Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Forgiveness - It Changes Lives

One of the most DIFFICULT practices and yet the EASIEST taught is the  Art of Forgiveness."  It's difficult because you have to do it for 40 days.  If you  miss a day, you have to start over.  Even if you get to day 39 and you forget that day, you must start over.  There's power in the numerology of 40 days.  On
the other side of the equation, it's easy because when you do it, 
it works.  

Whenever Forgiveness was presented at the Retreats there were often times quiet skepticism.  (Yes, we know.  We saw it on the faces looking back at us.)  But, you listened respectfully because you trusted us to be teaching practices that work.  

When  someone writes about a success story with the 40 Day Forgiveness Practice, it inspires everyone.  Not the least the woman who did it and got results half way into the 40 days.  For the work of Forgiveness, is getting out of the way, relinquishing the need to rehash "the story" over and over, and to see the other person in a different light.  To just let them be, and for you to be free of the entanglements.

Here's what came in an email recently.  "I decided to try doing the forgiveness prayer with my next door neighbor who has been unpleasant and very difficult with us as neighbors.  I have to admit, I was very skeptical, but decided to do what you said and give it a shot.  Without knowing it, the day I started was the same day our neighbor's mother-in-law died.  (She had been staying with him and his wife - next door to us.)

When I found out about the death, I decided to give them a mass card, in honor of the mother.  (It's not something I would have ever done before.)  Within a day or two, the neighbor saw my husband working outside and thanked him.  Previously he would never make eye contact with us.  Then, the wife came over and thanked us. 

Since I began the Forgiveness Practice the neighbor actually has held a conversation with my husband, and he smiled at me in passing yesterday.  WOW!! Everything feels very different between us now and it's only been 18 days.  It does work, and I feel freer. "  

This is the Art of Forgiveness which works in its own way, at its own pace, and in its own time! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Now What?

The nature of living or "be-ing" is activity. It's not possible to be in this life and not experience it. Or at least becoming aware of that. Living is movement. It's creative. It's doing. In the doing we're usually invested in the outcome. The results are generally predictable given the effort expended. When done, we take pride in the accomplishment, elevating the results to the next level, and then jumping right in as the next idea comes along. As soon as the idea takes form, a new level of activity begins anew.

Women too have a nature. Like the bees in a collective, we soar when nurturing, caring, tending, cleaning up or doing for others. If the bees were not around the food supply would end in four years. Like the bees, if women were not around the gentleness and nurturing we exude would also disappear making the world a harsher place. This care-taking is who we are and it's what we do.

But one day something happens. After being "actively out there" for so long you come full circle
and realize care-taking also means taking care of yourself too. On that day you say, "Stop! I need time off." It's a break from whatever work you've been doing or whatever activity has been consuming your time. Time off gives you permission to get away, recharge your batteries, travel perhaps, or do something totally different. It can be scary for some, or a glorious opportunity to re-invent yourself.

In one scenario your work is known and accepted and loved. The awards or accolades prove it. But if you stop that activity you might wonder, what if no one is there when you're ready to come back? That's the sticking point for many who think about taking care of themselves. The very act of being away for a period of time will stop them from experiencing renewal or the reinvention of themselves. They become stagnant like the lobster whose shell is too tight. The lobster must shed the shell, then somehow protect itself from predators while the new shell grows and hardens. Either way, if the lobster doesn't shed the shell it dies. If it does shed the shell, it might also die. The lobster always chooses to shed the shell. It's the activity nature of lobster!

The process of "care-taking" ourselves begins with periods of deep self-reflection. It's a form of
"taking stock" of where you are, mentally, physically and/or spiritually. Ask the hard questions. Where am I in my life? What do I want to be doing this time next year? What compels or motivates me? Where do I want to be spending my time? Will that fulfill me? Write down the answers then ask the questions again and again until the answers are refined.

When the self-reflection is done and you have a course of action outlined, ask yourself the most important question. What Now? That question puts into motion the next step for the direction you wish to go. Whatever the next step is, begin from right where you are. It's the most perfect place. If you're a mom or a teacher guiding children, it's the perfect place. If you're a grandmother taking care of grandchildren, it's the perfect place. If you work in your own business or for someone else, it's the perfect place. No matter where that place is, each of us has a role that contributes to the wholeness of all of us. From that place a new beginning emerges and your role in it is gloriously guaranteed.

