Friday, October 31st, 2014

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One feels tense, weak, insecure, urgent, overwhelming, competitive, cloudy, graspy.

The other feels open, powerful, relaxed, right on time, expansive, connected, clear, in flow.

One paralyzes creativity; the other expands creativity beyond all boundaries.

One follows what others do, the other follows inspired action.

Ready to step into your power and heal your world?

Leading with love starts by leading from the inside out.  You are the only one blocking your view.

I choose love.  Which do you choose?

Vaccine manufacturers injured my son.  Can you relate to this thought? Do you believe this thought or something similar?  What are your thoughts about vaccine manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies?

IMG_4462My son Ian, has autism and does not use verbal language to communicate.  He received vaccinations through six months of age.  I stopped because I believed vaccines caused injury to his nervous system, digestive system and immune system.  Within his first four months of life, I noticed delays in his development.  He developed reflux within the first six months and I witnessed his first seizure at eleven months.  Though I suspect they were happening before that time.  (If you’re curious to read more about Ian’s story, visit my About Ian page.)

Believing the thought “Vaccine manufacturers injured my son”, created many years of suffering in my world.  It affected the way I treated the people in my life.  I was full of anger and quick to point the finger with blame and judgment. This single belief created great tension and stress that radiated outward to everyone around me.

I questioned thoughts that created stress in my life for several years using a method developed by a woman who I consider a master teacher of our time, Byron Katie.  Katie has given our world the gift of The Work.

My first experience with The Work blew the doors off the hinges of my mind and showed me it was my thoughts that created the prison I “thought” was my life. I walked away from that experience with a new awareness and understanding that I was not the victim of my circumstances.  I went from feeling trapped, to realizing I had all the power to be free of suffering.  I’ve been using The Work ever since.  I wrote about my experience in the post, The Day I Discovered My Freedom.

IMG_4384Last December, as my husband and I drove to Katie’s New Year’s Mental Cleanse event, I filled out a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and set the intention to do some deep work.  When I stood up and read my Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet to Katie, my entire body shook and I could barely make it through to the end.  She invited me to join her and do The Work.

Belief after belief shattered into pieces.  I discovered in the process that I did not know whether vaccines injured my son.  I couldn’t absolutely know for sure.  Wow, that was an eye opener.

It turns out, the event was video taped and Katie recently released a DVD titled The Work on Autism.  It includes my experience of dissolving one painful belief after another.  This video shows a brief two-minute segment from the DVD.

I left the room that evening feeling a thousand pounds lighter and with a newfound compassion and understanding.  For me, Katie is pure love.  I’m deeply grateful for her wide open heart and that she made this experience available to share with you.

To this day, the anger and blame I felt is gone and replaced with gratitude.  If it ever returns, I now have The Work to find my way back to love.

Planting seedsDisaster struck when my first son, Ian received his diagnosis of autism.  So I thought.  That disaster seven years ago in 2004 turned into a beautiful unfolding of love, compassion, acceptance and renewal.  But when I first heard the news it felt like a fire ripped through my garden and ravaged my soil.  Life within me died.  I felt desolate, empty, broken.

In 2005, I read the book, “Expecting Adam” by Martha Beck and felt a tug of hope but the soil in my garden remained dry, undernourished and neglected.  It took nearly three years for the soil to recover and reach a state of acceptance where it was ready for nutrients.

Early 2008 I began to listen to Wayne Dyer CDs on my iPod during my runs.  I named these times my “mental health breaks”.  The sun began to peek through and warm the soil.

Next came the seeds and much needed water! Early 2009 I attended a one-day workshop in San Jose with Martha Beck, best-selling author, monthly columnists for “O” magazine and life coach.

Half way through the day I experienced an overall body vibration, like I was sitting in a massage chair.  At one point I saw a yellow hue around Martha and thought I may possibly be hallucinating from lack of sleep or perhaps I was going temporarily insane.  None of that mattered though because the openness I felt was unmistakable.  My path lay clearly before me and it felt truer than anything I’d felt in many years.

