MARCH 4: One Step at a Time

One step at a time. That’s all you can take. That’s all you have to take.

Yes, you have visions you’ve created of where you want to go. But you don’t get there in one leap. You get there one step at a time. That’s how you receive your guidance. That’s how you respond to the guidance you’ve received.

Let your faith be strong. Your faith will keep you going through those moments in between steps. When your faith is strong, you don’t look in fear at the journey ahead, wondering if you will get all the guidance you need, or if you will get to where you’re going. You know you will, so you take the simple steps, one at a time, that lie ahead. You take them in joy, because you know you’re being guided. You have faith that the simple steps you are led to do will take you to your destination.

One step at a time. That’s how you will
get where you are going. You are being led,
each step of the way.

March 3: Don’t take storms personally

Somewhere out in the Pacific, a storm brewed and swirled and thrashed and died without ever touching the land. Three days later, under a clear blue sky, the storm surge reached the California coast near Los Angeles. The sea threw rocks at my house, and the waves stacked up and crashed down against the pilings of the foundation. Farther up the street, the ocean ate the back porch of two houses. All night the shoreline trembled and shook from the power of the sea.

The next morning the tide pulled back, the swells calmed, and the sky stayed blue. I walked down the beach, impressed at the way the ocean had littered it with huge chunks of driftwood and rocks. Then I walked back upstairs and drank my morning coffee.

Sometimes, storms aren’t about us.

Sometimes, friends or loved ones will attack us for no apparent reason. They’ll fuss, fume, and snap at us. When we ask them why, they’ll say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I had a bad day at work.”

But we still feel hurt and upset.

Hold people accountable for their behavior. Don’t let people treat you badly. But don’t take the storms in their lives personally. These storms may have nothing to do with you.

Seek shelter if necessary. Get away from curt friends until they have time to calm down; then approach when it’s safe. If the storm isn’t about you, there’s nothing you need to do. Would you try to stop the ocean waves by standing in the surf with your arms outstretched?

Say whatever. Let the storms blow through.

God, help me not to take the storms in the lives of my friends and loved ones too personally.

Feelings on the Job: March 2

I’m furious about my job. Another man got a promotion that I believe I deserve. I’m so mad I feel like quitting. Now my wife says I should deal with my feelings. What good will that do? He still got the promotion.

Our feelings at work are as important as our feelings in any other area of our life. Feelings are feelings—and wherever we incur them, dealing with them is what helps us move forward and grow.

Not acknowledging our feelings is what keeps us stuck and gives us stomachaches, headaches, and heartburn.

Yes, it can be a challenge to deal with feelings on the job. Sometimes, things can appear useless. One of our favorite tricks to avoid dealing with feelings is telling ourselves it’s useless.

We want to give careful consideration to how we deal with our feelings on our job. It may be appropriate to take our intense feelings to someone not connected to our workplace and sort through them in a safe way.

Once we’ve experienced the intensity of the feelings, we can figure out what we need to do to take care of ourselves on the job.

Sometimes, as in any area of our life, feelings are to be felt and accepted. Sometimes, they are pointing to a problem in us, or a problem we need to resolve with someone else.

Sometimes, our feelings are helping to point us in a direction. Sometimes, they’re connected to a message, or a fear: I’ll never be successful.… I’ll never get what I want…. I’m not good enough….

Sometimes, the solution is a spiritual approach or remedy. Remember, whenever we bring a spiritual approach to any area of our life, we get the benefit.

We won’t know what the lesson is until we summon the courage to stand still and deal with our feelings.

Today, I will consider my feelings at work as important as my feelings at home or anywhere else. I will find an appropriate way to deal with them.

March 1

Alcoholics Anonymous uses the acronym HALT. It stands for not getting too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Do you need to remember to HALT?

Inventory Focus: In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, people have basic needs. We won’t be able to focus on the higher needs, such as spirituality and creativity, until the primary needs are met. How are you doing with taking care of your basic needs: sleep, nutrition, emotions, socialization? Are you taking the time for personal hygiene and keeping your home clean? Are you taking responsibility for your basic finances? Do you need medical care? Pay attention to how you feel when you tend to your basic needs. Pay attention to how you feel when you don’t. Which feeling do you like better? Most of us have times when we are deprived of a good night’s sleep or a meal, due to special circumstances. But if depriving ourselves of basic needs has become a way of life, maybe it’s time to get back to basics and stop torturing ourselves.

