Living In An Imperfect World

In Honor of World Cerebral Palsy Day


Yesterday was picture day for my two teenage daughters.  The photography company asked that we fill out a form.  Did I want the pictures done with photo editing for a higher premium or did I want them done without?  Easy choice.  I checked off without photo editing.

Those so called imperfections are what make my daughters who they are. Years from now when I look back at their high school days, I want to remember them as they were and always will be: perfectly imperfect.

There’s only one problem.  We live in a society that thrives on the pursuit of perfection.  As a young college graduate, I went for an interview with an advertising agency.  I was offered the job only to later have the offer retracted when it was discovered that I was hearing impaired.  In fact, I was told by the advertising manager to get out of my chosen field because I was never going to make it.

A few months later, I interviewed with an association and was not offered the position.  I found out later it was because the executive director “did not like my speech impediment.”

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that I expected to be hired for a job that I was not qualified for.  What I am saying is that I expected to be judged on my ability rather than my disability.  I expected to be accepted despite my so called imperfections.  I was more than capable and willing but I soon found out that society was not quite ready for me.

Just turn on the television or look at ads in magazines or newspapers.  What do you see?  Beautiful faces.  Slim bodies.  Picture-perfect homes.  The perfect life.  There’s only one problem; there is no such thing.  Our obsession with perfection in fact makes us imperfect.

When I got married, I wanted to be the perfect wife.  When my daughter Erica was born I wanted to be the perfect mother.  I strived to be the perfect friend, daughter, sister, etc.  But I lost myself somewhere on that road to perfection and I became someone other than me.  The real me was born with cerebral palsy, suffers from hearing loss, walks with a limp, has a speech impediment, makes mistakes, and, oh yes, even has an ugly birthmark on her right hand.

I couldn’t wait until the day I had a full-time job with health coverage so I could go and have that ugly birthmark removed.  I went to one of the best plastic surgeons in the area only to be told that he would have to be remove skin from my buttocks to replace the skin removed from my hand.  So either way, he told me, I would have a scar on my hand.

I opted to keep my birthmark and looking back, I’m so glad I did.  As I’ve grown older and wiser over the years, I’ve come to realize that all of my imperfections make me who I am.  If we were meant to be perfect, God would have created us that way.  He didn’t because our imperfections are our fingerprints.  They are what make us all unique.

Take a moment to think about how your perfect world would be.  Perhaps your perfect world would be filled with love and no judgement.  Everyone is born gorgeous with no bodily “flaws.”  Everyone is always happy.  We all have wonderful families and adoring friends.  There is no sickness, everyone is smart, and there is only one social class.  There’s no drama, no fighting, no hurt feelings, nada.

This so-called perfect world utopia is not only impossible but extremely boring.  Our imperfections and the challenges that come along with them are what allow us to learn and grow.  The pain that we feel when someone we love hurts us is supposed to hurt.  That pain helps us to appreciate that very love and not take anything for granted.  Our flaws are what make us interesting and unique.  They shape our personality and set us apart. Without them, everything would be ordinary and mundane.

Today, October 7, is recognized as World Cerebral Palsy Day.  I propose a Perfectly Imperfect Day.  It would be a day for all of us to recognize and celebrate the very uniqueness that makes us who we are.

I’ve long discovered that my many weaknesses in life, including my disability, are in fact my strengths.  If I had a choice, I would not change the fact that I was born with a disability.  If I did, I wouldn’t be me.

In the words of Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.

WAYNE DYER: The Next Adventure

“We are not our bodies, our possessions, or our careers.  Who we are is Divine love and that is infinite.”

Dr. Wayne Dyerwaynedyer

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said beautiful thoughts build a beautiful soul.  If you need any proof of these words, just look at his life.  The best-selling author of over 30 books and self-help mogul died on August 30, 2015 at his home in Maui, Hawaii of a heart-attack at the age of 75.  A long-time admirer of both his books and his amazing wisdom, I am saddened by his death.  It is comforting to know, however, that Dyer knew death was but a transition and did not fear it.

