On my walk last night, I had an idea that would expand the reach of my creativity. I could feel the sides of my mouth curve upward into a smile and my heart feel full as I thought about the new possibilities this idea brought into my consciousness.
But it didn’t take long for my pesky little inner voice to put an end to the sudden and unexpected joy I was feeling. Even though it whispered, I could hear its words loud and clear: It’s safer to stay small and invisible.
When I heard these words, I could feel every part of me contract, literally to the point that my posture changed, my shoulders rolling forward and my chest folding inward.
Unfortunately, I’m familiar with this limiting inner voice because it has spoken to me many times before, causing the same physical and emotional reactions. It happens like this: I have an idea, and dream briefly about it, then come up with reasons, actually excuses, why I shouldn’t do it because I know it would require me to step outside of my comfort zone, learn and do new things, and be “seen.” This entire process can last seconds, or years.
I have unconsciously and automatically expanded then contracted, expanded then contracted, expanded then contracted countless times in my life.
For some reason, last night I became aware of this pattern, and while it made me sad, I realized something that brought a smile to my face again: each time I’ve expanded, the distance I’ve contracted has become less and less over the years. Because of this, I have evolved and made consistent progress in all aspects of my life.
Looking to the future with the new awareness I now have about this pattern, I’m going to work to catch myself when I start to contract, then try to remain in an expanded state. If I do this consistently, I know that one day I will expand, never again to contract.
Thinking about the possibilities that exist in such an open and expanded place of being, inspire me, and, to be honest, scare me a bit, too. But I won’t let that stop me from working towards my goal of living every day in an expanded state.
If you have unconsciously expanded then contracted many times in your life as I have, I hope this post brings awareness to this pattern so you can work towards staying in an expanded state, too. Just imagine the world we can create when we no longer contract and are willing to be “seen”!
Let’s be bold, together! I’m ready! Are you?
❤, Marie Kukula-Tyner Author, THE SPIRIT FACTOR
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.
If ever I am lost, the mountaintop is where I’ll find me …
This line is from my poem Meet Me On the Mountaintop, and it has never felt truer than it did yesterday when I was on the mountaintop.
I love the mountaintop behind our home. Over the years it has provided me peace, comfort, inspiration, ideas, wisdom, and more lessons than I can count, and it’s where most of the information in THE SPIRIT FACTOR came to me.
Unfortunately, yesterday was only the second time that I’d been up to the mountaintop in a year due to a health issue I had.
Yesterday I realized not only how much I’ve missed the mountaintop but also how much I need it.
The pandemic, politics, my health and other personal challenges, and just living in extraordinarily challenging times on the planet, have dragged me and my spirit down, leaving me feeling tired and oh-so uninspired.
But, yesterday, when I got close to the top of the mountain and caught my first glimpse of the yellow wildflowers in full bloom covering the mountainside, I could feel every part of me come alive.
I literally felt a jolt, like I had been plugged back in to an energetic life force that I didn’t even know I was disconnected from.
It felt incredible … and intoxicating! I didn’t want the feeling I had to end so I wandered around for a bit in pure bliss, taking pictures (including the one in this post) and drinking in the sights, smells, and warmth of the glorious spring day.
On the mountaintop, as in most places in nature, the man-made noise and obstructions we are exposed to in everyday life cease to exist, giving way to magic and miracles.
Random thoughts organize and form ideas.
Words arrange themselves into poetic verses.
Fear transforms into courage.
Lost souls are found.
Anger, doubts, questions, judgments, and regrets disappear.
Forgiveness is given and granted.
Wholeness is attained.
Time is irrelevant.
The concepts of life and death are meaningless.
Negativity and lies have no fertile ground to grow in.
What I realized yesterday, when I felt the familiar presence and power of nature, is that I want to do certain SPIRIT FACTOR seminars on walks through the mountains, rather than inside at some uninspired venue. I want the earth to be the classroom floor, the sky to be the ceiling, and the trees my fellow teachers.
I can only imagine the incredible experience this would create not only for the participants but also for me, and the transformation that would take place for all of us.
I do believe this SPIRIT FACTOR Experience is something I must make happen! Until I do, I urge you to make time to spend in nature so you can reconnect with its incredible power and be transformed by its beauty and presence, as I was yesterday.
