You’re Not That…

Imagine being sentenced to death or life in prison.  Now imagine that you didn’t commit the crime you’re accused of, that you have dozens of witnesses that support your innocence, and they’re ignored and not allowed to testify.  Your reality is that you’re faced with a system that targets you, based on your race, socioeconomic class or other discriminating factor.

Don’t believe it happens?  It does.  More often than you know.

What opened my heart to talk about this issue?  Thanks for asking…it was this book:  Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson.

He and his organization, the Equal Justice Initiative, are on a mission to help “the most vulnerable” in our society; to free wrongly convicted men, women and children who are sentenced to capital punishment (death) or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A quote from Just Mercy, and the theme of my topic today:

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. If somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. If somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. Even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that, there’s this basic human dignity that must be respected by law.” — Bryan Stevenson

You are not the worst thing you’ve ever done.

Do you have regrets that keep you “incarcerated?”  Do you lack self-forgiveness and do these “things that you’ve done” keep you consumed with guilt?  I’m guessing because you’re human, you haven’t always been honest, you’ve taken things that weren’t yours, and you’ve hurt yourself and others, emotionally or physically.  These are situations…occurrences…yes, they happened, but no, they aren’t you.

You are not “what” has been done to you. 

Have you experienced abandonment, abuse, or neglect?  Have you been violated, ignored, hurt, or betrayed (you get the point)?  Are these situations because of who you are?  No.

Yet believing they are, keeps you attached to shame (“I AM something wrong.”)  If you believe that you are responsible for the “bad things” that have happened to you, you have no other choice but to feel like there is something wrong with you and attach shame and blame to yourself.

You are bigger than anything you’ve done or that’s been done to you.

Staying incarcerated by circumstances is how your ego controls you by keeping you stuck in the familiar. “If they find out who I am and what I did, they will know I’m a fraud and a horrible person.”  “I am responsible for what happened to me.  Bad things only happen to bad people.”

You are not that thing you did.

You are not the thing that happened to you.

Whether you’re in a physical or emotional prison, you are bigger than your “circumstances.”

If you don’t let others off the hook for their mistakes, you stay on the hook with them.

When we judge and hold others responsible for our pain, we stay stuck in self-righteousness and incarcerated with them.

When we can honestly take a hard look at the things we’ve “condemned” other humans for and say, “There’s a part of me that I see in that person,” we can begin to have empathy and compassion.

As I wrote in my blog on Forgiveness, “Although forgiveness (acceptance) might help mend relationships, it’s not for the other person…it’s entirely a process to help release the negative burden of personal imprisonment.”

The truth of who you are is always speaking to you.

When you get quiet with yourself and listen, you will find that there is a vast world within you that is pure love, seeking liberation and peace.  And when you find and connect with that world within you, you will create an external world where you only want love, liberation and peace for others.

Self-exploration questions: 

What circumstance or situation keeps you in physical and/or emotional prison?  Where do you project judgment, condemnation, blame, or criticism and turn your back on others because it’s too painful to witness? 

Get involved and/or educated:  Check out the Equal Justice Initiative.  Become aware…reach toward those who need your help…be a voice for equal justice.  Actually, become a needed advocate for equal rights, equal treatment, and equality.  


For Linda…

Linda died a few months ago.  She was 66.

I met her 25 years ago when I lived in Hawaii.  I found out via a text message from a friend who still lives in Hawaii.  I tried to get some answers.  There were none.  I’ve called her phone numbers.  No answer. 

I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I know that some of it is the chance for closure and to tell someone in her family how special she was to me.  I didn’t get that chance with her.  That I regret.

Last night I had a dream about Linda.  I woke up to look for her obituary…still looking for connection…still looking for answers.  This is what I found:

“Linda…., 66, of Aiea, Hawaii, died on April 12, 2018. 
She was born in California.  No services.”

That’s it? Are you kidding me?  I got angry.  The deeper truth?  I got really sad.

So today, I write my eulogy for Linda…

Linda was the first person that I met when I was trying to get sober.  She had five years of sobriety.  I thought she was Superwoman.  She was amazing; not just because of her “clean” time, but because of her gentle heart and bigger-than-life spirit.  I really don’t know what I would have done without her in those early days when I was barely hanging on.

