drama_masks I am in London, one of my favorite cities on earth: the history, the buildings, the English people, everything about this place charms me. I love the big taxis that I have a challenge getting in and out of, but once I’m in, they’re big and roomy and the drivers are pleasant and chatty in that lovely English way of speaking (clearly, they don’t think it’s an accent — they speak “Proper” English, the Queen’s English!), and I listen and just swoon with delight!

I’m here for a Landmark Education course called “The World is Your Stage.” It is affectionately called, “the acting course”; and, yes, it is sort of about acting, but more about who you’re being in the world. I’ve been doing Landmark Education courses since 2005, and they are ALL about who you are being and the possibilities your way of being opens up for you in your life. This one happens to be through the lens of acting.

One of the leaders of the course is Werner Erhard, the man who created Erhard Seminar Trainings in the 1970’s, better known as EST. I didn’t do the training then. Transcendental Meditation, or TM, was also introduced to the United States at that time, mostly by The Beatles, who studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and I decided that was more for me than EST — no weekends in a room without bathroom breaks for me! Those are the stories I heard and I thought, “What kind of course makes those kinds of demands?” I didn’t even hear the stories of the breakthroughs people had about their lives — because I didn’t want to; I didn’t think my life needed a breakthrough — my attitude was “Who needs that?”

The answer to that is, I did. My ego was so firmly entrenched that anything that spoke of growth and change was a threat to me. TM was so calming — I didn’t even do it for the spiritual value; I did it for the peacefulness it gave me. I meditate to this day, but it now is part of my spiritual practice.

My life went on: I lost a baby, I had a baby, I left the fashion business, I left my husband, my son left me — with the cat — and I suffered from depression for many years, trying every medication under the sun to get me to a place of “normal” so that I could actually function in life.

I finally did the Landmark Forum in April, 2005, and then continued with LE courses after that because every single one provided some amazing breakthrough, some fabulous shift for me. By that time, Werner was long gone — “run out of town,” so to speak, by a horrible “60 Minutes” segment that accused him of some not very nice things, which caused quite a stir. Those accusations were later refuted and retracted — he never did any of it, people recanted, the IRS admitted they were wrong, all of which never made the front pages, but was buried in the back of the newsfeed. The harm was done and Werner sold his company to his employees, who changed the name to Landmark Education, he left the United States — and for a very long time, no one heard from him.

Still, I wondered at those who spoke of Werner with such love and devotion that it almost landed for me as “guru-esque” — something that has never appealed to me. I wondered, “how could a person have been so vilified by one segment of the population and loved so profoundly by so many others?” I was curious about him, but no more than that.

Last November, when I went to hear Werner speak on a new model of Leadership at NYU’s Skirball Center, he wasn’t on the stage 5 minutes before I got the charisma, the love, the sheer power and Being of the man — and I saw why everyone loves him so much — and I remember feeling what a disservice “60 Minutes” did to the rest of the world to reduce him to some I-don’t-know-what. What a cowardly thing to do in the name of news! They robbed the rest of us, for a short time anyway, of the love and devotion that Werner has for humanity — his commitment to what’s possible for human beings. At the end of that evening in Skirball Center, I was so touched and moved and inspired by him to live a great life, a life that in some measure could do what he has done for millions — which is to be the thought leader that he is… to make a contribution to people. His love for us just beamed out over the audience in the way I felt when I remember Martin Luther King, when I went to Sai Baba’s ashram, how I feel when I get my hugs from Amma.

And, now this weekend: To see how much he loves people, up close and personal. LOVES US. Every minute was a moment spent taking us to another level — to see what life could be for us: joyful, fulfilled, all of it. The way he’d kiss someone on the forehead or on top of the head, like a father comforting a child or rewarding a child was so touching. You know he means every word out of his mouth. His commitment to us was palpable — is palpable. And, he can spot bullshit a mile away — and dismantle it. One of the distinctions of this course is “I am loved,” which, for me, landed as spiritual. AND, I know — I mean KNOW in the deepest place in my being — that one of those who loves us simply because we are human, just the way we are and just the way we’re not — is Werner Erhard. It was an honor and a priviledge to be in the room with him.

Since the course was over on Sunday night, I’ve been through a range of emotions: loss, sadness, regret about some of the things I’ve done in my life; on to getting complete with those items, either by writing about them, or crying as I looked out my window at my view of Parliament and Big Ben; and got for myself that all these things I want to do — and don’t, all these dreams I have for myself — and don’t move toward them — these are all now integrity issues for me. I gave my Word to myself about so many things — writing my book, losing weight, having a relationship, getting rid of all my clutter — and I just haven’t done what I said I would do, and so I’m out of integrity with myself that I don’t live the life I want to live.

I thank Werner and the other leaders of that course, for having me see what there is to do now in the world; to see now what is possible for me in my life — simply by Being who I really am.

I think people are afraid of people who love so much, who contribute so much, who are not afraid to disrupt the status quo and shake things up — because then they might have to change, too. Not because Werner makes them change, or rather, transform; because, after being with people like this, you can no longer be satisfied with a small life — it’s simply not fulfilling. What is possible appears before me as my destiny as one who is already my Greatness — I, you — we just don’t know it yet. Werner reminds us — and that can be very threatening. Just as Martin Luther King was threatening, just as Gandhi was threatening — in fact, just as Christ was threatening.

After this weekend, I realized that not finishing this book I’m writing would not only be playing small, but it would be a cop-out in life. This “playing small” is now an integrity issue for me.