I promptly purchased her book “Steering by Starlight”, signed up to train with her as a life coach and attended a three-day workshop with horses, Martha and Koelle Simpson (another one of my great teachers.)  Time to receive the lessons.  The seeds burrowed themselves in the soil, desiring nutrients, water and sunlight.

At the three-day horse workshop, I went from feeling trapped by my son’s autism to seeing that the only place I was trapped was in my mind! I sat there in Scottsdale, Arizona while my son remained safely back at home in California.

I was free! It was my thoughts about my son’s autism that created my suffering and I was ready to let that go of those painful thoughts.  My garden began to sprout and took in exactly what it needed to produce the most delicious, fulfilling harvest imaginable. I love my garden!

So, now in 2011, here I am, exactly where I’m supposed to be; taking it all in, open to the possibilities and trusting that I will know exactly where to go when I follow my inner compass.  It’s all there waiting for me to show up and lead my life.  I’m no longer stuck, my excitement is boundless.  Now I learn about tending my garden and what it takes to keep it filled with love and abundance.

I’m profoundly grateful to my son, Ian for being my greatest teacher and for leading me to this moment.  His body and brain continue to be affected by autism and he shows me every day how incredibly brave and courageous he is.  He still has many challenges and his body works hard to heal itself.  I’m in awe of what he puts up with and I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t handle it with as much grace and patience.

I’m deeply grateful for every small step forward on his healing journey.  He’s taught me to celebrate the small things. And the big things?  I imagine a day when he no longer has seizures and no longer requires diapers.  I believe those huge steps are absolutely possible because he’s shown me in so many other ways how he’s capable of healing.

Ian’s message is powerful.

He’s here to show us the importance of finding our way back to balance, to bring our earth back to balance, to make it a safe environment for him and others like him to live peacefully and safely in their bodies.

The longer we remain out of balance the louder the message will become and more children and families will suffer.  I’m hopeful that the “voices” of our pre-verbal children have become loud enough for our society to hear.  The time for finding our way back as a human race to a state of balance, love and peace has arrived. I believe it’s possible and I will never give up hope.

If you want to create a new perspective in your life I invite you to make one small change to a pattern that creates suffering and pain and see what happens.  What is one thing you can do for yourself today to plant one small seed?

With love and healing.

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Clients often ask me about my own journey with mind-body healing and whether I still experience pain.  So when Mind-Body Coach Abigail Steidley invited me to write a guest post on The Healthy Life Coach site, I wrote a post titled, Healing From Within, My Path To Freedom where I share my personal story of discovering the power of mind-body healing.

Many of my clients experience varying levels of pain ranging from overwhelming fear and anxiety to chronic pelvic pain.  Through their own work and exploration, they gain an awareness and understanding to access the wisdom of their bodies.  With this awareness comes freedom.

Here’s the bottom line.  Your truth lives within you waiting for discovery. No one else has the answer for what is right or wrong for you, only you know your own truth and your body is there to guide you every step of the way.  When you reconnect with the wisdom of your body, you find your truth.  And you’ll know it because truth feels like freedom.

I now live my life in a state of awareness and I’m constantly asking my body for my answers.  I’m a living example of how powerful the mind-body connection can be and I love to help others step into their power and lead their life from a place of peace.

To read the full post, please CLICK HERE.

With love and healing,

Name Signature

Photo Credit: HUGO INFANTE/GOVERNMENT OF CHILE

Photo Credit: HUGO INFANTE/GOVERNMENT OF CHILE

What an amazing story of determination, hope, and commitment to find a way to rescue the Chilean miners trapped for 69 days, 2,000 feet below the surface of the earth.  They were literally buried alive and raised up, one by one, through a hole barely wide enough to fit a standing human being.

Technology is so cool.  I watched three reunions with over a million others through a live stream video.  From anywhere in the world, with an Internet connection, you can watch these beautiful moments of transition from captivity to freedom.

