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Soulfire™

Soulfire Program™

Donna has spent the last several months creating the first two courses in the Soulfire Program™. The Soulfire Program has 2 online courses available now on Udemy, and the next 2 available in the coming months.

Reclaiming Your Sacred Self: Designed to assist people to lean-in to their current beliefs, and inspire the light within themselves. Available now.

Accessing the Extraordinary: Designed to assist people to understand how our thoughts lead to the realities that we live. How to break through limited thinking and become the extraordinary person you are. Available now.

Tapping the Infinite: Designed to assist people to transition from scarcity thinking to abundant thinking. This course defines abundance as more than just personal wealth. (Available by year-end)

Manifesting You: Designed to assist people to transition to become what they want to attract into their lives. (Available by year-end)

The Soulfire Program™ is a collection of programs that can stand alone, or be used together, to give people tools and techniques to create the lives they want to live, rather than accepting the life they have.

You Can’t Do It Alone

I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. ~Charles Dickens

by: Donna R. Wood

Like the butterfly, we create our own prisons; and like the butterfly it is only through our own fortitude, will, and desire will we free ourselves. The butterfly has an advantage; it breaks through the walls through instinct. It just knows at the right time that it must emerge and fly, or it will die. Contrary to popular belief, butterflies are not social insects. They live each day flitting to and fro, alone. (The great Monarch migration is not a social activity.)

People, however, are social creatures. We do not just desire the company of others, we need others. We seek out those who think, look, and feel the same way we do. This can serve in one of two ways: freedom or continued imprisonment.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who you want with you, and those who you don’t. Who do you want on your team? Those who would rather see you miserable like they are? Or, those who are willing to lift you up and carry you with them? My mother has told me, since the time I was young, “Surround yourself with useful people.

A few years ago, I got my wings clipped on both sides by people whom I had grown to trust. This threw me into a deep chasm of self-doubt, fear, second-guessing, and mistrust. I found myself spiraling out of control, until I heard the bars of my self-made prison clang shut behind me.

In a brief moment of survival instinct, I sought out the key to unlock the door. I made my cry out into the world, and the key was thrown to me by an unlikely benefactor. Sometimes, although another possesses the key, it is not their responsibility to unlock the door. In fact, they can’t. Especially if we are clutching the door shut with all our might, covering the key hole. He threw me the word, betrayal. I knew the second I received it that my whole world was about to crash down around me. I knew that the walls were about to implode and I was going to be crushed under the rubble.

Knowledge is power. That one simple word was the power that I needed to take action, or be lost to the ruins of my chrysalis. Asking for help is not in my nature. I was brought up a boot-strapper much like the rest of the people my age in North Dakota.

At this point I was so broken and comfortable in the midst of my chrysalis; I had to make a decision. I took the key and sought out another who could help me learn to use it. It turned out the key that was thrown to me was the master key to my life. It unlocked a lot of doors that had been closed years ago, although the toxicity from those events had been seeping through the cracks into my life the whole time.

If you do not take another thing away from this posting, please take this: You can never be free until you clean up the toxic waste from your past – and even from your present.

Metamorphosis

“Ordinary is painful when you were born to be great!” ~ T. D. Jakes

by: Donna R. Wood

When the Butterfly sheds the chrysalis, there will be loss. There will be collateral damage. It will be uncomfortable and even painful at times. But, when those wings unfurl for the first time, life takes a new path. It is no longer crawling along the branches and leaves, but floating above it all in victory.

I was born in the late 1960s with a congenital heart defect that could have ended my life before it ever began. It didn’t. I spent a good number of years wondering what I had been saved from; surely death at birth would have been a far better alternative than the life I had been born into.

This constant search for the meaning and purpose of my life led me down some very dark and treacherous roads. I found myself in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Everywhere I looked there was death and destruction. I was surrounded by living ghosts – people who only existed, until their bodies wore out, and the reaper came to claim them, one by one.

I was terrified, because I knew with each passing day I was becoming one of them. I found myself very much alone on a road with hundreds of people. We trudged along, bearing the weight of all our shame and guilt for decisions made or not made; for love given or withheld. We trudged along, dragging our baggage with us, hoping to find an oasis in the desert; a place to rest. The oasis never came.

In the end, I was a living ghost, the same as all the rest. However, in the depths of the wells of despair and demoralization, pain and humiliation, there was the glow of a soft flame of strength and courage. With each breath that sustained my life, the flame sputtered, clinging to the hope for redemption.

