HotValentineChocolateIt’s Springtime…. and Love is in the air…!  It’s actually ALWAYS in the air,   but we aren’t ever-present to it… It’s nice when we can really listen and hear the message that it’s there, it’s alive, and it’s for everyone….

My friend, Janey, was walking in Soho the other day – and she couldn’t help but hear a couple talking behind her… mostly the man…

Man: “I love you so much, I just want everyone to know…!”

Janey heard sounds of giggling and kissing….

Man: “I want to rent a store down here and put a sign in the window so everyone can see it, ‘I love my wife so much!’”

More smooching noises….

Janey couldn’t contain herself anymore.  She turned around and said to them, “I didn’t mean to be nosy, but I couldn’t help but overhear you and I just want you to know what a wonderful thing that was for me to hear on the street today… There should be more conversations like that in the world every day!”

That conversation lit up Janey’s day… When she told me about it, it lit up my day as well….

It’s amazing what love can do…

It made me think of how we can be present to love in all its astounding revelations…   I remembered something that happened a few months ago that made me realize how much I would like to have true love in my own life…

I watch late night talk shows – my favorites are David Letterman and, right after him, Craig Ferguson.   To me, Craig is the “thinking man’s late night talk show host” – he’s incredibly funny AND there have been times when he has also been eloquent and serious — often about his own sobriety and who he’ll make fun of and who he won’t… I like that kind of integrity in my funny men…

Once, Craig had a show with guest Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, which lifted my spirits and made me smile for days afterwards… I laughed right along with how jocular and playful he was – I had always thought of Father Tutu as so serious before that night… It was lovely to see him interact with Craig in such a light-hearted way…

And…

For a very long time, I must have been holding it that there was this little “late night singles” thing going on here…   David Letterman only recently married his girlfriend of 23 years and with whom he has a five-year-old son, and Craig wasn’t married and never spoke of a girlfriend or about his personal romantic life at all….

And, of course, me…

In December, Craig’s mother died. He opened his show that night with the caveat that it would not be “comedy as usual” – that night was devoted to his mother and that’s what he would be talking about…

I was drawn, mesmerized, by stories of his mother and the funeral and the beautiful piece that he read from Victor Hugo’s “Toilers of the Sea” and how he finally ended the show with his mother’s favorite song – a song that he admitted was awful,  a calypso version of “Rivers of Babylon” by Boney M,   but that was her favorite song and that’s how we were going out that night….

And, yes, it IS a dreadful song….

I sat there with tears in my eyes as I listened to it….

Craig’s obvious grief stayed with me over the next few days… I found myself offering up my prayers for him… “Please take care of him, God… he seems so alone….”

After New Year’s, Craig returned from vacation – I knew it was vacation because it was two weeks of reruns – and the first image on the screen at the beginning of the show was Craig’s left hand – WITH A WEDDING RING ON HIS THIRD FINGER!

Yes!  Craig Ferguson had gotten married!   This show was upbeat and happy and full of possibility and joy!  He spoke of his new wife, Megan, and showed pictures of his wedding… a gorgeous picture at night in the snow in Vermont… Craig in a kilt (and joking about THAT all night, how the cold Vermont air and the deep snow took it’s toll on his traditional kilt-wearing…) and Megan in a white princess coat and muff…

I was so happy for him… sitting alone on my white couch in my living room….

At the end of each show, Craig puts his feet up on the desk and usually does a little “bit” on “What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?”   That night, it was cute and sweet and about his wife and how he loves her and how he can’t flirt anymore on the show… “but if we ever get George Clooney on this stage, all bets are off…”

He ended it with…

“Put the kettle up, Megan, I’ll soon be home…”

I was suddenly moved…. what he said and the way he said it was so intimate and loving and …

I knew that I wanted that for myself…

Perhaps soon, one of you will be walking up the street and you’ll hear a couple behind you talking and giggling and smooching… and the man will be saying, “I always wanted to love a little red-haired girl like the one in Charlie Brown and now I have you…. “

And, you’ll turn around… and I’ll wink at you…

Deliciously yours in the Joy of it All, Linda

A few people have written to me  requesting the piece  from “Toilers of the Sea” that Craig Ferguson read on his show to celebrate his mother’s death.  I didn’t put it here because this was mean to be a happy story; however, it is a beautiful passage and so I offer it here for you:

“I am standing upon that fore shore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She’s an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs as a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. 

