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We are all born into a conversation – more than one, actually – not of our own making… and those conversations form how life seems to us…   We are usually not aware of what those conversatons are — they lay beneath the surface….

We live out of those conversations….   they drive and shape our actions… 

I used to be a worrier. For years I worried about my mother – whether she was OK or not, where she was, what she was doing…. I worried in such a way that it made me feel that my worry would be enough to preclude any harm to her.   It seemed that —  only if I worried — I could be properly vigilant about her well-being.

Then my son was born. Josh was an RH baby and the doctors delivered him early in order to save his life.   He was 8 weeks premature and had to stay in the hospital for those same 8 weeks.   During that time, my mother developed angina and went to a different hospital in New Jersey, near where I grew up.  

I couldn’t be in two places at once…  

Six weeks later, on the day she was to leave the hospital, she died of a heart attack two hours before she was scheduled to be released.   My son was still in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.  My brother-in-law called me there to tell me about my mother — I leaned over my son’s incubator, put my head in my arms, and cried my heart out…

My already boundless grief was sliced with a deeper cut…   Could I have taken my eye off the ball when my son was born?    Did my mother die because I wasn’t paying attention?

What I didn’t realize at the time was…   I took all my worry about my mother and transferred it over to my son…

Some of that “hovering” paid off – I caught a 5 inch air bubble in his IV when he was 8 weeks old – seconds before it was set to go into his tiny body. The nurse said it was nothing as her shaking hands disconnected the tube and tapped out the offending air;  my doctor friend was appalled and told me it was lucky I had been there.

That just served as evidence that worry pays off…

Certainly, vigilance around a young child is appropriate – babies have a tendency to eat anything on the floor that looks interesting — and they poke their fingers into whatever little fingers can poke into – like electrical sockets, holes in the ground, bottles that are left open…   Mothers and fathers are supposed to be on the look-out for these potentially dangerous curiosities…

There does come a time, however, when you cannot watch your child every moment anymore…. and you do have to trust that they can, actually, handle SOME things on their own….

I never got THAT memo….

The litany of worry: Where are you? What are you doing? Do you have enough money? Who are you going with? Where are his parents? Why are you going there? When will you be back? Did you eat enough? Are you warm enough? Are your clothes clean?

It was exhausting….

When he went away to college, instead of the worry easing up, it got worse…. He wasn’t around, so then, I  had to worry ALL THE TIME!

Whew…!

Just about the time that I felt that I just couldn’t do it anymore, I signed up to take one of my first workshops on self-awareness, personal growth, and, in general, “how to be happy.” The leader was a friend of my group leader for “A Course in Miracles” – his name was Landon Carter and he used to be one of the early EST trainers.

I never heard of transformation education and I didn’t know what I was in for. I did, however, know that I was exhausted all the time, I was resigned about what I thought I couldn’t change about my life, I had been on anti-depressants for years, and I felt like my life was very limited and small.

Perfect.   Time for a change…

In the course of the training, Landon asked us if there was an issue that any one of us had been dealing with for a long time that we wanted to “disappear.” Before I could think about it, my arm shot up in the air, “YES, ME!! I’ve got one!”

I told Landon and the group about my constant worry. I told them that I felt like I had to worry because there seemed to be a connection between my worry and keeping my son safe.   More than safe…   I behaved as if my worry is what kept my son alive….

Landon did a technology on me called “The Truth Process”.

To explain it simply, he had me close my eyes – and he took me on a journey back through time, through every emotion and bodily sensation having to do with worry… I discovered that every time I thought about Josh or my mother or – early on, myself – in danger, I would grab my throat. I felt as if my throat was closing up so that I couldn’t breathe. Each time I thought that I had completed some event, Landon would ask me to go back even further…. each time, my throat would tighten and I would be locked in fear…

I remembered so many things… how my mother worried all the time about her family that was so far away and none of whom she had seen in years, my father who worried about his mother, my own worry about being left alone in school and not knowing anyone…

It was always about people being far away and life being dangerous and how to make sure that everyone was safe…. and, of course, you can never completely be sure that everyone is safe all the time…. so there’s more worry….

It was all about survival….

That’s what I was born into – a background conversation in every area of life that to worry was to keep safe…. maybe…

Finally, Landon said to me, “Is it your worry that is keeping your son alive?” I had to admit that speaking it out loud that way revealed it as the silly premise that it was. “No,” I answered. Then he said, “Can you accept, right this minute, that your son is either alive or he is not?” I never thought about that before – I had never before been challenged to look at what was so in that moment.

