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Questions and answers about healing heartbreak: the man down the street

I recently received the following questions. Many of us have felt these painful feelings and in my response I want to try to alleviate human suffering by sharing some ways of healing heartbreak.  Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for reaching out and then taking care to clarify things for me. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time!

Let’s start with your questions:

“I met this guy, we became intimate, I thought everything was good. He moved in down the street, he said to be closer to his job, now he's unavailable. I can't stop driving past... Why did he move that close to me?”

Thirty years of experience and research has shown me that when a man wants more than sex and is AVAILABLE for love, he will do everything in his power to cultivate an intimate (more than sex) relationship. It is in man’s nature to desire to please the woman he loves, and this man will do everything he can to make her feel safe and secure. Trying to get a man to commit or be more intimate before he is ready is generally ill-advised. Men are hunters, they decide what they want and then go get it. They do not have "trouble committing" as popularly believed. Rather, it is we women who are in denial. We think they will come around if we love them enough, are loving, sexually available, etc. While this may work in the short term, as you have witnessed, until men are ready they will happily settle for sex in lieu of the kind of relationship I think you are wanting.

Additionally, in my experience men rarely speak in code.  If they tell you they moved closer to be near their job, believe it. If they tell you they just want sex, believe it. If they tell you they love you and still only want sex, believe that too.

What’s tricky is what we make "it" mean: they seem to open up and then make love to us, which we translate to mean that they want to be in a relationship.  This is usually a projection. When a man wants a relationship he will let you know and act like it. His words, deeds, and actions will be aligned. He will not want to foul up.

When this is the case, when he says he loves you he will act like it. Period. He will also wait to have sex, not press the issue until you feel safe and secure. He will respect you and wait for you. He will want nothing more than for you to be ready and happy. He will also be open to talk about the future and make plans with you that are clear and specific.

This does not sound like the man you are describing. He is not behaving like a man in love, rather like a man who has enjoyed your company and regular intervals of sex. He may even actually care for you. This, however, is not the same as what I believe you are wanting.

“I believe in fate, God, and once made a big mistake giving myself to someone I thought was meant to be in my life. How can I tell what to do?”

It is very painful indeed when we feel God has bestowed us with a gift—only to realize that maybe it was not. My best advice here is to cultivate a practice of prayer and inquiry that is consistent. Learning to interpret "God’s messages" is nothing less than an art and a lifelong endeavor. Sometimes things that seem a gift today feel like a curse tomorrow, and vice versa. It seems to me that you were given many signs and even warnings about this man’s intentions, and chose not to see them. Perhaps the same is true about the sign you thought you received. Perhaps it was fate that you met this man and even that God had a hand in it—the truth is that today this man is unavailable for an exclusive, sustainable relationship in the way your heart desires, and so your answer is clear. And yes, very painful indeed. Heartbreak is no small thing. It can be epic and the scars can last a lifetime. That is why, should you want to heal, you must look inside your heart and see the truth that is in front of you, pray for the strength to face it, and pray for the guidance to be shown the next step.

“How am I supposed to get over him if he's right down the street always visible? I always choose to forgive. But I'm very heartbroken right now.”

I hear you are heartbroken. Here are some ideas that may be of comfort and aid:

1) Remember who you are! You are God’s child. Divine and splendid. Filled with passion and purpose and one step further towards realizing your potential. Awakening is no easy feat.

2) PRAY: pray to be held and rocked by the Divine. Cry, scream, release, freak out, melt and surrender into God. This is what we all crave anyway. Unconditional love. Pray for guidance, forgiveness and to be shown the way.

3) Practically speaking, try to stop looking for him when you drive down the street. Perhaps take another route and repeat this mantra; “I can absolutely love someone and not be with them!” That is the epitome of real love! Sometimes we cannot be with people we love for one reason or another and we must move on.

4) Dive into any and all healing sources; yoga, workshops if possible, healing books, art, exercise, and best of all dear friends and family. Pour your heart out so it is empty and cleared out!

My heart is with you and if you wish to follow up with me or need clarification please feel free to contact me.

Carpe dreaming

I hear fire engines roaring through the valley where I live. I feel the sense of survival rush through my body and privately hope the rescue crew gets to whoever needs them in time. I send my ritual blessing into the ethers and then randomly wonder why sometimes it takes a crisis for us to wake up, to really Carpe Diem. Then I look around at my desk, which today looks more like a kid’s cubby, at all the paraphernalia that collectively say what is most important to me. The contrasting thoughts seem significant. A representation of what I love most, what is of ultimate importance is right in front of me; love letters, notes and cards given to me by family and friends, numerous pictures of the people I cherish, a heart-shaped dish filled with angel cards, a blessing medallion blessed by Mother Theresa, my pocket astrologer, a child’s rosary, a crystal angel, a mini-Buddha and some chocolates. Still, like today, I can easily look right through it all, losing my focus on what’s most dear, and wander off my path. The difference is, today those dramatic wake-up sirens come less frequently due to my vigilant pursuit and strong desire to stay awake. I am so grateful. It wasn’t always the case, which is probably why it feels so jarring, so personal, when I hear the eerily familiar screech. I know what it feels like to have those gargantuan, unwanted interruptions forcing me to depart from my comfortable cocoon of “business as usual, chop wood carry water” slumber to what’s most important—always ultimately reminding me of how fragile and precious life is. Each instance offering an unmistakable, clarity, highlighting what’s most important, if only temporarily.

However intermittent, overall each one of my own “wake up” calls has ultimately changed the way I live my life, and are now benchmarks and guideposts for how and why to stay awake on my own path. For example, if lower back pain flares it’s a reminder for me to slow down today instead of a reason to kvetch or feel sorry for myself or think, Oh, I am getting older. When something I want to happen doesn’t, I say “Ok, this or something better is coming,” vs. feeling incompetent or that I have done something wrong or God is punishing me. When my son gets into a bind I can think How can I support him and help him ultimately figure things out for himself so he can trust himself? rather than thinking I am a bad parent or have failed in some way. When my father died suddenly from a heart attack at age 63 I realized that I don’t ever have to put off loving someone, no matter what they have done to me, rather than waiting for them to wake up and see the light (as I, unfortunately for us both, did—hoping to punish him for not loving me the way I wanted him to).

I sometimes wish it was easier to stay awake and present to what is most important, and that I didn’t have to re-apply every day. Bummer I didn’t get consulted when man was created! Seems it is part of the human condition. Which reminds me of a Zen story. All the masters of all time get together to decide on where to hide the Key of Life. One master says, “I know; the highest mountain top in the world.” “Oh no, no, they will surely look there.” Another says “I know, on the ocean floor!” “Oh no, no, they will certainly find it there.” Finally, after exhausting every clever idea, one master stands and says, “I know of a place these humans will never ever look—inside themselves,” and so they agreed to place the key there. And so it is. Until next time. Blessings!

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

The other day I was at a pharmacy deliberating, of all things, which panty liner I should buy. I know, TMI, but while perusing the fifty million choices I had—wings/no strings/glide/long/short/tall/wide/double-wide, etc.—I spied a CAUTION label on the back of one of the boxes. Wow, I thought. I looked right and left, hoping no one saw me spending way…way too much time contemplating feminine hygiene products (sadly, I still suffer from FHPPS: Feminine Hygiene Product Purchase Shame). Whatever… really, if I can’t buy a pad in peace then what has this world come to? Back to the CAUTION label. I thought, What the? What kind of danger could I actually be in with a PAD for God’s sake! What? Is my hmm hmm gonna fall off or cave in? Could it be that all these years I have been innocently and reliably exposing my privates to some kind of danger and I didn’t even know it? Feverishly I pulled several boxes off the shelves to see if they all had a CAUTION label, then picked the one with the biggest warning label and read the small print: “Blah blah….if irritation develops…blah blah…if irritation persists.” That’s it?! IRRITATION? All that for friggin irritation? OMG, way to give a girl a heart attack. Then I felt a wave of relief followed by the impulse to jump up and down and shout: “False alarm, everybody, everything is fine …a round of Kotex for everyone.” I left the pharmacy with enough FHP to last several years, (I’ll find any reason to celebrate) and then got to thinking about warning labels in general ( yes, I am a bit obsessive) and wondered: what if, when you met someone you were interested in, they handed you a warning label—before you took them home?! Can you imagine? WARNING: This person may trigger irritation, inflammation, nausea and vomiting. If you have a history of failed relationships or suffer from a broken heart, side effects may include: jealousy, projecting, volatility, feelings of insanity, and irrational behavior. Continued use has been known to cause self-loathing, anxiety and prolonged bouts of depression. If these symptoms persist seek professional counseling immediately.

