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Archive for August, 2012

AHA! I’d Rather Give Than Receive

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

As I sat in meditation, the word receive became my mantra. Receive. Receive. Receive.

I went on with my day and looked for ways I could be more open to receiving. As I went to get something in my workbag, I pulled out a recent blog I had printed out by Jennifer Boykin, PSST. Sweet Pea – You Suck at Receiving! Right in front of me was the message I needed to hear (again!).

In her post she refers to her friend, “the Rock”,  as someone who needs a little pampering because she was going through a rough patch. Her friend’s response to this was, “Nope. I’m fine. I don’t need a thing. I’m all in. I’ll figure this out. There are LOTS of people with greater needs than I. Help them instead.”

Isn’t that how many of us respond? Don’t tend to me – tend to “them.” They need it more – and don’t they always? As my beloved friend said to me three years ago, “We all have our Haiti.” We all struggle and we need to receive.

I loved Jennifer’s response to her friend. (Read the excerpt from her blog.)

“Listening to this exchange, of course something popped out of my mouthy mouth: To the Rock: “You SUCK at receiving!”

“And we all giggled. Because every one of us sort of sucks at receiving.

In general, each one of is The Rock. Our Rock-ness means we don’t receive. We give. We don’t yield. We provide shelter. We take the hit so others can get filled, be safe, rest, heal, etc.

But it’s ALSO true, that we each need to give.

Because giving reminds us that we have enough, we are enough, there is enough.

And, if none of us ever receives, the rest of us never get a chance to grow in selflessness.

And I humbly suggest that when the Rock to your right offers some help, you consider receiving it. Because that shared compassion erases the illusion of disconnection between us all.”

Message received. I’d rather give than receive. The lesson was now in my face. Time to receive and receive and receive. There, I said it.

How about you? How are you with receiving?

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Give and Receive

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

My meditations have shifted from listening to receiving. I find it so much easier to give and have struggled with receiving. I have lived from a place that dreads asking for help. My role as a giver comes from my work as “a giver” and my role as a healer, a coach, a mentor, and a teacher. And now I am ready to shift it. It’s time to receive. I’m open to receiving.

As Byron Katie says, “Have you noticed how many times you try to control what comes in by giving rather than receiving? What happens when you just stand there and receive? The receiving is the giving. It’s the most genuine thing you can give back. When someone comes to hug me, I don’t have to hug them back. To receive it—you can die in that! To receive it is to die to pain, and to be born into love and laughter.” 

How are you at receiving? What are you open to receiving? 

Mantra: I am open to receiving as a form of giving.

And I am ready to receive a hug too!

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Posted in Letting Go | 2 Comments »

A New Perspective

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

My spiritual teacher and I randomly picked pages from Emmanuel’s Book II: The Choice of Love and read them aloud to each other. We sat quietly and shared what word or phrase spoke to us. Then my teacher decided on her turn to read the words of the page backwards. It read like this:

Love own His of
Name the in
created has He
things all to relates God as
compassion With

chosen have you lessons the
beautifully and clearly
given been having for
gratitude and joy With

knowing own your of
heights the from
humor with and
understanding loving With

[Start from the bottom and read right to left.]

It was perfect. It is perfect. Changing perspectives. Opening hearts.


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Meeting Ourselves & Our Thoughts with Kindness

Monday, August 27th, 2012

I recently came across an article by Sharon Salzberg in Tricycle Magazine on meditation. It was the perfect reminder of the ups and downs and how sustaining our meditation practice is often a meditation practice in and of itself!

In the article, How to Sustain Your Meditation Practice, Sharon Salzberg writes:

I used to feel, very early in my practice, that mindfulness was awaiting me somewhere out there; that it was going to take a lot of effort and determination, but somehow, someday, after a great deal of struggle, I was going to claim my moment of mindfulness— sort of like planting a flag at the top of a mountain.

My view of the matter was enlarged and my understanding transformed when I realized that mindfulness wasn’t inaccessible or remote; it was always right there with me. The moment I remembered it—the moment I noticed that I was forgetting to practice it—there it was! My mindfulness didn’t need to get better, or be as good as somebody else’s. It was already perfect. So is yours. But that truth is easily forgotten in the midst of our busy lives and complicated relationships. One reason we practice is to recall that truth, so that we can remember to be mindful more and more often throughout the day, and remember more naturally. Regular practice makes mindfulness a part of us.

