Friday, February 7, 2014

FIRED: Bounce or Break?

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.  If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve. -- Helen Keller

Namaste, fellow soul pilgrims.

I recently had a jolt when I was unexpectedly let go by my employer.  While I was decidedly unhappy due to the oppressive environment and issues that I found ethically challenging, being fired was still a blow to my ego.  The initial feelings surrounding this unexpected change were disbelief, anger, fear, and relief.  

In the beginning, the Universe simply tickled me with a feather, creating the itch to get back onto my path. Not ready, I brushed away the tickle.  The money and stability of the job seemed hard to give up. 

Then a baseball whizzed by my head, as the tickle increased in intensity and the heat of discomfort was turned up.  Still, I stubbornly clung to what I knew rather than risking the unknown.

Finally, I was hit by the infamous Brick of the Universe and fired from my job.  The message could no longer be dismissed:  Life is short.  Get back on track.

Thanks to a fantastic support network made up of loving family and friends, I BOUNCED rather than broke.   This is a great opportunity to walk my own talk - a practice which makes life all the richer.   

There is something to be said for congruency.

My former job was making me increasingly uncomfortable as the gap widened between what I believe and what I was doing on a daily basis.

My material needs must still be met. I am choosing to have faith, rather than fear, in this regard.  Fortunately my rent for the month is already paid, and my bills are pretty low.  I have some breathing space and am not crushed by anxiety.  Now is the time to think clearly and take balanced steps towards the future I truly want.  

Every human has four endowments - self awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination.  These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change.  --  Stephen R Covey

I am not bitter.  My life was in a state of flux over the last couple of years as my marriage drew to an end.  Having a job to go to daily, even though it was not my dream job, was quite helpful for the sake of emotional stability.  Now I am living on my own and feeling much more settled, and I can see that the purpose my former job served was to be a bridge to get me to the other side.  I also got to work with some wonderful people and expand my social circle, in addition to learning new skills.  

NoW wHaT?  
Time to chill, meditate, write, contemplate.  Every step takes me either closer to or farther from living my passion.  I love helping people gain clarity along their own journey, so coaching/mentoring/counseling is the work for me.  Getting there requires thoughtfulness, intention, research, and leg work.  Oh, and that tiny thing called "patience."  Clientele is not built overnight.  

There is much to consider, and for my model I choose the way our First Nations ancestors made big decisions:  Quietly, consciously, consulting a supportive and wise group who desire the best possible outcome and take the time to count the cost.  

So if you want to find me, I will be sitting with a select group in my tepee, passing the peace pipe and listening.  If you would like to contribute your own thoughts or sage advice, please do.  There is freedom in clarity and peace of mind, and I seek both.

Prayer for peace and guidance in tumultuous times:

I am grateful for all that has been, all that is, and all that will be.  

I willingly yield my fear and anxiety regarding current and future circumstance, knowing that all of my needs have already been met.  

I open myself to every opportunity to walk in truth and lead the life I am meant to live, assisting others on their journey whenever possible.  My life is beautiful and fulfilling on every level.  

And so it is!

There is freedom in clarity and peace of mind and I shall have both. - See more at:
There is freedom in clarity and peace of mind and I shall have both. - See more at:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fundamentally Flawed

"You cannot save people, you can only love them." ~Anais Nin

I recently endured an agonizing visit with an elder in my life who is in his middle 70s.  I make an effort to see him twice per month for coffee, but it gets harder each time. 
What is the most taxing for me is his downward spiral into the toxic grip of fundamentalism.  With his advancing age, the last thing I want to do is cause him "spiritual distress," which is the obvious outcome for fundamentalists when people close to them reject their very narrow interpretation of scripture.  

As is common with black/white thinkers, if there can be a rule made about something, he will make it or follow it.  I understand this line of thinking, and remember feeling safer about life when I did not have to do any real thinking for myself.  It is easier just to follow rules.  

It is said that when others irritate us, it's because they are reflecting back our own imperfections.  I'm sure you've heard that there is no nonsmoker more staunch than an ex-smoker.  I likely fall into that category when it comes to organized religion of the fundamentalist, literalistic variety.  As the circle of what is "morally acceptable" to this man shrinks, his circle of judgment grows.  Every piece of jewelry, every book on my bookshelf, every CD in my car is now suspect.

