Tag Archives: Self-Improvement

An Excavation (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Ten)

Not to worry, though: I have a plan.

Recently I had an experience with The Work that highlighted to me a lesser-known trick to successful inquiry. And I’m hoping it’ll be the key to going deeper.

It happened late one evening when the kids were at the pool with David and I had a few rare hours to myself. I was sitting on the couch (okay, a mattress on the floor that I call a couch, because it is a couch, even though everyone else in my family insists that it’s a bed, which it isn’t). The lights were low. The TV was off. There wasn’t even sound coming from the heating vents. If I were being picky, I’d say that the refrigerator’s low hum broke the silence, but I’m not being picky.

It was silent.

And so, I did what any lover of quiet and her own company does.

I promptly logged onto Facebook.

There, several good articles. A few unusually good. I made some comments, reposted a few highlights. Then, amid the clutter, it reached out to meet me: a still shot of Rachel and Monica of Friends sitting on the Central Perk couch, deep in conversation.

Yes, a GIF. It was a GIF that got me.

Okay, so I probably hadn’t exercised as much as usual that week. Maybe I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and was primed for a rough night. But the emotions that came over me as I looked–no, stared–at that simple photo were unexpectedly painful–pungent, even.

Oh, I thought. Here’s a moment for The Work.

I didn’t click away. I keep looking at the picture, thinking about what it meant to me. I remembered all those Friends reruns I watched alone in my college apartment during a time when my relationship roster should’ve been the fullest, but wasn’t. It was a decade of my life when I actually had the time to sit on couches in coffee shops, to do “study dates,” to go to parties on the weekend and to hang out–well, pretty much whenever. But because I was too shy and awkward and didn’t live in the dorms, I didn’t. And apparently, part of me still regrets that.

I turned off my phone and lay back (because I can do that on my couch). I noticed the mix of emotions, meditated on it a while. Then I realized what I was feeling.

It was grief.

Friendship is a right, my thoughts were telling me. Especially friendship in college. It’s one of the most essential human experiences, and I was largely left out of it.

And I’ll never, ever get those years back.

I’m forty. Almost. It’s been a lot of years since college. I have my best friend, who’s also my husband, three kids and a supportive immediate family. I’ve taken to texting my dad and my sister almost daily, and writing letters (actual letters!) to my brother and mom. I have a whole list of family friends and host at least one dinner at our house each month, and I see a mom friend at least once a week. I have two good friends from my neighborhood–very sweet women–and several other close mom friends I don’t see as often.

So what the hell is my problem?

But that isn’t the question, I realized even as I had that thought. The Work isn’t about talking myself out of anything. The Work is about simply bringing your false beliefs to light, and seeing if they hold up to scrutiny or fall apart.

The Work is about being curious.

Which is why that night, I switched things up a bit. Rather than finding a stressful thought or two, then jumping into the four questions right away, I spent a great deal more time trying to pinpoint the exact belief I was suffering with. And I’m glad I did, and I’ll do it this way in the future, too; it felt a lot more productive.

Here is part of what I wrote while sitting on the couch . . . bed . . . couch that evening, using a process I later called “emotional excavation” (basically just free-writing all my negative beliefs and thoughts on the topic at hand).

Emotional Excavation of the Thought “I Should Have Had More Friends When I Was in College”:

    • I should have had more friends when I was in college.
    • Friendship is a right, and that right was taken away from me.
    • I’ll never get my college years back. I’ll never have the fond memories I could have had.
    • I should have tried harder to make friends, joined more clubs.
    • I should have more close girlfriends now.
    • I wish I had a best friend other than my husband.
    • I don’t have enough friends.
    • People don’t like me. They just pretend to.
    • People think I’m weird.
    • People think I’m judgmental.
    • People think I’m a show-off. Full of myself.
    • People think I’m a bad listener.
    • People think I talk too loud.
    • People think I don’t like them, care about them.
    • People don’t like my conversational style.
    • People are uncomfortable with me because I’m uncomfortable with them.
    • I have nothing to offer other people.
    • People hate hearing my advice.
    • People feel defensive whenever I give them advice.
    • People misunderstand my intentions whenever I give them advice.
  • I need people to listen to me.
  • I need people to like me.

After I found all of these thoughts (and a few others) within myself, I chose the two that most resonated with me–tugged at a heart string, so to speak. Then I did The Work on those thoughts rather than the first thoughts I had, the ones specifically about college.

And it worked. There was a lightness that followed this experience. The grief didn’t go away completely, but I was able to detach from it somewhat. The following day I found myself feeling more grateful than usual for my husband and for the other wonderful people in my life. And over the past several months, I’ve actually made three new friends.

The moral of the story: there’s more in there, people. More negativity, more false beliefs, more . . . dirt. If I have deep sadness or deep anxiety or deep anger about something, anything–well, I have to just keep digging. I can’t just do the work on a single thought and call it good. I have to take the time listen to the feeling. Ask it questions.

I have to excavate.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

My Garbage Man Is Definitely a Hero

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

The other week at my (awesome) Unitarian church, a woman I met during greeting time said this: “You have three kids? So you pretty much deserve the hero award just for waking up.”

It was sweet. Really sweet. I appreciated the compliment. But I didn’t know how to respond.

