This is the time for Thanksgiving Reflections of gratitude for the abundance in our lives. Yet many times our attention turns to what we don’t have rather than what we do ‑  and for good reason!  The season of non-stop shopping is almost here.

With Thanksgiving the race to get ready for the next round of holidays begins.  Thursday we will be celebrating the season of plenty. Then, with the advent of the first official days of Christmas shopping, we enter five frenetic weeks of searching, finding, ordering, and buying those perfect gifts for our loved ones.  We go from celebrating abundance and gratitude at Thanksgiving to experiencing the overwhelming requests of needs, wants, and desires.

Before we head to the mall, some reflection would do our souls good, not only to count our blessings, but to continue focusing on them.  Money will be spent on many things in the next few weeks, but it can’t buy the most important gifts:  good health, a loving relationship, close family ties, caring friends and community, the fulfillment of creative expression, and inner peace.

We often forget these things, not because we are ungrateful, but because we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life.  The things that money can buy will never fill the deep need within us for acceptance, love and connection

How about making a commitment this Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays to do it aa bit differently this year?  I know it’s good for the economy for consumers to madly spend money. It fuels our capitalistic system. But few of us really need more stuff!  Most of our closets, drawers, and garages are already stuffed with things. Way too many things

Sadly it only takes an hour or two to open all the presents bought during the five week holiday spending spree. Hours of shopping for a couple of hours of surprises and pleasure! Does this really make sense?

So why not do things a bit differently this year? We can scale down the Holiday spending splurge. Instead we can hold on to those Thanksgiving feelings of gratitude a bit longer by generously reaching out to those around us with feelings of well-being, tolerance and compassion.

Did you know that it takes fewer facial muscles to smile than to frown? So why not practice smiling more, being kinder, gentler, and more patient?  Instead of getting caught up in the holiday rush, reach out and re-connect with a friend, acquaintance or relative that has drifted away. Why not even smile at the retail clerks. Their job must be grueling this time of year with longer hours of impatient customers. Or you can reflect on how you can enrich your relationships with quality time – truly sharing and caring – the whole year long.

This Holiday Season spend less time rushing, buying, and doing. Instead make an effort to be present and mindful of what is truly important. This Holiday Season give the gifts that money can’t buy – understanding, connection, love, and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving

Joy Reichard

How did the Holidays roll around so fast this year?! I can’t believe I’m already sharing Christmas lists with my family, but then we have our big Holiday celebration on December 16th … Where did the time go?

With the days getting shorter as the Winter Solstice approaches, it’s time for reflection, assessment, wrapping up of the old year, and gestating ideas for the New Year. It’s best to take an hour or two to do this BEFORE the hustle and bustle of the Holidays. This is the best time to review what you’ve accomplished this year, and begin setting your goals and objectives for next year.

As crazy busy as the Holidays can get, taking time out to thoughtfully assess my successes, my incompletes, what I can let go of, and what I want to accomplish in the New Year helps me end the year with a sense of completion. It helps me stay grounded and focused during the whirlwind of activity and fun with family and friends at the holidays. Then when the New Year hits I can truly celebrate because I’ve already been gestating my goals and objectives. I know where I’m heading and what I need to do in the upcoming year.

I highly recommend this introspective practice of making plans for the New Year. The benefits you reap are much greater than the time it takes!

If you’re curious about the process, I’d love to share what was given to me by one of my mentors.

First, find some quiet time where you do nothing but reflect and think. For me, the best time is during meditation. You might prefer a leisurely walk along the beach or a hiking trail, or sitting quietly with a latte at a local coffee shop. Whatever works for you is great, but the idea is to set aside time to be alone with your thoughts.

Then let your mind float over what you have completed this year and fantasize about what you’d like to do next year. I’m reaching a point that if something feels too hard, or like too much work, I pass on it. Instead, let your mind float to those things you feel excited and enthusiastic about. You can tell what they are because you’ll start feeling energized and the juices will start flowing! I find that when I reach this stage I can’t wait until I can sit down at my computer, or with pen and paper, and start jotting down ideas!

This leads to the third step in the process: start putting those goals, projects and ideas on paper. Don’t worry about the order or time frame. At this point just do a ‘brain dump.’ Sometimes you might get it all down at once. Other times you might find that you’re updating, revising, expanding, and contracting your list over several days. It’s all good! You primary focus is to get down all the ideas and goals that feel exciting and energizing.