I struggled with my own perception of myself, placed there by each new label as it had been firmly attached to my soul – single mother [shameful,] Godless [damning,] damaged goods [demoralizing,] and poverty stricken [unworthy.] These are only a few of the labels that had been placed on me by the world; the world, not me.

In the realization that my life was a living testimony to those labels, I began to tear them off one by one.

I couldn’t change the fact that I was a single mother, but I chose to tear the label in half. Now, I am just a mother. How liberating that is.

I couldn’t change the fact that I am damaged goods, I was born that way. I removed the word damaged from the label, and the ‘s’ from the last word. Now I am just good. I am kind and considerate of others. I am not perfect, but I try every day to live in a state of soul over ego.

I could change my socio-economic status. I went to college and graduated – twice – and have recently returned to challenging myself through courses offered on-line. I took the only gift I was given at birth, the gift of writing, and capitalized on it. This is not what makes me simply worthy, but I will talk about this in a future post. Godless – how does one conquer the label of Godless in a world where being damned by your labels prevails? Just be Godly like all the rest? Being like all the rest didn’t seem to work out very well the first time, so it required a bit more work. I found that I could not expect or receive compassion from all the rest – I had too many labels to overcome. I could not expect or receive forgiveness from all the rest – I was a living ghost encroaching on the land of the truly living. I had nothing to offer, nothing to give. I was damned to the wilderness, where I had to find it on my own or not at all.

Your labels and my labels may not be the same; however, what we choose to do with our labels is what really matters in the end.

Breaking the Chrysalis

The butterfly is a flying flower…  ~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

by: Donna R. Wood

Most people at the age of five dream of being something extraordinary like a firefighter, doctor, lawyer or some other high level profession, but not me. I wanted to be a flower. Flowers were soft, delicate, and beautiful. My grandma and I would pick wildflowers in the fields and ditches along the highway, bring them home, and put them in a vase on the table. I would marvel at the menagerie of colors and design. Oh, how I wanted to be one of them. They were perfect in every way.

That’s the trouble with people; none of us are perfect. We go through life collecting imperfections born out of bad decisions, mistakes, or even through circumstance. We hold on to these imperfections, packing them neatly inside and drag them with us wherever we go. We become so weighed down by all this unnecessary self-perception of imperfection, we cannot begin to imagine the idea of taking flight in life.

I dragged around bag after bag of guilt, worry, bitterness, and regret. The weight of these bags became more than I could carry, but I insisted on taking them with me wherever I went. I would try to fly, only to find myself confined in the chrysalis of the life I had made for myself. I had constructed walls around me so high and thick that no one could get in, and in the process trapped myself inside.

It was dark in that chrysalis. Yet over time, the darkness became a source of comfort. It was familiar. I knew each pain and suffering by name and date. I knew all the characters that had played a role in their creation. I would reminisce in their moments of completion. I began to live in the memory of all that had been, and my world became very small, ending where the chrysalis began.

One day, I stopped struggling to get out. I just stopped. It was a pointless effort. I couldn’t do it. I thought I wasn’t strong enough. I thought I wasn’t perfect enough. In reality, I wasn’t brave enough. I was scared of all the new pains and sufferings that might be out there. It was painful inside the chrysalis, but the risk to emerge was too great. All the what-ifs came into play. What if I get hurt again? What if I’m not good enough? What if…what if…what if… If a butterfly stays too long in the chrysalis it will die. It will suffocate in its own skin, never having felt the soft summer breeze that lifts it to flight.

Every chrysalis has a weak point, a place in the wall that can and should be broken. But how? I learned, inside the chrysalis, where the source of true strength lies – inside us. We have to take that deep breath and expand until the walls break, and we are free. When a butterfly is inside the chrysalis, at the moment before it emerges, it swallows air from the outside world to expand its thorax and break the chrysalis open at the weakest point.

When the butterfly emerges it is no longer a caterpillar. It cannot carry the extra baggage from its previous state with it. The butterfly must leave behind the days of being a caterpillar. It must leave behind the days of struggling to survive – to find food, hide from predators, and live each day until the next. It must leave all the pains and suffering of its caterpillar days in the ruins of the chrysalis. Only then will it truly be free to fly.

Although a butterfly spends but two weeks in the darkness of the chrysalis, shedding its past self, I spent almost three years. Transformation does not happen overnight – for the butterfly or for people. The most frightening moment of the process is in the moment before emergence. Break the chrysalis anyway.