I tried this: “No, not at all. It’s not that bad, really.”

She said, “I have two kids, and parenting is the hardest thing I do,” and then my humility in disregarding her praise turned into hubris, right before my eyes. (This happens to me a lot.)

“That isn’t my experience,” I said cautiously. “So far, I like this job the best.” I wanted to say more, but the minister resumed the service.

I would love to talk to her again. And maybe I will. But for now, let me get something off my chest.

Parenting is hard. Super, super hard. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of free time. But here are some other things I don’t have: A set schedule; a time clock; work clothes; spreadsheets; deathly boredom; rush-hour traffic; a commute; meetings; pointless busywork; the feeling that I’m not making a difference; replacibility; burnt coffee; meetings; sitting in the same room every day, all day; office politics; dealing with people every day that disrespect me; customers; deadlines; sales pressure; fake smiles; the need to pretend to be busy; carpel tunnel; lack of creativity; lack of autonomy; lack of passion; hours and hours of socialization while on the clock; Sunday evening dread. And finally:
A boss.

So let’s take a moment to appreciate the bus drivers, office workers, clerks, managers and salespeople of the world. Especially that garbage man that always waves to my kids.

I think you guys are all heroes.

Sticky Ickies, Every One. (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Nine)

In none of the Byron Katie books, videos and articles I’ve encountered has Katie ever advised someone to do inquiry on a pleasing thought. Though she teaches that nothing is ultimately true and our life experiences are all an illusion, if a thought makes us feel good, she says, just leave it alone. In her words: “I say keep it and have a wonderful life.” (–Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life)

I like her honesty here. Hey, it’s not the truth, but who cares? If it ain’t broken, don’t get out the hammer! But I also like the idea of questioning all my beliefs, not just my stressful ones. If I never rethink my underlying principles, how will I grow?

I love a challenge. Always have, always will. And so, I present last month’s Work on the belief that I discussed in the past few installations of this serial, namely, people are holy.

A Byron Katie Worksheet

Month Completed: August

The Statement: People are holy.

The Questions:

Is it true? Yes.

Can I absolutely know it is true? No.

How do I feel when I think the thought? I feel a lot of love for other people, a lot of forgiveness, and self-love and self-forgiveness, too.

How would I feel if I were unable to think the thought? I would feel as I used to feel: ashamed for every mistake I ever made.

The Turnarounds: People are unholy. People are sinful. People are bad. Or: People are not holy, because there is no such thing as holiness. People are just what they are–good, bad or indifferent.

So again, is it true? Yes and no. It’s true for me. But an atheist may not like the word “holy.” They may prefer a similar but different sentiment, or not agree with it at all.

And with that I conclude the first Byron Katie failure of this series. However, it’s a qualified failure. And one that I welcome.

The qualified part: I like the reminder that some people don’t believe there is such a thing as holiness. Words matter, and to an atheist or an agnostic, the word may be worse than misleading or baggage-laden. It may be plain wrong. Even Byron Katie, a person who doesn’t consider herself spiritual, would likely see the complications with a word like this. However, for me, the belief still rings true. Like I said, this Byron Katie failure is one that I welcome.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to let go of this spiritual belief–or any of my other ones, either. Questioning them is an exercise in humility, a way to put myself in someone’s else’s head–someone with a perspective that’s different from my own. When it comes to my painful beliefs, though, I’m far less detached.

I want to get rid of them–and fast.

Last month I wrote about some of the progress I’ve made during my detox, particularly in the area of my relationships. I told you about how after doing The Work on a close friend I was able to let go of some criticism and judgment. The good news since then is that this trend has continued; whenever I do The Work on another person, I see progress. The not-so-good news is that the areas I feel I need the most help in don’t concern other people. They concern myself.

And when I do The Work on myself, change seems slower.

Here are some of the thoughts I’ve questioned regarding my life and attitudes that continued coming back, despite repeated attempts at inquiry:

  • I hate washing dishes.
  • I’m sick of cooking dinner every day.
  • Parenting is difficult.
  • I’m sick of holding the baby all the time.
  • I want to be accomplishing more.
  • I have no energy.
  • I’m feeling compulsive about food.
  • I want everyone to leave me alone.
  • I am feeling sad.
  • I am feeling annoyed.

Yeah. Sticky ickies, every one.

In all, I did the Work on twenty thoughts in August. Added to the 25 in July, the 34 in June and the 47 in May (before I officially started my detox), I’ve put in a decent effort (though I could’ve done better). And yet, as I reflect on what I’ve learned so far, it’s hard to assess where I’m at. I know the process is working–at least some of the time. But is it healing me deeply? Is it getting at the root of my depression? What I’m hoping for this year is a fundamental change in who I am, in how I feel inside my own head. I don’t want to just get rid of certain obsessive thoughts only to see them be replaced by new ones; I want to notice a major reduction in the frequency of all stressful thoughts, period.

In other words: I really want more inner peace.

Am I on my way? I’m not sure.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

Self-Help Interview: "If What You’re Doing Isn’t Working, Try Something Else"

Contributor: Anonymous

Mollie: I want to talk to you about a huge topic, depression. So many people experience this, some for many years. I have struggled with it my entire remembered life, and am currently seeking total recovery. My first question is, what is depression, exactly? What causes it? 