I’ve been with people who play big. I’ve been with Werner, who plays BIG. And, what he taught me is: that playing BIG is here for ALL PEOPLE.

Now, I am one of those people who loves him and is devoted to him. And, happy to be that.

Deliciously yours in the LOVE that is All, Linda

The header picture above is the view from my room here in London. I hear Big Ben chiming as I lay in my bed and think about what I’ve learned here, how I’ve transformed here, how my future rolls out in front of me as the beautiful future that it is!

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2014. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you

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thegoldengatebridge.jpgI just returned from a whirlwind tour of California, starting with the Conference For Global Transformation in San Francisco; up to Marin to see my friend, Patty, and her boys; then flew down to Los Angeles to catch up with my former New York City movie-buddy and dear friend, David, who lives in Rio most of the time, but home-base in the US is now his hometown of Hermosa Beach.  Then, we hopped down to Carlsbad to visit our friend and teacher, Paul and his husband, Gino, in their gorgeous Italian villa on the ocean.   A wonderful ride to Solana Beach with dear Amalia, who cooks for Paul, but also has the most magical Italian restaurant along the coast called “Caffe Positano.”  She regaled me with stories of her childhood in the kitchen on the Amalfi coast, ending with, “I was born on the kitchen table!”

Amalia dropped me off at Solana Beach where I was picked up for my weekend in La Jolla by my friend of (do I dare admit the number?) MANY years, my sweet Cecelia.  I met her husband for the first time in the 28 years they’ve been together — it seemed so odd because, every time we get together, it’s as if no time has passed at all.  When she said, “28 years,” I felt as if I was knocked back off my heels — has it been that long that we haven’t been in each other’s lives?  Time seems to pass so much faster as we get older — and, well – life happens in the meantime.

As I look at the trip in retrospect, I feel as if I was lost in the Fellini  movie, “Satyricon,” an Encolpius of the Left coast, wandering from doorway to doorway, dipping into people’s lives, but only for a moment; a day or two to renew our love — and then moving on — for me, the journey was not made in darkness, but in the Light — the sunny light of California, the light of my friends and their familes, the light of my love for them.

While in Marin, I had made plans to have lunch in San Francisco with my friend and mentor, Barbara.  I used to work for her – and, from the first day we met, I admired her, and soon grew to love her.  She has her own life, but she is ever a presence in the background of my mind — a role-model, a supporter, a woman totally without guile — who has given her life to service.  We don’t see each other often, but when we do, I always feel renewed, I feel seen and known for who I am and not for whatever circumstances I’m going through.

I found that I could take the Larkspur Ferry from right near Patty’s house in Marin and it would come in at the famous Ferry Building along the Embarcadero in San Francisco.  Barbara gave me instructions to meet her for lunch two piers down from there.

I boarded the ferry and tried to find a place outside so I could take in everything about the ride.  I noticed I was the only one standing on the deck, so I asked why.  One of the ferrymen explained to me that it was very windy and I would soon be soaking wet from the water spray as we sped along the bay.  Reluctantly, I went below and looked around for the best vantage point to see my first view of the San Francisco skyline.  I saw an empty seat across the boat with two seats open — what I cared about was the seat by the window and so I took it and settled myself in.

Behind me sat a little boy, not more than three, and his father.  As the ferry pulled out, the little boy was very excited about the ferry ride and kept asking when we were going to go fast.  His father was patient and loving in his explanations:

“Do you see those polls?  We can’t go fast until we pass the last pole.”

“Why not, Daddy?”

“We have to stay in the channel until we’re out in the bay”

“What’s a channel?”

“It’s like a roadway.  It’s deeper here so the ferry can get through.”

“But, why do we have to go so slow.  I can’t wait until we can go FAST!”

“Well, we don’t want to hurt the birds and the fish and the animals who live in the shallow water here.  We have to be careful.”

On cue, I saw a little bird, or maybe it was a baby duck, not twenty feet from the ferry.  Without thinking, I just chimed up, “See?  Like that one!”

There was silence for a moment and I was sorry that I had said anything that would stop that little baby voice from speaking. Not to worry — I was soon forgotten in the excitement of the ride.

“Is it almost the last pole, Daddy?  Will we go fast soon?

“Yes, very soon.”

Just before we reached the last pole, we passed San Quentin on the other side of the boat.  “What’s THAT, Daddy?”

“It’s where they keep the bad people — the people who committed crimes and now have to live there so they don’t hurt any of us.”  I noticed this father wasn’t talking baby talk and wasn’t mincing words.  He wasn’t making everything pretty.  He also wasn’t making it ugly.  He was simply telling his son the way it is.  I liked that.

Soon the father spotted the last post, “Get ready now!!  That’s the last post!  We’re going to take off, fast, fast, fast.”  I felt myself bracing and, sure enough, the minute we passed the last pole, that ferry shot out into the bay as if it were launched from a catapult, skimming it out over the water towards San Francisco.

I kept listening.

“Daddy, is that the gold bridge?”  The Golden Gate Bridge was off to the right in the distance so we couldn’t see it’s red color.

“It’s the Golden Gate Bridge.  Remember, when we go over it, it’s red and not gold?  It’s called the Golden Gate because it stands like a gate to allow the boats to come in and out of the harbor.”

“Does it open?”

“No, it doesn’t have to.  You can’t see it from here, but it’s very high up in the air, so the boats have no problem sailing under it.”

Alcatraz Island came into view outside our window.  “What’s that, Daddy?”

