Opening the Gates of the Heart

The creation of my nationally-acclaimed, award-winning book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, is evidence of God at work in my life, as He, through me, created a lovely book of photographs of wrought-iron gates and inspirational verses that is a pathway to peace, a daily meditation or reflection.

You see, I had no idea I was creating the book for the first several years of its existence. This is a story that is so profound, as I discovered the verses for the book, written in my journals before I even photographed and titled the gates! It was nine months after shooting the gates that I realized verses from my journals gave words to the images far beyond the visual element, words that flowed upon the page, that emanated from deep within me as I journaled with my left, non-dominant hand. These are the verses that comprise, verbatim, seventy-five percent of the verses in the book.

As I reflected upon these words, I realized that I want to extend an offer to you for the book, for the holidays. I am offering my book, personally signed for you, a friend, or a loved one, for $20.00, from now until December 24th. This cost includes shipping via media mail.

To get this offer, you need to circumvent the current price of $25.00 on the website by calling me directly to place your order. 415-883-8325. I will send you the book with an invoice and you can send me a check, or you can pay by credit card over the phone.

I want to offer this special because I want you or your loved one to experience the hope, joy, and peace that you will experience when you read Opening the Gates of the Heart. And, I offer this because I want to thank you for your loyalty in following my blog, my work. It is what I have to offer to you. Whether you are trying to get or stay sober, recovering as a child of a alcoholic parent, or a veteran looking for solace, you will find magic in the book’s pages.

To see if Opening the Gates of the Heart is a match for you or as a gift for that someone special in your life, check out the endorsements, under the “About” tab above. You can also see some of the book’s pages on “About the Book,” under the “About” tab above. The book is a tribute to the resiliency and beauty of the human spirit, and will bring you more calm, more peace, in your life.

Spend some time checking out the book and then call to order your copy or copies today. I look forward to being of service to you through my book.


Opening the Gates of the Heart

Good morning. We have finished the topics in the book and I shall be starting over again tomorrow with fear. I plan to speak to the issues from the perspective that I experienced as an alcoholic getting and remaining sober. Even if you do not have a drinking problem, you may still find the posts revealing.

Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing

Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing

Today, before we continue, I’d like to make special note of my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. If you have followed the blog, then you know that each post discussed a topic from the book, in the order in which they appear in the book. It was my process of going from great fear, terror, and shame, to joy and inner peace.

This book is a tribute to the resiliency and beauty of the human spirit, as you have seen through my daily, evolving blogs. If you liked what you have read in the blogs, and have liked the images and verses, then you will love to have this book in your home or office.

Read in its entirety, it is a pathway to peace. Read one verse at a time, it is a daily meditation guide.  Again, if you like my blog, you will enjoy having the book nearby. Humbly, I offer my book to be of service to you, my loyal readers.

To that end, I would like to let you know that the book is for sale through my website. I am reducing the price from $29.95 plus shipping and tax for California residents, to $25.00,which now includes shipping by media mail, and tax for California residents. Order your copy today at this new rate.

That change will be reflected on the website in the next day or two, so please keep an eye out for it. As always, I will sign the book specifically for you or whomever you tell me to sign it for. It is a great deal; the book is a wonderful coffee table book or gift for that special person in your life who is struggling, or even not struggling. So click on “buy the book” and order a copy today. 

Join me tomorrow as we delve into the fear of quitting drinking and where that took me in my life.



Accepting Your Path in Life Leads to Peace

When you are accepting of your path in life, things move along smoothly, gracefully. It’s as if you flow from one thing to the next. “When we become entwined with our path, the steps become as soft as velvet, and the ascent flows smoothly.”

This is different than being resigned to the flow of life. When resigned, there is an attitude of defeat. You are battling to make things go a certain way. Often, you are angry or bitter, blaming the situation for any feelings of unrest you may have.

Path of Acceptance

When I became sober, I accepted what was going on around me, but I was resigned with defeat. It was a very heavy feeling. Somewhere along the way, things changed for me and I began to gracefully accept that things were as they should be in the Divine world. I had finally gotten to the realization that when there was nothing I could do to change something, then accepting it became the softer and easier way. 

I am not saying that you should resign yourself to a situation if there is something you can do to change it. On the contrary, you can take action to try and change something. But when your actions do not impact the situation, when you keep hitting a wall, then it is time to gracefully accept what is happening.

Acceptance also applies to your feelings. If you can accept what you are feeling at any given time, then it is easier to flow through those emotions, and to heal if that is what is needed. So often, we ignore or discount or deny our feelings and that just intensifies them. Again, the easier softer way is acceptance of them. 

To reach acceptance, perhaps it is helpful for you to pray or to meditate. This helps you let go of the way you want something to turn out, and allows the Divine to work in your life. If you then feel sad or hurt over the results,m then accept that also. If you do, that emotion will pass more quickly. It is helpful in accepting your path in life to just let go, to surrender, to accept. It leads to peace.


