Life Review

One of the hallmarks of near death experiences is the life review. Every account I have read includes some type of the following:

Heading toward some type of bright light

Beholding being(s) of glory

Overwhelming sense of love

Life Review

Near death experiences also change those who experience them. Their priorities change and they become less materialistic and more spiritual. They realize that there is nothing to fear in death and this deeper understanding helps them live life fully.

When I consider the common characteristics of a near death experience, I’m inclined to ask, “what, if any, of the above commonalities, can those of us who have never “almost died” experience?

I’ve felt moments of incredible love. Those moments were impactful. I also conduct “Life Reviews” regularly. In fact, I grew up doing a form of a life review every New Year’s as I examined the prior year and set goals for the year forthcoming. Each Sunday, as I partake of the sacrament, I think of my actions during the week and consider ways I can improve. And daily, before I retire to bed, I examine my day and look for areas I was less than stellar. I also look for times when I did myself, God, and others proud.

I’m a firm believer that we don’t have to wait till the day we die to examine our lives. We can enjoy the peace and improvement life brings when we play judge and jury daily–even hour by hour and minute by minute.  Self-awareness improves behavior best. When we look inward to uncover motives and seek to understand why we engage in certain behaviors and why we feel certain ways, we will create opportunities for change within ourselves. Today was a good day. I am already conducting a life review. I was able to handle some pretty intense professional and personal conversations in a mature manner. I was able to spend some quality time with my family, and I had a total blast playing basketball with my friends. I can think of a few areas where I could have done better and I’m exploring my reactions now so I can do better next time. I don’t think I will go so far as to claim that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” but I will say, “an unexamined life has little chance of improving.”

Here’s to conducting a daily life review.

Cold Hard Facts

Well, today just ain’t been pretty! I’ve been digging through my partner’s inbox trying to get up to speed on the half of the business he oversees and my head is a hurtin’ and my tummy is a turnin’ at what I’m a finding. We’ve got ourselves a toy business that barely turns a profit. In fact, once I figure in all the expenses, it’s a major loser. It has been sucking the profits out of my marketing company and that just isn’t cool, but them are the cold, hard facts I’m a facing.

The good news is that we have a ton of inventory. I’m hopeful that we can sell it all over the next few months–esp. during Christmas. The bad news is, Christmas is still 5 months away and the storage fees for our goods are NOT cheap. When I think about what this all means it makes me want to cry. But I’m not gonna cry because I trust that the universe already has what we need in store and in fact, that it is already on its way. God is good like that. Plus, we do great work, and we have created some most excellent products. We’ll have a lovely Christmas, and then I will decide whether or not to keep the toy business. I can sell it, or heck, with the way I’m feeling today, I may just simply give it away! haha

The cold, hard facts are never fun to face, but tackling them head on feels quite empowering.  I’ve been so slammed consulting and selling that I left this part of the business to others. Not a wise move Mrs. CEO. So, lesson learned, and now it’s time to get this train back on track.

It will be a good challenge for me to try to come out ahead of the game because right now we are super cash poor and inventory rich. I’m not okay with that. Like it makes me super sick. Alas, I’m not going to worry about it yet. Instead, I’m off to dream about a more profitable future because the cold, hard facts are: It can only go up from here!

Uncanny Timing

God has uncanny timing. I’ve been feeling restless–  like I’m not doing what I really want to be doing.

Then my business partner gets hospitalized with a massive brain tumor and I’m stuck trying to hold together that which I don’t really want held together. It’s like I finally have an opportunity to make a change, to get out, but circumstances are such that I can’t really bail–not right now when he needs me most. And I don’t think I want to be 100% out because I truly love the creative work I do, but I do want to cut back on my hours and carve out some time to pursue my own passions. I feel too much a slave to my company–sometimes I want to scream–or sleep. . . ha ha, I think I really just need more sleep.

