Distraction: Are You Addicted To It?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/qthomasbower/3261010532/in/photolist-bqRoJM-9fAmVd-5YawPw-MFYo8h

An absolutely wonderful and wise person, James Van Praagh, described in one of his books what he felt held him back the most whenever he let it:  DISTRACTION! He put a large piece of paper on his refrigerator with that one word on it, to remind himself not to yield to the seductive power of getting distracted from his purpose or in his life. He wasn’t suggesting we must be focused all the time. But he was observing that we must be wiling to allow quiet time, reflective time, and also to use time with some form of intention.

No Quiet Time

What is it we seem to do these days? It isn’t to allow quiet time. Very much the opposite. Pema Chodron described in an interview with Bill Moyers that when she was on a plane journey, the battery of sounds from devices all around her was overwhelming–cell phones, broadcasts, movies, laptops, video games–no one was just sitting and looking out the window, or engaged in thought–the closest they came to quiet time was when they were sleeping. What struck her most was that people seemed afraid to be in their own thoughts, as if there was some real disconnect going on between the inner and outer selves.

Becoming Oblivious

Late in his life Ray Bradbury watched people walking along the street with ear buds, listening to a device, oblivious to the world around them, and not speaking to the person they were with. He shouted out in frustration that he’d written a story about that very happening in 1953 and it was supposed to be science fiction! But the telling point in his story wasn’t that we should not enjoy listening to a recording–perhaps an audiobook, or music, but that we seemed to use our devices unceasingly, constantly, for everything–as if being without the device were impossible. What would he say to the sea of heads walking along the streets now! Heads everywhere bent to their cell phones anxiously seeing what message had come in. Was it important? Did it help them discover some idea? Was it vital to receive, so much so they had to check even while dining or at a movie and grow anxious, get an adrenaline flow, if no messages showed up for awhile? Unless they were emergency personnel or doctors, they had no reason to do this–did they?

So What Is Going On?

Maybe people cannot stand themselves, or are afraid of their own thoughts? Sure, sometimes, we all are. But this level of usage, this passion for checking for messages, is different in degree, in its omnipresent visibility. This kind of distraction, at a subconscious level, comes from a persistent,  almost insatiable desire to escape the reality that is, to control reality as much as possible, to make sure everything that is going on is known, sorted, addressed–with nothing left to chance.

Addiction Tipping Point

It’s possible that soon we will have reached a tipping point, in which our consuming need to be “doing” something has translated into an addiction to stare at our phones–not missing a single message, or a new tweet, or an ad for a movie, or a news flash, or a word from an unknown admirer–anything will do.

It is a global event. Each country has its own version of this, whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, or Whatsapp, and more. It is a global phenomenon that on its good side allow a level of communication unheard of, unimagined, in just a decade. But at what price?

Addictive Effect On Us

It is also a terrible burden, for it slices our life into fragments of experience. And these fragments are forgotten as soon as they arrive–our need is to have them happen, not to remember them. They keep us from ourselves, from our work, and from each other–we have become silos of texting.

Perhaps most of all it is the distraction of our technology that has taken us away from being involved in life in deeper ways.

It has taken us away from  being “present” in our own life.

But the technology is not at fault. It is neutral. It makes no decisions. It has no power. It does not control anything. Unless we say so.

We are the ones who choose to give our own personal power away to it.

We always, always, always have the right to say NO to using the devices, to turning on the phones. We can–sometimes–refuse the distraction of it all. Our decision. Our responsibility. Our choice.

What Does That Mean?

Are we are willing to know who we are and, for a while at least,
enter the quiet time within, uninterrupted?

 

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Erasing the Debris of Old Energy

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0--Thicket--Haataja

Erasing the debris of old energy frees us. But it is not easy to do. It is like trying to cut through a dense thicket with a pocket knife. We often cannot fathom what a better tool might be, or even how to use it. Yet that debris weighs us down, saps our energy, so that we are not giving 100% of ourselves to life and living.

How can we remove that debris? What often goes unacknowledged is that sometimes we don’t want to–not because we want to stay where we are so much as that we are afraid to move out of the familiar, even if that familiar state is not good for us.

Change–any kind of change–is a step out into the unknown. It isn’t surprising how many of us hesitate to do that. Anything could happen and what control would we have over it, when the shift into something new has no markers for us to follow?

