SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE. The beauty, quiet, and harmony of nature helps you observe your thoughts as separate from who you are. Natural surroundings help put options into perspective. Peaceful sounds of birds, flowing water, wind, and waves lull the mental chatter and clear the mind. To quote Eckhart Tolle, "When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual, there is a depth of feeling of sensing, of compassion, of loving that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth."
  • You need not make huge changes in your life to experience being more alert and present. Acting on any one of the choices above can immediately change how you experience your life.

     
    THE TRICKLE UP EFFECT

    Change the World - From Your Living Room Are you craving to have a more fulfilling life? Is the world situation motivating you to make a difference somewhere, somehow? Last month Women of Vision

    organized an international focus on women. All over the world, women gathered together for celebrations, meditations, and festivities. At one such gathering - Gather the Women - in Oakland, California, I met CARMEL JUD. She had a booth featuring beautiful jewelry, crafts and textiles from around the world. Even more impressive was her personal story.

    Carmel and her husband Brian have an advertising research and production company called Carmel Jud Creative Group. Carmel told me that in the past two years, her life has undergone a complete change of focus. She feels she has found a fulfilling purpose. Her epiphany began with books, of course!

    Carmel told me, “There were three key books that played a role in the big changes in my life. The first was Deepak Chopra’s, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I opened the book to the place where he asks, ‘If you had all the time and the money in the world, what would you do?’ and ‘How are you best suited to serve humanity?’ I was shocked to realize that, even though I felt successful in my business, I couldn’t answer those questions. Suddenly, I had a burning desire to have the answers. to those questions. This began a two-year quest. During that time I read your book, Find Your Purpose, Change Your Life. The exercises helped me identify my values and priorities. I knew that I needed to do something people-oriented. I wanted to help in a hands-on way. And I wanted to be part of something big.

    “After the events of 911, I was drawn to the plight of Afghani women. I researched online and found Mavis Leno’s (comedian Jay Leno’s wife) organization, which sells crafts made by Afghani women in refugee camps. I volunteered to sell the crafts at home parties.

    “Shortly after I started doing the parties I found a third inspirational book, In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing the World by Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle. This book opened my eyes even further. I learned that poverty has a woman’s face. 1.3 billion people in the world survive on less than a dollar a day. Seventy percent are women. It isn’t just Afghani women, but women all over the world who suffer needlessly. The book showed me that many of these women are rising above their circumstances by creating and selling beautiful crafts imbued with the heart and soul of their lives and cultures.

    “One part of this book that really struck me," Carmel says, “is the information on what they call ‘the sequence of results’ when women earn money and educate children. A 1995-1999 United Nations research study revealed that when women in developing countries earn an income, it triggers an incredible sequence of events. For example:

     

  • birth rates drop
  • infant and maternal mortality are reduced
  • family planning increases
  • nutrition, health, and life expectancy are enhanced
  • housing and sanitation improve
  • the gross domestic product grows
  • “This was a revelation. I suddenly realized that real change in the world can happen. We can change the world by giving women the opportunity to make money for themselves and for their families. We can reduce population and world hunger, increase health, sanitation, and education by assisting the entrepreneurial endeavors of women!

    “I suddenly had the elements I needed to pursue my original goal of working with people, doing it in a hands-on way, and being part of something really big!”

    The Cultural Creatives

    Carmel’s story is a perfect example of following the subtle calling of one’s life purpose, and changing the world by becoming one of the new forces of influence - defined as the Cultural Creatives by Paul Ray, Ph.D. and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D. in their fascinating book The Cultural Creatives.

    If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it as way to understand the cultural revolution going on in the US. In brief, the authors describe three distinct streams of influence in America: the Traditionalists (exemplified by leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Pope John Paul II), the Modernists (people like George H.W. Bush, Ted Kennedy, Trent Lott), and the Cultural Creatives (Barbara Boxer, Vaclav Havel, Martin Luther King, Jr.). The authors claim there are at least 50 million Cultural Creatives in the US. Their characteristics are detailed in the book, and my hunch is that most of you reading this article are part of this subculture. Cultural Creatives are defined by their values and buying choices. They value a lifestyle that is a reflection of their interests in alternative medicine, healthy nutrition, other cultures and educational travel, the environment, ecology and recycling, books, authenticity, and personal and spiritual growth.