Incapable of making any decisions for himself, Jesus must now be consulted for everything.  In the past year alone, Jesus has apparently deemed jazz music, hockey games, and the nightly news to be off-limits.  If Jesus decries fast food, my elder will really be in trouble.  

Spend any time trying to actually engage with fundamentalists and you get the feeling you are speaking to a robot with a short circuit.  Now that his social circle is comprised almost completely of like-minded individuals, he is unable to discuss anything without circling back to his own religious agenda.   

I want to extend compassion to fundamentalists who are driven by fear.   My elder is truly afraid that his loved ones will not spend eternity with him, and feels a heavy burden to "pray us all into the Kingdom."  What I have tried to show him is this:  No one can save you but you. 

 If you ask a fundamentalist why outsiders avoid them, they will likely say it is because the outsider feels "convicted."  Fundies see the rest of us as unholy, requiring recognition that only their particular God/set of rules will set us free ... to spend the rest of our lives obeying those same rules.  

Seek the truth or bury your head in the sand.  Both require digging.

Maturity is obtained through experience.  One of the indications of maturity is our desire to seek out truth, releasing perceptions that are untrue - or only partly true.  When we refuse to entertain deeper truths, our "perceptual systems cloud over," according to author Caroline Myss.  I reached a point in my own life when pat answers and circular reasoning no longer cut it for me.  I am not saying that all people of faith fall into the same disturbing, unthinking category; but I am saying that it seems to typify fundamentalists.

Another phenomenon which keeps fundies trapped in their Tribal mindset is the inability to view events symbolically.  One example of this is Believers who cling tenaciously to mythology as being literal.  This is an immaturity which parents see in children.  Until a certain age, kids only understand concrete ideas and are unable to entertain abstract notions.  At a certain point, however, children develop the ability to understand folly; to conceptualize or generalize, understanding that each concept can have multiple meanings.  This ability is missing in fundamentalists when it comes to their faith.  It is a blind spot for them

Truths contained in different religious teachings are intended to unite us, not to separate us.  Literal interpretation breeds separation.  Interpretation on a symbolic level - recognizing that all of these teachings address the identical design of our spiritual natures - brings us together.

Just as we cannot force a bud to bloom any faster, we cannot force people to mature on any timetable other than their own.  It is part of their lesson - and if you have a fundy in your life, it is part of yours, too.

Rev. Janice
 I willingly and lovingly release all beings to learn their lessons on their own timetable, rather than mine. I embody compassion and grace in every situation, extending them equally to all.  I am ruled by loving kindness and charity. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Embracing the Void

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
 -Andre Gide

Namaste, fellow pilgrims.  As January draws to a close, my life has taken quite a shift.  I am finishing one chapter of my life and beginning a new one.  As with most change, seeds were planted years ago that germinated and finally took root.  Also as with most change, parts of it have been incredibly painful.  I can relate to the words of St. Paul: "For we know that the whole of Creation is groaning together in the pains of childbirth until this hour."  Thankfully my change does not involve pregnancy (there IS a God!), but my pains have been real nonetheless.

Relationship pain is one of the most difficult to endure.  To wrestle with what really is versus what is not, what has never been and what will never be, is a formidable task.  It would be easier, I think, to just pretend that all is well.  However, it is in that dreadful void between What Was and What May Be that creation occurs.  The void created by loss in the midst of change is unknown, unpredictable, and uncomfortable.  It is a physiological sign of change, that the old is dying - and it is time to create a new you.

Forward thinkers have shown us that we must think greater than our environment.  If your current environment is one of loss and pain, it is very important to visualize a better future for yourself.  I recently attended a conference by Dr. Joe Dispenza all about Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.  Dr. Joe spoke of a chemical/hormonal cocktail created by our bodies for every emotion.  Whenever we feel that emotion again, our body serves up that same cocktail.  Our body becomes accustomed to maintaining a balance, and when we are in the midst of change, that balance gets thrown off.  Even change for the better.  The body and ego would rather keep you under control, and will let you know very quickly via anxiety that it does not approve of your attempt at change.  DON'T GIVE UP!  Change is hard, but it is so worth it in the end.  

If you are fortunate, 365 days will pass from this day.   How can your life look different in those 365 days?  The time will pass, regardless of what you do.  Meditate, contemplate, concentrate.  The future is yours to do with what you will.  No excuses, just experiences.  LIFE HAS NO REMOTE.  YOU HAVE TO GET UP AND CHANGE IT YOURSELF.