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone.”  “Gone where?”  Gone from my sight, that’s all. 

She is just as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she left my sight, just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. 

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.  And, just at that moment, when someone at  MY side says, “There, she’s gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,  ‘Here she comes!’ 

…and that is dying.”              

 From, “The Toilers of the Sea,” by Victor Hugo

 © Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

Advertisements

chocolate-heart-sl-257663-lHi, Everyone!  It’s Linda here again… And, Oh, what a delicious treat I have for you!!    I love stories about my friends because they are the delights of my life…

AND we aren’t always wonderful with our friends… are we?    And, if we can’t always be great with our friends — if we can make even the ones we love wrong, what chance do we have with the world? 

There’s a way out, but it doesn’t come easy….  AND it’s worth the effort….  

See if you agree…. 

This is a story about two of my friends who taught me an amazing lesson about love…   actually, I think we all taught each other an awesome lesson about life and love and partnership  and communication and being together in relationship… 

The three of us were in a yearlong course together this year called “Power and Contribution” – all about taking a stand for what we want to see in the world — making a promise to the whole world that we will live inside of for the rest of our lives….     Mine starts out, “By 2025, I promise a world in which all people know themselves as lovable and precious….”    Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? 

So, what shows up when you take a stand like that?  THAT….being loving, treating everyone as the precious Beings that we all are…  and everything that is NOT THAT!  Not feeling lovable and precious, making it so everyone around me doesn’t feel lovable and precious….  

It really takes something for me to stay present to my stand for myself and the world ALL THE TIME…. sometimes, I wonder if it’s even possible… and then…   I create it all over again that it is MY possibility… and I’m alive once more, joyfully living inside my promise! 

So, here’s Laurie and Shana and me – all up to really great things – all three of us committed to life and to each other and to everyone else in the course…. and, to even greater things…. to everyone in the World! 

I was at Shana’s house a couple of weeks before our fourth weekend of the course….  five of our group showed up and it seemed like everything was going great… we ordered food in, we shared what we were up to…  the only downer of the evening for me was that I looked in my handbag to find my wallet to pay for dinner and it wasn’t there.  I was scared at first that I had been pick-pocketed on the subway, but then I remembered that I had taken it out to buy something on-line… “Hmm…,” I wondered….  “had I forgotten to put it back afterwards…?”  

No problem.  Shana covered me and I promised to give her the $11 at the reviewer’s Landmark Forum that we were doing that weekend…. 

Shana pulled out boxes and boxes of chocolate…  She had had a chocolate-tasting event as a fund-raiser the week before… and, now, here we were, all tasting, yet again, all these different kinds of delicious, delightful chocolates…..  

(You all know I LOVE chocolate, right?) 

There was one in particular that I loved… chocolate that had chili pepper in it…  what an unusual flavor!  Quite unexpected…. and so yummy… 

As we all got ready to leave, we helped Shana clean up and put everything back….  I saw that there were three pieces of the chili chocolate left in the package…  I couldn’t resist….  I called out to her, “Can I take these home?” 

And, off we all went… 

I saw Shana briefly on Friday as the Forum got started, but when I sought her out later, she was nowhere to be found… 

The course was so glorious…  I thought, “How could there be anything new to get out of the Landmark Forum after all this time?”  Wow, how wrong could I be…!  it’s all about “seeing with new eyes” and we get to do that all the time…  like an adventure to a new land each and every day… 

When I arrived home Saturday night, I realized that I hadn’t seen Shana at all that day….  Hmmm….  “I wonder what happened?”  