Once you have all your ideas down, then start organizing them into goals and the steps, or objectives, that need to be completed in order to achieve them.  Oh! BTW they should be S.M.A.R.T. goals.

What?  What’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

Specific – This means you should have a clear understanding of what it is that you will do and what the end product will look like.  For example, last year my goal was to continue doing a weekly e-zine providing useful information to my following. A weekly e-zine is a specific goal, and the e-zine itself is the end product.

Measurable w/Measurement – This means you should have some idea as to whether you will meet the goal or not. For example, I’ve been about 90% successful in getting out a weekly ezine. Considering I’m human and have a busy schedule, I feel quite proud that I’ve been able to send out a weekly ezine almost every week during my second year of trying to execute this kind of an aggressive goal.

Achievable – This means that there is a high probability that you can be successful at achieving your goal. For example, since I’ve been 90% successful in getting out a weekly e-zine, then it was an achievable goal.

Relevant – This means that your goal should serve a purpose, or have an impact. For example, my purpose was to share useful information. Frequently I receive positive feedback from my readers which validates that my ezine has relevance.

Time-Oriented – This means, “When will you achieve this goal? What is the start and end date?” For example, the time-bound goal for my ezine was ‘weekly.’

Evaluating your goals to make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. will help you stay practical and reasonable about what you can accomplish so you don’t fall victim to overwhelm and burn out, get sick, or give up!

Once you’ve evaluated your goals, then start organizing them into 3, 6, 9, and 12 month goals. Now it’s time to begin identifying and scheduling weekly steps or objective. At this stage I tend to drill down the weekly objectives for just 3 months at a time. I always keep the larger perspective in mind, but I’ve found that ‘life happens while we’re busy making plans to do something else.’ Goals and objectives often need to be fine-tuned and re-evaluated as the year progresses. One year I had knee surgery, another year I fell in love (not a good excuse for being knocked off track, but I had fun!), and another year the recession hit. It’s important to keep some flexibility in your schedule so you can adapt and re-assess as needed.

Set a time to review your goals and objectives weekly. This will help you stay on track with the little objectives so you can hit your targeted big goals in a timely manner. Mondays are a great day to do this. It’s the first day of the week. A quick review of what’s on your schedule on Mondays will help you stay on track so you can have a productive week, and a prosperous year!

With everything else that you have on your schedule, I can hear many of you groaning about having one more thing to do! But I promise you, if you take time to do this, not only will you complete your year on a high, but you will ensure that you have a more successful, prosperous, and happier New Year.

If setting your goals and objectives for the New Year feels too overwhelming, then give me a call and schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to find out how I can help you get organized and on track for a prosperous 2018.  Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

In my last email I talked about the Devil card in the Tarot and how it kept showing up at a time when my whole life was going through a time of break down and transition.

The Devil card is the 15th Major Arcana card of the Tarot. It speaks to the shadow side of ourselves that is held in bondage to our addictions, greed, negativity, insecurities, self-doubts, jealousies, and fears (rejection, abandonment, not being good enough, not being loved, etc.). These shadow self-perceptions and beliefs keep us stuck in an old story that we tend to cycle in, even though we are desperate to escape.

Some are saying that we, as a collective, are going through a time of break down and transition. The Tower card may be apropos to what we are experiencing at this time.

The Tower
The Tower is the 16th Major Arcana card. It is an image of disruption and change. Politically we are seeing this on a collective level. This disruption can also be experienced personally. It is generated by the battle inside you that is fighting the Devil, your own demons, to free yourself from that domination.

Vicki Noble likens this card to the great Hindu Goddess Kali Ma. She is a terribly ferocious looking goddess with a garland of skulls around her neck and a girdle of arms around her waist. She has four arms, is dark skinned, and splotches of blood stain her body. In one hand she carries a sword, another a pair of scissors, and in the third a bloodied head.

In the West, dark and black have been associated with fear, suffering, death and evil. Our fear of the dark Goddess is a projection of that fear.  In the Hindu world view, however, the dark color is associated with the sacredness of the earth and its female nature. Kali’s symbolism, far from being foreboding, is filled with important imagery for those seeking greater awareness.