But the heavy word in that sentence is “control.” It is fear that drives us when we think something could be out of our control. We are not accustomed to letting life evolve. We have to make things happen–our way. And there is the difficulty–the thicket we create for ourselves, and the debris we keep adding to it, inside ourselves, to make sure we are safe–all comes from the feeling that whatever happens must be our way or else it does not make sense to us.

Staying aware but allowing each moment to be whatever it is, whatever it is showing us–this is not easy to do. It takes practice.

That practice is to let go–let go of our demand that everything be safe and stay safe, be familiar and stay familiar. Of course, we want some predictability in our life–and we enjoy doing things in familiar ways for study, for community, for entertainment. But that is different than choosing to leave our comfort zone in an action of trust that new worlds of perception might open, or are opening.

Our creativity–at a core level–comes from allowing ourselves to explore other ways of being. We don’t have to follow them, necessarily. But we discover suddenly there is a new energy in us, running through us, that in its natural evolution expands our consciousness.

And in essence, consciousness–all levels of our consciousness–creates the precious uniqueness of who we are.

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Dare To Be Known

dare to be known

If there is one thing that seems to affect most of us, it is a hesitancy to dare to be known, to let who we are “show up” — so that our authentic selves are visible wherever we are. Instead, we try to hide, to disguise, to cover up, to misdirect any attention away from our true inner being. It could even be said we are content to be anonymous.

Now, by all accounts, this appears to be the opposite of our day-to-day experience wherein each person we encounter wants their opinion, thought, idea, or outlook to be front and center. People want to be heard, to be noticed, to have a feeling of being wanted, desirable, important, liked, admired, praised. Each of us at some level feels each of these things.

The difference is that being noticed or praised or important has nothing to do with our authentic self. To dare to be known has nothing to do with any action we take or behavior we lay claim to.

Living an authentic life means we look at who we are in terms of one thing only–that we love who we are. Everything begins there.

What Is Your Inner Chatter About Yourself?

Have you caught yourself thinking negative things about your appearance, thoughts, behavior, outlook, achievements, social skills, intellect, likeability, worthiness? Or do you find most of the time the voice inside your head has good things to say — that you are not only loving but loved, that your presence on earth is unique and for that reason alone invaluable, that you matter as much as anyone else, that your outlook is creative and life-giving?

A good guess is that if you dared to log your inner chatter about yourself for even one hour, the negative to positive comments would have a ratio of 80/20 — or even 90/10. Most of us habitually diminish ourselves by feeling disappointment at our choices in the past, distress over our personality, uncertainty in what we believe, and intense fear other people will find out we are not valuable.

The truth is every person is valuable, no exceptions. What happens is we forget, or ignore, or cannot accept this truth. Why not? The reasons are as varied as the number of people on the planet. No two stories are the same.

Do You Deserve the Good Life?

You don’t have to do anything to deserve the good life. You ARE the good life, and every time you choose to know this — to remember this — you give that feeling to everyone you encounter.

It isn’t rocket science. If in your spirit you feel loved, then you automatically send that love out into the world wherever you go.This doesn’t mean you will like everyone you meet, or find common ground  with them, or experience only positive things. It just means you allow all that because it is life. You deal with what you have to and move on. Without judgment.

You don’t feel loved, you say? If you exist, you are loved, by God, by All That Is, by the Universe–you choose whatever word works for you. Just know it is true. There is no doubt of this. And you are meant to love who you are. Without judgment. Your presence here is no accident.

When we dare to be known as we are, we are saying YES to who we are.

It changes everything.

Try it just once for ten minutes. If you dare. You will be amazed at what happens.

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Trust Yourself

Trust Yourself

Do you trust yourself? Do you believe you are made of “star stuff,” as the scientists tell us? Do you know how perfect you are?

You do know these things. We all do, but we live life often in a state of amnesia, or as if this information is meant to be hidden away. Our focus is given over to time-honored distractions instead — fitting in, being a certain way to please another, choosing a safe career or path or point of view, not rocking the boat, settling for less, distrusting our abilities and talents…

and distrusting our ability to thrive.

Yet here we are, created in the image of God, every single person and creature and tree and flower on the planet. Every sigh of the wind, every pebble on a dirt path, every leaf blown across a field or along the street, every sea tide — all are evidence of God in and on the Earth, just as your own presence is.