I affirm that the entire Universe supports me and desires my growth.  I will remain open to the challenges and changes that God allows to foster that growth.  Love is all around me, and I receive it from everywhere and everyone. 

Adjusting my sails,
Rev. Jan

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Countdown is On

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. - Thomas Paine

Namaste, fellow pilgrims.
I have come to love Paine's quote, and do my best to live it out.  As I look back on 2012, I recognize that I fell short of this goal.  At times I have made choices that did not honor who I am nor those close to me.  It has been a humbling year and a painful one, but also full of growth and continued self-discovery.    For how do we learn, if not by making mistakes?  
In life, the tests come first - the lessons follow.  

My lessons this year have provided me with  piercing insight into who I truly am, what is important to me, and what is required of me in order to continue moving in the direction I want to go.  I see that 2013 for me will be a year of letting go of the familiar and embracing the new.  Yes, I am scared; but I am also curious and optimistic.  Regardless of the outcome, stepping out into the unknown is essential for our growth.  I would rather try new things and fail than spend my life wondering. It's like there is a cosmic clock ticking, reminding me that there is a season to all things.  I don't recall hearing that clock before.  It gives me courage to truly pursue the life that I dream of living... right now. 

I have come to see this world as the Ultimate Schoolhouse, with my purpose simply to learn all that I can.  Lessons come through love and loss, failure and triumph.  Indeed, what appears at first to be the biggest mistake can lead to the greatest discovery!  Perspective is everything.  Do not get mired down by guilt or grief or anything else.  Learn your lesson and move on, applying what you have learned to future situations.

NEW JOB = Overwhelming, terrifying, frustrating, and eventually, pretty good. 
Lesson learned:  Don't give up too soon.
DREADLOCKS =  Now sporting shorter hair.  
Lesson learned:  We can't always have what we want right when we want it.
FIRST FESTIVAL ON MY OWN = Incredibly liberating. Going required all my courage, but I was successful in my endeavors and enjoyed myself very much.  
Lesson learned:  Don't let fear stop you.

There were other lessons along the way, some too personal to share here.  I give thanks for each one.

As we head boldly into 2013, a year of great spiritual transition for our planet, take a look at the list below (courtesy of King Solomon) and ask:  What time is it for you?

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 

Seek what good you can do, what joy you can bring, what peace you can find in 2013.  Know that you will experience both light and darkness, but it is your choice where you will dwell.

Wishing you every lesson required for your own growth and discovery,
Rev. Jan

Thursday, June 14, 2012


"Let go or be dragged."  ~ Zen proverb

My life has been a whirlwind over the last couple of months.  Change has been creeping in, flowing in, and dropping in.  There have been whispers and shouts, gentle hints and bricks aimed squarely at my head.  The above quote has been a great help to me in the midst of so much change, a reminder to be diligent in holding all things loosely, for nothing truly belongs to me. 

The very notion of change can be threatening, as we worry about the unknown.  When I was  ultra conservative in my religious views, I did not welcome change.  I felt safe within my walls.  It was Us versus Them, and anything that threatened my viewpoint definitely fell into the latter category!   Alas, whether we embrace it or fear it, change comes.  

Now that I am in my 40s, I tend to be much more philosophical about change.  It is necessary.  It keeps me growing.  It makes life more interesting.  Marriage stagnates without change - just like government, and even the environment.  No one welcomes the forest fire, but it is necessary, clearing out the dead debris in favor of new life. 

As with grief, there are definite periods we experience when we are in times of change.  According to Dr. Elizabeth Harper Neeld, there are 4 basic stages in "the Terrain of Tough Transitions."  
1.  RESPONDING - At this initial stage of change, our emotions are basically haywire, as our      assumptive world disappears.
2.  REVIEWING - In this stage we tend to ask questions; join community; deal with anger; imagine possibilities, and assert that something must be different.
3.  REORGANIZING - Having survived thus far, our new identity begins to emerge:  New thinking, new behaviors, and yes - even new problems.  When in the Reorganizing phase of transition, we retrieve threads of purpose from "before," while jettisoning the outdated.
4.  RENEWING -  At this stage we are living life in "the new normal."  We have achieved creative outcomes with new ideas and vantage points.  We are reaching hope, continuing on to faith, and even creating joy.