“That’s another place where they used to keep the bad people.  It’s not a prison anymore.  We can go visit there.  Do you want to go?”

He wasn’t so sure about that.  It seemed he was thinking about whether he wanted to go where bad people used to hang out.  “I don’t know,” he said.

Pretty soon, the ferry rounded Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline came into view.  I wanted to take pictures, but the windows weren’t clean and they had drops of water on them.  Well, good, I thought — more time for me to be present to this view of the city.

The skyline is breathtaking.  I had never seen it from this vantage point before. San Francisco laid out before me in the late morning sun:  downtown and the Transamerica Building stretching out and up to start the seven rolling hills towards the Presidio and Golden Gate Park and the entrance to the bridge.  I’ve climbed those hills many times and never realized before how long the distance is.  I was mesmerized by the architecture; by the vision of this beautiful city by the bay.

“Look, Daddy!  There it is!!! San Francisco!  That’s MY city!!!”

“Yes. that’s it.  That’s San Francisco.  Isn’t it beautiful?  And, in every one of those buildings, there are people living and working.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that the boy had squirmed himself up to a kneeling position with his nose pressed against the glass:

“That’s my BEE-YOO-TE-FUL city, Daddy!  And, it’s filled with BEE-YOU-TE-FUL people!”

Transformation happens in an instant, the great sages tell us – and it happened for me in that moment.  San Francisco, beautiful as it is, transformed into a city filled with people — I could not look at the buildings and see a skyline anymore.  What I saw was people rushing to work, mothers taking care of their children, art being mounted in the museums, people eating, happy people, sad people, families, struggling people, lonely people.  That was it:  humanity, in all its precious forms, everyone unique and yet the same in our striving to live a happy life.  How silly and sad and human and sweet and endearing we are to try to live the best life possible and really, you know?  It’s all meaningless — we make life mean what it means for us…. And, for every person in those buildings, I felt compassion — I felt this enormous love.

I was enchanted by the city, by the people I didn’t know, by this little boy and his dad, by the sun shining on the bay…

The spell was broken as we pulled into the Ferry Building and we all prepared to disembark.    I got up and turned around to address the father and the son who had made such a huge difference in my life and they didn’t even know it:

“I want to tell you both how magical it has been for me to sit in front of you for this ride.  It was glorious to see this city the way your son sees it.”

The father didn’t know what to say:  “I hope he didn’t talk so much to bother you.”

“Oh, no!  Goodness!  He made my trip.  I will never think of San Franscisco the same way again… with any luck, I’ll never think of any city the same way again!  Thank you.”

I moved across the ferry to wait for the doors to open as the father went to get his son’s stroller.  I turned away for a moment and then I heard it:  “Bye, bye, Lady.”  I turned back around to see my little guru waving at me with a big smile on his face.  I waved back, all smiles and luscious happiness.

I turned to walk out and down the gangplank into a different world than the one I imagined when I got on that ferry. Life looked cleaner, richer, more loving. I felt fulfilled for no reason at all.

I will never be the same again.

Deliciously yours in the Wonder of it All, Linda

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2014. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you

SelfHypnosisandSubA8D4F_200pxI’ve suspected for a long time that the key to behavior change – and, yes, even law of attraction – lies in our subconscious mind.  We can say affirmations until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t believe them on some deep level, those affirmations won’t produce the results we’re looking for.

As a real estate broker, my money life is often up, then down — I’ve often wondered, “What is it that keeps me from attracting what I know I deserve into my life?”  I look at a Donald Trump, for instance, who doesn’t think he’s a success unless he is a billionaire — and so he becomes one, not once, but twice —  and I wonder where that belief is at home in his mind?  When I see someone who has been happily married – and they lose their love – within a year, they are with someone else.  Do they have a belief that life is partnership?  A belief I don’t have and that is why I have been single these many years since my divorce?

A few weeks ago, I listened to one of many brain scientists give a lecture online.  At one point, he stated:  “The way to change behavior, and therefore, results, is three-fold.  1. Self-hypnosis and subliminal messages, 2. Practice, practice, practice, and 3. Enlightening and transformational courses and classes that create insights into our own behavior.”

Three days later, God, in His infinite Wisdom, sent a book my way – I was asked to review Eldon Taylor’s, “Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology.” I couldn’t believe the synchronicity of this book coming into my life mere days after I heard that this was a modality that was necessary to change the brain – and therefore, behavior and results.  I said, “Yes, I’ll review it.”

The author, Eldon Taylor, makes a complex subject very simple to understand.  It’s a small book packed with the focused information anyone needs to understand why hypnosis and subliminal messages work.  Briefly, we have a conscious mind – that we think is directing the course of our lives; and we have a subconscious mind, which really is directing everything we do.

That subconscious mind is a very simple, yet powerful force that directs behavior.  It doesn’t understand shades of grey, not fifty, not one.  If you believe that you have to struggle with money, the subconscious brain will make sure that you struggle with money.  If you believe in your subconscious brain that you are meant to be alone, then no matter how many guys ask you out, you will find something wrong with them and remain alone.

The reason it works this way is that it is a survival mechanism.  That subconscious mind has to be sure you are right – it sees any deviation from your being right as a threat to your survival.  So, it insures that everything you believe in your deepest mind, comes to pass just as you believe it.  The subconscious mind believes that this is what will keep you safe – even if all reasonable examination says otherwise.