Linda showed me compassion.

When I was beating myself up for being the worst person in the world, she was compassionate, kind and calm.  She didn’t judge me.  She shared some of her own challenges with me.  She helped me to feel human which, I promise, I didn’t.

Linda was loving and nurturing.

I felt unlovable and completely unhuggable in those days.  It took a long time for me to start loving myself.  Linda loved me, supported me, hugged me, and helped me feel connected.  She and her husband adopted two children who were in the foster system, both from drug-addicted mothers.  Her heart was enormous.  She inspired me.

Linda was funny.

She called me her Little Kumquat, which means she called me her little fruit.  Then she would giggle.  The name wasn’t so funny…the giggle was hilarious.  Linda helped me lighten up on myself.  She helped me not take life so seriously.

Linda was honest.

She was as real as they get.  If she was down, she said it.  If she was up, you knew it.  She spoke it as it was, and I valued her honesty.  I valued her authenticity.  She didn’t know how rare it was to be a person of deep truth.  Things were always real with Linda.

Linda was chronically depressed.

She was the first person I knew who struggled with depression…the clinical type.  She would stay isolated for days, weeks, months.  I’m guessing she rarely came out of her house the last few years.  Much of this was her depression, which took a huge toll on her.  She was honest about it.  She helped me understand and have a deeper compassion for mental illness from her personal perspective.

Linda had Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

A few years after I met her, Linda started to have numbness in her legs and other physical problems.  She went for testing and was diagnosed with MS.  She underwent weekly treatments, eventually ended up in a wheelchair, and became more and more isolated.  It was debilitating, as I’m guessing it is for those who have MS.  Those of us who loved her felt helpless.

I transferred from Hawaii in 1995 when I was in the Navy.  My plan has always been to get back to live there again someday, which I will.  Knowing that Linda was there was always comforting.  I’ll miss her.  The last few years, we’d had less and less contact, some of which was me thinking there was always time, some of which was her depression and illness.  All of which, I regret.

I don’t know where I’d be or who I’d be without her kindness and love in my early years.  I’ll always be grateful…I hope Linda somehow knows that.



Calm in the Midst of Chaos (Seven Points to “Pushing Your Edge”)

Guess what? I went white water rafting.  Again.  Last year, it was an 8-day white water rafting trip down the Grand Canyon.  This year a 4-day trip to Canyonlands, Utah.  Somehow, I think I’m an adventurous thrill seeker.  And then I get out there, thrill seeking, and remember that I’m not.

I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell did Karen get herself into this time?”  Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you.

First, let’s just get honest here.  I don’t really even like white water rafting.  I do love rafting.  I love being on the water, whether it’s a river, a lake or the ocean.  But I also have control issues and like safety and predictability.  Know anything about that?

Point #1:  Keep Pushing Your Edge…Get out of Your Comfort Zone

A little background: When I was a kid I was on the swim team, I loved the water and I spent most of my summer either at the pool, floating down rivers, swimming in lakes, or going water skiing.  Then I joined the Navy and, as you might have guessed, still spent a lot of time in and near the water.

It all changed when I had an experience deep sea diving that scared the doodoo out of me…  I experienced “mask squeeze.” It’s where your diving mask gets sucked on your face and gradually gets tighter and tighter the deeper you go.  I wasn’t able to release it and was about 30-40 feet under the surface when I panicked.

In my panic, I thought I was going to drown and I couldn’t get to the surface fast enough.  It freaked me out and I’ve really never been the same in the water.  I still swim but my heart races, I feel the subconscious fear, and I have to focus on calming myself.

Point #2:  Notice When Your Ego Pushes Back and Reminds You to Stay Small

Okay, your next question, “So, why the heck do you go on these trips, Karen?”

I go for a few reasons.  First, I grew up in Northern Arizona and I simply love the canyons.  They are magical, amazing, huge and mysterious, and I believe you really can’t fully experience them without being in them.  So, I go to get in touch with the child in me that grew up in canyons.  Second, I go to stretch and challenge myself to get uncomfortable, as I believe discomfort kicks my butt out of my comfort zone…and I value pushing my edge.

