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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Through the Looking Glass

The behavior we display to others when we are IN OUR POWER is usually strong, positive, considerate and compassionate.  
This behavior represents our very best self and is a JOY to behold.

However, when we are especially stressed by life's challenges or very low on energy because of certain  burdens or unresolved issues, our behavior can look very different.

Everyone experiences these times of dissonance as we struggle with the difficulties of the moment and, during these times, we may display some not-so-attractive behavior.

What a beautiful GIFT it is, then, when someone close to us can recognize that we are not at this moment our naturally bright and loving selves and may be challenging or uncomfortable to be around BECAUSE we are in pain or have overextended our energy and not listened to and honored the messages of our own body.

How wonderful to have someone in our lives recognize that when we display this kind of behavior, we are in distress...to have someone have a strong sense that  this is not the person they know us to be.

How easy is it for YOU to see through someone's moments of tumult and turmoil and connect with the beautiful soul underneath these outer (and often frustrating) trappings? 

Can you hold an image of love and caring when the words you hear seem so different?  

If  you can, what a beautiful gift to extend to someone...to be  able to honor their soul and spirit even while it labors under the duress of these difficult moments!

Here is Spirit's guidance to help us through this challenge:

Keep the highest/best moment you have ever had with that person strongly in your heart.  Know that this is what he is capable of and that some distress has intervened between that experience and what you are currently seeing.  Tell that person you sense that he may be encountering some stress and and offer your support if the person would like this from you.

Whenever  someone's light is not shining through, it is being obscured by unresolved pain.  We can recognize and minister to that pain by our LOVING ACCEPTANCE of however that moment is showing itself to us.
Everything that exists is love expressing itself the best way it knows how.  Sometimes that BEST WAY is cloaked in pain and a generous heart is needed to LOVE WHAT IS!

                                                                          Marie Helena

image from
Through the Looking Glass

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Art of Alchemy


In the ancient art of alchemy philosophers used the magical practice of turning base metals into gold or silver. This mysterious process transmutes a common material into a substance of great value.

Alchemy has a mystery to it...a sense of wonder and amazement.  We may ask ourselves how this transformation is possible.  It makes no sense to the intellect.  But the heart understands only too well.

The extraordinary ability to execute this amazing tour de force is one of our greatest abilities in earth school.  

When we access our hearts to find the wisdom regarding how to deal with the things that frustrate and irritate us...

we are gifted with insight and understanding...
we are gifted with a beautiful wisdom...
we are gifted with a soul view of what is playing out FOR US in our lives.

I use the words FOR US because everything we encounter exists to give us the opportunity to become stronger, wiser...more loving.

And when we generously extend our caring to others, we transform their lives as well.  

We communicate through our hearts.  We move through the emotional chaos, past the irritation and annoyance, past the feelings of hurt and anger.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, teacher and author, tells us:

When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.

We ARE capable of this courageous vision that Thich Nhat Hanh describes. 

It is certainly not easy to release our very human reactions to what has upset and hurt us.  But it is a glorious endeavor to reach deep within our hearts and see and understand another's pain...especially when the person himself may not know what is motivating his behavior. 

Holding this HIGHER VIEW even when the person involved cannot see his pain... or talk about it...IS responding to the message the person is sending.  And it is the beginning of helping activate the healing process for him.

In this way we, too, practice the ancient ART OF ALCHEMY, and in this beautiful moment, our practice is infused with a true understanding and reverence for the glorious capability and expression of our human spirit.

                                                                        Marie Helena

image from people.tribe.net.    

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


A beautiful, soft, delicate feather falls gently near you or lands perhaps on your shoulder. You notice it from the corner of your eye.  A sweet curiosity.  Within seconds, you brush it away and move on to the events of your day. But...have you missed an important message?

Perhaps that simple, sweet feather (metaphorically speaking) has been sent to catch your attention and bring your awareness to a message meant to Light Your Way. 
But, because you are so attached to your list of things you feel you should attend to, you fail to recognize its significance.

This "feather" may be the lyrics of a song you are listening to, a remark you happen to overhear while you are shopping, an inspiration which suddenly springs into your heart. 
The "feather" could be any number of seemingly insignificant moments, but, if you ignore or override the message or inspiring impulse because you are preoccupied with lists which have been assembled for you by the expectations of society or through your enculturation, you will miss the MESSAGE of this moment.  But you will not be abandoned by the loving Divine Universe.  It will persist in helping you become aware of the guidance so readily available from your Higher Self.  Feathers will continue to drift into your life.

Esther Hicks, American inspirational speaker and author, tells us that our lives are teeming with these gentle and often subtle hints and nudges but that we often fail to recognize them. 
Indeed, their  very existence is a glorious mystery. 

What could source such a delicate, ethereal, gossamer labyrinth connecting each of us with the exact messages we need to hear and interlacing them with the events going on in our lives and the people we are encountering?


We live in a universe of love and it is enveloping each of us in every moment whether we are aware of this or not. 

