Transforming Struggle

CalmUp® photo of dead flowersHow often have you set a goal that you didn’t achieve? It could be a major desire like getting a promotion or a minor hope like clearing your inbox daily. Yet no matter how much time and effort you put in, the outcome remains the same… no promotion and an overflowing inbox.

As a psychologist for over 20 years, I’ve heard countless stories about people being unhappy with their current life situation. Many people—including those who aren’t in counseling—have at least one desire they’re struggling to attain. What’s yours? Seriously, stop a moment and think about it.

We believe that the inability to accomplish a goal is a failure. We blame ourselves, or sometimes others, for our lack of success. What if we didn’t define success by our accomplishments, such as getting into the college of your choice, being chosen for the starring role, or having the fancy car, house, etc.?

The problem is the way that we define success, not the struggle itself.
I’ve wrestled with the following three ideas:

1. The Image: Mentally picture the outcome that you desire. Now imagine letting go of that outcome as you have defined it.

CalmUp® mmm… November 25, 2013

This is the CalmUp® Monday Morning Moment™. May our weekly inspiration give rise to inner peace and self-fulfillment, so you can spread all that joy to those around you.

If you’re seeing this before Monday morning, it might be Monday morning in Asia.



When you look for the light, it’s amazing what you can see.

CalmUp® photo of trees in the sun





If you’d like to receive a weekly link of a short Monday Morning Moment™ in your Inbox, contact me with the following comment: Oy, I need a moment!

Degrees of Darkness

CalmUp® photo I of Degrees of Darkness

I tweeted my CalmUp® “How can I…” question of the day:

How can I hang on to this feeling?

It was Friday, and I woke up feeling great—enthusiastic, peaceful, and joyful. Those feelings were short-lived.

ANNOYED. A week ago Friday, I went to the Social Security Office to address a concern about possible identity theft. Seeing a full house, I asked the guard about how long I could expect to wait. After the anticipated wait time of 30–45 minutes, I chose to leave. I had already rescheduled one appointment, and I didn’t want to miss another.

FRUSTRATED. I left the building with a phone number to call the Social Security Office and schedule my next appointment so that I wouldn’t have to wait in line again. I placed the call the following Friday. Due to their long wait time, I requested a call back. When I received the call, I responded according to their computerized prompts, and the system hung up on me. Great.

ANGRY. After three phone calls, I finally got to speak with a live person and was told that I wouldn’t be able to schedule an appointment, since my issue didn’t fit one of their primary topics. I could, however, return to the Social Security Office and wait in line. Are you kidding me?

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?


CalmUp® photo of smoked pigI was at our friends’ home for a pig roast—kosher, I know. For some reason, I felt moved to take a photo of the smoked pig before we cut into him. I told my friend, Karen Brass (see Noteworthy Story March 2012 and What’s New?), that the photo would likely end up in a blog. Karen then suggested an appropriate blog title, What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

I must have tucked that question into my subconscious…


I awoke at 1:30 AM to the realization that CalmUp® was over. This wasn’t just a possible option; this was a definitive decision based on solid reasoning:

1.    I thought that I wasn’t living my priority as a wife.
2.    I thought that I wasn’t living my priority as a mom.
3.    I had developed a business plan but so far seemed to mostly have a hobby.

How could I preach buzzing when I found myself clearly busy? The weekend was over, and I hadn’t done my laundry, cleaned the bathroom, planned meals, or worked in the garden. What was I willing to sacrifice?


Be the Change You Want to See in the World: A New Perspective

You’ve heard the quote by Mahatma Gandhi. Have you ever given it more than a second thought? Today, after experiencing a third thought, I decided it was time to speak up.

If you haven’t heard about the CalmUp® Journey, it is a life map developed to support people to empower and accept themselves. When I took my own CalmUp® Journey today, I was struck by the notion of having dark feelings versus being the dark. One breath later, I considered being the light.

CalmUp® photo of melting snow on pine

The CalmUp® Journey teaches that we need all parts of ourselves to create our wholeness. In other words, we acknowledge both the darkness and the light, what we call the shadow self and the essential self. When we simply accept and love all parts of ourselves, we open to being the light we want to see in the world.