Landon went on, “Your worry is stealing your life with him right now. You cannot enjoy him in the present.   If you could get profoundly related to what is true right this moment and enjoy or mourn that – in the moment – you would have a completely different life.  Can you do that?  Can you face that?”

I could — and I did.  I gave up worrying about him.  I gave up worrying in general.  I see now that it is a totally useless emotion.  It doesn’t prevent anything and it doesn’t create anything.

In that free space, I took a stand that I would enjoy every moment with my son from that day forward….

A few months later, Landon wrote to me to ask me if I had noticed any shift in my life as a result of doing his workshop.   I realized that EVERYTHING had shifted – and I suddenly saw that my life with my son had dramatically altered.   I wrote back to Landon:

“I was on a high for days… I felt free for the first time in my life! I am happy and I am sleeping soundly. I feel truly in the NOW every moment!   That alone is worth everything to me.”

“Then, an unusual – and totally unexpected – thing started to happen: my son started calling me often, our conversations were more intimate, non-threatening, and really loving. I mean, we had always been loving to each other before, but there was something else there.  I’m still not sure I can put my finger on what it is…”

“It culminated in my son making a very favorable comparison of the two of us – something he had never done before.  For years, he had been critical of the ‘outrageous’ way I dressed.  About two weeks after the workshop, he compared our fashion styles and said, ‘I always thought the way you threw something odd into the mix was a little ‘off-the-wall’ – like those leopard heels with the elegant black suit.  Now, I realize that I’m doing the same thing with these velvet slippers and no socks with MY suit. It’s a matter of style, and I got that from you.’   I almost fell over – my son had never aligned himself with me in any way previous to this – at least, not since he was a little boy.”

“It may sound like a small example, but what I started to see was that – now that I wasn’t worrying about him all the time – there was a different dynamic in our conversations…. a freedom for love to be expressed —  for intelligent, equal conversation to occur, for respect and consideration to be expressed and felt – by both of us.”

“I realized that what my worry (about his dying) had served to do was to hold him at arm’s distance while smothering him with my attempted control of his activities so that he wouldn’t get hurt…”

“What I finally got was that I was trying to control his life so that I wouldn’t ‘get hurt.’   I was interpreting his imagined death as a threat to my own survival because – how could I live without him?   I now feel that I could live with the fact that, in any given moment, my son is either alive or he is not, and there’s nothing I can do about that – except to love him no matter what.   Frankly, death would not affect my love for him at all – Love, I know, is eternal.”

“Our relationship gets more rich every day…. And, because I am free of my worry, I also have a lot more time to spend thinking about things at which I can be productive and successful.   I am opened up and expressed as I have never been before!   I feel as if I have gotten my life back – a part of me that I never knew I had! – with the added bonus of a more special relationship with my son.”

“Every now and then, I still get a tightness in my throat – while watching a movie where a child dies, or something awful happens at work… and my hand goes to my throat. But, now I recognize  that’s the trigger — I take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m OK, I am safe, my son is safe, and I am happy,’ and the feelings pass.”

That workshop with Landon was seven years ago.   It was the beginning of my new life – a life I work at every day — in a moment by moment choice for Love, for freedom, for peace – for aliveness!

Here’s to Aliveness!  Here’s to Life! 

Deliciously yours in the Joy of it all, Linda

 “‘God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore,  for the former things have passed away.’   And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.'”    Revelations 21:4-5

 

LandonCarterThis is Landon Carter, who led my first workshop on transformation, described above.

Landon has written a book called, “Living Awake:  The Practice of Transforming Everyday Life.”   In that book, he describes the “Truth Process” as a process  in general;   and, specifically,  the process he did with me, which he describes on pages 88-94.   He calls me “Lucy” in that book.  The letter that I wrote to him after the workshop, edited in the story above, also appears in the book, on pages 152-154.  Landon’s book is a great handbook for living a transformed life — you can read more about it at www.landoncarter.com.

The quintessential transformation education “campus” —  and one where I participate a lot — is Landmark Education, the successor to EST, where Landon was a trainer many years before.  You can visit them at www.landmarkeducation.com.    They have centers all over the world.

Transformation is a never-ending  journey — and well worth the ride….  I promise you —  the ride of your Life!

© 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.

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Everyone has so much they’re dealing with these days – if it isn’t money, it’s job and career or relationship or health or… Well, there’s a lot out there, isn’t there?