We are free to act however we choose, noticing these moments of Grace...or not.  

But...when we do become aware of the awesome devotion of the Divine Universe to enhance our well being and we become attentive to the guidance streaming so creatively into our lives, our journey becomes a joyful "listening" to the messages circling so fervently around and within our hearts.    

                                                           Marie Helena


image from kristaclement@prosite.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Opening Act


Just be a witness to whatever thoughts come in and you will begin to realize the veil that cloaks the mind.

Kwai Chee Low


One of our preoccupations that we find so easy to do is focusing on the words and actions of others.  And why wouldn't we...as those words and actions play a part in our lives.  We listen and watch and try to discern their meaning.  We ask ourselves why someone has reacted in this particular way.  Sometimes we seem to sense emotions the other is carrying that he himself is not even aware of. 

It's all part of our journey, learning to navigate what is happening in our lives. 
And these skills of observation and discernment can also be used to perform a task of even greater significance:  witnessing the thoughts that pass through OUR minds.  Witnessing them as an observer would, a third party, an objective reporter.  Instead of becoming embroiled in the emotional twists, turns and loops of the thoughts that arise in us, we can choose to "take note" of them instead.

When we objectively observe the landscape of those fractals of energy racing through our mind, we are amazed to see the "VOICES"  being expressed there.
The sound of "voices" we have been exposed to all of our lives...voices of those in authority, our family, friends, politicians, educators, supervisors, rule makers, religions, society, culture.  Those voices represent the many individual paths that have unfolded for myriads of individuals and collectively for countless groups.   Paths that serve THEIR purposes.  Paths offered with the intention to guide and educate others regarding the pitfalls these individuals and groups have experienced...teaching the lessons they have learned.  It's all so confusing...like little children we hear these voices telling their stories...and those stories heard and assimilated over and over eventually become our beliefs.

But the critical point here is that we must see the influence all of this well intentioned "info"mation has on us...how it can COVER and CLOAK the authentic, pure impulses which emanate from our true, loving nature.  Our impulses which, when recognized, embraced and treasured, genuinely lead and direct the actions of our lives.  These experiences are OURS...they emanate directly from our hearts...they feel uplifting, beautiful, joyful.  And they are often very different from the clutter of the "voices" which may be emanating from lessons not learned, pain held within, unhealed hurts.  The lessons being presented to us by others may be their view of self protection.  Subconscious messages...be sure you have the last word...leave before you are left...Everyone is out for himself.

When we are objectively able to identify  the voices being played and replayed in our minds, we can choose to bypass their influence and tap in, instead, to the pure, gentle, loving wisdom of our hearts.

 The "Opening Act" is designed to get our attentionNotice the hoopla, the cymbals and drums, the jangle of converging perspectives.  See it as an INTERESTING PARADE of impressions and beliefs you have adopted along the way.  Then prepare yourself for the engaging joy and beauty and bliss of listening with complete devotion to the messages of your own heart.


We can get to the deep essence of each engagement by witnessing, recognizing and acknowledging our mind's chatter and, then, afterwards, in silence and honoring, discern what feels beautiful and right to us.

                                                               Marie Helena

 image from carolgearing.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Teddy Bears Picnic

Several years ago my niece was scheduled to undergo some intensive surgery. She lives near Atlanta and I was not going to be able to travel there for the operation. But my heart was so powerfully with her and I tried very hard to come up with a way to let her know how much she was loved and cared for.
That’s when I thought of the teddy bears and how they could deliver the message to her.

Teddy bears have long been a wonderful expression of comfort and caring. They are something to hold on to…to draw strength from. This could be a way, I thought, for my niece to symbolically feel the concern of loved ones.

Family members all decided they wanted in on the fun and everyone sent my niece a teddy bear. They came from California, Ohio, Nebraska and Michigan. Each one was different, selected with love and special intent by individual family members. The bears made quite a motley crew of various colors with assorted ribbons and bow ties circling their necks. Before long, a parade of teddy bears was lined up in her hospital room, representing the prayers and caring hearts of a family who loved her.

After her stay in the hospital, my niece took the teddy bears home with her…a reminder of how she is always surrounded by bountiful good wishes and prayers...and quite a cast of eccentric teddy bear messengers.Even though my niece was an adult at the time of this surgery, her inner child really connected with the message. Clearly, we all need to feel deeply loved and comforted when we face our especially difficult challenges.

Is there a teddy bear parade or picnic (or other enchanting love symbol) waiting to enter your family’s or friends’ lives?

                                                                        Marie Helena

If you go down to the woods today,
You're in for a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today,
You'll never believe your eyes.
For every bear that ever there was,
Is gathered there for certain because,
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
words by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932
music by John W. Bratton in 1907

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Girl Who Moved to Italy

One of my favorite things to do is follow my daughter Rachel around as she makes her way in the world.

