JOURNAL PROMPT – January 4, 2021: Choose a word for the year and explain why you chose it …

I notice the energy of my first posts in these ‘Journal Prompts’ has been focused around the ‘fear’ and ‘disconnect’ and ‘losses’ that we have been marinating in with Covid-19. While I know that both dark and light exist within me, I am eager to balance the scales of my perceptions and consciously shift my gaze away from the fears that can dominate by default.

The word I am going to choose for 2021 is miracles. I am choosing it because as I shared in our gratitude quest, I incorporated my company under the name of “Miracles! Your Center for Well-Being Inc” in 2001 after I was introduced to “A Course in Miracles” and came to understand the notion that a ‘miracle’ is simply a shift in perspective from ‘fear’ to ‘love’.

I am excited to practice this ‘miracle-making’ in my own perceptions by ‘consciously’ focusing on the principles of the ‘Course.’ And, thanks to my Bestie, I have signed up for “Mornings with Marianne”. She is the author of A Return to Love and for this entire next year, we are going to be receiving a video in our email with Marianne discussing the principles of A Course in Miracles.

I worry a bit that I might not complete it all. I have tried … countless times in the past … to study this remarkable text. I have never yet been successful. I worry a bit that my old patterns of getting “too busy” to keep it up might, once again, pre-empt my best intentions here … but … I remind myself to be ‘conscious’ each morning of honoring my intention for 2021. I trust that If I am conscious about where I am putting my time and energy, I will continue to meet with Marianne every morning. I feel prickles of excitement as I say that out loud.

Hmmmm … and … perhaps this year will also yield a lovely celebration on September 12th? I just did the math on that and noticed that 2021 marks my 20th anniversary of founding/working for ‘Miracles!’.

So, yes … it will be a year of ‘miracles’ if I can stick with ‘A Course in Miracles’ while celebrating 20 years of working for ‘Miracles!’.

Change is a process … not an event, 🧡 Karen 🧡

JOURNAL PROMPT – January 3, 2021: Last year was a year of ______. This year will be a year of ______.

Hmmm. It strikes me that last year was a year of disconnection. Maybe this year will be a year of reconnection to that which matters most.

Last year, in 2020, as the moments turned to minutes turned to hours turned to days turned to weeks and turned into months … life (as we had come to know and expect it) was seemingly snatched from all of us – right out of thin air. Air, we were told, that had become unsafe to casually and carefreely inhabit.

And, so, we became disconnected from our daily routines. We were not allowed to go to work. We were isolated from friends and discouraged from visiting family. We were told not to hug … not to touch … to distance from others. Leisure activities were cancelled. Even television programs had to shoot from home. Restaurants closed. Shopping was forced online. All our distractions were denied. Businesses shut down. Schools were closed. Travel was denied. Weddings and funerals were limited/postponed/cancelled due to “Covid restrictions”. All planning was put on hold. Social gatherings were outlawed – first indoors and then even outdoors. And, we were even ‘ordered’ by Public Health to rewrite our most sacred holidays and traditions. The covering of faces became mandatory. An energy of vigilance highjacked our freedom to simply be spontaneous and light-hearted and carefree. We were beseeched not to get close to one another.

Isolate. Distance. Disconnect.

Perhaps, however, there is much to gain from the gap that was created. Maybe 2021 will be an opportunity for us to collectively reconnect in a very conscious and deliberate way. Maybe we can begin to assess where we have been feeding ourselves with empty spoons. Maybe we can, instead, notice where we need to fill our spoons with healthy nourishment. Yes. Maybe we can get clear about what we are really hungry for …

I know, for myself, this past year has offered me a chance to recognize what really feeds my spirit and what doesn’t. I have spent more time writing … and … I can see how much it really fills me. And, as an introvert, a reduction in the typical overstimulation of living such a busy life was an unexpected blessing. My system had more time to recharge.