These are the times when good friends are so important. I find that if I keep it all in my head, it seems as if the world is coming to an end. But, if I reach out – when things seem so overwhelming — to one of my “committed listeners,” there is a comfort there that is simple and sweet in the “gathering together” of our shared humanity —  within which we are healed…

A perfect illustration of this is my story this week…   A story about two friends who merged in my life to create a lesson of love…

About five years ago, I went through a scary period, starting with suddenly losing my work in December and continuing through a time that certainly qualified as a “crucible of faith” over the following nine months – a roller-coaster ride of highs – when I’d have a great job interview – to the lowest of lows – when I would wonder, “What am I going to do now?”

This period was the most severe test of my faith and trust in everything I ever believed God was or is or ever would be in my life.

How that manifested for me is that — in the midst of all the worry about my own life —  13 people I knew died during a seven-week period from mid-May through mid-July – each from different periods of my life – each death a further test of my faith…

One, in particular, was the turning point in how I experienced God as always there for me…

I had a friend, Mari, with whom I had been very close many years before.   I met her because our husbands were business friends and we wound up going to dinner – the four of us – one night.  It was one of those kinds of meetings when you say, “Hi!” and you are instant friends.  I felt I had known her all my life!  

We became close – way beyond any friendship that our husbands had – we were like sisters, totally entwined in each other’s lives — and it worked out that Mari had a brother, Carmine, who was a hairdresser – Mari and I traveled to Nutley, New Jersey, every two weeks to have our hair colored and cut at his salon. Those drives were full of intimate, loving talks about relationships, our children, our careers, and our dreams…

It went on like this for years – our families spent time together, she and I met separately — when we couldn’t see each other, we were on the telephone, sharing what happened that day.  I loved everything about her – her loving nature, her honesty, her unbelievable energy!   Fred, my husband, always said, “That Mari is a ‘ball of fire!’”

And then – it wasn’t like that anymore. When my husband and I separated, I continued to talk to Mari and to see her for lunch on occasion, but – as so often happens when one couple parts – it changes things. It wasn’t so easy anymore to find time to get together. She had her life and I had mine – and so we drifted apart.

One day, I read in the paper that she had become a Vice President at Lacoste, and I decided to write to her. I soon received an email asking me to give her a call at home.  She said that she was working from there for a while…

I did – and it was just as it had always been…. we talked on the phone for an hour, sharing what had happened over those intervening years….

What had happened for Mari was that she had breast cancer….

We talked about our spiritual journey – mine having been birthed by the separation from my husband and my son growing away from me, my career shifting and changing in ways unpredictable and frightening; hers having intensified with her illness, offering her a comfort that she hadn’t realized before was even possible. We spoke our fears out loud and talked about what it meant to have God in our lives through such challenging times.

We planned a visit. I would come out to Long Island to see her and we could be together the way we used to be…

It never happened. She got weaker and weaker – until she could no longer come to the phone.  We communicated by emails and, occasionally, I would check in with her brother.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I would never speak with her again….

My own life took more unexpected twists and turns…. I took a consulting project in the fashion industry and it meant that I was busy and traveling…     Just before I left for India the following November, I called Carmine.  Mari had just gone into the hospital once again. I gave him my cell phone number – “Just in case…”

While in India, I went to Sai Baba’s ashram and brought back some Vibhuti for Mari –Vibhuti is the holy ash that Baba creates out of the air – it is used for prayer and healing. When I returned, I learned that, without warning, my consulting gig would end, and so I was plunged into my own fear for my life and future…. 

The Vibhuti stayed in its box and Mari was never called…

During this time, the friend who was MY strength and comfort was Victoria Moran, the author and spiritual teacher. She and I had come together in our own accidental way – she called me because she found me online and wanted to join the Peace Circle I was holding after 9/11.   By the time she called, I wasn’t doing them anymore, but I said to her, “I live on 55th and First. If that’s convenient for you, I’ll take your name and when I start doing them again, I’ll call you.”

As God would have it, Victoria lived across the street.  Literally.  Right across First Avenue – we could see each other’s windows if we looked out our own.

Victoria and I began a spiritual tag-team kind of friendship – we were each other’s spiritual listener. One time, we met for 15 minutes a day for a month to speak our dreams to each other – hers for that her book, “Younger By The Day” would become a best-seller (it did!) — and mine that I would have a brilliant new job  (I did!).

Victoria was there for me when I learned that my consulting gig was over – I didn’t even go home first…. I went straight to Victoria’s apartment and she listened as I tried to move out of my “deer-in-the-headlights” fear state… her presence and her listening were the love I needed to get through that awful day…. and in the days and months afterwards…

I emailed Mari over  the next few months, and although I didn’t receive any answers, I saw from the status report that they had been read.   Soon there would be cause to wonder who was reading them… 

On one of my better days in May, I woke up thinking of Mari. I hadn’t checked in on her with Carmine since I lost my job, and I suddenly realized how long it had been.  I picked up the phone and called her house.

