She’s had some really hard times, abused as a child and a wife and a mother. And yet, she stayed happy. She never talked about the hard stuff and she gushed about the good moments.
It used to drive me crazy! As a kid, the abuse spilled over onto me in a big way and I felt my mom was avoiding it, rewriting our history, in denial. What the hell?! I was pissed that she was whitewashing it.
I was wrong.
She doesn’t deny what went on. She’s just made a decision to FOCUS on the good. She has practiced gratitude for so long and so regularly that it’s now her native habitat. She chose to find beauty and joy in simple pleasures. She made a CHOICE to be happy.
My mother is one Tough Mother Focuser! (Ha! You probably thought Tough Mother F..’er was going in a different direction! )
Focus is power. From the Law of Attraction, to The Secret, to recent developments in quantum physics, there are now mountains of evidence showing that our thoughts and intentions have concrete substance – they are very consequential. They shape our reality, our experiences, even our bodies.
For the last 30 years my mom’s life has not only delivered freedom from abuse but also beauty, love, joy, financial security. And, as it turns out, greater appreciation from her children than she probably ever could have imagined.
My mom didn’t whitewash or run away from anything. Instead of delusional she’s intentional. She chose to focus on the positive because somehow she knew that life was much more than whatever awful situation we might be dealing with in any given moment. Somehow, despite her very limited and challenging upbringing she knew that often the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond to any given situation and what we choose to FOCUS on.
Looking back I now see that I learned so much from her example. I have big time “Resiliency Muscles” and man, am I ever grateful for them!
Thanks Mom. You have set and continue to set such a beautiful example. Happy Mother’s Day. I am so grateful for, and to, you.
Cyl on shore in Tarifa Africa in background — 4-17 Each morning as part of my meditation and prayer time I read the daily affirmation in the Daily Word. It often seems to be just what I need at that moment, but the perfect fit of last Sunday’s message was over the top.
I honor and celebrate all humankind. The myriad uniqueness of humankind is to be honored and celebrated. Each and every person is a creation of God. I pray that all people everywhere find the freedom to live life who they are and as they are. Learning about people far and wide, I immerse myself in the wholeness of life, a concept that nurtures inclusiveness.
We honor our individual practices, languages, or heritages. Learning about the life experiences of others is an opportunity for all of us to learn. …
This was especially perfect because I read these words in the breakfast area of a hotel in in Southern Spain. I speak only a little Spanish and what I do is more “Spanglish” than actual Spanish — I can forget making heads or tails of anything if people are speaking fast. “Mas lento por favor” (more slowly please) is one of my most frequent phrases.
The Daily Word reading really struck home with me at that moment because I was just about to leave the hotel by myself to try to get to Tarifa, a much more remote region, and I hadn’t heard from my colleague there. I didn’t know if I would be able to make contact with him. To be honest I was a little nervous because the area is very close to the Middle East, had a large and visible Muslim population and I was a white, American woman travelling solo. Both Spain and Morocco are on the U.S. terrorism caution list.
Tuning into my nervousness, I reflected on the Daily Word message and decided to just sit a moment and listen to the purr of the foreign language without trying to understand it. I focused on each individual person in the hotel lobby, seeing them as just another human being dealing as best they could with travel and logistics and fussy children.
I’ve had a lifelong dream to get to Africa and this was my chance to at least see the shoreline of the continent. I decided to take a risk and trust. Just as I was walking out the front door of the hotel I got a text from my colleague. He would meet me in Tarifa!
What transpired next was one of the most magical travel days I’ve ever experienced. I had a lovely, deep conversation (blending several languages) over a beer in the bus stop with a dark-skinned man from Morocco. I laughed with women wearing burkas.
I arrived on the southern-most tip of Europe and just across the straight of Gibraltar I saw Africa!
I was given an amazing tour of Tarifa and my colleague’s wonderful eco-village and center (more on that in later post). He and other new friends treated me to a fabulous meal at the eco-center’s restaurant. He got buried by business at the restaurant so yet another new friend rushed me back to the bus stop half an hour away with ten minutes to spare to catch the last late night bus back to the city.