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I wrote this poem last year, right after George Floyd was killed, while the protests were going on. A lot happened in my life since then that prevented me from doing what I wanted to do with this poem, which was make a video for it.
Yesterday I watched the closing arguments in the trial of the officer who killed George Floyd, and I felt compelled to share my poem with the world.
Now, with the verdict in, maybe we are finally making some progress and the last line of my poem has a possibility of becoming a reality.
I Can’t Breathe
I thought I was waking up to just another day
But I saw something, and could not look away
The images play over and over again in my mind
I try to understand, but no answers can I find
This was no mistake, so don’t be mistaken
A life was not lost, in the light of day it was taken
Once again we bear witness to a truth so many still deny,
as “I can’t breathe,” once a plea, now becomes a battle cry
Unarmed, but not unharmed, in peace, forever, he does lay
Adding yet another debt, to a balance no one is willing to pay
How can two men go down on one knee, yet stand so far apart?
And though they beat the same, have such different hearts?
It’s time we stand united, and stop writing this same tragic history
Together, creating a land, where every woman and every man, are finally, and truly, free
In Chapter 32, You + Me = US: Our Collective, Interconnected Experience, of THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I talk about the collective, interconnected experience we, and people from around the world, had on September 11, 2001 and explain how and why this happened.
As we remember this tragic day, I am sharing an excerpt from Chapter 32 and also from Chapter 13, God, which is in the obstructions section of the book, because it also talks about 9/11.
I hope these help you understand why tragic events like 9/11 unite us and how we can collectively live from this powerful place every day, and not just in times of tragedy:
Chapter 32, You + Me = US: Our Collective, Interconnected Experience:
THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES WE HAVE BOTH individual and collective experiences.
Our collective experiences can be with other people or small groups, such as our families or the people at the companies we work for, in the towns where we live, and the schools we attend, etc.
Then there are the collective experiences we have with a large number of people, such as with the people in the country where we live or even many people from around the world. These collective experiences bring us together for a brief moment—or for much longer—to celebrate, cheer, support, grieve, mourn, speak out, or stand up.
The most powerful example of a large-scale collective experience I can think of (which I’ve mentioned before) happened when the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York were attacked and destroyed on September 11, 2001.
Together, as individuals, countries, and the world, we watched in shock and disbelief as both towers fell into piles of rubble.
As the events of the day unfolded on live television, we collectively grieved for those who died and for the loved ones they left behind, while cheering for the heroes who so courageously responded to the disaster.
It didn’t matter where we lived, what language we spoke, how much money we had or didn’t have, what color our skin was, if we knew anyone who worked in the towers, or anything else for that matter; we were all deeply affected—instantaneously feeling the pain, the loss, and the gravity of what was happening.
In that moment, the world changed forever, and we all knew it.
I have never before and have never since felt anything that compares to what I felt that day. To me, it felt as though every particle in the universe was grieving.
For the most part, we all experienced the same feelings—not intentionally, but instinctively—without thought or reason or anything else.
When a tragedy of this magnitude happens, our obstructions to spirit that make us feel separate from each other in our everyday lives, for some reason, disappear. And when they do, there is nothing to stop us from feeling the pain of what is happening. It travels across the universe, through the infinite web of invisible interconnectedness, instantaneously affecting all of us, bringing us together as one all-inclusive tribe.
At these times, there is no doubt that we are all somehow and in some way connected.
These moments show us the potential we have to instantaneously connect with each other on a global level when obstructions to spirit are out of the way.
But we don’t have to wait for a tragedy to happen to experience this. Spirit does not go away in our everyday lives only to reappear in times of tragedy. It is always there, ready, willing, and able to bring us together when it is unobstructed.
But for this to happen, we will have to change the way we think, act, and move through our daily lives.
Yes, I know, change can be scary. Because of this, we resist it, even when we know it will create something better. This resistance, or unwillingness, to let go of antiquated beliefs and ways of doing things that cause pain and suffering is what stops us from evolving both individually and collectively.
We can become a bit more open to doing things differently when our suffering or pain reaches a level that can no longer be denied. But even then we can be slow to take action.
Unfortunately, I feel this is where we are in the world today—it has become too painful to continue on the path we are on.
While many of us know this, there are other people, businesses, politicians, and governments who benefit when things stay the same. So they will fight to stop progress, even if it means adamantly denying the existence of any problems, especially if they’re the ones causing them.