When her husband answered the phone, I knew immediately that something was wrong – he sounded awful. I reminded him who I was and he remembered. It took a few moments — but finally, he seemed to realize something.  He said, “You don’t know…?  Mari died in January – January 27th – you didn’t know?”

My grief was immediate and profound – made even more so by realizing that these months that I had not been working and trying to get a new job – and, therefore, so very self-focused – had made me lose sight of Mari and her illness.

I hung up and called Mari’s brother. Carmine was gentle and caring on the phone. He told me that Mari’s last months were very difficult. From the time I spoke to him before I went to India, she continued to decline…

My unspoken question hung in the air, “Why didn’t you call me?”

He shared with me that she had died with great dignity at home — and that, in the days and weeks before  her death, she had called in her family and close friends, one by one, including her ex-husband, and had shared some private time with each one of them.    He told me that three weeks before she died, she had asked him to call me so that she could speak to me. He couldn’t find my number.  He was sorry, he said — he knew that she loved me and wanted to say “Good-bye.”

I thanked Carmine and got off the phone. I felt incomplete. I’ve never really understood funerals until that day. I needed to be with people, to talk to her family and tell them what she meant to me. I needed to hug someone and I needed to be hugged – to comfort and to be comforted. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I prayed to God, “Please help me with this!”  I waited for His answer.

I did the only thing I could think to do – I started cleaning and organizing. Two hours into this process, I came upon a notebook – the first page was dated “1991.” The book fell open to a page that said, “Mari Goldberg” at the top, with a notation that we had had lunch that day. There was a quote by her name:

“If you always want more than what you have, then nothing will ever be enough. But, if you are grateful for where you are now, then everything you have will be a gift.”

It struck me that this was a time when I was learning that lesson in my life in so many ways – not the least of which was this very situation! It struck me that she had come to me in that moment to tell me this once more – now that I was ready — and needed to hear it.

Later that evening, Victoria called me. She had just received my distraught message from earlier in the day when I had just spoken to Carmine.   She listened to me cry and berate myself for ever allowing the friendship to lapse those many years – and even to beating myself up that I had not sent the Vibhuti immediately upon returning from India.

When I said that Mari had wanted to speak with me but no one could find my phone number, Victoria jumped in with just the reminder that I needed:

“Linda, you are lost right now in the physical part of this – but your spiritual Self knows better. Mari’s in her eternal creative expression right now as a “ball of fire” with God – and maybe you are the one who is supposed to remember her that way for her family and for the the world. If you were meant to speak with her before she died, if you were meant to go to the funeral, your phone number would have been right there for them to find.”

She went on, “January was an awful month for you – how would you have handled losing your job and Mari’s death, too? God doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t give you more than you can handle. You found a notebook — on the very day that you learned that she passed — that had her quote in it – a quote that has more meaning for you today than it did when she first uttered it. Your phone number would have been just as close at hand — if that was the way it was supposed to be.”

Lastly, Victoria reminded me, “Don’t forget that you got the opportunity – for those few months when you reconnected – to speak and to tell each other how much you loved each other. There’s the gift!”

Victoria went on to suggest that I get a recent picture of Mari from her family and make an altar with a candle and light it in memory of her every evening. She also offered that I could write letters to her family to tell them what Mari meant to me – with remembrances of her energy and spirit – a reminder of when she was a “ball of fire.”

God had come through once again — through Victoria – reminding me that there was absolute perfect-ness in my experience of Mari and how this had all transpired – that it was all in Divine Order just as it was – and that nothing was lost.

Mari’s altar sat in my window for a long time after that day… the same window from which I could see Victoria’s apartment — with Mari’s picture that her sister sent me, a candle, and Mari’s words beneath it, reminding me that I couldn’t have everything I wanted in this situation, but what I did get – Mari’s friendship for all those years, the months of reconnection with her – and now, Victoria’s comfort and wisdom…

…these are my gifts…

Deliciously yours in Gratitude always, Linda

“You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless.”
                         “A Course in Miracles,” Workbook for Students, Epilogue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         victoria_photo1A special thank you to my dear friend, Victoria Moran — one of God’s angels, for sure. Victoria’s two new books are coming out now: “Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day,” and “The Love Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, and Joy.” Please visit her at www.VictoriaMoran.com.  

If you are in NYC on Monday, May 4th, at 7:30PM, Victoria is having a book signing at the Barnes and Noble Lincoln Triangle at  1972 Broadway in Manhattan. 