On the long, late night bus ride back to the city, in the soft darkness I listened to the murmer of quiet speech and muffled snoring. Laughter, kindness, hugs and humanity know no language barriers. Grateful for the courage to leap into the unknown and not screw up the day by making plans!
I love the symbolism of Easter. It’s not about Jesus’ death, but rather his example showing we all have the ability to rise again and choose life. I didn’t appreciate Easter nearly as much until I went through my own, very intense, identity-“crucifixion” and am coming out the other side with a much deeper spiritual awareness that adds beauty to every aspect of life.
This Easter is particularly special because I am on my way to Spain for the first professional international speaking gig since my “crucifixion” began. On top of that I’m also rolling out a brand new Hour of Power Activist Empowerment workshop that developed as a direct result of the pain and growth of the past two years. I am really excited about it and just shake my head in wonder at how magical life can be when we decide not just to go through, but to grow through the really hard stuff.
John was beautifully loving, encouraging and supportive in making this trip happen — right down to the sweetest send off at the airport. We’ve been through a lot together and my heart is very full and grateful to and for him. Colleagues helped me prep the new workshop. My wonder neighbors/ dog-whisperers are taking great care of Tessa, the rascally cats and my entire little home. I feel very, very blessed.
My prayer this Easter is that everyone who has suffered attack, deep hurts and the death of their old selves will tap into the beauty of the Easter story and their own inner strength to rise up, roll back the stones in their way and emerge strong and healed.
Happy Easter everyone! Here’s to beautiful resurrections!
Something extraordinary just happened. I had wanted to go to an event today but had expected to be out of town. My schedule changed so I hadn’t had to travel but I’d forgotten all about the event. Then, this morning, two hours before start time, a friend contacted me to say he had an extra ticket if I wanted it.
At first I was going to say no. I had other plans and work I wanted to get to, but something about the event and the serendipitous invitation pulled me, so I went and wound up listening to an extraordinary woman. Soraya Deen is co-founder of the Muslim Women’s Speakers Movement. She was in my hometown, Bend Oregon, to share her story of being a Muslim woman in America. Her message is one of peace, mutual respect, kindness and taking action to make our world a more peaceful and beautiful place.
As I was listening to her powerful story and wisdom I realized that just a few feet from me at the next table were two people who had piled onto the media attacks against me. One had lied about me to reporters, trying to capture five minutes of fame at my expense. The other was his girlfriend who had also been unkind. Just a year and a half before this man lied about me to the press he had asked me, because I was in a fairly prominent position, to write a chapter and help promote a book he’d been working on. One moment I was good enough to help him write a book, the next he was publically maligning me.
As I covertly looked at him while he watched the speaker, emotions surged and my first reaction was to confront him, call him out on his nasty, dishonest behavior. Then I remembered all the hard work I’ve done these past two years to forgive and to avoid putting into the world the same ugliness I’d received. Just as I was experiencing this, a teenager in the audience asked Soraya what advice she had for the youth. She said, “Be kind. It’s the most important thing. Be kind even to people who harm you.”
I snapped back into the present moment. I knew she spoke truth and I knew I was being given a chance to act on it. So I re-envisioned what I might say if the two approached me. I would not accuse or hit back. I would merely say, “I hope you’re doing well and that your wounds have healed.”
As it turned out as soon as they realized I was there, they got noticeably uncomfortable and took off immediately at the end of the speech. Half an hour later after a wonderful visit with Soraya and some of the other guests I was leaving the building just as another woman was coming in. I realized it was the girlfriend. She saw me and flushed. I held the door open for her. She kept her head down, avoided eye contact and mumbled “thank you” as she nervously scurried through. I said, “You’re welcome.”
One of my favorite metaphors lately is that choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness isn’t saying what they did was OK – forgiveness is choosing to take your power back.
My head was high and my heart light as I walked from the building into the sunshine.
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Like so many who believe the election of Donald Trump to be dangerous and harmful I have been going through the various stages of grief coupled with a lot of worry and fear.
As a life-long environmental and social activist it’s easy to focus on the pain. The specter of increased assault on our Earth hurts, a lot. So does the ramped up trampling of Native American rights in pursuit of even more fossil fuel. And the incredible discrimination against Muslims, Mexicans and others.