FEBRUARY 28: Let Life’s Rhythm Find You

I sat in my room, a small cabin in Chimayo, New Mexico. The clock whizzed through the hours, but I didn’t whiz through my morning. I felt overwhelmed. Lost. I had more to do than I could handle. I didn’t know where to begin. So there I sat. Stuck.

Genera, who ran the hostel, knocked on my door about noon. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Come have coffee and fruit with us.” Her quiet kindness, her gentle concern, and the simple act of having coffee and fruit with a friend brought me back to balance.

There’s a life force, a movement, a momentum that transcends our fears and hopes, our limitations, our overwhelmed feelings, and even our confusion. There’s a heartbeat, a rhythm to life and the universe. It’s gentle, easy, natural. It’s in us; it’s around us. It comes gently, naturally, like a friend knocking quietly on the door, asking if we are okay, if we have lost our way.

There is purpose, meaning, and rhythm to each step, each beat of your life. Each step, each feeling, each beat of your life is another mile traveled on your journey, your journey to your heart.

If you’ve lost your way and can’t find
life’s rhythm, don’t worry. Keep your
heart open and it will find you.

February 27: Live your life

A painting of a rice cake does not satisfy hunger.
— Ancient saying

An old man was telling his grandson about how poor he was when he was younger. “Why when I was a kid, we couldn’t even afford cheese for the mousetraps,” he said. “We had to cut out pictures of cheese and use that.”

“Wow, did you catch anything gramps?”

“Yes. We caught pictures of mice.”

I have a picture in my house of a Buddhist ceremony in Tibet. The picture was taken by a photographer who lives close to the Blue Sky Lodge. She told me all about the picture when I bought it from her—told me about the smells in the air, the temperature, the crush of the people around her, the tastes, smells, and sights of that place. When I close my eyes and remember her words, I can almost go there. Almost, but not quite. I hope to travel there sometime, to see those things and to feel my soul filled with the spirituality of a monastery high on a hill. The picture is like a menu. It sits on the counter, tempting me with all that is offered in it. But it doesn’t satisfy my hunger.

We can share our experience, strength, and hope with each other. But I can’t learn your lessons and you can’t learn mine.

I’m planning my trip to Tibet, as I write this book. Will it all work out like the trip in the picture? I don’t know. I do know that I won’t get the experience—the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and the impact on my soul—from looking at the picture on my wall.

Have you been trying to gain sustenance from looking at a picture of an experience—reading books, taking classes, going to seminars, listening to mentors—instead of going out and living life for yourself? Take another look at your menu, the list you wrote at the beginning of the year. Order something from it.

Stop looking at the picture and go live for yourself.

God, help me start living my life.

Twelve Step Programs: February 26

I was furious when I found myself at my first Al-Anon meeting. It seemed so unfair that he had the problem and I had to go to a meeting. But by that time, I had nowhere left in the world to go with my pain. Now, I’m grateful for Al-Anon and my codependency recovery. Al-Anon keeps me on track; recovery has given me a life.

There are many Twelve Step programs for codependents: Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics, CoDa, Families Anonymous, Nar-Anon, and more. We have many choices about which kind of group is right for us and which particular group in that category meets our needs. Twelve Step groups for codependents are free, anonymous, and available in most communities. If there is not one that is right for us, we can start one.

Twelve Step groups for codependents are not about how we can help the other person; they’re about how we can help ourselves grow and change. They can help us accept and deal with the ways codependency has affected us. They can help us get on track and stay there.

There is magic in Twelve Step programs. There is healing power in connecting with other recovering people. We access this healing power by working the Steps and by allowing them to work on us. The Twelve Steps are a formula for healing.

How long do we have to go to meetings? We go until we “get the program.” We go until the program “gets us.” Then we keep on going—and growing.

Selecting a group and then attending regularly are important ways we can begin and continue to take care of ourselves. Actively participating in our recovery program by working the Steps is another.

I will be open to the healing power available to me from the Twelve Steps and a recovery program.

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