I notice that the old boy and myself spent more time engaging WITH each other rather than BESIDE each other. We have played more board games and watched less Netflix. We have cooked and cleaned up together in the kitchen. We have found space to tackle ‘the lists’ that never before seemed to take priority.

I spent more time in solitude. I spent more time outside. I took more pictures. I feel more rested.

Yes. Maybe 2021 will be a year of reconnection to our own souls. Maybe we will feed ourselves more of what really matters and less of what doesn’t. Maybe we will recalibrate in the most remarkable ways. Maybe we will look back on 2020 with gratitude?

Maybe it was a gift, in some ways, that we will continue to unwrap in 2021?

Fingers crossed … 🧡 Karen 🧡

Source Unknown … but deeply appreciated.

JOURNAL PROMPT – January 1,2021: How Do You Feel at the Start of a New Year?

I am honestly not sure. I get that the notion of a ‘New Year’ is that we have a whole fresh pallet upon which to paint our days. I do love the thought that we can leave the past in the past and create a whole new future. And yet, if we break it down, we have the opportunity to start anew each and every day. We need not wait for the New Year to change lanes, take a needed turn, speed up or slow down. All of these moments are available to us each and every day. Well, actually, each and every minute of each and every day.

As I often share with my clients, there are no neutral choices. Each seemingly insignificant decision we make is leading us toward the life of our dreams or away from it. And, sadly, we are not always conscious of the choices we are making that are co-creating the shape of our existence. I remember one time we were chatting about what you would wish for if you had one wish. My Dad’s answer has always stuck with me.

“To live consciously.”

Hmmm. I deeply appreciated his wisdom. And, I am wondering what 2021 will look like if I can live consciously?? What might my relationships feel like if I am conscious about each and every thought, word and deed that I offer others? I know it would be impossible to do it 100% of the time, but I wonder what it would be like if I made this my intent for 2021 …

If I am living consciously, I will be choosing my next step rather than mindlessly moving forward by default. If I am living consciously, I will notice when I am off track and can ‘reroute’ and get myself back on track more quickly. If I am living consciously, then I can disrupt any old patterns that are subconsciously leading me to recreate the past instead of the future.

Yes, if I am living consciously, I can turn on my own internal light and let it lead the way. I really like the sound of that for the New Year … the new day … the new next moment. Fingers crossed I can remain conscious enough often enough to do it … 🤞

Happy 2021 to one and all … 🧡 Karen 🧡

To Let Go …

To Let Go

Source Unknown … but deeply appreciated!

Image

Better Because I accepted the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge … Again!

A video popped up on my Facebook memories on August 8, 2019 … a full five years after the last time I accepted the challenge … and … at first when I started watching it, I was put off by my own energy.  I thought I sounded really sappy and far too ooey gooey. I was tempted to turn it off, but then, as I focused upon the content rather than the delivery of my message, I was actually inspired to take The 100 Days of Happiness Challenge again! And … as I now come to the completion of another 100 days, I am exceptionally grateful that I did!!

As I mentioned in the video, this ‘challenge’ is not in the least bit frivolous, gratuitous or self-indulgent. It is not intended to be an opportunity to use social media to show off the great things in my life. It is, in no way, a self-focused effort to draw attention to myself and take up space on-line.  Rather … it is a deliberate attempt to rewire the brain.

Yes … we are neurologically wired to notice what is wrong … not … what is right.  And, as the most prominent neuroscientists are teaching us, we must make a conscious effort to wire our brains in the direction of honoring the things that are going right in our orbits.

Rick Hanson, PhD.

Its a great question to ask ourselves!  Where has your mind been resting over the past week or so?  I have experienced that The 100 Days of Happiness Challenge can actually shift where our mind is mainly resting!  It invites us to recognize, acknowledge and savour all the positives that already exist in our lives. Without our deliberate effort, many of these ‘good’ things would unwittingly go unnoticed … they would simply slide out of our awareness like an egg in a Teflon pan.