I dashed off an email to her…  “Where were you?  I have your money for you….  AND, is everything OK?” 

I awakened early Sunday morning for Day 3 of the Landmark Forum and did a fast fly-by of my emails….  There was one from Shana – she explained that she had left mid-day on Friday with a head-ache…. and, then she wrote, “Can we speak on Monday because something has been on my mind and I think it’s time we talked…..”   

What could that be? 

I wrote back that if anything was bothering her, I wanted to clean it up right away….  could we talk that day on one of my breaks?  “Call me,” I wrote. 

It sat in the background all day….  It didn’t  ruin the day… but there was an “incompletion” there – this gnawing feeling that something was wrong… 

I watched myself in action over the next few days…  I went from worried:  “What did I do wrong?” to frantic:  “What’s this all about?” – and then, in crept the anger….  “What the….???” 

Human beings are so funny, really….  we make up stories of what something is about because we cannot stand not to know, then we believe those stories, then we make the other person wrong and we justify ourselves….  and, half the time, we don’t even know what it’s all about in the first place!!!  

What made it even more frustrating for me was that it was a busy week for both of us and we kept missing each other’s calls…. the longer whatever it was stayed in the air, the worse it got… 

By the time we got to San Francisco the following weekend, we could barely speak to each other….!  We tried to talk about what was there for each of us…  Who could hear anything?  What was there for both of us was anger, defense, justification…. 

She was annoyed at me for talking too much,  for taking the chocolate, and for forgetting my wallet… 

I was annoyed that she threw a “sour” note into my Forum weekend and didn’t give me the opportunity to get things “straightened out” between us….  When she brought up the chocolate…  I really lost it…! 

“Lovable and precious…?”  Hah!  We were like vipers in a nest…. 

And, we were roommates! 

And…. we REALLY love each other. 

We finally got it that we couldn’t do this ourselves… we needed someone who was not involved to “mediate” this – whatever “this” was…  we both knew that it wasn’t really about what we said it was about…  we were “hooked” by something…. something that reminded each of us of a time when we felt small… and now something triggered that hidden feeling… and both of us were right “there” again…. 

Like two little three-year-olds, fighting over a toy…. 

We agreed that we would ask our friend – and our other roommate – Laurie, to help us resolve what was there to resolve….   What’s important here is that, as annoyed as each of us was, we were committed to getting it cleaned up with each other… we knew that our friendship was too important, too rich, to allow “stuff” to get in the way…

And now… Let me tell you about Laurie….  amazing master of transformation that she is….  She’s been a Course Supervisor at Landmark Education for years….  really present, really authentic, really courageous… 

She took it on…  She took us on… 

Later that night, the three of us sat in our room…  With Laurie’s guidance, we said what was there for each of us…  starting with the surface and going deeper into what was there from an earlier, similar time in our lives…. 

It was tough… at first, we couldn’t even listen to each other…  AND we kept talking, getting it all out…  What was critical in this process was to just let the other person say what was there for them, without trying to defend it or explain it away or justify it…  That was what Laurie was being vigilant about… to remind each of us…. “Just ‘get’ the communication…. that’s how it is for her, do you get that?”

For Shana, it was about being taken advantage of….  a story that is not mine to share here —  that my asking for the chocolate and forgetting my wallet took her right back in time… 

For me, it was the always worrying that I wouldn’t please my father and he would be angry…  and an incident when I was little that got triggered in me by Shana being angry that I didn’t bring a chicken that I had promised I would bring to an earlier gathering, but forgot…. 

I remembered when I was 8 years old and I wanted to play with this group of girls… they saw that I always looked at them and finally, they asked me to come to their “club” the next day – but I had to bring something… cookies or cupcakes… 

I was so excited.  I got DRESSED UP and went to meet them with a box of chocolate-chip cookies….    They came up to me, grabbed the cookies out of my hands, and ran away, laughing…. 