Just like the Stages of Grief, the Terrain of Tough Transitions is messy.   It overlaps and doubles back at times.  This is because humans are complex, and we experience change on many levels.  Our personality, how we were raised, and our personal world view are just a few of the things which may impact how we respond to the changes in our life, whether we choose them or they are thrust upon us.

My recent changes have been positive.  One was anticipated:  a happy move to a better neighborhood.  This was tiring, but relatively simple.  The next change, a job offer, came as a total surprise to me.  Unexpected shift, even when it is good, can take significant adjusting.  This will be a positive transition for me, with many rich opportunities and benefits.  I will be in a teaching/mentoring position, working directly with students, which I love to do.  

Lately I have been meditating on how I can be of greater help to more people, and in came this totally unsolicited job offer.  Something inside of me knows that the Universe itself has opened this doorway, and it is time for me to walk through.  It will be a huge adjustment to me and my family, going from having mom home all the time to suddenly gone 8 hours a day.  In fact, my kids are the only reason I have tossed and turned about the opportunity.  It is now time for them to learn about change, too; that it is inevitable, but how we frame it can make all the difference.  

I am excited about the lessons that will come with my new job.  Not the lessons that I will teach, but the lessons that I will learn.  And that, gentle reader, is what change is all about.  

"Not in their goals, but in their transitions, are people great."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I am indebted to Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD, for her tremendous book Tough Transitions:  Navigating Your Way Through Difficult Times.

Prayer in times of change:
As I breathe in the winds of change, I give thanks for the One who has sent the wind.  I affirm that the Universe is wise and benevolent, wanting only my Highest Good.  I receive my Highest Good, in whatever form it may take.  I know that growth is always positive, and I desire to help others in their growth even as I embrace my own.  I thank God for the opportunities that await me with this change, and release these words into the Universal Mind, knowing that All is Well.  And so it is. 

~ Rev. Jan

Friday, April 27, 2012


"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."  - John F. Kennedy
Many of you know that my spiritual background is that of a fundamentalist Christian, who literally believed every word of the Bible:  Every story, every event, every person listed in that Good Book.  However, I have undergone many paradigm shifts through the last years, and my beliefs have changed considerably.  

Before going any further, let me just say that I know many religious people who are extremely satisfied with their chosen beliefs, and whose lives exemplify love and service.  They are healthy individuals who eat the meat and spit out the bones of religion, rather than being choked by them.
As for me:
My concept of God has expanded from an anthropomorphic view.  I now see God in everyone, regardless of whether they have “invited” him in.  I believe in a Divine Consciousness; a cosmic, universal oneness.  I believe that those who have gone before us are still available to us, so that we can tap into their collective wisdom.  One of my favorite problem-solving meditations, in fact, has me seated at a table with admired souls from history (including my beloved grandparents), who all make themselves available to help me find a solution!  I believe that certain persons throughout history are true spiritual masters, having evolved to such an extent spiritually that they set the supreme example of love, compassion, and peace for the rest of us.

As for an afterlife, reincarnation makes the most sense to me.  When I read about out-of-body and life-after-death experiences, these seem to confirm reincarnation to me.   I also believe that part of what happens in the afterlife is based on what we expect to happen.  It makes sense to me that souls who have adhered strictly to a certain religion would congregate together in the afterlife.   I no longer believe in a literal hell where one is tormented and tortured eternally, with no hope of relief.  I believe that we view, experience, and judge our own actions once we leave this body, and that if more time is required to learn specific lessons, further events will be experienced until we evolve spiritually.   To me, this is much more in line with a philosophy of love than the notion that people will be eternally cast into a pit of darkness for simply failing to adhere to the “correct” set of beliefs.

My goal is to learn absolutely as much as I can during this lifetime.  I want to study and grow, exchange thoughts and views with other people.  I will never again allow any one person or group to dictate to me how I must live or what I must believe.  If I encounter philosophies in the future that make more sense to me than my current ones, I AM FREE TO CHANGE MY BELIEFS…. AND SO ARE YOU!