“Choose to see death as simply removing a garment or moving from one room to another . . . it’s merely a transition,” he said.  He also believed as do I that we are infinite beings.  In other words, we always were and we always will be.  God did not put us all here to live and then die.  “Eternity is now,” noted Dyer.   “Right now, right here, you’re an infinite being. Once you get past the fear of death as an end, you merge with the infinite and feel the comfort and relief that this realization brings.”

Although I know Dyer is enjoying his next adventure, I will surely miss his physical presence.  His wisdom, however, will forever live on.  He has touched millions of souls and changed countless lives.  He understood and taught that we are all here for a reason; every life serves a purpose.  It’s obvious that his purpose was to enlighten and help others…a task he more than accomplished.

But Dyer was clear that it’s not about what we do.  What we do, does not define us.  Rather it’s about how our actions affect others.  He explained it well when he said, “Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t do…you aren’t.”

His death is actually a testament to these very words.  Dyer’s physical presence may be gone, but he still is.  His presence is still felt around the globe.  He wasn’t what he did.  He was all the differences that he made.  He was all the lives that he touched.  He was the love that he shared—a love that can still be felt and can never be extinguished.

It’s about who you are on the inside, not your list of accomplishments or things earned.  “When you squeeze out an orange, orange comes out because that’s what’s inside.  When you’re squeezed, what comes out is what’s inside.”

In honor of Dr. Wayne Dyer, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes by him.  These include:

  • “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
  • “I cannot always control what goes on outside.  But I can always control what goes on inside.”
  • “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.  It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
  • “Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.”
  • “Loving people live in a loving world.  Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
  • “You’ll see it when you believe it.”
  • “Our loves are a sum total of the choices we have made.”
  • “Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy, but this is not accurate.  You make yourself unhappy.”
  • “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”
  • “The last suit you wear, you don’t need any pockets.”

Dyer grew up in a series of foster homes.  His father, an alcoholic, left the family when he was just 3 years old.  Things were difficult for his family to be sure.  But as we can all see by the incredible life he lived and the amazing man he was, he was not a victim of his circumstances.  No one is.

We are only the victim of our mind.  We are only the victim of our thoughts—both positive and negative.  “It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time,” he once said. “Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.”

In one of his final interviews with James Altucher, he reminded us of the number one regret of the dying from Bronnie Ware’s popular book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”   Dyer said that’s about the essence of it all. He clearly didn’t have this deathbed regret. And neither should we.

Everything Is Not About Being Black or White…Its About Being People

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

aug blog pic1As a little girl, I had a dream.  I wanted to be a journalist much like WDBJ reporter Alison Parker who was murdered yesterday on live television.

People are calling yesterday’s fatal shooting of Parker and cameraman Adam Ward a racist hate crime.  Were Parker and Ward the victim of hate?  Yes, but it’s much bigger than that.

Afterwards, the gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan, a former WDBJ-TV reporter who went by the name of Bryce Williams faxed a 23-page manifesto-cum-suicide note to ABC News.  His note claimed that yesterday’s live execution was his reaction to the Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17 of this year.  Sources indicate that the murder weapon was purchased legally from a Virginia store just two days after the church shooting.

The fax also expressed Flanagan’s admiration for the two Columbine High School killers in Colorado.  On April 20, 1999, two teens went on a shooting rampage killing and injuring several people before turning the gun on themselves. Let’s take this into perspective for a moment.

The Columbine High School attack took place 16 years ago when Flanagan was 25 years old.  His note claimed that the more recent church shooting set him off and also claimed harassment from WDBJ.  On Twitter, he claimed Parker had made racist comments.  He later filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

His claims were dismissed because the allegations could not be verified. Flanagan’s horrific killing did not start with these so-called allegations, however.  It started long before yesterday.  This man was obviously disturbed and mentally unstable.  In his fax, he writes, “The church shooting was the tipping point . . . but my anger has been building steadily. . . I’ve been a human powder keg for a while . . . just waiting to go BOOM!!!”*

In his note he also talked about how he was harassed by white women and also attacked for being a gay, black man.

Last night, WDBJ President and General Manger, Jeffrey Marks, appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly.  When asked about how Flanagan was as an employee, Marks told O’Reilly that we can know what people say and do but not what they think and feel.  That remark really hit home for me.  These racist attacks don’t start with how people act.  They start with how people think. They start with how people feel.