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - May 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Walk in My Shoes

Walk in My Shoes
Several women went out to dinner. After the waiter took our orders, there was a brief lull in the
conversation. Then one woman, new to the group, asked if we'd seen any of the Academy Award movies. "Only 3 Billboards." I replied. "There's one you should really see." she said in a delightful French accent. She filled in some blanks about it, including the fact that Allison Janney from West Wing was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the film.

"What's the name of the movie?" I asked. "I,Tonya." she replied. "The ice skater who hit Nancy Kerrigan on the knee with a pipe at the Olympics? That Tonya?" Confirming it was Tonya Harding the conversation erupted into long held beliefs about Tonya Harding. There were many derogatory comments about Tonya's shortcomings; her sordid heritage; her lack of class; and her limited education. There was visible pain reflected on the face of the French woman when the comments degraded to calling Tonya, "white trash."

One of the women, noticing the French woman's expression and wondering if the use of the word had escaped translation, asked, "Do you know what white trash means?" The French woman said she had never heard the word until she came to America and the word upset her greatly. She said she could never understand how Americans use the term so freely without any regard for another person. "There's such hate and a lack of compassion when they say the words," she said.

Sometimes, a seemingly casual conversation can turn into a powerful reveal. The conversation stopped. Staring at each one of us, she asked if we knew any of the hardships Tonya had gone through to achieve skating success. A few sheepishly said the only thing they knew about Tonya was what they had seen on the news. "You really should see the film, it may change your mind." she told us. Her words, filled with sadness, had a great impact on all of us. We vowed to see the film, not knowing how greatly it would change the conversation.

From the age of three, Tonya was the victim of her mother's verbal and physical abuse. She was psychologically beaten down and told she was worthless. The only thing she could do well was ice skate. But her uniforms, hand-sewn and drab because the family had no money, brought her additional shame. When she married, her husband continued the physical beatings. She eventually dropped out of school to skate professionally but, because of her gritty background, never measured up to the more elegant and glamorous skaters. Her technical abilities, landing a perfect 6 in a Triple Axle at the US 
Championships, were blemished by the Nancy Kerrigan incident. Though her husband was the mastermind, she was blamed and was banned from the sport she loved.

A French woman, visiting the US, called us on the carpet for judging another person without understanding their background. While we all had strong opinions of Tonya, none of us had walked in her shoes. The film forced us to do that. We saw what had transpired in this woman's life to make her behave the way she did. How would we have taken the abuse? Would we have fought back to become a great skater like her? It was a major wake-up call.

In this stridently polarized country we live in, judging another is a national pastime. We're all guilty of it. We do it easily and with great fanfare. We allow the news or social media to supply the opinions that we readily adopt as our own. And, we never seem to be concerned about how the judgments we own are levied on someone else. Why not? Perhaps it's because we've
all failed in the basic admonition, Do not judge another until you've walked a mile in their shoes! We left the film with a better understanding of Tonya. We rose to her defense. We vowed to be mindful of judging others. That's what happens when you Walk in My Shoes.

Post-Script:  Mirai Nagasu landed a Triple Axel in the 2018 Korean Winter Olympics. The media went wild about the "historic accomplishment" for a woman to do three-and-a-half revolutions in the air and land on one foot.  There was nary a mention that twenty-seven years ago (in 1991) Tonya Harding was the FIRST woman to do a Triple Axel in competition. Nary a mention!  We remembered and We Walked in Your Shoes, Tonya! 
                                                                                           Jo Mooy - April 2018

Friday, March 2, 2018

Darius God and Ice Cream

Darius, God and Ice Cream
A sea of adults milled around at a late summer party. Sitting apart from the fray, a small form
with jet black curls bent over a tablet. He ignored the adults, tapping away on his computer. From the moment I saw him, I sensed he was unusual. When the party migrated outside I decided to sit with him. With one or two questions I learned his story. 

He told me he was named Darius "after the great Persian King Darius" asking if I heard of King Darius. Though I had heard of King Darius, young Darius filled in arcane information. I noticed the image of the Milky Way on his tablet. I thought, that's an unusual image for an 8 year old child. But I would soon learn this was normal for Darius. Especially when he showed me the general location of our solar system in what he called "the Interstellar Cloud." I was hooked.

