Friday, December 25, 2015

The Gift of Being Different

Robert May, a Canadian man, was facing the worst Christmas of his life. Sitting in a small, drafty apartment, with his wife dying of cancer, and his four-year-old daughter crying on his lap, he faced her question: Why couldn't her mother come home? Why wasn't she like other mothers?

Bob's life had always been difficult. As a child, he'd been frequently bullied by other boys. He'd been too small to compete in sports. He was often called terrible names. He was always different. He never seemed to fit in.

After completing college, he found his life greatly improved. He got a job as a copywriter for the T Eaton Stores. He married a woman named Evelyn, and they had a little girl. His brief period of happiness, though, ended with Evelyn's cancer, which took away their savings.

Now he and his little daughter lived in a two-room apartment in a poor area of Toronto. His wife died days before Christmas in 1938. He couldn't afford a present for his little girl, but he was determined to give her something. So he made a story book, his autobiography in disguised form.

This was the story of a reindeer who was laughed at by all the other reindeer for his big shiny nose.

Bob finished the story in time to give it to his daughter on Christmas Day.

The general manager of the store where he worked heard about the storybook and gave Bob a nominal fee to buy the rights to print it. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was distributed to children visiting Santa Clause in the T. Eaton stores. By 1946 they'd distributed more than 6 million copies.

A major publisher asked to buy the rights to print an updated version. The CEO of Eaton's returned all the rights to Bob, and the book became a best seller. Bob, remarried with a growing family became wealthy.

Then his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to the story. Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, recorded it, and it was released in 1949. The song sold more records than any Christmas song but "White Christmas."

Bob, the misfit, who in an act of love, created a gift from his heart for his little girl, found that gift returning to him again and again. And he learned that, just as Rudolph did, that being different can be a blessing.

He shared that lesson with the world. And every one of us can celebrate our differences. Thanks, Bob. Your gift continues to give.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holly: The Bach Flower Remedy for Love

Unconditional love, the positive energy expressed by the Holly Bach Remedy, is the most natural emotion. Your animal companions know that; they express forgiveness and forgetting with every breath of their beings. Humans, however, find this more difficult. Part of our problem is that we learn early on that no one will forgive our anger.

As children, we are punished for the spontaneous expression of anger (did you ever tell your parents that you hated them?). Schools reinforce the lesson, and by the time we're adults, we're convinced that anger has the danger potential of volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.

If anger is violent, destructive, and self-destructive, it’s usually because we’ve held it in for too long. That’s why it’s important to express.

When someone’s spent a long time being depressed, feeling and expressing anger is a giant step on the road of recovery. When we're angry, energy is moving, and sometimes this emotion washes away blockages and resistance and leads to healing.

I believe in accepting anger, learning to handle it, and allowing it.


Pretend you have a friend, Sam, who continually talks about himself and never wants to hear about your life. You’ve known him a long time, and you think that tuning him out can preserve your friendship (and, despite this issue, you do have one). Sometimes an evening with him leaves you angry, and you may wait a while before seeing him again.

Your anger accumulates, and you tell other friends that you can hardly bear to be around Sam. Finally, after a day when everything went wrong, you have dinner with him. He begins to tell you what a terrible day he had, and you explode. You never speak to him after that, but who needs that kind of friendship?

If you’d acknowledged the anger sooner and decided to address it, could have handled the situation in a way that was less hurtful both to you and to Sam.


From the time we told our parents we hated them (or didn't tell them but thought it), most of us have used anger to shield ourselves from our disappointment, hurt, and vulnerability.

The spirit guide, Seth (channeled by the late Jane Roberts) said that anger can bring us back to love. Have you ever had a fight with someone you loved that resulted in a tearful reconciliation and the feeling that you loved this person more than ever? Your decision not to hold onto your anger was a statement that you wanted reconciliation.

To make sure that the person doesn’t hear the anger, you need to speak the love—and strongly.


I can best deal with my anger when I realize that my main problem isn’t how others treat me but how I treat myself. When I’m cut off from the source of love, which is myself, it's easy to find evidence in the external world that others love me imperfectly.

I also take Holly. All of us can benefit from its healing energies. In its positive state, Holly represents being in harmony with oneself and others, taking joy in the happiness of others, and being an expression of unconditional love.

Dr. Bach said: "Holly protects us from everything that is not Universal Love. Holly opens the heart and unites us with Divine Love."

Many people bring the holly plant indoors during the Christmas season to symbolize Christ's rebirth. We need not be Christian to honor the Holly flower as a means for resurrecting in each of us the spirit of love and divine communion, which is our birthright.