Chapter 13: God
Spirit Always Does the Right Thing
Spirit always does the right thing. It doesn’t wait, analyze, question, or discriminate—it just does.
I know we humans are capable of this kind of “doing,” and I know you know it, too. We have seen it countless times on television—and maybe even a few times in real life—in emergency situations or times of disasters when immediate action is required to save lives.
The most powerful example of this I can remember happened on September 11, 2001, when the world watched the incredible acts of heroism in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York.
Race, religion, political differences, and anything else that divides us in our everyday lives, disappeared as we collectively watched, collectively cried, and collectively cheered for the heroes who quickly took action to save so many lives.
They didn’t wait for God to tell them what to do or for Him to save people. They took action.
In this horrific moment, as we watched mere mortals take God-like actions with courage, compassion, and strength that is seldom required in everyday life, we witnessed Unobstructed Spirit (US) and its profound possibilities.
When there is no time to wait, analyze, question, or even pray, we will do the right thing.
The obstructions that stop us from stepping up and taking action in our daily lives are temporarily removed, and when they are, we will risk our own comfort and safety to help or save others.
As I said before: Spirit always does the right thing. And we do, too, when our obstructions are out of the way.
Possibilities Exist with Spirit
Can you imagine the world we could create if we lived every day from this place of Unobstructed Spirit (US) that we witness in times of tragedy?
I can, and often do. It’s what has provided me inspiration many times during the long processes of writing this book.
But it took more than just this to keep me going. I had to truly believe that the world I imagined could be created. And the more I wrote and lived the SPIRIT FACTOR, the more I knew it could be created.
I saw how removing obstructions to spirit transformed my life, and I knew other people could transform their lives by doing the same.
In reality, all it will take for us to create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US) is for each of us to live lives of Unobstructed Spirit (US). It really is that simple.
Even so, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we will be able to live every day without obstructions to spirit. But by striving to live this way, we will create more and more days in our individual lives where we do live this way.
And if enough of us do this, we will begin to create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
Learn how to live a life of Unobstructed Spirit (US) in THE SPIRIT FACTOR! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions!
My spirit is weary today, tired and oh so saddened by the lies, corruption, and cruelty in our world and in so many hearts.
When I feel this way, I turn to our book for comfort and inspiration.
The chapter that came to my mind today is Chapter 34, Standing Up for Spirit, because it reminds me that standing up for spirit, for what’s right, for the truth, is always the right thing to do. It truly is the only way we can create lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
We are at a critical moment in our history so the message of this chapter seems more important and urgent than ever. If we want to save ourselves and our planet, more of us have got to find the courage to stand up for spirit, and we also need to support and rally around those who risk their safety by publicly doing the same.
I hope this chapter inspires you and gives you the courage to let your voice be heard. We need you!
CHAPTER 34: STANDING UP FOR SPIRIT
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it’s right. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
THIS IS A HARD CHAPTER FOR ME TO WRITE. I have to tell you to stand up for spirit, which means standing up for the truth and for what’s right.
Most of us were told to do this from a young age. To me, it always sounded simple enough, noble, and, of course, the right thing to do. No question!
But I was never told about the challenges I might face or what I could lose if I did.
For most of my life, I believed that when you “do the right thing” you would prevail and make a difference in the world.
The many movies I’ve watched over the years about real-life people or fictional characters who risked everything to do the right thing reinforced this belief. The stories, told in entertaining 90-minute packages, always had happy endings.
I’m sure many of you have seen some of these movies, and, like me, thought, I could do that! It’s easy to say that we would when we know there will be a happy ending. But, truly, would we if we had to risk everything without knowing the outcome?
We might, especially if we believe that the truth always prevails—like I did, until a few months ago, when I found out that it doesn’t.
The Truth Shall Prevail?
Michael and I have been involved in a lengthy legal battle in which we have stood up for what’s right and fought for the truth. It’s been brutal and exhausting financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Throughout the many years of litigation, we have told the truth, every step of the way—in motions, hearings, trials, etc. That’s the law so that’s what you do, right? Well, it turns out, not if you have something to hide.
We were warned by our attorney when the case started that people lie in court all the time. But, even if they did, we felt that we had more than enough evidence to support our position while they had nothing to support theirs.
Because of this, we were confident that we would prevail. Judges have to rule based on the facts, evidence, and law, right?