    Ray and Anderson write, “Cultural Creatives are at the leading edge of some of the most interesting developments in American culture…There can be no step-by-step description about how to become a Cultural Creative. It is a process of culture-making with tens of millions of people doing it in their own ways... They want a ‘new deal,’ a chance to remake their lives and our institutions around deeper values. By doing so, they may be developing a culture that will sustain us and our children’s children over the long term.”

    First Step: An Inner Departure

    You may have already taken the first step in becoming a Cultural Creative. Ray and Anderson call this first step an “inner departure” from the entrancement of the dominant culture. This happened for Carmel when something inside prompted another look at Chopra’s book, where she is transfixed by two questions (not unlike the archetype of the Hero(ine's) mythic quest.

    Second Step: Setting Out

    Off she goes into the world to find her answers. This is the second step in a Cultural Creative’s journey, what Ray and Anderson term “setting out.” The catalyzing awakening of 9/11 and her attraction to the plight of Afghani women (which was widely dispersed through Internet messages and public focus by other Cultural Creatives doing their thing) led her to follow through with research, synchronistically finding a way to get more involved. At this point she is working on blind intuition and feeling her way into a deeper commitment, which will come later. The path of Cultural Creatives is fraught with not-knowingness and uncertainty. You are a pioneer and are creating new solutions.

    Third Step: Confronting the Critic(s)

    Interestingly, when Carmel wrote down a list of options that appealed to her, working with women’s crafts was at the top of the list, but she didn’t start working on it right away. Carmel says, “At first, I resisted the idea of the crafts business because it was my first idea, and it seemed to come too easily. I sort of thought, ‘This can’t be it since finding my life work will take a lot more searching. I pursued several other ideas like doing corporate team building, doing a non-profit flower delivery, and setting up a greeting card line. But nothing clicked. I kept being haunted by the craft idea, and I continued to host the Afghani parties.” Part of this resistance may be a form of the third step outlined by Ray and Anderson, called Confronting the Critics. Our dreams and vision may seem too radical or impractical, either by people we share it with, or by our own initial fears and ego reaction. We experience resistance during a testing period to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Fourth Step: Turning Your Values Into a New Way of Life

    When the fourth step occurs, it’s time for the Cultural Creative to do what Ray and Anderson call, “turning your values into a new way of life.” Carmel says, “One day I told my husband, ‘I have to launch this idea.' On May 11, 2002 I formed an organization called Rising International.”

    Carmel’s goal is to promote economic development for impoverished women and families around the world by sharing their stories and selling their handmade crafts at home parties. By doing this she feels she is nurturing the spirit of connection between all people and cultures while actively supporting Fair Trade. She says, “There is a sense that these women have reached out over mountains and oceans to share their story with us.”

    When It’s Right, Synchronicities Support Action

    How does she find the craft items? I asked. Carmel recounts the amazing flow of synchronicities that occurred once she became truly committed to her new direction. “The connections just seemed to fall my way. For instance, I met various Peace Corps volunteers at trade shows and at my home parties who helped connect us to women in different countries. We find people from developing countries in our communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, and invite them to speak for a fee at our parties. For example, we’ve had local women from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal come into living rooms and share their stories and experiences in their home countries. The impact their stories have on people is so powerful. When a complete stranger shares his or her life story, people begin to soften and let down their guard. They begin to care. When more and more people begin to care about all the people in the world, that’s when transformation happens in ripples.”

    New Values and Creativity

    How do Carmel and her husband support themselves and fund her new business? I asked. “I am still working in advertising, but I’m more selective. Even though my income has dropped drastically, I’ve reduced my living expenses so that I can put more time and energy into RISING. Brian and I were renting a house for $3,000 a month. A friend heard about our new company and gave us a free place to live in a remodeled barn. We have a smaller house but I’m happier. We have everything we need, and we are blessed with a lot of volunteers who help us with RISING. My happiness doesn’t come just from how much money I’m making. When you really believe in something, it seems like resources appear just when you need them. There have been a lot of big and little financial miracles that happened, almost mysteriously, to smooth the way.