Victoria is truly a bridge over troubled waters in my life…  I am forever blessed that she is my friend…

 

 

© 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.

chocolatecakejpeg1A reminder of love in a world where love is often hidden…

Do we know the people we love?    We say we  do, we say we love them,   we feel love when we think about them – and often, those real moments of love in which we can feel the love itself – are hidden in the folds of daily life,  the worry that permeates our world in these times,  the routine of automatic communication that leaves no room for the beauty of what love truly is.

When I first started in transformation education at Landmark Education, there was a course I took in which we had to create a “map” of our closest circle – those people who are in our lives on a regular basis, with whom we interact daily, or at least weekly, who create the fabric of our lives.

My map was virtually empty – my son and my ex-husband and a sprinkling of friends around the country.  I realized that I didn’t have a circle – I didn’t have a community, I didn’t have many people with whom to weave a rich, textured fabric in my own life.

I went up to the leader, embarrassed to admit that my map was meager. She listened to me, looked at my almost empty page, and said, “Make them up!”   I went back to my seat.

I stared at my map, stunned by her instruction, feeling silly and alone. After a few moments, I thought, “I have family. I rarely talk to them, but they are my family nevertheless. Why would I make people up when I have a whole family that I could be close to?”

In that moment, I took a stand that my family would be what I would transform for myself – I would get in communication, I would learn about their lives, I would be there for them, I would love them.

So, let me tell you about my brother, Ralph. He is strong and dependable and has always been there for his family. He’s not quite a year younger than I am – something we joke about, that we are the same age for four days out of the year. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and has four girls, Nicole, Tiffany, and the twins, Jacki and Julie. He is an engineer by education and worked at Rohm and Haas for all of his working years, retiring in January of 2007.

And he never talks. Not that he can’t talk – he doesn’t talk. Or he didn’t talk to me, anyway. To illustrate, I was in a car with him for a long ride about 10 years ago, babbling away in the seat beside him until I realized he hadn’t said anything for a quite some time. I said, “My jaws hurt from talking so much! It’s your turn. Tell me what has been going on with you.” After we laughed at the strange injury to my jaw, I shut up and we continued driving.

We rode in silence for 15 minutes. Finally, the silence was unbearable!  I turned to him and said, “I can’t stand it any longer…! Aren’t you going to say anything?” We both laughed and that was the end of that.  We continued on and I talked the entire time.  I never did find out what was going on for him.

I had rarely seen or spoken to him since.

I took my stand for love and family.  I started calling my brothers and sister… and little by little, I was invited to family events and dinners. The summer after, I was invited to my brother, Ralph’s, house in Avalon with his family for their yearly summer vacation.

Before I left, I actually thought about who I would BE in the presence of his family — I didn’t want it to go the way it’s always gone – a lot of automatic interactions, a lot of opinions and defenses, a lot of awkward moments – and my brother, once again silent in my presence.   And so, I created myself as being Love, no matter what came up, no matter what anyone said — I would not babble, I would not lecture, I would not talk all the time – I would not defend my opinions or positions about anything. I would just let it all be the way it was and simply love them.

The week was beautiful — the grandchildren were there – Sophia, Luke, and Olivia — and so it had that magical quality that young children always bring to a space… laughing and running around and giggling – running into the waves at the beach and getting sand all over us — I let myself get carried away with it all.

Finally, on the last day I was there, everyone else had gone to the beach and my brother and I were talking at the house about the plant he had just finished building in Shanghai. He had spent almost 2 weeks out of every month traveling to China for the three years prior to his retirement. He mentioned that he had pictures of the plant.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have asked to see them. My Goodness! It was a plant for  — I didn’t even know what kind of products! This time, I heard something in my brother’s voice…. I asked to see the pictures. He seemed surprised but pulled out his laptop and started showing me hundreds of pictures of this project in Shanghai that had consumed his life for all this time.

The more pictures he showed me, the more he spoke — he pointed out the glass walls, the interior details, and the “water element” that the Chinese people believe is good luck… how challenging it was to create this side of the building or that pond….  I heard his admiration for the Chinese people and his love of their country…

I was looking at the pictures and I was glancing at my brother’s face… how animated he became as he spoke of something that he had devoted his life to over the past three years…!  I realized that this was the first time I had ever truly listened to him.  He had a whole life I never knew about – a passion that excited him and was a driving force in his life – all hidden from my view!

I was overwhelmed with love for him….

I was suddenly sorry that this had only come up on the last day.   I wanted to sit there and listen to him for hours more…   I didn’t want this time to end.

