In a world of material beauty, it is often challenging to stay present to the real beauty in the world: love, compassion, kindness — without which the world would surely be a sad, dark, and lonely place…

I remember that my mother, in her vigilant attempt to keep me free from false pride about my own face or figure, would remind me that these were not the important things of life. If one of my parents’ friends would make a fuss about my looks, my mother would take me aside and whisper in my ear, “Just remember, Linda, beauty is as beauty does….”

Still, I spent most of my life enamored of beautiful people, beautiful clothes, and beautiful places and things… I spent most of my career in the fashion business where those things are one’s stock in trade – equally important to any merchandising or marketing talent one might actually have….

I left the fashion business years ago, not without some longing and regret, but always knowing that there was something else for me to do, something new for me to learn, something more for me to “get” about life…

How much I had changed became clear to me when I volunteered at the armory in New York City after 9/11 to work with the victims’ families — Here is a story that captures my altered view of the world….

I was sitting with a family whose husband and father was among the many who had not appeared anywhere after four days…. most people there were left without certainty about what had happened to their loved ones… and it was for the volunteers to sit with them, pray with them, get them some food – be there for them…

I heard someone say, “There’s Elizabeth Taylor!”

I turned, and, sure enough, there was Elizabeth Taylor with an entourage of about three or four people. She had on a long caftan and was walking with a cane. She was speaking with the men in her group and looking around the cavernous hall.

I had seen her in person many years before. When I was at Bloomingdale’s, I had been invited to a fund-raising dinner for an AIDS benefit. I don’t think it was called “AMFAR” yet – it was in the early days of the AIDS pandemic. It was a very elegant, star-studded, fashionable affair.

Elizabeth Taylor was the main draw.

I kept trying to get near her. She had always been my favorite actress, ever since I had seen the film, “National Velvet”. Her affair and subsequent marriage to Richard Burton was the tabloid fodder of my growing-up years. One time, I even drew this sexy black mole near where I had seen that she had one, and, at fifteen, I dyed my hair black and did everything I could to have her hairstyle, her make-up, her face. Alas, those are gifts one is born with, and so I eventually grew out of that phase. But, I never stopped admiring her in the years after I had given up trying to be her. If anything, she had gained more of my admiration for her continued work for AIDS victims.

I spent the whole time at the AIDS event trying to position myself to be near enough that I could see her up close – I wanted to see those violet eyes, that crowd-stopping face. I wanted to hear that whisper-y, sexy, Elizabeth Taylor voice just once in my life!

She had been heavy at some point prior to the event, but now was a very petite, slim woman with enormous breasts – a feature I had never noticed before. I attributed that to her beauty. Her face was so beautiful, and, of course, those eyes! No one in the magazines ever seemed to emphasize the rest of her figure except to report on its weight fluctuations.

I was about ready to give up hope of getting close to her when I was tapped on the shoulder by one of her bodyguards and asked to step to the side. I did and turned around – and there she was.

She was walking in my direction — She stopped to talk to someone about two feet away from me. I was stuck to the ground — I couldn’t take my eyes from her face.

People were pushing me to get near her. Usually, I would have let people get in front of me rather than stand my ground and possibly get trampled.   This time, I pushed back.   No one was getting between Elizabeth and me!

She turned back toward me — her bodyguard touched her arm to urge her onward. As she was turning, she looked right at me. It could only have been for a moment, but it was enough.

I saw them. I looked right at her face — and I saw them. The violet eyes. I felt as if I was close to some fabulous jewels that not everyone would ever get to see and I was one of those lucky ones. Her eyes were all I COULD see – and, they were violet. Beautiful, deep, purple-y violet.

She looked right at me.

As she walked by, she was mere inches away…. I couldn’t believe that I had actually been that close to her. ..

Everyone rushed past me to keep up with her, but I was rooted to the spot. Finally, I turned in time to see her being swept out the door.

Now, here she was again – older, heavier, clearly walking with difficulty, even with her cane. But, the face – there was no mistake. That was Elizabeth Taylor.