These attacks start not with discrimination but with hatred.  The same hatred was fostered by the terrorists on 9/11, the recent mob riots in Baltimore and Jefferson County, the earlier shootings in Charleston, Virginia Tech and Columbine. Palestine vs Israel, ISIS and countless others going all the way back to the Crusades.  They are a product of a mindset brought on by either a hateful ideology or a sense of being somehow wronged.

Fifty-two years ago tomorrow (August 28, 1963), Martin Luther King Jr. made one of the most memorable speeches in history when he talked about having a dream.**aug blog pic2

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. . .

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

When King made this masterful speech, he was not talking about equality for just African Americans, he was talking about equality for all.  It’s not about seeing people as black or white; Hispanic or Asian, gay or straight, Muslim, Jew, Christian or atheist.   It’s not about seeing someone as disabled or “normal.”  It’s about seeing people as people.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy and hearing loss, I, too, experienced many acts of prejudice.  I was picked on and bullied.  When I was fresh out of college, I was offered a job at an advertising agency.  However, when the manger later learned of my hearing loss, I was told that I would never make it.  I was told to get out of my chosen field.  The job offer was then retracted.

There were and continue to be countless other incidents I can list.  But the point is, throughout all that happened to me personally in life, I never let hatred build up inside me, hoping to one day exact revenge on society for wronging me.  Instead, I used those experiences as a self-motivator turning all those negatives into positives.  I fought harder to succeed and be the best person I could be hoping to instill in my children a similar mindset of understanding, love and tolerance.

I, too, have a dream.  I have a dream that this world will someday understand that we are not either black or white.  That this prejudice and the horrible acts of crime that often result from it, is simply borne from generalized hatred towards any particular group of people.

I have a dream that that we will realize that we cannot simply make gun control laws stricter, or have greater security in public places and expect this problem to go away.   We will someday realize that we must fundamentally change how we teach our children.  We will teach our children to see people not as black or white but as people.

Despite the bad in this world, we will remember that the good will always prevail.  And someday, we will all stand together, no longer divided. Only together can we make this world a better place.

This blog is dedicated in memory of Alison Parker and Adam Ward.  My deepest condolences go out to their family, friends and colleagues. 



The Unthinkable: Dealing with the Loss of a Child

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

Helen Keller

One of the worst pains that anyone can endure is undoubtedly the loss of a child.  Each year statistics show that about 53,000 parents face the loss of a child in the U.S.  As the mother of two, the thought is just inconceivable to me.

LND.jpegIt doesn’t matter if the child is young or an adult, parents are supposed to go before their children.  My father’s sister (my aunt Mary) lost two daughters.  One daughter, my cousin Debbie, died when she was a young teenager from brain cancer.  It was so hard for me and my family to witness the excruciating pain that my cousin endured until she finally crossed over.  But as hard as it was for us, nothing compares to the pain my aunt and uncle had to suffer.

Years later, Debbie’s oldest sister Lina was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Although Lina was much older than her sister when she was diagnosed, the pain was the same.  My Aunt Mary had suffered through the loss of her daughter and then her husband.  Losing her oldest daughter was more than she could handle.

We’ve had many heartfelt conversations about my two deceased cousins.  My aunt always cries and says, “I lost two daughters, Jo.  I lost two.”  My assurances that she will see Debbie and Lina again do bring her comfort yet the pain of losing a child remains.  Life has in many ways stopped for my aunt as she now feels guilty about moving on and enjoying her life.

I bring up my aunt because July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month.  As an author and afterlife researcher, I’ve had many people ask me, “Josie, knowing what you know now (that there is life after death), does it make it easier for you when you lose a loved one?  My answer is always the same.  Yes, it’s easier but it’s not easy.  Losing a loved one hurts.  It really hurts.

Sure, I know I will see them again.  Because of my experiences, I do not fear death.  Love never dies.  It’s always there but it is that same love that we shared with the deceased that causes us pain.  It is that love that causes us grief.  Think about it.   You cannot have one without the other.