Soon, it was time for me to leave to take the bus back to Manhattan.

I gathered my belongings and positioned my suitcase by the door. I walked back to where my brother was sitting, now watching one of his favorite car races on television. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, “I love you so much,” I said and turned to go. I heard his voice as I walked away….

“Same here,” he said.

The tears came into my eyes, moved in a way that took me by surprise.  I grabbed my suitcase and wheeled it out the door and down the street towards the bus stop.

I sat on the bench, waiting for the bus, thinking about my brother and all the things I never knew about him – not because he wasn’t willing to tell me but because I wasn’t open to hearing them.  Before that, it was always about me and there was no room for him.  For the first time, what was created was a space of love, devoid of me and my ego – that allowed the magnificence that he is – and always was — to rise up and shine!

I now know that love can only be seen in an empty space…. a space of allowing and giving and silence and presence…. a space where all is open to the love that is always there….

Like right here, right now…

Deliciously yours in the Glory of it all!   Linda

“A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another;  as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

dontwelookalikeexceptfortheredhairmeandralphHere’s a picture of me and my brother, Ralph Ruocco.

 

 

 

 

 

© 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.

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I always think of myself as generous and giving AND — guess what? I have found that my generosity is often tempered by what I think I can “get away with” and still look good, while protecting myself every step of the way. Last week, I got to see what true generosity can — and does — provide… an experience of Grace and Love…

Early in the week, I received an email from a friend – let’s call her Maddy — not someone so close to me, but more than an acquaintance – someone who is in the spiritual and transformational conversation with me, but not someone I regularly call or email. She was reaching out to her transformation “community” in order to find support around creating an opportunity for a plane ticket to a course in San Francisco that we are both taking together – in fact, we were heading there for the weekend last week. She found herself without a plane ticket to go – and, unless she was able to generate that ticket one way or another, it was now too late to get an inexpensive ticket – and she would not be able to come.

I read the email and my first instinct was to delete the message. “Not my responsibility….,” I thought.

Something stopped me.

What hit me is that I have often been in that very same situation – waiting until the last minute or thinking that money that I expected to come through would actually come in on time – only to have everything fall through and there I am left with no resources, no recourse – and feeling bereft and alone. As I looked at the email, I was inspired by how courageous she was to step out into the unknown and ask for help.

Yet, here I was, in not much better circumstances myself. Oh, I was going for the weekend, but it hadn’t been easy to pull that together. I had a reservoir of frequent flyer miles from which I had pulled in order to create my own ticket – and had not much more in the “kitty” from which to draw. I was saving what remained for my own ticket to the last weekend of the course in May.

That was two months away.

I called Maddy and offered to “create” a miracle with her. I told her that I had miles that I could give her in return for her working with me to generate my own plane ticket for May. We talked about it for a while, and she reluctantly declined. She didn’t want to put me — or herself, for that matter — in an uncomfortable situation in which she would feel obligated to “pay me back” for the free miles given to her now. We agreed to “stand together” in the space that anything could happen and that a miracle would arrive for her.  I hung up the phone.

I think of myself as someone who steps out on the power of the Word every day of my life – “God provides” is not simply an aphorism to me.   I put my faith and trust in God and He treats me like a “lily of the field” – I have never known Him to fail me.   So, you can imagine….. Miracles happen often in my life….

I couldn’t shake the feeling all day that I had something to give and if I really believed in my faith and trust in God, I could give what I had and really “put my money where my mouth is” and create my own miracle for the trip in May.

I called her back – and this time, I freely offered the miles. Believe me, my ego – that part of me that thinks there isn’t enough for everyone – was screaming inside me, “How could you do this? What will you do when you need to go in May?”

My ego was no match for what was there in the space for both of us: creating and loving and Being…

What was there was an amazing Presence – a sense that this was greater than either one of us. Maddy told me that a miracle had already happened – she had half the flight already and only needed the one-way ticket back… As we made plans for how we would work that out the next day, we both let our walls down to each other and allowed for that there would be a way to have this work. We surrendered to the love in the space and said, “This shall be.”

I went back and forth all night between ego – wanting to keep everything for myself – and Self, knowing that by being willing to surrender to whatever it was that was there for me to do would give me riches beyond what frequent flyer miles could provide.

“A Course in Miracles” speaks of giving this way: “To give and to receive are one in truth,” (Lesson 108). The fact is I would have felt that something was missing if Maddy could not be there – I was being generous for myself as well as for her — “All that I give is given to myself.”  The next morning, Maddy called to say that she had both ways on the ticket and that she didn’t need my miles after all – but – and this is a big “but” – we both knew that those tickets showed up in the clearing that we were being for her to come.