Point #3:  Witness Your Belief About the Fear and Courageously Step Towards It

We spent the first day and a half with all seven of the boats attached to one that had a motor (essentially getting towed to the rapids).  Other than finding very few ways to dodge the scorching sun, whether on the boat or in camp, I really enjoyed that part of the trip.

Getting to know new friends, chilling on the boat, checking out the canyons, floating in the water (with life jackets), going on hikes…all of these are the parts of the trip that I gladly pay my money and time for.

I apparently forgot about the primary purpose of the trip:  white water rafting (the shaking of your head is unnecessary, thank you 😊).

After a day and a half, there we were, at the place where life jackets and helmets stay on.  This is also the place where the lead guide talks to you about what to do if you flip, if you get caught under a boat, how to signal if you’re okay, and how to signal if you’re not.  I don’t know about you, but this is when I remember that I’m not a thrill seeker.

I had three choices:

Get into a boat and row with others (riskiest), get in a boat where one of the guides is rowing (second risky), or stay in the boat with the motor (not risky).  Although I secretively wanted to stay on the motorized boat, I also go on these trips to stretch, remember?

To challenge myself and to get uncomfortable.  I went with the middle of the road boat.  I’m not crazy, after all.  So, the second part of day I spent being rowed through the rapids while watching others flip.  I felt comfortable with my choice.

Point #4:  Notice Where You’re Not Letting Go…Where You’re Still Staying Small

Day three (Do you hear the dramatic music?) was THE rapids day.

I was asked in the morning by one of the guides if I wanted to go in his “rowing” boat.  I politely declined (#chickenshit) and told him maybe after the three BIG rapids. My partner decided that she would be brave and go in a row boat, so I was joined by a grandfather and his youngest grandson in my boat.  Just the three of us and our guide.  All good. Safe.

We cruised through the morning with our guide skillfully navigating through the rapids.  Did I tell you she’s this tiny little thing, about 110 pounds, and badass to the core?  She is.  I was inspired to keep sitting right where I was while she did her thing.  Right before lunch we got to the three BIG rapids.  They are invitingly named, Big Drops ONE, TWO and THREE, as they drop about 30 feet in the river per drop (don’t quote me…it could be 3 and it could be 300…this is my story).

We cruised through Big Drop ONE and everyone pulled over to the shore so that the guides could scope Big Drop TWO.  It felt ominous.  Right before you dropped into the rapid, there was a big boulder right in the middle of the river.  We apparently wanted to drop to the left of that boulder.

The big boat, you know, the safe one with the motor, went down the rapid first.  We went second because we were the next “safest” boat and could help others if they got in trouble.

It was windy, and it took a few minutes to get to the boulder.  But then the wind suddenly pushed us to the right of it.  No!!!!  Badass guide (yes, that’s her name) was able to pull us back to the left where we dropped into the rapid sideways, apparently not a good thing.  By the time our nose pointed downward, we hit the first wave that felt like a brick wall.  All I saw was the grandfather and his grandson fly forward and hit their faces on the front of the boat.

Fortunately, they stayed in the boat and though obviously dazed, they were able to get up (yes, all captured on my GoPro).  That’s when we heard our guide yell that she had lost an oar.  She told us to “Get Low!” as essentially, we were a boat that was fairly unnavigatable (No, that isn’t a word).  We bobbed through and were attacked by the rest of Big Drop TWO rapids and then fortunately were retrieved and towed to shore by the boat with the motor.

Point #5:  That Thing You Fear Will Typically Show Up to Challenge Your Fearful Beliefs

I know what you’re thinking, weren’t we on the safe boat?

Which is riskier:  being in the safe boat and not being all in or being in the riskier boat that could flip and cause injury?  Only you know your answer to that question.

Here is the self-awareness I gained in that 4-day period — I caught myself doing what I do…thrill seeking at about 90%.  Because being “all in” is scary and I have control issues.  I’ve gotten better since my “mask squeeze” experience, but not enough for me to voluntarily get in the “Risky Boat.”

