An Open Letter To All Graduates: Create Something That Makes The World More Luminous, Curious & Golden

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Dear Graduate,

Congratulations you have crossed the finish line. As you know, your route here was filled with tears of joy and sorrow, dreams shattered and fulfilled, moments that dispatched you to the arms of a beloved, remarkable beginnings and ends sealed with generous promises.

Closing this chapter in your life offers a time of reflection on you. In fact, the day you were born the world became more luminous. Chances are along the way you forgot this truth. At times it was overshadowed by fear or dismissed as insecurity, but I am here to remind you that it is still present. It is something that is uniquely yours, and can’t be outsourced. In fact, there is no end to your luminosity.  It is there amidst the lump in your throat and misty eyes. It is there in your sweaty palms and confused mind. It is there deep in your belly and lined in your heart. It is there.

And so I am thinking of the very word ILLUMINATE and asking you to use it as you move forward. Let it become a part of your being, your manifesto if you will. I am thinking of the very letters that make up this bold ten letter word.

I am looking at ILLUMINATE as what it literally spells out. It is here. Continue reading

 Will the “Real” Reality Please Stand Up?

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One peculiarity of our times is that people are so quick to accept the reality they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. We do this automatically, disregarding the fact that every preceding age was totally mystified by existence, to the point that mystics, poets, philosophers, sages, and spiritual teachers, without exception, insisted that there was an invisible, hidden dimension which constituted the “real” reality. In a hidden realm could be found God and the gods, heavens and hells, a domain of perfect forms (according to Plato), Nirvana (according to the Buddha), or some version of spirits, ancestors, shamanistic creatures, and so on.

Where did this “real” reality go? The easy answer was simple. The hidden dimension was extinguished by science. In a scientific age, nothing was considered real unless it was formed by bits of matter (molecules, atoms, subatomic particles) bound by elementary forces. On this foundation, which is often called physicalism, reality became consistent from top to bottom, from the farthest galaxies to the domain of the quantum, leaving everyday reality—rocks, people, trees, the Republican Party—sandwiched in between. Until very recently, physicalism provided a seamless picture of existence, minus all the gods and monsters relegated to the past.

But the easy answer has been unsatisfactory for over a century, even by the standards of science, and now physicalism hangs on by dint of scientific superstition, given that actually proving it is impossible. Without a doubt modern physics has revived a hidden, invisible, formless dimension that exists beyond time and space. This dimension preceded the Big Bang (with apologies for using “preceded,” since the word implies time, and there is strong evidence that time came into existence only with or even after the Big Bang.) Without going into detail, we can accept what modern cosmology asserts, that something came out of nothing, the something being our universe and the nothing a formless dimension we can dub the pre-created state (even though there are problems with any word assigned to describe it, since words are a creation in time and space also).

So the mystery of the “real” reality has returned with a vengeance. This poses an immediate intellectual challenge, to find a way to understand the pre-created state but also a second, more practical challenge, how to adjust our lives, if we need to, to a completely new reality. Let’s confront the first challenge now, with a future post devoted to the second. There are three routes to solving the mystery of the “real” reality: Continue reading

Developing Resilience As Part Of Addiction Recovery

ResilienceIn addition recovery programs that are holistic and client-based, resiliency training is one of the key elements of the program. People with addiction have lost their ability to be resilient, and they lack the coping strategies to deal with the challenges and obstacles life throws in their path.

Often this lack of resilience actually comes from unhealed and untreated trauma that may have occurred throughout childhood. This type of trauma can be devastating and lifelong, but it can also be treated even later in life, and the client can develop coping skills and rebuild the resiliency to be able to bounce back when life seems to be going in the wrong direction. Continue reading

Congratulations …She’s Fabulous

 

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Life’s lessons are sometimes best learned with an appreciative sense of humor.

As a follow-up to our story, recounted previously on HuffingtonPost, I had written that my spouse and I were ‘expecting’ a boy. While we made our journey through the red tape of the California Foster Care system, we experienced many roadblocks. To our surprise, older kids, whom we thought would be plentiful, were not being presented. We made several attempts and many calls to find out who was available …and where were they?

On one call, I was told to ‘not go shopping online’ to view available kids around the country. Since local county authorities trained us, they wanted their investment to pay off with a local placement.

But instead, after two years, we did do a little shopping and found Avery through the Foster Care placement website, AdoptUsKids.org. David, my spouse, reached out to the social worker about connecting with Avery to provide support to this openly gay boy who was suffering in one of the most repressive social climates possible… Mississippi.

David wrote to him and applauded his ‘fierceness’ and urged him to see himself as an ambassador of the LGBT community to people who probably didn’t even know another openly gay person. Continue reading

I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.E  A Ten- Step Plan For Creating Abundance In Your Life

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By Kristin Meekhof, LMSW

A little over two years ago, I began sharing a bit about my writing journey. I embarked on an entirely different career while maintain my day job as a clinical social worker. I wasn’t sure how to write anything for a national platform. I didn’t have a literary agent, a publishing contract, any type of media connections or a marketing background. I simply wanted to share my story and that of other widows in the hopes that they would feel less alone. I did one blind entry about gratitude to the Huffington Post and to my surprise, they published it. They were not the only major company to open their arms to me.