I ran home, crying… 

Never again, I thought…. 

I found myself blurting out to Shana, “This reminds me of the girls who didn’t want me, they just wanted my cookies…”   Wow!  I didn’t realize that was how I saw it!

Sounds silly, doesn’t it..? 

That’s our lives…. incidents happen and we make decisions about others and about ourselves… and, if we’re not aware… anything that looks like that now can take us right back — into that hurt…  into the pain… 

It didn’t have anything to do with a chicken or pieces of chocolate…..   

It never does… 

We kept at it….   each time we thought we had released everything, Laurie would ask us if there was “anything else there?”…  and, for more than an hour…. there WAS more…. 

Until there wasn’t… 

Until there was nothing but this beautiful space…. and out of that space emerged the love that we both have for each other…  that the three of us have for each other…  We were moved beyond anything we could speak of right then…. 

Soon, hugs and kisses and laughter rang through the room… 

We climbed into our beds and turned out the lights.  We were quiet, but we were all aware of what we had just done.  We were fully present to the love….   all three of us said… softly… and almost at the same time, “This is the most awesome thing — what we’ve done here….”, “I am so in love with the two of you…”, and, finally: 

“What if everyone in the world did this?” 

Well, then… All people would know themselves as lovable and precious….

Deliciously yours in the Beauty of it All!   Linda 

“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself.  As you treat him you will treat yourself.  As you think of him you will think of yourself.  Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.”  

“A Course in Miracles”, Text, page 142

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

DoorOpeningOntoTheSea

I have been speaking with lots of my friends lately about the miracles I always see in my life – real miracles – those things that just weren’t going to happen any other way.  For me, they seem to happen all the time…

I remember one of the first times it happened for me — or perhaps the first time I noticed? — that what I said I wanted to happen – simply showed up. Let me share that with you now…

I used to own an apartment in a building designed by one of New York City’s premiere pre-war architects, Emory Roth.  It was one of a group of six buildings he designed in 1926 – three on the North side of the street and three on the South side — all pretty much the same, with just a few minor facade details from building to building to make it interesting.  The buildings were separate cooperatives, but they all got together and planted the same trees, the same plants, and – at Christmastime – they all decorated those trees with thousands of tiny white Christmas tree lights – it looked like a fairyland!   The block is known to be one of the most beautiful in Manhattan.

I was renovating my apartment and was trying to do as much as I could myself.  The apartment was old and had been painted so many times that a chip in the wall revealed myriad layers of paint colors – how many lives this apartment must have had!

I had fourteen doors in the apartment, all covered with the same rainbow layers of paint.  I wanted to remove the paint down to the bare wood and start all over again – that way, I could remove all the bumps and “grapefruit” effect that paint-over-paint creates.   I couldn’t use a heat gun – many of those old paint layers were most likely lead-based paint and that would have been too dangerous.

I discovered a product called “Peel-Away”, which is a paint remover that doesn’t smell and works great!   This stuff is amazing – you spread it on like icing on a cake, leave it for a while, and it liquefies the paint.   At that point, you could simply take a paint scraper and lift all the layers of paint off at one time to the clean wood beneath. It was like magic!

When I worked on the first door, I didn’t realize that you couldn’t leave the product to dry on the wood – you had to take it off as soon as the paint “melted.”  I didn’t realize that, or I was lazy, or both – when the “Peel-away” dried on the wood, the entire door warped and was unusable.

I learned my lesson, and I was careful with all the other doors.   I finally finished them all, and it was time to replace the door I had ruined.   I figured, “I’ll just order one door. How much could it possibly be?”  

I measured the door – it had to be a “right-opening” door and it had very odd measurements: 79-3/8” high, 29-5/16” wide, 1-5/8” thick.