Choosing to Say Yes

When you trust yourself, you say YES to life. You have already lived many stories, gone through many stages, and walked many unexpected paths.

It is a certainty things have not turned out the way you have planned, not always or even often. Life requires us to FEEL it all. It is a journey through your  feelings, according to the details  of your experiences and reactions and actions taken. Saying YES to this is acknowledging not only the life-force, but your own place in it.

There is no “objectivity.” What we see is through  the prism of our emotions. That is our purpose on this earth — to sort through our emotions and discover how to experience them in a way that adds to the quality of our life. This is how we bring passion into our heart and spirit.

Integrating Trust into Who You Are

There is no way anyone else’s feelings affect you as much as your own feelings do. They are the manifestation of your heart, not your brain — they are the source of joy or pain, according to how much you have discovered about yourself, and how  much of that you are willing to face, absorb, and integrate.

We tend to spend an inordinate amount of time doing what we are supposed to do. It is easier, and it is often safer. Yet it means — it always means — we are letting go of our innate being, who we are in God’s image — to accommodate a way of life that is not genuine to our soul.

Our public institutions — and that includes the law, religion, groups, and family — have rules for us to follow. These are often fine–they create a choreography of action and response, a dance, if you like, of what is both predictable  and unexpected. We learn from these. It is when we give our power — or trust — over to them to the exclusion of the inner heart that we begin to falter in spirit.

Integrating trust in ourselves into everything we do brings peace, and a joy that cannot  be contained.

It also brings a feeling of inner power, a feeling that we are meant to give service to the planet, to ourselves and those we love, and to the voice of the stars that sing all the time in our very cells.

 

 

 

Why John Williams Inspires Us…

why john williams inspires us...

It’s understood that music enhances films, and no one has done that better than John Williams. But as I listen to his compositions, I wonder sometimes whether in fact his music does much more. Perhaps sometimes his music is the primary reason the film succeeds.

The common cliche is that all filmmaking is a collaborative process, so I wager Williams would be the first to deny the possibility his music alters anything. He’s written so many scores, including the scores for Star Wars, Home, Alone!, E.T., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark,  Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Superman, Harry Potter–movies I adore.

But I find if I mute the score when I’m watching those films, something seriously changes. It is as if the heart of the film is absent. Not just its emotional feeling tone, but the reason I’m watching.

The Music Is Telling the Story…

Williams’ music creates the story at a level we can’t resist:

  • “Luke’s Theme” plays as young Skywalker looks out at the discs of two suns–it is the notes we hear that reveal Luke’s yearning–a haunting, unforgettable image.
  • The neighborhood filled with Christmas lights as the camera zooms in becomes enchanted with the synth chimes and celeste, the woodwinds and sleigh bells that Williams gives to the opening of Home, Alone! He used the celeste again in the first Harry Potter film as “Hedwig’s Theme.” Who doesn’t want to enter a magical world like these two musical openings promise? (I remember a television ad appearing before the first film was released playing this theme as it showed the snowy owl Hedwig tracking to a bookstore–it pulled one in like a magnet.)
  • In Superman, there is marvelous thematic music, but underlying it also is something in the music itself that offers a sense of the unknown, of the immense mythology of the franchise, its origins back in the 30s, and the entry into a world that has such a wonderful being in it, our own mystical yearning for that kind of goodness.

His Music IS Storytelling

In these movies, as in the others he scored for, including Schindler’s List, I can’t separate the music from the film itself. Without the music, the movie loses more of its meaning.  What Williams has created does define the experience of watching the story. His music is storytelling. It can’t be left out.

As in Star Wars…

I remember in an interview George Lucas said that on the opening night of Star Wars he and his wife Marcia went out to get something to eat in L.A., and were astonished to see a mob of people across the street and a line around the block. He wondered why and suddenly realized it was to see Star Wars. He hadn’t expected such response. He felt it was a film he hadn’t been able to shape in its full potential, that he lacked the technical devices he needed to make it better.

I remember watching it in a theater in New York City, in Times Square, a few days after its release, and taking my three-year old son with me, and both of us sat mesmerized along with the rest of the world by the opening credits made colossal by Williams’ extraordinary music as the story began to unfold. Imagine that opening scene without that remarkable score. If for Lucas the technical aspects were not what he had dreamed of, Williams’ music made the entire movie a riveting, totally absorbing and emotional experience.