Um, wrong. Judges have some-thing called “judicial discretion,” which pretty much gives them the power and freedom to rule however they want, even if it’s contrary to evidence and law.
And that’s what happened in our case.
On a beautiful sunny July day, we sat in a courtroom and listened in shock and disbelief as the judge ruled against us.
Wait a minute! I thought. When you stand up for the truth, you always prevail!
Well, at least that’s what happens in the movies. But there we stood, in real life, defeated. It felt horrible.
Pointing a Finger at Spirit
That day, Michael and I lost any kind of faith we’d had in a fair and competent judicial system, and even worse, in spirit.
We couldn’t help but point a finger at spirit and blame it in some way for what had happened.
While I took the loss hard, Michael took it much harder. I wondered if he would be able to recover physically and spiritually from such a devastating disappointment. He was inconsolable. I had never seen him so sad and lost. I was scared.
When Michael, who is the most positive and optimistic person I know, is sad, it feels like the whole world is sad. And that’s how it felt.
He had always been the one who offered words of wisdom and encouragement during the challenging times in our lives. But not this time. He had nothing to give—no words of comfort, no “everything will be okay.”
Michael’s sadness quickly turned into anger. He was pissed off at everything, including spirit. He said to me, “Spirit abandoned us! It totally let us down!”
In that moment, I also felt spirit had let us down. But after thinking about it, I knew it hadn’t.
What happened in the courtroom had nothing to do with spirit; it was all man-made.
No matter how much we would have hoped and prayed, visualized and believed, or even provided more evidence, the outcome would still have been the same.
The ruling was made by a flawed human being, who, unfortunately, was in a position of tremendous power.
Whether his ruling was based on some kind of agenda, bias, vendetta, or just flat out incompetence, he knew he could rule however he wanted and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
Because of this, spirit was pushed out of the courtroom—and the ruling.
Many times the truth doesn’t win in the courtroom, or in other areas of life, no matter how hard we fight, because humans, with all our obstructions and agendas, stack the odds against it.
Win or Lose, Doing the Right Thing Is the Right Thing to Do
After going through what Michael and I did, I’ve often wondered if we would do it again, knowing what we know now. I have to say, I’m always a bit surprised when my answer is “yes.” Because even though we “technically” lost, doing the right thing was the right thing to do.
But beyond that, if we hadn’t done the right thing by standing up for spirit in our own lives, how could we possibly tell anyone else to do it in their lives?
For our words to carry any weight, we have to “walk our talk,” and Michael and I do when it comes to standing up for spirit. And because we do, we know intimately the sacrifices, challenges, and obstructions you will face when you do.
To be honest, standing up for spirit is a hard thing to do! But it’s a necessary thing to do if we want to create both lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
It’s how we will “turn the tide” and start stacking the odds in spirit’s favor, giving it a chance to win. If we don’t, we all will lose—quite possibly everything.
We Can No Longer Look the Other Way
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
When our obstructions are out of the way, we know what’s right; and we also know when we need to stand up for what’s right. But many times we choose to “look the other way,” justifying doing so with excuses that give us a temporary reprieve from the guilt we feel.
While this may ease our minds for a moment, it does not fool spirit. Spirit knows what we need to do, and it will continue to remind us of what we need to do.
When we don’t listen and, instead, “look the other way,” over time the “wounds we inflict on our soul” from doing so will become fatal.
Many of us have become so disillusioned and depressed by what we see going on in the world that we’ve given up believing in any possibility that things can improve.
When we feel this way, our bodies notice. Our inaction literally eats us up from the inside, deflating us of the life-giving force of spirit.
But when we do the right thing—no matter what the outcome—we experience a powerful peace in knowing that we did the right thing.
I can attest to this. The legal matter Michael and I were involved in went on for almost five years. While we suffered greatly from stress and disappointment during that time, we are recovering. In addition, we’ve gained a newfound respect for ourselves and each other for having the courage to stand up for spirit the way we did.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Through the “challenge and controversy,” Michael and I stood with and fought for the truth. I will forever be proud of us for doing this.
As I mentioned before, standing up for spirit is not an easy thing to do. Because of this, I cannot promise you the warm, fuzzy place that so many people do with their self-help philosophies.