It makes sense, then, that the way to create something other than what you currently believe in your subconscious mind – is to change what that part of your brain believes!  What could be more simple?  Yes, the concept is simple, but the doing of it is much harder.  The conscious mind stands guard at the door of the subconscious and so you must find a way of by-passing that ferocious guard.  And, here it is:  self-hypnosis and subliminal programming.

I couldn’t wait to order some of the tapes and test them out for myself.  I’m changing the way I eat because I believe it is better for my health AND I’d like to lose some weight – something I’ve found difficult to do over the last eight years or so.  I realized that it was a way to protect myself, but now I’m done with that, so maybe these tapes can help.  Eldon Taylor has a very successful weight loss tape that has been proven effective in a clinical study at the Munich Armed Forces University.  The women in the study averaged a 13 pound weight loss in 30 days.  This will be my first experiment.

I’ve ordered others, too:  “Attracting the right love relationship for me,” and the subliminal CD on “Grief” as well as one called “Joyous Day.”  I’m looking forward to receiving them and doing my own subliminal “test.”  I’ll report back to you.

In the meantime, do get this book.  It’s a quick and interesting read AND includes a free self-hypnosis CD.  My feeling is, if you want a better life, you have to find ways to change your mind so that your life can change around that.

Then, practice, practice, practice…  But, you won’t want to practice unless and until your brain thinks this is a benefit to your survival.

There are so many books with this theme, but I believe it is true:  Change your mind and you’ll change your life!

Deliciously yours in the Infinite Mind that is All, Linda

Here’s the link to purchase the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Self-Hypnosis-Subliminal-Technology-How–Personal-Empowerment/dp/1401937586/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354989119&sr=8-1&keywords=Eldon+Taylor

Disclosure:  I received Eldon Taylor’s book, “Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology:  A How-to Guide for Personal-Empowerment Tools You Can Use Anywhere!” for free from Hay House Publishing.

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2012. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you.

There’s nothing like the Olympics to take us up and out of our collective monkey minds by watching our fabulous athletes show the world how brilliant they are – and I don’t mind that Russia and Japan and Romania — and Arthur Zanetti from Brazil! — show us how brilliant they are, too.

It takes my mind off the Aurora killings, for a little while.  Not completely, mind you.  They are still hurting out there and we are still hurting in here – a hurt that doesn’t want to go away.  It takes my mind off the elections in November — for a little while.  Not completely, but enough.  When will politicians stop being politicians and start caring about what happens in this glorious country that is my home.  Don’t answer.  It’s a rhetorical question.

We get to view the Olympics for two weeks, and it’s like a salve for our wounded national psyche, perhaps our global psyche — we can watch and sigh and thank those families for all they’ve done these many years, and hold our collective breaths as Aly Raisman loses sight of the balance beam for just a second to back-flip over and wind up standing there, as proud as can be.  We can watch that “flying squirrel,” Gabby Douglas do – well, just about everything right – with a big smile shining out like a beacon to the world!

And, speaking of shining out into the world, after winning the Gold medal in the all-around competition, Gabby not only shows that she has prowess as a gymnast, but her faith and humility are a lesson to us all:  “I give all the glory to God.  It’s kind of a win-win situation.  The glory goes up to Him and all the blessings fall down on me.”  That’s a message from the mountaintop as well as from the podium! 

Let’s not forget Jordyn Wieber, who, in the midst of what had to be a life-altering moment of crushing disappointment, pulled herself together to stand at the microphone and shift the conversation to support for her team mates.  My heart soared watching her in the stands during the all-arounds, rooting for Aly and Gabby when I know – we all know – that she wanted to be the one on that Olympic floor.  Thank you, Jordyn, for a lesson in friendship and team spirit and grace.

Michael Phelps, I love you!  I love you because you keep going and you keep winning and you have nothing inside you that says, “I shouldn’t be doing this.  I’m not good enough.”  You make me realize that we all have that greatness within us, but not all of us train our minds to think only one thing.  And, what is that one thing?  Like the Jack Palance character, the old cowboy,  in “City Slickers,” said – that’s for us to find out.

Kayla Maroney, the world’s greatest on the vault, hurt her toe the first day of competition.  That would be enough to put many of us on the couch with an ice-pack and our foot raised for a few days.  So, what does she say?  “This is the Olympics and that is a toe.”  Something inside me said, “Thank God for you, Kayla!  You remind us of who we are – not some whining clods on a couch, but – each and every one of us – great beyond measure.” 

She reminds me of another Olympic great – also a women’s’ gymnast, also on the vault.  In 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics, Kerri Strugg fell during her first vault attempt and hurt her ankle.  With a sprained ankle, she vaulted a second time and stuck her landing — standing on one leg.   She smiled at us all – and then collapsed.  I jumped up from my sofa, burst into tears, and screamed in joy and celebration!  She showed us that to be human is not only in our flaws  and vulnerability but in our big hearts and our deep spirits.

What else can take us to that kind of high?  Every Olympic Games, two billion or more of us get the chance to watch that greatness; and, I believe, the reason we sigh and cry and jump up and down alone in front of our televisions or in a bar or at an Olympic party – is because those athletes remind us that what they have is in all of us – and we are just carried away with them in the grandeur of it all.  When they play the “Star Spangled Banner”, I melt in gratitude.  When any athlete is up there on the podium, I go from patriotism to an overwhelming love for humanity – mine and theirs.  Would that we could live this way all the time!

So, thank you, Olympic Games.  Thank you, parents of Olympic Athletes.  Thank you, every one of you competing athletes, who have given your lives to transcending pain and inconvenience and complaints and procrastination and self-absorption to shine for us, soar for us, and yes, save us… once again. 