    “I look at money and spending very differently now. For example, in my previous life I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending $200 on dinner. Now, I look at that amount and think, ‘how far could $200 go in buying materials for women to create their handicrafts—like jewelry, textiles, tablecloths, wall hangings, pillow cases, baby booties, shawls, scarves, and purses. Or how could I use that money to pay someone to speak?”

    So far, Carmel has done little traveling to find handicrafts, as some artisans now have access to email. For example, in Indonesia she orders goods from a German woman who organizes a women’s co-op. Carmel emphasizes that all crafts are bought by fair trade importers. Fair trade insures that the artisan is paid a fair wage, that they are paid in advance, and that there is a long-term trade relationship to avoid exploitation. So far her fair trade home parties have been in California, but plans are underway to expand nationwide.

    Opportunities to Get Involved

    How can others get involved? She says, “I invite anyone to call me if they are interested in putting together a gathering in their area. I am also looking for funding to create a catalog and collect enough inventory so that we can expand nationwide. I’d love to have volunteers with expertise in catalog design. Our website is under development, but I need someone like a project manager to design, print, and distribute the catalog. The next phase is collecting, organizing, and storing inventory that can be shipped to home party representatives. Our plan is to offer women in the US the opportunity to have their own business selling these crafts. We’re doing a pilot program right now that’s working very well."

    Keep the Vision

    Carmel says, “I know this organization is going to develop widely because even though we are brand-new and do no advertising, people keep calling me every day to find out how they can get involved. We are currently working with a non-profit De Solay Daywa (Afghani for Torch of Peace) to send over 100 containers filled with much-needed supplies collected from all over the San Francisco Bay Area—items such as warm clothing, tents, buckets, cooking utensils, and medical supplies for the people of Afghanistan, because they have nothing. It’s hard to start a business when your children are starving and dying in the snow. We are planning to be there when containers arrive to oversee distributions.

    “Every day is so exciting. I continue to hear about new women’s groups. Yesterday I picked up crafts from Lithuania — darling little baby booties. Tomorrow I’ll be picking up jewelry from Nepal. Then I’ll meet with a fair trade importer involved with Hungarian women living in Romania who are making pillow cases out of cotton and hemp with hand-woven thread.

    If You Have A Dream, Take Action to Make It Real

    Carmel encourages others to follow their heart. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who hear about what I’m doing, and share with me their own dreams, but are afraid to take that first step. They say they are confused or in the dark, but when I ask them what they think would be one first step, there usually is something they’ve been thinking about doing. I’ve come to believe that the worst thing about the first step is not taking it. I tell them to trust that idea and do it.” Carmel reflects, “I like to think that if three million women can sell Avon products, imagine what three million women could do by selling crafts to improve the lives of the poorest women in the world.”

    CONTACT INFO:

    CARMEL JUD
  • (831) 722-2141
  • carmel@risinginternational.com
  • www.risinginternational.com
  • Happy April,
    Carol Adrienne

     
    LAW OF ATTRACTION

    It was only The thin thread of a cloud, Almost transparent, Leading me along the way Like an ancient sacred song. Yosano Akiko / River of Stars: Selected Poems

    No matter what your day is like today, be alert for information in your emails or in your conversations that excites you-even minutely. This excitement is your intuition alerting you to something that might be to your advantage.

    Pay Attention to What Intrigues You

    A couple of months ago, I received an email from LISA LOVE, founder of SoultoSpirit.com. She announced that she would be hosting teleclasses through her site and that if people wanted to lead classes, she suggested they get training from TeleClass International. I immediately liked the idea of conducting a class on the telephone for a group (and will be offering a free one soon) because it means I'll have the ability to work with people I might not be able to reach by physical travel. For instance, some of you have asked me when I was coming to do a seminar in your area in such places as Colorado, Michigan, New England, Rome, Germany, and Finland. Meeting on the telephone helps all of us-less expensive for participants and less physically taxing for me.

