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My sister and nephew used to live in Italy and I had the pleasure of visiting them for several weeks at a time in my late 20s. Positioned just a few miles from the center of Pisa and only a five minute walk to the Italian Mediterranean coast, they lived in a huge and comfortable house in Livorno. But the first time I went, it took me about four full days to totally mentally disconnect from my cell phone, my voicemail, the internet and cable TV. I literally had to detox from the mechanics of my very modern life and fall helplessly into a pattern of living that seemed unusually slow. I thought the situation was disquieting, but I realized that I was approaching a quiet way of life that my soul desperately longed for.

When the plumber came to the house one day, he checked the pipes in a leisurely way and my sister had told me very specifically not to let him leave until the leak had been fixed. I thought it was funny she was so adamant about it, but when he turned to me and said “domani, domani” I knew he meant tomorrow or the next day and I had to block him from leaving. He laughed and found another way out, lighting a cigarette and gliding without a care in the world down my sister’s driveway. Though he did come back two days later, I realized that the leak was not so bad that it couldn’t wait and all was really OK.

That sort of attitude reminded me of my college years in many ways. Yes, I am old enough to say that the internet didn’t exist when I was in college. We did not have e-mail and absurdly cheap long distance plans. I didn’t even have a TV most of the time I was in college, and when I did it was basically furniture and a place to put my books. Like Italy, days and nights were for reading, walking, eating and being with friends. I profoundly enjoyed this sort of slow living which, in many repects, was not slow at all. It was colorful and rich, brimming with new conversations, experiences and people. You floated along in life with a wondrous sense that anything could happen at any moment. And life was meant to unfold and be discovered rather than worked to death and made into something else.

Now that I am a mother, I want to instill this sense of slow living into my son’s reality. Though Mom and Dad are crazy busy, there are several hours in the day that can be devoted to being with my son in a fun, conscious and totally random way. “So… what do you want to do?” I ask my little guy. Sometimes it is “park” or “store” or “walk in the woods” or just “play trains” and that’s what we do. Now I am understanding how life can be free again. How the wonder and randomness of life can be reignited at any moment through creativity, play and just setting the intention to have more joy in one’s life.

This is why I absolutely love the ladies at www.slowfamilyliving.com. They not only understand the deep need to live presently, but they’ve made a movement out of empowering families and individuals to take regular stock of the emotional life they’ve created. Just slow down. Be, you know, more European and student-y about it all. Know that this, right now, is your life happening right before your eyes. Savor it.

Let Yourself Feel Supported

Let Yourself Feel Supported

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the years I have spent with my spiritual practices, it seems there are still times when the whole system crashes and you fear you’ve lost everything on your metaphysical hard drive. Perhaps it’s one major thing that happens suddenly that can derail you, or a perfect storm of many areas of your life that seem to come to a head all at once.

For me, I’ve sort of experienced both in the last few weeks. I go through my journals, ask my guides, recall some great advice, meditate, connect with friends, read a book— all in an effort to understand not just why something happened, but how miserably I am dealing with it.

What I do know is that nothing is black and white. We are a society driven by consumption and turning to external sources to resolve or remove bad feelings. It’s all very extreme– we’re either inundated with negative outlooks, people, images and experiences or we’re struggling to always be “in the light”–in that zone of hyper positivity and gratitude in order to ward off bad vibes.

But we need that negativity and adversity in our lives (what Abraham calls “contrast”) in order to really understand what it is we want in our lives. We need to experience the full gamut of human emotions in order to grow– I believe that’s why we’re all here.

In that spirit, every person who comes into our isolated worlds can be our mirrors, our greatest teachers. I know this to be true, but in the midst of conflict it’s very difficlut to really embrace that. But I’m pleased that the time between conflict (inner and external) is collapsing quickly. This encourages me and makes me believe that the work I’ve done is having a positive effect on my life.

So what happens when things (relationships, finances, career, health) literally just fall apart? Some people theorize that when this happens, a soul is begging to grow and get to that next level of acceptance and clarity with oneself. There is an opportunity to go in the direction of fear and self-loathing, or go in the direction of faith and love. I believe we ask for these experiences on some level in order to reach the mountain top, so to speak.

But I think the key to moving through troubled times with grace, strength and compassion is to have support. This is a major lesson for most people… to learn to reach out and be with like-minded and hugely supportive people. This reinforces the universal code that exists in all people: we are one. And when adversity bears its teeth at us, it is the tribe of friends, family, support networks and spiritual guides that can shield and protect you from your own spiraling negativity.

