Dwelling on Intention

I know I'm behind the times-- I haven't read The Secret yet. But from what folks tell me, the big idea in the book is one I already practice, one that is a commonly held belief among my "clan." It's the idea that we give our energy to the things we dwell on.

The belief is that we want to, therefore, direct our energy to the DESIRED OUTCOME or process, so that our energy-- our intention-- moves toward it. Dwelling on our fears, or the thing we want NOT to happen simply puts our energy toward those fears and that thing, regardless of phrasing.

For example, "I want to arrive safely at my destination." is more likely to get the results you want than "I don't want another car crash." Because in the second case, you'd be dwelling on "another car crash..." and the true intention is ARRIVING SAFELY.

It's harder (and more gradual-yet-quick-resultsy) than it sounds. Often, our best method of connecting to the casual acquaintances in our lives is by commiserating and talking about our concerns with each other. If you don't dwell on what sux in your life, what will you talk about with them?? And, last Friday night with a lot of drunk drivers on the road, it was easy for me to dwell on "avoid the drunk drivers" and harder to think "My drive home will be uneventful. I will arrive safely at my destination..." while dodging that ink-blue minivan that was driving-- mostly-- in the middle lane.

We have to come up with a way to define/describe the positive outcome we desire. We also have to catch ourselves thinking in negatives or about all the things we do NOT want to have happen in our lives, and make the choice to re-focus on that positive outcome-- every time.

The mental reinforcement of a mantra or a goal statement, whether at work or in your personal life-- whether in the next five minutes or the next five years-- is a much-used tool. It works. With our minds focusing on "I want this in my life" we are more likely to notice the opportunities that might assist us toward our goal. We are more likely to see ourselves making progress toward that goal or outcome (instead of focusing on what's not the way we want it), and thus have more energy to continue moving in that desired direction. As we focus on that desired outcome, we are more likely to tell people about our hopes, dreams, and positive experiences-- and give them an opportunity to contribute to our triumph rather than to our misery.

For example, I'm moving into a new office this week. I'm VERY excited about this, and see it as a positive change. Sure, it's hard to come up with office rent for a whole month-worth of hours just now, but soon I'll have a huge successful business made of wonderful and repeat clients, and my ability to make a positive difference in their lives. My schedule will be full, I will have the energy to do the work for many clients that I do for a few just now, and as a result, I will also achieve financial success. Enough, and then some. (Quote from Your Money or Your Life, by Jo Dominguez and Vicki Robin, wherein they talk about quality over quantity, and how intentional living bridges that gap.)

Dwelling on "success is coming" sure does keep my energy up!! And instead of saying "shit, I have no chairs for my clients," I decided to use my dining chairs as an interim measure. And with excitement lighting my features, I told my new officemates of the great temporary solutions I'd found to several little challenges like this.

It was a wonderful surprise to then learn that one of my officemates currently has two comfortable chairs sitting in her garage, for wont of a home. She's going to bring them in for me, and she's happy to have someplace else to put them. What a great solution to the challenge that I refused to see as a negative thing! No windows in my new office turned out to be a great opportunity to paint the walls a really bright color, and exercise my muraling skills here and there over top of the new paint color. I'm seeing so many great opportunities, simply because I know this is a great situation in which to work, and success is coming.

Telling myself that this is so opens the door to possibility, just by announcing --repeatedly and confidently-- that possibility exists. It focuses my energy on doing good work and succeeding, and draws similar energy to my life and my office. I'm looking for ways to succeed. I'm looking forward with excitement to a successful life. And excitement, like yawning, is contagious.

I invite you to examine the words, images, and expectations/desires that you dwell on every day. Are you hoping not to be late to soccer practice, or are you hoping to arrive safely and on-time? Are you expecting the copier to jam again and the meeting to run late, or are you intending to get through your day with efficiency and grace? Are you looking for reasons to enjoy getting out of bed? ...or still grumpy and frustrated because you have to go to work, and don't really get to sit around and enjoy the breakfast your spouse made for you this morning?

Now, what does that tell you about your intentions every day? About the places you choose to spend your energy? Try to redefine those concerns that now dissatisfy you in such a way that you will dwell on a positive outcome. Shift your intention. Shift your energy and your focus. Shift your life.