    Follow Up

    Following up on my interest in Lisa Love's email led me to meet MICHAEL LOSIER, co-founder of TeleClass International. I took his tele leader training and absolutely loved it. I learned exactly what I need to know to make telephone classes interactive, fun and content-rich. (By the way, the synchronicity between us-besides good timing-is that we also share the same birthday-January 22!)

    After the tele leader training, I decided to take another tele class with Michael called Law of Attraction. Michael is a personal and business coach who teaches people--in his own words-- "How to attract what they want and stop attracting what they don't want." Many of you by now are familiar with Law of Attraction-the idea that like attracts like. Michael has developed some unique and very powerful techniques that, if you understand and use them, will increase your ability to attract what you want, and stop attracting what you don't want. I'm assuming you would like to have perhaps a great love relationship in your life, a wonderful career in line with your purpose, more money, more clients, better health, a stable financial flow, and opportunities to make a difference in the world.

    Curiosity Draws You Forward

    I asked Michael how he got started in his career. He says, "In mid-1999 I was conducting tele classes on how to be a successful trade show exhibitor. I noticed that out of about one hundred tele leaders, all of whom were from the States, I was the only Canadian. I was curious about who else in Canada was doing tele classes, so one day I did a search on the Internet. Rebecca Hanson's email came up. She was teaching tele classes on web design. I contacted her and our first conversation lasted two hours. She is a web designer and I am a seminar leader, and we just felt we were an ideal business match. We knew right away that we wanted to work together. I had been consulting for years in trade show exhibition and marketing, and people had already been hiring me to teach them how to be a tele leader, so we knew there was a growing need in this area. Within two weeks we came up with a business concept and a logo and formed TeleClass International. As soon as we got clear about each step we needed to do, everything started falling into place."

    Desire and Excitement Create the Flow

    I asked Michael how he and Rebecca handled the finances involved in starting a new business, because so many people feel they have to have a lot of money to start up a new venture. He responds, "The funny thing is, we didn't need any investment money because we were working with Law of Attraction-a philosophy which I had been practicing for years. As soon as I met Rebecca, I shared the concepts with her. Almost immediately, both of us could feel and see how things were flowing in based on our enthusiasm and love of what we were creating together.

    Anything You Focus on Expands

    Michael notes, "I was introduced to Law of Attraction in 1996, and I formed a little group to study it. At that time, none of us thought about applying it to the business world. Simply put, Law of Attraction (LOA) states that whatever you give your energy to, by the law of attraction (like attracts like), you will receive more of it, whether wanted or unwanted. For example, when Rebecca and I worried about class registrations being low, then few people enrolled. When we worried about not having enough income, our income was low. When we complained about not having enough clients--guess what--we got that, too.

    "In the early part of my career," continues Michael, "I was trained as a business coach. I taught people how to build their business through traditional methods, such as marketing, sending out flyers, buying advertising, having compelling signage and so forth--all the usual strategies which do work to a greater or lesser degree but also inevitably take lots of time, effort, and money. However, as I started getting results from my understanding and use of LOA, I naturally wanted to share that with my business clients."

    In 2000 Michael stopped traditional business coaching completely. Since then his coaching is exclusively on LOA-although it seems he can't help sharing practical tips and strategies about trade show marketing, or writing good titles for classes, or what needs to go on business cards-all free resources for students of Tele Class International. He says, "For years I felt I had to work covertly with Law of Attraction because I wasn't sure people would accept it. Ironically, this week, I was hired to be a keynote speaker at a Canadian government conference and they purchased 100 of my Law of Attraction books! Imagine, the Canadian government and metaphysics!

    Vibrations are Feelings

    "Recently," Michael says, "I was a presenter at a professional men's drug and alcohol program. At first the men were stuck on what I meant by feelings, but by the end of the class they had completely gotten the message. The fact that these men--who are normally so in their heads--really got in touch with their feelings really excites me. In order to understand LOA, you have to understand that your feelings are vibrations that radiate out from you whether or not you know it. Some people--often men--say,"I don't get feelings. I think about things. I don't know what you mean by feelings." So I asked the group, 'When you heard I was coming to talk about this subject today what kind of mood did that put you in?' A couple of people said, 'Oh, we were excited about it. We were looking forward to it.' I told them, 'Excitement is a feeling. Looking forward to something is a positive feeling.'"