A Truly American Composer

He wrote symphonic themes, too, that were so essentially, blazingly American, defining the films that way. I remember hearing him conduct his original music for the film The Reivers. It held in it the same contours of folk melodies attached to the American landscape that appeared with Aaron Copland’s exquisite music in “Appalachian Spring” and “The Red Pony,” or Virgil Thomson’s “The Plow That Broke the Plains” for the documentary on the Dust Bowl. Williams is a true artist, and how fortunate we are he brought that same classical tradition into the movies.

And how fortunate that insightful directors asked him to write his brilliant  music for their films. So he did in ways that ensured the characters and their stories would forever be part of our hearts, and often, part of our souls.

“In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions”—Book of John, 14:2

"In My Father's House Are Many Mansions"

These words from the Book of John tell us we are not alone. Each one of us is entitled to a place, a life of our own, and yet we are connected together in the consolation and caring vibration of God—“my Father’s house”.

These are mansions of the soul. Each one holds a soul experiencing the energy of the universe, living in the image of God, and living for a little while on this complicated, precious Earth.

The concept of separation is an illusion. Even our scientists admit this, that everything is connected by what they call a zero point field—that we exist in multiple dimensions at once, that time and space are artificial, and that NOTHING exists apart from this—that to think anything is separate is to describe the impossible. They know this now, but our mystics and wise men and women have known it for millennia.

Yet we live day to day as if our world is separate from everyone else’s. It’s true, our individual experience is different, one from the other. But our connection stands with us, powered in a hidden form, but there. When we think or feel that something vital is missing, every part of us—body, mind, and spirit–are negatively affected. The sense we have lost connection is in fact our greatest fear, because we KNOW in our deepest self its presence and power are what sustain us.

In truth the only thing missing is our embrace of ourselves as evidence of God in every moment. We can stand aside and claim that for others, but too often we seem unable to do this for ourselves. Everything that brings us despair or anxiety comes from not having faith that we matter.

The truth lies in knowing we are never alone, and realizing that we are indeed here for a reason—as the manifestation of the infinite, expanding creativity of God. No matter what we do or how we act and think, that truth does not alter. We are blessed by God before we take our first breath. We are blessed at the moment of conception.

We make choices that do not seem to serve us, but those choices eventually bring us the very awareness and the learning that we need most. This life on Earth is a school, if you like, for the spirit, but one in which we are not judged or categorized in any way. The larger picture is not ours to know, but this much we can trust–we ARE created out of the very image of the divine, and as souls in human form we always reside in God’s “house”–as surely as you take a breath now.

Living in the Christ Consciousness

Christ Consciousness

The Christ Consciousness is a transformative power. The American prophet Edgar Cayce said this in a reading:

Question: What is the main purpose of this incarnation?
Answer: To glorify the Christ Consciousness in the earth — in the lives of those with whom ye come in contact, and to live the same thyself.
— Edgar Cayce Reading 2441-4

The Pattern of the Christ

The pattern of the Christ as we apply it in our lives reveals our awareness, our consciousness, of what it means to give service to God by how we treat those who cross our path. It registers at our deepest inner being, the heart of who we are. Cayce described this Christ pattern as the evidence of the oneness we have with God, for it gives us a way to enter a higher frequency of perception, and so accelerates our ability to feel compassion, to live with patience, and to offer kindness and love no matter what is going on.

Once we see in others the manifestation of God, evidence of the Christ Spirit, we give up judgment, resentment, and fear. We let go of the need to be “right,” and feel instead a freedom of spirit, a release from the inner demons of helplessness and powerlessness. We know instead that our job is to bring the actual living practice of this Christ Consciousness into all our encounters with others. We don’t choose who deserves our best self–we give it naturally because that is what we are–we become conduits, messengers, of the Christ Consciousness on earth.

How Does the Christ Consciousness Manifest?

This means simply we do not act with indifference, nor with violence–we do not speak with mockery nor disdain–and we do not yield to the ego’s need to defend itself by rejecting what we do not understand. We understand that we are first in God’s love, and that the same is true for everyone. No soul is left alone. The Christ Consciousness is the path of absolute acceptance of others as they are, not as we want them to be. As so many prophets and mystics have told us, “wanting” is lack and illusion. We are gifts of life, with all our flaws, for these very “flaws” are in truth manifestations of God’s infinite creative power, of a diversity that takes our breath away. Even a falling leaf is a creation to be revered. Everything is. We are meant to remember this.