But there is something I can promise you. When you stand up for spirit, you will be actively participating in creating change in the world by helping to stack the odds in spirit’s favor. When enough of us do this, we will create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
Truth Be Told
Below is a poem I wrote when Michael and I were going through the challenging legal situation I talked about in this chapter. Truth’s voice woke me up in the middle of the night and gave me these words.
Truth Be Told
Here I stand in front of you, waiting to be told
Longing for the moment that you look inside my soul
Lost between two sides and promises never meant to keep
Treated like an outcast, like a beggar in the street
Held hostage, bound and gagged, waiting to hear my fate
Hoping you pay my ransom before it’s much, much too late
I’m lonely here, alone, standing in what’s right
Growing weary of the battle,
I feel I might be losing this fight
You think I haven’t noticed
that you won’t look me in the eye
But when you lie to truth, I will never take your side
It’s hard to put into words how much I loved the segment on Delia Owens, who is the New York Times bestselling author of “Where the Crawdads Sing”, on the Sunday Morning show this past weekend. (See video of interview at bottom of post)
Delia is 70 years old, and “Where the Crawdads Sing” is her first novel.
She spent almost a decade writing the book.
In the segment, Delia talks about how she has spent her life in remote areas, Africa and now northern Idaho, and how she loves—and at times loathes—the isolation of these places.
She said sometimes she gets so lonely that she feels like she can’t breathe.
The reporter said, “But you like a little part of that?”
Delia responded, “I do. And I decided to write a book about it.”
I related to so much of what Delia said because of some similarities in our lives.
While I’m not a New York Times bestselling author, well, not yet, it did take me almost a decade to write and edit THE SPIRIT FACTOR.
And just like when she was writing her novel, inspiration came to me when it came and could not be forced.
Oh, and I, too, have a plastic storage tube full of old drafts, and scribbles and handwritten notes on pieces of scratch paper, that I wrote at all hours of the day and night when inspiration struck.
But I really found a kindred spirit in Delia when she talked about how she seeks out and loves isolation, and how she feels at home in nature.
The title of Delia’s book was taken from a phrase her mother used to use, when encouraging her tomboy daughter to take to the woods around their rural Georgia home and listen to what those woods had to say.
Delia explained that she learned from books that crawdads really don’t sing. But she learned from her mother that if you go far enough into the wilderness by yourself, and there’s nothing but you and nature, you will hear the crawdads sing.
Delia currently lives in a remote area of northern Idaho, and says that, “This is where the crawdads sing,” and that it took her a lifetime to find it.|
When my husband Michael and I decided to move from Southern California to a place in nature, we went on a year-long search to find a place “where the crawdads sing.”
We ended up finding a 10-acre property in the mountains of rural northeastern Washington that was surrounded by nature.
When we drove up to the property, I knew instantly it was home.
My spirit craved the silence and wisdom of nature, and also isolation after living my whole life in neighborhoods and working for many years in Los Angeles.
I fell head over heels in love with the forest that surrounded our new home and the nature that lived in it, taking long daily walks through it so I could hear the “crawdads sing.”
And, boy, did they sing!
What I “heard” in nature was different than the man-made information I had been taught and told my whole life.
It breathed life into me and my spirit, healing a depth of brokenness in me that I didn’t even know existed.
For the 9 years it took me to write and edit THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I spent as much time as possible in the woods, observing nature.
I crossed paths with a mountain lion and a lot of other wildlife.
I witnessed up close the courage and resilience that nature faces life with every single day.
I listened to nature’s voice and did my best to translate it into words without distorting it with any agenda.
I feel that I was successful accomplishing this.
To spend almost a decade on this project, and for much of the time not really knowing when I would finish writing, was challenging. So was the isolation.
But what I learned during this time is that you have to allow yourself the time and space to fully explore and understand what you are writing about.
In order to do this, it takes listening to the “crawdads sing”, or as I call it, listening to spirit, which requires isolation and time in nature.
Inspiration can’t be forced and ideas can’t be manufactured. You can’t rush them.
This can be a hard thing to surrender to. But it is important to understand.
It’s also important to understand that this pertains to us and our lives, too.
Delia started writing “Where the Crawdads Sing” when she was in her sixties and became a best-selling author at age 70.
Many of us think that if we aren’t successful by a certain age that we never will be successful.
But discovering and becoming who we are takes time. Actually, it takes a lifetime.