The Year of the Earth Pig

Happy Year of the Pig!

The Year of the Pig is an auspicious time for almost everyone. The Pig is associated with wealth in China, and the year of the Pig is said to bring prosperity, success, and wealth.

This year of the Pig, 2019, is associated with the element of Earth, which brings stability, opportunity, and growth to the year of the Pig.

This is a good year to start or expand a business, as the element of earth brings resources to the abundance from the Pig to encourage success.

Relationships of all sorts benefit from its influence and strengthen during the year of the Earth Pig. The Earth element provides grounding (of course), and the abundance of the Pig provides security.

This time of plenty can lead to excess, which can impact health. This is a good year to pay closer attention to health issues in order to maintain good health and to prevent future health problems.

This year offers peace and contentment, making this a good time to work on emotional health, too. The security and stability proffered by the Earth Pig gives a solid base to work on emotional blocks and hurts that cause pain and thwart progress.

Finally, while the Earth Pig symbolizes solidity, practicality, and material success and security, all these influences create the ideal environment to explore spirituality in a largely risk-free situation. From a solid space of stability, beliefs can be questioned and answers can be sought without the sense of having lost one’s foundation.

Happy year of the Earth Pig, and many wishes for much success, joy, contentment, and abundance.

Goals Vs. Tasks

Goals create big changes; tasks keep things the same.

We need to have a balance; we need both.

The mindset of achieving goals at any cost creates chaos because those people and things you already have are neglected or damaged.

The mindset of maintaining and avoiding change creates stagnation and leaves you nothing to replace those things that wear out or break, or the people who move out of our lives for their own reasons.

A balance of creation and maintenance allows both change and preservation. Trees spend the spring madly creating new tissue, and they spend the rest of the year solidifying and integrating the tissue they created in the spring.

A goal and a task are not the same thing. If you can just take the correct action and get the result you want, that is not a goal; it’s a task. And lots of us could use some support and encouragement to get our tasks done.

Routine work like home maintenance, yard maintenance, car maintenance, parts of your job at work are tasks. No special techniques are needed, just the necessary tools and supplies, and enough time to do the work. And maybe a little motivation is in order, too, like a self-directed kick in the behind.

A goal is a large change in ourselves or our lives. This could be a career change, a move, a relationship change (in any kind of relationship, not necessarily just in an intimate relationship), or anything that could be considered disruptive if it weren’t our choice to change.

Goals require many steps to accomplish them, oftentimes specialized techniques or tools, and a huge amount of work. They do not maintain what we have but rather change what we have in a fundamental way. Goals often require more than one person working together to accomplish, and they impact both people and things. The hope is that the impact is positive for all concerned.

So seek balance, and work on both your tasks and your goals.

Carpe Annum

Carpe Annum

Seize the year! The Chinese New Year, the Year of the Earth Pig, has begun, offering the promise of new possibilities, new opportunities, new chances to make changes.

The new year is as good a time as any for a fresh start.

Make your fresh start last all year by having specific goals along with specific plans to see them through.

Know what you want, know who you want to be, know where you want to go, and know what you want your destination to be like.

  • Do you know what you want? I don’t mean a million dollars and a 90-foot yacht. What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? Toward which outcomes do you most want to work? Are they really your outcomes, or is someone else trying to push you to do or be something pleasing to them at your expense? Are you limiting your choices of outcomes because of limiting thinking? For example, if you are looking for a job, are you seeking one that offers the same low pay, the same lack of benefits, the same lack of advancement opportunities as the one you’re leaving? Have you trapped yourself in a salary expectation or a type of job? Sure, you probably can’t successfully get a job as a neurosurgeon if you haven’t got the degrees and experience, but you can probably step outside your comfort zone and move into an exciting and better-paid career if that’s an area you’d like to change.
  • Do you know who you want to be? Do you want to be a non-smoker? Do you want to be a highly paid executive? Do you want to be a professional speaker? Do you want to be a fit and healthy person? You could be any of those things if you chose to be them, and were willing to put the work in to achieve them. Do you want to be someone who watches television and talks around the water cooler at work about what other people get paid to do? Or would you rather do something interesting and talk around the water cooler about what you did instead of what you watched?
  • Do you know where you want to go? The answers to this may be geographical: “I’d like to work in California or buy a vacation home in Florida”; but they may also be metaphorical: “I’d like to be closer to my master’s degree”, or “I’d like to be closer to my ideal weight and BMI”. Do you want to have a better job, or to start a business, or to learn a new skill, or to be a better person in a specific area? Where exactly do you want to be? What is the route on the roadmap to get to where you want to be?
  • Do you know what your destination looks like? How would you know if you have arrived? Is your ultimate outcome for this year to be healthier, wealthier, happier, luckier, more spiritual, fitter, or more educated than you are today? How do you know when you are happier enough? How will you feel when you reach your destination? What will it look like to you? What will it sound like? Does it have a taste or a scent? Does it have surfaces with texture? Immerse yourself in the complete sensory experience of having successfully arrived at your destination.