What Then Must We Do?

In Luke it is written:

“And the people asked him [John the Baptist], saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely…

And as the people were in expectation, and …. mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.”

The life of Jesus was the presence of the Christ Consciousness incarnate, and he said over and over that his awareness was one each of us could gain and gather–if we were willing to live with that awareness and accept it as our own.

It could be said this is too difficult, or that it takes a lifetime and more to accomplish if it is possible at all. True on both counts. But there is a third way. It is very simple. We say “Enough of the old energy of fear and separation that has consumed and driven me. I welcome the Christ Consciousness into my heart.”  And so it is.

What Being Overwhelmed by the Election Really Means

Tor Paulin--Kirlian (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A dear friend of mine, Preeti Agnani, listened to me rail and rant about the election results and then she said to me “We all are powerful vibrational beings.” Her message went on to describe how we choose the emotions we experience. I knew this intellectually, but it was not working so well in my heart. I could not understand what to me seemed so disastrous an outcome. Then she said the Master Planner knows all, and would not let something happen that did not benefit humanity and this earth.

She is right. And in that moment, all my rage ended, my anger evaporated, my judgment of those who had voted for the winner disappeared. My next thought was that I could no more understand what had happened than could the birds in flight or the trees shedding their leaves, but then it occurred to me the trees and the birds very likely understood the vitality of life far better than I did. They had absolute faith that their presence and anything that happened to them was intended, and an act of grace.

In the end, in the larger picture we as yet cannot see, there is a plan of great purpose and it is one formed and extended out to us by this Master Planner. We are never left bereft–we only think we are, which is what brings to us the overwhelming feeling of despair, regret, and powerlessness, such as I felt. Yet these negative feelings are not our birthright. Our birthright is freedom. We are meant to feel inner freedom no matter what happens around us.

Mirrors of Our Intentions

Events are mirrors for us–opportunities to see more clearly, and to choose our way, instead of reacting to what appears so overwhelming in the moment. We are meant to thrive in the world, in our lives, in our whole being. We make a mistake if we think anything external to ourselves can stop our capacity to feel joy at any time. It is always there for us.

I have spent a lifetime learning such ideas and ideals, yet until now I did not fully absorb the validity of how we are meant to live, to AGREE, no matter what, that we had this  freedom of choice. The catalyst for me was the shock I felt at the election outcome, a feeling that was more traumatic than 9/11, because it signaled a vast division and separation in my country–and in me. I had no idea how to move forward. I was choosing every hour–every minute–to stay inside that sense of utter futility. There seemed no way out of it.

Yet it was STILL an ongoing matter of personal choice to accept that state or to change it. In every moment I continued to have the freedom to choose my course and mindset and emotions.  I had only to look into what was and is, accept that what happened had its own trajectory, one that did not belong to me directly, and allow my own path to unfold again.

I have always loved the biblical verse from 1 Corinthians 13:12:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I will never choose again to enter that feeling of despair and outrage. I know its source–I know it grew out of an immense caring for others and this world–but the feeling that manifested of despair and outrage served no purpose–brought no relief–changed nothing.

Let It Go

The truth is we can only change ourselves. We do this by allowing the feeling of being overwhelmed to exist–it is our human aspect, after all, to feel emotions–but to give it the briefest duration, and then let it go. Emotions are not intended physiologically to endure. As I wrote in an earlier post–every emotion has a life span of 90 seconds at the cellular level. This is confirmed by science. When we let go of a negative emotion, we stop circling in an endless loop, in the lost and helpless state of mind and heart that overtakes us. When we allow positive feelings, they are signaled by light in the cell. This is true of all living things–like the kirlian photograph of a leaf shown above.

We drop that negative emotion as if it is a stone heated in a fire and placed in our hands. We let go of anything that brings us down, that makes us feel powerless. We say instead what my friend Preeti said, that we are powerful vibrational beings who can send ripples out into the world and effect the changes that matter to us. We do this by focusing on our own gifts, our own caring, our own compassion.