This blog post is excerpted from Bach Flower Remedies: A User-friendly Guide. You can click on the cover to the left for more information. It’s available at Amazon.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Being Mindful about Love

When I was a child, my father habitually manipulated his children to feel sorry for him. As a complementary activity, he subtly coerced us to behave in certain ways that he claimed would make him happier. The tagline was, “If you love me, you’ll . . .”

My training was that when you loved people, you did things that you didn’t necessarily want to do, things that you, in some dim but emerging awareness, knew violated your integrity and sense of self.

As an adult who learned a thing or two about psychology, I came to realize that his behavior was that of a self-proclaimed victim who used this role to dominate others. I learned to spot specimens of that type and refused to give in to their strategies.

Recently, though, someone made some classic Victim-as-Dominator moves on me on the false premise that I had wronged him. The stakes were very high. Either I gave in, or our friendship would be over.

When an acquaintance attempts to dominate you, the cost of refusal is relatively low. This, however, was someone who meant a lot to me, someone I loved and whom I thought loved me.

After a certain amount of anguish, I turned to meditation and mindful contemplation. I came to understand that for the sake of my integrity I needed to turn down the invitation to be dominated and coerced by him. To be untrue to myself for the sake of friendship would render the friendship meaningless.

My decision put my feet on high moral ground, but my heart was in tatters. I needed to heal it with something more effective than the bandage of “You did the right thing.”

I’m not a regular Bible reader, but I remembered a famous Biblical passage about love and looked it up. This verse in Corinthians 13:4-8 says as much to me about love as anything I’ve read.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

When I read it, I found my cure. I recognized that what I thought was love on his part was the familiar “I will love you if . . .” Though the relationship had had many high points, his demand had no element of love in it. It isn’t what I want to either give or receive in my life.

In the end, this experience is a gift. I’ve removed a toxic relationship from my life and received clarity. My New Year’s resolution is to shine that clear light on all of my relationships—because I want to live a life in which I experience and share love.

Have you had a positive experience in letting go of a damaging relationship? I’d love to hear about it.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Losing Things

In November I took a workshop. During the course of the two days, I lost things.

I lose and misplace things from time to time, but this was an extravaganza.

On Saturday night, I was back home, getting things out of the car, and I couldn’t find my water bottle. I told myself not to make this a big deal, went into the house, and made it a big deal. By the time I decided to look in the car again, the bottle had turned into a sacred chalice.

I left the house, and my cat, Pangur, ran outside for the first time since she joined me six months ago. This was probably a “I’ll show you you’re not the only one who can leave,” commando action, but I was beginning to feel that the universe was conspiring against me.

It was dark outside, she’s a black cat, and she cleverly dove into the bushes and became invisible. This was definitely a big deal. I’d never find her; she’d get hit by a car; and I’d suffer for the rest of my life. I recovered long enough to go back inside for a bag of treats, which I took outside and rattled. She forgot that she was punishing me and ran back into the house.

The next morning in the workshop room, I found the water bottle on the table where I’d left it. After lunch, though, I couldn’t find my purse. I fled the workshop and went downstairs to the hotel front desk, where no purse had been turned in. This was a BIG deal. Not only was my life over, but I wouldn’t even be able to drive home.

I went back upstairs, looked on the floor, and then for no particular reason, looked up at the coat rack. The purse was sitting on top. Apparently, someone put it there.

Why? I asked myself when the workshop was over. Was I losing my mind?

Yes. During the course of the workshop’s intensive exercises, I’d lost beliefs that were old friends, maybe not the best friends to have, but they’d provided the illusion of security. I was there for the purpose of losing them, so I thought I couldn’t mourn about that. Instead, I transferred my panic to a water bottle, cat, and purse.

I learned an important lesson from this: that the casting away of core beliefs, habits, and other structures I’ve built to keep myself supposedly safe IS A BIG DEAL. If I don’t acknowledge that it can be frightening, I’m going to frighten myself in other ways because the emotions, whether they be fear, grief, or massive insecurity, need to be expressed.

Mindfulness means attentiveness to my emotional state. When I’m tuning into myself, I can take the necessary precautions against the results of inner chaos. I can deliberately notice where the water bottle, the purse, and the cat are. More important, I put myself in training to be aware of my outer world, too. In such a state, each moment matters.

I don’t know if I’ve completely learned the lesson, but I’m sure I’m getting closer.

The workshop, by the way, was called Matrix Reimprinting, and it was pretty great. If you ever take it, though, hang on to your stuff—your physical stuff. Let the rest go, but be sure to wave good-bye.