She kept looking around and her eyes finally settled on the family I was with. She walked towards us. I was sitting with my arm around the mother of the group. Elizabeth came over and sat down right next to us and then turned her attention to the rest of the family. She started talking to them. The mother had been crying and I had been comforting her — even we stopped to listen.

Her sexy, whisper-y Elizabeth Taylor voice somehow landed for me now as sweet and mellifluous, gentle and loving…

I don’t remember everything she said. She told them that she was so sorry and that she wished that she could do something. She took her hand and put it on the daughter’s cheek. She asked them questions about their father. She listened as they spoke. They asked her to sign their placard with his picture and she graciously did so.

She turned back towards the mother and said something to console her. Then she lifted her head and looked directly into my eyes. I looked back into hers. We were just being there together: Two people, wanting to help, wanting the pain to go away, wanting to make a difference…

I saw her eyes well with tears….

Her bodyguards helped her up and led her away. She looked around as she headed for the front door. She stopped a few more times and spoke to more people, but not for long.

And then she was gone.

It occurred to me…. I hadn’t noticed what color her eyes were…

I’m sure they were as violet and as beautiful as ever….

Something had shifted for me, though…. the beauty I saw that night was her transcendant beauty — a beauty of the heart in service to the world…

As my mother would say, “Beauty is as beauty does…..”

Deliciously yours in the Gorgeousness of it All…. Linda

“The ideals which have lighted me on my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully — have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty”. . . . Albert Einstein

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched … but are felt in the heart.” … Helen Keller

© 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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Hi, it’s Linda here again… back from a visit with my son, Josh, and Oh, what a delicious visit it was….!

Everyone who knows me knows how much I love Josh!   He is the Great Blessing of my life…   AND, it hasn’t always been easy between us….

Let me first tell you that the dream of my life was always to have a child…   I can pinpoint the moment I knew…

One night when I was 12, I was babysitting at our neighbors’  across the street. They had a tiny baby.  I had never babysat a “real” baby before.  I thought he would sleep the whole time, but he didn’t. He cried and cried and cried – that little “new-baby-cry” that sounded like he couldn’t catch his breath.

I was afraid to touch him.

I called my mother and begged her to come over.  She did.  She went into the baby’s room, picked him up and put him on the changing table. I stood next to her as she opened his diaper. She never said a word, but she stopped for a minute and so I looked. What I saw was disgusting to my 12 year old sensibilities – the baby was raw from his waist to his knees, the diaper reeked of urine, and brown poop lay slathered over the red skin like warrior markings.

My mother started to do what I knew she knew best – taking care of children who couldn’t take care of themselves. She was ever so gentle as she cleaned that baby up. As she took care of him, he started to calm down. She put Vaseline all over him – thick layers of the stuff to block out the hurt and the pain. He stopped crying. She diapered him and picked him up. She rocked him on her shoulder, patting his back and crooning to him, until he fell asleep. She put him back in his crib.

I was in awe of her.

I decided, right then, that I was going to have a baby and I was going to be a mother just like my mother – and no child of mine was ever going to feel hurt or pain…

Ever…

And, well….  It doesn’t always go like that, does it?

For years, when Josh was little, it seemed that life was easy and happy – I joke that the three of us were like “The Three Musketeers”, always together, full of adventure and fun…

Life didn’t go on like that forever… Fred and I started to lose who we were in our marriage… we did what we did and we knew Josh had a hard time with that…

Separation and divorce are never easy for a child, no matter how old they are…

For Josh, well… he had to go through it twice…

Fred and I first separated when he was six years old. We stayed apart for two years and then we wanted to try again to make our marriage work…

The next six years were progressively painful for all of us. By the time Fred and I separated the second time, Josh was fourteen…

He chose to live with his Dad…

Since then, Josh and I have been riding a roller-coaster of emotion, trying to repair what neither of us dared to even speak of…

A pattern emerged out of the way we were together… if I said “black,” he said “white”… and then I would spend a lot of time defending “black” as if being a good mother were at stake…

Oh, we loved each other, for sure… that was never in doubt… we just weren’t always present to the love…  As a result, we didn’t have an easy, comfortable way with each other… we were both anxious, tentative, and finally…  automatic…

“Hi, Josh, it’s Mom… How’s work?”