  • Red – Kali often bears the color red because she is associated with the life force energy of our body, our blood, and to the fire of creativity.
  • Garland of heads – The garland of severed heads or skulls represents the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. They symbolize the repository of knowledge and wisdom that is available to us.
  • Sword – The sword is the sword of wisdom with which she cuts the chains of our shadow beliefs that keep us cycling in the old stories.
  • Severed head – Symbolizes freeing ourselves from the negative degrading stories of our subconscious so we can embrace the universal consciousness of the Divine Mother and Father and our own divinity within.
  • Waistband – The waistband of human arms symbolizes the necessity for performing good deeds, not out of co-dependency or wanting to feel self-important, but because caring for others and doing good deeds civilizes us, improves the condition of humanity, and opens our hearts to the flow of love.

Kali is that transformative energy of The Tower that can liberate us from the negative stories of our shadow selves.

When the Tower card is drawn it signifies that we have an opportunity to confront our beliefs that no longer serve us so we can change our stories. Even though it feels very disruptive, it tells us that we can still confront our shadow, that part of us that keeps us stuck in reactive and often unhelpful behaviors of jealousy, envy, greed, obsessiveness, anger, etc.

When we face these inner demons, learn the stories behind them, and are willing to release them because they no longer fit into the life we want to lead, then we can step into a higher vibration where joy, satisfaction, fulfillment and wellbeing resides.

On a collective level we are seeing this disruption play out with our governing bodies and in the media. This is forcing us to face the shadow aspects of ourselves and our country. It’s breaking down those areas where we might have been complacent or asleep, and is challenging us to re-evaluate our values, our truths, and what we stand for. It’s not an easy time. Nor is it meant to be. Yet it is a time of great opportunity, an initiation, to be a part of the movement to transform the world to one that will be a better place for all of us. Are you willing to be part of that challenge?

If you would like help to free yourself from your shadow beliefs and change your story, please schedule a 30-minute complementary consultation today with Joy Reichard (415-819-8769). Learn how you can live a more joy-filled life.

I view the Tarot as wisdom cards. This is especially true of the Devil card.

The Tarot is a pack of playing cards (most commonly numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century to present in various parts of Europe to play card games. From the late 18th century until present time the tarot has been used by mystics and spiritual seekers as a divination tool, or as a map or guide for mental and spiritual pathways to greater understanding and personal growth. The Devil card is just one of these divination cards.

This is a time when our shadow stuff, our inner thoughts and feelings of shame, guilt, rage, prejudices, regret, etc., is being brought up to clear. At least this is what my astrologer friends claim. We are in challenging times: personally, nationally, politically, and globally. I see it in myself, my friends, in what my clients are bringing to the table, and in the world around me. Even Gaia, Mother Earth, is protesting, and protesting violently. Whatever is going on cosmically, for my friends, my clients and I, this challenging time is very personal, and is often disruptive and painful.

I came across the Tarot about fifteen years ago when I was going through a major life transition that was intense and painful. I thought there must be something wrong when I kept pulling the Tower and the Devil cards. That was until I began to understand the true meaning of these cards and came to befriend them. I’m sharing what I learned from the cards in hopes that it might be helpful to those of you who might also be going through a challenging time.

The Devil

The 15th Major Arcana card of the Tarot is the Devil card. It speaks to the shadow side of ourselves that is held in bondage to our addictions, greed, negativity, insecurities, self-doubts, and fears (rejection, abandonment, not being good enough, not being loved, etc.). These shadow self-perceptions and beliefs keep us stuck in an old story. We cycle in it, even though we try to escape. But by some seemingly dirty trick, or act of self-sabotage, we keep getting pulled back into it the same old story.

How many of you find that you keep dating the same type of man or woman? Or have the same types of trouble at work? Or can’t seem to stop eating too much, drinking too much, or watching too much TV? Or have dreams and goals, but can’t find the motivation, or the courage, to risk doing something about it?

This is the Devil!
The Devil isn’t an external entity cursing your life! It is your own subconscious mind that is holding you back. It keeps you stuck in the shadow beliefs of your subconscious that basically say you can’t have what you want because…”you’re not good enough”, “you don’t deserve”, “you don’t really matter”, “there is something  wrong with you”, or some variation of the above.

None of this is true! It’s all part of the negative story you carry in your subconscious. You have the power to change that story! You just need to realize it is a story that is based on old beliefs about yourself.  This is what the Devil card is signaling when you pull it. Now, my astrologer friends tell me, is the time to clear it!

