Wednesday, December 9, 2015

More Humble Pie Please

I’d like another slice of humble pie please—but I have to let you know I’m pretty picky about where it comes from and who makes it. I prefer to only eat what I fondly refer to as Heavenly Humble Pie prepared in the Divine Bakery.  
 I made this Humble Pie from
Tasted delicious!

The ingredients used are simple and yet superb; every bite is meant to be savored.  I can’t help myself.  I want more and I think you might want to get in on the deal as well.

You, God, and humble pie—with a little bit of C.S. Lewis and LeBron James thrown into the mix. Hopefully, I’ve piqued your interest a bit.

You may not see the connection or even like the sound of it. In fact, the mere mention of being humbled by God sounds pretty intimidating but hear me out and remember, this isn’t just any old pie.

The term “humble pie” originated in medieval times and was known as a type of meat pastry, most likely made from various pieces and parts of deer.  In today’s common usage, to eat humble pie is to acknowledge or apologize for an error.
When you’ve repeatedly boasted how unbeatable your favorite sports team is to your friends and family and your team is pummeled in a competition, you better get out the humble pie and cut yourself a big slice. 

In this case, the act of humbling implies you are demonstrating humility, as in “I was wrong.” And if your ego has a major investment in that sports team as well, humility can easily turn into humiliation.

But let’s set that situation aside for now, and consider another perspective—one where humbling is not confused with the very different act of humiliation. 

What if we were able to look at humbling oneself or living in a state of humility as a desirable, rather than an embarrassing, ego crushing state that at all costs should be avoided? 

C.S. Lewis stated that, 
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” 
And for some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately—about the many times I have been humbled by witnessing the Divine at work.  
At such moments, I am caught off-guard.  These are the precious times when I come to realize, in the most basic way, that it’s not about me.  It’s about something greater than, that exists within each one of us if we choose to move beyond ego and tap into that higher spirit.

Le Bron James, all time basketball great and favored son from Akron, Ohio stated recently,
“I’m just playing the game I love and I’ll do anything for.  And some of the benefits that’s coming with it is the humbling side.  It’s the blessed side.”  

I love that analogy—humbling equals blessing—so much better than a punishment.

Take a trip to the Grand Canyon and sit on a rock overlooking the breath-taking landscape of colors and shapes. Undergo a healing within oneself where the grief or anger that weighed heavily upon your heart has been transformed to a sense of peace, love, or forgiveness.  Beat cancer when the deck was clearly stacked against you.   

With all of these things—you can’t believe that something so impossible became possible—recognizing that we humans alone could not take credit for this miracle. Something far greater, beyond our limited scope of control was at work.

My ego tells me humbling “ain’t so good” but my heart sings with the thought that eating humble pie from the Divine Bakery is a good thing.
What if we actually realized the benefits, as in Divinely Inspired Benefits, that accrued if we actively sought out this way of being and incorporated it into our day-to-day lives?

What if we were able to say, without fear of retaliation, “Please God, allow me to be humbled.”  Would that be so bad?
If nothing else, just think about it.  Imagine a positive way of looking at the act of being humbled.  Put the image into the context of your life and consider how seeing the daily beauty and blessings in our midst could only add to the human experience.
Heavenly Humble Pie Prayer

Please (I show respect by asking)

God (that Higher Spirit that lives within and beyond)

Allow (there is a choice)

Me (my human self with all its beauty and flaws)

To Be (without expectations—to just “be” in your Presence)

Humbled (the depths of my soul acknowledge and honor your grace and blessings)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Welcome to The Listening Project Virtual Tour

Please join me for my upcoming Listening Project Virtual Media Tour beginning next week,

August 25-27!

This virtual tour will provide many opportunities for you to read my guest blogs, as well as listen in on my live interview with Robert Sharpe of BITE Radio (Bringing Inspiration to Earth).

Most importantly, I am hoping to hear from all of you. Please let me know of your questions and comments! It would be great if we could share insights and help one another on our listening journeys.

Some Important Information:
The Listening Project:  Lessons of Life, Love, and Listening to God can be purchased at my web-site for $13.99 plus handling & shipping or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Bookbaby eBook Bookshop listed below.

Blog Tour Schedule:

August 25- Guest blog: The Importance of Questions, Spiritual Media Blog

August 26-4-5pm EST—Live interview with Robert Sharpe of BITE radio (Bringing Inspiration to Earth)

August 27- SDI guest blog

Friday, August 14, 2015

Me or Not Me--Take Your Pick

I call them the “me or not me” moments—a pause point when I know it’s time to consciously review my current ways of thinking and behaviors. To make choices and changes to more closely align with my authentic sense of being. 