The power is in the distinguishing.  Kayla gave us that.  We can apply it in life:

“This is the Olympics and that is a toe.”

Deliciously yours in the Grandeur of it All!   Linda

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”          –from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2012. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Thank you.

It’s Valentine’s Day!  And that makes it the three-year anniversary of this blog.  So, first, I want to say, I love YOU and thank you for coming and reading my “stuff” these last three years.  In that time, “Spiritual Chocolate” has had 11,498 visitors, as of just now!  You all are the best!

Last year I wrote that I was creating an amazing year of growth and productivity for myself.  And, yes, it happened – but, not in the way I thought it would.  In fact, it’s been a rough year – personally and professionally.  I crawled all the way out on the skinny branches where I could hear the crack, crack, cracking of the twigs as my life fell apart.

The skinny branches…  That’s where the fruit is, right?

So, yes, my ex-husband got married, creating a roller-coaster ride of emotions for me for the entire year – AND, my son came back to New York after three years of working for Target in Minneapolis.  It’s so yummy to have him home in NYC!

I had a falling away with some of the dearest people in my life…. AND, I reconnected with my old friend, Tommy, with whom I hadn’t been in contact for fifteen years – and now we are partners in an entertainment business, working on projects in film and television.  Mmmm, Mmmm, good!

For every ending, there’s been a beginning – for every sadness, a joy.   For every time I’ve been down on my knees in pain and sadness,  there’s been an even greater moment of excitement for something new.

Each sad event had me reaching out of my comfort zone and deep into my heart to find the strength, courage, and persistence to find another way.  That’s where the growth is.

Each glorious moment reminded me that when things seem to go away, leaving an empty space inside, God finds a way to fill us up once again.  That’s where the Love is.

I am grateful for everything that’s happened to me this year.  Without the sadness, I wouldn’t have learned.  Without the Joy, I wouldn’t have renewed my heart.  And, without all of you reading these posts and writing me emails – telling me about your heartbreaks, your brother who’s like my son, your child who’s like my father, I wouldn’t get it so profoundly that we are the same after all – we really are all One.

I am profoundly grateful to you.  Yes, YOU….  My funny Valentines….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Deliciously yours in the Love it all is,  Linda

“My Funny Valentine, Sweet comic Valentine, You make me smile with my heart…   Your looks are laughable, unphotographable, yet you’re my favorite work of art…”     from “My Funny Valentine”  by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2012. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

It’s that time of year when we all are trying to live up to our New Year’s resolutions.  How are you doing?  Are you still on target? Or, after only two weeks, are you back to old familiar habits and ways of being, those resolutions already forgotten, those promises and dreams for 2012 already driven away by cynicism and doubt and “Oh, what the hell? This chocolate cake is just too good to pass up…”

I sat in church last week, listening to my favorite priest, Monsignor Stern, give his homily on just this very topic.   I didn’t want to hear it as I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions – I’ve never known one person in my life who has ever lived up to them, including myself.

But, what he said was different and new enough to resonate with me – he said, “Instead of thinking of a New Year’s resolution, think instead of a ‘mid-life course adjustment’.”  He gave examples, but none of them fit for me as much as that phrase made me think of the film I had watched the night before, “Jaws”.

There’s a part in the movie when they’ve got the barrels on the Great White shark and they’re trying to run along side of him.  The Captain, Quint, is out on the farthest part of the bow with the harpoon laying in his arms like a baby, yelling adjustments up to Matt Hooper, the marine biologist, who is steering the boat:  “Five degrees starboard!” and then a few moments later, “I said, five degrees starboard, Hooper!”  Quint wanted to be sure the huge shark didn’t get away from them.

And, so it is with our dreams, our goals, our intentions.  Do we simply say, “I’m going on a diet this year?” or do we set an intention to look and feel great twenty pounds thinner and watch and correct when we are running off course?  What are the dreams that you gave up on a long time ago?  Do you now say, “It’s too late?”

Don’t let your dreams get away from you.  Watch and adjust…   Keep pace with that huge prize…

Never give up.  Make that mid-life adjustment and full-steam ahead!  Okay, so maybe I’ll never be a prima ballerina, but I love dancing of any kind.  Am I doing that?  No.  So, time for a mid-life adjustment.  I’m not going to jump right into the Argentine Tango because I know I won’t stick it out.  But, I can start with Zumba fitness classes and get the feeling of the rhythm back again, feel the beat of the drums, hum along to the music – and I’m there!  I’m dancing!  Yay, Me!

There’s an old saying, “Change one part of your life and you change your whole life.”  That’s because life is holistic – the way you go into a swimming pool is the way you do all of life.  You just need to change one little thing and your whole life will change as a result – and then keep making those “five degree starboard” adjustments.

I remember that my father took up the guitar when he was in his 50’s.  We all made fun of him, but he kept at it.  He loved music – he used to listen to opera all the time.  He knew he would never be an opera singer, but he could pick up a guitar and take lessons and participate in life.

I never appreciated that lesson from my father when I was younger, but I sure do appreciate it now.  Life is growth.  Death is stagnation.  You can only dance when you’re dancing…

Five degrees starboard, Mates!  Happy New Year!

Deliciously yours in the Grand Opening Number of it All, Linda

The title is from a quote by Werner Erhard:

“You can only dance when you’re dancing. You can’t dance ‘by the numbers.’ You can’t dance when you’re checking to see if you’re dancing. You can’t dance when you’re comparing your movement to your ideal. In order to dance, you have to dance. That’s what freedom is. That’s who you are!”