How do you change the story?
Changing our story requires going inward and being honest with ourselves. The first step is to realize you are being plagued by an old story we tell ourselves that involves addictions, greed, negativity, insecurities, self-doubts, and fears (rejection, abandonment, not being good enough, not being loved) etc. Once you realize that you are stuck in an old pattern, sit quietly and allow your mind to become calm by following your breath.

Once calm begin to feel whatever feelings are coming up. Acknowledge that you hare having these feeling. Then ask yourself is this feeling familiar? Does it fit into an old pattern? Are you really justified in having that reaction? Or are you feeding the emotions by creating a story around your feelings?

The importance of the PAUSE
It’s so important to pause when we are having an emotional reaction. Then acknowledge the feelings. Then ask, “do I need to react in the way that I am feeling?” If you are justified, the pause will help you decide on the most appropriate way to respond rather than lashing out. If not justified, then you can toss the feeling away as being irrelevant or an over-exaggeration of what is really going on in the situation.

Often times it is our own negative thoughts, or the stories we tell ourselves, that is the Devil creating our pain, distress, unhappiness, ill-will, and feelings of rejection.

Look for next week’s ezine to learn about the Tower and how it impacts our life.

If you would like help to free yourself from your shadow beliefs and change your story, please schedule a 30-minute complementary consultation today with Joy Reichard (415-819-8769). Learn how you can live a more joy-filled life.

Do you feel the wildness within?

… The energy of the wild woman that cries to be unleashed? Then you must also know that wild women need their sisters.

There is a vastness to us. We are mystical – sometimes even mysterious. We are rich and vibrant and full of passion and purpose. In fact, we surge with it. It rises up in us — an all-consuming fire — and we burn with deep knowing, profound understanding, and a message to live in whatever way we see fit.

If the wild woman is awakening, you know it! You feel the emerging fire.

Your divinity — your soul — is ready to be embodied. You are asked to become a living goddess, embracing the authority and immortality that comes with soul-full living.

We are fierce.
We have proven that we have what it takes to overcome great hardship. We have proven that our hearts can withstand our darkest days and still blaze the trail forward. We have conceived of the goddess within us. We are pregnant with the lights of our own being.

We are Sensual.
Being sensual is more than being sexual. The more you embrace your sensuality, the more you can embrace your sexuality. Being sensual means paying attention to and thoroughly enjoying what your senses are telling you.  It means fully experiencing the delight of beautiful smells, delicious tastes, interesting sounds, and the pleasures of touch.

When you pay attention to your senses you can more easily make that transition from working woman/mother/daughter/crone to sensual and sexual wild woman.

We are quickening.
Oh, can you feel it? Can you feel what is about to be born? The eclipses of this month have birthed us into the light. It is time to call our sisters to us. We must gather now. We must draw each other near. We all need midwives. We all need doulas.

We all need the songs of angels and the prayerful medicines of wise women in our midst. We are birthing a new world.

A sister circle is not a luxury. It is essential to our emotional and spiritual health.

Our culture pits women against each other because women of shared intent are dangerous to oppressive masculine systems. But we are wiser than that.

We know our own power, and when we create a circuit of energy with other loving and conscious women, we magnify the nurturing, the healing, the grace, the freedom, the creativity and the love our lives stand for.

Have you been yearning for a sister circle as much as I have?

If so, then I invite you to join one of the sister circles I’m offering. See the upcoming events below and make a commitment to join us. We welcome you in sisterhood.

In Her Name Circle (San Mateo, CA)

Hindu Shakta Tantra & Ancient Female Blood Mysteries
Featuring Kimberley Gibbons,

MA Women’s Spirituality, PhD student in Philosophy & Religion

 

Friday, August 25, 2017

7 to 9:00 PM

Unitarian Universalist of San Mateo, 300 E. Santa Inez, San Mateo, CA 94401

$15 online or $20 at the door

 

Circle with the Divine Feminine (Fair Oaks, CA)

Artemis: Patron Goddess of the Amazons

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

6:30 to 8:30 PM

 

Blossoming Path: 10227 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks Village, CA

$10 Love Donation

Adapted from an article by Rebelle Society: Creatively Maladjusted http://www.rebellesociety.com/2015/01/28/a-sister-circle-is-not-a-luxury-7-guidelines-for-starting-your-own/

 

“All Things Are Connected,” the concluding chapter to John Robbins’ Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987), begins with a quote from the famous mystic Edgar Cayce:

Destiny, or karma, depends upon what the soul has done about what it has become aware of.