Believe it or not, that's why I love my work so much. Why I am willing to work with my clients' budgets and schedules. Each time I meet with a client who is focused on improving their life in some way, we are putting their intention into action. I get to go to work each day, and help someone focus and shift their energy in a way that will change their life for the better. Eventually, I'd like to build this practice into a wellness retreat. A green-built custom retreat community with a variety of workshops, work spaces, living situations, community-building activities, and healing services such as Massage and quality elder-care. Someday, I will.

What are your life goals? What's the next action you can take to direct your energy toward that end? Maybe it's sitting down with a paper and pen to map out the values that make your big toes wiggle, and decide on some goals or steps you might explore with those values in mind. Maybe it's scheduling half an hour a week into your life for you. Maybe it's time to decide that your goals are just as important to you as everybody else's. Maybe it's time to open the door to possibility, and shout out an invitation.


I'm becoming more and more aware of the ways in which women often punish and/or defend ourselves in situations where we feel we don't HAVE power or control or even basic rights.

I'm working with more and more women who have used food as a method of having control in their lives. They punish themselves for not being good enough by not eating. They over-eat to feel comforted and to fill an emotional void in their lives; they often become grossly overweight as a defense against rape and other sexual encounters they don't want to face.

We tell ourselves that we are not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not curvaceous enough, not smart enough, not accomplishing enough, not ENOUGH-- and in doing so, we limit ourselves so that nobody can do it to us. We don't want to give that power away, too. We don't want the criticism that women sometimes receive when we take risks, acknowledge our strengths and abilities, attempt change, rock the boat. There are enough critics in our lives already.

I'm learning that these patterns of behavior-- the self-criticism, and self-limiting; the over-eating and the starvation diet-- more and more, these are cropping up among men as well. And since these are "women's diseases" men often have an even harder time admitting that the problem exists, or understanding why, let alone seeking help to make positive changes and enact healthy patterns.

As a society, we cut ourselves off from feelings. From feeling too deeply, from recognizing our emotions and our reactions to our life experiences (especially the traumatic ones!). We ignore the messages our bodies try to send us in the form of felt aches, pains, and nausea. We get so caught up in trying to be smart and world-savvy that we ignore our own inner wisdom. We lose touch (if we ever found it to begin with) with our inner selves.

Sometimes we are so out of touch with our feelings that we fail to react in fight-or-flight situations; we don't get angry when we are mistreated, or we simply assume that we must have done SOMETHING to deserve the anger directed at us by another, the dismissal of our concerns and of our priorities.

And our internal criticism of our own not-enoughness becomes cruel. There is no pause to ask WHY we couldn't do 100 crunches at our twice-daily workout on Tuesday... after not eating for three days and then staying up all night to study for a class that we're taking after our 40-60-hour work week; caring for our households; caring for our families. Caring for everything but ourselves.

When is it time to care for ourselves? When do we pause and ask ourselves who has judged us-- where that criticism we are using as our measuring stick has come from... And then ask ourselves who has the right to determine our individual worth-- our individual definitions of a successful life. Most of the time, we begin by looking outside of ourselves for approval of our choices, our values, our style of dress and our sense of humor. We look outside of ourselves for clues about what we are supposed to do, who we are supposed to be, and what our reward for "getting it right" should look like. And none of it makes us very happy.

You see, until you have a good relationship with YOURSELF, until you like yourself and figure out what sort of a life would make YOU happy-- chances are, you won't be. It is a risk-- taking responsibility for our own choices and our own happiness. Back to the Cinderella Complex again, really. Hoping someone else will come along and save us from all this.

It's a risk to feel all those feelings that you've repressed or didn't even know you were having for so many years. What if they overwhelm you? Why are you suddenly getting ANGRY all the time?? Well... it's your body finally balancing out. All the emotions you ignored didn't go away-- they just got packed and compressed and repressed into this little box, and when you release the catch on the lid, it springs open and all the unfulfilled unhappy feelings come rushing out. ...But then, the box is empty. It no longer sits there oozing poison and secret shames, feeding your bodily illnesses and emotional instabilities and dependencies on people or on substances or on food-management.