Anonymous: Depression is caused by pushing down your energy, suppressing it.

Mollie: What is the primary technique you recommend for overcoming depression? 

Anonymous: Meditation is essential. The kind I practice is dynamic meditation, which incorporates physical activity and helps us expand our energy. This expansion and release can help with depression.

Mollie: Some people say it helps to welcome the depression, to allow it rather than to fight against it. What do you think? Does this work? Or should I just ignore it, not give it a voice? For me, it always seems to get worse when I focus on it, but maybe I need to do so anyway as a first step towards acceptance?

Anonymous: Don’t suppress it. Give it a voice, but don’t give the labels and thoughts that accompany it a voice.

Mollie: So I should meditate on the depression?

Anonymous: Don’t meditate on depression. Meditate on what we call depression–the physical and other sensations you are experiencing in that moment–without labeling it. Don’t make it into something. Don’t put mind on it. The mind is creating the depression, and the mind is trying to get rid of it? No. That can never work.

There’s a saying I like: Not knowing is the most intimate.

Mollie: So do you think that if I do what you’re saying to do–meditate on the primary feeling of the depression, without suppressing it–that I will eventually overcome the depression?

Anonymous: I believe that this and active meditation can help people in your situation. But ultimately you need to do what works for you.

Meditation teacher Osho once said, “If you don’t feel much better after having meditated regularly for a time than you did when you started, your meditation practice isn’t working.” When I heard that I remember thinking, “What do you mean? Of course my technique is working. I feel better–a bit.” Later I understood what he meant.

Don’t stick with a practice for thirty years hoping that one day you will start feeling what you want to feel. Try something else.

Mollie: What if I can’t find something that works? Should I just accept that I am a depressed person right now, and make peace with it? Sometimes I’m able to do that.

Anonymous: I would tell you to work toward true acceptance, which comes when you disidentify with the mind. Not mere acquiescence.

Acquiescence is not acceptance. Acceptance is open arms. A full embrace. It is the knowledge that this condition or situation is an absolutely essential part of your healing. If your life was totally working the way it is right now, you wouldn’t be seeking the way you are right now.

Nothing fails like success.

Mollie: So, this disidentifying with the mind stuff. Can you tell me more about that?

Anonymous: The mind is an optical illusion. It feels like there’s a thinker, a mind, but really there are just thoughts. The mind is not real. You are real.

Mollie: What does it feel like to lose your mind identification? 

Anonymous: It feels like you’re floating. You’re not pushing, you’re not pulling. But as long as you’re identified with the mind you are not floating. You are pushing and pulling.

Mollie: So the mind is this huge, powerful force that works against our emotional well-being nearly every moment of our waking lives. This just seems seriously unfair. Why does it have to be this way? Why does life have to be so full of pain? 

Anonymous: Because it is. And so, you have two choices. You can choose to be a victim. Or you can choose not to be. You can believe that life is working against you. Or you can believe that you are just unconscious, and the Universe is doing everything it can every single day to wake you up.

Even Maurice Sendak Was Holy (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Eight)

Most of us receive our spiritual truths secondhand. We find them in books and in other people’s stories. A fortunate few, though, get to learn them firsthand. One such lucky person is Anita Moorjani.

As you may know, Moorjani wrote a best-selling book called Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing. It recounts the experience leading up to and following her near-death from cancer (so yeah, I consider her a credible source). The story is remarkable and includes a total healing of all her tumors within weeks of her returning to her physical body. But what I love most about the book is her discussion of what she learns from it all.

As someone who’s never felt the kind of Source-consciousness that she felt (in this lifetime, at least), it fascinates me to hear her takeaways. I love her realization that heaven isn’t a place but rather, a state of being. This makes sense to me and is confirmed by teachers like Byron Katie. Most of all, though, I was inspired by her understanding that her greatest purpose in life is merely to express her uniqueness in the world. She describes in detail how hard she worked in the past to please others and make decisions they felt were right. Today she knows that people’s differences are a good thing. More than good: beautiful and important.

“I began to understand that while I may have only been a thread, I was integral to the overall picture [in the tapestry of all life]. Seeing this, I understood that I owed it to myself, to everyone I met, and to life itself to always be an expression of my own unique essence.” ―  Anita Moorjani, AnitaMoorjani.com.

In his book Bluebeard, Kurt Vonnegut says something I think Moorjani (and Byron Katie) would like. The awareness of God isn’t the source of enlightenment, he says. To the contrary, it isn’t until we entirely let go of the idea that we need God and just let ourselves be human that our greatest epiphanies occur.

When I first read this, I didn’t understand what Vonnegut meant. Being more human makes us more spiritual?  After thinking it over for a few days, though, I got the point.

He was saying that people are holy.

Not God. Not the angels. Not the minister. Not the church.

People. Just people. Just as we are.

We’re not special because we’re spiritual, even if we are spiritual. We’re special because we’re human. Because we’re us.

Dictionary.com offers seven definitions for the word “holy.” The one I like best: “Having a spiritually pure quality.” My atheist friends Susan and Michaela qualify under this parameter. So does the late Maurice Sendak.