Think about it. Go back and scroll through the relationships you’ve been in that went bad or got sideways and ask yourself: If they had come with a warning label would it have made a difference or been a deal-breaker? Would you have read the label? Or, like me, would you perhaps have overlooked it until the writing was on the wall, or one day thought Wait a minute, maybe there is something about that big red flag? And even then, would it have made a difference? All good questions. If you’re like me and are eager to avoid unnecessary pain (largely from my own blind spots), at the minimum you do your due diligence wherever possible, especially given that many of us have become almost immune to the constant fever pitch of hyperbole everywhere. We need reminders (like my scare at the pharmacy) to take responsibility, to stand at attention and carefully sort through the hype and false alarms from the real ones.

And while we are at it, ladies (and gentlemen) in honor of warning labels everywhere I ask you this: If you came with a warning label what would it read? Seriously! Send them to us and tune in later to see what other folks have to say!

Death becomes you!

What if you just let go? Let it all go? All your attachments: your life as you know it, your identity, what you think of other people, of what other people think of you? All the people places, things, thoughts, feelings, and values that define you, you just let go of all of it. Any and all ideas you have about who you are, what is and how it supposed to be, vanishing in the distance as you voluntarily let them go? The stories about your childhood, about the person who cut you off in the parking lot, about “How come that person has more than me or isn’t as good?” Who did what to you, who didn’t do enough. Who owes you, who you need to avenge. How you are going to save the world, your child, the animals, yourself.

The need to do it right, to be right, to be taller, thinner, better looking, stronger, more patient, have a budget, drink less, exercise more, take back those things in the trunk that have been there for weeks, clean the windows for spring, get a new housekeeper, fire the old one. Look for a better job, reinvent yourself, get liposuction, re-position your brand, redo your bio, get on Facebook, get off Facebook. Botox, blow jobs and low-ash cat food. The Oscars, the Grammies, male celebrities humping 26 groupies, female celebrities’ despicable sleazy husbands, fix up your house, get a loan, speed date, porn sites, pole dancing, Vegas, pay your taxes, volunteer, help your friend out of debt, start your garden, get a SmartCar, take surfing lessons, go back to school.

What the government is doing—or not—and how you could do it better. What other people should be doing instead of what they are doing, and how obvious that is. What time you should get up, what time you should get to bed, eat lunch, color your roots, get rid of that old couch, that bad relationship, your shitty attitude, and go to Costco because you think it’s cheaper.

That you should buy gold, stop drinking Diet Coke, boycott Starbucks, and hurry, before the movie starts. That you’re smarter, more evolved, more competent, a leader, are here to do something BIG, are special, entitled and privileged. That you’re a fast reader, a slow learner, have a powerful job, or are tired of being unemployed. That you’re sensitive, fragile, fierce, overwhelmed, overworked and underpaid, discriminated against—and if someone could just see who you really were, maybe you would believe it yourself. That you’re: going to invent the next big idea, psychic, mentally gifted, broken, different than most people, don’t eat meat, don’t like rice, can’t stand when people wear perfume, thinking your boyfriend is having an affair, growing your hair out, thinking people who take meds are weak, wishing there were no commercials, hating reality TV, obsessed with Red Bull, and thinking you need sex.

That your computer is too slow, Mercury retrograde is bad, online dating will save you, and that wearing a size 4 means you’re hot. That rich people suck, corporations are corrupt, and “life is hard and then you die.” That there is someone out there that will save you, that you may go to hell, or that telling someone the way it is will help them see the light. That being nice will make people like you, or that not having sex means someone might leave. Your favorite restaurant, favorite pair of shoes, favorite city to travel to. That you need to meditate or relax.

Your voicemail/email/twitter/fan page/texting, your iphone/u-verse/ipod and navigation system. A way to erase spam from the universe, and that you need to avoid all stupid people. That there is someone else to be with, somewhere else to live, a different president, better weather; that if you just had more money everything would be ok. That you need to: do another workshop, make amends, forgive yourself, trust, learn another language, and get that spot on your cheek checked. That you need to have a sob story so that people will feel sorry for you and give you their money because they have extra and should just give it to you and not want anything in return. That seasonal fashion matters, that people have taste/no taste/poor taste/need to look in the mirror before they leave the house. That you need to wax, cleanse, wear Spanx, minimize your pores, maximize your checking account. That you’re a metrosexual, homosexual, menopausal diva beer-guzzling antler collector, one who highly recommends washing your produce, biodegradable tampons, and sitting cross-legged while reciting mudras—and that there is a right thing to say or do for you to become enlightened. That there is “a path,” “the way,” “the truth,” and there is actually a best life and a better version of yourself than who you are right now.

That anyone knows what’s best for you, that it matters if you are loved, and that there is such a thing as a soul mate. That there is anywhere to get—but you had better get there before it’s gone, as there are only so many windows of opportunity. That anything is bad or good, positive or negative, hurry up, slow down, that there is such a thing as success and failure and that anyone’s life is anyone’s responsibility. That when we die that’s the end, and that those pants make your butt look small. Phone chargers, the Home Shopping Network, legal drinking age, legalizing pot, networking, social media strategies, wearing clean underwear, bio-identical hormones, vitamins, birth control, the child you gave up for adoption, the person you are most in love with, your car, all your clothes, your jewelry, family photos, your art that you think you mean something because you own, your designer watch, that you’re secretly a poser, that you are riding on someone’s coattails, and that you hear the housing market is taking a turn.

That everyone you know is struggling, many people you know are sick, a third of our nation is obese, times are tough, life is short, and that if you pray hard enough God will reward you instead of the three-hundred-thousand other people who died in the latest catastrophe, write you a personal check and make it all better. That things are getting worse/looking up, the earth’s magnetic poles are shifting, and blue is the new black. That you have nothing to give up—and let that go, too.

What if you let all that go?

Imagine it if you can, even for a moment. Go through the life you live right now and let it all go. Who would you be? Good for you! Now let that go too! You may find that death becomes you…

Addictive love and relationships

The Greeks had five words to describe the different levels of love: eros, passionate love, essential desire and longing, romantic love; philia, friendship, loyalty; storge, natural affection; agape, selfless giving; and thelema, desire or will to do something. In the English language we have many states of feeling that describe different elements of love: idolization, affection, devotion, worship, infatuation, lust, passion and rapture. None of which are synonyms for love, as we only have the one word for that; love itself. My husband and I, who have spent an inordinate amount of time mulling over the finer points of love’s various meanings, have come up with our own adaptation that was part of our sacred marriage vows: I want what you want for yourself.

Then there is another subcategory of love we Westerners recognize as being “in love.” It’s a kind of “objective” love: the state in which we project our affection onto another person and vice versa, which evolves into a more mature version, characterized as an act of giving without expectation, i.e. respect, affection, adoration, etc.