This is what can happen when people work together to find a solution. Giving up wasn’t an option. The rescuers held on to hope and believed it before they saw it.  Today, the world has a view and damn, it looks glorious!

This story represents a beautiful metaphor for what I see happening in the autism community.  Daily, parents help their child through the portal because they never give up hope and they work together with a collaborative team dedicated to their child’s recovery.

Our children affected by autism wait for us to help unlock their personal portal to freedom.

When we work together, collaborate, brainstorm, think outside the box, support each other, share our stories of both success and failure, trust our instincts, listen to what our child’s body tells us, work with doctors and specialists that practice with an open mind, TOGETHER we make progress and get closer to discovering that unique portal for each child.

Recovery is possible.

Today’s rescue of the miners renews my belief in the goodness of my fellow human beings.

I will never give up hope and I’m deeply grateful to the parents, doctors, specialists, educators and organizations that have given our community a backbone of strength and resilience.  Together we will continue to create the possibilities for healing.

Welcome home to every miner. I can only imagine the joy and love reverberating throughout their families knowing their loved one is safe above ground.

Last week I went for a run and as I often do, listened to music on my iPod.  I chose an album by Cake.  The song, “I Will Survive” came on and something unusual happened.

I began to cry.  Not tears of sadness, tears of gratitude and joy.

As I listened, the words spoke to me like never before. I realized so clearly I’ve not only survived, I’ve thrived.

The lyrics jumped out as a powerful metaphor for my thoughts, particularly the extremely painful ones like these.

I’m trapped in a life raising a child with autism.
Life sucks and would be so much easier if I didn’t have a child with autism.
My child shouldn’t have autism.

And the big wammy!

I don’t want a child with autism.

Man, just typing the words feels uncomfortable.

There was a time when I did believe the thoughts above.  I spent many hours in a hole feeling sorry for myself.  I felt deep pain and didn’t see the way out.

Then I met some amazing teachers who showed me the way. I wrote about the process in my post, “The Day I Discovered My Freedom.” I no longer believe the painful thoughts above.

Now, when painful thoughts try to tempt me with desire for a life other than my own I walk them straight out the door.

“Just turn around now.  You’re not welcome anymore.”

“As long as I know how to love I know I’ll be alive.”  I choose love.  I choose life.

What to know how to do it?

Start by considering this idea.  Your thoughts are stories you tell yourself about reality. They are your perceptions based on previous experience.  Do you like the story you’re telling or does it cause suffering and pain?  If your story isn’t working, you have all the power to change it. I did.  I now not only survive, I thrive.  This is my new story.  What’s yours?

Let me know if you’d like help to learn how to discover your new story.  I’d love to show you.

I’ve included the lyrics for the song by Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”.  Cover by the band Cake.  This is my anthem.

At first I was afraid.
I was petrified.
I kept thinking I could never live
Without you by my side.
But then I spent so many nights
Just thinking how you’d done me wrong.
I grew strong.
I learned how to get along.

And so you’re back from outer space.
I just walked in to find you here
Without that look upon your face.
I should have changed my f*#@ing lock.
I would have made you leave your key
If I’d have known for just one second
You’d be back to bother me.

Oh now go.
Walk out the door.
Just turn around now.
You’re not welcome anymore.

Weren’t you the one
Who tried to break me with desire?
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh not I.

I will survive.
As long as I know how to love
I know I’ll be alive.

I’ve got all my life to live.
I’ve got all my love to give.

I will survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
Just not to fall apart.
I’m trying hard to mend
The pieces of my broken heart.
And I spent oh so many nights
Just feeling sorry for myself.
I used to cry.
But now I hold my head up high.

And you’ll see me with somebody new.
I’m not that stupid little person
Still in love with you.
And so you thought you’d just drop by,
And you expect me to be free.
But now I’m saving all my lovin’
For someone who’s lovin’ me.

