Seeing the best in life's challenges

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

On Saturday I had a thought that felt like a revelation, and it was this:

If I look at my life as a Fairytale, it makes so much more sense.

Let me explain.  First, let’s look at what a Fairytale is, from this page:

A fairy tale is a fictional story that may feature folkloric characters (such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and talking animals) and enchantments, often involving a far-fetched sequence of events. The term is also used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in “fairy tale ending” (a happy ending) or “fairy tale romance,” though not all fairy tales end happily. Fairy tales are a genre in literature. They have their roots in the oral tradition. Fairy tales with very similar plots, characters, and motifs are found spread across many different cultures. Fairy tales also tend to take on the color of their location, through the choice of motifs, the style in which they are told, and the depiction of character and local color.

We recognize a fairytale by the way the story is introduced.  “Once upon a time…” gives us the heads up that this will be story that will probably include “good” and “evil” characters, tension between the “haves” and the “have-nots” and an element of magic that will save the day. The story is there to help us understand universal truths, common dreams, and to give us assurance that love conquers all.

When we read a fairytale, we don’t get mad that there are evil characters in the story.  We don’t rage at the fact that there is unfairness in this land of make-believe.  We automatically understand that these situations are just a set-up to help us learn something through the story.

Fairytales might have scary characters and situations, but we are not afraid of them, because we know they are just pretend.  They are there for a reason.

When you think about it, why is it that we read Fairytales to our children?  Why do we still study Mythology?  Hmmm…Maybe this way of looking at the world is useful, after all.

Now here’s something really crazy to think about:  I am playing one character in my fairytale, yet I am keenly aware that I am playing a completely different character in someone else’s tale.  Strange, but true.


‘Tis strange,-but true; for truth is always strange;

Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,

How much would novels gain by the exchange!

How differently the world would men behold!

from Lord Byron’s poem, Don Juan, 1823


Have you experienced Truth that is Stranger Than Fiction?  So tell me, why not look at your life as if it is a fairytale?

What kind of character are you playing?  Who are the other characters in your tale, and what do they represent to you?

What obstacles do you face in achieving true happiness?  What lessons must you learn before you can move on?

How would you tell your story as a fairytale?  What will be the moral of your story?  Could this be your Life Lesson?


“When you think fairy tale, you think, “children.” But pay close attention to the stories and you will see bigger meanings meant not just for children.”


Don’t have time for fairytales?  Think they are for children?  Maybe it would be a good exercise to approach life with the innocence, wonder and playfulness of a child…


“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”   Luke 18:17

And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”   Matthew 18:3   

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.   Mark 10:13-16


In this New Earth and this Golden Age of Grace, you will master the existing Archetypes and you will create new ones. This is essential for the New Earth, as the Earth manifests “reality” according to the Archetypes and Stories that are woven on the Sixth Dimensional “Loom of Creation”. It is essential that you move past the great stories of duality with their conflict between light and dark, and begin to weave the new stories of Unity and Oneness.

Beloved Ones, each one of you is a Light Weaver, a Story Teller and Poet, a Dancer of Light. Each one of you is creating a Work of Art that is Your Life. When you enter this level of Consciousness you begin to see how each choice that you make is a thread of light in the grand design of your life and that of the Planet.

— AA Michael through Celia Fenn,



Leave a comment »

Broken Relationships

How to heal broken or strained relationships has taken up a lot of my thinking time.  Over the past two years, I have become estranged from a couple of people I should be close to.

And I word it that way, because that seems to be the most common response I get from people about what I should do.  Repair the relationships at all cost.  Just make it better.

I have already tried to explain what happened from my perspective.  I have apologized for causing pain.  I’ve said “I love you.”  I harbor no ill will, I’ve since learned more and understand more about what really happened, and really it comes down to a misunderstanding.  It stems from the fact that, given the information I had at the time, and what my gut was telling me, someone I care very much about was in trouble.  A couple of black and white details seemed to support this feeling I had.

So, what do you do when you think someone you love is in trouble?  I sprung into action, made sure this person knew what I knew.  I got involved.

Well, that didn’t go so well.  So now, it is what it is.

And of course, I learned some lessons.