There is finally space for you to learn new coping skills, to learn to recognize when you are having an emotion, and what emotion it is, and maybe even begin to recognize that there is probably a GOOD REASON for you to be having that emotion. Listening to yourself. Deciding how you want to act, now that you have all the information available to you. Befriending and trusting yourself. Accessing your inner wisdom. ...learning to love yourself as an imperfect and wonderful individual... Learning the joy of working toward a lifestyle and a decision-making process that will actually make you HAPPY!! Happy to be alive. Happy to be here, and do that, with people who appreciate you for YOU, and who share similar aspirations and a similar respect for you that you are learning to have yourself.

...If you don't learn to respect and love yourself-- to feel that your needs and your goals and your values and your decisions are important... nobody else will either. Make a different choice. And remember that even if the people you love and currently interact with don't support your goal of finding and appreciating yourself... someone else will. You are worth waiting for, worth searching for, worth working to find. Worth listening to. But this time, you get to do the waiting, working, listening and searching for yourself. It is deliciously empowering to put your energy and efforts to work in pursuit of your OWN GOALS-- and very few of the women I know have ever done this consciously. Intentionally.

So I invite you:
Live intentionally. Live joyfully. Live your own life.
Ask for help, expect respectful treatment.
Dance on top of the world.



When we were little (especially if we were little in the '50's), we often immortalized our friendships by carving everybody's initials with a heart between-- S.B. -heart- R.O. or I heart Johnny, for example. It was a way of saying we loved someone-- they were a friend of our hearts. It was a hope that we would always have that loving connection in our life.

I have just returned from a retreat. I went there with a friend, I came back from there with many friends. Friends of my heart. It was a very intense process, and yet also very restful. I learned so much from the experiences that others shared with me while I was there-- and I was also able to facilitate the learning of others.

Our blood relatives and our "parents" are often chosen by biology or by someone else's decisions about marriage or responsibility. As children, we rarely have the opportunity to choose our family. Many of us are lucky. We have a parent, or maybe two, who really love us and wish the best for us and work hard to help us grow. Many of us cope instead with adults who hurt us, or who are hurt. As we mature, regardless of what came before, we learn to find folks we can trust outside of our original family.

Often, these people begin as friends, and then we realize that our bond is deeper than mere friendship. We share a connection that is truly special, truly magical. These people become our chosen family-- our "spiritual family," if you will. The folks who love us and who we love as if they have always been a part of our lives, as if they always will be. Understanding that we can create a support network that is stronger (and often stranger) than the family we were born into brings a special kind of freedom with it.

I deeply enjoyed the friendships and experiences of this past weekend. I look forward to our next meeting, whether at an organized retreat or at a local coffee shop. And I know that just because I don't hear from someone I really felt a moment of connection with-- it doesn't mean that I can't appreciate what that moment held. The time I spend with these special people is carved into my heart. Each meeting is a gift, and all the distance in between visits can never take that gift away from me.

As the old saying goes: Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again.



Remember that maturity has very little to do with age, and only sometimes corresponds to the extent of one's life experiences. I know 50-somethings who take less personal responsibility than some teen-agers. I know 30-somethings with enough learning experiences under their belt to last a lifetime.

Remember that what may be old news to one person could be an earth-shaking discovery for someone else. For example, you may always have understood that relationships-- like people-- change over time. It may be a long and rocky process, full of doubts and anger and pain, for your cousin or your best friend to come to the same conclusion. S/he may be hurt by the changes in your relationship, get angry that the old understandings don't always apply anymore, and doubt whether or not you can have a friendship at all...

And just maybe s/he'll go on to surprise you by facing the fears and the anger, and recognizing that relationships-- like people-- change over time. The best that we can hope for is to change together, or to mature enough that we can embrace the differences as we once embraced the similarities. To celebrate those times when a friend or family member travels through the anger, the fear, and the doubts, to come out a better person and a more understanding friend on the other side.

Remember that we all have our challenges, and that knowing more or less about any one thing does not make us better or worse than the people around us. We do the best we can, and we move forward with hope and awareness. In the end, does it matter more where we end up, or how far we've traveled to get there?