The author/illustrator whose works include In the Night Kitchen and Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak was a steadfast atheist his whole life. In Wild Things, his beloved character, Max, found that even though he didn’t always get along with his family, they were more important to him than anything–even than being the king of a faraway land.

In an interview Sendak did shortly before he died (read the whole thing here) in which he talked about how much he appreciated the beauty of the world and what a privilege it was to be alive, you can almost hear a grown-up Max speaking his words.

“. . . I am in love with the world . . .” he told Terry Gross, the interviewer. And his parting advice was, “Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.”

Living life. Ultimately, that’s our most sacred duty, don’t you think? That’s the greatest epiphany we can have.

We’re meant to be human. We’re meant to be ourselves.

If God made us for anything, He made us for that.

It’s the kind of thing a holy person would say, isn’t it? Yeah. Maurice Sendak, an atheist, was definitely holy.

And so it’s a bit strange that last month, as part of my year of Byron Katie-style inquiry, I questioned my long-time belief that people are holy. But I suppose if Byron Katie tells me to turn it around, I’ll give it a try. No harm can come from taking a second look.

Can it?

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

Dad, Do You Think I’m a Good Person? (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Seven)

My father is an intelligent man, and an eccentric one, too. He’s a hermit, by shyness and by choice. His home is filled with model trains, cats, books and, well, garbage, frankly. His only heat source is his wood stove. (Yeah. I come from good stock.) Though college educated, he’s not a fact person. What he is instead is deep.

Dad has instinct. Though he believes come crazy shit, every once in a while, when he’s in just the right mood, he’ll stun you. You’ll be sitting in front of the fire together or walking down the train tracks that abut his backyard, and he’ll suddenly come out with something that you know is true, even though at the same time you’re sure it’s not, because it can’t be.

One of these conversations happened when I was in high school. It was a quiet moment, and I was feeling kinda melancholy. Dad puttered in the kitchen a bit, then brought me a cup of watery coffee with lots of powdered creamer and one sugar cube. I took it, then gathered the courage to ask him a question.

“Dad, do you think I’m a good person?”

He stopped puttering and looked at me. Then he started washing a dish. (He always washed each dish right after using it.) When he spoke a moment later, there was a rare quality to his voice: gruffness, I guess, but the kind that covers up emotion.

“Yes, Mollie, you are a good person,” he said. “One of the best. But don’t worry about that.”

Okay, I thought. That makes no sense. But I kept listening. He wasn’t done.

“Mollie, you don’t need to be good to anyone else. You don’t need to do good deeds or be a good person. The only thing you need to do is to be what God meant you to be. He made you just like you are with your own DNA, because that’s the way he likes you.”

Sometimes I wish I would’ve asked him to explain a bit, to tell me how his words squared with what I’d heard in church. But at the time I didn’t want to reward his honesty with stupid, mundane questions.

I wanted him to know I understood.

A year or so later, another evening talk, this time while snacking on candy from the candy drawer that in my memory had never been anything else and had never been entirely empty.

I ate a mini Snickers bar, then another, and another. Dad was just getting out of bed after a long rest. Wearing only underwear and socks, he came to where I was sitting and added another board to the fire. Then he started his waking up routine.

On this day, unlike the previous one, my mood was optimistic. I’d just gotten a high score on an essay I was proud of. I told Dad what it was about, then dropped another tough question.

“Dad? Do you think I’m going to be a writer?”

“Is that what you want to do?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“And do you think you can?”

“Yes. But what if I’m wrong?”

When I got home that night, I wrote down his reply.

“I failed as a writer. I don’t regret it. I regret some things–bad things I did to people. Those are the things you should regret. But I don’t regret failing.

“It took me fifty years to figure out that what you accomplish doesn’t matter. And I’ve only known that for fourteen years, but it was worth the wait. Now that I know this, I have peace inside. And it’s okay that it took fifty years to learn. Because that’s all I needed to do.

“Give it a shot, Mollie. You’ve got a good shot. But if you fail, don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter.”

It was some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, including stuff I’ve read in books.

He really could’ve written more books.

There was only one problem with my dad’s unconventional wisdom: at the time, I didn’t quite believe it. I was still caught up in the fantasy of religion, the idea that if you input x you’ll get y. And nothing I’d experienced yet had convinced me otherwise.

Need more inner peace? Stop sinning, go to confession and attend church three times a week.

Want to get rid of anger? Pray for deliverance. If that doesn’t work, try a Hail Mary.

What my dad told me on these and other occasions contradicted this lifelong perspective. If you fail, he was saying, if you don’t do everything you’re supposed to do, it’s kind of . . . okay. Despite what you’ve been taught, you don’t need to be a good person all the damn time, Mollie. Just be who you are and the rest will work out all right.

And even though part of me didn’t believe him, part did.

The Christian in me said, “Yeah, Dad, that’s okay for you. You’re old, and you’re ready to make peace with your mistakes. I’m not there yet. I’m not ready to give up. If I don’t constantly work on myself, improve myself, achieve things, I won’t please God and I won’t be happy.”

A deeper part of me, though, knew he was right.