“It’s fine. How are you?”

There would be a bit of news on either side… then…

Silence.

“Ok, Honey… I’ll let you go… I love you…!”

“Love you, too, Mom…”

Click.

When we agreed that I’d come to Minneapolis for a visit, I was determined that this time it would be different. I was committed to shift something in this relationship. I wasn’t willing to let it go on like this for one more minute…

I was willing to do anything to create the space for that to happen…

I cleared myself with a few of my committed listeners.   My friends were ruthlessly compassionate with me:   “Linda, you are either going to spend your life defending and explaining or you are going to listen to him and love him no matter what he says.   You can’t have both…”

A little scared… off I went to Minneapolis…

I started on Saturday by saying, “Josh, I know that there is something between us…”

He interrupted me, “Mom, not here at breakfast… Let’s go home and talk about this….”

When we got to his apartment, I tried again, “Josh, you can say anything you want to say to me…   I am here to listen…”

And, listen I did… for hours….

What he said is not for here… and it’s not what is at the heart of the matter, anyway… What IS the essence – the life — is that the way he saw it is the way it happened for him — and I needed to get that…

It was not easy. He spoke of things from when he was 9, when he was 13 – and times before, after, and in-between…

There were moments I wanted to jump in and say, “No, that’s not what happened…” and I remembered my friends’ caution… “Whatever way it is for him is the way it is for him… Just BE with it… That is the only way to honor him…”

Every time I wanted to correct his perception, I watched myself WANT to do that — and what went through my mind was, “this is not about being right about anything… this is about loving him…”

The more I listened, the more he said…

By four in the afternoon, we were both quiet….

What I did finally say was, “Josh, I am committed to having an extraordinary relationship with you….”

And, he said:

“Mom, I am committed to having an extraordinary relationship with you, too….”

We stopped the “heavy stuff” and proceeded to have a great weekend… He cooked for me, we watched a movie on TV and I scratched his head like I always did when he was a little boy….

The next day, he was still impatient with me and I was still trying too hard to be a “good mother”…

Old patterns die hard….

But, something had shifted… something transformed…. the impatience was more playful, the “good mother” was not so righteous… or needy…

He drove me to the airport early Monday morning. As I kissed him “Good-bye” and turned to go… I knew that we had done something huge that weekend…  I was at peace.

If anyone had told me when I was 12 that I could ever hurt my child or cause him pain, I would have said that it was not possible….

What I learned is that there are other ways to hurt a child besides leaving him in a urine-soaked diaper…

We do what we do in any moment because that is our level of consciousness at that time…

It is a gift to be able to grow in awareness… to take responsibility for what we have done and to acknowledge the impact it has on the people around us… and commit to something new, something greater, something full of love and compassion for who they are….

And… for who WE are…

Anything is possible now for me and Josh ….

I have no idea what that looks like…

Now, THAT’S an adventure worth having…

Deliciously yours in the Glory of it All,  Linda

“Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, sunset…
Sunrise, sunset…
Swiftly flow the years.
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.”
…from “Fiddler on the Roof”

This is my son, Josh Feuer…  An amazing man, if I do say so — and not just because I’m his mother…..  xoxo

How did I learn to listen like this?  See www.landmarkeducation.com.

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

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

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

Janey heard sounds of giggling and kissing….

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

More smooching noises….

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

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

It’s amazing what love can do…

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

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

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

And…

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

And, of course, me…

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

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

And, yes, it IS a dreadful song….

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

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

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

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

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

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

He ended it with…

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

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

I knew that I wanted that for myself…

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

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

Deliciously yours in the Joy of it All, Linda

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

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

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

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

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

…and that is dying.”              

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

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

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

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

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

See if you agree…. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(You all know I LOVE chocolate, right?) 

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

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

And, off we all went… 

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

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

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

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

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

What could that be? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, we were roommates! 

And…. we REALLY love each other. 

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

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

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

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

She took it on…  She took us on… 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I ran home, crying… 

Never again, I thought…. 