    Results Match Your Mental/Emotional State of Being

    Michael makes an important point. While your thoughts and feelings are both creative forces in your life, feelings affect your energy field to an even greater degree than what you are thinking. On the one hand, what you think and believe is a measure of your self-esteem, past experience, and what you are choosing to give attention to. On the other hand, feelings set the tone for what you receive from the universal energy field. When you feel insufficient-i.e., not smart enough or physically attractive-it limits your results accordingly. Likewise, if you don't think something is possible, you are not going to recognize an opportunity when it comes.

    Law of Attraction is universal and non-judgmental. A newspaper article caught my eye the other day. An eighty-three-year-old man was found beaten to death in a poor area of San Francisco. The article said relatives remembered that everyday the old man prayed to be kept safe from wicked people (Carol's italics). I wondered how often and with what intensity he prayed, and if he specifically always included "wicked people" in his prayer. According to Law of Attraction, we want to limit attention to what we don't want and ask for what we do want-such as a peaceful and enjoyable day. This is not to say that everything in our life is there because of a conscious motivation, or that people create cancer because they are not positive enough. We can't always know the deeper spiritual lessons at work in our life, but as we grow in spiritual understanding, we understand that there are no accidents and something is always being worked out for a reason.

    Michael reflects, "Wayne Dyer (Manifest Your Destiny) says that you can get what you want by thinking positively and affirming what you want. But I challenge that. I think we don't always get what we want, but we do always get what we vibrate. Results are always a perfect match for you. The first thing to learn about how to stop getting what we don't want, is to focus only very briefly on what we don't like." Contrary to our ego's tendency for blame, self-criticism, and belittling others--or "working hard" to solve problems--dwelling on problems and blocks is completely counter-productive.

    "When you work with Law of Attraction consciously, your life is going to change in surprisingly wonderful ways," Michael says. "I've noticed that when I work on an issue with a client, I'll get results in my own life. For example, one time I was working with a client who's a coach, and he wanted to attract more clients. We spent a half hour using LOA verbal and written techniques. When I got off the phone with him, I had two messages waiting for me from people who had called to hire me. The lesson here is that LOA didn't know I was working to help someone else attract more clients. It just responded to the vibration of attracting clients. That's why things show up in your life that your buddy just told you he was looking for."

    How to Stop Creating Problems: Eliminate the Words Don't, Not and No

    As a first step in changing your attraction frequency, Michael suggests the following practice: Eliminate the words don't, not, and no from your vocabulary for three days. "Language is powerful. Listen to yourself in conversations. To what are you giving attention? When we use the words don't ('I don't like my job.'), not ('I'm not happy.'), no ('I'm afraid no one will show up for my presentation.'), we are actually giving attention to what we don't want. When you say, 'I don't like negative people,' you just gave attention to people being negative to you. LOA is obedient. It will give you more of what you dwell on. When you eliminate these words for three days, you'll find that it immediately makes you more present. It forces you to think of what you do want. You begin to feel and sound more decisive. Some of you may notice, for example, that when you decrease your judgments about people, negative colleagues don't come by your desk as often. Maybe your friends or family are unexpectedly easier to get along with--so much so that you notice it."

    What Do You Want?

    So what do you do when you catch yourself in conversation saying don't, not, or no? "Simply ask yourself, 'So what do I want?'" says Michael. "At first you'll need to remember to do this, but eventually it will become a new habit. It's a great way to stop the cycle of complaining from negative friends or family. Bring to mind somebody in your life who tends to dump all their problems on you. Next time you hear them go on and on about their problems, simply ask them 'So what do you want?' As they start to describe what they want, their words will change and so will their vibration. You won't feel their negativity anymore. It's a fact that you can't hold two vibrations at the same time."

    Reframe Your Reality so You Can Pave the Way for a New Match

    Michael says, "I have a friend who didn't like referring to himself as being unemployed. We reframed it so he could say: 'I'm employable.' The words changed and so did his vibration. He was thrilled and excited about the possibility of being employed.