If I had a choice and could deny myself love so as to not experience grief, I would refuse it.  I will always choose love.

On Grief and Grieving, a book by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, describes the five stages of grief.  They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  It’s important to note, however, that not everyone goes through all of them, nor do they necessarily occur in this order.  A parent who is dealing with the unexpected murder of their child, for example, may be stuck in the anger stage.  Grief is a deeply personal and singular experience.

In other words, it’s your own.  No one can tell you how you should feel, how to get over it or how long it should take.  The only person who can understand and deal with the emotions you are going through is you.

True grief is, of course, normal.  However, burying our children seems unnatural.  Although we are never prepared to bury a loved one, we are certainly more prepared when it comes to an aging parent, etc.  We don’t expect to have to bury our children.

If you know someone who has lost a child, just let them know you are there for them.  Very often, people don’t know what to say and it sometimes comes out all wrong.  If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything at all.  Listen more than you talk.

If you are a bereaved parent, don’t ignore your feelings.  Allow yourself to grieve anyway that you choose and take as much time as you need.  Don’t hesitate to lean on your friends and family and keep the lines of communication open.

Of course, many of my readers are dealing with the heartache of losing loved ones.  Often they reach out to me seeking comfort.  Time after time, my heart always breaks for each and every one of them.  I wish there was something that I could do to quickly take away the pain but there are no quick fixes when it comes to grief.

The best thing I can do is help them understand that although the body dies, the spirit lives and also try to help others understand that love never dies.  To demonstrate this, I want to share a brief excerpt from my book, Visits from Heaven.  The story entitled “Tanya’s Heavenly Bracelet” appears on page 203.  It is an amazing story of one bereaved mom’s struggle with the loss of her daughter, Tanya.  Through her grief, Carol discovers that her daughter never really left her.

Tanya’s Heavenly Bracelet (An excerpt from Visits from Heaven/4th Dimension Press)

After her death we began to receive many comforting signs, but Tanya’s appearance and hug was the most precious gift of them all.  At this point in my life, I did not want to go on living; I missed my daughter so much.  She always had a way of giving the best hugs.  She’d squeeze real tight and hang on for the longest time.  I would go to her grave site every morning before work and every evening after work.  Each time I would tell her how much I loved and missed her.  Each time I would say, “I’d give anything for one last hug.”

VFHbookOne night just before her sixteenth birthday, I walked into my room and sat at the edge of my bed.  When I looked up, Tanya was there! She didn’t say anything but her eyes expressed so much love and she had the most beautiful smile.

Tanya wrapped her arms around me.  I put my right hand on her left arm.  She was cool yet not cold, solid but not quite hard.  My hand did not go through her, but I was just so different; it felt kind of like touching “Jell-O.”

The texture of her skin startled me.  There are no words to describe what her arm felt like.  I drew a quick breath, and then Tanya gave me the most beautiful loving smile.  She just backed away and was gone.  I can’t even begin to convey how much her “visit” meant to me.

I hope Carol’s story brings some comfort to those of you who are grieving.  Focus on the love within.  As I always say, love is the one thing that transcends death.  No one, absolutely no one, can ever take that love away from you.

Was Nikola Tesla a Mystic?

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence. To understand the true nature of the universe, one must think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

Nikola Tesla

teslaphotoI can remember learning about Thomas Edison when I was in grade school.  At that time, he was heralded as the greatest inventor that ever lived. Now as an adult, I can’t say I still believe that. Croatian-born Nikola Tesla’s accomplishments dwarf even those of Edison.

In 1943, the Supreme Court granted full rights to Tesla for the invention of the radio.  Sadly, it was too late for he died earlier that same year and never received the recognition he so deserved.  He also built the first working alternating current generator.  As a result of his genius, we are today able to take advantage of all the modern conveniences of A.C. (alternating current) electric power, and many others.