Rachel has always been adventurous. She first moved to Lansing, Michigan to attend Michigan State University, then trekked to Lafayette, Indiana for an extended stay while she got her master’s and doctoral degrees. After that she relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska to join the Communication Department at Nebraska Wesleyan University. It wasn’t very long after her move to Lincoln that Rachel bought a home there and became very busy in her off-teaching hours painting and refurbishing the place. After a couple of years Rachel was ready to enjoy another new extended travel experience and so, when an opportunity came up for her to experience a sabbatical year, she opted for Florence, Italy.

As her mother, I was excited and intrigued for her but also concerned. The girl did not speak Italian. Not at all. She aspired to learn some Italian before her move but only had the time to pick up a little of the language so I was very concerned that she would find herself in a country where she had no idea what was going on. I tried persistently to interest her in the idea of living somewhere where there was a housemother who spoke both English and Italian but Rachel was having none of it. She wanted a true Italian experience. She wanted to live in an authentic Italian apartment and encounter Italy on her own. Our gently spirited discussions ended in a compromise when she informed me she would be taking out special insurance so that she could be helicoptered to the states should there be a need for emergency help.

And so Rachel’s Italian sabbatical began. She moved to Florence in August and August in Florence is so hot that MOST of the residents leave the city for cooler places. In addition to the heat, there was an infestation at that time of some unique mosquitoes…..a species which apparently found Rachel especially delicious. And, by the way, there was no air conditioning in Rachel’s Italian apartment. She had to sleep (and did so with good humor) under a special netting and, if her toes stuck out by accident, you can bet the mosquitoes would find them.

At this point Rachel decided it was time to really work at learning the language. She enrolled in an intensive course to take on this challenge …however, it turned out the course was taught in Italian. Nearly all of the students in the class were from Europe and already spoke a couple of languages and had decided to take the beginning course for fun. Rachel reported that she felt like a bottom feeder. Good for her soul, she said. By the time the four weeks were up Rachel was able to speak enough Italian to make her way through Italy and she also had made some new acquaintances.

And so there Rachel was…in a foreign country…speaking passable Italian, not really knowing for sure what was always being reported on the news, walking everywhere (Italian style)…on her own, bringing home her food each day from the market.. And she loved it. She loved the solitude and breathing space.

After a while, Rachel felt the need for more human interaction and began to investigate opportunities to make connections. Interestingly enough, she found her best connection to be an Anglican Church where new visitors received the royal treatment. She met wonderful people (from England!) and also some Italians there and became fast friends with the minister and his wife and their children (eventually, becoming a trusted babysitter for the little one). Through these connections, she met even more people, had more conversations, more lunches and coffees, more Italian dinners with engaging discussions that lasted for hours. Her social calendar was very full and with these personal contacts and her forays into the culture and landscape of the city and country and her attendance at cultural events... and the book she was writing, Rachel had a full and rich Italian life.

I was so pleased to learn of her adventures.

One of the things I have always told Rachel is that I do not worry about her because wherever she goes, she makes a beautiful life for herself.

And that very point, I believe, is one of Rachel’s gifts to the world. Her openness to new experiences, her thirst for new knowledge, her appreciation of diversity, her wonderful communication skills, her confidence in herself and her ability to deal with life and appreciate all that it has to offer, her compassion for others and her joy in experiencing their company.

And when I ask myself, what is the MESSAGE of Rachel’s experience for all of us, I think it is this:

the opportunity to make a beautiful life for ourselves wherever we choose to go, wherever we are planted...for we are the gardeners who determine whether the flower of our lives smiles into the sun, gently accepts the soft breezes and gusty winds alike, sends out vibrations of love to those who encounter us and rests when the metaphorical sun goes down.

Perhaps one of life’s greatest challenges is to recognize the glorious opportunities surrounding us, to see the potential we have to bring into our consciousness all that we want to experience and MAKE THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE FOR OURSELVES WHEREVER WE ARE!

                                                    Marie Helena

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Changing Dogs into Cats

This morning I laughed out loud as I read an inspirational message from Don Miguel Ruiz about accepting others the way they are.

Ruiz said to try to change others to fit what you want them to be is like trying to change a dog into a cat.

When he says it that way, it’s abundantly clear how ludicrous the idea is.

And still we persist in our folly.

The question is WHY.

Is it because it feels so comfortable to have someone recite the "lines" we write for them? Then we know what to expect. We get just what we wanted. But…did we learn anything?

Is it because we are focusing on the microcosm of our little world and we forget there’s a macrocosm circling all around us? Remembering that sounds like work…doesn’t it?

Is it because reminding ourselves who is the dog and who is the cat means we have to be in top form…centered, balanced, loving, calm? Wow…to do that we have to take really good care of ourselves…all the time!

It seems like there is a Dogs are Dogs and Cats are Cats School and someone enrolled us when we weren’t looking.

The price for not doing our homework is perpetual frustration. The reward for figuring out this one is peaceful cohabitation.

                                                                                    Marie Helena