And then I wake up to an email from one of my favorite spiritual gurus, Wayne Dyer. It’s like he’s speaking to me from the dust–he passed away years ago–and yet his message lands perfectly in my inbox at this pivotal time. His words pierce my soul:

I’ve always had a knowing that whatever I’ve found interesting or exciting or passionate or moving or motivating, there’s a way to make a living at it. It doesn’t make any difference what it is. My son, Sands was passionate about surfing. He was attending college at the University of Central Florida and doing fine, but his whole life was about surfing. He’d get up in the morning and check where the waves are all over the world. I’d tell him he didn’t have to get a business degree now; he didn’t have to go to college in his 20’s. He talked endlessly about surfing—the feeling of being on a surfboard, riding that wave, being at one with the ocean.

I told him there was a way to make a living while following his passion. Imagine yourself there, I suggested, teaching people to surf, working in a surf shop, starting a surf shop, making surfboards, studying oceanography, being a boat captain who takes people to surfing locations. There are endless ways to be connected to your dream, to follow your bliss.

And it doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been doing something. When I share this in talks, men in their 40’s and 50’s tell me, “I can’t change professions now. I’ve been doing it for 25 years.”

I ask, “Who decided you would be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer?”

“I decided when I was 18,” they say.

“And now you’re 50? Would you go to an 18-year-old for advice on what you should be doing with your life?”

That always makes them stop and think.

“Not unless that youngster tells you to listen to your bliss!” I remind them.

Joseph Campbell explained it perfectly when he said, “The person who takes a job in order to live – that is to say, for the money and not for purpose or passion, has turned himself into a slave.”

I think that is a really important lesson for us all.

Things Fall Apart

I all of a sudden just remembered a dream where the theme was “Things fall apart so we can practice putting them back together.”

Well, that is how the past 6 days have been. Finding out about Tyler was sad news and it has been a bit crazy over here trying to figure things out and hold down the fort in the absence of my right-hand man. I have had my world fall apart once before and I survived. In fact, I’m a better person today because of it.

This turn of events hasn’t shaken me like the first. I’m stronger now–more mature. I realize that this is life. Things fall apart so we can practice putting them back together. God’s in training must become expert problem solvers. Every problem has a solution, and love and service are all that really matter anyway.

You know what? If T doesn’t come back, I think I’m going to retire and just write poetry on a deserted island for awhile. I’m already feeling a deep need to retreat, rest, recover, commune with God and spirits, and just sit still for a long, long time.

I’m not ready to let Tyler go. Dammit! Tyler, hello? Did you hear your boss lady? I’m not ready for you to go! If you leave the KickFire Crew, I don’t wanna do this! Remember, I told you a million times. . .  I don’t want to run a company without you! I need my perfect partner to proceed. Spirit partners ain’t good enough on this venture. . it will be fine for writing songs in the wilderness, but I need you here in person to chop sites and talk shop. . . I need to hear your funny jokes, your smart-ass remarks, and your daily Bonjournos. Get better fast T! My head’s starting to hurt. 😉

The Students Will Appear

I have come across the following quote a lot lately:

When the student is ready the teacher will appear

I really like the thought and know it is true because people consistently come into my life teaching me valuable lessons just as fast as I’m ready. I could literally create a timeline of individuals who came into my life and significantly impacted my direction, beginning with my very own parents. Each of the following individuals listed below taught me in one way or other and changed my life for the better:

Mrs. Perry (4th Grade Teacher), Michael Weston (senior year), Brandon at Utah State, Mike Woodbury at WSU, Jan Keim Weber High, Levi King, Cher Realtor, Debbie America’s Mortgage, Joan Gilmour, Tami Nelson, Britt Foham, Tami and Rita, Aaron Edwards (Deaf Divorcé), Robert Wareham, Ryan Arnold, Paul Gomez, Kristin Barrus, Derral Eves, Tyler Seamons, Mother Teresa, Cory Keate, Seth Godin, Matt Misbach, Stephen Covey, Gandhi, Adyashanti, Buddha, Mark Reese, Jack Kornfield, John Edwards, James Thomson, and who knows how many more. And forgive me for the many I failed to list.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I love marketing and helping business owners, but I often wonder if this is the message I’m most passionate about. Reality is, I just love teaching others about what I’m learning. That realization made so much sense to me today because I can’t tell you how many times I go to quote