    "Change doesn't take twenty-one days. Change takes a minute. We can take a minute to change vibrationally, and change will take place. If you're curious about what you are vibrating in any area of your life, just take a look in that area and see what you're getting. It's a perfect match."

    You Make a Difference

    If you want to do something to benefit the planet, begin today to put these spiritual ideas into practice. Millions of people have been expressing a collective desire for peace. You can help manifest that desire by remembering to focus your language on peace (not anti-war). How about shifting prayers and bumper stickers to: Promote Peaceful Solutions or Increase Peace rather than being Against The War in Iraq. Talking about The War in Iraq is counterproductive since, at this moment of writing, war in Iraq does not exist. Why give it a shape?

    Have fun playing with these ideas. I highly recommend Michael's new book, LAW OF ATTRACTION. This how-to manual emphasizes all the points you need to know in order to understand and use LOA immediately. I am including some of his techniques in my coaching and Life Plan consultations.

    Happy March,
    Carol Adrienne

     
    ON BALANCE

    January is an important month for the spirit. Named after Janus, an ancient Roman god of doorways, of beginnings, and of the rising and setting of the sun, the first month of the year gives us the opportunity for reflection. Like the two back-to-back bearded faces of Janus looking in opposite directions, during January we tend to look back at what we accomplished in the last year (or didn’t), and look forward to what we hope to create and experience in the new one. We can’t help but think about time. Passing. Moving on. Running out. Picking up speed. Slowing to a crawl. We wonder how we can use our time to balance the pressures of job, relationships, family, creativity, finances, alone time, and good health.

    Letting Balance Come Into Being

    Since my birthday is in January, I connect the month with being one year older. Firmly within my sixth decade now, I’ve started noticing something I hadn’t expected. When I was in my twenties and thirties--despite the usual old-age jokes and general bad-mouthing of the aging process by which we keep our fears at bay--slowing down in later life seemed like it could actually be a blessing. This past year, I’ve found some unexpected gifts that just might be the result of years of simmering (warmed by many risings and settings of the sun). For example, I now catch myself becoming less concerned about small things. The other day I washed two sets of curtains and they both shrank about six inches and no longer meet the floor in a graceful way. I don’t exactly think of myself as a control freak, but in the young days, I might have bought or sewn new ones or taken the hems down. Now, I’m content to leave them and read my mystery novel instead. The curtains in themselves are inconsequential, but what interests me more is that I have somehow changed without trying to. I’ve noticed that I don’t have much “drama” in my life anymore, and therefore, I’m less prone to moods and uncertainty. The process of life never stops in us, even when we think we really aren’t doing anything momentous.

    The New Year brings the idea that we should be taking more control, that we should be meeting our goals in a more focused way. That we should find a goal! That we should become disciplined. And again and again we ask ourselves: How can I find a good balance this year?

    Those of you who know my writing know that I am a big fan of the idea of Intention and Creating the Life You Want to Live. However, I think it’s also important to remember that time can reveal priorities that weren’t part of our conscious focus. For the past fifteen years, career has been the major focus of my life along with keeping good connections with friends and family. But last year I’ve become the grandmother of two boys and a girl. It never occurred to me that this new role would be so rich and intrinsically rewarding. The chance to be another kind of parent again—a grand parent—furnishes a new playing field. Making time to be with these kids and even provide a little babysitting relief for my own children gives me so much joy and fills up my life to the brim. Suddenly, serendipitously, there is a new sweet balance.

    Balance Or Perfection?

    One of the most common questions in my seminars is about achieving balance in work and life. Laudable as the goal is, I sometimes wonder if the idea of balance masks an unrealistic expectation of perfection, as in: Why don’t I have it all, right now? The perfect career that is both meaningful and highly paid, financial security, an ever-supportive soul mate, the perfect body weight and tone, offspring that do me proud, and time to pursue my creative vision, recognition and global contribution. All at the same time.