Oh now go.
Walk out the door.
Just turn around now.
You’re not welcome anymore.
Weren’t you the one
Who tried to break me with desire?
Did you think I’d crumble?
Did you think I’d lay down and die?
Oh not I.

I will survive.
As long as I know how to love
I know I’ll be alive.
I’ve got all my life to live.
I’ve got all my love to give.
I will survive.
I will survive.

If you have a song that speaks to you, I’d love to hear about it.

It began as a cool morning in the Arizona desert with horses.

Horses in the desert

I was attending a three-day horse workshop offered by Martha Beck and Koelle Simpson titled, “How To Makes Things Happen.” and wow, was it about to happen for me in a massive way.  I now look back at this moment as a pivotal point in my life when I was heading in one direction and then within moments, shifted to a completely new path. I went from feeling trapped to realizing I had all the power within me to be free.

It amazes me how life works when I pay attention.  I read about the workshop on Martha’s website the week before it and thought, “Hmmmm, that sounds interesting, working with horses to make things happen?” The concept intrigued me.  Then two days before it began, while hubby and I were enjoying some rare alone time in Tahoe,  something inside me said, “you are meant to go.”  During one of the chair lift rides up the mountain surrounded by glorious views and snow I ran the crazy idea by Lowell.  He took a deep breath and said, “so, I’ll want to hear all about it!” Thank you, whomever you are out in the universe for giving me such a supportive partner.

Lowell and Diane in Kirkwood

Lowell and Diane in Kirkwood

The next night I boarded a plane headed for Phoenix for a marvelously surprising three-day journey where I learned amazing lessons from horses, uncovered buried truths about myself and discovered a freedom that rocked my world.

The first night Martha and Koelle sent the twelve of us back to our respective hotels with a homework assignment. We were given a worksheet with several questions and the one at the top read, “Who angers, frustrates, or confuses you and why?” I vividly remember driving the forty minutes back to my hotel asking myself the question but coming up blank.  Once back at the hotel, I messed about for hours.  I checked email, watched TV and then climbed into bed still drawing a blank.  I felt blocked.  Little did I know, I was about to blow past that barrier in a big way. At around 11:00pm when my body really wanted to go to sleep (another great avoidance technique) I finally figured it out and the tears started to flow. No quiet tears here.  I sobbed, I wailed and I felt grief tear through me deep into my core. Here’s the thought what came to the surface.

“I’m angry and frustrated with Ian because I feel trapped, stuck and frozen”

Ian smiling

My sweet angel

“Holy *%#@! Did I really just think that? Did I really just write that down on paper? Do I really feel that?  Man, that’s painful!  I’m his mother, I’m not supposed to think that way.  I’m a horrible mother!” Massive tears making sense now? Later I would learn these tears are necessary and oh so critical to release my pain and allow the emotion to move through me. I had supressed grief for years. YEARS!!!! I thought I had already grieved since I’d been through quite a bit of therapy.  Nope, still more to go. Since that moment I’ve learned a lot about how suppressed feelings can unleash all kinds of havoc in the body in the form of physical pain in addition to the emotional pain.  This was my moment to open up to my healing and reconnect with myself, though at the time it truly just felt like hell.

The next morning I felt incredibly fragile, raw and exposed. Martha invited us to share our homework.  She worked with a few others before I felt brave enough to speak out loud what I had written the night before. When she turned to me to do her magic where she opens doors and invites you through them something inside me said, “Go for it baby. You are totally safe here.” So I did. I leaped straight in and Martha gently, so very gently and with immense compassion, guided me through my inquiry process.

When I reiterated my painful thought that I felt trapped, stuck and frozen by my son, Ian, she asked questions like, is that true? Can you absolutely know that it is always true? Who do you become when you believe that thought? How does your body feel when you believe that thought? Who would you be without that thought?

I had answers like “yes, it’s true” then “well, hmmm, no I can’t know that it’s absolutely true because I’m here at this workshop not trapped by my son.”