I learned that not stepping fully in is riskier.

That sitting in a boat at 90% is not safe either.  I can sit on the sidelines and not take risks, or weigh the consequences and be all in (at least to a point that feels like I’m pushing my edge).

Point #6:  Staying in Your Current Comfort Zone is Riskier Than Stepping Out

That rapid was a metaphor for my life.

The interesting thing was that I felt really calm during all of the chaos.  I wasn’t scared at that point, because all I could do was let go and trust.  And through that, I realized that my insides (my heart and spirit) are much more trusting than my outsides (my thinking and rationalizing mind).

I needed that experience to show me that sitting on the sidelines is not necessarily the “safe zone.”

Guess what?

The rest of the day I joined the “riskiest” boat.  I paddled, I let go and knew that I was supposed to be fully in the experience…even with my rapidly beating heart.  It ended up being so much fun and, for some reason, felt safer than I anticipated.  Maybe because, in the end, there really are no safe boats…only safe rides.

Point #7:  Let Go, Step In, and Enjoy Thy Life and Thy Ride (As it was written…)

Self-exploration questions: 

How do you play it safe?  Where do you sit on the sidelines, when you know there’s a part of you that wants to jump in?  If you could push your edge a little bit more today, what would that look like for you? 

Acceptance – The Final Frontier

I know what you’re thinking, “Hasn’t Karen written something else about acceptance?”  Yes.  I have.  Your next question, “Why should I read another blog about the same topic?”  Well, because this one is different and you’re looking for freedom and peace (again, I know you🙂). This blog just might help you understand the key to getting there.

Acceptance, as you might have guessed, is at the top of my list of self-awareness topics, which seems a little redundant after that first paragraph (If I call myself out on things, you won’t have to.  You’re welcome.).   It’s this amazingly simple concept that we struggle to get, “I just need to find acceptance, man.”

Finding acceptance rarely happens, because acceptance simply happens when we quit looking.

It finds us when we’ve gone through whatever process is necessary to get there.  It’s stealth-like.  It quietly arrives.

You see, this is how acceptance works.  When you’re in struggle to ‘get there,’ it doesn’t happen, because acceptance is not struggle.  When you’re trying to accept, you won’t get there, because there’s no trying with acceptance.

You one day wake up and find that ‘that thing’ that you were upset about is no longer a ‘thing.’  The struggle is gone and you feel peaceful, and strange, and curious, and kind of bummed, because you were hoping for a ‘fireworks’ moment.  There isn’t a fireworks moment, because acceptance isn’t a thing.

It’s a feeling that you get when you let go of needing something to be different than it is.

Did you know that acceptance is the final stage in grieving?

Of course you did, but let’s go there anyway.  When you experience a loss (any kind of loss…some are bigger than others), you go through the grief stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.  You work through all of the stages to get that loss to be anything other than a loss, and then you find peace.  You accept.  You don’t have to like it.

It’s not about approving or disapproving, it’s really coming to terms with what is.

Is there something that you’re currently in struggle about?  Are you fighting with reality? How do you find acceptance when you want something to be different than it is?

Here’s a few thoughts:

1. Notice that you’re in battle with reality.

“Why do I need this situation to be different than it is?”  You are in some form of grief, which doesn’t always have to be about death.  Simply noticing that you’re not accepting something will help you to see where your struggle resides.

2. Ask yourself, “What stage of grief does it feel like I am experiencing right now?

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, or Depression?”  In case I lost you, you aren’t experiencing the final stage of grief, or you would not be looking for acceptance (#justsaying). Can you allow yourself to accept that you’re grieving and that it’s okay?  Can you be compassionate with yourself?

3. “If I accept that this is true, what am I afraid of?  What would that mean?”

Sometimes we hold out on accepting because we don’t want to give in.  Avoiding acceptance keeps us attached can give the impression of still being connected.  “If I accept it, I will lose it for good.  That is a pain I’m not willing to experience.”  When you honestly look at it, where are you afraid of letting go and finding peace?

4. “If I took one step toward acceptance today, what would that look like?”