Meditation is never one thing; you’ll experience moments of peace, moments of sadness, moments of joy, moments of anger, moments of sleepiness. The terrain changes constantly, but we tend to solidify it around the negative: “This painful experience is going to last the rest of my life.” The tendency to fixate on the negative is something we can approach mindfully; we can notice it, name it, observe it, test it, and dispel it, using the skills we learn in practice.

Find a practice that works for you. It may mean trying different methods and seeing what you like and adapting it. The important thing is to keep the practice going. See your meditation practice like the greeting of a newborn baby – exciting, new, embracing, and with so much love and kindness. Greet yourself and your thoughts with kindness. You deserve it. We all do. 

Here is a sample of a guided meditation: Meditation on the Lotus Flower.

Photo taken by Mary Anne Flanagan

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Posted in Meditation | 2 Comments »

Do Work That Brings You Joy

Monday, August 20th, 2012

I didn’t set out to change the world. Most people I speak with don’t either. I set out to change an intense emotion – grief. It was important to me and over the years, I have found it’s important to others as well.

People want to do important work. Work that has meaning. Work that brings joy. Work that matters.

I bring the best of who I am to my work and that is enough – I am enough. And what I have learned is bringing my best inspires others to bring their best too.

There will always be nay sayers (I have my fair share of those too). The gift is knowing what you offer and finding people who are open and ready to receive.

Changing the world is too big. Changing ourselves is about finding our growing edge and expanding from there.

If it’s not important, why bother?
If it doesn’t bring you joy, move on.

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Receive the Light

Friday, August 17th, 2012


Receive the light…

Share the light…

How will you share your light today?

Photo taken by Mary Anne Flanagan

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Peace Is Every Breath

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Peace is every inhale.

Peace is every exhale.

Peace is every breath.

Peace is every inhale.

Peace is every exhale. 

Peace is every breath.

Inhale peace. Exhale peace.

{Photo taken by Mary Anne Flanagan}

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Lead By Listening

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

After a lot of hard work, you have been made the leader of your team or your organization.  And now, as a leader, you are anxious to start performing.

First, there is a level of excitement and then the pressure is on – to not only lead, but to lead well. What lessons have you learned along the way to get here? What leaders inspired you?

At those moments there’s a natural tendency to immediately start forging ahead – after all, you are all up to speed on the organization/team, vision, plan, and now, the strategies and tactics that will be needed to move forward.

And that tendency can easily lead to believing the thought, “Since I know the way and I can just push forward, my teammates will just follow me, and they’ll figure it out.”

There is however another voice as well. It’s the voice that says, “Wait, slow down. Is everyone on team in alignment to what is happening?”

When that voice speaks, the best response is to lead by listening.

People and organizations cannot move forward without being heard. The phrase lead by listening is very important – its representative of the one thing a leader has to do before they push forward.

Alignment – of vision, of plan, of strategy, of tactics, of metrics, roles and responsibilities – all of it can only happen if we listen first.

And it is not just listening to your immediate reports – the listening has to go all the way down the line, to every employee.

Listening is not a leadership assumption, as the impatient parts of our brain may love to think.  It doesn’t happen without effort.

A leader must take the time to make this happen, the old-fashioned way – person by person, meeting by meeting, and conversation by conversation.  

A good leader listens first before becoming a teacher who prepares his or her students, and then a coach, making sure everyone is ready to move forward.

Listening is a culture that may feel new, but it is critical for visioning and taking action. What’s happening now and where do you want to go are questions leaders need to ask and listen for answers. What is the company mantra that people are saying?

Serve your organization and team by asking key questions. Serve yourself by listening to the answers.

They are ready for you to lead.

And now, so are you, as you have listened to those around you. You are really ready to move forward.

Don’t succumb to that pressure to race ahead and get a lot of tasks completed before you take time to listen.

That way, you’ll never have to look behind you as you climb upward and bring others with you.

Lead well by listening!

Mary Anne


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