John Robbins writes:

“At the present time, when most of us sit down to eat, we aren’t very aware of how our food choices affect the world.  We don’t realize that in every Big Mac there is a piece of the tropical rainforests, and with every billion burgers sold another hundred species become extinct.  We don’t realize that in the sizzle of our steaks there is the suffering of animals, the mining of our topsoil, the slashing of our forests, the harming of our economy, and the eroding of our health.  We don’t hear in the sizzle the cry of the hungry millions who might otherwise be fed.  We don’t see the toxic poisons (pesticides) accumulating in the food chains, poisoning our children and our earth for generations to come.

“But once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget.  Of course, we can push it all to the back of our minds, and we may need to do this, at times, to endure the enormity of what is involved.

“But the earth itself will remind us, as will our children, and the animals and the forests and the sky and the rivers, that we are part of this earth, and it is part of us.  All things are deeply connected, and so the choices we make in our daily lives have enormous influence, not only on our own health and vitality, but also on the lives of other beings, and indeed on the destiny of life on earth.

“Thankfully, we have cause to be grateful — what’s best for us personally is also best for other forms of life, and for the life support systems on which we all depend.

“The Indians who dwelt for countless centuries in what we now call the United States lived in harmony with the land and with nature.  Their societies were each unique, yet all were founded on a reverence for life that conserved nature rather than destroying it, and which lived in balance with what we today call the ecosystem.  To them, it was all the work of God.  Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect was holy.

“When the white man forced them to make the ultimate sacrifice and sell their land, the great Chief Seattle spoke for his people and asked one thing in return.  He did not ask something for himself, nor for his tribe, nor even for the Indian people.  There were, of course, many things of immense importance he must have wanted at such a time.  He could have asked for more blankets, horses, or food.  He could have asked that the ancestral burial grounds be respected.  He could have asked many things for himself or for his people.  But what stood above all else in importance had to do with the relationship between humans and other animals.  His one request was as prophetic as it was plain:

I will make one condition. The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected.

“Chief Seattle spoke for a people whose bond with the natural world was unimaginably profound.  Yet the white man called them savages, and utterly disregarded his plea. The factory farms that produce today’s meats, dairy products and eggs are living testimony to how totally we have disdained the one condition he made.

“The white man thought Chief Seattle an ignorant savage.  But he was a prophet whose wisdom and eloquence arose from living contact with Creation.  And his words are astoundingly similar to those of a book written long, long ago.  The Bible, too, tells us the fates of humans and animals are intimately intertwined.

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts.
Even one thing befalleth them:
as the one dieth, so dieth the other;
yea they have all one breath,
so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.

—Ecclesiastes 3:19

“Chief Seattle did not know that centuries before a book called the Bible had spoken in words almost identical to his own.  But he spoke on behalf of life itself, and the wisdom of the ages poured through him.  Today, when we have strayed so very far from an ethical relationship to other creatures and to the welfare of the world we share, his message remains with us as a light of immeasurable brilliance.  Never before has the truth of his words been so apparent:

“One thing we know;
Our God is the same,
This earth is precious to Him…
This we know:
The earth does not belong to man:
Man belongs to the earth.
This we know:
All things are connected
Like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life.
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.”

http://www.all-creatures.org/murti/art-web-of-life.html

Disrespect for the earth and her cycles, ignorance and/or disregard of the dangers of polluting her land, atmosphere and waters that leads to environmental devastation ranks right up there with war. Both have a devastating effect on our planet, and thus humanity itself. There is a growing need to re-sanctify the web of life and the interconnectedness of all things. Sadly, many believe we are already running out of time.

If you are concerned about the fate of our Mother, the Earth, and live in the Sacramento Area, then join us for:

Grandmother Spider and Other Ancestral Native American Mother Archetypes
Presented by Circle with the Divine Feminine
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
6:30 to 8:30 PM
Blossoming Paths, 10227 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks Village, CA

For more info contact Blossoming Path at 916-962-1469
Or Joy at 415-819-8769 or email joy@joyreichard.com

Grandmother Spider, or Spider Woman, appears in the origin stories of many Native American groups. She is just one of many ancestral Native American mother archetypes that you will be introduced to during this presentation. Legends and stories were important in Native American cultures because they helped Native American adapt and connect deeply to both the natural and supernatural worlds.