And then (I could go on and on down that rabbit hole, but won’t) there’s the growing phenomenon of addiction. According to the current DSM manual, relationship addiction falls under the category of process addiction, which means it’s behavior-related. Webster’s defines it as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice, or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming to such an extent that its sensation causes trauma (an emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to a person’s psychological development, often leading to neurosis). As opposed to the etymological definition, addictio, meaning to surrender to, or a giving over of. No matter how you slice it, addictive relationship or love is in a class all by itself, and when unattended can lead us into some real dark and potentially dangerous places for everyone involved!

I believe what the brilliant author and spiritual leader Thomas Moore asserts: that most addictive behavior is a misinterpretation or distortion of our soul’s longing. And have come to notice over the years that when we don’t really know who we are, what we want and what we feel, we don’t know what we need. We are far more likely to succumb to those potentially destructive, unconscious, programmed behaviors we learned as kids to temporarily alleviate or quench those longings. Behaviors we adopted as a means to comfort ourselves, in particular the ones closely associated with being externally referenced that fall into the “object love” category—which many times sets us up for addictive relationships when unchecked.

Repetitious behavior in and of itself is not inherently bad; we count on some of our repetitive behaviors to create success. It’s when repetitious behavior is deleterious or destructive that we need to be concerned. At which point, if we can catch it, we have an invitation for self-inquiry and deeper examination. We can take an investigative look at what we really long for or need. Then we can choose conscious, healthy ways of giving ourselves just that, so we can avoid harming ourselves and anyone else any further.

I know, how boring! Bring me the drama, I like the bad boys and the tortured souls, it’s so much more interesting and fun. Maybe…temporarily. I would argue that in the long run it’s depleting and soul-sucking, and often proves to be dangerous. If you think you might be one of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by relationship addiction each year, here’s a quiz that may help you tell:

Do you feel a kind of high when this person calls or makes contact with you? Does your attraction seem somehow bigger than you? Do you feel agitated or restless when you don’t know where they are? Is there a sense of the forbidden in the relationship? Do you find yourself doing (or not doing) things you normally would (or would not) with this person? Have you found yourself increasingly rationalizing their actions or behavior? Do you feel more insecure or suspicious than usual, in this relationship? Do you find yourself trying to be sexier, more accommodating or agreeable, in hopes of holding this person’s interest? Does this person display behaviors and values that you find dissimilar to your own? Do you know deep inside that this person isn’t right for you, but something keeps you there? Do you feel empty or ultimately unfulfilled by this person and the relationship as time has gone by? Has the relationship negatively affected any of your other relationships with children, family or friends? Do you, despite knowing the relationship is unhealthy or even a dangerous relationship addiction, keep finding reasons to stay?

Admitting some of these things to ourselves can be very uncomfortable, never mind make you feel incredibly vulnerable. There is usually a great degree of silent shame felt by many of us who are in or have had an addictive kind of relationship experience. The flip side is, sometimes admitting that can be a relief.

Awareness is key, and a good first step if you suspect you are in a addictive relationship. And I applaud you for having the courage to look.To you, I would say: keep your eyes open and maybe start a journal. More will be revealed. Denial is the real threat, so watch for your tendency to start rationalizing unacceptable behavior. Depression is another sign that we might be in an addictive relationship. The highs and lows start to wear on you, and you’re just not yourself these days. Now the good in the relationship is starting to be outweighed by the bad. Whatever the case, beating yourself up or heading for the Haagen Dasz isn’t going to help. If you suspect your dependent relationship might be heading towards an addictive one, there are a great many people and organizations dedicated to helping men and women deal with addictive relationships and patterns that can support you in getting you and your love life back on track! You can try your local chapter of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous for starters.

The ultimate cleanse

What if I told you you’re perfect exactly as you are? Would you believe me? How could I know if you were perfect, you wonder? I have never even seen you. I don’t know what you look like, how big your nose is, what kind of job you have, how much you weigh, if you have stretch marks or cellulite, how much money you have in your bank account, what kind of car you drive or clothes you wear, if you have scars, fake hair, if you need a cleanse, or what other people think about you. What if I told you there is one diet you could go on that would help build your self-esteem and miraculously make you feel better about who you are and what you have? Make you feel more attractive, lovable, capable, and worthy? Could lessen depression and malaise and make you feel special and unique, could help you focus better, achieve your goals, and even give you more time to pursue your dreams. Would you believe me?

I used to watch TV. I watched it quite religiously, in fact. I watched I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, cartoons and M.A.S.H. I was a devotee when television and actors’ sole purpose was to entertain you. And my parents read the paper because they believed they were going to be informed about important and current events. And then something shifted.

I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the day I noticed the shift too. I was watching All My Children; Erika Kane was going to jail (again), this time for murder. I was spellbound. Then a commercial break came on. It was Farah Fawcett doing a Wella hair commercial. She ran her hands through her perfectly feathered hair and I remembered thinking, Wow…I wish my hair looked like that! ‘Cause if my hair looked like that, if I had feathered hair, then maybe I would look prettier and…ooh, oh, commercial break was over. There was Erika, rich and beautiful and in jail, in full makeup. I wondered. Wow, they let you wear make up in jail? That’s pretty cool, I guess. I knew she wouldn’t be in jail long, ‘cause, ya know, she was Erika, and she was rich and beautiful and people who are rich and beautiful don’t stay in jail. Even if they murder someone. Everyone runs around and gets all the richest, most powerful people together and gets them out.

I thought about that for a moment. Hmmm. Where was this Pine Valley, I wondered? How come everyone is rich there? Does anyone have a job? No one ever goes to work, or if they do they don’t actually work, they mostly just stand around and talk about…other people and the big party, wedding or special event that’s coming up. Or who betrayed who, or, or.  And they all look so beautiful and have these passionate relationships and cool clothes and fancy cars and big houses and really expensive jewelry. I sat back from the edge of the chair I was perched on with sudden consternation and intense curiosity. How did they get all that? I mean, was everyone there born rich and beautiful or what? I wanted to know. And then another commercial came on. I looked outside our panoramic window, down at the pool. No one was in it. School was out, summer was just starting and I felt forlorn. I sat alone, plain and penniless at 14 wondering how I could get a life like that…if I would ever live in a place like Pine Valley…

My girlfriends and I would spend many of those summer days with our bodies slathered in Bain de Soliel (or baby oil if we couldn’t afford that), our faces buried in Cosmo or Vogue, ogling and studying our role models: the emaciated rich. Believing what we saw was real, closing the magazines feeling imperfect and fat yet determined to figure out how to get what they had. A life other than our own. It seemed possible. Why shouldn’t we trust what we saw? It was everywhere; skinny, happy, rich people who wore designer clothes and had passionate relationships.

Little did we know there was a group of people who had concocted it all, a select group of sleazy, greedy, very clever soul-sucking vampires who day in and day out preyed on people just like us. The naïve, trusting, sheep who conveniently, thanks to other patriarchal mandates that were in place, had low self-esteem, and had not yet learned to question authority. These few had gathered together like rats near a feast, wringing their hands, salivating at the opportunity to prosper at our vulnerability. Evil at its finest. Make them think they can have it, dangle it in front of them at every turn. Lure them with the airbrushed, fake and impossible—and the stupid, fat and poor will gobble it up like the pathetic peasants they are and we will get rich! Bwa ha ha, Ah ah (insert wicked laughter).

At age 14 I realized that every time I turned on the TV or opened a magazine, afterwards I felt bad about myself, however subtly. The net effect was, I was being hoodwinked or lured to believe I should be, better, cooler, prettier, skinner: something other than me. So I turned it off and tuned it out—pretty successfully, I might add. And instead began to fill my mind with Socrates, Simone de Beauvoir, and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who lifted my spirit and ultimately led to me to the foundation on which I now firmly rest. Instead of being a spectator of life, I became a student of what was true, real and possible, and have really never looked back. The rare bits of TV or mags I have ingested are minuscule compared to back in the day—and yet still, after all this time, have the same effect. Interesting how some things never change. But I can.