Through a lot of self-reflection and study, I’ve come to a different view of relationships, a completely different paradigm that feels like greater understanding to me.  And look, it’s just my perspective.  I don’t expect others, especially the others that are involved, to see it the same way.  I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything.

I see relationships as vitally important to humans as a platform to learn about love, loss, the meaning of life, really everything.  The purpose of relationships is to learn about ourselves.  We learn more when things don’t go smoothly.  And the unfortunate thing about that is that human nature wants to avoid pain at all costs.  We have the urge to gloss over problems, to blame someone else, to make things look right in a superficial sense, all to avoid dealing with conflict.

Just make it look right on the surface, get the situation under control, go back to how it used to be, and everything will be all right.  Do what you’re supposed to do.

There is a lot of societal pressure to do this, especially with family.  Get along.  Be loyal.  It’s the same thing I was talking about in Marriage: It’s Not a Competition.  I’m not saying it’s a bad goal to get along.  I just have a problem when it’s superficial and based more on loyalty than on understanding.

From this situation and others (especially parenting), I have become much less tempted to become involved when it seems others are headed for trouble.  I’ve always been inclined toward being a “fixer.”   See a problem?  Get involved and find a solution!  See your kid about to make a mistake?  Thwart it!  Instead, I now see that others need to be able to have their own experiences without interference, even if it seems to me that the experience will be tough.

I’ve also learned that, if I am going to trust my intuition, it will sometimes take me in a direction that’s different from where other people think I should be going.  They aren’t necessarily going to like my direction or agree with it.  Without making anyone wrong, I have to learn to trust myself and make choices that seem right to me, and be ok that not everyone will agree.  This is a balancing act I am working on still.

I am now gravitating toward cultivating relationships where I can have deep, meaningful conversations.  Relationships based on being there, listening, and understanding each other.  With people who can openly discuss painful situations and what they learned from them.  With people who are willing to open their hearts and share their vulnerabilities.  Those with whom I can share something that seems crazy, and I know they won’t freak out.  Where I can make mistakes and not get beat up for them.  Where I can be there for others in the same way.  I see this as practicing how to have more meaningful relationships.

I wish that I had known then, what I know now.  And it’s tempting to think then I could have avoided a sad situation.  But, for many reasons, it is so clear to me that all this happened with purpose to allow me to learn so much.  The situation actually represents to me, an amazing gift.  This is not something I could explain adequately.  It’s just what I know in my heart.

So the ironic conclusion of it all is, I could never give enough thanks for the opportunity I was given to learn from this situation.  By facing it and trying to understand and figure out the lessons, I have grown so much.

And that’s what Challenge Day One was about, as best as I can explain it.

Leave a comment »

Challenges 1-2-3

The three days of challenge came and went (yikes, I sure hope that’s it….).  Anyway, I’ve gotten much food for thought over the past three days.

Day One was all about relationships – specifically about Healing Relationships that are strained.  That will be a post in and of itself, maybe a few.

Day Two was about watching situations that are difficult to watch but that you really can do nothing about.

Day Three was about the temptation to get involved in situations that are not yours.

There is a ton of overlap in all of this.  For me, these days represented a summary of lessons I have learned and practiced.  At this point I am very comfortable that I have learned my lessons well to this point.

But here’s the thing:  it’s still hard.  And the hard part manifests itself in the feeling/conclusion that I am going to call Sad, Compassionate Acceptance.

I fully accept that things are as they are.  I’m OK with it.  I am no longer angry, or frustrated, or worried about how things are.   They just are.  I even believe, as you probably have gathered, that situations have purpose, and that purpose is for the greater good.

(Of course, it’s really more complicated than that.  Everything is paradox and conundrum if you go deep enough.)

When bad stuff happens, when there is tension and anger and bitterness, when there is hopelessness and expectations of the worst, it is just plain sad.  There is no sugar-coating a lot of what exists in the world today.  Sometimes life just sucks.

And that’s where the compassion comes in.

Compassion has been called the purest form of Love.

Compassion is different, and much bigger, than sympathy.

Compassion can’t be taught, it must be discovered through experience.

Compassion is gained through practice; it is a process, not easy to define.

Becoming compassionate is a worthy goal.