When the student is ready the teacher will appear

and the quote comes out backward:

When the teacher is ready the student(s) will appear

I finally understand why I kept producing this Freudian slip. For me, it expresses my unique talent and passion. I LOVE sharing what I learn! As I study, individuals who also want to learn what I’m learning suddenly appear. They offer to share their wealth (aka $$)  with me in exchange for mine. I cannot tell you how remarkable and liberating this realization has been. Getting paid to learn is the most rewarding way to earn a living. What a gift I’ve been given! 

I cannot tell you how remarkable and liberating this realization has been. Because I’ve recognized this pattern in my life, I’ve decided to grant myself unrestricted license to pursue whatever subject captivates my fancy for I know nothing is frivolous. What I mean is I used to worry that everything I studied needed to be something I could directly monetize in order to provide a living for my family. I now know that when the teacher is ready, the students will appear! All I need to do is keep on learning. What an amazing gift I’ve been given! Getting paid to learn is the most rewarding way to earn a living!

Eyes Wide Open

I’m learning a lot lately about being fully present–eyes wide open–and allowing spirit to manifest itself however and whenever it’s ready. I’ve always loved the following scriptures:

Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will (D&C 88:68)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).

Both these scriptures remind me that God manifests himself to us not in the way we ask nor expect. He has a pattern of showing up for me later in the game. In fact, I’ve come to expect no answer or witness in the moment, and to enjoy waiting for him to reveal himself later. He always does and it’s always delightful.

Today, my divine manifestation came through Frank, the gas pump service man at Sam’s Club. He was such a gift from God. I pulled up and he greeted me enthusiastically declaring his readiness to assist in any manner needed. I thanked him for his greeting and eagerness to help and a wonderful conversation ensued. Frank is a special spirit and has some unique challenges in his mind and body. I could tell he was here on earth to teach all of us how to accept fully and love unconditionally.

I thanked God for the reminder that most of his marvelous gifts are to be found in one another–our spirit sisters and brothers. I committed myself to recognize more readily the blessings God has given me in the form of my neighbors, colleagues, and friends. They are truly the most wonderful divine manifestations ever born. So here’s to living life eyes wide open and embracing the spiritual manifestations presented daily in physical form.

Happy Endings

Check out this quote about happy endings by famous author and actor Orson Welles:

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Isn’t that so true? It reminds me of the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence which states: “change or impermanence is the essential characteristic of all phenomenal existence.” The late Buddhist Monk, Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, said it even simpler:

Whatever IS will be WAS.

Essentially,

This too shall pass.

Life is a rollercoaster. We have ups and downs, twists and turns. If the ride suddenly stopped in the middle of a loop leaving you suspended upside down, you’d most likely scream in terror. If, however, the sudden stop left you in the bottom of a trough, you’d probably feel pretty safe and serene.

When we realize that nothing in life is permanent and that “this too shall pass,” we can face our challenges with optimism knowing that better days are ahead. Likewise, when all is well, we can prepare for hard times knowing that they too surely will come.

And while I like and understand what Mr. Welles is saying, what if we could somehow control where our story ends, thereby ensuring a happy ending?

Perhaps, however, that’s not the right line of thinking. In fact, the more I ponder, the more I realize that ensuring happy endings isn’t so much about where you Stop Your Story, but how you Enjoy Your Journey.

Buckling in and being fully present as you catapult through the many loops and swirls–screaming, laughing, crying, and feeling the thrill, chills and “holy shitness” of it all–EYES FREAKING WIDE OPEN–Now what if this is what happy endings are all about?

I’m going to trust the stopping of the story to the Roller Coaster Operator while I focus on fully enjoying the ride.

Organizational Revelation

I’ve come to the conclusion, and I know it isn’t rocket science, that every leader of every organization is entitled to revelation for their organization. I call this principle Organizational Revelation.