Delia said it took her a lifetime to find her home in northern Idaho where the “crawdads sing,” and that’s okay.
No matter how young or how old we are, the most important thing is that we keep searching, learning, listening, evolving, and becoming the truest version of ourselves we can be.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR helps you identify, understand, and remove the eleven most-common obstructions to spirit.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
Eleven years ago today, our book THE SPIRIT FACTOR was born. Well, at least it started Michael and me on the road to writing a book about spirit.
At the time, we had no idea that it would take us almost 9 years to write and edit the book. We also never could have imagined the many challenges we would face over those years that would almost derail us and this project, or the amazing journey we would go on because we asked one question: What is spirit?
THE SPIRIT FACTOR could never have been written on a deadline nor could I have prepared an outline for the book when I started writing.
The bits and pieces of the book came to me slowly, over the years I wrote it. I would have to digest the information then try to explain it in writing in a easy-to-understand way.
I included a quote from Joseph Campbell at the beginning of the book that describes perfectly how THE SPIRIT FACTOR was written:
“Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself.”
This is truly what happened with THE SPIRIT FACTOR, and it was one of the most magical things I have ever experienced!
THE SPIRIT FACTOR became the book I needed but had not been able to find in my decades-long search for something that would help me understand every aspect of life and live it to its fullest potential.
Below is the Introduction to the book that explains what happened on this day 11 years ago, and how, in an instant, the trajectory of our lives was changed.
INTRODUCTION: A BOOK IS BORN
On the evening of February 20, 2008, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., as a total lunar eclipse was taking place, Michael and I experienced a moment we had not planned on or that either one of us had ever imagined.
It was a moment of absolute clarity: clarity as to why the two of us were in pain, why so many others were in pain, and why the planet was suffering.
This moment started out as a conversation between Michael and me that began from a place of pain—deep pain—that we were both feeling but that neither one of us could explain or un-derstand.
Looking at our lives, we had so much to be grateful for. We had a loving relationship; we lived on one of the most beautiful pieces of property on the planet, surrounded by nature and peace; we had ideas and dreams that we were working on together; and we had three amazing dogs that brought complete joy to our lives.
Life was pretty darn good!
Over the years, Michael and I had worked hard to improve our lives on our own, and continued to do so after we met. Because of this, we were, at the time, in a place we had once dreamed of.
So, according to the numerous self-help books we had read over the years, the self-help speeches we had listened to, and the current onslaught of self-help movies we had watched, there was absolutely no good reason why we weren’t in “bliss” every moment of every day.
Since we weren’t, we felt there was something wrong with us that needed to “fixed” by affirming, acting as if, doing steps, being grateful, not watching the news, not getting involved or speaking out, or whatever else the latest self-helper was preaching as the way to this ever-elusive bliss.
If they were right, the pain Michael and I were feeling was all in our heads and could easily be “fixed” for the price of their latest book, CD, or seminar.
Unfortunately, we had believed this for years and tried to “fix” ourselves with these types of products, but we always ended up feeling like failures for not experiencing the results and sustaining change that had been promised.
On the night of February 20, it became clear to us why we— and so many others—were suffering.
You see, the pain Michael and I were feeling was not just in our heads; it was in our hearts and in every fiber of our beings.
Even though we had improved our lives, we could still feel the pain and suffering of so many others on the planet—and the suffering of the planet, too.
And even though our home was filled with love, peace, and respect, the moment we walked out our door, turned on the television, talked to a friend, neighbor, or family member, or basically did anything that involved being in the world, we could feel the pain and suffering that existed.
This pain no longer lives beneath the surface where it can be denied; it has reached the point where it is in clear view for all of us to see—and feel.
It can be seen in our addictions, illnesses, and disorders; in our broken homes and neglected children, elderly, and animals; in our prejudices and lack of compassion; in our apathy and pursuit of money and “things” at all costs; in our greed and separation and segregation; and in our words and in our wars.
On this night, Michael and I felt the collective pain of the people and our planet at a level that was beyond what we thought was humanly possible; we felt it at the level of spirit.
Feeling pain at this level is much different than feeling pain on an individual level—it is a depth of pain that can swallow you up and leave you in such despair that you could disappear in it forever.
When most of us feel pain, any pain, we try to avoid it or do something to stop it.
But on this night, Michael and I bravely sat together with this unbearable pain and looked it straight in the eyes.