Who did I become? This horrible, over controlling, out-of-control mother moving at a frenzied pace trying to run away from the feelings of grief. I did my very best to control my emotions. Ooooo, THAT didn’t get me to my happy place!!!!  I was ready to break free.

How did my body feel? Well, I’ve had chronic physical ailments for years that doctors can’t figure out how to help and it’s only worsened in the last several years.  My body has been screaming at me trying to get my attention!  I’m listening now!!

Who would I be without that thought? Freer, lighter, open, relaxed and able to enjoy the moments with my son. I remember taking a deep breath, and upon exhaling releasing tension and suffering and inhaling relaxation and peace.

The truth I discovered is that my son doesn’t trap me, my THOUGHTS do. I have all the power to change any thoughts.  My thoughts represent my perception of reality, my interpretation and no matter how much I believe my thoughts to be true, when I question them, I realize they are purely stories and I can change the story if I don’t like the current one I’m telling.  So, with this story, instead of being angry and frustrated with Ian I realized I was angry and frustrated with myself because I was feeling trapped, stuck and frozen by my THOUGHT or STORY that I created about Ian having autism.  Still with me?  I was the one responsible for holding the bars up in front of my face all along and I had all the power to drop those bars and drop my painful story that caused so much emotional and physical suffering.  When I opened up to the truth, I discovered there were no walls behind the bars, no walls trapping me in. Freedom suddenly appeared everywhere.

How DID she do it? Martha used a method developed by Byron Katie. To learn more about her work you can visit her website. Byron Katie illuminates light and love from every ounce of her being. As Martha led me through this inquiry process I dropped the bars.  I’ve been flying ever since, more like soaring because I’m so much lighter. The burden of that painful thought drained my energy and I felt heavy as though I was walking through deep sand on the beach. The sand sucked me down. Now, I walk lightly on the sand without sinking. I’m open to possibilities that continue to reveal themselves. My relationship with my son has transformed into a beautiful connection of love and respect. I’m letting go of the desire to control everything.  I continue to practice that one on a daily basis and the shift inside feels gigantic.

I’m deeply grateful for the experience of my first horse workshop. It is where I discovered my freedom and reconnected with my inner truth. I’m no longer stuck in the sand and it feels peaceful, joyful and full of love. I encourage you to explore the areas in your life where it feels like the sand is sucking you down. Could it be your thoughts that are causing you so much pain? Is it worth asking some questions?

Ask some questions

The answer comes from the questions

If you’re still with me, first, thank you for allowing me to share my story and I invite you to ask the question Martha and Koelle asked me on that first night.

Who angers, frustrates, or confuses you and why? Then ask yourself these four questions from Byron Katie.

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know that it’s always true?

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? How is your thought working for you?  How do you feel in your body?  I believe our body tells us when our thought is untrue.  When we feel discomfort in any form within our body it means our thoughts are confused and it’s time to question.  Many of us endure great suffering to avoid the truth.  What truth are you suppressing?

Who would you be without the thought? If you could drop you story just for a moment and not believe it, who would you be?  How would you feel?  This is an incredibly important question because it allows you to open up to the possibility of what it would actually feel like not to have that thought, even for a moment.  Sometimes this is all you need to get some wiggle room to find other possibilities.

Can you think of another thought that might work better? This is what Byron Katie calls the turnaround.  This is where you take your story and turn it to state the opposite and find another thought that is as true or truer than the original thought.  It’s very important to come up with at least three specific examples of evidence of how the turn around thought is true so your brain will actually believe it.  Evidence is key here.

For details on how to turn the thought around, please visit Byron Katie’s website page titled, The Work, where she explains the turn around beautifully.

Here’s the deal.  By asking questions, I opened up an entirely new way to live and perceive my life.  Do I continue to have stressful thoughts?  Oh yes indeed!  I have them each and every day.  What I do differently is try to catch them, notice them BEFORE they take over the wheel of my emotional bus.  I’m a project in process, forever in process of learning and growing.

