You soul has a HOW and a WHY. Guess which comes first?

Have you ever heard or read something so important, it felt like the words were alive and grabbing you? I have this experience all the time. I sit upand take notice because that is my soul recognizing something and nudging me to pay attention.
 
I wasn’t always this aware. For most of my life, I was sleep-walking under a powerful material spell. Lots of great ideas were undoubtedly whizzing past my ears and eyes, but I was so focused on making money that I missed them all.
 
Until one fall evening sitting on the floor in Charlotte Starfire’s living room. It was opening night of her 1992 Women’s Spiritual Empowerment course. I had no idea why I was there. Looking back, I think my soul was so weary of the life we were living that it gave me a hard  crack in the ribs and at long last I responded.
 
Suddenly a sentence flew from Charlotte’s mouth, landing on my chest so hard, I almost fell over. She said: “According to Theilard de Chardin, ‘We are not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.'”
 
Now that may not sound all that stunning to you, but to me this was a major revelation. Growing up Catholic, I learned that we are sinful human beings stuck in a “veil of tears,” struggling mightily to have a spiritual life. And if we don’t succeed? Well, the results aren’t going to be pretty.
 
In one sentence, Theilard de Chardin set me free. Free to enjoy life in all its dimensions–physical, spiritual, mental, emotional. No wonder I almost fell over. My soul, I’m sure, was singing hallelujah! She finally heard! She finally got it! Once my soul had my attention, she wouldn’t let go. She wouldn’t go back to silently watching me be miserable.
 
Mind you, I still got up the next morning and dragged myself to a job I did not love but felt I had to do. I still went through the motions. But the relentless drive to meet goals and post profits no longer felt important or necessary. Sales contests felt ugly. And when someone in the office told a creepy joke or made fun of someone, my heart hurt. I think it was my soul weeping, “Dear, this is not how we want to live.”
 
It took me a long time and a wrenching divorce to finally stop serving the wrong master and begin to create the life my soul and I want to live. It began with long daily rants wtih the Voice on the page. There, I found guidance and comfort. I discovered that I could ask for anything and receive it, sometimes within moments of placing the request. At first, I asked for money and protection. But once those core needs were met, my soul started pushing for something more.
 
It would not let me rest until I had a  moral code, a way of living, a personal creed. With my seven soul values etched in my heart and on my wall, life began to move rapidly
 
UPI gave me a column. Conari asked me to write Writing Down Your Soul. Invitations to speak poured in. One telecourse begot more telecourses, culminating in Your Soul Wants Five Things.  (You can read my Soul Vows on page 22 in Writing Down Your Soul. or on the Soul Vows page on my site.)
 
Having personal values completely changed my life. As it will yours. Having a personal honor code is like giving your soul bones. With those bones, your soul has a way to walk in this world, upright, firm, eyes forward, knowing exactly how it wants to live.
 
But where is it going? What is it walking toward? Isn’t that the great question everyone wants to know: Why am I here? What’s my purpose?
 
Margo Mastromarchi, the lovely angel guidance reader who provides angel readings for members of Soul Vows, says the first thing people want to ask the angels is, “What’s my purpose?” Lauralyn Bunn, the magnificent Akashic Record reader, reports the same thing. It’s the number one question burning in people’s minds. We know the materialistic spell doesn’t satisfy. We sense there must be something more, but what it is?
 
If your Soul Vows are your how, your soul’s purpose is your why.
 
We’ll explore your why in the new telecourse, Check the Box: how to discover and live your soul’s purpose. But if the number one question everyone wants to ask heaven is “What’s my purpose?” wouldn’t you think that your soul would want to clarifty the WHY before it selects its HOW? I would have.
 
That is, until I experienced how lost a why is without the fertile strength of the how. Let me explain.
 
I was given my soul’s purpose statement way back in 1996. At the time, I was focused on building a career as a human resource consultant. So when my purpose statement, “I use words to connect people to the light,” came through, I just stared at it. Huh! What does THAT mean? It made no sense to me, so I put it away. I didn’t have the “soul bones” to walk my purpose.
 