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

Sounds silly, doesn’t it..? 

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

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

It never does… 

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

Until there wasn’t… 

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

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

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

“What if everyone in the world did this?” 

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

Deliciously yours in the Beauty of it All!   Linda 

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

“A Course in Miracles”, Text, page 142

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

chocolatedippedstrawberry

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.

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We often think of allowing God into our lives for the “big” stuff:  illness, financial crisis, sadness, loss, job promotions, relationships  – and we feel that WE should handle the “little” stuff.   I’ve come to find that the more I let God into my life on every level, the more blessed my life becomes.

Here’s one of my favorite stories.   Six years ago, when I was looking for an apartment, I looked at one place after another – and became very frustrated.  I’m sure that my attitude had a lot to do with why I wasn’t finding what I wanted.   I had always owned my apartments before – and what I was looking for at that time was a rental.   There was something about rentals that I didn’t like — maybe because it meant that I couldn’t afford to buy at the time, maybe because most rentals are boxy affairs in post-modern buildings and I’m a pre-war gal, or maybe it’s the high fees that tenants have to pay in order to find a good rental in NYC.   Whatever it was, after looking only a little while, I became discouraged.

One night, after a particularly trying day,  I was in one of my frequent conversations with God, and I said, “You KNOW how much I hate this. Please take care of it for me?  Find me a great apartment in a building You know I’ll like – and please send me an email.”  I laughed as I said the last part…. but, I always figure that God can do anything – and He has to talk to us somehow – why not email?

Two days later, I DID receive an email from my then spiritual coach – and friend – Aleta St. James.  It was an eblast to her entire email list and it said, “A friend of mine has a two bedroom apartment in the Sutton area that she has to give up. Whoever sees it first, gets it.”  I called Aleta immediately to get the name of her friend – and, I said, “Aleta, didn’t you remember that I was looking for an apartment? You sent this to EVERYONE!   They’re ALL going to want it!”   Aleta was so apologetic – she had forgotten….  “Call Amy right away!”  she said.

I called her friend with the apartment.  Amy told me that she had had several calls already.  My stomach churned – you know that feeling?   When we feel like we’re going to lose something if we don’t hurry?   I reminded myself that it was no accident that I asked God to email me with an apartment – and I got an email about an apartment.     So, I comforted myself — if He wanted me to get this apartment, 5000 people could want it and I would get it – no sense worrying about it!

I took a deep breath and let it go….

I walked over to the building that afternoon.  It’s a gorgeous pre-war building, a block away from where I lived when I was younger — so I already knew – and loved – the neighborhood, one block from Sutton Place.    It had a beautiful Tudor lobby and a doorman.  I took the elevator to the second floor. I knocked on the door of apartment 2C.

Amy opened the door and invited me in.

We chatted for a few minutes and then she said to me, “Don’t you have a sister named Laura?” I said that, yes, I did.   Then she said, “You may not remember me, but about 15 years ago, I was a good friend of hers.  I was going out with her husband’s best friend, Michael. Do you remember me now?”  Slowly, the recognition washed over me – “Of course, I do!  How wonderful to see you again!”

As she showed me through the apartment, we caught up on what she had been doing since I had seen her last – and, with her  little daughter playing in the living room, I could see that she had been up to quite a lot.

I LOVED the apartment – pre-war, not quite 2 bedrooms, more like 1-1/2 bedrooms, but perfect for me to have a little office at home, huge bedroom – and, overall, the apartment was about 1100 square feet. I was thrilled. Most one-bedrooms in Manhattan at that price are small boxes.

The piece-de-resistance was the tiny second “bedroom” that Amy had made into a nursery – she brought me in there and I gasped. The room was a fantasy painting of a garden with leaves and vines and flowers and bees and butterflys and even little ladybugs on some of the leaves – she had had the room hand-painted in order to create a garden “wonderland” for her little girl.

It was obvious that I loved it all.  What was not as obvious was that the more I loved it, the more anxious I became that I wouldn’t get it…..

I took a deep breath and said silently, “Dear God, this is the one. Thank you.”