When we did, we understood the pain, and realized it was telling us something very important—something we would have missed had we tried to avoid or stop the pain we were feeling.
Because we sat with this pain and listened to it, information, answers, and our purpose flowed freely from a place of spirit that was so present it was palpable.
This information was not separate from us; we simply knew it with every fiber of our beings, even though we had never been taught or told it.
There was no thought of doing anything other than completely surrendering to the moment with no judgment or distractions.
Actually, there was no thought involved in anything that happened that night—we transcended from thought to knowingness.
It wasn’t just an experience of being connected to spirit—we were spirit!
Every answer we had been searching for, we knew. All the pain the world was feeling, we felt.
This moment brought us to the purpose we had been searching for our entire lives.
But, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t the warm, fuzzy place we’d expected or that we had been promised in those aforementioned self-help books.
Actually, it was quite the opposite.
It’s not what we would have chosen had our decision been based on riches, relaxation, or a comfortable life.
But it is something we know we must do.
This purpose runs so deep, we feel that our survival depends on it.
It’s a purpose born out of the suffering and pain we are all feeling, yet have not been able to understand or express.
Even though there is no road map to follow, we know with absolute certainty, if we allow spirit to guide us, it will take us in the direction of healing—not just for the two of us, but for all of us.
Since moving from Southern California to the mountains of eastern Washington over 13 years ago, I have experienced so many moments of incredible beauty in nature.
While I love each of the four seasons the Pacific Northwest offers, I especially love the winter months because of the snow.
I don’t care who you are, when the first snow of the season arrives, you feel like a kid.
Yes, by the end of the winter I’m ready for the snow to go, but there is nothing more beautiful and magical than watching snowflakes gently fall from the sky, swirling about before they land on the ground or find their places on the branches of the trees.
Snow creates a silence that we seldom experience in our lives, and it turns everything it touches into a piece of art, softening the sharp edges of the world as it does.
I have taken countless walks through the forest we live in on many a snowy days, and there is no other experience I’ve ever had that compares to the silence and beauty of those times.
It truly feels like you’ve been transported to a place somewhere between heaven and earth.
On one of those walks, surrounded by stunning beauty, words came to me that turned into the poem “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth.” (The forest is where most of the inspiration for THE SPIRIT FACTOR came from.)
I sent this poem out in our Christmas card that year. Joe Rozum (joerozum.com), who is a talented pianist and composer, was one of our friends who received it.
Years later, Joe and his friend, gospel vocalist Stephen B. Steward, turned that poem into a song. Actually, they turned it into the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard with truly inspired vocals, music, and arrangements that brought a life to my words that I never could have imagined.
My husband Michael and I went to see the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” last month. As you surely know, this movie is about the rock band Queen.
I grew up listening to Queen’s music, along with music from mega-rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, etc.
I never considered myself a huge Queen fan in the past, but that changed after we saw the movie. I am now completely obsessed with the band (especially Freddie Mercury) and their music!
So when I found out that the Spokane Symphony would be performing the music of Queen at the Fox Theatre in Spokane on my birthday a few weeks ago, I knew we had to go to the show.
Unfortunately, by the time we found out about the show it was sold out.
Michael continued to check online for tickets as the date approached but had no luck.
We’d accepted the fact that we wouldn’t be going to the show and tried to figure out something else to do to celebrate my birthday.
But on the afternoon of the show, Michael decided to check one more time to see if the theatre had released any tickets at the last minute. And they had!
The online box-office seating chart showed that two great floor seats had become available so Michael bought them. Yes!
That evening, we headed to Spokane early so we could have dinner before the show, making the hour drive from the rural mountains north of Spokane where we live to downtown.
When we arrived, we found street parking in front of a big, beautiful old church then made the short walk though the foggy and warm-for-January temps to the restaurant.
After a lovely dinner, we walked a short distance to the Fox Theatre.
There were other events going on in town that night at the Bing Theatre and the INB so the town was bustling with traffic and people walking about.
Spokane is a beautiful city, but because of the busyness and the fog that blanked the city it was magical that evening!
We arrived at the Fox Theater about 20 minutes before the show started, took our seats, and talked with some of the people seated around us.
The Fox Theatre is a special venue because of its history and intimacy.
It is an art deco movie theater that was built in 1931. It was part of the Fox Film Corporation Empire founded by studio mogul William Fox.