For example, can you go outside and take a walk?  Can you get in touch with your heart and feelings by meditating?  Do some honest journaling? How about reaching out and connecting with some family or friends?  Help someone out that is in deeper struggle than you are?

Essentially, when you come to terms with your denial, notice your anger is really sadness or some other painful emotion, quit looking for a do-over by trying to do something different, and get yourself moving one foot at a time out of your depression, you will find peace. Life is like that, a moving through challenging experiences, where you find your resilient heart is always there to lead you to peace, freedom, and acceptance.

If you currently find yourself in a place where you’re fighting with your reality, I hope you’ll consider the words in this blog so that you can honor yourself and the person or experience you’re grieving, and then find your way to acceptance.  You won’t see it coming.  Remember it’s stealth-like, this acceptance stuff.  But you’ll look back and recognize that the emotions that had you bound in struggle are no longer consuming you.  And you’ll exhale in gratitude (remember, I know you 🙂).

Much peace, my friend.

p.s. Check out one of my experiences with acceptance:  Acceptance (A Moment in my Life)

I Blame my Parents

I called my Mom this morning.  It’s her birthday today.  She’s 81.  She gave me an order a few days ago to NOT send her a birthday present and I always do what she tells me (that was my first lie).  Instead, Paco, my awesome and incredibly rich dog, sent her a gift.  It’s her fault. 

She made me this way.

She only had a few minutes to talk, as she was off to go on a 3-mile hike/walk before going to the public library for a conversational Spanish class.  She had already made sure my Dad got off to his day at the Adult Center.  He has Alzheimer’s Disease.  She is his primary caregiver.  Just your typical 81-year old…I know.

After we hung up, I sat for my morning meditation, where all of the things I blame my parents for came up. That’s what we do, right?  We can be in our 30s, 40s, 50s, and even our 60s, and still blaming our parents for our problems.  But do we ever blame them for the good stuff?  Rarely.  Today I get to.  After all, I’m entitled…it’s my Mom’s birthday.

Here’s your other present, Mom…I blame you and Dad for:

  • My constant desire to grow and learn and share my knowledge.
  • My independence, resilience, and ability to land on my feet.
  • My wicked and awesome quick wit and sense of humor.
  • My open-mindedness and belief that other people’s journey is just that…their journey.
  • My innate gift of writing and communicating from my heart.
  • My love of my country and our veterans.
  • My tears when I see a touching commercial, listen to a heartfelt speech, or get lost in a beautiful song.
  • My desire to help others and make the world a better place for all of us.
  • My love for my family, my partner, and my friends and knowing the importance of connection.
  • The ability to climb my way out of the depths of darkness when those times have overcome my life.
  • My connection to nature and my absolute love for the animal world (#Paco).
  • The gift of being my authentic-self and being loved for just who I am.

All of the stuff that I struggle with is not their responsibility anymore.

It’s my job to parent myself these days. It’s my job to take ownership of my wins and my losses and to feel them, and either celebrate or grieve them. They don’t have to parent me anymore like I’m a child, even though sometimes I want them to. They already did that and now they do what amazing parents do…they love and support me, no matter what. What more could a little girl ask for?

I’d like to end this blaming them one last time.  I blame them for my life…one that I love and that I wouldn’t have, if it wasn’t for them.

Are You a “Fixer?”

The conversation typically goes something like this, “Karen, my friend has an alcoholic boyfriend.  She’s unhappy and I think she needs to get out of the relationship.  He’s no good for her.  Will you work with her?” Then I have an honest conversation with the person who called.  Although her friend’s situation is tough, she’s the one that we focus on for a few minutes.

Here’s the truth: We don’t like to see other people unhappy.

We get unhappy about their unhappiness.  So, what do we do?  We try to fix it.  We look for solutions to solve their problem, so that they will be happy again.

Here’s more of the truth:

If you are a fixer, what you’re really trying to do is fix them so that you can be happy.

Of course, you want people in your life to be happy, but what you REALLY want is to be happy about their happiness. You want freedom from their pain.

So, you fix…

You purchase 10 personal training sessions for your wife who complains about her weight and her struggles with getting fit.