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2012. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

“As the Parade goes by…”

November 27, 2011

As of two weeks ago, I had no plans for Thanksgiving.  What I always do when that happens is to turn it over to God – “I’m counting on you to come up with the right place for me to be to enjoy your bounty in just the right way,” and I let it go.  He always comes through.

This year was no different.  A few days after I said my prayer, my new/old friend Tommy called me, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” he said.  “Nothing,” I replied.  He immediately invited me to join him with his cousin and his very close friend at a Thanksgiving luncheon at the New York Athletic club – not too shabby, the oldest and most prestigious club in the city, if not the world.

Tommy had a request.  “You know, I’ve never been to the Thanksgiving Parade.  Don’t you know someone who lives along the parade route where we can go for a half hour and watch some balloons?”  I have to admit that I was instantly entranced at the possibility, “Yes, wouldn’t that be great?”   I hadn’t been to the parade since Josh was little — and my own growing up years in New York always included sitting on a blanket, curbside on Central Park West, from 8AM on the morning of Thanksgiving day to watch those floats and balloons and bands go marching by, each of the four of us taking turns sitting on my father’s shoulders for an even better look.  I think he loved it as much as we did.  We went every year until I was 10.

Tommy looked up the parade route on the Internet and found that it passed right by 59th Street and Seventh Avenue, the corner on which sat the NYAC.  We agreed to meet at 11AM and see what we could see.

I couldn’t wait.  And, when I did arrive, Tommy was already there, having scoped out the best viewing spot – and Boy! Was it worth it!  Just as I took my position among the crowd, I could see Kermit the Frog turning onto Central Park South and heading towards us.  I was as excited as all the kids atop adult shoulders around me, “Look, Daddy, look! – there’s Kermit!  Kermit the Frog!”  He was huge and green and rubbery and legs and arms gangly hanging down while waving in the air – and, there I was, “Look, Tommy, look! – there’s Kermit!  Kermit the Frog!”

The balloons kept coming – I spotted the blue Smurf from far away and was dancing up and down until he turned onto Seventh Avenue and I could get my picture and my excitement in sync.

Oh, My God!  How lucky I am to be here!  I feel the hot tears on my chilled face – it only takes a few big balloons, Santa on a float, and the happy faces of children all around me to remind me that I am so very, very blessed;  so very, very thankful.

Once Santa and his reindeer passed by, the parade was over – at 59th and Seventh, anyway.  It still had another 25 blocks or so to go to get to Macy’s and the closing ceremonies; but, for me, the parade had worked its magic, the child had emerged, and I was back again to simpler times, arms wrapped around my siblings or holding my father’s hand in the crowd.

I smiled at a child on her father’s shoulders.  She smiled back at me.  It was an innocent moment.  I thought, “I know what that feels like, to be so safe, to experience something so magical.”  It’s all mixed up together:  balloons, turkey, brothers and sister, cold weather, the smell of my father, hanging onto his hat or his chin or anything else of him I could grab, Mom cooking at home, someplace to belong.

The parade disappeared from view and Tommy and I walked into the club and met his friends and we had a glorious Thanksgiving repast.  We held hands and said a prayer and each of us said what we were thankful for.

It was a wonderful day, better than anything I could have dreamed up on my own.

God works his magic, I tell you – if only we let him.

I am so grateful.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Deliciously yours in the Bounty of it All,  Linda

“If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”   Meister Eckhart, theologian, philosopher, and mystic.

NOTE:  I took the picture of Kermit that appears in the header (I’ve put it here now that the header has changed):  Yes, he was that close! 

And here’s my picture of Smurf:

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2011. 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 “Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

“A Hero lies in you…”

November 5, 2011

It’s been a rough year – one of the toughest of my life.

Almost everything in my life has been in breakdown. It started right before the beginning of the year when I found out my ex-husband was getting married – the getting married part wasn’t the breakdown, it was the realizing how bonded I was to him so that his getting married really threw me. He thought it wouldn’t make a difference. I realized I didn’t want to be talking to someone else’s husband almost every day – even if he used to be mine.

Then my business took a nose-dive and deals I was counting on never came through – that was more than a “Whoops!” – it was, “What do I do now? Where do I go now?”

Need I go on? You’ve all been there – when it seems like nothing you do is right and it seems like you are really on the outside looking into a life that you know you should be living, but it occurs as “Well, now, how do I generate today after that THING that happened yesterday…?”

It’s what happens after that makes the difference: Every day for almost a year now, I’ve awakened in the morning to nightmares and that awful voice we all have, saying “Well, you blew it …” That’s when I create my day, the way I learned how to do, first with Transcendental Meditation, which I’ve been doing for 37 years, then with tools I learned from “A Course in Miracles” and Landmark Education. I’m really clear that we create our lives – whatever is there is a reflection of the way we’re thinking – and when all is going wrong, instead of looking out there, I know to look IN HERE!

Thankfully, every breakdown can lead to a breakthrough – and, so, for every right hook that’s thrown me sprawing on the mat, I’ve been able to get that breakthrough in my heart, where it matters – and pick myself back up with a new context for my life. Every day.

It’s not easy, but it sure is worth it.

Yes, having my ex-husband get married was life altering – and good thing!   We were too bonded together. I’ve wondered for years why I wasn’t interested in being in another relationship, and that knock-down last December helped me realize why – I had no space for anyone else in my life because Fred was too much in it!