Every day when he comes home from school he watches the Science Channel. It's his favorite thing on TV. His vocabulary is off the charts. Precocious barely begins to describe his self awareness. I learned MIT is already recruiting him and as he told me, he's visited their campus and is taking online astrophysics classes. CNN was on in the background with weather staff talking about the 2017 hurricane season and what was in store for 2018. Listening, Darius corrected the meteorologists' descriptions of the storm, explaining to me the "coefficient of
wave energy in shallow and deep water." Not satisfied with that explanation, he then tied it to Einstein's theory of relativity.

At that point, my interest in this kid went super-nova. I decided if Darius could talk about science the way he was, I'd ask this evolving genius his thoughts on other subjects, like Quantum Physics, the birth of the Universe, matter and non-matter. And so our afternoon conversation began.

"Darius, how did the Universe come into being?" He swatted the answer quickly. "If you're asking me if God created the universe I don't believe in a God. There's absolutely no proof for such a concept. My mom says I should have Faith but that also proves nothing." I returned to the question. "Ok, so how did it originate?" He went into a lengthy explanation about the density of the largest Black Hole in existence which was at the center of all the known galaxies. Making sure I was following him, he asked, "You do know nothing exists inside a Black Hole, right?" I assured him I did but wondered if he would define a Black Hole as a void? 
He answered, "No! It's simply density." He would return to that word "density" often during our conversation.

I persisted in a reasoned line of questioning as I didn't want him to veer off into astrophysics leaving me in the dust. "Look out the window, Darius. Is that tree real?" He looked at it thoughtfully for a while, then said "It's a dense energy field." I agreed, then suggested he peel back the bark and examine it at it's cellular level. "Yes, different levels of density," he replied.

Then I asked him to take it to its quantum level, that of a wave or a particle. "Very cool" he replied, asking how I knew about Quantum Physics.  My stock was rising I imagined.  "Is the tree real?" I asked. "To a degree. It's got density." he said. We continued the discussion at the Quantum level. I asked him, "What if we dissolved everything we could see out the window to the smallest sub-atomic level, like a quark, how did that come into existence?" As his extraordinary brain grappled with that question, he sat quietly for a while. After several minutes staring out the window he said in a most authoritative manner, "There was no beginning!"

Satisfied with that answer the little boy in him asked, "You want to get some ice-cream?" I on the other hand, continue to be enthralled with the answer "There was no beginning!"
                                                                                           Jo Mooy - March 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

It's TIME!

It's impossible to ignore how stories about women have been taking over our daily
conversations.  2017 began with the Women's March on Washington.  That was followed by determination and commitment when thousands of women not only registered to vote but began filling out paperwork to run for elective office. The momentum had begun!

Then one day, one woman, fed up with men like film mogul Harvey Weinstein who had been preying on women for years, said Enough!  She went public. The reaction to her story was noticeably different than how women with similar stories had been treated in the past. She was soon followed by a tidal wave of women across every profession who bravely told their stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. It spawned a movement called #MeToo when women realized they were not alone. Though the media covered the military, capitol hill, entertainment, technology, and medicine, the greatest numbers of sexual assaults were in the under-reported industries of hotel and food services, retail and manufacturing. Those women, unheard by the press, came out in the millions to declare: #MeToo.

Merriam-Webster (the dictionary people) announced the word "Feminism" was 2017's Word
of the Year
.  This followed on the heels of Time Magazine naming "The Silence Breakers" as their Person of the Year.  Those headlines and magazine covers were the RESULT of what had been simmering on the back burners of women's collective consciousness.  Women got over their fears of retribution and career stifling by bringing down an A-List of predators in every industry.  It's been a wake up call not only for women but also for decent men.  

There was a time when the word "Feminism" or "Feminist" came with hostility. Seeing it named Word of the Year was gratifying.  But I had a touch of sadness and melancholy that all the work done by an endless stream of women who came before, might be forgotten.  I remembered the Anita Hill hearings in 1991 when a black University Professor was vilified by a panel of all white men. Women rose up in anger after Anita Hill's treatment and ran for office. 

During the Presidential Debates that year Vice-Presidential candidate George H. Bush (who today is on the list of accused sexual harassers) was asked about women in the Senate.  He said, "Let's see how they do. I hope a lot of them lose."  Voters ignored his comments because the following year, known as The Year of the Woman, five women were seated in the Senate. Today, 25 years later, there are 21 women in the 100-body Senate and more waiting to break down the door.

