Belief Systems

Why I Made Fear My Friend

Keep Your Ass In The Saddle

I remind myself often to ‘keep my ass in the saddle.’ What does keep your ass in the saddle mean? Well, I use it as a metaphor for staying centered and present. As anyone who has ridden a horse knows, if you don’t sit solidly and squarely in your seat, the ride can be uncomfortable as well as unsafe. I find the same to be right in life. When you allow your life to careen off the road, you often find yourself in the ditch.


We all have those things that we allow to pull us off center. For some it is living in the past, for others, it is jealousy or feelings of unworthiness. For me, it was fear with the focal element being money. I grew up on a farm. Farming is a no guarantees vocation. Mother Nature plays a starring role in the success or not of your hard work and endeavors to make a living. Money was always tight in our family, and this worried me as a young child. Old, stubborn habits that don’t serve you die hard. I drug the penchant of fretting about financial matters into my adult life. Stewing as a child never improved the situation nor has it ever facilitated a constructive outcome as I have evolved through life.

I Made Fear My Friend

A few years ago, the money fear monster reared its ugly head as it had done plenty of times in the past. That day I

Leave No Trace

American Culture

Recently I had a discussion with a friend who spends a good deal of time in Europe.  She was telling me how the Europeans comment on the American culture, and it’s lack of poise.  For instance, in the Italian culture, the meals are meant to be savored, revered, and unhurried.  Lunches and dinners last at least two hours and in many cases longer.  The French have many of the same habits as it relates to food.  They grow much of their food and prepare meals with fresh ingredients.  They eat small portions of food and take their time during meals.  Most European cultures get plenty of exercise because they walk or ride a bike to the places they go.  They appreciate nature and the cycle of the seasons.  They live graciously and gently.  Whereas, for the most part, Americans live heavy-handed and at a pace that is frenetic and stressful.  We seek immediate gratification with little or no patience for ‘waiting.’  We are often mindless in our consumption of just about everything.  And frequently we choose distraction over stillness.

Zen Master Dogen

As I considered the truth to these cultural differences, I remembered the wisdom of the ancient Zen master, Dogen.
He said that when birds fly in the sky, they leave no trace. And when fish swim in the water, they leave no trace. With this metaphor, Dogen encourages us to understand how to express spirituality in our everyday lives. He is saying that there should be nothing left over from

Frontiers of Possibility

Frontiers of Possibility

The well-known poet, Rilke once said, “Being here is so much.” I agree, it really, really is. However, the human condition crowds out the frequency of which most of us reflect on those five significant words.

The traditional structures of family, parenting, community, and communication have become increasingly unsure. We lose sight of the reliable presence and repetitions of the stars, sun, moon, and seasons. Our lives become predictable, and our behaviors become routine and mindless. We lose ourselves in the daily mechanical functioning of our lives. We take the same route to the office each day; we park in the same parking spot, we eat our meals at the same time and often eat the same thing over and over again, we interact with friends and colleagues with little presence or creativity, and we rarely step out of our comfort zone. We begin to develop patterns of thinking which render us incapable of feeling or thinking with any authenticity and refinement. We have handed much of our daily living over to Smartphones, busyness, and mindless consumption. And all of this is why Rilke’s quote goes unexamined.

Don’t Wait For Tragedy

Alas, it is only when something throws a wrench into our drone-like existence that we wake up to the fact that ‘Being here is so much.’ It is the diagnosis of a terminal illness, the unexpected death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or some other sudden disruption of our comfort and familiarity that awakens us to

Presence Over Presents

My dear friend Amy was kind enough to be my guest writer for this blog post.  Please enjoy her thoughts about the Christmas Season and how she is focusing on being present this year.

Does It Feel Like The Christmas Season To You?

I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t quite feel like the Christmas Season to me…yet. This could be for a few reasons:

  1. Though I am grateful for the sunshine and the daily Vitamin D available to us this time of year here in sunny San Diego, the weather this December has been warmer than it has in years past. For this Virginia gal who misses her four seasons, it doesn’t quite have the same “feel” to the holiday season in Southern California…never mind that I’ve been here for nine “winters” now.
  2.  I can’t believe that we’re already approaching the end of the year (isn’t that something our older relatives always said, and yet I find myself saying all the time now how quickly time flies).
  3.  I am being intentional about giving each day/season/holiday its due time – so this year I am focusing and reflecting on the meaning of Advent (spoiler alert: it means, “coming”) and its purpose, versus viewing it simply as a means to Christmas.
  4. But perhaps the biggest reason is, I made a choice this year. I decided to minimize the consumerism and commercial hoopla that comes this time of year, by keeping the gift-giving humble, and by not saying “yes” to every invitation that
By |2017-12-13T11:35:38+00:00December 13th, 2017|Categories: Belief Systems|0 Comments

Powerful Tips to Help You Change Your Story and Create the Life You Love

The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “If you know better, do better.”  I think that most of us at some point in our lives encounter a situation where we “know better.”   The question is, does this knowing lead us to “do better”?