As for career, I’ve been coaching people for years – if what you’re doing isn’t bliss for you, find out what is and do it.  Trouble is – I wasn’t taking my own advice.

Soooo….  I started my book proposal in May and finished it on October 6th – the deadline to have it into Hay House to be considered for a publishing contract. I’ve wanted to tell my story for years and kept putting it off in the name of making money. Those deals falling through were my “kick in the pants” to make me say, “Time to take on what I love, what I know I’m here for…”

I don’t think I would have finished the book proposal if I’d been making a lot of money last Spring – what’s that expression? “Change does not from comfort come.” I knew the Universe wouldn’t support me unless I was doing my heart’s desire – and writing is that for me.

The message in all of this is – pick yourself up and do what you love. No complaints, no gossip, be happy every day no matter what happens – there are blessings in everything and everybody, even if you don’t like what they’re doing right now. There are blessings everywhere — right inside the lessons.  That’s what it is to live in Grace.

I know that the place to stay centered is in me – in my heart, in my faith, in my love. I’ve created myself as “unoffendable” and I live by that – most of the time.  I know that people are just doing what they’re doing and it doesn’t mean anything about me.   And, spiritually?   It doesn’t mean anything about them either!  REALLY.    They’re just trying to survive in their own way.   It doesn’t mean anything.  AND, we make it mean something, right?  And, what we make it mean is never good about us. That voice inside my head never says, “Oh, Linda!  You are simply divine!”   (Although, I AM!)   It reminds me of Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” when she says, “The bad stuff is easier to believe. Ever notice that?”

Ever notice that?

I think about who I would have to be “being” for the bad stuff not to mean anything – and it turns out, if I can remember that I’m part of God and God is part of me, then I could be Being Holiness. And, when I come from Being Holiness and I think, “If I were being holiness, how would I see this situation?  How would I see this person?”   Try it.   What comes up is always compassion – and that’s what I want to live from all the time.

A hero lies in me.   And in you.  We get to choose whether to find that strength and compassion and love deep within — in the face of no agreement — or not.

Deliciously yours in the Courage of it All,  Linda

“And then a hero comes along

With the strength to carry on

And you cast your fears aside

And you know you can survive

So when you feel like hope is gone

Look inside you and be strong

And you’ll finally see the truth

That a hero lies in you.”      From “Hero” by Mariah Carey

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2011. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

I look into his eyes.  Rather, I dive into his eyes – deep, dark pools, out of proportion to his head, really – totally open and staring at me, looking at me as if I am the only person in the universe.  It’s as if he has never really seen me before, has never seen who I really am.

I have spent hours – days, even – staring at him as he lay on his side sleeping — and surely he has looked at me before.  Looking is different than seeing.

I know that I love him, that I will always love him.   More…  I know that I can never not love him.

I want to give myself to him – I never give that a second thought.

I have told myself, for months now, that I want this.  But, before this moment, I had no idea – really – what that meant.  Other people have told me about this kind of love, but I’ve never felt it before.  I’ve always been wary of love, scared to give my love without any conditions.

He’s changed that.

Now, there is certainty.  I thought there would be a moment when I would get to decide: “Ok, I’ll take the risk”.   It wasn’t like that at all.   One minute, it wasn’t there and the next minute, it was all there.   I couldn’t have stopped it if I wanted to.

I am laughing – what a silly conversation with myself – not wanting to love him like this?  Not even an option.  And, in that “no option,” there is freedom.

I touch his skin.  He doesn’t flinch or blink or acknowledge it in any way. He keeps looking at me, and I lean over and kiss his forehead, his cheek, his ear.   I am full of him.

I whisper, “I love you”.

He’s looking at me.  I know he loves me.  I have no doubts.

Again I whisper, “I love you.  I love you more than anything in the world.”   There, I say it.  I declare it – for him, for all the world –  and for me.  The commitment I’ve always wanted to make is right there for me to step into.  I have no choice.  I don’t want a choice.  If there is one, the choice is between loving him and loving him.  There is nothing else.

I drop my gaze for a moment as I let it travel over his body – his perfect body, with his perfect hands and his perfect fingers.  He touches my finger as I reach for his hand.  That is enough for him.  He holds on firmly – not so tight that it is desperate, but not lightly either.  A touch that says, “You and I are together”.

I look up again into his eyes to find them still looking at me.  I melt into him even more, if that is even possible. How could it be possible to love him even more than I loved him just a few seconds before?  As I dive deeper into my love, each moment brings some new layer, some new richness and, with it, even more freedom.

I could stay this way forever.

“Mrs. Feuer?”

I look up.  The nurse stands there, not wanting to interrupt.

It is time.  I know it and she knows I know it.  I don’t want this to end.

“Mrs. Feuer, he has to go back into his incubator.”

I look back down at him.  I don’t want to give him up, but I also know that she’s helped me steal a few moments.   The neo-natal intensive care unit doesn’t allow you to hold them until they are 4 pounds.  I don’t want her to get in trouble.

One more look, one more hug, one more declaration: “I am your Mommy. I love you.  I will never leave you, ever.  I’m right here.”

He’s still looking at me.  Even as I lift him and lay him in her arms, he tracks my face.   She turns and puts him back into his incubator.  I don’t move.  I feel like my heart has just been ripped out of my body.  Is this what it is to be a mother?