There is one person to whom and one person for whom you are completely responsible:  YOU.  What others think is best for you, what others think is "The Truth," and even what others want for you is irrelevant.   Everyone is molded and bound by something; the trick is not to allow anyone else’s baggage to bind YOU!    Have you ever wanted to _______?  Is it your secret passion to ________?  As a child, did you feel driven to ________?  Well today is your lucky day!  Because YOU are the one with the ambition and the power to make ________ a reality! 

I have found that The Big Three can be either incredibly beneficial or unbelievably harmful as we walk our road:  Faith, Family, and Finances.  These can either embolden us to live out our dreams, or trap us into a fearful, unsatisfying life.   
“My faith does not allow _____.”  
“My family would be horrified if I _____.”   
“I could never afford to _____.”   

Once you discover who is REALLY in charge, these excuses no longer hold water.  If your religion keeps you from living your dreams, it is time for a DIVORCE.  If your family’s love for you is dependent upon you believing a prescribed doctrine, you both need some shaking up.  And if your finances are currently too limiting to live your dream all at once, you do it the same way you would eat an elephant:  One bite at a time!  Start today.  There are always small steps you can take on the pathway to living your dream. 

SET YOURSELF FREE!   Drop limiting beliefs and limiting people.  Surround yourself with those who support you.  Only read, watch, and do what absolutely inspires you!  One day you will take your last breath.  Until then, I urge you to squeeze every bit of life from every minute you are given!  Don’t waste your valuable time trying to live up to anyone else’s expectations or beliefs.   Learn what it takes to make your own dreams a reality, and get on with it.  If no one else believes you can do it, I DO.  Send me a postcard when you get there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Heresy or Enlightenment?

I drank the silence of God from a spring in the woods. - Georg Trakl

Namaste, fellow Soul Pilgrims.  Creation is breathing a sigh of relief, freed from the constraints of winter.  

As I am a big fan of springtime, it felt strange to awaken on Easter Sunday feeling blue. I recognized the feeling, as it was present to a lesser degree around Christmas.  Christmas and Easter are the two "holiest" days of Christendom, when even nominal believers make their way into the pews, usually under pressure of family.  This year I was not in their company, and it made me realize that there is loss that comes with liberation, and vice versa.

I recalled the tangible joy I had previously felt when celebrating Christmas and Easter in the company of others who venerated those days.  Easter was especially significant, and it was a very big deal to greet  the church family with the traditional Christian greeting:  "He (Jesus) is risen!", met with the joyous reply: "He is risen, indeed!" 

Those words were so precious to me throughout my life.  They encapsulated my raison d'etreI lived only to reflect God's glory and to draw others to Him - through my particular religion.  For me and others who shared my religious persuasion, life revolved around attending Sunday services, weekly Bible studies, spending time with Christian friends listening to Christian music, discussing Christian books (purchased from a Christian store, of course).   "Drawing others to Him" meant actively seeking out The Lost to convert from their heathen lifestyles. 

I had read many books on how to "witness" to people who were deluded into thinking that their own religion - the one they had either chosen or been raised with - was actually true.  I sincerely believed that I alone held the truth, and was charged with trying to "enlighten" others to the fact that they were believing a lie.  Forget the fact that they cherished their own religious traditions just as I did, taking solace and comfort from their own beliefs.  

The older I get, the more I realize that no one group or philosophy holds the key.  As Ram Dass, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, has said:  "We're all just walking each other home."  Whether our road is that of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other "ism," we are all living in borrowed vessels on borrowed time, until our return to Spirit - which is our natural state.  The religious or philosophical road we travel during our time here will ultimately lead to the same destination.

I understand if this bugs you and gets under your skin.  Pray for my soul if it pleases you.  However, a mind  expanded can never return to its previous dimensions.  While I do miss the feeling of belonging to a club with a special "members only" greeting, it is not enough for me to resume my seat in the pew as if nothing has changed.   I feel that, over the past few years, EVERYTHING has changed. 

I like the freedom that I now have to listen and think and judge for myself.  I like the openness and grace that I now naturally extend to others - not just to those who hold my own views.  A friend recently pointed out to me the irony that, once I left the Church, I became a lot more like Jesus.  

I celebrate being a part of the Universal Consciousness.  I recognize the many truths that are reflected by all members, and give thanks for the Masters who have gone before to show us True Love.  I acknowledge that we are all Soul Pilgrims, passing through this life, walking each other home.  May love, freedom, and grace be our companions along our chosen roads, and may we gain insight with every step.