The Eco-warrior in me wants to fight, to hit back. But the Spiritual-warrior cautions.
It is so common for activist movements to take up the language, rhetoric and tone of war. And yet rarely, in either left leaning or right leaning causes, has that really worked. Just consider the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Terrorism. How are any of those battlefields working for us?
Just consider, Trump’s “War on the Media” is currently actually increasing ratings for cable news networks! I know I am watching more of the dubious stuff as I try to keep up with developments and refuse to be informed solely by the Twitterin’ Chief. Although given what I learned first hand about the dishonesty, intentional or otherwise, put forward in sensationalist “Breaking News” I won’t allow myself to get sucked in (even though it can be tempting!).
These are definitely serious times that demand serious responses. Part of that will certainly be standing up to misguided, dangerous and just plain ugly behavior and rhetoric. But while I think standing against is important, it’s also essential we make the firm commitment and do the work to stand for something better.
Recently I posted a response from an Iranian friend of mine when I reached out to tell him I was thinking of him in the hours after the Muslim travel ban. His words really moved me (still do). I share them again here because I think they express both resistance and standing for.
Here is some of what he wrote:
“Our new President has become our teacher, perhaps not the kind we sought or were waiting for but nevertheless he is teaching us with every action he has taken and every order he signed in the past week. He is teaching us we need to be more engaged and involved if we want our country to live up to its constitution and to our core values; that fearmongering works and discrimination and racism is well and alive; that a democracy can only be democratic if its citizenry is engaged and informed; that you can completely derail an established system of government by misinformation and alternative facts.
We have also shown that we are excellent students and learn quickly. We demonstrated that people power overcomes hatred and bigotry; that there are so many people in this country who care enough to come together to have their voices heard and support those who are suffering; that hundreds of attorneys have set up shop across the country in numerous airports and are offering their services pro bono to those in need; that love and compassion are greater than any executive order and humanity cannot survive without them. ……..
While we go through the harsh winter of this political season, we also know that spring will come sooner or later. We’ll work together to plow the snow off the streets and sidewalks so we can still move and function even in the midst of winter.”
I know that putting more violence and hatred into the world will not achieve the peace and healing we activists want. Our resistance movement has an opportunity to lead our country through this learning moment in a way that increases kindness, compassion and healing. To do so, the focus must be on evolving and elevating ourselves, our neighbors, our culture rather than tearing down the other.
One thing that will help us have the spiritual discipline to stand up while staying above the ugliness is to celebrate successes every chance we get. It is so easy to get overwhelmed and depressed by always focusing on the problems we’re tackling and the never-ending work to be done. But this only disempowers us.
I was recently blown away when I took a look at all the successes the resistance movement has had in recent weeks.
First was the incredible, unprecedented mobilization for peace that we saw in the Women’s marches all across the country and world. It was the largest civil action in U.S. history!
This is mow mushrooming into an unprecedented level of progressive action movements including Indivisible, Pussy Hat Movement, Movement Match and Movement2017 among others.
People standing up for Veterans forced the Trump Administration to back off a hiring freeze on open federal positions at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
People standing up for justice and fairness sent the American Civil Liberties Union a record-breaking $24 million in one weekend to support ACLU efforts.
People standing up for environmental protection and climate action forced Trump to back down on his plan to scrub all climate change information from the Environmental Protection Agency website. Climate change information is once again posted on the site.
The GrabYourWallet campaign to boycott companies selling Trump products is gaining steam. Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, Shoes.com are just some of the companies that dropped Trump brands.
Other companies are providing powerful leadership. Kellogg’s stopped advertising with Breitbart News, and Lyft pledged $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years.
And then there’s the tremendous victory in halting Trump’s Muslim ban. First Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia took the ban to court. Then, last week a federal judge in Washington State temporarily blocked the ban and just yesterday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that block by a bi-partisan unanimous vote.