And … posting on social media is a way of deepening the experience!  It is a way of holding the ‘good’ in the brain for long enough for new positive neural pathways to be generated … and … for older ones to become more highly myelinated. The time it takes to find a picture and to write a little bit about what made you happy sustains your focus and prompts the protein synthesis for rewiring our neural networks.  It’s kind of like sitting around the fire on a cold night … if you want to stay warm, you need to throw another log on the fire!  With each and every positive that we hold in our minds for at least 10 seconds, it’s like we are tossing a log onto the fire of positivity in our internal systems.

The other magnificent benefit of taking on this project is that I instinctively find myself looking for what is ‘right’ as I make my way through the day. Metaphorically speaking, I am always looking for ‘the logs’ to add to my wood pile so my fire won’t fizzle out.  In order to be able to keep my public commitment to posting something on social media that makes me happy (on a daily basis for 100 days) means that I need to really pay attention to what is making me happy every single day … the big, the little and all the shapes and sizes in-between.  It effectively shifts my gaze from unconsciously focusing upon whatever is wrong to consciously noticing what is right. Because … both dark and light co-exist in our lives. Only always.

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

And, believe it or not, doing this ‘Challenge’ has shifted my focus so that I am deliberately seeking out that little dot of good, even on the most challenging days.  And, in doing so, the hard stuff (that is also concurrently going on in my life!) is just a little easier to bear.  The unwelcome stuff can’t take me down as far or as fast when it is being balanced by reminders of what is going well in my world. Perception is so powerful!!

And, it’s actually been quite interesting to recognize that as I have collected my ‘happy moments’ through the day, I rarely find just one. It’s fascinating to notice how ‘what you are looking for’ is actually shaping ‘what you see’!! And, there were quite a few day when it was really hard to narrow down my options in order to choose just one of them to post.  And, on a couple of occasions, I think I even posted a ‘part 2’. 🙂

Source Unknown

And so, I would also like to point out that, for me, making a public commitment to post my ‘happiness’ on social media is a conscious strategy to ensure that I keep looking for what is right and well with my world.  At the risk of mixing my metaphors, it’s a deliberate effort to ensure I throw enough logs on my fire … and/or … that I keep watering my grass. I am a person who likes to keep my word … so … I am far more likely to keep making the effort if I make a public promise to post for 100 Days. Otherwise, in all honestly, it would be pretty easy to get busy and simply let it slide off my radar for a few days.  And then, it wouldn’t be long before I simply stopped doing it.

Source Unknown

So, as I arrive at this 100th day of my second Happiness Challenge … there is a part of me that is actually reluctant to stop. I really appreciate the way this project has shifted my gaze and filled my spirit.  I like the way this project has obviated many of the things I tend to take for granted. I like the way this project has added a sense of lightness to my perceptions. I am grateful for how my brain is being rewired. I can literally FEEL the difference.

I have been so very grateful to the others who joined me over the past 100 days.  I thoroughly enjoyed all your posts too … and … even found myself searching them out if they didn’t show up in a timely manner in my Facebook or Instagram feed.  And, I very much enjoyed the comments from those of you who weren’t doing the challenge yourselves, but were engaging with me as I did mine! Thank you for meeting me on the page!! You made the whole experience even richer for me! ❤

And so, in all honesty, it is really tempting to just keep doing it.  But, I don’t really trust that I will unless I have made a public commitment to do so. The good news is that I will get to keep doing it for a while.  I had started a secret group on Facebook with a couple of people who wanted to try it, but didn’t want to do it so visibly. And, I am happy to say that we have agreed to keep doing it together for a while longer!

Lastly … I would never expect you to believe my experience. However, I would certainly invite you to consider taking the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge if you ever get a chance. You might be surprised by the gifts you might gain.

