You Can’t or You Need More Practice?

I’ve been a teacher for more than twenty years.  I noticed along the way that many of my students’ favorite phrases were, “I can’t…”  Most of the time, what they “couldn’t” do was accomplish a skill they had just been introduced to.

Of course it was going to be awkward, challenging and imperfect.  Isn’t that how learning goes?  Is there another way to learn something new that I’m not aware of?

No matter what I did with the students who stated, “I can’t” I was forever reassuring their capabilities.  My efforts to reassure never ended and with each reassurance, my student’s spirit seemed to deflate.  How on earth was this possible? I thought.

One day, a spirited, outspoken first-grader decided to protest my reassurance, giving up entirely.  She went and sat on a stack of gymnastics mats against the wall, crossed her arms and refused to try anymore.  It was in this instance that I knew it was time to really rethink how I was going about teaching.

I sought assistance from another coach in the gym to take my “still willing to try” students so I could focus on my upset protester.  I went and sat beside Maya.  It was obvious she had already had enough of my “you can do it” cheer so instead I simply sat next to her for a few moments and let Maya decide whether or not she wanted to communicate with me.

“What’s my punishment?” she asked me after a couple minutes.  I half smiled and turned toward her grateful she broke the ice.  “You think you should be punished for not being able to do something?”  I asked.

“That’s what every other teacher does,” she replied.  Hmm.  “I was actually hoping that you’d help me, Maya.  Would you be willing to do that?”

Shocked by my request, she uncrossed her arms and relaxed her shoulders.  “How can I help you?” she asked.

“Maya, tell me something…why is it that not being able to do something frustrates you so much?  So many of my students say they can’t and respond very similarly to you.”

Maya’s answer astounded me and helped me consider my approach to teaching in a whole new way.

“Because doing it right is what’s most important.  I don’t like to do it wrong.  I want the teachers to teach me how to do it right.”

I sat there silent for a few seconds nodding and validating Maya’s feelings while contemplating silently to myself, how can I accommodate this child’s request and teach her to do it right? I think Maya felt a sense of relief that she wasn’t going to be punished and decided to join her classmates after our conversation.

The following week, before we began class, I sat my students down and explained that I’d no longer be encouraging them that they could do it moving forward.  Instead, I’d be expecting them to get a different lesson.  I explained that they could say, “I can’t” as much as they wanted, but I’d be challenging them right back with, “you can’t or you need more practice?”  It was a phrase that took some adjusting to, but after standing by this simple phrase for the last ten years, I’ve found that almost every child that I ask the question, “you can’t or you need more practice” to simply gets the message and continues practicing.

Learning is progressive.  We fail forward.   And often times, there is no “right way” or “right answer.”   It’s from our efforts, commitment, and strong desire to overcome that we find a way.  And more often than not, our successes are earned only after considerable failure first.  Anything that is simple and can be obtained easily is short-lived in its reward.  This was obvious from the empty reassurance I was giving to my students that was clearly ill-received and heightened frustration levels.  I’m grateful for Maya’s willingness to express her freedom of speech.

What do you believe you “can’t” do and why?

What A Spiritual Awakening Feels Like

People often ask me to explain what a spiritual awakening feels like.  Because I’ve been asked this question a lot, I’ve come to discover that most people assume a spiritual awakening is this paranormal experience where one sees God or the spirit world or gains these supernatural abilities.  I wish!  For me, the spiritual awakening experience was quite subtle.  It felt more like a shift in consciousness.

One day, I saw the world as I’d always seen it and the next day, my perception was enhanced and I was able to see things that I hadn’t before such as the motives of others, the facade of others and the collective pain of the world.  It was like seeing with a new set of eyes.

Spiritual Awakening is a Call to Action

The greatest perception that I gained was that of my own emotional condition.  What I was able to deny a day before, I could no longer deny.  I became hyperaware of my inner domain—my desires, my will, my motives, my intentions, my addictions, my attachments, my fears, etc.  As a result of this awareness, I felt an internal call to action to change myself in order to be more loving.

It’s All about Love

For years I studied everything that I could on all things spiritual and emotional including experimenting with a wide variety of spiritual practices and techniques from various religions, new age movements, psychological practices and beyond in order to not only gain a better understanding of what I’d experienced, but to also learn what it was all about.  As I began to apply various practices to my life, I discovered that what bound each of the practices that seemed to work was their rooting in love.