Powerful stuff! In order to build momentum for ongoing, effective action we will need to celebrate successes. We will also need to take care of ourselves and one another. I recently heard Marianne Williamson address a crowd of regular meditators about how they can take action during these challenging times. She said, “Even people who sit must stand!” I loved it! And yet, it got me thinking about how many activists don’t take very good care of themselves. So I am flipping it and saying those of us who stand must also sit sometimes!
In order to stay healthy and keep our Resiliency Muscles strong we will need to find quiet time and rest. We will need to play and laugh. If you’re one of those who feel such things aren’t productive I’d urge you to reconsider. Burn-out and depression are occupational hazards for committed activists young and old. And right now we just can’t have that! Take care of your inner environment so that you can do your very best work on behalf of our outer environment.
So here’s to you activists. And to the long haul, the arc toward justice and a long, prolonged, multi-hued and faceted victory march.
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So we’re moving into yet another new year. Lot’s of people (me included) have been noting how this has been a tough year. But before it slips into the rearview mirror I want to take a moment to appreciate these past twelve months. They’ve been hard to be sure, but also really, really rich.
Here’s my toast to 2016 — I thank you for …
All the incredible growth and learning that came from the big challenges
The forced Reinvention that’s broadening my self-identity
The beautiful softening that comes with humility
Those moments when I felt so overwhelmed and broken that I stopped trying to plan, work, force and just gave in, got present and really saw the beauty right there in that moment
My incredible true friends and Beloved John who stuck with me and offered love and support
My Resiliency Muscles and the new appreciation I have for how the hard times in the past prepared me for these recent unprecedented challenges
For me 2016 sure wasn’t easy but it was uniquely beautiful, I think of it as a gift wrapped in barbed wire.
I would love to know what you were grateful for in 2016. What were the unexpected and unasked for gifts wrapped in barbed wire that showed up just for you? To what do you toast the year just passing?
Cylvia Hayes #cylviahayes #resiliencymuscles
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Today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. It’s an odd transition. Although from here forward each day will get a little longer, will move toward spring, we’ve actually just hit the long heart of winter.
It’s like a little promise of light just as things go cold and dark.
I love observing Nature’s seasons and cycles because they mirror our lives. Dark, hard times come and they can seem unbearably long. But these are often the times that empower us to really appreciate the light and to seek it out more intentionally.
Seasons shift, the wheel turns and slowly but surely we’re moving again towards warmth and light. Remembering this can help us fully embrace the magic and mysteries of winter as well as the darker seasons in the miracle of our own lives.
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I just had an amazing experience of gratitude and simple abundance. I am currently taking an Absolute Abundance course through the Unity church I belong to. While I feel massive abundance in many areas – relationships, my lovely home, my health – on the financial front I am not where I want to be.
I’ve decided it’s time to finally focus on figuring out the whole financial mastery game so, among other actions, I signed up for the Abundance class. I knew it would focus on how we think about money, earning, prosperity, value, etc. And I am a firm believer that our thoughts, beliefs and the stories we tell ourselves are directly responsible for the things and circumstances that manifest in our lives. I’ve seen it in my own life so many times in wonderful and definitely not so wonderful ways!
Yesterday started out in a not so wonderful direction. I woke up with “Monkey Mind”, worried about money issues and bills, just generally stressed.
But, as I’ve learned to do, I followed through with my morning meditation, reflections and intentions. And, I was able to shift the fear-based thinking far more easily than ever before! It was like one of those moments in high school or college when all of the sudden something clicks, you understand it, and you realize that all the study and practice actually paid off!
And so, in that clearer state I walked into the Abundance class. Pretty soon the teacher, Jane, handed out real dollar bills that had been cut into puzzle pieces and told us to write down what we were thinking about that sliced up money. OK … I’m game. I’ll play.
Then she tore up a fake $50 bill. OK. Yep, money is just paper, etc.
Then she tore up a REAL $50 bill. What? What the heck?! The whole tone in our group shifted from playful to serious. We had a very charged and telling discussion about it. As that was going on I got to thinking about how much Jane was giving us. Her time, her energy, the preparation effort and even her own money. I wanted to give back a little bit. I only had $10 cash with me, but I gave it to her. She accepted it warmly. It felt good.
Then Jane made her next move and it took me back 15 years. Way back then I had attended a workshop led by a person who had, much more recently behaved very badly toward me. I did not have a positive feeling toward that person.