I invite you to consider the possibility that it is not the reality of a situation but rather your thoughts about that reality that drives your emotional bus.  If you have thoughts that bring you joy and happiness, excellent!  Hold on to them.  However, if your thoughts result in pain and suffering or cause you to act in a way that you don’t desire then consider exploring a less painful, stressful thought that you can believe just as much as your initial thought.  You have all the power within yourself to find your freedom.  Perhaps begin by asking the question, is it true?

I’ve been wanting to post about my day on the track at Laguna Seca racetrack for two weeks now but I didn’t quite know what the point would be other than, “Man, that was AWESOME!!!”  Tons of value for me but for others, not so much.  Or is there?  I realized the simple point is this.  I invite you to identify at least one extraordinary thing in your life that brings you immense joy and plasters a smile on your face ear to ear when you think about IT and then find a way to DO IT!!!

So, can you think of one activity or skill that when you’re doing IT you completely lose all sense of time and forget about all stress and responsibilities.  AND it makes your whole body respond in a way that tells you “this is IT, baby”?  Find it and make it happen.   For me, it’s driving my hubby’s Lotus Elise fast around a racetrack.  If I had asked myself this question two years ago, driving around a racetrack fast would not have even approached my radar so be totally open to the possibility that your IT thing may be a complete surprise to you too. (Here’s the story about how I got hooked on driving)  For fun I’ve included a link to an in-car video clip of me driving one lap around the track at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.  Enjoy!  I sure did.  Lap around Laguna Seca

What’s your IT thing?

I’m motivated to write this entry as a result of reading a thread in one of my Yahoo! groups. I’d like to share a key concept that keeps me sane and helps me navigate the world of Autism with my non-verbal son. If I stay in my business, tend to my happiness and listen to my internal guidance system (because it is my personal belief that I know my child better than anyone else) then I’m in good shape and my family and child benefit. It’s when I start getting into other people’s business, judge what they’re doing, or allow other people’s opinions and judgments to influence my decisions when I personally get into trouble, experience frustration and stress. Often, as a result, I make poor decisions for my child’s protocol.

From my perspective, I prefer to make decisions based on the thoughts I personal believe. If I make decisions based on what I think I “should” do because someone else said I “should”, no matter what their qualifications, and I did NOT believe it, I go crazy. It’s when I research, contemplate, evaluate objectively and then trust that the decision I’ve made for a treatment option for my son comes from within me and no where else that I find relief for myself and my child. Then I notice, observe, and make adjustments based on the feedback I receive from my non-verbal child. I believe my child is communicating with me all the time with every sound, every behavior and every circumstance. I remind myself daily to tend to my business, stay out of other people’s business and listen beyond the words. Is this easy? No! However, for me it is infinitely less stressful, more productive, and non-resistive than doing the opposite. When I’m getting into other people’s business I ask myself, who’s tending to mine?

I appreciate others personal expression of their thoughts and perspective and I invite you to express yours.

As a mother of a child with Autism I am all too familiar with the feelings of self-loathing, self-judgment, disappointment, and inadequacy. All feelings that accompanied my journey into the depths of hell. I could certainly write entry after entry about my sad, sorry story. I’ve been there. It wasn’t pretty and it most definitely wasn’t fun. I more accurately remember it as extremely lonely and isolating.

I’m no longer there. I now realize that my feelings of loneliness and isolation were a direct result of being disconnected from myself. What I want to share with you is the discovery that I have within me all the power necessary find my truth inside. To do that, I had to reconnect with me again, fall in love, and shower myself with compassion.

One of the magical shifts that happened inside my head, inside my thoughts was the moment I welcomed the idea of living in compassion. Compassion. I love the sound of the word when I speak it out loud. I even love the way the letters look together on paper. Come passion, come back to me. The passion for life. I invited it back. Damn, it feels good.

The truth is my circumstances remain the same. I still am a mother of a child with Autism. What has changed dramatically is the way I think of myself and from there everything radiates. Living life with compassion for myself and for everyone and everything; from that perspective, life looks pretty darn attractive.