On both occasions, I thanked Dad for his suggestions. I didn’t mention how they differed from my spiritual beliefs. He was being vulnerable, I realized–letting me see the parts of himself that didn’t quite jive with his religion. The least I could do was accept the gift graciously, without judgment.

I did more than that, though. Not only did I accept his gift that day, I held onto it for a very long time. I carried it with me from college to college, apartment to apartment. Then later–much later, after the dust settled following my deconversion–I revisited Dad’s words, reopening them like a dusty letter found in an attic.

Hey, whaddya know? I thought. Dad was right the whole time. People don’t suck; in fact, they’re pretty great. They’re unique and beautiful and most of the time they’re doing the best they can.

I’d even say that people are holy.

Later, I read about a few other people who agreed.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

It’s Cancer, Man. I’m Not Playing Around. (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Six)

I officially began my Byron Katie detox at the start of this month (June), just a week after having Baby Elanor. Other than the near-constant nursing, things were going pretty well. No baby blues, a beautiful child to kiss and cuddle, and Elle wasn’t even that much work yet; she slept over half the day. All in all, I was feeling way better than I did when I was pregnant. Still, life will be life, and when mid-month my friend Christine called late at night with upsetting family news, I found my reaction to be rather extreme.

“Jonathan smoked,” she told me, fighting back tears. “The thing I’ve always told him never to do. He smoked. He’s only fourteen. How could this happen?”

“Oh, wow,” I said, taken totally by surprise. “When? How did you find out?”

“He did it at school. I think in the bathroom. His friend ratted him out, and the teacher called me. We’re going to have a conference.”

“I’m sorry, Chris,” I said. “This is horrible.”

“I know. And I thought we were doing so good.”

I was following the Friendship Rule Book, trying to be sympathetic. But for reasons I didn’t fully understand, mostly what I really felt was anger.

Of course he smoked, I wanted to tell my friend. You nagged him about it so many times. Then when he started hanging around that guy, Tracy, you didn’t do anything about it. He’s not in sports or clubs. What did you expect would happen? He’s bored and feeling rebellious, and you don’t take him places to meet new friends. Of course he’s going to do stuff like this.

“Did you hit the roof like you always said you would?” I asked, just to keep the conversation going.

“No. I just grounded him. Not sure what else to do at this point. I know yelling won’t help.”

A short time later, after we hung up, I tried to return to my book but I couldn’t focus. Hmmm. I’m really upset, I realized, putting down my Kindle. Why am I feeling this way?

Because Christine is a terrible mother, the answer came. And then, Bingo. There’s a judgment. Game on.

I got out of bed and went to the office for my notebook. Sitting at my desk, I wrote it all out. I asked the four questions and created my turnarounds, and by the time it was over, I not only had a more objective view of the situation and of my friend, I had a better attitude in general.

The stress lifted. The anger was gone. I was able to get back to my book.

That felt good, but then something else happened that surprised me even more: I started having spontaneous loving thoughts about Christine. One of the characters in the book I was reading had blond curly hair that made me think of her, and every time I did, the judgment was gone. In its place was a simple sweetness I’m not normally prone to. I found myself sending loving thoughts her way to comfort her through her difficult time.

And the change in perspective didn’t end that night. Several times during the week that followed, I noticed a slight difference in my thoughts about other people, too. There was a new understanding in the way I viewed others around me; as the saying goes, everyone’s fighting some kind of battle, and I was able to keep that in mind even during mundane moments.

It was such a small thing, really, that led to the change–just a moment of anger and a bit of self-reflection. Even so, somehow by freeing myself of that ugly, harsh criticism that day, a profound inner shift occurred.

Somehow, my subconscious got the message.

It was my most significant experience with The Work this month, but it wasn’t my only success. Here are a few other thoughts I was able to turn around during my first official month of mental detox:

  • I should always be accomplishing something.
  • I shouldn’t indulge in enjoyable activities too often.
  • I shouldn’t multitask when with my kids.
  • My kids aren’t getting enough attention.
  • Life shouldn’t be too easy.
  • I can’t ignore my kid while they’re throwing a tantrum.
  • There are so many annoyances to deal with all day long.
  • I am so sick of hearing crying.
  • It’s basically my job to be annoyed.
  • I’m not getting enough writing done.
  • I want more computer time.
  • I’m not spiritually advanced enough.

There were many more, of course, some too personal to confess here. Every time I worked on a thought–even if only in my mind, as during a walk–I wrote it down. For fun and for journalism, I kept a running tally on the number of beliefs I dealt with, and this month the total came to 34 (though I did only part of the process, not a full worksheet, on many of these).

About half of the time that I worked on a statement, I noticed a change (if only a slight one) in my mood or attitude right away. About a quarter of the time, I noticed the change only later, after encountering the person or situation again, and about another quarter of the time, I noticed no change at all. In these cases, I did what Katie says to do and worked on the thought again (and maybe again after that).

My most important takeaway from my first month (plus my previous month after first learning of the technique): The Work really is better for depression than anything else I’ve tried. Better than CBT. Better than meditation.

The Work is special somehow.

Byron Katie has said that meditation is great, but not if after the meditation you just return to your old thoughts. I see her point; I’ve known people who have meditated for years and seen great benefit, yet those benefits have come to them very slowly. Maybe I’m impatient, or just too American. But I don’t want the slow starvation of my ego. I want the surgery. I want to cut out my negativity, dump it in the trash and sew myself back up.

