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Archive for April, 2009

“Just Listen. Nothing Else to Do…”

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I had the incredible opportunity to attend a weekend workshop with Byron Katie in New York City. Katie facilitates The Work, which allows you to question the thoughts that cause suffering. It was quite the experience (see my last blog). I often found myself holding my breath as people shared their life stories – the ones that caused them the most suffering. I was in awe and overwhelmed at the same time.

Sitting in a packed room, I was trying to figure out how to process what I was hearing. I decided to text a friend a mine a few lines Katie had said that really touched me. I thought this would allow me to open up more to the experience and feel less alone in the crowded space. About a half hour after sending the text, I received her reply, “Just Listen. Nothing else to do…”


I smiled down at my cell phone and exhaled. My body began to relax and my mind quieted. The text became my new mantra: Just listen – nothing else to do. My whole experience of the workshop shifted as I became more present in the room. Suddenly, I noticed how this huge ballroom with over 300 people became more intimate.

In this new space, I could really listen to Katie’s powerful words and noticed how they just floated in the room. With each breath, I inhaled the words that created an opening in my mind and heart. Here are just a few examples:


“Change the thought and it shifts. There is no other way.”

“It hurts until it doesn’t.”

“When you believe the thoughts about the world, you miss it.”

“My job is to love because it hurts when I don’t.”

“Nothing is ahead of its time.”

“People change when you question what you believe about them.”

“It’s what we believe that hurts.”

“If I see something unacceptable in another person, I have to look at me.”

“The past is over. Look at it without experiencing it.”

“It falls away – a little bit at a time.”

“We are who you believe us to be.”

“Love the one you are with. Sit. Rest. Meditate.”


I am so grateful to my friend for reminding me how to be open with such simplicity.


Just Listen – Nothing Else to Do…

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Doing Our Work – One Thought at a Time

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Recently, I read that we have as many as 65, 000 thoughts a day. Imagine if you caught just one thought and held on to it for a moment. What would the thought say? Whatever it is, it is just a thought. No more and no less – until we give it meaning.

I realized how neutral thoughts are after spending a weekend doing The Work with Byron Katie in New York City with over 3oo hundred people. We had the opportunity to inquire deeper about our thoughts after asking four simple and profound questions.

“Is it True?” (Answer with a yes or no only)

“Can you absolutely know that it is true?” (Answer yes or no only)

“How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?”

“Who would you be without the thought?”

Following the four questions is the Turn Around Statement. “Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and see what you and the person you’ve judged have in common.” (http://www.thework.com)

Throughout the weekend with Katie, I often sat at the edge of my seat, smiling, laughing, crying, sighing, and at moments holding my breath as people told their personal story. Everyone’s story became my story because there was a lesson about a thought I believed about myself that holds me back. As Katie says, “Listen for what we believe along the way that prevents us from living now.” Katie walked participants through The Work – one thought at a time.

We talked about what happens when we react to our thoughts about infidelity, lies, guilt, and even global torture. Katie challenged us to go beyond what others do to us and ask what we do to ourselves with our thoughts. When are we unfaithful to ourselves? What lies have we told ourselves? Where do we wrong others and torture others in our life? Once I believe something terrible about somebody else and it hurts me, and the hurt makes it true – that is my work. As Katie says, “Once I believe the thought, I become responsible.”

During lunch, Katie sat at a table to sign her books. (I love book signings!) As I stood on line waiting, I wondered what I could possibly say to this amazing teacher. When it was my turn, I opened up her book on the table, and in a soft whisper said, “Thank you.” In Katie style, she looked up, held my hand, and said, “Oh, honey, thank you.” Her beautiful crystal blue eyes stared into mine. I leaned in and said, “I am free.” Her eyes and mine both filled with tears as we stood for a moment in silence. Katie, holding my hand tighter, said, “I love you. I love that you are free.” A soft still moment followed by a big deep breath.

Exhale. I am free – one thought at a time.

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Peanut Butter & Jelly and Abundance

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Quick — think of the first three things that come to mind when you hear the words peanut butter and jelly. For some, peanut butter and jelly reminded you of school lunch, or scooping it out of the jar or maybe even a Reese peanut butter cup. Whatever our associations, we have learned in neuroscience that no two brains are alike and we have memories that are hardwired. It’s not about erasing the hardwiring; it’s about creating new wiring.

My memories of peanut butter and jelly are very strong. As a child, I was a very picky eater (especially if it involved a green vegetable). I would only eat two types of sandwiches and one of them was a jelly sandwich every Friday. No peanut butter. The smell of it would make me do a fake gag sound. So, my parents didn’t resist and gave me the jelly sandwich. I would move my seat if someone near me ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I just couldn’t see myself ever eating it.

In 1992, I moved to New York City. I got a job as an “Activity Specialist” with youth in the South Bronx. My annual salary at the time was 16K. Needless to say, I had to quickly learn how to budget. The take home pay was low and expenses were high. Living on this salary became very difficult. I went to the food store to see what I could afford and realized an inexpensive food was peanut butter. I decided I would give in and taste it. Much to my surprise, it tasted pretty good. I learned to live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for over a year, probably close to three years. Eventually, I would be promoted and my salary would increase. I turned in my peanut butter and jelly for turkey sandwiches.

My last strong memory of eating peanut butter and jelly is from 2001 when I traveled to Banff National Park in Canada. A group of us went on a hiking vacation. We were a little out of shape, but loved walking new trails and wanted to experience the beauty of all the alpine flowers. We decided to take a 5 mile hike on the Plain of the Six Glaciers. The description in the trail guide book said it is an easy day hike. We started walking the trail at a slow pace enjoying the scenery. About 2 miles in, the trail terrain changed and we had to climb some difficult switchbacks. When we arrived at the top, we found that the trail led to a Tea House. We were so hot and hungry; we were almost delirious. At the top of the mountain was a Tea House selling huge peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for $6. I had never paid that much for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before, but they were gigantic. I don’t think I was even able to finish the sandwich. Afterwards, the only thing I remember is telling everyone, “That was the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I ever had in my life.”

Looking back now, I realize I had three very different memories of peanut butter and jelly. One memory was an unwillingness to even try it out. Another was eating it out of desperation and scarcity and lastly a memory of gratitude and abundance. With just a simple phrase like peanut butter and jelly, there is such an array of looking at choices and approaches. My old wiring said peanut butter and jelly was not worth trying or if it is that is because it is cheap and affordable. I was able to create new wiring that allowed me to experience peanut butter as not only delicious, but abundant.

I began to ponder where else in my life is old wiring holding me back from having new experiences. Recently, I have been contemplating how I can expand my healing arts company. I am envisioning what that would look like and what I would need to do to fully bring myself to my growing edge. What would I need to let go of to spend more time on building my company? What would it take to do what I love full-time, even if it meant giving up some comforts I enjoy now? My first response was, “Listen. I lived on peanut butter and jelly for almost three years and I am not going back now.” Is that response coming from not trying, scarcity, or abundance? That response is really just fear talking. I can choose to give into the voice of fear or I can take a risk and see this as way of “tasting” a new food. I can step into doing what I love, what brings me joy, and what feeds my soul and still enjoy eating the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world.

What are you choosing? Are there things you are not willing to try out of fear? Do you see simplicity as scarcity? Or are you able to look at an area of your life that you are willing to grow and think abundance?

Today, I am choosing to enjoy an abundant peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Would you like to share it with me?

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