Our Emotions Are a Record of the Past

Research has shown that children between 2 years to 5 or 6 years of age have the ability to absorb vital information directly into their subconscious minds because of the way that the brain develops. This is a time in our life where we are highly adaptive, and it is also a time when we put in order our cultural beliefs and societal behaviors into our nervous system. And, this is where our “life story” starts to formulate. During these years when we have experiences, we pay attention to our feelings that come from our inner world. When our feelings feel altered, we look outside of ourselves to see who or what caused this altered feeling. These events create an associative memory, and then these experiences are encoded into our memory system where they are stored in our subconscious. The moment that we get into situations that bring up similar emotions that have branded us from the past, we revert back to that six-year-old child and behave in limited ways because that is all we know. Our emotions are a record of the past, so we analyze current events within that emotion, so we are thinking in the past. Hence our

By |2017-10-30T10:14:49+00:00June 7th, 2017|Categories: Belief Systems, Lines In The Sand, Thoughts from the Barn|0 Comments
  • taking a test with a pencil

Take a Moment for Self Assessment to Create a Life You Love

Regular self assessment can lead to a life you love

I often hear people say that they are frustrated and unfulfilled with some aspect of their life. And, although they know they feel like this, very few of them know where to start in order to turn their annoyance and displeasure into a life that they love. One thing that I have found useful over the years is to step back and take inventory through self assessment of my life to help me to identify where the frustration and lack of fulfillment are coming from.

At least once a year I sit down and look at nine domains of my life and note my level of satisfaction in each area. The next thing I do is write down at least one thing that I can do in each of these areas to increase my quality of happiness and fulfillment. This exercise helps me to pinpoint exactly where I want to focus my time and attention in order to continue to thrive in my life. I have found this so useful that I have created a Self-Assessment Tool that will assist you in determining what areas of your life could use some sprucing up.

Get yourself on track with free tools

Do yourself a favor and complete this five-minute free Self-Assessment Tool. Not only will you learn where your opportunities for enhancement are, you will gain access to frequent life tips, coaching, and inspiration to help you create a life you love. You

Where Are The Tiny Improvements In Your Life?

The following is an excerpt from an article written by James Clear. His mission is to write about the hidden forces that shape our habits and performance.

In 2010, Dave Brailsford faced a tough job.

No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), Brailsford was asked to change that.

His approach was simple.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Brailsford believed that if they could successfully execute this strategy, then Team Sky would be in a position to

By |2017-10-30T10:15:29+00:00January 19th, 2017|Categories: Belief Systems, Thoughts from the Barn|0 Comments

You are the Artist of your Life

A couple of my gal pals and I started taking painting classes a few years ago.  We have consistently, for the most part, met once a week for a few hours to paint, while our teacher coaches us when we need it. Painting has taught me a lot about life and myself. As an artist, one thing I have come to know and appreciate, is that I have to take time to stand back from my work and quietly contemplate what is what. A painting looks different from a distance. When I take the time to lift my brush from the canvas and step away from the closeness and the details of my work, I feel like I have stepped outside after a rainstorm and taken a deep breath of fresh air. The repose and distance bring perspective and order to each brush stroke. The colors are brighter and what looks like chaos up close takes the shape of a beautiful flower from a few feet away.

I urge you to do the same thing in your life. Take the time to step back and in solitude have a look at your life from a distance. What may look like pain, discomfort, challenge or terror up close, can be viewed very differently if you give yourself some quiet time and space. As I reflect back to times in my life when I felt broken, hurt, or scared, I have come know that those situations were gifts.  Blessings sometimes look like a big blob of paint

By |2017-10-30T10:15:29+00:00December 27th, 2016|Categories: Belief Systems, Thoughts from the Barn|0 Comments

The Perfect Solution to Attain Freedom From Perfection

Perfection is described by one source as thus:

per·fec·tion — pərˈfekSH(ə)n/ — noun

  • The condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
  • A person or thing perceived as the embodiment of perfection.
  • The action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible.

If it’s perfection you seek, consider this: There is no freedom in perfection. To the contrary, it can be

By |2017-03-07T15:30:22+00:00November 16th, 2016|Categories: Belief Systems|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

His Pupils Perceive the Promise of Possibilities

It was 14 years ago that conductor Benjamin Zander drew upon his experiences with the Boston Philharmonic and as a teacher in order to assist his wife — psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander — to write The Art of Possibility.

In this book, the maestro recalls a time he was teaching a class at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Mass. There, Zander administered a pop quiz in which he asked his students to write about the similarities between the NASA space program and their life with music.

This all came as the result of Zander being called to NASA the following day in order to deliver a lecture about leadership. His students were familiar with these types of requests because they often talked about dreams, aspirations and possibilities in the classroom. It was a means of enabling the students to live their lives in a wider context than the daily routine of practice, classes and occasional performances.

Here’s what one16-year-old student wrote:

You are the diplomats, the representatives of the world over here. You are going into the nowhere to search and to be intrigued at the smallest inkling of discovery. You are representing us to discover, explore, and find the possibility to escape the box known as Earth, and go as far as possible. You have the responsibility to push thinking and ideas beyond limits, into the ethers, through the nothing into the something. Music is similar to space. It is