It’s cancer, man. I’m not playing around.

That said, it’s worth mentioning for the purpose of this serial that I am continuing my longtime meditation practice (described in The Power of Acceptance) this year. It’s easy–just a mantra that I can say anytime, anywhere. I can’t do The Work all of the time, but I can do that. I’m also occasionally listening for moment by moment guidance from the Divine, a technique I wrote about in You’re Getting Closer, the first book in this series. As corny as it sounds, both of these spiritual practices hold a special place in my heart; I’m picky about this stuff, and when I find something I love, I keep it. That said, I’ve always harbored a desire to find what I call my One Great Spiritual Practice–a go-to process that helps me feel better every single time.

Sometimes, I wonder if The Work will be it.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

Self-Help Success Story: "Glennon Doyle’s ‘Love Warrior’ Helped Me Learn to Feel"

Just before he turned five, my son wrote a story. And it was the saddest thing ever. As he finished it and I was scribbling it down, all I could think was, “Oh, my goodness. What is this kid picking up from me?” Here is that story:

“The first thing that happens is there’s alive vacuums and they bang and crush until they’re dead in heaven and then they knew to be not alive vacuums that are really alive vacuums. The end. (They just pretend that they’re not alive by closing their eyes and popping their arms in them.)”

“Oh, and put the title on it,” he reminded me.

“Okay. What’s the title?”

“Alive Vacuums Hurt.”

Wow, I thought. Alive vacuums hurt. Am I alive? Or am I pretending not to hurt, too?

During childhood, I was definitely alive. I cried all the time. These days, though, not so much. It’s a rare thing for me to cry even a little. I wish I wasn’t like this, but I am.

Which is probably why I loved the book Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle so much: it gave me an outlet for emotion. It’s about blogger Doyle’s marital difficulties as well as how she overcame addiction. But Doyle doesn’t just tell her story. She emotes it. She gives us the raw, even gory, details, scene by painful scene, till your own personal sadness surfaces to keep hers company.

I felt a lot of things while reading Doyle’s book. But mostly I felt inspired to feel more.

I don’t want to be an alive vacuum pretending to be a dead vacuum. I don’t want to be afraid of my feelings.

Here are a few passages from the book that were especially helpful to me:

  • “My mom’s voice quivers as she and my dad ask the usual questions: Why do you keep doing this to us? Why do you keep lying? Do you even love us? I sit on the couch and I try to receive their questions, but I’m a catcher without a mitt. My face is neutral, but the part of my heart that’s not spoiled is aching. I do love them. I love them and I love my sister and I love my friends. I think I love my people more than normal people love their people. My love is so overwhelming and terrifying and uncomfortable and complicated that I need to hide from it. Life and love simply ask too much of me. Everything hurts. I don’t know how people can just let it all hurt so much. I am just not up for all this hurting.”
  • “I sit and stare at my hands and I remember a story I saw on the news about a woman who had a stroke and lost all her language overnight. When she woke up, her mind functioned perfectly, but she couldn’t speak. So she just lay there and tried to use her eyes to communicate her terror about being trapped inside herself. Her family couldn’t translate what her eyes were saying. They thought she was brain-dead. It’s like that for me, too. I’m in here. I am good on the inside. I have things to say. I need help getting out. I do love you. My secret is that I’m good in here. I am not heart-dead. This is a secret that no one knows but me.”
  • “We begin to understand that to coparent is to one day look up and notice that you are on a roller coaster with another human being. You are in the same car, strapped down side by side and you can never, ever get off. There will never be another moment in your lives when your hearts don’t rise and fall together, when your minds don’t race and panic together, when your stomachs don’t churn in tandem, when you stop seeing huge hills emerge in the distance and simultaneously grab the side of the car and hold on tight. No one except for the one strapped down beside you will ever understand the particular thrills and terrors of your ride.”
  • “As we walk out into the sun, Craig says, ‘Is it going to be okay? He’s going to be okay, right?’ I look at him and understand that when your coaster partner gets scared you must quickly hide your own fear. You can’t panic at the same time. You must take turns. I grab Craig’s arm, hold tight, and say, ‘Yes. Absolutely. It’s all going to be okay. He is going to be amazing. This is just part of our ride.’”
  • “I tell them that I’m finally proud of who I am. I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, ‘For the same reason I laugh so often—because I’m paying attention.’ I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide. If we choose to be perfect and admired, we must send our representatives out to live our lives. If we choose to be real and loved, we must send out our true, tender selves.”
  • “I’d been angry and ashamed because my marriage was so far from perfect. But perfect just means: works exactly the way it is designed to work. If marriage is an institution designed to nurture the growth of two people—then, in our own broken way, our marriage is perfect.”

Let’s Face It: We All Want to Feel Good (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Five)

On the list of my most memorable life experiences is a rather unexpected entry. I was in high school, and it was a week like any other boring, school-and-TV week, except for one thing: how I felt. I’d just returned from a Christian youth retreat (yes, another retreat) during which I’d spent three days on a spiritual high that resulted in a recommitment to my faith. It was an awesome time with friends, but the best was yet to come: for seven straight days following the event, I was truly at peace. As I moved through my routine, I was quieter, more withdrawn. But in a good way, like my ego was on vacation. I became an observer of my own life. I was just . . . blissed out. It felt a lot like falling in love, but without all the nerves.