Often it takes a crisis or shift in life circumstances to demonstrate this inherent ability to question oneself.  But I’m trying to up my game, to pose The Me or Not Me question more frequently throughout the day.  I find this allows the flexibility to choose stretch behaviors that help me grow, learn, and have more fun while simultaneously recognizing that certain ways of acting don’t represent the real me. 

It’s so easy to get out of whack. 

As an example, my friend was recently in the hospital in intensive care.  I made many visits, sitting by her side as she struggled for breath and hallucinated from the pain medications.  I was distraught.  All my energy focused on practically willing her to get better.

Pulling into our driveway after a hospital visit, I saw my husband had parked his tractor so that I had to back-up my car in order to pull into our garage.  I moved the car in reverse and felt a sickening thud. Without thinking, I had backed into a tree and shattered my left rear tail light along with putting a major dent in my fender.

About a week later after another nerve-wracking hospital visit with my friend, I took my car to a collision center for an estimate from the “car meets tree” incident—$1,510.85 of damage to be exact.  As I was leaving, I slowly backed out of the parking space and oh lord, I felt that familiar thud again! I had hit another car whose owner was about to pick up his newly repaired vehicle.
“This is so not me,” I thought.  Well…first I questioned my sanity, had a good cry, took a deep breath and only then acknowledged that the universe might be trying to tell me that in spite of my good efforts, it was time to slow down, let go of the need to fix everything, and get myself grounded again.
In this case, my “out of whack” lasted a couple of weeks.  I guess that’s good news, for I think of how easily these things can turn into months and years—when we lose sight of who we really are.  After years of a punishing job, challenging relationship, or just the difficulties of life, we can’t remember what it’s like to relax, to not feel anger or fear, or to make our own choices.
Maybe we have become so comfortable in our self-perceptions that we refuse to think out of the box and consider another point of view, a more appropriate way of being and becoming at this new point in our life.  It may be time to question if who we were in the past is what we want to be in the future. Will the real me please stand up.

No blaming others allowed with The Me or Not Me question.  It’s all on you—both a frightening and empowering position.  Frightening in that you have to assume responsibility for your own behaviors.  Empowering in that you aren’t allowing other people or circumstances to determine how you perceive or conduct yourself.
Getting more skilled with the Me or Not Me question can be as simple as starting your day with a conscious choice of how you choose to think and act for the next 24 hours.  Consider any challenging situations or conversations that might occur.
Take a deep breath and think it through.  Ask, “What makes me feel good about myself?  What makes me feel less than?   Do I choose to be focused and calm or hostile and angry?  What’s me?  What’s not?”  Take your pick. 
This is challenging work.  We resist.  We often allow fear, anger, or the ego to take charge.  I sometimes wonder, “Why is being not me so much easier sometimes than being the real me?”
Maybe there are no answers, or maybe it’s as simple as the opening line in Scott Peck’s classic book, The Road Less Traveled where he begins with, “Life is difficult.”  And the difficulties of life require a set of tools to solve life’s problems.  Asking the Me or Not Me question is one of those tools to help us on our journey.


Friday, July 31, 2015

How Did a Hound Dog From Kentucky End Up in Our Back Yard?

Here I am sitting on the patio watching our 5 month old rescue dog Wali play ball with a joyful abandonment that only a puppy can display.  His new German shepherd friend Abby patiently rolls around on the ground with him as he hops from side to side, tail wagging.  

Wali is predominantly a Plott Hound (we think)—charming as all get out with keen observation skills and a large dose of wisdom thrown into the mix.  Hes also a cuddler.  What a guy!
Yet I cant help but ask, “How did this hound dog from Kentucky end up in our back yard?  How did he get from ‘thereto ‘here?”  And most importantly as I write, what might this question have to do with not just me, but a lot of us other folks here on planet Earth when examined from a spiritual perspective? What in Gods name does God have to do with this? 
At first blush, it seems so simple—a series of individual, linear events pieced together where Louisville, Kentucky was the starting point and Bath, Ohio the end of the road.  Dog born, put in pound (hopefully for adoption and not death).  Rescue group from Kentucky connects with northeast Ohio animal lovers.   Volunteer and vet tech named Beth takes an extra look at Wali and says, “Well take this one.”  Beth fosters Wali at home and takes him to work regularly where he can become socialized.
That got Wali to Ohio.  And then there was me. . .

I walked into my vets to purchase medications for our cat.  There was this puppy walking around behind the office counter.  The plans were to put him up for adoption the following day at a rescue event.
I wasnt worried I would do anything so crazy as to purchase a dog on the spot.  I had been to a rescue open house a couple of weeks before and had resisted attempts by the sponsors to even consider any of the available dogs.  Our eleven year old dog Sophie had suddenly passed away four months previously and we just werent ready for another dog, especially my husband Joe (his exact words were, “no more dogs”).