I watch as she takes the blanket off his skinny little body and lays him inside his warm, see-through egg-like compartment.  She hooks his tubes back up to their machines.   When she is finished, she closes the incubator and walks away.  The tears are rolling down her cheeks.  She doesn’t want me to see, but I do.

I get up from the stool and walk over and look down at him.  He is still looking at me, but with the glass between us, it seems less intimate.  It wasn’t so long ago that we were one body.  Now,  I am here and he is in there.  We are only inches apart.  Still…

I put my hand in through the hole in the side of the incubator and touch his hand.  Again, he grabs on.  I bring my head near to the hole and I whisper through the opening:

“I love you, Joshua.”

He just looks at me.

Deliciously, deliciously yours,  Linda

This is my son, Josh Feuer, with me on Mother’s Day this past May.  He’s 31, healthy, brilliant, wonderful — and I’m still loving him more and more each day!

He was born an RH baby at 32 weeks and spent the first 8-1/2 weeks of his life in neonatal intensive care, after 6 exchange transfusions to save his life.

This photo was taken at the Cervantes statue near NYU in lower Manhattan.

In my own life, when I am not connected to spirit – and ego holds the reins of anything I do – life is lonely, hard, and nothing seems to work.  If I can just wrangle myself back to letting spirit be in charge, everything shifts – and life is effortless, full of grace, and filled with the synchronicity that always means to me that God is in charge.

“Wrangling myself back” to spirit – Aye, there’s the rub.  Ego does not give up its hold easily.

So, when I received my copy of Sonia Choquette’s new book, “The Power of Your Spirit:  A Guide to Joyful Living,” I thought, “I am open and willing to hear whatever you have to say, Sonia!”  I was in one of my particularly strong ego, fear, loss periods – and anything that would help me to get back in spirit’s saddle and let the Divine take over the reins – well, that is always something I want to hear!

Ego really did not want to give up control.  It took me until page 68, when I read the following:  “We all eventually reach a moment in life when we must come face-to-face with a force greater than our ego, or intellect; and, at that point, we’re invited to recognize the holy force, the Spirit.  People struggle against this because it feels as if we’re being asked to hand over our power.  On the contrary, it’s actually an invitation to get to know and accept the most powerful, brilliant, authentic essence of ourselves.”   

Yes, I know that moment.

There’s an expression, “My best thinking got me here” and I can tell you that “here,” for me, at that moment, was a place of sadness, loss, defeat, and what I saw as failure.  I felt as if I had nothing more to lose and, Sonia’s book notwithstanding, I was feeling that the divine was nowhere near and certainly not listening – and I was even angry about that.

I came on that passage and it landed for me as just what I needed to read.  That’s when I started to pay attention.  I went back to the beginning and started over again.

“The Power of Your Spirit” takes the reader on a journey through the four stages of awakening to spirit and allowing the divine – our own spirit – to guide us daily to the greater good for all.  The ego wants us to win – “Me, me, me!” is the ego’s cry.  The spirit wants life to be great for us and for all.  We cannot “win” if someone else has to lose in the process.  There is no grace in that.

The four stages are:  “Awakening to Your Spirit,” when we go from being spiritually unconscious to realizing that there is another dimension – a spiritual one;  “Discovering Your Spirit,” when we read everything spiritual we can get our hands on, take spiritual courses, and listen to spiritual teachers (my particular balliwick);  “Surrendering to Your Spirit,” which means “moving beyond the parameters and perceived safety of your ego and turning your well-being over to the mysterious, unlimited realm of intuition”; and “Flowing with Your Spirit.”  In this last stage, “your ego steps aside and allows your Spirit to completely take over.”

Since I wasn’t doing such a good job of handling my life on my own, those last couple of stages really called to me.  It was time to stop reading, taking courses, and just talking the talk.  “Letting go”, whenever it happened for me, always worked – and perhaps this book, arriving when it did, was the proof that divine guidance was stepping in to remind me that it was time, once again, to “walk” the talk and let spirit take over.

I was especially intrigued with the last stage, about “being in the flow.”  I’ve experienced that before and it has been magical.  I’ve often wished that I could make that happen more often.  Ah, ah…?  “Make that happen?”  There’s the catch.  “Making it happen” is the ego’s game.  Being in the flow is “life experienced with ease, grace, peace, healing, and connection.”  When that’s not happening, you’re not in flow.  When life occurs as peaceful, magical, graceful, and you find yourself in mystical situations that you cannot explain and they work effortlessly – that’s being in the flow.  It’s not something to force.  It’s something to fall into.

As Sonia Choquette says so eloquently, “Flow is faith in action: the synthesis of your true Divine nature merging with your faith in God, the Universe, and life.”

It gives new meaning to the expression, “Go with the flow….”

Deliciously yours in the Mystical Transformation of it All,   Linda

From the Afterword of “The Power of Your Spirit”, a chapter subtitled, “The New Frontier”, a quote that I love  from The Buddha:

“Teach this triple truth to all:  A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

This is Sonia Choquette, the author of “The Power of Your Spirit: A Guide to Joyful Living.”    She is an internationally renowned author, storyteller, vibrational healer, and six-sensory spiritual teacher.  She’s also the author of The New York Times bestseller The Answer is Simple.  Her website is www.soniachoquette.com.

Here is the link to Hay House where you can buy “The Power of Your Spirit: A Guide to Joyful Living”

http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?id=5565

 

Disclosure:  I received Sonia Choquette’s book, “The Power of Your Spirit:  A  Guide to Joyful Living” for free from Hay House Publishing.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2011. 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 ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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