Will Strengthening 101

When I was in kicking around in utero, as the story goes, my father placed his hand on the growing bulk that was soon to become me and said, “Be gentle, Julia”, a name taken from the book he was reading at the time, Gentle Julia, by Booth Tarkington. Hence, my name—Julia.

That memory came to  mind today as I was pondering the newest spiritual growth assignment that I have recently bestowed upon myself. It’s a biggie. I call it Willingness to Strengthen the Will. Cheech. It’s like quitting smoking, or giving up the wine habit. I want to, but do I really mean it? I mean really, really?

I do, but I don’t. Like anything worth working for, it will require great commitment and sacrifice, and I have to stop and ask myself if the reward is worth the effort. Throughout the decades of my life, I have learned that when the do becomes stronger than the don’t, then a modicum of willingness creeps in, and I become willing to begin to consider the possibility of taking a leap and making the change. I am happy to report that as of today, the do‘s outweigh the don’t‘s and I am ready. It only took an entire lifetime to get to this point of readiness but finally, here I am. And let’s face it—I’m no spring chicken.

What caused me to turn the corner into willingness? I realized that the final curtain is coming down and when it does, I want to know that I have done everything in my power while I am still here to finish whatever it is that I came here to do. I may not get it done completely before I go, but I can give it my best shot, and at the very least get a head start for the next time around. This is a job that may require more than one lifetime, but I need to start somewhere, right?

When I say that this is a biggie, I mean, this is really biggie. For one who has spent a lifetime wrestling with procrastination, distraction and lack of focus topped by a probable case of undiagnosed, untreated ADD, strengthening the will is indeed an act of will.

It’s not like I can tap a magic wand on my head and proclaim myself strong-willed. I can’t suddenly go cold turkey on procrastination and distraction the way I did with smoking and my daily wine habit. I’ve tried it before, and it didn’t work. I’d give it my best shot, invariably flunk, and wind up feeling guilty for my failure. Then I’d sink back into my old ways of inaction, or doing what I shouldn’t, or whatever else added to my waning sense of self-worth. It can be a lot easier to judge oneself than to be kind, gentle, and forgiving of one’s own human frailty.

Maybe it’s something in the stars, or a growing awareness that the old way of the world is dying and a new one is emerging. Life is changing before my very eyes, and the good news is that I have an opportunity to change along with it. 

What’s different now? Desire, purpose, motivation, and an intention to get there from here. Rome wasn’t built in a day and unrealistic expectations lead to discouragement and failure. Now finally, a strong intention for strengthening the will has started the wheels turning, and off I go, off into a new and exciting world of seeing how life looks when a choice is made between serving the personal will vs. the serving will of the soul. 

This time I will live up to my name and be gentle with myself. I will be kind and forgiving and allow for stumbles and falls, and remember that I am a work in progress. I will know that like a child, I am being helped and guided and loved each step along the way and that in the end, I will make it in spite of my human frailties and foibles. 

We are here to learn, to grow, to use this life experience to find the best within ourselves. It is a rocky road, but in the long run it is the only road worth traveling, because in the end the reward is unparalleled joy. The best way that I know about how to get there from here is to wake up and see the light of a new day, a new dawn, a new world. Intention, motivation, purpose and desire are the ingredients of the fuel that will propel me to where I want to go.

I’m not there yet, but I’m making good progress. I’m learning that trying to force myself into compliance will result in failure, and that allowance is the key that unlocks the door to success. Allowance is kind, gentle, forgiving. It arrives packaged in grace and leaves room for stumbles, lapses in judgment, and momentary setbacks. Allowance gently leads us by the hand, helps us to make conscious decisions, and reminds us to ask for the help we need to get us to our destination.

I have a feeling that as time goes by, there will be a lot more to say about my adventures in Will Strengthening 101, so stay tuned . . .  Meanwhile, note to self: be gentle, Julia. And thanks to my father for giving me a name that reminds me to be gentle not just to myself, but to all.

Before you go—

If you could use a little drink from the fountain of love in the midst of a world of fear, you might enjoy a look at A Tree of Light website. It is an  inspiration and oasis for the soul. 

You may also find a bit of inspiration and humor in Voices, a book full of my tales of woe and triumphs in my travels on the road to enlightenment.

Solar Power

Every once in a while I drift off into a fanciful, imaginary world in which I am the Sun. 

Here I am, my Sun Self, just hanging out in a state of eternal being, shining My light on every single life form on Planet Earth. Every creature, in every kingdom on Planet Earth, in every dark corner of the globe receives the benefit of my Divine Light in equal shares—the insects, plants, animals and all of humanity; the young, the old, the rich, poor, believers, nonbelievers, the good, the evil. Some embrace it, some reject it. Some revel, flourish and grow in it; yet others shrink from it.  

Many are fearful of what they may see and close Me out by retreating into a space of false security; they hide from the darkness behind a door of denial to protect themselves from fear of the unknown; they pull down the shades and sit in the dark, terrified of what might be revealed that they do not wish to see. Others turn on the artificial light of the ego and believe that what they see in the darkness is real. 

My light hides in plain view, clearly visible to some, completely obscured to others. Oh yes, there are often clouds, but to the awakened and wise, clouds are only a veil behind which the Truth abides. Nothing can hide the eternal light that blazes forth from behind illusion; it is ever available to those who seek. 