It was the best feeling I’d ever had.

Which is why these days, when I look back on my time as a Christian, I don’t question my self-awareness (much). If that had been you–if you felt what I felt when I prayed back then–you may have been a believer, too. I mean, sure, experiences like these may not be evidence of the Divine–just evidence of heightened emotion. But I don’t think so. Even today, I think they are spiritual.

Fast-forward to now. It’s August, twenty-three years later. I’ve completed the first month of my one-year inquiry resolution (which I’m now calling My Byron Katie Detox–like it?). When a week or so ago it came time to question my first spiritual principle, namely, spirituality is good, I thought I already knew the answer. Of course it is, I told myself. At least, it can be. Even religion is good–for a while. It gives us purpose. It gives us hope. And it helps us . . . well, feel good.

And let’s face it: we all want to feel good.

But it wasn’t just the emotional benefits of spirituality that I reflected on before I began my work. There are a ton of practical ones, too.

In the best-seller that laments the loss of human connection in modern society, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam writes that churchgoers are “. . . much more likely than other persons to visit friends, to entertain at home, to attend club meetings, and to belong to sports groups; professional and academic societies; school service groups; youth groups; service clubs; hobby or garden clubs; literary art, discussion and study groups; school fraternities and sororities; farm organizations; political clubs; nationality groups; and other miscellaneous groups.” Many studies show that religion benefits the non-religious, too, by lowering crime- and health-related costs dramatically. People who attend services have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure. They drink, use and smoke a lot less. They get more education, give more to charity and take less than their share of welfare and unemployment benefits.

In America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists, sociologist Rodney Stark makes similar points, and adds that religious people add significantly to our nation’s GDP. But an even more interesting argument in favor of religion comes from James Hannam, who says that the historical contributions of religion have been vastly underreported and underrated. In The Genesis of Science: How The Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, he writes, “The Church has never taught that the earth is flat and, in the Middle Ages, no one thought so anyway . . . No one . . . was ever burned at the stake for scientific ideas . . .” On the contrary, “Until the French Revolution, the Catholic Church was the leading sponsor of scientific research.”

There’s more, but suffice it to say that if you were ever ashamed of Christianity’s scientific contributions, don’t be. This and other major world religions have helped us make a lot of intellectual progress.

Which is why when this month I took the belief “spirituality is good” to inquiry, I was a bit surprised by what I found.

A Byron Katie Worksheet

Month Completed: June

The Statement: Spirituality is good.

The Questions:

Is it true? Yes.

Can I absolutely know it is true? No.

How do I feel when I think the thought? I feel justified in my beliefs. Maybe a bit superior. I feel a bit guilty for not spending more time in meditation. And I feel grateful to have spiritual tools to use when I need them.

How would I feel if I were unable to think the thought? I would feel free of my own expectations to continue spiritual practice throughout my life. I would feel that spirituality may be good for me at times and not others, and that spiritual tools are just that: tools. Nothing to feel guilty about not using.

The Turnarounds: Spirituality is not good. Spirituality is bad. Non-belief is good. Spirituality isn’t good or important or healthy for everyone, just for some people, some of the time. I see truth in these statements when I remember my agnostic and atheist friends who get along fine without spirituality, and when I remember the harm that spiritual beliefs often cause.

So again, is it true? No. Not entirely. Religions often fail us, and in pretty major ways. We’re always making stuff up, getting misled.

In short: Spirituality is good? Hmmm. Not so fast.

When it comes to belief, the normal human tendency is to throw blankets on everything. We like simplicity. We love generalizations. And we really, really love being prescriptive. After looking at this belief, what I realized is that for me, spirituality really is good. But there’s a softness to the edge of that statement that wasn’t there before. Sure, I’m a New Agey type, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I understand that God-philosophizing doesn’t work for everyone.

A final thought this month, before closing out this section: In spite of my healthy realizations and my enjoyment of The Work, a good bit of skepticism has crept in. How can nothing be true? I find myself thinking with some frequency. Maybe in an ultimate sense nothing is true, but subjectively, it has to be, right?

What does this process look like , then, when dealing with more concrete, substantial thoughts? Stuff that’s harder to deny the reality of? Will The Work work on those, too?

We shall see.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

Of Course, It Happened in Southern California (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Four)

Of course, it happened in Southern California. Where else would something like this happen? A wealthy middle-aged woman. A mid-life crisis. Extreme depression. A rehab clinic. Then, an awakening, New Age-style, and a spiritual phenom was born.

The story had all the makings of a movie–a TV special, if nothing else–but this wasn’t a screenplay. This was real.

The year was 1986. On the floor of a halfway house, having lost all hope of happiness, Byron Kathleen Reid woke up–in more ways than one. The details are few and impossible to fully explain, but in that moment, the story goes, Katie lost herself. The sense of who she was when she fell asleep the night before was gone, and all she was aware of was joy.