The spiritual journey is all about love. 

A spiritual awakening is the threshold one passes through on the journey to become a conscious and loving being. 

Simply put, a spiritual awakening is an invitation to become loving.   It’s a calling—one that everyone receives an invitation to.

Much Love!

Phoenix

 

 

Wake up Call

Are you ready to feel?

Wake up Call

 I opened my heart

And let you see in it

Stepped out in risk,

Showed you my true self

 

Learned once again

Why I’m always concealing

The who I am deep down

She’s not who you’re seeking

 

For years I’ve accepted

Your frail, grave condition

Hushed up my insides

And fed your addictions

 

Frozen my heartbeat

And spiritual mission

In hopes of the slight chance

You’d change your position

 

But all that I’ve learned

From this single decision

Is I’m the one losing

Idiotic, ass reasoning!

 

Truth’s often spoken

In subtle, faint language

Inviting us close up

To hear what it’s saying…

 

“You were born into arms

Of the weakest perception;

Clinging to lies that will

Never bring happiness.”

 

Why don’t they want me?

Why won’t they listen?

I’m so sick of being

The one who is missing!

 

It’s not till we fail at

Getting the message

That life starts to scream out

And rattle our cages…

 

Walls start to puncture

From raging and fighting

Exposing a new side

Dysfunction recycling

 

Head on I see her

In sparkling, clear glass,

The same woman stares back,

“It’s me!  I’m a part of this!”

 

Rolling it over

I pace with new insight

–inhale and exhale—

Till I’m finally inspired…

 

“I can’t be the person,

They groomed me to be,

I’m not her, she’s not me,

I’m going to feel.”

 

My Prayer for You

Just a simple poem for you today.  If you’re seeking a “formula” to God (or whatever word you use for Higher Power) I’ve found this one helpful.

Much Love!

Phoenix

My Prayer for You

My prayer for you is to find yourself

See the beauty, love and truth

My prayer for you is to know yourself

Feel the beauty, love and truth

My prayer for you is to be yourself

Give the beauty, love and truth

For that is the way to God and love.

Riding on Fumes of Faith

At one time or another, all of us have felt like we don’t have a drop of faith left to go any further.   We all juggle so many variables trying to keep the vehicle of ourselves on the road amidst so many detours.  Life is challenging.  And sometimes, our emotional gas tank gets empty.

While it’s true I’m passionate about inspiring all of you, it’s also true that I’m human.  One of the biggest reasons I was resistant to step out as a spiritual teacher is because I’m not what most would consider your “typical” spiritual teacher.  I know for me, when I first started my spiritual journey; I believed spiritual teachers were these ascended, all-knowing, all-loving beings.  It’s precisely why I followed so many of them.  I wanted what I believed they had.

What I discovered along my own journey is that what they had was knowledge about a few important truths.  They understood the laws that govern us.  And because they had awakened their own consciousness to these truths, they had the ability to choose to flow with these laws more than the average human being.  One of these truths has to do with energy supply.

We Can’t Give What we Don’t Have 

In finance, without a deposit, we can’t make a withdrawal.  So it is with emotional health.  Without an emotional deposit, we can’t make an emotional withdrawal.  It’s why I’m scrolling these words now.  Whenever I find myself riding on fumes of faith, I make it a point to recharge.  For me, writing is a great way to recharge.  Your job is to find what best fills you up and then align your life in a manner that allows you to engage in this activity to refill yourself.

While I’m not religious and don’t subscribe to any religion, there is one quote from the bible which continues to be among my favorite spiritual wisdoms.  My very favorite quote in the bible which is found in Matthew is, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto you.”  To me, what that means is to first seek what is true and good for our soul and once we do (and can apply them to our lives), everything else will get attracted to us automatically.

Life Happens

What’s true for me today is that life happens and no matter who we are or where we are on our journey, emptiness happens.  When we choose to live our lives riding on fumes, eventually, we run out and while that is a travesty, it’s also a gift if we can choose to see what’s true.  Emptiness gives us a wonderful opportunity to evaluate our choices and determine if any of them need changing.  It provides us with a snapshot of our lives which we can observe to determine if we like what we see or if we want to edit.