I called every door store I could find.   It turned out that my door had to be custom made because no one made doors that size anymore. In fact, when I checked all the other thirteen doors in my apartment, not one of the doors was the same size as any of the other doors!   All the doors in the entire apartment had been made separately – no automatic pre-cut doors in 1926!   I couldn’t believe it!   The cheapest price quote was $865.00.   That was more than it would have cost to have all my doors scraped by a professional!

I was discouraged. After all that work, I had saved myself nothing.  I just couldn’t deal with how stupid and careless my mistake was – how it had cost me extra work and extra time — and I gained nothing…

I was so overwhelmed just thinking about what I had done. A “dark cloud” descended on me….

The only thing I could do right then was to meditate.   I had been doing Transcendental Meditation every morning since I was 28 years old.   Sometimes, when the world felt too “heavy”, I would do another session later in the day as well.   I could always tell when I needed it – when my thoughts were confused or I was sad or I was agitated. I would get this dazed, tired feeling and that was it. Off to my room I would go and disappear for 20 minutes.

This was one of those times….

I plopped myself onto my bed and sat up against my pillow.  I had a thought before I closed my eyes and took my first deep breath: “How am I going to get a door without it costing me so much money?”   My mind turned off and I entered into a place of peace and calm.

I opened my eyes later and took a deep breath – I didn’t remember thinking about the door while I was in my peaceful state, but when I opened my eyes, I thought, “I need a door. I’ll just get a door. Big deal.” 

I relaxed back onto my pillow and prepared to get back into my day.

I glanced out the window. My apartment was on the second floor and, from my vantage point sitting on my bed, I could clearly see across the street to one of our sister buildings.   There was a dumpster there – “Someone across the street must be renovating,” I thought.

As I stared out the window, I saw two men coming out of the service entrance of the building across the street – CARRYING A DOOR!

I sat bolt upright in my bed – “That’s my door!”  I jumped off the bed, ran out of my bedroom, grabbed my carpenter’s tape measure off the coffee table in my living room, dashed out the front door and down the stairs – I didn’t want to wait for the elevator – I had to get to those guys before they flung the door into the dumpster and maybe damaged it or even broke it!

I ran across the street, yelling, “Wait! I have to have that door!” They stopped, put the door down and set it up against the dumpster. They looked at me, puzzled. I ran to the door and pulled open the tape.   I took the measurements:   79-3/8” high, 29-5/16” wide, 1-5/8” thick.     It was a “right-handed” door.

Exactly the same as the door I had ruined…

I paid them to bring the door up to my apartment. They leaned it against the wall in the living room and they left.

I fell into a chair and just stared at it for a long time – how had that happened?    It was just too perfect to be pure coincidence, but my mind boggled at the idea that it could be anything more…

That was a long time ago…

Since then, I’ve had so many miracles just like that in my life. I think of something, I pray, I let it go, and whatever that is – appears….

I’ve  even tried to manipulate it a bit….  looking for the evidence, saying, “God, did you see that?  I did something good……”  That NEVER seems to work…..  That’s just the ego, up to it’s old tricks…

There’s no surrender in that….

When I stop thinking about it “working” or what I have to do to “make it happen”, AND let go of the fear and worry about that it won’t happen, or what will happen if it doesn’t happen, or how can I do this so it WILL happen….  and… well…  just do what is before me to do….

What there is to do is to have faith and trust that it will all work out the way it’s supposed to….    My prayer isn’t “Can I have this?”  but  “I know You know what is right for me…”  I am always graced with some wonderful “gift” – sometimes, even greater than what I could ever have thought to ask for on my own….

I have come to believe that we are here to create, to have abundance, to have joy and love, and to be at peace…

God opens that door….  All we have to do is to step through….

Deliciously yours in the Mystery of  it All, Linda

“There is no order of difficulty in miracles.  One is not ‘harder’ or ‘bigger’ than another.  They are all the same.  All expressions of love are maximal.”

“A Course in Miracles,”  Text, Chapter 1, Principles of Miracles.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: