Nearly every week someone asks me what self-help books I read or would recommend. Well, I avoid self-help books and have for years. If I’m struggling with a problem or guiding myself to grow in a certain direction, my inclination is to pray, write in my journal and consult the people who love themselves and me enough to tell me the truth even if doing so will hurt my feelings or theirs. I know that it is rare enough to find one person who is devoted to living in complete integrity, so I am blessed indeed to have a circle of friends and mentors who are committed to that path. I invited a few of them to offer inspiration for the New Year:
2001 has been a year of witnessing large numbers of people courageously emerging from fear to freedom on many levels. This occurred for some as a result of processing their fear in response to the attack in September, only to find an inner courage that they had not known before. As a person who does spiritual direction and healing work, I’ve seen many others experience the freedom that results from what I call “high play” into the terrain of their programmed, long standing, unquestioned beliefs. I say, “Let Freedom Ring!”
—Linda Tidgewell, who teaches me about myself.
I am reminded of the story of the teacher who shreds a map of the world and, thinking it an impossible task, gives it to a recalcitrant student to put together. Within 10 minutes the boy is back, the task completed. Astounded, the teacher asks him how he did it. The boy replies: “When I turned the pieces over, I found a torn-up man. I put him together, and when I looked at the other side, the world was whole again.”
—Heather Hutcheson, who reminds me that the world wants what I have to offer.
I have been living with this Aztec poem: Our life is shorter than flowers/ Then shall we mourn?/ No, we shall dance/ Plant gardens/ Dress in colors/ and teach our children/ to make the world more beautiful/ because our life is shorter than flowers.
—Linda Meyers, who reminds me about patience.
A true friendship is a great gift. It contains truth, trust, commitment, intimacy, all the same qualities as a relationship with a life partner, though the intimacy is of a different kind. I know at the core that I am alone when it comes to death or in fully understanding the struggles of my life. When those experiences are just too heavy to bear, a true friend makes that solitary struggle lighter with a supportive word, a hug or a sympathetic sigh, and sometimes that’s all I need to continue on.
—Claire Collingwood, who teaches me how to be a true friend.
This stanza from Rumi’s poem “Unfold Your Own Myth” is one of my favorites: But don’t be satisfied with stories/ how things have gone with others./ Unfold your own myth/ without complicated explanation/ so everyone will understand the passage./ We have opened you.
—Jan Haag, who teaches me about generosity.
May we all be free of greed, hatred and delusion.
—Beulah Amsterdam, who reminds me about simple choices.
The closing of another year always elicits from me the same sentiment: There’s always next year.
—Steve Boilard, who inspires me to laugh and always lets me cry.