We are all powerful beyond anything we can imagine AND we do not walk this way alone. There is One Who is with us always… and it is easier to experience that when we stand together in love…

And…. Love is the thought that God is…

Deliciously yours in the Miracle of it all,  Linda

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:20

© 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.

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I am so very lucky!  I have so many friends – younger than I am and older than I am, near to me and far away, men and women, people I haven’t seen in years and those I see every week, casual friends and close, intimate friends with whom I share the secrets of my soul…

 

I am so blessed…

 

It wasn’t always this way.  There was a long stretch during which I was a virtual recluse… weeks that I didn’t go out of my apartment, years when I had no one in my home except for the occasional visit from my ex-husband and my son, when my phone lay silent in its cradle.  I didn’t even know that I was missing anything.  I had a few old friends around the country with whom I kept in contact every now and again, but they were the exceptions in my life and not the rule…  Alone with my thoughts, safe and hidden away, I wasn’t very good company — least of all, for myself…

 

Fortunately, a series of events thrust me back into the world…

 

I had taken a job in Pennsylvania, and, shortly thereafter, just as I was planning to move there from Manhattan, I was told that the company was in trouble and the man who had hired me just a few short months before had left suddenly the previous day…

 

I didn’t know what to do – I didn’t know whether to move there anyway and try to make a go of it – a go at what?  I didn’t know anyone, I had no friends and no home – I lived in The Wayne Hotel during the work week, where the only person I spoke to every day, outside my company, was the hotel waiter.

 

 

Finally, I could take no more…

 

I lay in bed one night, sad and lonely, and prayed:  “Here’s my life, God. Please take it.   I have no idea what I’m doing.  Show me the way to make a difference in the world, make me a better person…. And, Oh — could I have some friends while you’re at it?”

 

Two days after that, a member of my “Course in Miracles” group called to invite me to an introduction at Landmark Education, an organization that offers transformation education to people who want to take their lives to the next step on the “power, freedom, and full self-expression” ladder.  I didn’t want to go, but Steve had been so sweet to me since I joined the study group that I couldn’t bear to turn him down.  I went.  I listened.  I registered into the Landmark Forum. 

 

The next day, I woke up angry at Steve.  I called him and complained – I suppose my ego felt really threatened.  Doing “this thing” was something new, something different – it felt like a violation of my invisibility that I seemed to treasure above all else.  I accused him of “coercing me” – he listened and said nothing.  At the end, he just loved me and stood in that I could choose…

 

Something wouldn’t let me cancel it.  I resigned myself to doing it, even though the moment of value that I had glimpsed the night before in the introduction was long gone and forgotten….

 

The weekend of my Landmark Forum was a blur of breakdowns followed by breakthroughs…  I don’t remember everything…  but, I do remember that, at one point, someone asked the leader, Sophie, why she did this work and she said, “As long as there is one child starving in Africa, I will be a Landmark Forum leader…”  My head said, “What do starving children in Africa have to do with the Landmark Forum?  I thought this was supposed to be about ME!”

 

Thankfully, my heart heard something else… 

 

When we raise our level of consciousness, the awareness of love increases.  When the awareness of love increases, compassion increases.  When compassion increases, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the sadness and pain in the world.  We leave behind simply worrying about our own little “self” – and step into putting our Higher Self out there in the world to be of service.

 

In the course of all the work I’ve done in Landmark Education over these past four years, my anger and impatience has become a thing of the past, my life is given by making a difference in the world, and — Oh, by the way, I now have so many friends that I’ve long ago run out of fingers and toes on which to count them….

 

In one of my leadership courses last year, as my ego was “burned off” in the doing of the work, I became close with a group of women in the year-long class.  We were united in that most precious of all endeavors – being there for each other as we revealed our deepest fears – those fears that we found out were similar to everyone else’s fears – those fears that keep us small and invisible and hidden away from the world, those fears that keep us from our own Greatness… 

 

In this group of women, all ages are represented: one in her 20’s, one in her 30’s, two  in their 40’s, one in her 50’s, two in their 60’s and one at 70 years old.  When we are together, you would never know the difference – there is no ego, there is no age, there are no “shoulds,” there is nothing there but love….  I call them my Magnificent Seven….  When I am with them, I feel like I can do anything….!

 

There is a passage in “A Course in Miracles” in the Manual for Teachers that speaks of the different stages one goes through on the way to a trust in God that banishes all fear and doubt.  In this passage, we are cautioned that we have come a long way at a certain point, AND there is a long way still to go: “Yet when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him.  Now he rests a while, and gathers them before going on.  He will not go on from here alone.”  