I don’t mean to say that compassionate people just sit back and do nothing.  But even God, supposedly the ultimately compassionate Source of all love, allows human beings to have free will, to make mistakes and learn from experiences.  Another paradox to wrestle with.

Ideas about compassion and what it is are all over the place.

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. –Thomas Merton

Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment. –Arthur Jersild

Compassion is not sentiment but is making justice and doing works of mercy. Compassion is not a moral commandment but a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies. –Matthew Fox

The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness. –H.H. the Dalai Lama

You cannot cultivate compassion. When you are desireless, compassion happens; your whole energy moves into compassion. And this movement is very different. Desire has a motivation in it, a goal; compassion is non-motivated, there is no goal to it, it is simply overflowing energy. – Osho

This word “compassion” is composed of passion. To be compassionate means to be in love. Compassion is just a dimension of love. Passion is hasty, hectic, a little violent. Compassion is gentle, nice, understanding — but it is passion after all.—Osho

And so, the process continues.  Experiencing, thinking, (hopefully) learning, distilling it all into wisdom.  Becoming compassion.  At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.


Leave a comment »

Nobody’s Perfect — We ALL Are!

If we view being perfect as doing everything right, all the time, well, we would all agree it’s impossible to be perfect.   We are human, after all.  Life just isn’t set up that way.  (Nevermind the difficulty of determining what is “right” but that’s a whole other discussion!)

However, if one has the view that the world was created with purpose, that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, well, then you would conclude that “all is as it should be.”  Which means, that in the aggregate, together we are perfect, exactly as we should be.

Together, as members of “Team Humanity” we represent every possible combination of situation, personality, experience, perspective, attributes.  If God wanted to create a place where HE could experience every single possibility, then He needs YOU just as much as any other person.  No one else in the world can play your role.  YOU are playing YOU perfectly.

From I Corinthians 12:

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

It is time for us to let go of that part of us (you might consider it part of your Ego) that tells us that I am better than the rest, that everyone else should see things as I do, that wants everyone else to be LIKE ME.  I am RIGHT and they are WRONG.  They are DIFFERENT, my way is BETTER.

And get over the idea of interpreting that scripture as only applying to Christians.  Just get over it.

Because the truth is, we are all COMPLEMENTARY.  We could not do this thing called Life on Earth without every single player.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON COUNTS TO GOD.

Think about how brave a person must be to play the really tough roles.  Maybe, for example, the murderers and child molesters, instead of being “lesser forms of humanity” are really the strong souls.  Think, for example, of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.  She volunteered to be a serial killer, not because she was mean, or got a rush out of killing, or any other evil motivation.  Instead, she volunteered out of love for her sister and mother.  She knew she was stronger.  She volunteered to take on the difficult role, to take on the pain and horror.  She took one for the team.

The purpose of Life on Earth is not to be “right” and “good.”  It is to “experience” and “learn” and “grow.”  Each of us gets to choose our own ways of experiencing, our own methods of learning, and the extent to which we will grow or stay the same.  If you agree, there can be no other conclusion other than this:

YOU are PERFECT exactly the way you are.

And so is the other guy.



Leave a comment »

Is Purpose on Purpose?

Well, my challenge surfaced yesterday, right on time.  But before I write about that in the coming days, I have to tell a little story.

Someone I know very well recently had the occasion to name a couple of streets in a new development that was already named Cascades.  This is a thoughtful person with a fun sense of humor and a love of trivia/facts, who loves to travel and learn about different places.

We have these discussions about naming streets from time to time, trying to find the perfect names.  It’s somewhat of a game, somewhat of a challenge to get just the right one.

Anyway, the names of the two streets at Cascades are going to be “Lassen” and “Bachelor.”  This creates a riddle, and we both wonder if anyone who ends up living there will ever wonder where these strange names came from and what they mean.  Will anyone ever do just a little bit of digging to figure it out?

As an aside, one thing to know about naming streets, is that you have to get approval from the Post Office.  You can’t pick a “foreign” sounding name that is hard to pronounce (“Rainier” was out.)  You can’t pick anything that already exists nearby or is too similar to another name.