Another Way

I often consider this verse in my posts, from 1 Timothy 4:14:

Do not neglect the gift that is in you.”

When we yield to despair, to feeling helpless, to being overwhelmed–when we let these emotions stay with us–there is no way our inherent, innate, creative,  and unique gifts can be expressed. They are instead shadowed and crowded out by grief, by anger, by sadness, and by fear of what will come. Far better that we allow into our heart and mind the joy that does belong to us, the peace that is always within us–that we can ask to meet in silence–and the awareness of our extraordinary spirit.

For we are indeed spiritual beings having a human experience. And we are meant to honor that by the compassion, joy, and creative force we bring to every moment. That is our power.

We are intended to be here. We are an act of grace.

Life Even in the Midst of Chaos

Pearl

We are all able to navigate in our world with care and kindness, but when we face difficult times our tendency is to withdraw and retreat, or to strike out, both the result of great inner stress.

The thing is, life even in the midst of chaos shows itself as a choreography, a dance of change that is never still.

Yet within that, we have a still center, a place in our inner self that is always calm. I was once told a story that is a metaphor for this. A pearl lies in the shell of an oyster on the sand at the bottom of the sea. Wild storms come up and roil the ocean’s surface, creating massive waves and turbulence. Anyone in a ship riding those waves must prepare for possible death, for the power of the wind and sea far exceed anything a human being can control. The chaos renders a person helpless—unless they understand the sea itself, unless they recognize their job is not to control it but to remain aware and alert, ready for whatever has to be done, but not afraid  of it. Not an easy path or choice.

Only—there is that pearl…far below on the sea floor. Not swept away by the turbulence above, even when touched by it, the pearl continues to form, created over and over in layers by the animal that inhabits the shell, sometimes for years. Like the lilies of the field, the inhabitant of the shell does not question its right to exist, or stop its own creative force. The result, we know, is precious.

Nor can you stop your own creative force and will it to be silent. But you can enter silence as the path into the center stillness. Stay there awhile, a few minutes each day. Not in some formal meditation, but as a suspension of whatever else you are doing or must do.

Give that to yourself.

[Credit: Photowitch | Dreamstime.com]

How Not To Give Away Your Personal Power

Personal Power

You do not need to give away your personal power, that inner awareness and trust in who you are and in your unique worth and worthiness. But many of us do. We believe for some reason that letting someone else define us, or insist on how we must be and act and think, will bring us favor and approval. No. It never does. What it brings is an abrogation of our true being, of our best self, and of our commitment to life–not just to our own, but to all life. Everything is connected. What we do and think sends out a vibration that affects not only those around us, but the whole planet.

In the previous post I wrote about the need to be authentic in dealing with others. Holding on to your personal power is the foundation that allows you the freedom to live in that authentic state. It is not easy to do in a world that expects us to be and act in conformity with the status quo.

For women in particular this loss of personal power is more common than not. Most women are brought up to please, and no matter how far they may advance in life, that training tears at them, making the need for approval essential. Women who go beyond this barrier are women who embrace their right and freedom to exist as they are–people like Dr. Jane Goodall, Maya Angelou, Louise Hay, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Leymah Gbowee, Rachel Carson, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, Oprah Winfrey, Helen Clark, and more. The opinions of others do not stop them, and neither does self-doubt and fear, even when they have both. They choose to honor their path.

It is something we are all entitled to have–that inner sense of who we are, to act and feel and speak as we are–no matter what. It is more than having confidence or bravery–it is having a deep, unmistakable awareness our value is derived not from what others do or think or say, but from our own innate right to exist and thrive, to create a life that matters to us.

Personal power encompasses personal responsibility. It defines how we behave in each instance of our life by the choices we make. If we assume that responsibility, then we refuse to blame anyone else for outcomes. If we act in our most authentic way, truest to what we understand best, we cannot fault ourselves. It is when we cavil, deceive, pretend, manipulate, hide, and allow ourselves to be dishonest in any way that we relinquish that responsibility, and with it our essential purpose and life force.

Again, this whole idea is especially difficult for many women who resist and resent having to assume control over their own lives. Women are still conditioned to expect that a man on a white horse will show up–that provider, that other person who will take care of them. It is an old energy, though, one that stops progress in the inner and outer worlds. It is a barrier to freedom.

And personal power is all about freedom.