Every being on the planet, every single life form, is entitled to an equal share of life-sustaining light. It is a freely given gift to all, but accepted by only the few souls courageous enough to turn away from the darkness and seek the light within. 

It saddens me to the core of My being to think that so many choose to suffer in the dark rather than to open wide the window of their souls to let Me in and experience the beauty inherent within their own being. But alas, there is nothing to do but wait until the darkness causes so such suffering that a willingness to face the light creeps in to encourage a change of heart. When that moment arrives, I rejoice, for my purpose is accomplished and I stand ready to bless and heal with the eternal warmth of My loving rays.

I blink and my illusionary fantasy ends, and I see through a different set of very compassionate eyes.

As I awaken from my imaginary incarnation as the Sun, my focus shifts and my heart hurts. I think about how Christ might feel when I and others like me choose to hide from the light that He shines upon us. It makes me want to bow down before Him and beg forgiveness for my ignorance. But in Truth, I doubt that the Christ would want my forgiveness. I suspect that He would much rather have me wake up and fully embrace the Light that He so freely gives. Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. May they see the light within and rejoice, for it is glorious in My sight.

May I flip the switch, convert Solar Power into Soul Power, and be glorious in His sight.

To add greater light to your life, visit A Tree of Light (http://atreeoflight.org/community).

Whispers and Shouts

Uh oh—I’ve caught myself red-handed in the act of doing it again. I succumbed to the avoidance of all things unpleasant by escaping into Netflix instead of doing something worthwhile with myself, like picking up a book or a pen, or helping a friend in need. Darn. Is that because there is so much unpleasantry swirling around these days that I’m desperate for an escape route to help block out the misery? Well, at least I haven’t sunk low enough to get caught up in watching a continuing plethora of depressing news. Thank goodness for that

A blog by Donna Guillemette, Learning Discernment – A Crucial Skill, inspired me to stop and look at my recent failure and listen to my inner guidance. It’s hard to listen to my gut with headphones blaring external noise in my ears. There is a Voice in my head that says, “This isn’t the best use of your time.” Right. I know that. But I ignore it and turn up the volume on the headphones. I guess I’ll just keep on avoiding until I can’t stand it any more, or until I can no longer abide the idea that I’m wasting precious time on something that serves only to help me stay asleep. But still—who can blame anybody these days for wanting to do whatever it takes to avoid the ugliness going on in the world?

How many escape routes exist for our avoidance pleasure? Hmm—let me count the ways. Movies, addictive TV series, reading, food, partying, smoking, thumb sucking/space staring (my personal favorites), hobbies of all sorts, alcohol, drugs, gardening, exercising—you name it. There really isn’t any activity, no matter how apparently healthy or unhealthy, that cannot be used as an escape mechanism. Trust me, I know. I’ve employed darned near all of them throughout my decades on the planet. Oh—except physical things that risk bodily harm, like scuba diving, mountain climbing, parachuting, and hang gliding. I never said anything about not being a coward.

To quote a friend, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing”. But when the “doing” reaches a level of becoming harmful to body, mind or spirit, it is time to wake up and listen to the whispers. My spirit is crying out for liberation from headphones and asks instead that I listen to the oh-so-trusty and reliable Voice in my head that speaks Truth in my ears. The whispers invite me to turn off Netflix, put down the remote, turn on the computer, and start writing again. My faithful Voice never scolds, admonishes, judges or threatens. It lovingly suggests. How I respond is up to me.

Today I finally decided to listen. This is the first blog that I have written in nearly two months. Why? Because I was in pause mode, wondering what I could possibly have to say that is new, different, or better than what anyone else has already said, or who knows more, or is more experienced, wiser, or smarter than I am. With libraries filled with thousands of volumes on the same subject, why bother? What I have to say hasn’t already been said hundreds of times before? 

Again, my true-blue Voice speaks up and suggests that there are others who feel the same way I do, and would be comforted by knowing that they are not alone. As I exchange my TV remote for my computer mouse and write my Truth, perhaps others may find their way past what they believe is true in the world, and into the awareness that the only Truth that exists lies within the sanctity of their own soul.

Running away into the fake shelter that hides behind a TV screen does not provide the peace, happiness, and joy that can only be found within the quiet comfort of the soul. That sense of connectedness with my Self comes only when I step out from behind the screen and acknowledge that I need something more. I need to find my soul, and do whatever it takes to get myself back to the Truth within. Sometimes “whatever it takes” can be the start of a long inner journey that may seem daunting; it takes great courage and determination to set foot upon the path of personal growth, but the end result is worth the trip because a contented soul is the ultimate reward. 

The following quote from Facebook (apologies to the unknown author for lack of acknowledgement) says it all: “I am not a body, I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within.”

The journey to the soul gives new meaning to the phrase, “Wake up and smell the roses.” As each new soul awakens, a new petal of the rose unfolds and the world becomes a more beautiful place for all. 

The world is awaiting the call of your soul. Please listen to the whispers, wake up, and bloom into the beautiful Self that you truly are. There is a galaxy of souls cheering you on and supporting you on your journey.

A sanctuary for my soul is A Tree of Light http://atreeoflight.org, and your soul might enjoy a browse through my soul-searching book, Voices: Who’s in Charge of the Committee in my Head? available on Amazon.