So if you’re in a negative frame of mind, or something is appearing that causes you great pain and stress, it’s OK. It’s OK to feel that way and know that you’ve attracted these experiences into your life to ultimately help you. Don’t get me wrong– there is a huge difference between “causing” something to happen and simply “attracting” something. There is no blame or judgement when universal laws are at work. No one “deserves” to be in pain. Because it is everyone’s birthright to be joyful and free and totally in tune with the beauty that surrounds us.

So, yes, I definitely ask myself “why did I bring this into my life?” and “what the hell is going on?” But now, the work lies not in THAT anything happened but HOW I choose to deal with it. So how do I feel today? Not that great… but better since I began writing this post and reminding myself of the power of self awareness and self care. It’s Monday, and I have a million things to do– but nothing more important than being kind and gentle with myself and easing into the day.

I first discovered Ainslie MacLeod when he was interviewed on Oprah’s Soul Series last fall regarding his 2007 book, The Instruction. The interview series itself was relatively new, and I felt encouraged and excited that Oprah would extend her already expansive content repertoire of self-help, spirtuality and personal development into the realm of psychic awareness.

Certainly, many of us believe in intuitive abilities and connecting with guides (angels, higher self, universal intelligence, etc.). But to have Ainslie MacLeod sit front and center talking about how the text for The Instruction came into being as a result of direct communication from an army of guides– well, it felt like a turning point in how mass consciousness was softening to the idea that we all have access to small, still voices that are designed to guide us daily– if we choose– to our life’s purpose. Ask most people, and they’ll say there is something to it all– that personal experience directs us to find out more… carefully.

So it was no surprise that MacLeod came clean to his readers from the get go. He was a reluctant psychic. So deep was his reluctance to accept the mantle of “psychic” that he actually ignored the tell-tale signs of his advanced gifts for many years.

But through intensive work and his eventual and total transition from commercial illustrator to psychic, his own life purpose came into crytsal clear focus: help others understand themselves. And he does this through his powerful and evolving work with his guides. Oh, and we all have them– and he helps the rest of us find them.

I recently asked Ainslie about how he helps people realize their life’s purpose.

CL: Initially you were sort of a self-described reluctant psychic who felt compelled by personal experiences to explore new spiritual territories. How did you make that transition, and how has it changed your life?

AM: I was definitely reluctant when I first started doing psychic readings. I was conscious that there were a lot of charlatans around and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was one of them. I felt like I was telling the world I was a freak.

the-instruction4What initially helped was going through the process I take my clients through now. It wasn’t called the Instruction back then and my spirit guides were not the same as the ones I currently use, but they steered me through the same steps to self-acceptance. They helped me to see that this really was going to be my life, and convinced me that since I’d eventually embrace my calling, I might as well start right away.

Being a psychic has certainly changed my life. I feel like a round peg in a round hole. That old reluctance has gone. I keep learning new things about the soul and how the spiritual world operates, and I get to meet great people through my sessions. I often say that once you step through the spiritual door, there’s no going back. That was very much how it felt to me when I accepted my own destiny.

CL: The Instruction describes ten doorways that readers pass through to understand their life’s purpose. Is it always important for people to identify their soul age and their soul type in order to get a firm grasp on what his/her life purpose is?

AM: I believe that if you’re going to understand your life, you need to start with the basics. Your soul age describes the source of your beliefs, and your soul types are how you can understand the core of your personality. Everything else follows from that. Knowing these two elements of who you are helps to do everything from finding the right relationship or job, to creating genuine self-acceptance.

CL: Some people might find that their soul purpose is in stark contrast to what they are currently doing as an occupation. What are some recommendations on how to make a successful transition to living your soul’s purpose?

AM: First of all, let me say that your life’s purpose may not be all about your day job. There are often many activities that can be considered your purpose. Raising kids can be as significant as anything you do during those eight hours in the middle of the day.

When it comes to careers, however, I’ve met many people who ended up in unfulfilling jobs because of other peoples’ expectations. It’s essential to consider your own desires, not those of your parents or teachers, for example. By taking the time to meditate, call in your spirit guides, and ask them for clarity about your life plan, you’ll be doing more than most people ever do. Sometimes spiritual acts, volunteer work for example, can be a great way of creating a stronger sense of purpose in your life, and can help the transition.

CL: In writing The Instruction you received information from your guides. Can anyone access information from their own guides? If so, how?