A simple google search of “Cascades Lassen Bachelor” solves the riddle in a flash. Mount Lassen and Mount Bachelor are mountains in the Cascades Range, which stretches from northern California up into Canada.  The result for the person doing the searching might be a chuckle and/or the realization that whoever out there named the streets was thoughtful and knew about geography.  This person might get the sense that maybe there is more to the story, and if they really wanted to dig, they could track down who it was that named the streets, and ask about why these names were chosen.

And of course there’s more to the story.  There’s ALWAYS a story, isn’t there?

(Did you know that you can see Mount Shasta from the top of Mount Lassen?  It’s pretty cool.)


Most of the time, most of us don’t have the time, or the inclination, to dig in and figure out the purpose to the riddles we encounter in life.  I happen to believe that God (or the Creator, or Source, or the Universe, or Love, or whatever you happen to call the Ultimate Purpose) is thoughtful, has a sense of humor, puts hints everywhere, and wonders if anyone will ever notice.  It’s the Great Game of Life!

Check out these pictures of Lassen and Shasta!


Leave a comment »

The Exit Ramp

It has been quite a week.  Sickness and death has been at the forefront of life.  On Wednesday, I attended the funeral of the father of a high school friend, who passed away very suddenly, and talked with another HS friend who lost her dad in a similar way.  I spent a few days with someone I don’t get to see often, and caught up on the story of all she went through while caring for first, her mother, then her father, both of whom passed away over the last several years.  I felt the sorrow expressed in a post by a young mother, over the passing of her baby’s father.  A friend of a friend is battling cancer.  Seems like it goes on and on.

Death is something we don’t like to think about.  We only really face it when we have no other choice.  We know what we are “supposed” to believe, but do we, really?

A friend of mine is considering a surgery that is very risky.  She doesn’t really think it’s her time yet, and she isn’t worried about dying anyway.  It makes me think of a relative of mine, who was in his 80s and had an inoperable condition.   He was joking with his family the night before he died.  He also told them that he had no regrets, that he had had a wonderful life, and that it was just his time.

I remember, as a kid, not really understanding why people got so upset about the idea of dying.  I’ve never really been afraid of it.  I have absolutely no doubt that there is so much more than this life.

The best funeral I ever attended was Paul’s.  He and his wife went to our church in California.  Paul was a really fun guy who liked to wear Hawaiian shirts.  He had been sick for a while, and he was really clear that he wanted his service to be a celebration.  His work friends came wearing Hawaiian shirts, and we sang lots of songs, and we celebrated a man that we had all loved.

The worst funeral I ever attended was also in California, in the late 1980s.  It was a service for a guy I worked with for only a short time, but he was also a fun, positive person.  He died suddenly of pneumonia, but I am sure it was an AIDS-related illness.  The service was at a funeral home, very few people attended, and the words that were said were very, very empty.  I don’t believe he had any family there.  There was a hopelessness that was very, very sad.

Does death scare you?  Are you able to think about it?  If so, why not face it and deal with it, figure it out?

What happens when we die?  When I was in junior high, I read Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s book On Death and Dying when I was researching a report on near-death experiences.  Check out this story, about David Milarch, a friend of one of my friends, who had a near-death experience.  Don’t believe it?   Read the book Heaven is for Real, about Colton Burpo, the four-year old son of a small-town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness, enters heaven, and then tells his parents about it after he recovers.

More recently, I read Dr. Brian Weiss’ book Many Lives, Many Masters.  There are all kinds of resources and information that can provide insights and understanding of the process, in addition to faith-based beliefs.

Ultimately, all fears lead to the fear of death.  Are you protective of others, loved ones, children – what if they get sick?  What if they get hurt?  What if they DIE?

If you are going to conquer fear, then you must overcome the fear of death.  And it’s not an impossible task.

Leave a comment »

Challenges, Challenges

Sometimes you can’t help but notice.  Maybe it’s a song from 30 years ago that suddently you hear over and over.  Maybe it’s a person you haven’t thought about in a while, that gets mentioned several times.  Maybe it’s a new word you never heard before, then everyone seems to use it.  Maybe it’s an idea you can’t get out of your head.  Images you see…

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason this happens.  Maybe it’s just a game the angels play with us :).  I don’t know for sure.