Tesla also invented how light can be distributed.  What many don’t realize is that it was Tesla who first used fluorescent bulbs in his lab.  Other inventions include:



*Remote Control

*First Hydroelectric Power Plant

*The Electric Motor

*Wireless Communications

*Laser Technology

*Wireless Free Energy

Yes, that’s right….FREE energy.  At the 1893 World fair in Chicago, Tesla showed how it is possible to wirelessly transmit electricity over long distances.  He claimed that he had discovered a limitless source of energy that could be transmitted without the use of wires.  He built the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, Long Island, as a wireless telecommunications facility and planned to broadcast electrical power.  J.P. Morgan, his financier pulled his funding, however, when he learned he was working on transmitting free energy.  Major businesses stood to lose a lot of money and therefore did not support the idea of providing free power to people.

The US Patent Office has hundreds of patents registered to Nikola Tesla and it is also said that he is responsible for creating many, many more inventions which were never patented.   How is it possible that one man can create so much in just one lifetime (1856-1943)?

Unlike most inventors, Tesla was able to conceive of the entire invention in his mind without any need for experimentation or trial and error testing.  The ideas just came to him as flashes of insight.  When he was young, he worried that he was going crazy.  He went to see several doctors but no one could explain what was happening to him.

Only later did he come to realize that he had a gift that was the basis of all of his inventions.  Below he explains this in an article titled “Making Your Imagination Work for You”:

“During my boyhood I had suffered from a peculiar affliction due to the appearance of images, which were often accompanied by strong flashes of light…. Then I began to take mental excursions beyond the small world of my actual knowledge. Day and night, in imagination, I went on journeys—saw new places, cities, countries, and all the time I tried hard to make these imaginary things very sharp and clear in my mind.

“This I did constantly until I was 17, when my thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then, to my delight, I found I could visualize with the greatest facility. I needed no models, drawings, or experiments. I could picture them all in my head.”

These visions were so real that he sometimes had difficulty distinguishing between what was factual or imaginary. He claimed that he was able to see these visions in holographic detail to the point where he could rotate them and take them apart piece by piece.

These visions were far ahead of his time.  In 1909, for example, Tesla envisioned the modern-day smart phone.  In 2007, researchers were able to transmit power wirelessly seven feet across the room.  Tesla was able to do the same for several miles decades earlier.  To this day, several rumors abound as to how he was able to receive such clear flashes of creativity and intuition.  Some said that he was receiving information from extraterrestrial sources while others believed he was psychic.

Did Tesla receive information from extraterrestrial beings?  Truthfully, no one knows for sure.  We do know, however, that he was one of the first to experiment with electronic voice phenomena (EVP).  In fact, Thomas Edison believed that Tesla had managed to find the correct frequency to allow communication with the spirit world.

Was Tesla psychic or intuitive?  I believe he was.  We are all born with innate intuitive abilities.  Some are able to use this gift better than others.

Tesla was also said to be fascinated with numerology and was especially interested in the number three.  This is considered the number of the divine and elicits wisdom and understanding.  It is considered sacred in various religions.

Perhaps his interest in mysticism stemmed from his near-death experience.  As a young boy, he was swimming in a river and wanted to impress his friends.  His plan was to swim under water and emerge some distance away where his friends could no longer see him.  He swam until he thought he was clear of the dock but hit his head on a beam as he came up to the surface.

As a result, he swam further down but ended up hitting his head once more.  Tired and breathless, he then had an out-of-body experience in which he could see gaps between the boards and realized he could find pockets of air that way.  Luckily, he survived.

Sometime later, he contracted cholera and was bedridden and very weak for nine months.  He later wrote that this was the second time he found himself at death’s door.  Speaking of this experience, he wrote, “What I experienced during the period of that illness surpasses all belief. My sight and hearing were always extraordinary. I could clearly discern objects in the distance when others saw no trace of them. Several times in my boyhood I saved the houses of our neighbors from fire by hearing the faint crackling sounds which did not disturb their sleep, and calling for help.”  (

Tesla was a visionary far ahead of his time and as a result many of his ideas were not accepted.  He refused to be bitter and commented instead, “The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of a planter—for the future. His duty is to lay foundation of those who are to come and point the way.”