Amy turned to me and said, “Since I know you, if you like it, I won’t show it to anyone else. But, you have to act fast because I do want to rent it within the next couple of days.”

Fast?   You have never seen “fast” like I was moving around in the next few hours. I had the application in, my employer letter over to the managing agent, my checks written and the lease signed by noon the next day.

I got the apartment.

And…. that’s not the end of the Mystery…..

I hadn’t been to church in so many years I couldn’t count them… Sometimes, an occasional Easter Sunday and, perhaps, a Midnight Mass at Christmas time…. Right across the street from this apartment is the Archdiocese office building for New York City – and tucked in the side of this big office building is a little chapel of a church called St. John The Evangelist – with 6 rows in the front and 8 rows on the side – just the kind of intimate setting I would have preferred in a church  –  if I had thought about it  at all!   The entrance was directly across the street from the door to my building.   A few months after I moved into the apartment — in a time of deep crisis — I ran across the street to seek comfort – and found it – and stayed.

Someday, I’ll tell you more about that. For now…. it’s enough that I felt led to this place – to live and to grow and to be devoted and to feel connected.

I live in that apartment to this day…. I sit here now, in my little jewel-box of an office, with its garden-fantasy-painted walls and its view out onto First Avenue in Manhattan…. and I feel safe…. and treasured… and protected by the Divine… I’m at home here.   I do love it so much…

I am so blessed…

Deliciously yours in the Mystery of it all, Linda

“You are still My holy Son, foever innocent, forever loving, and forever loved, as limitless as Your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure.  Therefore, awaken and return to Me.  I am your Father and you are My Son.”   Text, p.445, “A Course in 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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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.

chilihotchocolatejpegWe all need a little yummy dollop of something these days – I’ve started turning my television off for the news – if it isn’t the stock market, it’s a plane crash — and Oh, so much sadness for everyone!

What WAS worth watching and listening to over and over again was that Magnificent Miracle on the Hudson and OH, MY HERO!  “Sully” Sullenberger – ain’t he grand?

Speaking of heroes, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to relationship… so here goes:

For a long time, I wouldn’t let myself think about finding a soul mate to love because I was holding it that I had already found my soul mate, married him, then divorced him — not that quickly, of course – there WAS a whole lot of spiritual chocolate in there, I tell you!  He was my Hero then and he is my Hero now….    And we’re friends to this day, but not meant to be together anymore — not in this life anyway….

So, who was there for me?

No answer.

I wasn’t concerned.   I thought… “It’s not a high priority for me”;   “I’m great on my own”;   “Whew, I don’t have to answer to anybody”;   and – my favorite – “I’ve got too much to do to make time for a relationship!”

Little by little, it dawned on me that while I knew – or thought I knew – why I wasn’t interested in a relationship – I noticed that no one seemed to be interested in me, either!       Hmmm……

Then, I got it.   I was walking around like, “I met my soul mate already. You’re not him.  So, how would you like to be ‘second-best?’”

Apparently, no one did.

So, I started looking at “soul mate” and what that means.  Is there only one for each of us?

I’m a student of “A Course in Miracles” and the Course says that we’re all One.  A lot of people give a lot of lip service to that, but what exactly does that mean?  If we are “All One” in spirit, then there really is only One of us here, right?  So, why does it seem like there are 6.8 Billion separate people on the planet?

Well, I don’t know if I can answer centuries’ old questions in my sweet little blog, but I do know one thing – for me, anyway…..

On the level of Self, there IS only one of us here…. and that’s where the love is….   All of this “stuff” walkin’ around here is Who we think we are….   and, Boy!!   Aren’t we annoying sometimes?

….and beautiful sometimes, and sweet sometimes, and fearful sometimes, and just trying to stay alive sometimes……

Under it all, we are simply Love and there’s only One and  One means not “me, alone,”  but “we”.   And, every time we get that, and don’t pay attention to the “stuff”, there is something special there, right?

I think that my ex-husband, Fred, and I managed to look past the “stuff” and get to the heart underneath it all – and that’s when we “recognized” our own Self and loved each other with all our hearts.   And that love will never go away.   It looks different now, sure – but it’s there forever.