Several months ago, I began reading books by other religious and spiritual leaders. I read some books by the Dhali Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pastor Rick Warren, Pema Chodrön, Deepak Chopra, Adyashanti, and more. Every single person shared stories about how God or Spirit has guided them as they make decisions that affect their business and their followers.

I am the CEO and co-owner of several businesses and can testify that even business owners receive revelation about how to best lead their companies. So that is why I found our last lesson in Sunday School so fascinating. Everyone in the class was talking about how our current leader–President Thomas S. Monson–is God’s living prophet on the earth, and that he receives revelation to guide the Mormon Church. Now, of course, I believe this! But, I also believe that this gift of revelation is not limited to our faith alone. In fact, I believe God guides every leader of every organization that seeks his guidance. The Pope receives revelation to guide the Catholic Church. The Dhali Lama receives revelation to guide his Buddhist followers. Pastor Rick Warren receives revelation on how to best govern and guide his Saddleback Patrons.

God has many men and women doing his work. In fact, He’s happy to have us assist Him in His work to bring to pass the growth, progression, and perfection of His children. He doesn’t much care what vehicle we drive back to Him so long as we are on the right road–or trying to get on it–helping others along the way. God is love and so should we strive to be.

We are all entitled to revelation to guide ourselves and our organizations. Organizational Revelation isn’t some privilege reserved only for one specific religion. God needs many people doing his work for some leaders resonate better with others and will appeal to personalities that others don’t. And some of God’s children will be Muslims, others will be attracted to Christian faiths, and still, others will find Buddhism a better fit. Wherever you feel happiest and whatever helps you achieve your highest good is exactly where you should be.

Reincarnation

What do you think about reincarnation? I have to say that the idea is growing on me–mostly because I’ve never thought Heaven sounded very heavenly–at least not the heaven where we are simply angels floating around on clouds playing harps all day, or heaven where we are doing temple work all day, or heaven where us women are busy as a populating worlds as a plural wife to men. No, all of these depictions of heaven look like absolute hell to me!

Now if Heaven were all about having the time to pursue the many passions and interests that I never had time to explore, or delve as deeply into as I desired while on this earth, then that would truly be celestial. Essentially, if Heaven consisted of doing pretty much what I already do here day-to-day, with the luxury of never running out of time and not having to worry about sickness, death, disease, then I wouldn’t feel a need for a belief in reincarnation. Really, all I want in heaven is the continued chance to progress and advance.

Plus, reincarnation seems to pose a problem for me in that I hate the idea of having to begin once again as a baby. Learning to walk, talk, and jump through all the social hoops again seems like a whole lot of backward steps in order to gain some forward traction.

Of course, re-incarnating in India would teach me things I could never learn by simply reading books, but golly gee whiz can’t I just take a field trip and have all my God-like qualities I worked so hard to develop during mortality transfer and stick in any situation? Can’t a person–in one lifetime– learn to love, serve and forgive sufficient enough to be saved in the eternal realms above? And then spend the rest of eternity building on that solid foundation they formed in mortality?

Here’s the deal. . . I don’t know who is right about their beliefs, but I do know that I’m entitled to my own. So if I only live once, and I’ve got to spend a lifetime believing my beliefs, then I’m going to believe the following:

My purpose here on earth is to learn and to grow. I want to develop ever greater love, patience, forgiveness, peace, light and knowledge. I want to develop the wisdom to hold my thoughts, my tongue, and my judgement, and the power to inspire, serve and save others. I want to try everything and learn everything. No, I want to master everything!

I want to progress line upon line and never stop becoming better. I believe the purpose of mortality is to progress as fast as possible, and when I pass I will continue my quest. In Heaven, I will have unlimited time to pursue my passions and interests and there will not necessarily be any less distractions in Heaven as there are here, but it will seem so simply because of my ever growing abilities to master, manage and organize time. I will rule the clock instead of it ruling me. In fact, I already feel the tick-tock of the clock losing it’s grip. I seem to have greater clarity each advancing day concerning what it is I want and need to do and what is unnecessary and not the best use of my time.