The Ultimate Cleanse:

The bad news may be that the soul suckers lured you in, they sold it, you bought it and you, too, are addicted to being externally referenced. The good news is: The jig is up. Yes, it’s all a big lie. But there is a cure and it’s as simple as, 1-2-3.

1) Turn off your idiot box (TV) 2) Don’t buy any more rags (trash or fashion magazines) 3) Stop paying attention to what other people are doing and focus on yourself!

Let’s fill this out a little.

1) TV is one gigantic infomercial designed to make you feel bad about yourself and to keep you stupid. The average person, according to my friend Robert Mack in his book Happiness from the Inside Out, spends an extra $400 for every hour spent watching television. And the average American watches 30 hours of TV per week, that’s a lotta moolah! 12 grand, ouch!

2) And magazines are filled with celebrities (people who make a living PRETENDING to be other people) and models (people who are starving themselves to look like people that don’t actually exist) who are posers prostituting themselves so they can pay their own mortgages at your expense. They don’t buy those things they’re wearing and using! They are given them by the manufacturers. Why? Because they know we are desperate to have this fake life (which DOES NOT EXIST, by the way), and we will do or buy anything hoping to make ourselves feel better by being or having whatever the celebrities are advertising. Thus programming you to believe you are NOT enough or perfect as you are!

3) Keep your eye on your own ball. If you don’t have a life purpose—then get one. Now. Spending your time looking outside yourself is the surest way to feel bad about yourself. Stop comparing someone’s life to yours, and you will have more time in your day and instantly feel better, because you won’t be comparing yourself to anything outside yourself! It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, there will always be someone somewhere who is smarter, faster, stronger, prettier, skinnier or richer than you. Who cares? Why do you actually care what Brad Pitt is doing? I can assure you he doesn’t care what you’re doing, because he is busy living his own life.

Being internally referenced is the foundation for all my work. That, and a solid relationship with spirit and your inner divine guidance, and you are all set. You already have everything you need; you have been give the greatest gift of all and it’s staring you right in the face. YOU. What you are is your gift from God! What you make of yourself is your gift back! Jim Rohn, a well-known motivational speaker, once gave me this advice: “Stop building someone else's dream!” And I say to you, turn off the TV and shut out the media vultures. Stop taking the bait! Build your own dreams. I promise, you will be glad you did! Your own life is precious and very real. And you are indeed PERFECT as you are.

Try the ultimate cleanse for a month. You will feel better, be more focused, have more time, and be all that closer to turning your heart’s greatest desire into REALITY! It’s not easy, absolutely, but definitely worth the effort—anything worth having is!

7th of 7 essential truths: Pray for guidance

The power of prayer is both ancient and mystifying. Right here in America millions of us subscribe to it every day: “…prayer is a common religious practice…, with nearly six-in-ten adults in the U.S. saying they pray at least once a day.” Still, the rate of non-religious affiliation of people under 50 is steadily declining. (Pew Trust Religious Landscape Survey, 2007). Is this because comparatively few of us have developed an intimate understanding of how prayer really works? Has religion failed to educate us, or is prayer something that cannot be fully understood? We pray when we are frightened, feel threatened, or fear some kind of loss. We pray when we want things: relationships, money, or for things to go our way. Some of us who don’t even believe in God pray when all else has failed, hoping “something or someone is out there.” Yet who among us has not wavered, wondering whether prayer does any good? Or thought “What/who am I praying to?” Despite this curiosity, how many of us have been willing to make a serious or direct inquiry? “Is there anyone out there?” Some might argue that direct inquiry into such matters should not be spoken aloud by mere mortals or, worse, that this might be considered spiritual treason in the eyes of God. Still others among us don’t inquire out of superstition, afraid we may bring a hex upon ourselves.

Praying for others Intercessory prayer is another widely popular form of prayer, worth mentioning as it highlights an additional possible facet of prayer; that our prayers can affect the lives of others.

Believers and non-believers alike have joined Albert Einstein’s bandwagon E=MC² (everything is energy), the popular trend of offering intercessory lip service: “You are in my prayers,” “I’ll pray for you,” or “I’m sending good energy.” Skeptics among us warn us against this magical thinking: Religious and political analyst and bestselling author Christopher Hitchens says, “I read a long time ago, when I was still, as far as I knew, in good health, a study of intercessory prayer, the most comprehensive one that’s ever been done. And it showed, not at all to my surprise, that there’s no correlation to be found between intercessory prayer and the thriving or otherwise of those for whom the prayers are designed or offered.” It seems, despite warnings like these (or lack of complete understanding), we are at some level convinced that prayer is a viable means to reach beyond ourselves and make a direct connection with some infinite source of divine wisdom and power. We would rather hang on to our hope that our petitions to a higher power beget universal sanction or confluence with the Almighty.

Praying for guidance Beyond our petitions for a better and more comfortable life, beyond what we wish for our loved ones and fellow humans, there is the matter of will, specifically our will vs. God’s will. This is the great divide between believers and non-believers, I am inclined to think. Still, those of us who do not disparage the idea of Divine intelligence also long to be aligned with some higher purpose; to know we are on the “right” path to living a life that has meaning beyond our own trivial self-importance (and corresponding drama). Perhaps the same Divine force that helps us also illuminates our unique purpose and the path that leads to it; our contribution to the legacy of our children, to our community, and to having made some real and significant difference to humanity.

The same source of guidance could help us live a fulfilling and meaningful life so we can look back and be able to say “I strove for my full human potential and am proud to have mustered the courage to seek the clearest path to do so.” We can leave this world filled with deep gratitude at the innumerable opportunities we have had to make the world a better place, ultimately seeing that the Divine plan was, at every turn, better than we could have orchestrated or dreamed of despite the lessons, losses and hardships we met. We can rest at our death, our final breath, knowing we did our best to understand the ultimate privilege our life has been.  Beyond all other forms, praying for guidance I believe is the crucial imperative; to be in co-creation with The Divine (God).

I need no other proof than the empirical evidence of my own life, the perfect laboratory for comparative analysis: “A life with guidance” vs. “A life without.” The extraordinary results of guidance explicitly changed my course. Seeking to align my will with God’s will through practice has been, no doubt, the answer to my ultimate prayers and heart’s greatest desires. I still pray for guidance about specific things and for others, but now my prayers end with “This or something better, thy not my will be done.” As a person who has spent a lifetime struggling to wake up, stay awake and in service to helping people attract and create healthy, fulfilling relationships beginning with themselves, I say to you: praying for guidance is the Alpha and the Omega, the open secret leading you to a life beyond your wildest imagination.

Practice: Find a quiet place, without distraction. Close your eyes, turn your attention inwards. And pray, “Show me the way.” Then lean in…all the way in…and listen until you hear and see until you know.

6th of 7 essential truths: Keep your eye on the ball ~ your life purpose

The sixth truth: your life purpose is your North Star on your journey. The practice: keep your eye on the ball. This truth is about, “What are you doing on the planet? Why are you here?” As you start to understand and realize who you really are, the next obvious question that you’ll probably continue to ask yourself along your journey is “What am I doing here? Am I moving towards anything? And what does that mean?” I think it’s important here to pause and ask yourself that very question, “Where am I? What am I doing and why?” The first thing that comes forward for most of us is that what we’re doing is usually motivated from a wound. I’ll explain that. Who I am being today, my false self, who I’m not, is being or doing something as a result of something I learned as a kid. “I want to be a doctor when I grow up. My mother wants me to be this. My father wants me to be that. If I’m in real estate, I’ll make a lot of money.” The choices we make are typically coming out of a survival mode, which is not who we are.