But when I declared my Soul Vows four years later, and started to really live my personal values, my soul bones got big and strong. I had grown the how for my why. I had the skeleton to walk upright into my soul’s divine purpose. And today what do I do? Why I use words to connect people to the light! And love every minute of it.  
 
So even though you are humanly itching to know your soul’s purpose, my hope for you is that you first find your how. And then, standing upright with powerful soul bones, you will walk firmly and clearly into your soul’s purpose–your why–and bring it to life!
 
Isn’t the adventure of being a spiritual being having a human experience amazing!
  

Your soul wants five things

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. Heck, a lot has happened so far this year. Might have something to do with creating my Intention Mandala on January 1st and naming 2011 “My Big Pot Year.” I had no idea what that meant at the time, but after just 31 days, I’m beginning to see.

The “big” in Big Pot exploded open last Saturday. I intended to get a lot of writing done, but instead I listened to a teleconference. I don’t particularly like the teacher or her emphasis on how to make a million bucks, so why did I give her an hour of my precious time? I have no answer to that question. Something told me to listen, so I did. And OH am I grateful.

The teleconference was about how to create a million dollar coaching program. I do not want to create a coaching program — not even a million dollar one. I’m very clear that I am not your therapist or life coach. When people ask me what they should do about a problem, I say: “I don’t know. But you do. Take your problem to the page. Ask your wise loving Voice.” So what was I doing on a teleconference on how to be a big time coach? Why didn’t I hang up? I don’t know. I felt this urgency to keep listening. So I did. Well, about 3/4 of the way through, an idea jumped through whatever the woman was saying and landed with a giant plop in my heart.

OH! All the courses I teach are part of one integrated whole. Writing Down Your Soul, Plug In, Soul Vows, and The Lotus and The Lily are four aspects of one thing — the one thing everyone wants to know: What does my soul want?

I hung up and grabbed my soul journal. The words tumbled out faster than I could write. I knew instantly that your soul wants four things:

  1. to connect with Source
  2. to commit to values
  3. to express itself
  4. to create a life

And what do my courses teach?

Writing Down Your Soul — how to connect with Source
Soul Vows — how to commit to a values covenant with Spirit
Plug In — how to give your soul full expression
The Lotus and The Lily — how to create a life

At last I understood why I had been given such clear directions last November to teach Soul Vows. Four soul desires, four courses. I went to bed very happy.

But Sunday morning, in that rich theta-drenched, not awake-not asleep state, I heard “serve a purpose.” I knew exactly what that meant. It meant there was a fifth thing our souls want. But I don’t have a separate program for that and I sure didn’t want to take on creating a new course, so I ignored it. (As if heaven would give up and let me win. You can tell how this is going to end, can’t you.) All day Sunday, I fooled around with the four things your souls wants: to connect, to commit, to express, and to create. I played with offering my four courses in that order. I went to bed excited.

Monday morning, I was awakened again with “serve a purpose.” Just in case I missed it, I heard it three times: “Serve a purpose, serve a purpose, serve a purpose.” I sat up. OK! OK! OK! The soul wants FIVE things:

  1. to connect with Source
  2. to commit to values
  3. to serve a purpose
  4. to express itself
  5. to create a life

I sighed. Guess I have one more program to design. “I’ll do it,” I said. “If you want it, I’ll do it.”

On Tuesday morning, the next piece arrived. (I have trained myself to be still in the morning and allow guidance and ideas to come to me. And they do. They always do. If you’ve taken a Writing Down Your Soul course, you know that divine access comes when you’re in the theta brain wave state. One of the spiritual practices I share in Plug In is how to expand that state throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning.)

In my not-yet-awake state, I “saw” a hand. I opened my eyes and looked at my own hand. OH! Your soul wants five things:

to connect–thumb

to commit–first finger

to serve–second finger

to express –ring finger

to create–little finger

I called Cherry Lea, the owner of Dancing Moon in Raleigh, where I’ll be presenting the first ever weekend workshop on The Lotus and The Lily in March. I told her the story about how listening to that teleconference led me to see that my courses are a connected whole. She sighed, “Of course they are.” I told her the big question is “What does my soul want?” She sighed a sigh of recognition. I told her the five things the soul wants. She sighed an ever deeper sigh of agreement. I told her about the hand. I had her wiggle each digit as I repeated the five things her soul wants. She sighed a huge sigh of joy.