With much gratitude for my newest neural pathways, Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video

[GUEST POST]: How to Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin: 5 Easy Steps

In honor of PRIDE month …  and … in an effort to honor the human souls and tender spirits of those in the LGBTQ+ community, I invite you to let this meaningful message land in your heart.  And, perhaps it will invite each of us to consider alternate ways to truly live our lives from a place of love … despite our differences.

In less than 4 quick minutes, Emily Joy gives us some very prickly but potent points to ponder if we are seriously committed to loving one another ……………….

Thank you Emily Joy for your intense, brave reminder of what the dark side of our beliefs can look like … Karen

Video

Grief is Like a Ball in a Box – Lauren Herschel’s Metaphor

I have received permission from Lauren Hershel to repost this magnificent metaphor she shared on Twitter about the nature of grief:

“There’s a box with a ball in it. And a pain button.”

With appreciation to Lauren Herschel for these diagrams.

“In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting.”

“Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it.”

“For most people, the ball never really goes away. It might hit less and less and you have more time to recover between hits, unlike when the ball was still giant. I thought this was the best description of grief I’ve heard in a long time.”  (Lauren Herschel)

Thank you so much Lauren Herschel for granting me permission to share this meaningful metaphor for grief.  I suspect it will speak to many, many people who have found themselves grappling with how to manage the ball in their box.

With deepest reverence for the unbearable ache of grief, Karen

Thrive in Spite of It Healing Retreat

‘Thrive in Spite of It’ Healing Retreat

You CAN thrive in spite of difficulties, challenges and loss!

Join Kim Forchuk, M.O.M.; Brenda Berube, Yoga Instructor; and Karen Lanser, Counsellor/Life Coach for a day of inspiration, meditation, and healing! These three ladies each bring their knowledge, life experiences and healing energy to the day. Kim brings inspiration by sharing her story and shares how she has been inspired to thrive in spite of loss. Brenda brings nurturing and relaxation through her beautiful yoga to balance and ground the energy in the room. Karen brings her gift for creating a warm and safe space for all in attendance with her compassion and understanding of the human spirit.

Register early as space is limited. Minimum of 8 and Maximum of 10 participants. Your space will be confirmed and reserved once your payment has been received.

The cost is $149.00 for the day and includes lunch and snacks/

To register please contact Karen Lanser by text or phone (403) 317-1117.

Thrive in Spite of It Healing Retreat

The soul should always stand ajar …

ecstatic experience

And … if we are paying close attention … we notice that the ecstatic experiences … those moments that inspire an internal “ahhhhhh”…  come in all shapes and sizes:

  • the birds flitting in and out of the birdhouse
  • the steam rising off the water in a hot bath
  • a text from your Bestie filled with emojis
  • a great cup of coffee
  • forehead kisses
  • the space of stillness of the morning … pregnant with potent possibilities
  • a belly laugh with your colleagues
  • a phone call from your daughter … just checking in … because they were thinking of you despite their busy schedules
  • a memory of a beautiful feline snuggled on your lap
  • the warmth of the sunshine kissing your forehead on a chilly winter walk outside
  • the smiles and support of people who really ‘know’ you when you are feeling entirely misunderstand
  • the feint flicker of a candle … bringing light to the darkness
  • a heartfelt connection that softens an experience and makes everything feel right with the world
  • eyeglasses … to clear things up and bring things into sharper focus
  • a really good, deep stretch in yoga class
  • stemware filled with a nice red blend in front of a warm fire
  • a book that is so good you don’t want it to end
  • a heartfelt and meaningful apology
  • flannel sheets in January
  • inspirational quotes that find you ‘sighing’ with deepest understanding
  • slippers … and … elastic waist bands
  • empty space on the calendar
  • glimpsing the twinkle in someone’s eye
  • a grandchild’s enthusiastic greeting and warm embrace
  • old photos of people you love
  • polar fleece jammies
  • twinkle lights
  • waking up rested
  • the anticipation of something really good
  • warm homemade buns with the butter oozing over them
  • exceptionally great service at a restaurant
  • the peace in our hearts when we can see the other side of the coin
  • being awakened in the night with the solution to the problem
  • feeling protected
  • watching a flower blossom
  • homemade borscht … hot, ready and waiting in your slow cooker for when you get home from work
  • a warm day with no wind
  • a great golf shot
  • a fabulous series on Netflix
  • knowing you made a difference for someone in your day
  • artistic creativity
  • the ‘dusted fries’ at the Kingsmen Ale House in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
  • a nice long walk in the sunshine
  • a 24 Cribbage hand
  • no longer being ‘lost’
  • when the gravy turns out
  • anything made with barnboard
  • finding money in your pocket
  • getting through security at the airport
  • spicy appetizers on fancy skewers
  • mutual understandings
  • fresh picked veggies out of the garden
  • a savings account with some money in it
  • children who are no longer sick
  • finding a decent parking spot at Costco on a Saturday in December
  • being able to donate to a worthy cause
  • watching your grandchildren’s extra-curricular activities
  • remission from a diagnosis
  • Lucy’s chocolate cake
  • listening to one of your favorite songs
  •  being delayed in traffic but still arriving ‘on time’
  • getting a needle threaded on your first attempt
  • flossing something out that was stuck between your teeth
  • chocolate … in all its luscious incarnations
  • purchasing something at 75% off