Please join us next Wednesday, Aug 16, to learn about Grandmother Spider and other Native American Mother Archetypes, to discover the importance of having a deeper rapport with the Great Mother, the Earth, and to experience a meditation that will strengthen your connection to the Web of Life.

John Robbins is considered by many to be one of the most eloquent and powerful spokespersons in the world for a sane, ethical and sustainable future. He has been a featured and keynote speaker at major conferences sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Beyond War, Oxfam, the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the United Nations Environmental Program, UNICEF, and many other organizations dedicated to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable way of life. https://www.johnrobbins.info/

 

 

Success comes and goes, but integrity is forever!

Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes courage at times to do the right thing. Sometimes the consequences of doing the right thing can be brutal. It wasn’t easy for those who stood up for the Jews during WWII, nor was it easy for those who stood up for the rights of all during the early days of the Civil Rights movement. The initial rewards may be the knowledge that you can live with yourself because you stood up for what you believed in.

Building a reputation of integrity takes years. Yet it takes only a second to lose it! Never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.

We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many. Sales people overpromise and under deliver, all in the name of making their quota for the month. Applicants exaggerate in job interviews because they desperately need a job. Partners tell a white lie because telling the truth may start an unpleasant argument. Customer service representatives cover up a mistake they made because they are afraid the client will leave them. Employees call in “sick” because they don’t have any more paid time off when they actually just need to get their Christmas shopping done. The list could go on and on, and in each case the person committing the act of dishonesty told themselves they had a perfectly valid reason why the end result justified their lack of integrity.

Sometimes people think they can get ahead or gain power quickly and easily if they just cut a few corners and act ‘outside the constraints of morality’. Dishonesty may provide instant gratification in the short term, but it never lasts. I had one person who was close to me who told a series of white lies to keep in my good graces. Eventually, of course, I wised up to his white lies. When I realized I couldn’t believe anything he told me, it undermined our relationship. It disintegrated because there was nothing left to hold it together.

People will be able to get so far without integrity, but eventually the truth will be found out. Then that person has lost their ability to be trusted. Integrity is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life. Profit in dollars or power is temporary, but profit in a network of people who trust you as a person of integrity is forever.

Every individual who trusts you will spread the word to at least a few of their friends, family members and associates – the word of your character will spread like wildfire. The value of the trust others have in you is immeasurable.  For entrepreneurs it means investors that are willing to trust them with their money. For employees it means a manager or a boss that is willing to trust them with additional responsibility and growth opportunities. For companies it means customers that trust giving them more and more business. For you it means having an assortment of people that are willing to go the extra mile to help you because they know that recommending you to others will never bring damage to their own reputation of integrity. Yes, the value of the trust others have in YOU goes beyond anything that can be measured. It goes beyond immediate success because it opens doors to more opportunities and endless possibilities.

Speaking your truth and standing up for what is right can be challenging and take courage. If you need help with stepping into your power and potential please contact Joy today for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. Email Joy or call Joy today at 415-819-8769.

Adapted from a Forbes article by Amy Rees Anderson 
When we pay attention to the words we use and how we use them, we can improve and deepen our relationships with others.

Let’s imagine you have a friend, let’s call her Sally, who is quick to give unsolicited advice when all you want is a sympathetic ear to a troubling situation in your life. Every time this happens you feel frustrated and annoyed. You might want to lash out at Sally, or you might realize you don’t want to share anything with Sally again. Then you may start to feel guilty because you know that Sally has a good heart and is only trying to help, even if you don’t welcome her advice.

When a person or situation triggers disagreeable emotions, then feelings of resentment and negativity can arise. These negative emotions are a reflexive response that helps us protect our egos. Yet it also causes us to avoid the hard work of examining our own emotions and culpability. In addition, the trouble with resentment and bad feelings is that it usually makes unpleasant situations even worse.

When we’re able to pause before we react and take the time to identify what’s going on beneath any confrontational feelings or responses, then we can approach the situation with more compassion and understanding.

We can learn how to do this by practicing compassionate communication, an approach to speaking and listening that helps us respond to others more effectively in even the most difficult situations. Practicing compassionate communication promotes deeper connections with loved ones, more harmonious relationships and a greater sense of inner peace.