AM: Spirit guides are like opinions and certain body parts – we’ve all got them. The problem is most of us don’t actually use them. Asking a simple question is a good way to start working with your guides. Find a quiet spot, ask your spirit guides to be with you, meditate for a good ten minutes, then ask them a yes/no question. Pay attention to your gut feeling. Even if you don’t get words or pictures, you’ll get that simple intuitive feeling that something is right or not. It may be subtle, but practice will help you recognize the signs.

CL: Why do you think so many people have such a difficult time in understanding and living their life’s purpose?

AM: There are many reasons, but one common problem is that our lives are so noisy it’s hard to hear the small, still voice of our own soul. I’ve heard people say to me that they can’t hear their guides or their soul’s direction. It’s sometimes simply a matter of switching off the TV and getting some real tranquility.

Your soul is continually nudging and urging you to follow your life plan. To live the life your soul intended it’s essential to slow down, and pay attention. And if there’s one thing I hear from my guides over and over again it’s this: “Meditate, meditate, meditate!”

CL: Are you working on another book? If so, can you tell us about it?

AM: I’ve just begun working on my next book. In it, I describe my spirit guides’ view of why the world is the way it is, and how you can develop your spirituality to help you be part of the coming shift in consciousness that’s going to change our world. The publication date is sometime early next year. As with The Instruction, the publisher is Sounds True who have been terrific to work with.

CL: Are there any books that you particularly love that would like to recommend to our readers?

AM: I read all the time, so it’s really hard to choose. I love Dr. Ian Stevenson’s fascinating book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. He was a scientific researcher who traveled around India examining the stories of children who offered amazing evidence of their past lives.

In the introduction to The InstructionI tell how, many years ago, a psychic in Atlanta gave me a booklist that really helped to open me to the spiritual world. The list included The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which jump-started my flagging creativity; Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, which is an intriguing insight into past lives, as well as Life After Life by Raymond Moody and Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss.

"If we penetrate deeply into all aspects and all areas of life, we will find that hidden behind everything is love. We will discover that love is the force, the power and inspiration behind every word and every action. This applies to all people, irrespective of race, caste, creed, sect, religion or of what work people do." - Amma

"If we penetrate deeply into all aspects and all areas of life, we will find that hidden behind everything is love. We will discover that love is the force, the power and inspiration behind every word and every action. This applies to all people, irrespective of race, caste, creed, sect, religion or of what work people do." - Amma

Amma is considerded a living, breathing saint in every corner of the world. Since 1987 she has hugged over 20 million people across the globe. Often called “the hugging saint” her message of deep motherly compassion has triggered profound responses from people of all walks of life and from every background. She believes that there are two kinds of poverty in the world: 1) lack of shelter, food and basic physical needs and 2) the poverty of love and compassion. For by first addressing the second, the first will rightfully be corrected.

Please visit her non-profit site…

I just stumbled across a nice little article by Cheryl Richardson on Oprah.com which gives you five easy steps to finding your true passion in life. Read more…

My brilliant friend Jana Christy (artist extraordinaire) forwarded me this incredible link to a talk that Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) recently made at the TED conference. She talks about her own rise to fame and what she knows about how we often ruin genius. Great talk.

Erik Satie is one of my favorite composers and the Gymnopedie trilogy is music that settles the soul and soothes the heart. Enjoy!

At one point or another many of us come to a crossroads in our professional and personal lives. We sit back, sigh deeply and ask ourselves “is this all there is?” For Renee Trudeau, the deep inner calling of her life became louder and louder until one day she decided to leave a successful corporate career and change the direction of her life forever. What happened next not only took her own family in an entirely new direction, but her powerful message of motherhood and self-care has changed the lives of thousands of women worldwide. Now, Renee is exploring the world of everyday spirituality. And somewhere in the process of being a student, she has become the teacher.

 

CL: You left behind a lucrative and very stable career in order to pursue your passions. Can you tell me about that decision, what you decided to do and how leaving the corporate environment changed your life?

RT: Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life says “Generally people won’t pursue their calling until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so. But, it’s amazing how high our threshold is for this type of pain.” I knew after a stable, 14-year career in the marketing communications field that there was another way I was meant to use my gifts and talents.

I had coached professionals (for free) for years on how to develop and leverage their personal brand and I had a strong desire to help others express their potential. So, after much soul searching—more on this journey in my book– I launched Career Strategists in 2000, based on my strong belief that we are truly meant to integrate “who we are” with “what we do” in the world. Yes, like all that make the leap to self-employment, I had a lot of fear come up. But I knew that the life I desired (one where I was the master of, not the slave to my life) was more important than the fear. Ultimately, I had no choice but to take this leap.