However in that workshop all those years ago this person had held up a $20 bill and asked, “Who wants this?” I didn’t speak up. I guess I couldn’t believe anyone would really just give me twenty bucks. Somebody else did speak up and they got the money.
So, yesterday, when Jane held up a new, fully intact $50 bill and said, “Who would like this?” Immediately I shot my hand into the air and said, ”Me!” And it was mine! Afterwards I realized that that person who had recently wronged me had, in another role and time, also been an important teacher. I would never have jumped in to claim the $50 had I not been in his workshop all those years ago.
But wait! There’s more to this 50 Shades of Abundance experience!
In keeping with my commitment to tithe, before I left the Abundance class I wrote a $5 check (ten percent of the $50 Jane had given me) to Unity. It felt good to feel abundant enough to drop that small check into the basket.
Then I rushed home to meet the repairman for my hot tub. It had stopped heating a week earlier. Even though it’s old it had never done that before and I was worried it was pretty serious – a heating element, a burned out pump, something expensive.
I was struggling a bit with guilt and indecision. Because of the cash flow issues I was feeling like, “You know my tub is not a necessity. Maybe it’s just decadence to spend money getting it fixed right now. Maybe I should just drain it and turn it off.” On the other hand I missed it terribly. It was the place where each morning I would sit in warm water out in my peaceful little yard surrounded by birds and squirrels and meditate, pray and do my spiritual studies. It was a sacred little space and I always felt peaceful and abundant when I was able to start my day in such a sweet, beautiful, gentle way.
The repairman showed up. I pushed the worries away and tried to stay in the glow of Abundance thinking. In less than ten minutes he got the tub working again. It turned out that leaves and pine needles had been sucked into and were blocking a valve in the pump. It didn’t need any big repairs or any new parts!
I was delighted and said, “What do I owe you?” He said, “Well, I have a flat house call rate but this was so fast I’ll cut that in half. How about $50?”
Ha! Fifty bucks again! Not only the fifty-dollar charge but the fifty-dollar discount I didn’t have to pay! Fifty Shades of Abundance!
For me this was a small but amazing example of flow and what can happen when we shift our focus from scarcity to gratitude.
Do you have a special abundance or gratitude story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it.
(Special thanks to Reverend Jane Hiatt of Unity of Central Oregon).
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One of the most empowering things I’ve started doing is asking myself really useful questions. Until recently one of my favorites was “What kind of day do I want to have?” This question helps to focus on what we want to accomplish and do and feel each day. Today I want to kick butt at work. Today I want make sure I work out. Today I want to experience a lot of happiness. Today I want to cross everything off the Do List. Etc., etc.
But very recently the question evolved a little into something I REALLY LOVE! The new improved power question is “WHAT KIND OF DAY DO I WANT TO BRING INTO THE WORLD TODAY?”
I love this slight reframe because it shifts from just thinking about getting to also focusing on giving. Yes, I still want my knee to heal. And yes I want to grow my business a bit. And yes I want some personal challenges to go AWAY! Yes, all of that AND I also want to be kind to everyone I meet today. I want to increase the love in the world by being loving. I want to listen deeply to my partner or my child or my friend who is struggling.
Throughout the day – during work, while working out, going through the checkout line in the grocery store, etc. — if I stay aware of the “Kind of Day I Want to Bring Into the World” I am a little kinder and more thoughtful. And every time I have a day like that I’m automatically a little happier and more content.
So I ask YOU, what kind of day do you want to bring into our world today?
Cylvia Hayes #cylviahayes
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Wow, I am just stunned by the ugliness of the presidential campaign and the awful, low level of our civic conversation — so much fear and attack and “Us versus Them”. This campaign does not reflect the best of what America could be and it doesn’t reflect what I want to be part of.
It just flies in the face of the fact that we are actually all in this together and if we really want our country to be as great as it has the potential to be we have to reconnect with that truth.
I just read a piece on how to heal the heart of our democracy that I thought I’d share with you because it struck a cord and offers some deeper insight into how we move beyond the current ugliness by reconnecting with our deeper selves.