Yes, we have to survive on the planet. Absolutely. Right here is a good place to bring forward a statistic that’s pretty staggering: Thirty million people today suffer from anxiety disorders. Another thirty million suffer from depression. In my 20+ years of working with people, myself most intimately, I can link this directly to not knowing who I am and not knowing what I’m doing here.

When I found out who I was, that was the first part of the journey. Then, if I don’t know why I’m here, that’s the other part. We need to know. It’s just the way we’re wired. “Why am I here? What are my special gifts?” We all want to make a contribution. Most of us don’t get beyond survival, so we go back to spinning the story of who our parents want us to be or who we feel we have to be in order to survive. So for most people, this feels like a luxury, inquiring about life purpose, but it’s critical. It’ll make the difference between getting out of bed because you have to, versus because you want to. How do you find out? Simply ask the question, “What am I doing here?” Another thing to notice is the things that already attract you. “Wow, I notice that I’m continually drawn to working with people.” You’re service-oriented. Or perhaps you’re good with your hands.

Another really great question to ask is “When do I feel most alive?” Go inside and start to notice. It could be something as simple as, “I notice my body expands when I’m outside.” You might want to keep a log; see if maybe your life purpose isn’t a consistent behavior. There are plenty of things you can do on the planet—let yourself have them all and write them down. Notice what you love, what makes you feel alive, what makes you feel good about who you are, and continue towards those things, not excluding what we need to do to take care of ourselves.

You know what support looks like now, so this place that you’re asking inside yourself is supported by who you really are. You know how to inquire. You know how to listen to your body. You have a practice and now you’re going to start to notice here, the same way we’ve done in every other place, “What am I doing? How do I feel while I’m doing it? How does it make me feel about myself?” You’re gathering evidence. The guidance that we start to get will be clearer because we will have cleaned out those filters. We can pay attention. We’re not busy just trying to survive or get our needs met. This is kind of a reward type of place. People who know what they’re doing on the planet oftentimes are given that information as a result of clearing out, listening, checking in. So it’s something to look forward to.

It’s a process. We just keep growing and expanding, so there’s no perfect, final answer. I’m not even sure I could tell you the name of my life purpose, except I know that when I get out of bed, I am thrilled to be six feet above ground and serving you. That’s it. I’m not looking to fill myself up anymore outside of myself. These are ways you’ll know: You’ll feel complete. It’ll feel like yes. You’ll feel satiated. Your contribution feels whole. You feel good about how you are. There isn’t the residue. There isn’t the fatigue of feeling drained, of giving too much. It’s your pleasure to do this thing.

In the busy day-to-day world, even when we know what our life purpose is, it’s easy to fall off the path in the myriad of thousands of details that we have to attend to—our families, our loved ones, our just being human attending to our body’s needs. Come back and remind yourself, “What am I doing here? Right, that’s what.” It puts things in a kind of perspective. It gives you a context for being, a container, a direction. It’s like being a missile and having a sight. We all know what it feels like to be an unguided missile. We just need some direction and focus. It’s another place to look.

So, what’s your purpose this year? What are you committed to? How can you incorporate more of what you love into your livelihood? Then create a loose plan and set your intentions to move towards creating that! You might go so far as to enlist a dream team—folks you already know who can help mentor you and turn those dreams into reality!

5th of 7 Essential Truths: Surround yourself with supportive people

  It’s been said that you are a sum total of the five closest people you hang around. The first time I heard this I was floored. My circle of friends was hardly a dream team. Never mind who those people were—truth is, I always felt so lucky when anyone wanted to be my friend, I had no idea it could rub off! It being, you know… their defects of character. Which when one translates this predicament literally, as I first did, it’s easy to miss the actual point; who I am becoming in your presence? Hence, why we would be well-advised to surround ourselves with supportive people. Online and off.

Let’s start with online support: Today more than ever we are exposed to every type of person, each with a myriad of personality traits, especially online. That’s because, according to studies, most of us portray ourselves as the person we would like people to see us as rather than who we believe ourselves to be. A Pew Internet & American Life Project survey (2000) showed online women in particular believe that their use of email has strengthened their relationships and increased their contact with relatives and friends. Most of us would imagine that having 4,000 online friends and more frequent contact actually increases our self-esteem, yet a decade later we aren’t convinced that the quality of our relationships or our ability to be truly intimate has increased.

Basically, more is more and you’re still you. Who we really are, beneath the personality (persona) that we develop and present to the outside world, is only penetrable under circumstances in which real intimacy can occur. Trust, respect, feeling safe and having real-life experiences open us up to intimacy cognitively, emotionally and spiritually.

More is more. Recent studies show that the type of person you portray yourself as and attract online is more likely to be a projection of the type of person you would like people to think you are (and believe they are), which is in conflict with the truth about who you believe you are. This cognitive dissonance is the new kind of friction or excitement many of us are getting hooked on. It has little to do with real people enjoying and supporting each other. Up close and in-person support/warm body support.

Having people actually stand for who you are, really be there for you, know your heart, your dreams and desires, takes more than this level of connection. While one can certainly feel supported in these arenas, transparency and self-disclosure along with time, respect and trust equals intimacy, which is what we need to feel supported.

A decade later we might be asking a slightly different question: “Has the overall quality of my life changed for the better as a result of my online support system?” When I was growing up, I was given the sage advice: “If you can count your real friends on one hand you are lucky.” So right now, start counting all the people who support you becoming the best version of yourself, and take a moment to tell each of them how much you appreciate and adore them!

4th of 7 essential truths: Put only good things in your mind

For me, this has been no easy feat. Up until the spring of 1997, despite having mustered success in many areas of my life, when it came to my mind I mostly believed that what my mind told me was true. If I was afraid, it didn’t hesitate—up popped a list of the top ten things to fear. If I felt insecure, it gave me reasons for that, too. And in its spare time, when it wasn’t busy attending to the moment-to-moment needs, it tried to mastermind exactly how I was going to survive and get my needs met or navigate away from pain. Which was ironic, given what I came to find. I was a single mom, and like many of us had a lot on my plate. (I often felt like I had an extra helping.) And while I had done more than my share of personal development homework, my arsenal of self-help and psycho-spiritual revelations were lacking here; my mind and its constant machinations trumped everything!

Thanks to my body-centered self-inquiry practice, which I had been doing religiously for two years (prompted by equal parts pain and heartache), and new scientific evidence, I decided to look deeper (okay, I surrendered). In that place I saw how my mind was not actually the master I believed, that it was a servant after all. Understanding this truth was the next step I needed to help me create the life my heart truly desired. I discovered that my health, happiness, prosperity, peace of mind, and basically my relationship to everything depended on it!

Until this point I had no idea I had as much “control” of what went into and on in my mind as I did, which naturally made me wonder, what else was going on up there beneath my awareness? I wish I could say the answer to that was tidy and straightforward. It wasn’t. It was a double feature; “Opening Pandora’s Box” plus “Clash of the Titans.” My mind was used to certain patterns and ways of being that it was familiar with, that were comfortable—hell, they were survival-based! And now, not only were they being examined, but threatened with extinction. Let’s just say it was a mess for a while until I got things sorted out. Kinda like a hostile takeover but with really great intentions!

Now everything that I had believed up until that point was suspect. My inventory list was long, yet thankfully fell into two categories; does this thinking serve me or not? Now I could tell the difference between the automatic beliefs and patterns that just rolled on a continuous and unexamined loop, and the present I who was able to inquire, examine, and choose. This understanding almost immediately changed the overall quality of my life; many things got better right away, in some areas almost overnight. My practice now included the statement, “Just because my mind tells me something doesn’t mean it’s true.”