When you can answer all these questions, vividly, using all your senses, experiencing what achieving your goals feels like, then it’s time to plot out your road map to get there. Break the big goal into steps, so you can make measurable forward progress while still feeling like each step is completely doable. Now schedule each of these steps into your calendar every day until the day the goal is reached.

That is how you seize the year. You start by identifying what you want to seize, then every day you seize the day by accomplishing its tasks, and you move a little closer to your goal, until you hold it in your hands.

Remember, a goal without a target date is just a daydream.

The Relevant Vs. The New

“The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age.”*

The newest bright shiny thing captures our attention, dangled before us like the proverbial carrot.

We chase after the newest thing because it’s faster, thinner, prettier, more powerful, has more innovative features, and is altogether better than anything we’ve had before.

But does the newness really make our lives better – not the thing itself, which may indeed, but rather, the quest to have the newest iteration, and to have it first?

The search for newness leads to shallowness; not necessarily of character, though that too can develop, but rather, shallowness of thinking, of striving, of exchanging something of value for something new.

Is the newest iPhone relevant to me if the last generation still meets my needs? This is not a Luddite argument; we put so much emphasis on new features, new bells and whistles, new innovations, without regard to relevancy.

The question, as Dobelli points out, is whether we sacrifice relevance in our single-minded pursuit of newness, of speed, of efficiency – often merely a synonym for apathy.

What is relevance, in this context? It is, simply, usefulness combined with suitability. In our chase after the newest thing, does the item help us make better decisions? make better connections? make us better persons? Those are big questions, but life is a big proposition – too big to be engrossed in minutiae.

And the newest things, which will always be just out of our grasp, are almost always just pieces of minutia. They are mostly shiny, fast, expensive pieces of not much importance.

Dobelli challenges us to look away from the carrot, and evaluate what makes our lives better, and us better. He challenges us to pursue relevancy.

I think he may be right.

*The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions” by Rolf Dobelli, published by Sceptre, a division of Hodder & Stoughton, part of the Hachette UK group of publishers, London.

#TheArtofThinkingClearly #relevancy
#ButterflyPhoenix #StopChasingtheCarrot

The Spirit of Autumn

autumn spirit spirituality
The spirit of autumn is our spirituality.

As summer fades into autumn, we enter a time often filled with introspection. For those of us over the age of 40, we begin to enter the autumn years of our lives. We start to wonder about the important things like ‘what do I really believe?’

In the autumn season, this question amps up in our psyche. Due to the approach of the holiday season, warm fuzzies permeate our being. Fueled by holiday music and seasonal treats, we socialize more with others in our lives. In addition, we are more likely to attend planned events by the benevolent organizations of our communities.

The autumn season brings back memories, for better or worse

Our old friend, Nostalgia, returns from the deepest recesses of our minds, bearing gifts from the Ghost of Christmas Past. Fond and not-so-fond memories of family gatherings bubble to the surface.

More people attend houses of worship during the holiday season than any other time of the year. They try to recapture something they had experienced as children.

With the autumn season come the questions

All of this brings forth the questions, ‘What do I really believe?’, ‘Why do I believe that?’, and ‘Is it true?’ Above all, what we really ask in the autumn years of our lives is ‘What will happen to me when this life is over?’

Cultivating our spirituality is an everyday endeavor. People who practice some form of spirituality throughout their lives often live longer and are happier than those who don’t. Moreover, they recover from illness or medical procedures faster.

Seek guidance

If you find yourself with these questions formulating in your mind, seek out a spiritual director through your specific house of worship. Likewise, attend the services. Pray or meditate daily. Read inspirational works or devotions.

In conclusion, our spirituality isn’t just a separate dimension of our being. Rather, it is a deepening foundation of our physical, social and personal dimensions.