I believe we all receive these taps on the shoulder throughout our life. The question is, next time you receive a tap, will you shrug the feeling off, or say yes (to your life)?

CL: How did the concept of personal renewal groups and your book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal, initially come about and what has been the response?

themothersguide_cover_000RT: After having my son at age 37, I was shocked to realize how profound the transition to parenthood is. I believe having a child, literally changes you on a cellular level. Who you are will never be the same. And, at the same time, it really rocks you to your core and challenges you to get clear on why you’re here, what is your path and what does the life you truly desire—look like? (My video talks more about this.)

After searching for resources and books that support mothers in nurturing their essence while taking care of their kids, I found nothing and was ultimately guided to start a Personal Renewal Group (self renewal circle for women) in 2003. Five years and countless groups later, after repeated requests from my Personal Renewal Group members, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal was born. Now thousands of women around the US/Canada and beyond are leading these groups, which are based on the Guide, and supporting women in nurturing their emotional well-being. The response has been phenomenal (many therapists, coaches, doulas and women’s empowerment advocates are being called to lead groups.) Everyone seems to immediately get how important and needed a life coaching program like this, is. The book will be published in Korea later this year. It seems that the messages that came through me are resonating on a universal level.

CL: When people come to a crossroads in life, they are often told to pursue their passions and the money will follow. Do you believe that’s true?

RT: Yes! After working now for more than 20 years in this arena (I started helping family/friends with career strategy when I was eighteen) and having supported thousands in both big and small career and life transitions, I absolutely believe it is our job, our responsibility, to give birth to the best that is within us. And when we do this from a place of truth and authenticity, we will prosper.

I also work with clients a lot on marrying their passion with their brilliance (what you innately “do best”). This is where the magic happens! When we leverage our innate God-given talents, we’re in flow. We’re doing what we were put on the earth to do. And, when this happens, we can’t help but prosper financially. Interestingly, for most of my clients, the hard work isn’t around manifesting, it’s around “receiving” (believing that you’re worthy to be paid for these gifts).

CL: We all know how important it is to take good physical care of oneself in order to be effective in life. What else do you advise people to do to take care of themselves? What is your definition of self-care?

RT: Self-care is the practice of self-nourishment and self-nurturing. It’s essential to feeling whole and to being human. Cancer survivor/activist Audrey Lorde says “Self care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” Taking time to fill our cups first before helping others is essential to our well-being and to optimal living.

Start by cultivating an awareness of how you talk to, treat, think about and care for yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have found the practice of self-care is a portal for many of us to our deeper selves. Loving ourselves and treating ourselves as if you would treat a small child, requires a deep honoring of spirit, of our essence (you can learn more about the transformative power of self-care in The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal). Begin with baby steps, be gentle with yourself and know that developing a self-care practice takes time and being around others who believe this is essential, too.

CL: What are you reading right now? What are some books that you can recommend for people interested in personal/spiritual growth?

RT: Life coaches Jennifer Louden and Cheryl Richardson are two of the original self-care advocates/pioneers and all of their books are wonderful and highly recommended, particularly if you’re just getting started on your self-care journey. In terms of physical self-care, I am reading Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup—both are very holistic and integrative in their approach to physical/emotional/spiritual well-being. I am also reading (I’m a multiple books at one time reader) Practicing The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Soul Signs by Diane Eichenbaum, Conversations with God (again) by Neal Donald Walsch, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women and Open Heart, Open Mind by Father Thomas Keating (who will be in Austin Feb. 21-22).

CL: I understand you are working on a new project. Can you tell us about that?

RT: Since last summer, I have been researching and exploring the theme of “everyday spirituality”—the idea that the sacred is present and accessible everyday, through simple daily rituals and activities like walking in nature, playing with our kids and artistic expression, etc.

I think most Americans are overwhelmed, overworked and overscheduled. They are craving meaning in their lives, but when they hear the term “spiritual practice,” they think forget it, who has time to go on a ten day silent retreat or go sit on a mountaintop! I’ve got kids to get to soccer and bosses to appease! I believe strongly that there are many avenues for nourishment on the“spiritual practice” continuum and that each of us just needs to get quiet and hear what spiritual renewal looks like to us.

I was raised in a very interesting family (my latest blog posting on Spirituality talks about this)—I have a brother named Shiva and a sister named after St. Theresa. Questions around spiritual renewal and fulfillment have been sitting with me for a long, long time. I believe this is the direction my work will be taking me over the next 5-7 years.