Fear, something that I had felt victim of, was now a thought to be examined. (I’m not talking about being confronted with a saber-tooth tiger—and anyway, how often does that happen?) The questions arose, “Is this really happening? Am I really in danger? What is at risk? What are my choices?” I learned to sit quietly and follow Essential Truths 1 and/or 2. If my mind told me I was being judged, I used the same process, except it may have taken me a bit longer to figure out what I was feeling, which then stimulated the thought (Essential Truths 1 AND 2).

How can you use this insight? Everything and anything you think is now up for evaluation. Then there are the more subtle thoughts that are disguised by subtle feelings, or that whiz by and don’t want to be exposed. You can use Essential Truths 1 and 2 and maybe 3 too. Maybe you’ve had too much caffeine or not enough rest, in which case your thoughts should be highly suspect when making important decisions. Then there is the popular matter of self-talk. Again, same process works. Is what you just heard actually real? Inquire, then choose.

Last but in no way least are a few other items like practice and time. Replacing entrenched thoughts is like playing a Whac-A-Mole game; it just takes time for this tide to turn. Don’t worry—if you really want it, practice, and are diligent you will get the hang of it in those tougher areas. Don’t give up!  And then check out your TV-watching, your reading materials, and the people you hang out with and the litter their minds potentially create. My awareness of those things developed out of first attending to my most debilitating mental activity and chatter. Then I starting paying even more attention to what I was actually putting in my mind, never mind what had already been programmed in there or that I was unconsciously perpetuating. Maybe you just need a tuneup, a reminder, or have one area or another that needs particular attention. Whatever your situation, I hope I have made a case for how putting only good things in your mind can help!

It certainly has for me and the friends and clients I know who practice it!

3rd of 7 essential truths: Put good things in your body

So, you are listening to your body! Moving your body! Now PUT GOOD THINGS IN YOUR BODY! The 3rd of my 7 Essential Truths, part of my daily practice:

I don't know about you but I am sensitive! And while I love it on the one hand—I'm intuitive, feel things deeply, am easily moved, can pick up the slightest cues, etc., etc.—the other hand can be heavy. If I eat too much sugar/processed foods/alcohol, overindulge with healthy foods, or forget to eat, my mind/body/spirit system goes out of balance. I can get wacky, even wacko-doodle-do. I can feel sick, too high, low emotionally, low energy, irritable, unable to concentrate, and so forth. I had to thresh out the truth of my relationship with "garbage in, garbage out." I resisted (and sometimes still do, and pay for it) the fact that these things affect me, whether I like it or not. I made a decision: If I want to feel good and want my body/mind/spirit to function optimally, I take care to put only good things in it! If I don’t, I pay the price.

MY “TOMORROW ME" This would be a good time to introduce one of my favorite helpers: I call her my “tomorrow me." My tomorrow me helps me think through these kinds of choices. She helps me make future decisions rather than gloss over them, deny them, or downright ignore them. She helps me THINK IT THROUGH. She reminds me that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and if I want the good stuff I need to make good decisions! She helps set me up in advance for success. Rather than scrambling around cleaning up after my poor choices and/or beating myself up then vowing to get back on track (which can be an addictive pattern in itself), here’s an example of how I deal when she helps me.

I recently had friends in town; not just any friend, one of the best friends I have ever had. We don't get to see each other often, and when we do, whoooohooooo. The pattern used to be to put life “on hold" and get back to it after. This time, instead of throwing caution to the wind, which would be easy to do, my tomorrow me and I created a plan, setting myself up to succeed. This scenario looked like my 80/20 plan, which is a way of life, really, and leaves room for when things like this happen. I let myself indulge, but in ways that didn't harm me or send me too far off track. Like having some chocolate and some chips but staying the course—remembering to take my supplements, drink extra water, etc. And when I felt like I was missing out (“Look, everyone else is still drinking, eating crap, blah blah…”) I would self-inquire and ask myself what I really wanted. And would get more clarity on what I was feeling so I could give myself the healthy version of what I wanted or felt I needed! ‘Cause the truth is, I don't want to hurt myself or make myself feel bad.

INTUITIVE EATING Another tip I use is eating intuitively. The body always knows what it needs to stay in balance, and it took me a while to get used to stopping and asking myself, my body, what it wanted. I developed the habit and it serves me well! It’s simple. I start out with “Am I actually hungry? Or am I thirsty?” Next is “Do I want/need salty or savory, protein or carbohydrate?” It’s amazing, because my body always knows! It may take a few times to get the hang of it, but this is an awesome way to feed your temple and keep that balance I mentioned earlier! You can continue the dialogue all the way through: “Have I had enough? Who in me wants more?” etc. Sometimes I notice I want to be comforted, or am avoiding the truth about what’s going on, or am in the midst of making a poor choice for whatever reason. I remind myself that no matter what I eat I am going to get full, so I might as well feel good about my choices all the way around!

The results are consistent: put only good things in our bodies and we function better in every area! Bonus—we also inspire other people to make better choices, in a world filled with the temptation to fall asleep and forget how to take great care of ourselves. Besides…if we don't, who will?

2nd of 7 essential truths: Move your body

The ego-self loves thinking it is the Alpha and Omega. Alas for it, there is a higher truth…if we have the courage to find it! I discovered this in a desperate attempt to get past my self-defeating patterns (and suffering). Try as I might, my mind could only take me to a certain point. It was only when I dropped into my body-, belly- and heart-brain that I found real freedom of being, and came to understand the body as the center of intelligence. I then realized what they meant by “The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.” That's because the mind is here to serve our body by helping interpret its wisdom and intelligence so we are free to follow our spirit. I have never suffered since; I found the thing I truly longed for. The place I call “awake and home”! Here's the way I found to get there. Our bodies are always talking to us, so

1) Listen up!

2) Stand quietly with your eyes closed in a safe and quiet place (preferably out of anyone’s earshot) and begin a gentle, curious scan. From head to toe, inside out, ask yourself: “What’s here?”

3) Notice what happens after the chatter settles. LISTEN and you will hear. Perhaps a new language at first, but your body will tell you everything and anything you want to know!

4) Pay attention to which parts of your body are saying something. A tight fist, jaw or neck each has plenty to say. What most wants or needs your attention? Follow that. Whatever it is—you name it—I PROMISE, your body is talking.

5) Let it up and out! This part takes particular courage. It may seem awkward or uncomfortable at first to talk to your fist or tight stomach or achy head, and then simply listen, but trust me when I tell you, the payoff is FREEDOM of being! No more will you be disconnected from your path or what’s true for you. No longer will you be held hostage by unclarity or external demands! Even if the message is to sit and do nothing, this answer will lead you to what is most true for you; ultimately to the life you truly wish to love! You will be amazed and hooked for life—the gifts of listening will flow endlessly.

6) Love brings up everything unlike itself. I believe everything but Love is a projection or an opportunity to heal and come into alignment with our true nature and purpose. That said, when we first start our practice of body-centered self-inquiry (which is what the SHOMI method is), the crusty layers may contain strong and even painful feelings. That’s okay. They need to be witnessed and felt at the same time so they can finally heal. Your light will eventually shine through so your spirit can soar more regularly. For some of us this takes time and work as we have to clear out that old stuff first. I did this for two straight years, yeesh! I was so committed, but it was truly the best investment of time I have ever made. I am a different person today and I thrive! So can you!

If you need additional support I have books, a CD, an online course (click HERE to find out more), and do private phone coaching. Or in person if you live in Nor Cal. Ultimately, this is a practice that can be done on your own, with a witness or even with a group.

Get ready to be FREE!  I wish you every blessing!