Compassionate Communication Protocol

Compassionate communication was created by clinical psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Rosenberg’s technique for communicating compassionately relies on four core steps:

  1. Observe the situation and then state your observation without judgment.
  2. State the emotional response you are having to that observation.
  3. Connect to what you need that isn’t being addressed.
  4. Make a reasonable request from the other person.
Let’s return to the situation with Sally to help us put this protocol into action. You are sharing with Sally what has upset you. Once again she starts to give advice on how you should handle the situation. You notice that you are beginning to feel annoyed and resentful. Rather than allowing these negative feelings to fester you can:

Observe the situation and then state your observation without judgment.

Sally, I’m noticing that when I share with you something that is bothering me you are quick to give me advice on how I should handle the situation.

State the emotional response you are having to that observation.

When you do this, I notice that I start to feel annoyed and frustrated.

Connect to what you are needing that isn’t being addressed.

What I really need from you is not advice, but a sympathetic ear. I need to know that I am being heard, and that you really care about me and what I am going through.

Make a reasonable request from the other person.

In the future when I share something with you, it would mean a lot to me if you would just listen and offer me some understanding and sympathy.

Humans share several core needs, including autonomy, physical nurturance, connection and respect. Most of our communication is an attempt to meet one of those needs. When we can connect to our emotions and ascertain when and what needs are not being met, then we can communicate those needs to others and ask for what we need.

In my experience, people want to feel genuinely connected to others, to be helpful, and to share and receive care and concern. No one wants to push our friends and loved ones away, creating separation and bad feelings. It’s just that many of us have learned some unhelpful ways of how to communicate. Most people are only too happy to offer you what you need; they just need to know what that is. Often they need us to spell it out for them.

Learning to communicate compassionately takes some practice, but the shift in the dynamic between two people when we make the effort to communicate with compassion can create greater understanding and lead to increased connection and genuine care and concern. Everyone benefits!

If you are having trouble with your communication with your friends and loved ones, please contact Joy to find out how she can help you communicate with greater compassion. Joy offers a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Contact Joy to schedule a consultation today. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today.

Are you experiencing a toxic relationship?

It might be a quarrelsome in-law or relative that you have to see on a regular basis. Or an intimidating boss that you report to. Or it might be a domineering co-worker who makes too many suggestions about how you should do your job, or a friend who offers way too much advice.

If you are struggling with a toxic relationship, then here is an article that you might find helpful that was recently published in Yes Magazine. It was shared with me by my friend Marty Maskall.

When a relationship is causing you stress and suffering, follow these five steps to find peace for yourself.

1. Accept that you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a very difficult relationship

Your choices here are fairly limited, and, strangely, acceptance is always the best choice. You can judge and criticize the other person, but that will probably make you feel tense and lonely. Alternately, you could nurse your anxiety and despair that you’ll never be able to get along with them, which will make you feel stressed and sad. You can definitely deny their existence or pretend that they aren’t bothering you. You can block their texts and emails, and avoid every situation where they’ll turn up.

These are all tactics of resistance, and they won’t protect you. These tactics will allow the other person to further embed themselves into your psyche.

What does work is to accept that your relationship with them is hard, and also that you are trying to make it less hard. This gentle acceptance does not mean that you are resigned to a life of misery, or that the situation will never get better. Maybe it will-and maybe it won’t. Accepting the reality of a difficult relationship allows us to soften. And this softening will open the door to your own compassion and wisdom.

Trust me: You are going to need those things.

2. The other person will probably tell you that you are the cause of all their bad feelings

This is not true. You are not responsible for their emotions. You never have been, and you never will be. Don’t take responsibility for their suffering; if you do, they will never have the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.

3. Tell the truth

When you lie (perhaps to avoid upsetting them), you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you. For example, they might ask you if you forgot to invite them to a party. You can easily say yes, that it was a mistake that they didn’t get the Evite, and did they check their spam folder?

But lying is very stressful for human beings, maybe the most stressful thing. Lie detectors detect not lies, but the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. This will not make the relationship less toxic.

So, instead, tell the truth. Be sure to tell them your truth instead of your judgment, or what you imagine to be true for other people. Don’t say “I didn’t invite you because it would stress Mom out too much to have you there” or “I didn’t invite you because you are a manipulative drama queen who will find some way to make the evening about you.”