Re-incarnation for me is not some future event that transpires after death. For me, reincarnation is a daily, moment to moment process. I’m continually re-inventing myself for the better. It’s like repentance, renewal, or rebirth. Every time I experience a paradigm shift or start seeing and doing things better, I have re-incarnated myself. God be thanked for the marvelous gift to begin again.

Perspective

The lesson in RS was really fun today. It was on trials–till I changed the tune to perspective– Oh and I say fun because everyone was sharing their thoughts about trials and how hard they can be and I decided it was time to share some of the concepts that have really helped me appreciate the challenges of mortality.

So I shared the three pillars of Buddhism. Non-Permanence (this too shall pass), Non-Resistance (come what may and love it for that which we resist, persists) and Non-Judgement (there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so–essentially, we are the ones who ascribe meaning to our happenings so change the narrative or label you give your sufferings).

I shared the story of the man who bought the race horse to plow his field and it bucked his son off and broke his leg and how everyone was like “Oh you fool” and then when war broke out and the emperor conscripted all the able body men to fight in his army, his son was passed over because of his broken leg. He did not perish in battle as the other sons did and everyone then said, “Oh how lucky you bought that horse and your son broke his leg.” etc. etc. And I shared about the King who received the golden ring with the inscription “This too shall pass” and how the wisest man gave it to him and it helped him remember that the good and the bad, they all come and go and life is like one continual round of ups and downs.

I shared the analogy of how you can be in the ocean and take the pounding of the waves or you can grab your freaking surf board and ride the waves.

I reiterated the importance of perspective. I taught about how I choose to see trials as opportunities for growth because I believe the purpose of mortality is for me to become like God because one day I will be creating and governing “worlds without end.” If I think I’m going to go to Heaven and float on a cloud all day then I’m greatly mistaken (that sounds to me a lot like hell actually–purposeless floating?). Governing worlds I’m sure is a lot like being a parent and CEO. Day after day, minute to minute, I’m dealing with one problem after another. I don’t call them trials. Others might, but I choose to call them problems because problems have solutions. And just like math, once you know how to solve a problem, the science becomes fun. If we can view our “trials” and “afflictions” as problems with solutions and opportunities to learn and grow, I feel we will be free to enjoy Heaven here and now and not dream of a future day when all our worries and “problems” will go away.

In fact, if we can’t find Heaven here on Earth, I’m convinced we won’t find it when we die. There isn’t some magical transformation that makes a person happy. If we believe addicts will still struggle with their addictions and those who have other character flaws will still have them in the afterlife too, how can we begin to believe that those who can’t create happiness here and now will all the sudden be gifted that in the next life. Yes, happiness is a state of mind and something we create. It isn’t given. It isn’t bestowed. It’s self-created.

So I think I’m on a tangent now, but I shared these thoughts with my fellow sisters, along with my beliefs about how everything is always as it should be. Meaning God doesn’t make mistakes and he is at the helm. It is very powerful to embrace the belief that everything in your life is happening for a reason and that it is all a part of the divine unfolding. Yes, what if all the hell you think you are going through is happening just as the Lord intended? Because if He didn’t intend it, guess what? It wouldn’t be happening. He’s all powerful right? He can stop anything or start anything He wants. If He is all knowing and all loving, then EVERYTHING is always unfolding just as it should. So come what may and love it (yes, that is from Elder Wirthlin and I love him and that saying).

So if you are troubled on every side, close your eyes, wake up from your nightmare and create a new dream or reality (depends on which way you create your illusion). Tell yourself a different story about what is happening in your life. Change the chatter in your brain about how this is so bad or you are not good enough or this is so hard–and watch your so called afflictions become your greatest teachers. For I firmly believe that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

And the teacher will help you learn, develop and master additional skills.

How’s that for a perspective check?  I’ll remember to read my own words of wisdom if I ever forget why challenges are ever present.