Don't just talk about it...SHOMI! First of 7 essential truths for the New Year

One of my favorite ways to bring in the new year is to recommit to a daily practice. And I'm delighted to be able to share with you my personal practice, specifically the 7 essential truths that literally have changed—at times, saved—my life. Many years ago I may not have thought that life was much worth saving. Today, as a result of this practice, instead of being consumed by self-loathing, plagued by anxiety, or trying to cover up extreme insecurity, I live a healthy, fulfilling and blessed life. Over the years, my 7 essential truths have replaced the self-defeating patterns and become as much a part of me as breath itself. Over the next 7 weeks I will share each one with you in the most personal and practical way possible. Perhaps you too suffered as I did, and pray somehow that your struggles, challenges, or pain and suffering will end. That you might find at last you have a unique and important purpose, and that real love will find you. And that ultimately who you really are is divine and sacred.

Week One: 1) Listen to your body! The body never liesI spent years swimming around in my mind, when it was my body that held the answers I truly sought. I developed the SHOMI® method of body-centered self-inquiry because I found that when we don’t know what we feel, we don't know what we need. I started by spending 5-10 min every day, standing with my eyes gently closed, my attention turned inward, asking myself the question, “What’s here?” and waiting for my body to speak to me. It took me a while to learn to speak this new language, but boy, when I did my life changed forever. Finally I could be my own witness. I could unravel the years and years of feeling unseen, unloved and misunderstood. I learned to attend to myself in a way that I thought only another could. I became what I refer to as internally referenced and found my authentic true nature, my god-self at last! Then my life truly began; after healing old traumas and hurts I was free to be present and finally know myself—and more, give myself—what I needed.

My only warning is to take care, real care to be ready to see your true magnificence that lies beneath the crusty layers. Don't give up; your radiant self awaits you!  If you like, have a therapist, a dear friend, or a dog (that’s what I did) bear witness for extra support at first. (P.S. I teach this work, too, if you live in Nor Cal.) And remember, be gentle, Love brings up everything unlike itself. Also trust yourself, there is a natural rhythm that reveals itself in each of us—follow it!

Re-cap: Set your alarm for 5-10 minutes every day: Stop what you are doing, stand, or sit, gently close your eyes, turn your attention inwards (what you seek is not OUT THERE, it’s always inside) and ask, “What’s here?” Your body will do the rest: shapes, colors, sound, images will rise and fall, and ultimately all will help you heal and find your way! Don't just talk about it...SHOMI!

How will I know when someone is telling me the truth?

My dog ate a ten dollar bill in the prosperity corner of my house today. I will get to the relevance of this canine maneuver in a minute. Let me first pose our ASK MARYANNE question which is, “When I ask someone I just met an important question, like ‘Are you married?’ or ‘Do you have an STD?’ how do I know if he is telling me the truth about it?” For those with a shorter attention span, the answer is—you won’t—so Maryanne sez, don’t sleep with them until you find out for sure. And even then, there are thirteen or so other questions you need to know before you even consider entering into that sacred contract and dropping your drawers! (My book, Hindsight, What You Need To Know Before You Drop Your Drawers, has those thirteen questions in it and more…) Here comes the long-winded answer, for the patient folks. But first the dog. So I see this crumpled up thing—it’s green. Does not resemble regular puppy paraphernalia from a distance. I hone in and as I get closer I realize it looks suspiciously like money. I admit I’m a little excited (I just love finding money in my pocket or...anywhere really). I lean down to reclaim what turns out to be a tattered half of a ten dollar bill. I look round for the rest and find a few other scraps that match and now I am on a mission to reconstruct this note—to no avail, I am afraid—when my 17-year-old walks in and informs me casually, “You can take any denomination of money into the bank that’s been ripped as long as you have 52% or more of it in your possession.” I look at him like he’s Einstein and said “Where did you learn that?” to which he flippantly replied, “Uh...in fourth grade,” grabbed his vitamin water and disappeared. Suddenly feeling ten dollars richer (and slightly embarrassed I missed that class in the fourth grade) I look at my dog and instead of being upset I think, now why would a dog eat money? Is it because the prosperity corner had her in some trance? (For those of you who haven’t fallen under the spell of the latest fad of feng shui, of feng sha nay nay as I like to joke, it’s an ancient practice having to do with the flow of energy as it relates to space and things. Not Webster’s definition by the way, for you fanatics who I am sure will look it up and correct me. Love that about you guys. Anyway.) Okay so now I am on a tangent about why dogs eat anything, and suddenly am left to ponder why they seem to have so little discrimination—or maybe it’s what I said, she was under a spell. So because I wanted to know I ended up telling myself, “She’s a dog, that’s what they do” and left it at that. Number one, because I couldn’t ask her, and number two, it wasn’t something I cared enough about to waste any more time over.

So what the flock does this have to with the ASK MARYANNE question which is, how will you know when someone is telling you the truth? Well, unlike my dog, the person you are interviewing as a potential partner can speak—but unlike my dog, you cannot come to such conclusions so easily without potentially putting yourself in harm’s way. If I asked my dog why she ate the money, being a dog she would probably say ‘cause it was there. As for your interviewees, they have brains that have well-developed behavior patterns and strong personality tendencies to go with them, and it is your job to take care to research whether or not what this person does and says match. In real life when it comes to human beings, you will have to take this kind of vigilance and commitment over time—and bottom line that’s what it takes to know if people are who they say they are! Maryanne sez, “Watch what people say and what they do and make sure they match (before you drop your drawers).”

Got friends?

My mother told me I was lucky if I could count all my real friends on one hand! Must have been fifteen or so years ago now, when it occurred to me after a string of disappointing intimate relationships that maybe she was right—again. That it might be wise to invest more time in creating some deep and lasting friendships, as they theoretically seemed to have greater staying power and could be in many ways equally fulfilling, perhaps in some ways even more.

I must add that, up until that that point, my history with friendships was rather sketchy and my role models even more so. My mother barely trusted women (her best friend slept with my dad) and my father, well, made a lot of offers people couldn’t refuse. Childhood aside, the relationship skills I had gathered afforded me as many pleasant and happy memories as traumatic or forgettable ones. Over the years, many of the friendships had been more fragile than I liked, and oftentimes out of balance one way or the other. Either I was too needy or too unavailable, or our lifestyles were not totally compatible—being a single mom certainly didn’t help. Yet, the ones I did maintain (for whatever length of time) offered a mutual comfort that, when absent, left me yearning for that very specific kind of connection that only a platonic camaraderie offers—one that, no matter how compatible, a sexual relationship does not.

Finding this handful of friends is, in many cases, no easy task; especially given the cultural fad of vapid, disposable, let’s-do-lunch, I-love-you-after-five-minutes, overweening, entitled, texting, emotionally handicapped, walking wounded human beings most of us act like. And that’s before you even get to hello. Finding your peeps, as they say, isn’t as easy as it seems but, like all good things, is definitely worth the work!

So, how do you tell if someone is got the right stuff to be your new BFF or just a GF? I figure that most of our same propensities arise when it comes to friendship as they do in an intimate relationship—except, of course, Le sexe. It’s safe to say that we are looking for many of the same things in a friendship that we are looking for in a relationship. With a few exceptions:

  • Someone to hang out with (you actually like)
  • Someone you have something in common with (aside from Le sexe)
  • Someone who will listen to your incessant or inane whining should it arise, however untimely
  • Someone who will show a genuine interest in you and your life, however ordinary or dull
  • Someone who has a high tolerance for your weaknesses
  • Someone who will have your back if ever need be
  • Someone you can count on (from OMG I have nothing to wear to my high school reunion, to OMG I have breast cancer and need someone to hold my hand during chemo)
  • Someone who will tell me the truth even if I don’t want to hear it (with compassion when needed)
  • Who doesn’t care if I am 10 pounds overweight (fill in the blank)
  • And still love me if I decide to shave my head, take up drumming and move to India for a year

Finding these select few, these magical, unconditionally (most of the time) loving phenoms can take some sussing out. Once you have decided that you want some great ones—who, if you’re lucky, just may be around throughout your lifetime—here are a few things to keep in mind. They just might make your journey a little easier done than said!

