Serenity Prayer

dscf0132I’ve been struggling for quite some time with a progressive neurological disease called Essential Tremor that is destroying my ability to use my hands.  After two surgeries to implant electrodes into my brain with wires attached to electrical stimulators in my abdomen (Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS surgery), I theoretically should have significantly better use of my hands.  In fact, I do.  Or at least I would if I could use the DBS stimulators.  Unfortunately, it seems like the DBS stimulators has caused me to develop a burning mouth syndrome, which my neurologist diagnosed as “trigeminal neuropathy”.  My neurologist, who is one of the top DBS specialists in the country has never heard of this happening to anyone.  On top of that, I have also developed some moderate to severe pain in both my arms, making it even more difficult to use my hands for anything.  Just typing this post is causing excruciating pain in my hands and arms.

Why am I struggling to share the boring details of this journey with you???  I’ve been upsam_2795 and down, into a dark abyss and clawing my way  back out to re-engage in life before the next unexpected turn drags me back down again.  As I look around, I can’t cry out “Why me?”, because most places I look I see people struggling with something in their lives.  Let’s face it, at various times, life is damn difficult, sometimes even horrendous.

I recently had an epiphany as I realized how much effort I put into struggling and fighting against how things are not what they’re “supposed to be”.  This isn’t the way it was supposed to go with my physical health.  My life wasn’t supposed to be limited in this way.  My family is supposed to be close and connected, not divided with strife.  Our country is suppose to be united, not riddled with divisiveness and violence.  People are supposed to be able to live in peace, not have their lives shattered and loved ones murdered by their own government.  I’ve been in deep despair experiencing the shattering of my body, my dreams, my life, my family, my society and our global community . . . until I realized that I am suffering and struggling against so many things I cannot change and over which I have no control.

While showering the other day, the serenity prayer came to my mind.  Now I’m not typically an affirmation kind of gal.  Affirmations feel kind of cliché-y to me; they just don’t touch my soul on that deep level that feels authentic and speaks to who I am.  I am not a one-size-fits all kind of person.  However, when the serenity prayer popped into my mind, my heart cried “YES!” in response.  In this moment, that’s my mantra.

So as I was journaling this morning, I started typing the serenity prayer . . . “Lord, grant memories-of-my-lost-handsme the courage to accept the things I cannot change . . . ”  Wait, that’s not right, is it?  The serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . .  Except it takes courage to accept the things we cannot change.  So I looked it up and found a longer version of the serenity prayer.  However, some of the longer version just didn’t resonate with me.  It just didn’t `speak to me in a deep, authentic way.  Some of it did, but not all of it.  Instead of taking the shortened version of the prayer, or adopting what didn’t ring true for me, I wrote my own serenity prayer that speaks from the depth of my soul, inspired by the full version of the “official” serenity prayer.  I’m sharing my version below.

I invite you to write your own serenity prayer, inspired by whatever deeply touches your soul.  Maybe we should each have our own serenity prayer, one that feels authentically true to our own hearts, that holds us up when we are sinking into our dark abyss, that inspires us to live up to our highest values and our best selves.

Spirit, Higher Self,

Grant me the strength and courage to bear the things I cannot change

To have the dignity to stop fighting against it

Help me to gain the peace and serenity to accept what I cannot control or change

Grant me the courage to honestly face the things I can influence and impact

with the energy and tenacity to change them,

whether the change needs to happen within me or in the world

Let me have the wisdom to know when to accept and when to fight for change

Fully living one day at a time

BEing with what IS

Appreciating the beauty present in each moment

Accepting hardships as the journey my soul intended for me in this life

Taking this world as it is, not as I would have it

Trusting that there is a higher perspective than the one I can currently see

Help me to feel gratitude for my many blessings

And to increase the love and peace in this world

And so it shall be


This in no way is intended to suggest that we sit by silently in the face of injustice.  We absolutely MUST speak out and work to change what we can in ourselves and in society.