Shortly after his death in 1943, much of his intellectual papers were seized by the U.S. government.  This led to conspiracy theories which still continue to this day.  Some believe his papers contained information about extraterrestrial contact while others say they contained information on advanced weaponry.  Still others believe they contained valuable revelations about Eastern mysticism.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain.  He did not deserve to die broke and alone.  His inventions advanced not only the United States but the entire world into the present day technological era.  We would not be where we are today had it not been for his genius.

Do What Speaks to Your Heart

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched but are felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

heartclearnersOn Saturday, I made my weekly trip to the dry cleaners.  Usually when I walk in I find the owner smiling and seemingly happy to assist me.  This time, however, she looked very tired and withdrawn as she retrieved my husband’s dress shirts.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.  She seemed surprised by my question.  “You look very tired,” I continued.  We have had many conversations in the past but this one I could tell was going to be different.

“I am tired,” she responded as she quickly glanced around the shop.  “Sometimes I look back at my life and think what am I doing?  I’m always working.”  Sensing how she was feeling, I responded, “I know how you feel.  So many of us reach a point in our lives when we look back and wonder what we have truly done.  You have to do what makes you happy.  You have to do what gives you a sense of purpose.  In other words, do what speaks to your heart.”

She looked at me intently, “But I don’t know what speaks to my heart.  How do I know what speaks to my heart?”

“How can you know what speaks to your heart if you don’t take the time to listen?”  I asked.  “When we are so busy going from one mundane activity to another, we can’t hear our heart speak to us.”

A smile now warmed the owner’s face.

So how do we know what speaks to our heart?  Before I explain this, let me just say that there are two ways we can listen.  We can either listen with our mind or we can listen with our heart.  When we listen with our mind, we are operating out of fear, opinion and reason.  However, when we listen to our heart, we are operating from our emotions and feelings.  Think of it this way:  the mind speaks from past experiences and the heart speaks in the present moment.  The heart is your intuitive or true self.

What many don’t realize is that the heart plays a much bigger role than just pumping blood through the human body.  The heart has been found to have a mind of its own:

“Our research and that of others indicate that the heart is far more than a simple pump. The heart is, in fact, a highly complex, self-organized information processing center with its own functional ‘brain’ that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life.” (

 The heart, therefore, is a sophisticated information processing center that is constantly communicating with the brain.  Among others, the heart tells the brain how we are feeling and indicates our various emotions. 

“Basic research at the Institute of HeartMath shows that information pertaining to a person’s emotional state is also communicated throughout the body via the heart’s electromagnetic field.  The rhythmic beating patterns of the heart change significantly as we experience different emotions.  Negative emotions such as anger or frustration, are associated with erratic, disordered, incoherent pattern in the heart’s rhythms.  In contrast, positive emotions such as love or appreciation, are associated with a smooth, ordered, coherent pattern in the heart’s rhythmic activity.  In turn these changes in the heart’s beating patterns create corresponding changes in the structure of the electromagnetic field radiated by the heart, measurable by a technique called spectral analysis.” (

 I can remember when I was in school, we were taught that the brain was the mastermind.  The brain was the one that told the body what to do but now we know that is simply not the case. The heart and the brain work in unison.

Getting back to my friend at the dry cleaners, you can’t hear what the heart is saying if you don’t take the time to listen.  Likewise, you can’t listen to your heart if you don’t quiet the mind.

As I mentioned earlier, most of us are so busy going from one routine to the other that we don’t take any time to ourselves.  To be honest, I am no exception.  Every day I am so busy trying to keep up with the demands of being the mother of two active teenagers, a wife and an author.  But I deal with this by willfully telling my mind to slow down.

Before I go to bed at night I do a simple meditation technique where I relax my body and pay attention to my breathing.  With each breath, I find that I quiet the outside and draw myself within.  Doing so makes me aware of what I’m truly thinking and feeling.  Doing so gives me access to my intuitive voice or my heart’s center.

When I’m in this relaxed state, I am better able to come up with solutions to problems, release stress and develop new ideas.  Being in this relaxed state helps me to connect with my true self. What I find is that when I listen to my heart, my life seems to flow effortlessly.  However, when I ignore it, things appear to be erratic and tense.  Nothing seems to be going right no matter how hard I try.