Instead, tell them your truth: “When you are in my home, I feel jittery and nervous, and I can’t relax, so I didn’t invite you to the party. I’m sorry that I’ve hurt your feelings.”

It takes courage to tell the truth, because often it makes people angry. But they will probably be mad at you anyway, no matter what you do. They almost certainly won’t like the new, truth-telling you-and that will make them likely to avoid you in the future. This might be a good thing.

4. If you feel angry or afraid, bring your attention to your breath and do not speak (or write) to the person until you feel calm

It’s normal to want to defend yourself, but remember that anger and anxiety weaken you. Trust that soothing yourself is the only effective thing you can do right now. If you need to excuse yourself, go ahead and step out. Even if it is embarrassing or it leaves people hanging.

5. Have mercy

Anne Lamott defines mercy as radical kindness bolstered by forgiveness, and it allows us to alter a communication dynamic, even when we are interacting with someone mired in anger or fear or jealousy. We do this by offering them a gift from our heart. You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person. Can you buy them a cup of coffee? Can you hold space for their suffering? Can you send a loving-kindness meditation their way?

Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they’d asked for forgiveness, preferably in the form of a moving and remorseful apology letter.

But I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful. This means that you might need to forgive the other person at the end of every day-or, on bad days, every hour. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.

When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens. “When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves,” Anne Lamott writes, “we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp.”

Here’s the real miracle: Our mercy boomerangs back to us. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance-and when we tell the truth in even the most difficult relationship-we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even if it is only for a moment. We start to show ourselves the truth, and this makes us feel free.
And, in my experience, this makes all we have suffered worth it.

This article was originally published by Greater Good. It was edited for YES! Magazine. 
Whether you are a Creationist or a Darwinist or anywhere in between, I think we can all agree that our planet’s very existence is a miracle. Our human evolution up to this moment in time is even more so. Life on Earth is a gift. Yet we aren’t taking very good care of it.

Is it our right to dominate the earth, as many of our forefathers thought? Or are we supposed to be the good stewards?

To be a steward is to be tasked with the job of looking after someone or something. At one time the abundance of the earth seemed limitless. Land was for the taking. Now humans have taken over, and pollution is everywhere! Even our oceans have become huge waste disposal sites, with waste washing up on shore or collecting in big swirls of garbage on the surface of the ocean.

This is why I believe our relationship to the earth should shift from “dominion over” to being the “Good Stewards” of the Earth.

Our relationship with Earth is so important that all religions put emphasis on looking after the planet. It is also a finely balanced relationship which is why, now that we are taking too much from the planet, environmental systems are starting to collapse. Even one of the world major religious leaders, Pope Francis, stated (paraphrased):

The human family has received from the Creator a common gift: nature. We are called to exercise a responsible stewardship over nature. Yet so often we are driven by greed and by the arrogance of dominion, possession, manipulation and exploitation … we do not preserve nature, nor do we respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations…

The notion of Stewardship is non-denominational, however. It applies to any and every person who lives, works and breathes upon the planet regardless of what religion they do, or do not, subscribe to.  It is a duty that we all have. There is no denying that we are going to have to make some sacrifices if we are to rectify the problems we have caused as a species. Yet that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the beauty of nature or engage in the fun, joy or sense of adventure while we relearn how to live without negatively impacting our planet.

We all crave peace. We, humanity, have had our fill of war and the inhumanity and devastation it brings.  Peace and Stewardship go hand-in-hand, mutually influencing the other.  We cannot be Good Stewards of the planet if we are not first at peace within ourselves (the peaceful seek only to cherish, uplift and nurture, not destroy). What follows is the realization that a big part of creating a peaceful world also lies in valuing our relationship to nature and to each other. When we appreciate what the earth has to offer, and truly understand the inter-relationship of ourselves to nature and each other, then we know that an offense to another being, or to any part of our planet, is an offense to ourselves.

Despite all our material advances in living conditions we are, both in evolutionary and spiritual terms, still creatures of the Earth. We are still intimately connected to the energetic web of life. Our actions matter!  Our actions have consequences. We think we are smarter than the earth, but we are not. There is a popular saying: “God always forgives, we sometimes forgive, but when nature – creation – is mistreated, she never forgives!”

It’s time to rethink our relationship to our planet and to become the Good Stewards. It will take each one of us to be the change that will save our planet, and ourselves.