    Many factors contribute to shaping our idea of balance. We compare ourselves to others; television, magazines, and films create cravings and expectations. We feel that something is wrong or incomplete, but haven’t a clue as to where the answer lies. At the deepest level, the concept of balance is the desire to reconnect with what matters to us personally and to differentiate ourselves from the social and economic pressures which force us to make choices we don’t like. When our lives are out of balance, perhaps we are...

     

  • ...making one area the focus of all our attention because we unconsciously think our survival or our identity depends on it;

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  • ...ignoring warning signs like fatigue, irritation, increasing impatience, and feelings of overwhelm;

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  • ...focusing on problems and unintentionally narrowing “optional” activities that might be lucrative, fun, or healthy—exactly what is needed to provide balance.

  • When things feel out of balance, we tend to try harder to control things or other people and this usually makes us feel busier. Feeling burdened and scattered, we worry and feel guilty. We tend to either think we have to change everything in our life at once and start completely over, or, on the other hand, feel that life is just this way and there is no way to change it. I like it when Dr. Phil — the television psych-evangelist — looks into the eye of the people who have come to seek his advice and says, “Let me ask you one question. Is this working for you?” Acknowledgement is the first step to change. We can change by admitting that we are out of control and by changing our behavior. If we learn from our mistakes, changes will occur. Sometimes, time brings the best changes of all.

    Tips For Balance In The New Year

     

  • Realize that balance is an overall goal, and may not be felt every single day. Realistically, some days are more packed than others, but the key is not to let imbalance go on for too long of a stretch. Somewhere in the week, you need downtime and fun time.

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  • Pinpoint the motivation behind the choices that have led to your current situation. For example, Sharon, a thirty-eight-year-old woman with a husband, two children, and a busy fitness practice regretted agreeing to teach an exercise class on Saturdays at a friend’s aerobic studio. She felt that the class wasn’t well attended, wasn’t worth the time it took to do it, broke up her Saturday time at home with her family, and was somewhat boring. With all these negatives, she was beating herself up for agreeing to teach for six months. Reflecting on why she made the decision, she realized she was trying to maintain her reputation as being a person who kept her word. Realizing this motivation helped her to make peace with her decision but also to be aware of not over-committing in the future.

  •  

  • Pay attention to what you are doing right. What part of your life is really on track? Determine what factors account for your satisfaction, and write them down. For example, if you are happy in your personal friendships notice how much time you spend and how much commitment you have to keeping up those connections. Use your imagination to see how you could use those same specific factors to improve another area—maybe in finding a romantic partner.

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  • Stop blaming others or outside conditions for your stress. You can’t control what others think or do.

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  • Say no. Let go of trying to do the impossible (working marathon hours, for example). Ask the Universe for a better solution.

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  • When something bad happens, reserve judgment and hold the old Zen idea, "It could be good. It could be bad."

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  • Try yoga and meditation. Personally, yoga has been a deep source of balance in my physical and emotional life. I can’t recommend it enough.

  • While balance is an admirable goal, there are many things worth doing in this world that may unbalance your schedule from time to time. Only you know what’s truly important to you—or you will know after painful experiences when balance has been upset. Take on the next challenge with all your heart. The important thing is to keep the heart open.

    I wish everyone a very, very happy New Year.

     
    THE SYNCHRONICITY EXPRESS

    We often try to understand synchronicities or a sudden idea in terms of what they mean in our lives. However, it might be that in special cases a gripping intuition or a sudden flow of synchronicities is in the service of someone else. We may be getting information that will be a gift for another person. In my last month's November 2002 column, I mentioned Chicago band leader STEVE COOPER and his amazing propensity for synchronistic events. Well, the story continues as Steve recently found out that an intuition turned out to be a gift for someone he first met on an old television show.

    As you may remember, Steve has been a lifelong fan of Lawrence Welk, a bandleader who rose to fame on television in the 1950's and 1960's. Steve sent me this email this week. (I added the subheadings.)