Introspect Can Lead Us To Harmony With Ourselves and Others

“When do we take the time to just listen to the breeze, the quietness, the ramblings of our mind, or the world around us? When do we simply rest, quietly connecting with ourselves and all that is vast and wondrous around and within us?”

Perhaps, we don’t take this time. Yet, it is so important to participate in introspect and self-reflection. We are always bustling, moving quickly from one activity to the next, watching TV or listening to music, never taking the time to sit quietly with ourselves.

This is such an important activity in which to engage, as it allows us to become centered, grounded. Introspect allows us to examine our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions and our interactions with others. Introspect allows us to determine if we have approached ourselves and others with love.

It is a time of sitting idle to allow ourselves to observe what is happening in the world around us, and to determine how we fit in. Activities such as meditation and yoga provide a framework in which to practice introspection.

Other activities might include sitting on the bank of a lake, river, or the ocean, allowing our thoughts to follow the meandering, rhythmic movements of the water. Or, we can sit on our front porch and watch the activity around us.

The benefit of taking time alone, without noise distraction, is a great connection with our innermost self. We can reach that part of us which is love. From that point, we can them touch others with harmony and love. We become available to ourselves and others when we practice introspect.

Post a comment, telling us what the ways are in which you practice introspect and self-reflection? What are the benefits you reap?



What Is Communication That Promotes Peace?

“If we as individuals cannot speak to each other, how, then, can we as nations achieve peace?”

Perhaps the one thing that furthers peace in your world is the way in which you speak to people. So, what is communication? Sometimes, you are friendly and cheery, while other times, you are gruff and impatient, maybe even defensive.

What is going on inside you when you are cheery in your communication? Most likely, you are feeling good about yourself. But when you are feeling “less than,” fearful, or not good about yourself, do you communicate gruffly, with impatience, perhaps even lashing out at another and putting them down?

When I say what is communication, what I’m talking about is your ability to be honest and let another know when you are feeling afraid, or badly about yourself, instead of lashing out. So many times, I hear one person berating or criticizing another, and wonder how badly they must be feeling inside. That doesn’t excuse the berating and criticism, but it is a good chance to practice compassion for them.

So, how can you speak with respect and caring to another when you are angry or feeling poorly inside? Perhaps, just honestly letting the other know what you are feeling, stating simply, “I am angry,” “I am afraid of xyz right now,” or “I feel awful about myself.” The important thing is to own your feelings, rather than saying “You make me feel…”

These things are challenging to say to another, I know. It takes commitment and practice. Above all, it takes being in touch with your feelings in the moment. Perhaps you can make an agreement with a close person in your life whom you trust to practice speaking in this manner. Set the ground rules up front, getting an agreement from the other to not criticize you for what you are about to say.

Infusing your talk with positive and honest words gets you a long way to peace…  Practice being candid with someone about your feelings and see what happens. Did it avoid an argument? Did you feel better about yourself? Did it preserve peace?



Learning to Cultivate Differences Can Lead to Healing Emotional Pain

Cultivation of Differences

Perhaps the most notable difference you can cultivate is that with people of different color. In this photo, I make a strong statement about that difference. You can learn that people are just people, with the same fears, insecurities, and desires to be liked that you experience. We all bleed the same color of blood, have the same internal organs; the skin is just a covering of that which is similar in nature.

Along with differences in color, you will find people with differences in customs. Learning and celebrating these differences provides a delightful tapestry in your life, adding richly to your own customs.

Then there are differences in beliefs. I am not advocating that you cultivate differences when they are harmful to yourself or others, but, rather, when they enhance your sphere of belief. For example, people who pray to a different source than you can be considered fascinating. Just because they are different than you does not mean you must be defensive about what you believe. Your beliefs are just as valid.

When you cultivate differences with those that are different than you, a whole other world opens up. For example, I used to frown upon, and yes, even look down upon, people with tattoos. Then I got into sobriety and started learning to accept others as they are. What I discovered was that the most beautiful words came out of the mouths of people with tattoos, just like those that came out of the mouths of people without them. My whole outlook changed and I relaxed around them, letting them be, enjoying their words.

As you cultivate the differences you find in the world, it lends to your healing emotional pain, as you will find that you are more tolerant and respectful of your differences. It leads you to accept yourself more, celebrating your uniqueness. This helps heal a wounded psyche. What are the differences you can start cultivating today in your life?



Living With Grace After Healing Emotional Pain


Grace is a beautiful benefit that comes after healing emotional pain. Gently, quietly, an unearned favor of great beauty and pleasure is bestowed upon you. It is as if a cloak of goodness has slowly descended to shroud you.

Sweep of Grace

Grace is defined as beauty or charm of form, composition, movement, or expression. It’s an attractive feature. When you feel it, it manifests as thoughtfulness for others, and for what is right and proper all around you.