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Meditation Journey

sand dune path
For over a decade, I have had an approach/avoidance relationship with meditation.  At first I tried to read a book and listen to a tape on how to meditate.meditation instruction cartoon  Suddenly, it occurred to me . . . instead of following someone else’s directions and process, just be my spirit.  One of the first times I sat in meditation, just being my spirit,purple smoke I had the most amazing experience that words cannot begin to describe.  After that, I chased the experience . . . except I could never catch it.

Be my spirit. . . . Be my spirit . . . Be my spirit.  For a long while, that meant only one thing to me . . . make that AMAZING experience happen again.  Except I couldn’t make it happen again.  No matter what I tried, it wasn’t going to happen.meditation cartoon

gargoyleLet it go.  Just breathe.  Follow the breath . . . Inhale . . . Exhale . . . Inhale . . . Exhale . . . In . . . Out . . . In . . . Out . . . Nothing happened.  Time passed.  I breathed.  Nothing got done, internally, in my spirit or psyche, or externally on my to-do list.  What a waste of time!

Needing inner peace, solitude, inner connection, I kept getting the urge to meditate again.  So I sit and breathe . . . In . . . Out . . . In . . . Out . . . tick, tick, tick . . . time passes . . . time flies with girlnothing happens.

Mountain Reflections

Suddenly, a flash of insight changes everything.  I AM SITTING WITH GOD!!!  What else needs to happen?  That’s all that matters.

Being still in the presence of God.

ocean and sun

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Seeing the Obvious . . . There Is No Path!

nature_aha_momentHave you ever felt that huge shift inside yourself?  You know, that one people are calling the “Ah-ha Moment” where you understand something new, in a new way.  I had one of those moments just the other day.  It was huge!  LIFE CHANGING!  Perhaps?  Maybe?  Hopefully!  Well, we’ll see . . . .  It was interesting though.  When I went to tell a friend about my life changing insight that seemed so huge, what I said was nothing greater than . . . the obvious.  Who knows, maybe when we pay attention to the obvious, life changes.

So, in homage to my potentially life changing obvious experience, here’s a raw, unedited blurb from my journal . . .

“I just had the following insight, a deep experiential knowing, what some would call an  ‘Ah-ha moment’ . . .  Life – the meaning, purpose, point of life, experience of life, way of doing and being in life – is different for every person.  There is no butterflies escaping clockone way we’re suppose to do it, no one guiding principle.

Our task is to find – No, create our own authentic life, our authentic path, purpose, and way of being in the world.  This may seem to be so obvious, but it is hitting me in a new way, a very deep way.

I think we spend so much energy and experience so much struggle and grief as we try to be who/what we’re ‘suppose’ to be and/or we try to influence/control/force others to be the way we think they should be. I think we would have so much more inner and outer peace if we accepted and allowed ourselves to be unique and authentic, not having any expectations of self and others; just allow it all to unfold as it needs to for each person.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after my ah-ha moment, I encountered the poet David Whyte quoting lines from a poem by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875-1939):

mountainsPathmaker, there is no path.

You make the path by walking. no path in water

By walking, you make the path.

Emerson leave a trail

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Cluttered with Busyness

Life flies by at warp speed these days.  In a blink of an eye, the day is done, the weekend has come and gone again, another month, season, and year lingers as only a memory can before it fades away into “Which year was that? . . . It seems like only a moment ago.”

It’s so easy to set aside all that gives life meaning, purpose, and significance for all those “essential” tasks that fill up my todo list and clutters my life until there’s no time or space left for matters of the heart that nurture my soul.

While peace has remained within my consciousness, the laundry, email, work, paperwork, grocery shopping, cleaning, throwing the ball for my dear, sweet, obsessed dog, returning phone calls, and the kazillion other things that I never quit get done, fill up my life leaving me with an unsettling sense of inadequacy at the end of the day.

Clearing the clutter of busyness for moments to reflect, write, paint, be present with my beloved as we snuggle up together for a few extra minutes in the morning . . . . Moments of peace that fill my heart, leaving lasting footprints along the journey of my soul.  Ahhhh!

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Words Strung Together, Flapping in the Breeze





those people

wouldn’t it be lovely

if one could


in a constant state

of we?

some of the most



can be some of the biggest



what if there was

no they?

what if there

was only


if words could be seen

as they floated out

of our mouths

would we feel no


as they passed beyond

our lips?

if we were to string

our words

on a communal clothesline

would we feel proud

as our thoughts

flapped in the


Clothesline  – by Marilyn Maciel

as printed in the book Life as a Verb by Patti Digh

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What Drives Your Decisions?