All that pain after such a loss.  A real risk to open oneself up again.  And if we ever did get a dog, we wanted another yellow lab--definitely a female. We still had one dog.  Perhaps that was enough. But puppies, especially this one, look irresistible.

Im not one who questions Gods hand in everyday life events.  But I do have a never-ending fascination and admiration with how absolutely ingenious the Divine and all those Holy Helpers on the Other Side can be.  How does God design the perfect plan so that a lonely little puppy from Kentucky finds his way into a grieving familys heart in Ohio?
I contemplate that Walis journey to Ohio wasnt just a bunch of random events.  Rather, they were really a series of choice points and decisions by a lot of people trying to “do right” by wanting to place a living creature in a place of safety and love.  I believe this noble intent and energy allowed Spirit to move forward, creating a whole host of opportunities for good things to happen. And I realize, more than ever, that God does a lot of good things that get us from “there” to “here” if we give the Divine freedom to act.

In life, I repeatedly am shown that Divine rules are pretty simple.  Theres Gods job and theres my job.  Too often, my action-oriented, control freak self tries to do it all.  Im good, but Im not that good.  And you know how we humans can mess up things when we insist on having things our way.  In comes limited solutions, out goes Divine possibilities.
Yet when I allow (and “allow” is the key word) the Divine to do Divine work, and when I remain open to suggestions and listen to the inner, intuitive (rather than ego centered) voice within me—well. . .downright magic and miracles occur.  No kidding. The process isnt that complicated.

Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”  Well, God may laugh at our plans, but I dont think God ever laughs at our heart’s desires—those inner longings that are imbedded in the essence of our souls, that when they manifest in our lives, bring us much joy, peace, or love.

So no, I dont believe Wali just “landed” in Ohio.  Somehow the Divine responded to my cry in the darkness, just not in the way I had expected nor on my timelines.
If a hound dog from Kentucky can end up in my back yard and bring so much joy after such a devastating loss, what else is possible?   Its an especially good question for me, and perhaps others, to ask when hard times hit and the only view we can see is the one that spirals painfully downward.  

Walis gentle presence reminds me in a very concrete way that the Divine can only do so much without human cooperation.  I managed to pay attention this time and the result was far better than expected.  I really ought to practice these behaviors more often.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Beginning. . .

Hello to all of you out there in cyberspace and welcome to My Listening Project blog—a place to contemplate, explore, and share thoughts about the many aspects of listening, particularly as it relates to how each and every one of us is capable of tuning into the inner voice within—the one that speaks from the stillness of the heart.  

Im hoping in the coming months and years for all of us to get to know one another a lot better.  As a person who is of the “old school” tradition of face to face interactions, this blogging is new stuff for me.  I think Im going to really like it!

Until recently, most of my career was spent as a facilitator having workplace conversations with groups of co-workers throughout the United States.  The reason I loved my job so much was that I not only got to meet new people from all walks of life who fascinated and taught me through their interesting experiences and stories, but that I was also able to continue many of those relationships throughout the years.

As Helen Keller is quoted as saying, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  I really do think we can learn a lot from one another.  The act of listening is one of those things that has a tendency to unite rather than divide, for who among us has not longed to have a listener in our lives—particularly one that comes from a Divine Source. 
We may have different perspectives on what “God” looks like but if viewed from a spiritual, rather than religious context, we can recognize that there are many paths to the One God, with each of us having a direct line to that Universal Source.  So the truth is, Im really excited about our newly developing relationship, for now these conversations potentially include folks from around the globe!

Over the past few years Ive personally learned a lot about how I can become a better listener in my relationship with God.  I now realize this is a journey which really never ends, at least until its my time to cross over to the Other Side.
In my experience, this listening journey takes both head and heart working together.  Yes, it takes practiced skills to become a better listener, with God or anyone else, but it also takes a mighty, big, and open heart.  To be honest, the heart work is a lot more challenging for me at times.

                    Making a pizza in Italy.  I swear I meant for it to be round.  
                                     Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something!

Over the past few years, as I have become more present to the whole act of listening, I discovered the many ways God sends me guidance and why, when, and how I block that guidance.  Very importantly, I realize the value of a “toolkit” to help me survive the difficult times, particularly when I long to hear or feel something sacred, and all I feel is silence
I also observed that the better listener I am with God, the better listener I am with others.  Most of all I realize that if I want to hear God, I should be still and look around.  Divine guidance is at my fingertips and endless, if I dont limit my possibilities.  As a result of these insights, my awareness is sharper regarding the many ways God calls me to pay attention—whether to people, animals, or nature—but I still have a lot to learn.
So please come back to My Listening Project blog again!  I hope that you will not only be able to relate to some of my stories, thoughts, and available resources about listening to the Divine voice within, but also that this blog will help you to explore your own internal listening journey, one that works especially for you, for that is what truly matters most. 

Christine C. Williams