Then, Cherry gave me a sweet gift. She said, “Of course, the symbol of what your soul wants would be your hand. It has to be a hand for you.” I said, “Oh really, why is that?” She couldn’t believe I didn’t see it. “Janet,” she said, “look at how you sign every email.”

OH! I cried. Of course. I’ve had this symbol of the hand for three years without understanding its full meaning. I sign every note including these newsletters: the connection is in your hand.

That evening, I stopped at my neighborhood grocery store. I’ve shopped at this grocery store for 11 years. Nothing mystical has ever happened there. But that evening, as I was pushing my cart across the back of the store, I heard a loud clink. Something had fallen and was rolling all the way across the aisle in front of my cart. I watched as it hit the bottom of the meat counter, rolled back a foot and stopped. I stared at it for a second trying to figure out what it was. I’m used to pennies falling out of the sky, but this was silver. I walked over and picked it up. It was a shiny Canadian nickel. FIVE cents! I laughed out loud and put it in my pocket. My precious five cent piece now graces my creative altar.

So here’s my gift for you: Look at your hand. Now, ask yourself: What does my soul want?


Where are you on the “happiness index?”

Fay Hart, poet (Yardsale) and recent Plug In member from San Miguel de Allende Mexico, sent an email last week with an intriguing subject line: the happiest place on earth. It was a link to a Ted talk. I love the Ted website, so I listened. It’s about measuring the happiness level of countries. The speaker showed a chart with one lone dot representing a country that was clearly happier than all the others. I about fell out of my chair. The happiest place on earth is Costa Rica!

Here’s the talk if you’d like to hear it.

Of course I sent the link to everyone interested in the Writing Down Your Soul soul-venture in Costa Rica this April. But I don’t think the universe nudged Fay to send this to me just to fill the trip. There’s a bigger message here. A message that applies to all of us.

I thought, if countries can be measured on a Happiness Index, is there a Happiness Index for people? There are, it seems, a gazillion books on happiness. Happiness seemed to be the topic du jour the last few years. To be honest, I didn’t read any of them. I had a gut feeling they were talking about something a bit too superficial for me, and I wasn’t sure that someone else’s definition of happiness and how to get there would fit me.

But, when I watched the Ted talk on the Global Happiness Index, I felt inspired to come up with a human Happiness Index. My life has been transformed from pretty darn miserable to amazingly joyful, so I thought: I can do this.

I started with the things that make me happy: writing, creating, cooking, being with my son, praying, going for walks, watching birds of prey…. All fun, yes, but, I had to admit they were not deep enough.

So I tried to write a deeper list. Things like: I have a purpose and I live my purpose; I am not alone, I have an intimate relationship with the Divine; I am excited about my future…. The second list definitely sounded better, stronger, happier, but nice as it was, I knew in my gut it wasn’t universal. I hadn’t found the universal Human Happiness Index. So I dropped the whole idea.

Until Monday.

On Monday, I started rereading Anatomy of the Spirit for my Soul Vows telecourse. When I wrote my own Soul Vows ten years ago, I was obsessed with Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I read it several times, underlining and circling and highlighting something on every page.

In my current Soul Vows course, I recommend each member select one or two books that really speak to them, and read them slowly and thoughtfully so the ideas held within the pages gently and effortlessly enter their subconscious and help them create their Soul Vows, just like Anatomy of the Spirit helped me.

I thought it would be fun to reread a book that meant so much to me years ago. Well, it’s turned out to be a whole lot more. I can’t put it down. Anatomy is an astonishingly clear explanation of the connection between our personal power and our health or illness.

Listen: “Our relationship with power is at the core of our health.” (If you’ve read Carolyn before, you know she’s blunt.) “You need to become conscious of what gives you power.” And you need to become aware of what drains your power: “Always address the question, ‘Why am I losing power?'”

Sound simple? Well, yes, only two things to do. Become aware of what feeds your power and what drains your power. But easy? Maybe not. Here’s the rub. “Never look to another person to make you happy–happiness is an internal, personal attitude and responsibility.”