Cycles repeat themselves. Anita Hill's story lives on in The Silence Breakers. These women
recognize that gender equality is an empowering movement who's time has come. It's found in the 
50/50 by 2030 UN decree asking governments around the world to make a national commitment to address the challenges that are holding back women and girls from reaching their full potential.  Will it succeed?  Yes, when more women get elected.  That will happen because Millennial women are no longer satisfied with the status quo.  They're in the workforce. They're running companies. They know their worth and their value. They vote and they've had enough!

The women's anthem of the 80's was a song called Sisters are Doing It For Themselves? The sisters of today are indeed doing it for themselves. They've linked arms across race, ethnicity and lifestyle to affect change in every culture. They are already changing the geo-political landscape. One of them will make Time Magazine's Person of the Year cover, a spot no woman has held by herself in 89 years. It's time, TIME! Women are not just in the room. They're at the table. It's Time!
                                                                                           Jo Mooy - February 2018

Friday, January 5, 2018


It's 2018 - a New Year.  Like every new year we embark on the same personal rituals which
usually distill down to the same thing. Transform or change something about ourselves and surely it will be a better year! Are tomorrows better than yesterdays? That answer depends on the individual's situation. But if we widen the focus on the lens the answer is clearer and probably yes. The future does look brighter though it will certainly not be familiar.

Current thinking says life unfolds in present moments. We're urged to follow "the six steps" or "ten steps" or "name the steps" that teach us to focus only on the present and the future will take care of itself. Normally, it's sane advice! But behind the curtain of all those present focused moments that consume us, the future is already screaming out about what's coming. Sadly, many who are reading this won't be around to experience it. But if we pull back the curtain on the obvious trends, the future that's ahead for the Millennials of the 21st Century and their children (Generation Z) reveal a look at Their Tomorrows.

Baby Boomers, once described as the largest population group on earth, have just been replaced by Millennials. Gratefully, they have vastly evolved ideas on ecology, technology, religion, race and jobs than their Boomer parents. That's a good thing. At 80 million strong, they're socially and environmentally conscious, better educated, will inherit great wealth from the Boomers, and are 95% electronically connected. Already they've convinced Wall Street to divest its holdings in fossil fuels proving through business models that billions will be lost if they don't.  Their Tomorrows say fossil fuels like coal are dying while sustainables like wind and solar will surge in the future.

Europe and Asia are also defining Their Tomorrows by taking leadership roles in transportation, technology and environmental issues. As these young future leaders focus on reducing fossil fuels, the companies they've built are transitioning to self-driving cars while technology companies are planning to leapfrog their efforts. Ahead of that wave, Britain and Finland banned gas and diesel cars starting in 2040. Finland leads Europe in recycling and Germany leads in solar energy.

Right now most countries are focused on immigration and whites only diatribes, but by 2050 no single racial or ethnic majority will be dominant. Perhaps that realization is fueling the anger and hatred as old ways of life wither and die off. In fact, Millennials, will be the largest racially diverse group in history made up mostly of mixed-race Asians and Latinos. A future homogenized view of society will emerge and tolerance for other cultures finally has the chance of becoming the hallmark of Their Tomorrows.

10 Billion people will inhabit the planet by 2050 with Africa the most populous. India is expected to have a population of 1.6 billion people, equal to the US and China combined. But we're all getting old. The global population is aging and graying with Japan, South Korea, and Germany having the oldest citizens and the fewest births. The US will have more people age 65+ than those 15 and under. These global demographics will rip cultures and religions apart
as they struggle to re-invent themselves, and understand and release their old beliefs and out-dated moral structures.

Will this surge of humans cope with the future changes of Their Tomorrows? Probably yes.  The same way they did when cars replaced horses; the same way they did when radios and jukeboxes replaced live musicians; and the same way they will now that technology has become an extension of our lives. But what about the psychic changes ahead?

We'll manage those too. For a great spiritual wave of introspection is forming, though for the present it's quite subtle. It asks us to examine our behavior to one another. It forces us to take a stand for the principles we proclaim. It makes us look in the mirror and accept our roles and responsibilities in our future and Their Tomorrows. It demands that all of us leave the world a better place than when we arrived. If we can do that, it's a certain guarantee that all of Their Tomorrows will be better.  I only wish we were going to be alive to witness it.

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - January 2018