Decisions, Decisions . . . . Which Way to Go?

What drives your decisions?  Have you even thought about it?  

Do you make your decisions based upon what is expected of you?  What happens if someone is not happy with your decision?  What about if one person or another is disappointed no matter which way you decide?  How about fear?  Does fear drive some of your decisions, either to avoid the feared situation, confront the feared situation, or to prove something to yourself or someone else?

Yes? No? How Do I Decide?

Recently, I had to make a decision in which I was pulled in many directions by a number of considerations.  Fear was a big driver for me.  How do I clear away my fear to make a sound decision?  Not wanting to disappoint or hurt people I deeply love and care about.  I can’t make everyone happy.  Deep soul searching, seeking the “right” answer.  There is no “right” answer and there is no “wrong” answer.  It’s a choice, yes or no.  I imagine yes and can feel the rightness of it, so I make a solid decision, I choose yes! . . . . Tightness grips me with complications.  I imagine no and can feel the rightness of it, so I make a solid decision, I choose no! . . . . Darkness of lost opportunity and disappointment swells inside me.  I ride the teeter totter up and down, yes and no, over and over and over again.

Soul Searching

How to clear away my internal junk to gain clarity?  What does life become if decisions and choices are based on making others happy?  It’s so easy to obliterate our Self in the service of making others happy, in the service of trying to be perfect, which of course, we can’t. 

Prayers in the shower seems to lead me to my moments of clarity.  Simple, heartfelt, prayer, then quiet openness.  The answer whispered its way into my being.  Peace, unshifting, solid feeling of peaceful rightness shining clarity in my heart.  With integrity, communicating the answer that brings disappointment . . . to myself and to others . . .  KNOWing the rightness of my answer . . . . to live in peaceful authenticity.

Peaceful Clarity


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Peace, Born of the Tension of Opposites

As my attention has been focused on PEACE through this Peace Project, I notice that everything that is “not peace” (e.g. violence, intolerance, war, injustice, hate, etc.) also captures my attention.  I consider myself to be a fairly open-minded, tolerant, somewhat progressive person who lives by my principles (not perfectly, but I aspire to do so as much as possible).  Well, I have an uncomfortable confession to make . . . . . Some of the “not peace” I have been noticing is not only “out there”, in other people and other places . . . . . . It’s “in here”, inside myself and in my own community.

This morning, a commentator came on TV to give his perspective (presented as FACT) about the alleged perpetrator of a recent act of violence.  “I HATE that guy” were the first words out of my mouth on this 12th day of my Peace Project.  Those words carry an energy of violence, not of peace.  I felt that violent energy inside myself. 

Carl Jung said, “The repressed content [of the mind] must be made conscious so as to produce a tension of opposites, without which no forward movement is possible. . . . . . just as high always longs for low and hot for cold, so all consciousness, perhaps without being aware of it, seeks its unconscious opposite, lacking which it is doomed to stagnation, congestion, and ossification. Life is born only of the spark of opposites” (in The Problem of the Attitude-Type).

In another paper, Jung stated ” . . . After violent oscillations at the beginning the opposites equalize one another, and gradually a new attitude develops . . .  The greater the tension between the pairs of opposites, the greater will be the energy that comes from them . . . [and] the less chance is there of subsequent disturbances  . . . ”  (In On Psychic Energy).

According to the New York Association for Analytical Psychology (NYAAP), “Jung further believed that anyone who attempts to deal with the problem of the opposites on a personal level is making a significant contribution toward world peace.”

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth.You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle. You could describe life like a wrestling match. So which side wins?  Love wins. Love always wins.” — Morrie in Tuesday with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

If I want to move towards peace, I have to continue noticing and wrestling with the anti-peace demons within myself.  We’ll see what energy emerges from my process of holding the tension of opposites and what is born of that energy . . . . Peace? . . . . Love? . . . . Hopefully! 

What opposites are you wrestling with inside yourself?

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