What stirs your soul?  Can you help me fill in the blanks?  ❤ Karen ❤

Believe in Yourself … You Can Achieve Anything!

Yes, you can be brainwashed into believing in yourself and thinking you can achieve anything … until you walk into a staff meeting at work on a seemingly regular Tuesday … and … you get fired. Yep. After 21 years of dedicated service, you get handed your walking papers. No notice. No cause.

And, for just a split second, because you cannot even fathom how this could be happening to you … you question your belief in yourself. You wonder if you would have been better off to have stifled your soul and silenced your spirit in order to save your job. But, you realize, even more quickly … that you could never have lived with yourself if you had not stood up for what you believe in. And, you remind yourself that if you had it all to do over, you wouldn’t change one darn thing, except of course … the outcome.

But, worst of all, your heart aches deeply, for all of your prior counselling clients. It is the beautiful souls you have been gifted to work with that are paying the biggest price in all of this! And you wish you could reassure them that you would never, ever in a million years, have chosen to abandon them in this way.

And you ache for any pain they might be feeling. You know that you get to move on by simply expanding your private practice and embracing all the possibilities that come with that liberty. And for you, it feels very exciting. But you know very well that this is not just about you.

And, you wake up in the night wishing you could reach out to each and every one of your people because you have been connected in the most meaningful ways. Because you know them and respect them at the deepest level. Because they trusted you. Because you knew they felt really safe with you ………. well, until now.

But you can’t instigate contact with any of these precious souls to help them make sense of any of this. You were not permitted to speak to them on your last day of work as you were escorted out of the building and for ethical reasons regarding ‘solicitation of business’ in your Standards of Practice as a social worker, you can’t initiate any personal communication with them now. And so, the silencing sucks … but you deeply respect and honor the integrities of your profession.

And so … you pray that they will know you still hold them with deepest regard. You pray that they will trust your character enough to recognize that things are not always the way the seem. And, you hope they will sense your heartfelt regret and the powerlessness you feel to honor and alleviate any of the ways they may be feeling unsupported in these moments.

And, you send compassion and courage through the ethers to each and every one of them … trusting that they will powerfully find their way through this unexpected blindside. And … you hope they feel your abiding commitment, despite your unforeseen absence in their circle of support.

And, although you are at the age where you could simply ‘retire’ right now, that option does not appeal to you because counselling is your passion … because supporting others is what your heart longs to do.

And you know that you will rise above the outrage of the circumstances … because, yes … you’ve brainwashed yourself into believing in yourself and thinking you can achieve anything.

And … you want to take this opportunity to remind your clientele – past, present and future – that they can do the same. Yes. Yes, they can.

❤ Karen ❤

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