But I pay attention, more and more, and I am starting to figure these things out sometimes.  And this process is leading me in some unexpected directions.  Still working on that.

Today, I saw the following photo:


And the photo reminded me of part of an email I got yesterday that said:

“As we head fully into the mercury retrograde that will dominate July from mid-month until early August, re-member that this particular retrograde offers all of humanity the gift of Re-spect! The ability to gaze and respect others… especially when they carry an energy that is different from our own. The mighty gift of this moment will have a “challenge” date and that day is July 17 and will also have a 3 day window around it.”

Well, this makes me curious.  So I will be watching, keeping my eyes and ears open.

My mom used to always say, “What’s the worst that can happen?”  and that is a really useful question to ask yourself.  I have learned to go into situations where I knew I would be challenged, thinking about possible scenarios and my possible reactions to them, and it helps to have anticipated them.  Usually, the worst-case scenario that you imagine turns out not to be really all that bad.

So, we shall see…



Leave a comment »

That’s Not My View!

I collect people on Facebook.  If someone makes a comment that catches my eye, I’ll friend them.  If a page has something interesting to say, I’ll like it.  Yes, I have had some mishaps, but only a couple, and I just un-friend that person.

I have a friend in Turkey who is definitely on the same page as me.  I have a Bulgarian friend who posts the most beautiful pictures and quotes about love.  There’s a guy I’ve never met who writes the most amazing poetry.  A friend in England that I found via his blog, who is a visionary on the subject of educating our children.  A woman in South Africa that is working with dolphins.  Many new friends here in the U.S. that I’ve not met in person.  And some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and we have reconnected.

I have some friends who post things that most people would think were weird, or just plain out-there.  Others post stuff that is completely opposite of my political views.  Sometimes I even comment on those (I got unfriended once because of that!)  One of my best friends is someone who just plain likes to stir it up.

I don’t want to isolate myself so much, that I become unwilling to consider the perspectives of others.  Yet, I do want to surround myself with positive, thoughtful people.  So, it’s a balancing act.

I can tell you that by reaching out to people I don’t know, especially in different countries, I have gained a much richer view of the world through them.  I have also discovered that we have more in common than we might have imagined.

My daughter leaves today for 19 days in six countries in Europe.  I am so excited for her.  I know how my 3 months in South America at age 16 made such a lasting impression on me.

We ARE all connected.  And the fact that we have all different views of the world makes it so much more fun!  I have had views of this blog from 34 countries since the end of February!  That’s crazy!!

Despite the fact that we all have different views, we are all the same.  This is the paradox that is worth grappling.  Because our differences, when shared and respected, make us as a human race wiser.  I’m not just talking about differences in geography….when we stop thinking of one opposite as “good” and the other as “bad”, then we can fully appreciate all perspectives and how they add to our understanding of the world.  Rich and poor, educated and not, liberal and conservative, loud and quiet, shy and outgoing, optimist and pessimist…it goes on and on and on.

Do you want everyone around you to act and think just like you?  Or can you appreciate someone who is your opposite?


Words and Emotions

When we try to express how we feel, it is so easy to be misunderstood.  One way to increase your chances of being understood, is to get better at communicating how you feel.  The greater your vocabulary, the better you will be able to express yourself, and the more likely the other person will understand!

I also think this is a good thing to practice with our kids — being clear about emotions by using a variety of words to describe them, can only help them be emotionally aware (and hopefully emotionally honest.)

So next time someone asks you how it’s going, instead of saying “Good” or “Bad,” try being a little more descriptive!

Here are some great resources on “Feeling Words”:

Al Turtle’s Relationship Wisdom

Elle’s Daily Inspirations

…or just google “feeling words” images.

I thought the graphic below was really cool.  Ok, I know it’s full of nouns, but you get the idea…

It came with this note:

Emotions are the next frontier to be understood and conquered. To manage our emotions is not to drug them or suppress them, but to understand them so that we can intelligently direct our emotional energies and intentions…. It’s time for human beings to grow up emotionally, to mature into emotionally managed and responsible citizens. No magic pill will do it.

— Doc Childre

Image: Emotion-Cone

Leave a comment »