Today, I was running on fumes of faith.  Because I have been gifted with the knowledge of a few basic truths—which I will share with you as we go along—I was able to redirect my fear toward faith and action rather than toward reaction.

Until next time,

Much love,

Phoenix

In To It YOU Have

When my daughter was in fourth grade, she uncovered something awesome.  While she was able to read fairly well by this point, there were still plenty of times when she came to unfamiliar words that required word attacking.  On this occasion, she came to the unfamiliar word intuition.

Even though I knew breaking this word down wouldn’t help her, I still encouraged her to try.  After she removed the prefix and the suffix she stared at the three letters remaining, ‘tui.’   “What does tui mean?” she asked.

I shrugged, so she moved on to a different strategy—this time listing variations of the word intuition.  This strategy only yielded one variant—intuitive (a word she’d heard me use often)—still she couldn’t place the definition.

Rather than returning to the original variant, intuition, she decided to stick with intuitive choosing to break this word down into syllables which looked like this on the whiteboard:    in to it ive.  (Yes she changed the u to an o)

Once she got to this point, she narrowed her eyes and turned to me, “I don’t know what to do with ive.” So, I suggested a contraction.  After she inserted the apostrophe, I smiled.

“What is it?” she asked looking back at the whiteboard.

“Look,” I pointed, “In to it I have.  That’s the meaning of intuition!”

And it’s true!  Inside of us we have.  In to it YOU have!!!

Much Love,

Phoenix

 

Ants Marching

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you paused for thought and said, “Why am I doing this?” or “What’s the point?” and felt super frustrated at how often such questions creep into your mind that you cannot find satisfying answers to?  It’s likely what led you here today.  Life has a funny way of synchronizing once we begin to reach a place of frustration.  That’s because frustration is a feeling—a portal if you like—which helps us in moving the stagnation of our lives forward.

For a long time, I resisted anger. I felt it in some way made me unattractive, unbecoming and otherwise impure, until I realized that the only impure thing was my own suppression of my true feelings.  Anger for me has become a call to action.

I was driving my daughter to her dog class yesterday when the song, Ants Marching by Dave Matthews Band came on.  I hadn’t heard the song in FOREVER, yet as soon as I heard the first chord; it was as if I was transported back to an earlier period in my life.  I immediately recalled every lyric.  At the same time, it was as if I was hearing the song anew.  As I listened, the song was no longer about individuation, but instead about the monotony of auto-pilot living—of living unconsciously—without ever pausing for thought.  It was about suppression.

Early on in my spiritual journey, I remember every room in my house had towering structures of books strategically arranged in the order I intended to read them.  Somehow I believed that once I consumed all of these books, I would know where to find the Holy Grail and once I did, I could cure my daughter and return to the regularly scheduled—“Ants Marching”—program of my life.

You need to understand, back then; my daughter had just received her autism diagnosis.  And autism intervention then isn’t what it is now.  Back in the day, all the experts were still becoming experts.  So, the longer that I was home with Chloe, the more apparent it became that if she and I were to make it out alive, I would have to become an expert myself.

It wasn’t until I consumed enough wisdom (psychology, parenting, special needs, spiritual, self-help, to name a few), that I concluded there was no such thing as an autism expert.  Simultaneously, a shift occurred when a tiny voice deep down within me whispered, “The answer for everything is found in the truth; the way to the truth is found within you.”

“Within me?” I laughed.  “Are you kidding? All I’ve got within me is a bunch of French terminology (for ballet), several dozen song lyrics, some academic odds and ends, and the morals and ethics that propelled me thus far.  I’ve got nothing!” Still, the whisper persisted.  And so it was that my journey of discovering what is within me began.

That journey—which continues today—I now understand is all about learning how to transition from using all my weight to jump up and down on my emotions until they are packed deep down inside of me with no chance of breaking free to allowing my feelings to flow (imagine the strum of a harp).

Inside my stacks of towering books was the advice that spiritual teachers can only act as pointers and sign posts.  I am grateful for that because offering advice is a great responsibility!  But, as a sign post, I need only scribe meaningful words upon my post and hold it up for you to read.  Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with these words, “Play under the table and dream.”  It is good advice Dave Matthews offers after all.

Much love,

Phoenix