There is no sense in letting your heart talk if you are not willing to listen.  As I asked my friend at the dry cleaners, how can you do what speaks to your heart if you don’t take the time to listen?

There is no stronger power in the human body than that of the heart.  Take the time and listen to what it’s telling you and you’ll be surprised by its wisdom; you’ll be amazed where it can lead you.

You Are How You Think: The Brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS) and Why It’s So Important

“Thoughts Become Things… Choose The Good Ones!”

     Mike DooleyRAS

 Last month my friend asked me to help him purchase a new GMC Terrain.  I agreed to help and set out to negotiate a deal on a white Terrain (his color of choice).  I spent a few days and several hours calling and contacting dealerships and negotiating the best deal.  Suddenly, every time I would drive somewhere I kept noticing white Terrains all over the road yet I hardly ever noticed them before.  Suddenly, these vehicles seemed to be everywhere.

Why is that?  Did the GMC Terrain suddenly become more popular in white?  Was it just a coincidence?  NO and NO. The vehicles were always there; I just never noticed them before.  I was noticing them then because of something in the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It is a tiny portion of the brain but the role it plays in our lives is nothing short of HUGE. Despite its importance, most people have never even heard of it.

The RAS is a cluster of nerve cells at the base of your brain which basically acts as a mental filter.  In other words, it controls what you focus on.  Each day we are constantly bombarded with sounds, information and all sorts of stimuli from our environment such as sights, sounds, and feelings.  We can’t possibly pay attention to every single thing that comes at us.  Without this filter, we would experience an overload of senses and it would be impossible to function in this world.

This powerful portion of our brain brings to our attention the things we think about consistently while filtering out the things that are unimportant to us.  The RAS brings to our conscious mind only the things that are important to us.  As an example, I suffer from bilateral hearing loss.  When I was pregnant with my daughter Erica, I was always worried about not being able to hear my baby.  But when she was born, I was amazed at how well I could hear her.

I was always so focused on hearing the baby that it was almost like her slightest whimpers were amplified. Looking back, I now know that this was because of the RAS in my brain.  My conscious mind passed instructions to my subconscious (my need to hear my baby) and filtered out other sounds around me.  It allowed me to focus on what was important to me while ignoring what was unimportant.

However, one of the many interesting things about the RAS is that it cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.  As far as it is concerned, both are one and the same.  It only knows what you tell it.

So here’s the kicker.  If you are afraid of something whether you have reason to be or not, you will create reasons to be afraid in your subconscious mind.  Your subconscious mind will continue to create situations in your life in which you feel anxious or fearful.

It works both ways.  If you constantly focus on the positives and take note of all the things you have to be grateful for, you will continue to notice the good around you and filter out the bad.  What you focus on, you become.  What you pay attention to, grows.

By now I hope you can all see the full potential of the RAS.  It can work for or against you; it’s your choice.  One of my favorite quotes by Henry Ford is “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”  This is true because of the RAS.  Think of it as an on/off switch in your head.  The good news is you have total control of which way you want to flip the switch.  If you think the world is a terrible place, it is.  If you think the world is beautiful and extraordinary, it is.  It’s as simple as that.

It is your beliefs and your thoughts—both positive and negative—that will sway your subconscious mind one way or the other.  It is the RAS that makes positive thinking more than mumbo jumbo.  It is the RAS that makes saying daily affirmations and writing in a gratitude journal far more than just a fun exercise.  It has been proven to work time and time again.

The RAS is the reason why you could have an amazing opportunity right in front of you and not even see it.  It’s the reason you’ve missed out on so many life-changing experiences and never took all those incredible chances.  It’s the difference between achieving your goals and just looking at that tattered bucket list pinned on your wall.

As I mentioned earlier, the RAS cannot differentiate between your imagination or reality.  You are the one who makes it real based on what you focus on.  You are the one who makes it real based on your beliefs.  It’s there 24/7 waiting to help you create whatever you desire.  Knowing what you now know about the RAS, why wouldn’t you use it to your advantage?  Why wouldn’t you feed it anything but positive thoughts?

Remember, what you think, you create.  Envision the world as a blank page.  The words that appear on that page are created by your thoughts.  Make it worth the read.



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