Oh! That’s why I couldn’t come up with a universal human happiness index. There isn’t one. Happiness is an inside job. Your happiness is inside of you, your choices, your loves, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with Spirit. You have to decide for yourself what makes you happy and what you are going to do to become happy and stay happy.

As I pondered this, I realized, wait a minute, I already have my Happiness Index. It’s my Soul Vows. And there are just 7 measures.

1. unite to create good
2. live in partnership
3. honor myself
4. come from love
5. surrender there is no path but God’s
6. seek truth
7. pray always

When I do these seven things, make these seven choices, live these seven ways, I am deeply happy regardless of what’s going on around me. (Now I know why I burst out smiling when I say my vows aloud every morning.)

Carolyn wraps up her concept with two simple instructions. “Achieving health, happiness, and an energy balance comes down to deciding to focus more on the positive than the negative and to live in a manner spiritually congruent with what we know is the truth.”

Ah, so now all I have to do is live my Soul Vows. And I’ve been moving closer and closer to that over the last ten years. Am I there yet? No, not 100%, but I am getting closer. I know instantly when I’m not being congruent. My stomach does a little screaming act, shouting NO NO NO! It’s really rather difficult to ignore. In Carolyn-speak what it’s doing is screaming: Stop! Power leak! Stop! And I stop. It’s that simple.

So here’s my thought for you: Do some deep soul writing about your very own Happiness Index. You don’t have to call the result your Soul Vows. You can call it “My Happiness Index” or “My Power List.” Call it anything you like. But do take the time to hone in on the things that give you power and the things that drain your power.

Then, take a moment every day to renew your commitment to live in a way that is congruent with your power, your truth. Based on Carolyn’s research and my personal experience, I believe your life will be one of real happiness, not the happiness that comes with stuff, but the happiness that comes with being the powerful loving being you were made to be.


A New Year surprise: We’re pregnant!

I love January 1st. It’s a wildly creative day. I set my intention to receive rich guidance and then settle into my sacred writing chair to extract all the gifts of the past year with my Beloved Voice. Next, we explore all the possibilities of the year to come. Then comes my favorite part: naming the new year. That’s always such a fun revelation. I wrap up my year-starting mini-retreat by creating a vision board with the name of the year across the bottom. But last January. I did two things differently. Those two things set a whole new life in motion.

First, I began the day reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here and when I stumbled upon “When conditions are sufficient, there is a manifestation,” my mouth flew open and my understanding of the Law of Attraction flipped in that instant on its head.

Second, instead of making a rectangle-shaped vision board, I made a mandala. I drew little pictures of all I want on the periphery and a big yellow lily in the center with the “conditions” that I promise to live written on the six petal. Across the bottom, I wrote 2010’s name on a purple banner: “My Breakthrough Year.”

Did reading Thich Nhat Hanh or making a mandala matter?

Well, let’s just say that 2010 was, to put it mildly, magical. The number of new ideas and events flowing through me were breathtaking. People wanted to know how to create that magic for themselves. So I taught The Lotus and The Lily four times to over 100 people and after each course, my inbox overflowed with screaming emails: THIS WORKS!

So I thought I knew what to do this January 1st. I made a pot of french press coffee (coffee matters), spoke my Soul Vows, set my intention to be open to guidance, and sat down to write. But then, just like last year, instead of writing, I bent down and picked up a book–Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha Living Christ. I began to read. And, just like last year, I couldn’t put it down. All I can say is, Thich Nhat Hanh did it again!

Listen to this: “The word ‘Buddha’ comes from the root buddh, which means to wake up. A Buddha is someone who is awake.” (I didn’t know that. Did you?) Thich Nhat Hanh goes on to say that the Buddha told his followers to focus not on rules or doctrines or dogmas, but on practice. It is practice that brings our spiritual knowing to life. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, “We are all mothers of the Buddha because we are all pregnant with the potential for awakening.”

I giggled. Oh my God, I’m pregnant! A bit of a surprise at 62, but I know it’s true. I can feel it. I can feel ideas and books and relationships and all manner of things pressing to be born. Of greater importance, I sense a more awakened relationship with Spirit growing inside me.