When you feel grace, a feeling of tenderness flows forth from you. It’s as if you want to gather close all the world, tenderly embracing everything. To get to this place, one must have experienced forgiveness for the transgressions of another and learned to show loving-kindness.

How do you know when you are feeling grace? You will know because everything will look rosy and will flow easily. A smile of knowingness will be present. Everything just feels right.

How have you experienced grace and how does it feel for you?


Healing Emotional Pain By Noticing Your Growth of Character

Healing emotional pain can occur when you look at your character, the parts of you that make up your morals, your beliefs, thoughts, and actions. Where and how has your character grown over the years? What is the progress you’ve made in becoming a more compassionate, tolerant , and kind person?

If you look at yourself from that light, you will most likely see growth that has occurred over the years, especially if you have been working consciously to improve yourself. You need to consider that growth as you continue healing emotional pain.

Just as you look at your own growth of character, it is necessary to consider the growth of another’s character. Look at how they have grown over the years, the strides and changes they have made in themselves. Once you identify these changes, it is easier to get to compassion and forgiveness of another.

Try looking at all the moss and lichen that has grown over the years. Consider it beautiful, for both yourself and others. Perhaps you will gain some healing of your emotional pain.



Developing Tolerance For Ourselves and Others


Good morning. I find it interesting that, having blogged about judgment, other experiences happened that got me to look at the way I judge things. It’s as if it shows up everywhere as a means to look at my thoughts and judgments, and to heal from them, to ask for help to correct them.

For example, after my last blog, I was on hold on the phone for a long time and there was music playing. I noticed that I was judging it… “this is too chaotic and irritating,” or, “this is mellow and soothing.” It was that continual litany of judgments I referred to in my last post. I do this when I am around people, also. A continual assessment of what I like or dislike. Do you do this?

Practice of Tolerance

At first I was appalled, and then I had to smile, realizing that I can just notice my thoughts and say to myself that I don’t wish to be so judgmental. I have to, actually choose to, look at myself with tolerance. And that is today’s topic… tolerance. Certainly, I am a supporter of being tolerant of others, and especially of their differences, but I wish to focus on tolerance for ourselves.

There has to be a distinction between tolerance for bad behavior, i.e. hurting another or ourselves, and I don’t think we should tolerate that. But we can still look at bad behavior and say to ourselves we no longer wish to do that, and then ask for help from Source to dispel it.

I’m referring to just sitting with our thoughts and tolerating them, bringing ourselves to awareness for having negative thoughts, rather than beating ourselves up. I don’t think that solves anything other than making us feel badly about ourselves.

So the next time you find you are having thoughts or acting in a manner that disturbs you, take a minute to just reflect upon it, and offer yourself tolerance. Not excuses… just tolerance. Then ask for help to change that from the source that guides you, and see what happens.



Absence of Moral Judgment


Why do we judge people so harshly for being who they are, if their actions and behaviors feed their spirit and are not harmful to themselves or others? Is it because we are afraid of them and their differences, and/or is it because we’re not feeliing okay about ourselves?

As it turns out, I am grateful to have become an alcoholic, because I was forced to learn how to assess myself pretty honestly. I did not feel good about myself. Lots of assessment and healing later, I began to see how my negative thoughts about others were very morally judgmental, in response to my fear and esteem issues.

It was through the process of self-appraisal that, as I began to feel better about who I was and took responsibility for my thoughts, the less I handed out moral judgment, the less I denigrated their soul. So maybe the more we love ourselves, the less we judge others negatively.

I notice a whole litany of judgments running through my mind at any given moment, always judging another, as well as myself. First, I see myself noticing things about people and then judging them as safe to be around.

That is inate in all of us. It part of the automatic fight or flight mechanism – to continually assess our situation so we keep ourselves safe. We just do this, it just happens. It’s unconscious much of the time.

Yet, for me, the judgment takes on a tone of morality, sometimes indignantly, because I’ve continued my assessment, which includes deciding whether someone is good or bad.

By having these thoughts about someone, do I not set up an energy that they can feel on a soul level and it denigrates them as a person? In sobriety, I decided I wanted to stop denigrating people in my mind.

Initially, it was a conscious thought to go to that place where I said to myself, “Isn’t that interesting what that person thinks or is doing?” and leave it at that.

***** This only applies, of course, when the person is not being harmful to himself or others. That’s a whole other discussion…

Now I more automatically notice when I am judging someone, and this allows me to stop doing it. I find myself really enjoying what that person has to offer.

I have experienced the most beautiful moments with people whom I used to judge as bad. What an awesome discovery that was, and continues to be, as a result of my attempts at learning to lessen and negate my moral judgment.

Wow. What a long way to peace that would go if, once assessing that we’re safe, we stopped with our moral judgment of others. Would it be a world  filled with more happiness and the experience of more wondrous moments?

And if we stopped with the moral judgment of ourselves, would we each experience more happiness within, leading to our inner peace?