What I did finally get for myself is that I can do that with anyone!   And everyone!   Well, for relationship purposes, let’s keep that to anyOne….. I just have to be willing to look past the “stuff”.

Everyone is my soul mate!

That doesn’t mean that “my stuff” will fit with everyone else’s “stuff” – and vice versa — we’re still here, after all…..

Being willing and being vulnerable and being loving and being interested….. Sounds pretty great – and pretty scary……

My possibility is being in relationship with all my heart!   He’ll show up – when I show up!

Well, “Sully” is married, so he’s out…..

Here I go, dancing down the street, arms thrown out and scarf blowing in the wind, “I’m holding out for a hero.. A hero ‘til the morning light… He’s got to be strong and he’s got to be soon and he’s got to be larger than life…..”

You are all my heros!!

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.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

February 11, 2009

Hi, I’m Linda Ruocco and this is my blog, “Spiritual Chocolate: Living inside a Delicious Relationship with the Divine.”

So, what does that mean, you say? Why this blog

For me, I grew up Roman Catholic and everything religious or spiritual was very solemn, serious, and severe – lots of rules, lots of ritual, lots of SIN!! I almost couldn’t do anything without which it was a SIN and wrong — and God was scary and distant!

On my own path, I have found that the spiritual road is rich with delights, the smooth path rather than the rocky road I thought it was when I was small…. and full of sweet and soulful surprises that warm the heart and pour into my mind like the molten delicacies that they are…. and so I aim to bring those delicious morsels to you…. those found moments, those delectable treats that appear in the love that only spirit sees and feels and hears…. my Valentines to you…. Valentines from The Divine.

I was married to a wonderful man, with whom I am still friends. His name is Fred. We divorced a long time ago and I have not been in a real committed romantic relationship since then. We have an incredible son, whose name is Josh, and he is 29 and lives far away in Minneapolis and works for Target and, well, I miss him even though I know that he has his own life to live, his own path to follow.

I tell you this because it is Joshua who taught me everything I need to know about love – that it is unconditional, it is always there, it gives us our strength, our beauty, our lives… and once it is created, it is never destroyed – even when we think it is. Oh, it may look different, it may feel different sometimes – but, love is love and it just IS…. and, if we let ourselves, we can see it everywhere.

When Josh was born, I couldn’t believe how much I loved him! One minute, he wasn’t there – and, the next – he popped out, I looked at him, and there it was – this feeling that we long for all our lives, the feeling that is indescribable, that is deep and rich and Oh, so sweet! The feeling that we call LOVE.

And, it never went away! In fact, I loved him more and more (How is this possible?) every day!

So, here’s my first delicious morsel: When Josh was about three, I was putting him to bed one night. I had my arms curled around his little body, so soft, so sweet, his little blond curls brushing at my cheek as I sang him a song to sleep. I was overwhelmed with him and feeling so blessed. I whispered in his ear, “Josh, you are better than the treasure at the end of the rainbow, you are better than the most precious jewels in all the Universe, you are an angel, so perfect and so sweet. I am so lucky to have you for a son. Thank you for being my child.”

“You’re welcome,” he answered simply.

I was a little surprised. I felt like I wanted him to say, “Oh, Mommy, I feel that way about you, too. You are so wonderful. You are the best Mommy that any boy could ever want!”

After I left his room, I thought about that. And, I got it that it was my ego that wanted those strokes, that reassurance, that admiration.
Josh? Well, he was just love – and his answer was a response from the Divine – my son was my prayer and God answered.

Over the years, I have come to realize that that love that I feel for Josh is what love is – and I can give that same love to anyone and to everyone. The only thing ever standing in the way is the ego that wants strokes, reassurance, and admiration. Love simply is. It doesn’t need anything.

Oh, and, because it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m giving myself a new possibility – the possibility of being in a deep, rich relationship with all my heart!

And, that means, with you…

Deliciously yours in Love always, Linda
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again. That’s the way they are. You must not hold it against them. Children should be very understanding of grown-ups.” …”The Little Prince,” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
 
© 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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