You do an intervention on a family member who is addicted to alcohol or drugs.  If you can only get him to treatment, hand him off to a place where he will be safe and start recovering, everything will be okay.

You buy your daughter the latest thing…a new iPhone, laptop, or even a new car when she turns 16.  All of her friends have these things and you’re aware that she’s having a hard time fitting in.  You want her to fit in and be liked.

Why do you really fix?

You “fix” because it is painful to see others in pain.  You’re deep down trying to find peace within yourself about someone else’s pain.  You truly believe that you are trying to help others, but you’re really trying to help yourself move away from being attached to their pain.  You have the answers.  You always do.  After all, you’ve been overweight and out of shape, you’ve been in the depths of addiction, and you were a nerd and didn’t “fit in” in high school.  You understand all of that pain.

How did you fix your pain?

You took your own butt to the gym and started to take ownership of your physical fitness.  You hit your addiction bottom and made the personal decision to stop the addiction and save your own life.  You got some mental health counseling and realized your nerdy challenges in high school were significant strengths and today you are the CEO of a company that you feel passionate about.  You rescued you.

Back to your fixing and the final tally…

Ten personal training sessions is a great present if your wife is already committed to a training program.  If she isn’t, when she doesn’t get fit and still struggles with her weight, she will now have the added pressure of your “gift” and the expectations that were attached to it.  Side note:  I was a personal trainer for over a decade…these “gifts” almost always create more pain.

Interventions rarely work, as that person typically isn’t at his or her bottom, even though we want him to be.  It’s hard to see people we love in the depths of addiction, losing their lives, living on the streets, exhibiting behavior that we know they wouldn’t do if they were clean. The addict has to want to recover.  If they do, help them get some help.  If they don’t, you’ll probably have to set some pretty firm boundaries to not be in addiction prison with them (yes, that was a metaphor😊).

Very few teenagers feel like they fit in, even the ones that appear like they fit in don’t fit in.  A gadget won’t fix it and I know it’s hard to see your child struggle.  You certainly want to fix it so that you will be happy and not in pain and worry about your child’s challenges.  Being honest, loving, vulnerable and authentic with your child in struggle is so much better than any new iPhone.  Also, acknowledging your own pain about your child’s struggles is important…just saying.


The challenges that others are experiencing are their challenges; Not yours.

Of course, you want to help, to solve, to fix.  You want them to be happy.  Maybe jump in a little bit.  Tell them how you got out of a similar challenge.  Have some empathy and try to understand how painful it would be for you if you were struggling with their challenges.

If you always step in and fix it for them, you rob them of out of your own selfishness to not experience your own pain.

Be with them in support. They have the skills, the intellect, the strength, and the heart-based answers within them. They will figure it out.

Finding Presence…Simple, Yet Complex

These thoughts kept me awake last night, which was interesting as they took me away from restful sleep.  I couldn’t be present with my sleep and every time I would start to drift off, I was pulled back into thinking about presence…which I was obviously struggling with.

Being here.
Experiencing this moment.
Being in the now.

There are constant messages of mindful presence.  You would “think” it would be so easy, yet it’s something we keep working on.  Actually, I don’t know one person who doesn’t get challenged by staying present…

Our minds are super imaginative and are constantly deflecting from the current moment.  We struggle to bring ourselves backward from futuristic thoughts or forward from our past thinking and what we would have done differently.  Thoughts just happen and, before we know it, we’re off to fantasy land.

I have good news.

I believe the key to being present is to keep it simple (sunshine😊). We overcomplicate it…which our minds love, but our hearts don’t.  Here’s a few simple presence steps:

1. Simply notice your thoughts.

When you catch yourself having thoughts about somewhere other than here, thoughts that have you disassociated from the present moment, simply notice them.  Noticing them will bring you back to awareness.

2. Simply question the truth of your thoughts.

Your forward-thinking thoughts can have you wrapped up in anxiety about the future. “I’m getting fired.”  “She’s breaking up with me.” “I’m going to fail that exam.”  Your past-focused thoughts can have you consumed in regret.  “I’ll never recover from that mistake.” “I can’t forgive myself for hurting her.”