In 2000, the Spokane Symphony purchased the building and spent 7 years and $31 million doing an extensive restoration, which included reducing the seating from 2,300 to 1,700.
Just a few days prior to the show we went to, the theater had installed a new sound system that was paid for by an anonymous donor.
The show started shortly after 8:00 pm, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it included a full rock band and a vocalist named Brody Doylnuk.
What happened over the next few hours was amazing!
The outside world with its problems, political divides, and noise disappeared.
If you’ve been to a concert since smart phones took over the world, you know that most people take pictures and video throughout the show. But this night, every person honored the “no recording” policy for the performance.
For Michael and me, what was so beautiful about the night was how everyone in the audience knew the words to every single song, and sang along in perfect harmony with the vocalist who was professional, entertaining, and very talented.
To not only see but also feel the joy in the audience as they participated in the show, clapping and dancing as they belted out the lyrics to “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Tie Your Mother Down”, “Another One Bites the Dust”, Somebody to Love”, I Want It All”, and the many other hits Queen had, was just what our spirits needed.
While I enjoyed all the songs, there were two that really affected me.
The first was “Under Pressure”, which Queen recorded with David Bowie and released in 1982.
Interestingly, it had never been one of my favorite songs in the past.
But the lyrics took on new meaning and relevancy as I heard them at the show, thirty-seven years after the song was released.
I was brought to tears as I sang, “It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about. Watching some good friends scream, ‘Let me out!” because, man, I feel that way sometimes.
The second song that affected me deeply was “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
This seemed to be the song that affected the audience the most, too, and was also the song they sang the loudest.
But it also affected the vocalist, Brody, deeply, when the audience so beautifully and tenderly accompanied him on the final few versus of the song, which are sung with minimal musical accompaniment.
He teared up, as did Michael and I, when everyone in the theater sang, “Doesn’t really matter to meeee,” carrying the last note together in perfect harmony, as we, in that moment, became a choir that had never before and never will again perform together.
We did the same for the final verse: Any way the wind blows.
Those who weren’t yet on their feet, rose, and the theater erupted in applause and cheers.
I think many were a bit surprised by the power of the amazing moment we had all unexpectedly created and participated in.
The clapping transitioned us into the final song of the show, which the audience politely demanded with its thunderous stomping and clapping.
Stomp, stomp, clap! Stomp, stomp, clap!
Yeah, you know the song.
Everyone remained on their feet, stomping, clapping, and singing their hearts out as Brody, the orchestra, and the band performed “We Will Rock You – We Are the Champions”.
We all felt like champions and rock stars as we released our inhibitions and freed our inner Freddie Mercury, who has been hidden away deep inside of us for far, far too long.
It was spectacular!
I didn’t want the night to end because it’s been a long time since I’ve had that much fun and experienced such an entertaining show,
This show and also the movie reminded me of the level of talent, creativity, imagination, and willingness to experiment that Queen possessed, and how much I miss that.
This level of “creative genius” has disappeared from the music industry, gradually, over time, and many of us haven’t even noticed.
But Michael and I, and the 1,700 members of the audience that night at the Fox Theater, where reminded how hungry our spirits are for music that is created and performed from this place.
I’ve been watching a lot of Queen videos on YouTube since the show, and what I’ve noticed about Freddie Mercury is how he sang each note of every song with every fiber of his being.
He put every ounce of himself into his performances, and seemed completely free.
His talent was extraordinary, and he was unapologetically himself, embracing his uniqueness and peculiarities, which is oh so rare today.
I love that the movie has rekindled a newfound love affair with Queen and their music for me and so many others, while also introducing their genius to a new generation of fans.
The mark of truly great music is that it remains relevant over the years, oftentimes becoming even more relevant than when it was originally released, making it eternal and those who wrote and performed it immortal.
Our spirits need to experience this level of creativity to survive. That’s why it’s so important to not only value and embrace creativity in our lives and in the world but also to become creative ourselves.
I talk about this in Chapter 33, “Valuing and Embracing Creativity,” of my book THE SPIRIT FACTOR.
Our lives and the world will benefit the more creative each of us becomes, but we have to give creativity the time, space, and resources it needs to live in us and others.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR will help you do this, and in the process free you from obstructions so you can discover the limitless potential that lives inside of you.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.