What followed in the past two-and-a-half years is nothing short of phenomenal. I became friends with Dr. Deepak Chopra, who did the cover blurb for my book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing”, and I began to contribute to Maria Shriver’s platform, and she also did a cover blurb. In addition, I was interviewed by Katie Couric, American Greetings, my story was on the USA Today website, and I found myself at ABC’s headquarters doing a live hour long tweet chat. Most recently, I was at the United Nations.  By the way, Deepak did not introduce me to any of these individuals, nor, did a publicity team garner this support.

The question I am most asked is this- How did I manage this on my own? 

Many of the practices I developed evolved as my own writing / publishing process evolved. However, I can share with you that I know that because I practiced what I call I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.E. this ten- step program which I developed over time, my world is richer and brighter. These practices aren’t exclusive to the publishing world. Anyone who is interested in creating more abundance can integrate these steps. Continue reading

Battling the Myths of Foster Care

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There’s an ongoing battle to tear down the myths about foster care. In a recent NPR interview, one foster parent discussed the negative impressions that the public is often given related to foster care—and how it’s a barrier to the great work that can be accomplished: “I think all too often the focus is on the negative and not on the good things that happen, the kids that were reunited with their family or the adoption.”

To hFoster-Care-IG-for-Publish-Smallelp counteract negative perspectives and continue to educate Master of Social work students and social service professionals, SocialWork@Simmons created “The Facts of Foster Care.” This infographic provides the latest objective and authoritative data published by collecting bureaus related to foster children and foster families—as well as data that will help to dispel myths about foster care. The goal is to achieve better support for those who need it most—especially the children and those who are caring for them. Continue reading

It’s Time to Seek out a Therapist: Can Couples Counseling Help?

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If there is a persisting pain in our back, we see a chiropractor. For a chronic cough, we call our family doctor. So why is it so difficult for us to turn to help when there is a persistent, nagging problem in our marriages?

There are many couples that could do with seeking out a marriage or family therapist.

Couples therapy has a track record of 70%-80% of the marriages that participate successfully staying together and moving past their problems. That number is nothing to sneeze at considering the divorce rate hovers around 50% year in and year out.

Marriage counseling is a big help because we can’t look at our own relationship problems objectively. We tend to wear blinders when it comes to our own behavior, which places the blame squarely on our spouse’s shoulders; but in a relationship it takes two to make and two to break. Continue reading

What Makes A Great Cup Of Coffee Great?

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If you are a coffee fanatic, you can attest to the myriad of taste varieties and characteristics this drink exhibits. Some come with earthy tones and sweet fruity aromas while others have floral and tea-like flavors. This spurs curiosity as to what really brings about this broad spectrum of savory experiences with the beverage. Besides, it would be interesting to find out how to bring your desired flavor profile into your home-made brew. So, what makes a great cup of coffee?

There are different factors that determine the taste of coffee in your cup. Though the origin and processing of the coffee bean contribute to its taste by large, the preparation method and handling while at home affects the outcome as well. Here are some of the ways you can ensure a great cup of coffee: Continue reading

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Launching a Book (Or Anything Really!)

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Dear friends:

Today, Living with Intent is officially out in paperback – available online and in bookstores. (On Amazon, you can get it for less than $10 right now!)

I was reflecting this morning on how different I feel today than I did a last April when the book was originally released.

To be honest, the day of the release I was anxious, an emotional wreck and felt a bit like a failure. I  didn’t have much media on “launch” date, and spent the day getting my hair done for my book party at ABC Home… Not what I had anticipated.

At the event, which the amazing Gabby Bernstein graciously hosted, I felt emotional when we started – I saw friends and family there to support me, as well as kind, passionate, interesting people who were there to celebrate. All the effort I had spent writing and promoting the book left me speechless until at last I let go (with a few choking tears) and enjoyed the evening. Continue reading

What You Hold On To, Holds On To You

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By John Maclean

I became an incomplete paraplegic at the age of 22, because of a road accident. Running was the thing I loved to do most in life and it was taken away from me in a split second without warning or consultation.

Meeting the man who put me in a wheelchair was not going to be easy. I didn’t feel anger towards him or crave retribution, but I was apprehensive about getting in touch with him, hearing his voice, seeing him in person. My concern was that it might be a negative experience—and that would make things worse for me, not better. But I also knew that if I didn’t face up to this I would never be free of it. I wanted to know what happened in the cabin of that truck just before it hit me and what the driver’s reaction had been and how his own life had turned out. I wanted to know for sure that it was an accident, that my paraplegia was an unfortunate consequence of a random event.

Dialling the number was extremely difficult. It was nothing compared to facing up to the injuries I’d suffered when I woke up in the spinal unit at the local Hospital, but I had no choice but to keep going then. Facing the man who put me in a wheelchair was another issue altogether. I would be putting the ball squarely in his court and that was both risky and confronting. Continue reading

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