Are you pregnant, too? I think so. But like all expectant parents, we must care tenderly for our babies. How? Thich Nhat Hanh says we care for our growing baby Buddha by being mindful,
listening for the voice, being attentive to the messages around us in all their forms–even leaves or pebbles or clouds. But the number one thing we do to bring our Awakening Buddha to life is find a spiritual practice and live it. Live it every day.

My pregnant self floated through the rest of New Year’s Day. I made a 2011 mandala. I asked what to name this year. “Big Pot” came the answer. Big Pot? I looked at my mandala. Oh, I get it. If I look at the 12-inch circle of my mandala from an eagle eye view, it does look an awful lot like a huge soup pot. And, you know what? I think the Master Chef is adding some pretty nifty ingredients and doing a lot of simmering. Ever since I read Heat , I’ve been obsessed with learning how to make Ragu Bolognese. Now I see that I’ve been mimicking the master chef cooking up a “Janet Bolognese.”

I did one last thing on Jan 1–something new. I added up the numeric values of the letters in “Big Pot.” The total came to 33. The master number of creativity. Yeowza. If the Master Chef keeps this up, it’s going to be an amazing year.

Would you like to know the numeric vibration of your year’s name or any words? It’s easy. Just select the numeric value of each letter in this chart and add them up.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z

B I G P O T
2 + 9 + 7 + 7 + 6 + 2 = 33

Here’s another example, Jazz Jaeschke of Austin TX in the Lotus and Lily class that just ended named 2011 “Harmony Happens.”

H A R M O N Y
8 + 1 + 9 + 4 + 6 + 5 + 7 = 40

H A P P E N S
8 + 1 + 7 + 7 + 5 + 5 + 1 = 34

Harmony Happens 74 = 7 + 4 = 11

Talk about a power number. 11 is the wisdom channel of the divine. What does the numeric value mean? Well, for that you need a bit of introduction to numerology. Here’s a very simple overview:

1 new beginnings, take action, courage, independence
2 intuitive, receiving, separation, nurturing, forgiving
3 trinity, combining 1 & 2, peacemaking, creativity
4 physical manifestation, structure, form, building step-by-step
5 change, movement, freedom, flexibility, sensual
6 balance, responsibility, commitment, relationships, harmony
7 inner truth and power, trust, deeper answers, mystical
8 abundance, power, material success, inner power, harvest
9 wholeness, oneness, bigger picture, unconditional love

For a richer understanding, I recommend Numerology by Ruth Drayer.

Even if you don’t have a name for your year, we can all tap into the universal numeric vibration for 2011: 2 + 0 + 1 + 1 = 4

Four is the number of organization, structure, foundation. In other words, spiritual practice! (I think the Buddha and Thich Nhat Hanh are smiling on us this year.)

What exactly is Spirit cooking up in my “Big Pot” year? I don’t know. And that’s OK. I don’t have to know the what, when, or how. I leave the details to my Divine Partner. (And, based on my experience, I gotta say the Divine does great work.) I commit to doing my part, the part taught by the Buddha. I’ll show up every day and do my practice.

For me that means speaking my Soul Vows, my Creative Blessing, Lorna Byrne’s angel prayer, the 12 affirmations from UnityNow, and last, standing in front of my “2011 Big Pot” mandala and having a nice chat with the “Master Chef” about the year Spirit is cookin’ up for me! It means engaging in deep soul writing. It means waking in joy and going to bed in gratitude. It means blessing every bite of food. It means calling on the angels for guidance and following the guidance I receive.

None of this is difficult. In fact, it’s really all rather delightful. It’s how I parent my sweet baby Buddha. How about you? What are you doing in this 4 year of foundation and spiritual practice to birth the sweet baby Buddha growing inside of you?

___________________

If you want more help birthing that Buddha and attracting a delightful and holy new year, consider joining me and Margo Mastromarchi for 2011 Intentions with the Angels, learning how to write the most important prayer in your life–your Soul Vows, and learning how to Plug In to the creative force of the universe.