Upcoming Events:

Renee Trudeau is holding a Career Mojo workshop on 2/26/09 as well as a women’s self renewal retreat on 3/24/09. Current Living readers can enjoy a special early bird rate for the women’s retreat through April 10th!! But register early because these workshops fill up fast. Please go to www.reneetrudeau.com for more info.

benjamin-robenalt2I have to admit that I stole that headline from my good friend, Sonya Feher who writes an amazing blog called mamaTRUE: Parenting as Practice. I had the great privilege of being pregnant at the same time as Sonya and our first and only sons are one month apart. She has dedicated herself to exploring the power of motherhood as a spiritual practice which can help us reclaim what was wiped away and lost in our own childhoods.

For me, being the mother to an innocent, pure and precious being has given me a profound mission in life, and produced a deep awakening in my soul. Where my creative ambitions were once dilluted and dulled by the mind chatter of my relentless ego, I can now see a clear path for myself and how my husband and I are choosing to raise our son. We want to preserve and protect his true nature, his inherent and deep knowing that all is well, that joy is a birthright and that there exists an army of guides available to him for support and love whenever he needs it. He will never be alone, because we are all connected– and he is connected to all things.

I am lucky that his father is a deeply peaceful, playful and compassionate man who values creativity, exploration, fun and simple pleasures. What we want for Ben is not something that society, the media or the world at large necessarily models or overtly teaches. Certainly there are values that institutions feel obligated to instill: teamwork, sacrifice, loyalty, respect, honor, responsibility, dedication, honesty, etc. I believe these values are overall quite good– but they can be tricky. Instead of mottos and mission statements and oaths, I want Ben to use his intuition, instincts and faith (and we modeled for him) to help guide him in the direction of compassion and truth. I want his to be a very joyful life experience based on a commitment to being the most authentic person he can be. I want him to be true to himself, and to let love flow freely in and out of his heart.

I hope that one day he knows that he saved my soul. He inspired me to look deeply within to try to be the best possible role model in this physical existence. As a parent, my job is not to control my child. My job is guide him, and allow him to remind me of how beautiful a sense of wonder and joy can be every single day. My job is to lovingly point him in the direction of his true purpose– whatever that is.

Once, all I wanted for Ben was to be happy, healthy, go to a prestigous college or university and get married (to someone I really, really like!) Yes, that’s normal. But two years ago when I first gazed into his big, blue, crystal clear eyes a bigger, newer dream was born. I want my son is to know that he is a child of a vast, wondrous and beautiful universe. I want him to know everyday that he is literally a miracle. I want him to feel, deeply feel, that anything in life is possible and that the music of the world was made for him, and for all people. My hope is that he knows how perfectly amazing it is to just be exactly who he is… right now. I want him to listen to his own higher self, his own personal guidance and not direct his life based on other people’s opinions or fear. I want Ben to love himself and feel the love that we all have for him.

And you know what? I want that for all children. We are the guardians of their pristine and loving spirits, and each and every adult needs to take that responsibility extremely seriously. A child’s natural state is to be loving, curious, creative, receptive and joyful. This is what I strive for now. Let the natural tempo of a child’s imagination and energy help slow us down, remember what’s important and encourage us to contact the deep divine voices that are guiding us back to our true selves each and every day. Live with the open, forgiving, and loving heart of a child, and life can be very, very good.

Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork

Sandra Yancey, Founder & CEO, eWomenNetwork

I was invited by Patti DeNucci to a great women’s networking event today produced by eWomenNetwork. The founder and CEO, Sandra Yancey gave an inspiring and powerfully honest speech on weathering the current economy by focusing on using this time to re-tool, re-examine, refine and redefine what we are doing with our lives. There is so much opportunity out there, and it was nice to be among positive, passionate women who are choosing not to let themselves be frightened or paralyzed by the news of apparent and imminent economic disaster.

We also had the opportunity to see the trailer for her new movie, GLOW, which includes a series of interviews with powerful and successful women including Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines and Dr. Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE (among many others). They all understand that unique and elusive formula for personal prosperity and fulfillment.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with Sandra in her limo on the way to the airport. Down to earth, insightful and rich with experience, her life has been dedicated to empowering women to be smart, be authentic and to be passionate. (Check back here soon when I post an interview with Sandra)

In the meantime, I urge you to watch the trailer. Check out information about the 9th Annual eWomenNetwork International Conference and Business Expo.

Here’s the trailer:

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