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.

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DoorOpeningOntoTheSea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was one of those times….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly the same as the door I had ruined…

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

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

That was a long time ago…

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

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

There’s no surrender in that….

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

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

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

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

Deliciously yours in the Mystery of  it All, Linda

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

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

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

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