  • Set your intention—it works with friends too. Maybe you want to make two or three new good friends in the next year. Set achievable goals.
  • Set forth your criteria. What do you want? I wanted girlfriends who were self-sustaining, had a daily practice of self-care, who were on a similar spiritual track, and who had impeccable communication skills, etc.
  • List your non-negotiables, the things that just won’t work for you. One of mine was, “If you are upset you need to tell me directly and not make unilateral decisions that affect me as well.”
  • Interview well, ask good questions and wait and see if their actions match their words.
  • Don’t settle (even if you’re bored or desperate, you’ll be sorry you did!).
  • Tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable, better now than later, I always say.
  • Set your boundaries regarding money, men, and all things sacred!
  • Give as much as you get and make sure it flows the other way too!
  • Take your time, no need to rush, getting to know a new friend is fun and should be savored, and trust is built over time
  • Most of all, be silly, be yourself, and have some fun!

And remember, great relationships, including friendships, begin within!

 

Date and mate like you're rich, for free!

To an outsider looking in, it must appear that our dating culture is based around monetary worth. And that’s not too far from the truth – we use money as a tool not only for dating, but for hanging onto a relationship that might otherwise fall apart. After all the initial daily expenses of food, movie tickets, gas, parking, condoms, hotel rooms, drinks, cover charges at clubs, the price of being with someone only gets more expensive. The gifts can get more and more extravagant, and eventually more and more personal, as well. What starts out as buying your lover an iPhone or a mp3 player, can lead to you helping out with their debts, lending them money on a regular basis, or whatever else they start expecting from you. When you begin a relationship on the basis of your bank account, it can be impossible to shift your worth in the relationship away from just your willingness to spend money on the other person. The true cost of this? The pricelessness of selling your soul.

As short a time as it may seem, most relationships begin to decline after six weeks. There’s the initial game of using the tools of insecurity to lure a mate, where texting turns to sexting and, very soon, actual sex. But then once all those cards are out on the table, there’s really nothing left, and when the person you’re dating sees that underneath the games, you’re just a human being and not some fantasy of perfection, they no longer want to play. If you’re lucky, you manage to leave first, instead of being left. That’s the depressing best-case scenario.

We all dream about how nice it would be to be accepted in a relationship for who we really are, not just what we look like or how much money we have, but most people write this off as an unrealistic fantasy that can’t exist in the real world. But if you look at some of the pioneers who are beginning to dedicate their lives to waking up and living in a self-aware state, you can see that we are actually in a prime position to start turning this thing around, to begin evolving into a culture of people who look within ourselves to find the love and worth that already exists there, dormant and waiting for our acceptance.

This is actually a really lucky time for us to be on this earth and looking for love. We are at a pivotal time in our history, where we are beginning to accept that there is more to attracting a mate than just baiting someone with physical lust or an impressive bank balance. We are free to exercise our ability to choose to stop playing the blame game, to accept personal responsibility for how we behave, not only with others but as separate entities. We are in a position where we can stop following our bodies around, looking for instant gratification, and can instead contemplate our choices, and make healthy decisions based on what we can expect the consequences to be.

And how does knowing this get you into the world of dating like a rich person? You just have to stop and see where your real value lies. Because it’s not in your bank account, or in your bra cup, or in the car you drive or your willingness to buy gifts for someone. It’s the fact that you are a spectacular, unique representation of divinity, and there is no one else who can be you in the way that you are. This is a profound realization, and acceptance of it is the greatest and most valuable secret to attracting the mate you really want. All you have to do is fall in love with yourself, look within you for the happiness you seek, and then put yourself out there for others to see. Showing the world the positive feelings you have about who you are is your golden ticket, and as I always say, great relationships begin within!

4 useful questions to ask when confronted by "The Pink Elephant"

While most of us have developed various coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with such blustery situations, including confrontation, therapy, drinking heavily, freaking out, leaving, and divorce, the pink elephant is quite a different animal! For those who aren't so familiar with this unwelcome visitor, the pink elephant is commonly referred to as "... an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss." (Wikipedia) You see, in most cases when confronted with certain truths we know what to do, or at least have some vague idea and are compelled to take action because some line has been crossed and all people involved implicitly agree and act accordingly. Whereas when the pink elephant appears...it just hangs there like the house guest who never leaves. Some examples might be: your roommate keeps eating all your food and never admits it or offers to pay, but you don't say anything because you can't afford to live there without them so you carry on as if nothing's wrong, him shamelessly eating his way through your house and home and you cringing every time you see him secretly wanting to scream: "STOP EATING MY FOOD, YOU FOOD STEALER, LEECH, COUCH POTATO, MOOCHER!" Or maybe your boyfriend drinks too much, too often and embarrasses and scares you, but you don't say anything because he says he can't live without you and...you are financially dependent on him and afraid to be alone so you muddle through growing more and more emotionally distant, eventually having angry or passive obligatory sex because now you can't stand when he touches you, yet you don't have the courage or resources to say no, so you don't.

Or maybe your closest relative, the one you have spent every birthday and holiday with for most of your life, has just embezzled money from his boss (who you know intimately) and neither one of you says anything to the other partly because you are in shock, you can't believe they would ever do such a thing, and partly because you don't even know what to say. Really...what does one say in such circumstances? Weeks and months pass while you tell yourself they will come around, make things right...right? Then after months of no one saying anything, a family function presents itself and out of what feels like the complete blue they send you an invitation as though nothing's happened and sign the card "love and miss you"... and you think What the?

Or maybe someone owes you money and said they would pay you, yet every time you see them they don't mention it and well, because you're a polite person and don't want to seem rude or desperate or (fill in the blank) you suck it up and tell yourself, if they don't mention it next time you will say something except in between now and next time you realize this isn't the first time this has happened and that this person always seems to borrow money and not pay you back, and further has some convenient, tear-jerking story about why they can't. So naturally you, being the loving, understanding person you are, wouldn't ask someone who is down and out to pay you back when they are going through hard times...except you notice when you see them next they tell you about the trip they just took or the new jacket they just bought or show you their new cell phone and you think...What the...?

So, what do you do when you don't know what to do? When clearly something is amiss and no one is saying anything about it? The great thing about the pink elephant phenomenon is that it disappears almost completely as soon as one person has the courage to speak it. Literally poof...gone. The challenge is, more often than not as I illustrated, it feels like so much is at stake so we put it off. The problem in that scenario is obvious: the elephant remains or in some cases, grows proportionately. So before you buy a voodoo doll or go postal or, worse, try to make the elephant your pet, here are a few suggestions I recommend when you find yourself faced with the pink beast:

1. How important is it? What's the relative importance of this issue on a scale of paper-cut to open-heart surgery? If it's really an ego issue or a matter of pride or some other such nonsense, then you may want to deal with that rather than make a bigger issue out of something when there is no need. On the other hand, if you decide it's a major deal at least you have taken the first step to putting the situation in some perspective.

2. What have you really got to lose? There is an expression, "You can't lose what you never had." So why not take a real honest look and see what it is you're really dealing with here. You may want to consult an expert, pray, see a therapist or talk openly with a friend. See if you can't get some clarity and objective about the situation and see what's truly at stake. Never underestimate the power of support nor the power of the Divine illumination!!

3. Take the high road! They call the high road the road less traveled for a reason; namely because it's not always easy to say what needs to be said or do the right thing. Don't let that stop you. As my mother always says, "This isn't a dress rehearsal, bring you're A game," and in the end you will know in your heart you were true to yourself!

4. Trust yourself, above all...you know the answer. The truth is always right there inside you, sometimes it just takes a while to get our courage up to do what we know we have to! On that you can always rely!