  1. What deep meaning does Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world” have for you?
  2. If you catch yourself frequently taking on a persona of darkness, why not also take on a persona of lightness?
  3. What does being the light mean for you in your life?


voices rising

one audible sound climbing on top of the other

egos screaming, “What about me?!”

no one is listening

Love has left the building

darkness looms like a ghost-shadow


hearts pounding loudly in the night

hurt children in adult bodies

a solitary tear at eyelid’s edge

the heart is choking itself


  1. During extreme dark feelings, how do you locate the witness, the One or higher self inside of you who’s watching?
  2. If you’re right where you need to be, even during a difficult time, what’s the lesson in that moment?
  3. How quickly can you welcome Love back home?


Household Chaos

I’ve hit household bottom. I can’t remember the last time I dusted, the plants are wilting, and I had to wear my yoga shorts and top as undergarments today. In other words, time to start at least one load of laundry.

Yet it has been a great week. We’ve enjoyed delicious home cooked meals, we’ve shared quality family time, and I was happy about publishing a fun Wellspring Guideposts. How can these contradictory experiences coexist?

When I feel overloaded, I turn to a CalmUp® Journey. The tendency, of course, is to want to push and get started with the tasks right away: water plants, clean up dishes, give the dogs a bath, etc. Instead, by slowing down and completing the 7 Levels of the CalmUp® Journey, I rise above household chaos.


  1. How do you cope when you feel overwhelmed? Do you talk to a friend, go around feeling stressed out, etc.?
  2. In what area(s) of your life do you experience chaos? And in what area(s) of your life are you excelling?
  3. By the end of my day, my home was clean, my laundry was done, and I wrote this blog. What do you do to rise above your own chaos?

Answers From A Social Network

I asked my “How can I…” question for the day:

How can I accept the present moment when I hate it?

I was feeling aggravated, and I was ready to feel better. I figured out that when the question is asked, the answer comes. Sometimes we don’t listen to the answer or sometimes the answer comes from Facebook!

Shortly after completing my CalmUp® Journey, I went on Facebook to take a look and perhaps write a post. I’m certain that it was no coincidence that I ended up on the Shamanic Oneness site shared by my friend, Ula.

It was there that I found Justin Pinkley’s quote: I choose to simply acknowledge any negative, not giving it any further energy; to deny any negativity would be to deny reality.

That was just the message I needed! I ascertained that I don’t have to like the moment in order to remain open and accepting.

After finding my own personal meaning in the quote, I shared my thoughts through my post:

Even the dark moments are part of creation. We can accept them. We can breathe through them. We just don’t need to wallow in them.

An Unmistakable Contrast: Two Men, Same Job, and No Comparison

Walking into the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), I was astonished to find the security guard greeting me with a welcoming smile and a simple triage to determine if I was there for the DMV or early voting. As I confirmed DMV, this exuberant gentleman provided me with my number (in lieu of standing in line) before I could reach for the slip of paper myself.

I took my seat on the wooden bench and found myself drawn to this security guard’s one-man show. I was amused watching other people enter the room. Glancing at the long voting line, their frowns quickly turned upside down in response to this man’s entertaining demeanor.

Then the electricity went out (for real!), and he didn’t miss a beat. He took control and passed out papers with alternate DMV and voting locations. When it looked like the lights wouldn’t be coming on any time soon, I headed off to another DMV.

Walking into the building, I took my own number and found a seat. Looking up from my book, I noticed security guard #2 sitting behind a stand. He was reading something with his head down, and I felt my inner smile turn upside down. The contrast between the energy in this room and the comedy show I had just attended was startling.

Gratitude – A Wholeness Approach

I was Skyping with my mom the other night. Actually, for her in India, it was morning. You know, I’m 50-years-old yet the lessons keep coming. Somehow, she and I got into a philosophical conversation, and my mother said, “It’s important to be grateful not only for the ‘good’ things that happen in our lives, but for the ‘bad’ occurrences too.”

Dark and Light CloudsI grokked that what I was hearing is an important Truth. For instance, in CalmUp® Journey: Your Daily Ascending Tool for Better Days, I teach that, “We need all parts of ourselves to create our wholeness.” In fact, this statement is written on the CalmUp® Journey map itself. When we accept that the darkness in our lives is not about “bad,” and the lightness is not about “good,” then it makes sense to open to gratitude for everything—that’s the wholeness approach.

I’ve been thinking about what my mom said all week. Although my head gets it, my heart is having a tough time. As I sit with an elderly woman with dementia who had her home stolen from her and as I scrutinize some of my own life experiences, how is one to be grateful? Night/Day. Dark/Light. How is it that a person’s tragedy can also be a blessing? Fortunately, I don’t need to figure it all out on my own.