Are those thoughts true or do they just feel true?

Question them…question everything.  The thoughts that you’re having are simply thoughts about another time…a reflection of the past or a worry about the future.  A story.  A fantasy.  The only absolute about them is that they’re your thoughts.

3. Simply notice now.

Exhale and bring yourself back to here. In this moment, are you safe?  Are you healthy?  Is their air coming in and out of your lungs?  Can you feel your heartbeat?  Touch your arms and legs?  Feel your belly rise and fall with each breath?  What do you see?  Locate five things in your vision that you didn’t notice before (a bug on the wall, a speck of dirt on your carpet, your dog staring at you like you’re crazy (enough about me😊)).

Finding presence is so elusive with our imaginative and controlling minds.

Yet, doing so will allow your heart to expand to experience your truth, and that my friend, is the key toward living your one-and-only unique and authentic life.

Notice your thoughts as just that, thoughts.  Then bring yourself here and experience the presence, the gift, of this moment.  Forgive your past and leave those future moments up to the mystery of the universe.  They will probably surprise you and be much bigger than your thinking mind can create anyway.

Clickbait…Cut the Crap

Let’s start with an analogy.

You’re standing in the grocery store checkout line.  You’re bored and impatient and just want to move through the line.  So, you deflect from your discomfort and start to look around.  What do you see?  Magazines with huge, bold, dramatic headlines…typically a headline about a famous person in some form of drama.  A famous couple splitting up and “horrible-her” taking the kids or “selfish-him” not paying child support and taking the dogs.  Another “star” and his affair with three women and devastated wife and family.  A famous sports figure accused of domestic violence, and now in his personal misery of isolation and addiction.  Something big, something OMGish!!!, something that baits you and grabs your attention from the boring checkout line.  So, you grab the magazine to check it out.  The story inside is vague and doesn’t even come close to the dramatic cover page.  You’ve fallen for the bait.

You’ve been tricked, deceived, manipulated, and you bit onto the hook.

And the story wasn’t true…they rarely are.  They are a set up that tap into your curiosity.

That’s also what happens online with clickbait.

Dramatic headlines, deceit, manipulation, fake stories, misleading titles, all in an effort to “bait” you into clicking when you’re bored, impatient or unsuspecting.

There are the “10 Most Inspiring People in the World” articles, where you have to been baited into clicking 40 times to see the 10 people and 30 advertisements; there are dramatic stories about death, suicide, violence, and other extreme situations that bait you into finding out what happened; and sensationalized political opinions and stories that bait you into polarized disagreement with your fellow human beings.

All to get clicks.  All to get attention and make money.  All that seduce and manipulate you with a fake and dramatic headline.

So, why am I talking about this today?

I expect that companies will do whatever they can to hook you into their agenda.  Where I struggle is when it happens with online creators that I admire because their authentic and real content has inspired me.  When these figures create titles and stories that are misleading, solely to get clicks on their content, I don’t expect it from them and find it manipulative, deceitful, and in really intelligent and highly expansive words, a letdown.  I stop wanting to “click” on their “bait” anymore and so I quit following them because a level of trust has been broken.  Fool me once…you know the rest.

Being authentic in a world where “clicks” give the impression of worth and success can be challenging.

Yet, I believe we have an obligation, especially those of us in the “helping” and self-growth professions who are putting out content, to be honest and forthright with our messages.

We know that mobile devices are addictive and seductive. Being true to ourselves and our message, so that the person on the other end of the “click” can have a pretty good idea of the proposed topic, is a part of creating better connections and less stress in the world.  Creating hype or deceitful bait is not cool…at least it’s not for me and in a really judgmental statement:  will change the way I see you…or stop seeing you.

Lastly, if you’re a bait-clicker, try to be mindful of your “clicks.”  If you’re aware that those magazines in the check-out line are full of false stories, also be aware that much of what you get baited to click online is also false.

What you allow into your mind and your heart is fuel and food for your soul.

For your heart’s sake, try to be conscious of the bait that is being laid out in front of you and allow it to float on by without taking a bite.