    Listen To The Little Voice

    "A few months ago, I received some more old Lawrence Welk films from a collector. While watching a 1959 show, there was a really good guest singer named Pat. There was something special about her. I reran her portion and watched it several times. Besides having that "All-American" voice, she acted out the words with her eyes, gestures, etc. I thought, she should have been a really 'big time' singer - she was up there with all the greats. A little voice in me said that she would love to see this film. All of a sudden, I felt like I was on this mission to find her - it was like she was supposed to have this film! I looked her up on the Internet, and I finally found a little story about her singing in North Dakota in the early 1950's. I followed this up with emails, but no one knew what had happened to her in the last 45 years. Then, I found a website in England that was distributing a brand new CD she made. I emailed them to see if they had her address but never received a reply.

    Focus And Then Forget About It

    "I kept thinking about this for weeks, and I was sure I'd never find her. I ordered her CD and thought maybe that would have an address. I knew I'd have to wait over a month for that CD from England. I put all this stuff out of my mind and forgot about it for awhile.

    Go In The Direction That Feels Positive Or Interesting

    "About a week later, I went to my local 'new age' bookstore. They were having a gentleman from India who is billed as Wayne Dyer's guru. I thought it might be good. I went to the lecture, and he talked about manifesting. At the end of the lecture, he said we would all manifest what we wanted soon.

    "The next day, I was getting the mail and I saw an envelope with Patty Clark's name on the return address. I started shaking! I thought 'This can't be. It's impossible.' I'm trying to find her for weeks; I say a manifestation prayer and SHE sends me a letter!

    "She wrote that her record company contacted her and told her I have an old film of hers. Well, she was thrilled because her entire house burned down in 1970 and she lost everything! She was so thrilled to have something from her past. It turns out she DID have a big career until the middle 60's - then she decided to have a family. She's only now getting back into singing.

    You Never Know What Will Become Relevant

    When I got the CD, I noticed she sang on a Glenn Miller summer series in 1961. I thought to myself , 'Wait a minute - I've got an old audiotape of those shows someone sent me 30 years ago - I never listened to it." I immediately found it on my shelf and saw there were many of the shows she did. I copied the tape and sent it to her along with the video.

    You Are In A Soul Group Network

    "After I sent her the tapes, I started looking on the Internet again, and found a foreign site that had videotapes of her entire Miller series. I sent him an email and got an instant reply that the gentleman who distributes the tapes lives in the United States. He gave me his address and soon I will have the entire series on video for Patty Clark. And another amazing coincidence - the guy who owned those rare videos has almost the same exact name as me!

    "For someone looking for months to contact another person and then have all these things fall into place in the space of a few days is pretty amazing. I've since called Pat and we've talked several times about the music business and other musical things. I just recently found an old TV guide (on Ebay) and she was on the cover. So I'll soon have that for her. She says I'm like an angel who just showed up one day and started giving her all the things she lost in the fire from the past. I've had this intuitive feeling before while watching old videos. I think I told you, Carol, the story of the daughter of the Welk musician I contacted over a year ago. We found out we were born the same year, same day and same time! She now sends me birthday cards 'to my long lost twin brother.' AND....she married a gentleman named Robert Nichols. When she calls my caller ID says "R Nichols." And of course, the jazz trumpet player Red Nichols is the whole reason why I'm in the music business."

    Stay Tuned

    Steve wrote me another email that shows just how quickly synchronicities can appear in our lives if we stay alert. Steve writes,

    "I just wanted to tell you about four things that just happened earlier today - all within a half hour. I was leaving the doctor's office today (in my car) and turned on the radio. They were talking to a local comedian named Emo. I used to know him and couldn't remember his last name and 10 seconds later, I saw a huge sign "Phillip's Flowers." I thought to myself, 'that's it!!' His name is Emo Phillips. A few minutes later I saw a license plate that had the screen name of someone I was supposed to email tonight and a minute later I saw a license plate - the number on the plate was the same as a phone number I had called ALL MORNING - only to get a continual busy signal. Then I stopped at a gas station. The name badge on the cashier was KAHN. I had just come from the doctor's office. My regular doctor had gone home early and they gave me Dr. Kahn. I never heard that name before, and here was a cashier with the same name as my substitute doctor. Well, they're not blockbuster stories, but not bad for a half hour out of my day!"

    HAPPY GIFT GIVING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

     
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