 

I am truly blessed…  as is everyone who takes on growing and creating and inventing and serving and loving ….  We do not go into Heaven alone….  We are meant to love each other… and to make the journey together…

 

To Anat and Raquel and Gretchen and Dale and Kate and Patricia and Verna… and to all my Mighty Companions everywhere….

 

I love you with all my heart…

 

Deliciously yours in the Glory of it all….  Linda

 

© 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. 

 

 

 

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I’ve been looking at the things I’d like to transform in my life: those habits I have that may not serve me anymore — if  ever they did! — those ways of being that are not responsible and/or caring – challenging myself to question everything that might be a distraction from my purpose in life – and that purpose is making a difference while I am here on this planet….

 

One area that came up for me is this…

 

I am a night owl – I LOVE the late night, the hours way after dark, long after everyone else has gone to bed,  the quiet, dark streets of the city; stars in a clear, night sky;  moonlight on the ocean;  late night reading, late night television, late night EVERYTHING!  Sweet….

 

That’s not the problem…. 

 

What late-night living gives rise to is that I am NOT a morning person:  I love to sleep late, I prefer not to talk before 10AM  (Surprise! There IS a time when I don’t talk!) – I don’t even turn my phone on until after I’ve had enough time to meditate, set my intentions for the day, and have my coffee…

 

Still not the problem…

 

AND…  I live in a culture where “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,”  “the early bird gets the worm,” and  “The early morning has gold in its mouth” – two out of three of those quotes by Ben Franklin, no doubt a lover of the dawn.

 

You can see the conflict that sets up for me… because I’ve bought into that…. and yet I don’t do it.

 

And THAT, my friends, is the problem.

 

Not that I haven’t tried – putting an alarm clock across the room to force me out of bed, promising myself to go to the gym in the morning so that I have a schedule to live into, clearing my evenings so that I could go to bed at 10PM and awaken at 6AM….

 

All because I thought I “should”…

 

…only to be startlingly awakened at the dawn’s early light by the blaring of the alarm and immediately thinking that something was wrong, feeling like a lump in a lazy and lethargic work-out, and botching my schedule up every other day because I have so many late evening dinners and seminars that end at 10:15PM that I am disempowered before I even begin.   My brain gets the message that I cannot be trusted with my Word.

 

This week, I decided that it was time to get that flat, once and for all!  No one can be happy if they are living in marked contrast to what they think they SHOULD be doing….  And thinking of themselves as “less than” in the process… 

 

So, I looked at that…

 

Every morning before I start my day – and every night before I close my eyes – I ask God to use me….  I, like George Bernard Shaw, “want to be all used up when I die…”  AND get my 8 hours sleep while I’m at it…

 

What does that mean for my life?

 

Here’s what I came up with:

 

…Living, playing, and expressing myself in being Who I Am for myself and for the world, right here, right now… present in every moment….

 

…Living in my devotion to God by being an emissary for love and compassion…  in every moment….

 

…Living as a contribution to my fellow human beings, standing for their Greatness, even when they don’t….  and doing that…. you got it! –  in every moment….

 

Then, I looked at whether that is better done in the morning or in the evening…?    Or — what IS the appropriate and right time of day for that — exactly?

 

Every moment.

 

What I realized is that God doesn’t know whether it’s the morning or the night… Well, He does, actually, know that because He knows everything… He just doesn’t really care about that…  what He cares about is that we love each other, that we are compassionate with each other, that we contribute to each other….  In fact, that is what God is…. Love, kindness, and compassion…

 

I’ve made my peace with this.  I can choose:  I can be a night person or I can wake up early… it means what I make it mean….  and I’ve chosen to make it mean nothing, either way…   It’s all just a conversation… and we get to choose….. that’s what allows us to be free….

 

So, if you are a morning person, and the early hours are what call to you…and that is what honors your Higher Self…. Enjoy every precious moment of that!  AND please — tiptoe ‘til after breakfast if you’re staying with me, OK?

 

For me..?  Well, here I sit, at 11:30 at night, alive and aware and loving all of you, right now, writing my little heart out….  glancing out my window at the twinkling street lights on First Avenue and watching the snow falling on the silent city night, moved by what it takes for all of us to live while loving and laughing and being together…. And I look forward to those few times a year when I get to see the dawn, made all the more special and beautiful by its rare appearance in my life….

 

If you’re ever up late, perhaps you’ll see me….   I’ll be the one dancing by the light of the moon….

  

Deliciously yours in the moonlight….  Linda 

 

© 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. 

 

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