She laughed. She laughed some more. She no longer knew anything for sure, but she didn’t care.

She was completely happy.

It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And of course it must have been. But given the choice, how many of us would willingly sacrifice everything we know about who and what we are just to feel at One with the Divine? I think I would. But I’m not sure. Maybe I’d rather wait till I die.

After all, I’m a mom of three kids. I’m a writer. I’m my husband’s wife. Someone with a wonderful, full life. And according to Byron Katie, and a lot of other great teachers, too, in order to become enlightened, I have to let all that go.

I have to choose to know almost nothing.

I don’t know how long Byron Katie truly knew nothing. A month? Several months? Several years? But little by little, she was taught the way things work again–what it means to own something, for example. Now she straddles both worlds–the known and the unknown–though she’s never forgotten which her real home is.

But back to that floor. Because it was there that Katie suddenly understood the source of all suffering, and conversely, the key to happiness. Suffering comes when we believe our stressful thoughts, she realized–and not a moment before. By questioning all thoughts that cause us pain, we find there’s nothing real to them; they’re just thoughts. As a result of this inquiry, pain goes away.

If you’re familiar with The Work, I regret boring you, but I do feel the need to explain it briefly here.

According to TheWork.com: “The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It’s a way to understand what’s hurting you, and to address the cause of your problems with clarity. In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and the turnarounds.”

I’ve mentioned the questions before, but in the interest of completeness, they are:

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

And the turnarounds are what they sound like: statements that mean the opposite of the stressful thought. The idea is to find several of these and see if there’s some truth to them that you’ve previously missed.

The technique is deceptively simple; there is an art to it, for sure. For instance, when doing the Work on the thought “I feel depressed,” I realized “I am depressed” or “My thinking is depressed” works better. Feelings are feelings, and we can’t really argue with them. It’s the belief behind the feeling (“I have depression” “I am depressed,”) that needs to change. An even better choice: Add “. . . and it means that . . .” to the end of the statement. “I am depressed,” then, becomes “I am depressed, and it means that I’m unable to hold a job.” This is how we get underneath the surface.

Many more specifics in later serial installments (including a Q and A section, a Tips and Tricks section and more), but if you want to jump in right now, watch at least a few YouTube video examples of The Work.

In these videos and in her books, Katie guides people through The Work, and as she does so she gets pretty creative. It’s a skill, for sure, which is why it’s so awesome that TheWork.com coordinates with trained practitioners who are willing to offer their services for free. Please make use of this resource, found on thework.com/en/certified_facilitators. I have, and I will again. Also, do see the full description of the process on thework.com/en/do-work.

Okay, then. Introductory explanations: check. Let’s get back to my personal experience of The Work.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

So, I Admit It: My Kids Are Not Geniuses.

Would a future particle physicist do any of these things?

  • Step directly in every single dirt pile I ever sweep up.
  • Bonk his head on the bathtub faucet twice in the same bath.
  • About three mornings per week, and several evenings, too, suddenly forget how to put on his shoes.
  • Sit on the couch with a bare bottom after pooping and before my checking his wiping job.
  • Scream in the baby’s ear while she’s napping.
  • Jump on my back and yell “piggy back ride!” without warning me beforehand.
  • Headbutt my closed fist.
  • Entirely forget how to say, “Can I have a turn, please?” instead of screaming for a toy. Every single time.
  • Bump my arm when I’m almost done with my drawing.
  • Fight over a pair of scissors.

And yet, I still hold out hope that my kids may become geniuses. That’s just what moms do, I guess.

I Just Wanted to Love My Mother (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Three)

When I was in Junior High School, I had one of my first conscious experiences with what I now call the Divine, and predictably, it happened at a retreat. (Those places. They know what to do.) It was a Christian thing, one of those pray-all-day gatherings at a large conference campground featuring a cabin for every family and clean, hot showers.

Luxury, really. Luxury made to feel rustic.

We were there to hear God, so I shouldn’t’ve been surprised when I did. And yet, I most definitely was.

Prior to my moment of clarity, I’d been finding the experience rather . . . underwhelming. Lots of speeches and long, drawn-out meals with strangers. I distinctly remember participating in a friendly debate the evening of the meeting in question about the rapture. So far, it had been the highlight of the trip.

After dinner we gathered in the main conference room yet again, and about two hours into the service, it happened. I looked over at my mother and in the brief moment that followed I went directly from annoyed boredom to deep emotion–no transition.

It was her face. There was a look. It was sadness–real pain. Church has a way of helping our vulnerabilities rise to the surface–I guess that’s why we like it–and as I watched she started sobbing, then knelt down next to her chair. Immediately, my defenses collapsed; how could they not?

I really, really loved my mother.

I knelt down, too, and reached out for her. We held each other tightly for a long time. I said all the things I should’ve said so much more often: how much I loved her, how sorry I was for the times I’d hurt her. We cried.

Then the night ended, and it was over. And that’s when the interpretations began.

In the Christian circles we moved in at the time, it was popular to create tiers–levels of closeness to God. It was a game we played; after all, we were going to church multiple times a week. All that praying had to be getting us somewhere. For us, it wasn’t enough to say we felt a sudden realization of love; love is great, but anyone can feel that–even nonbelievers. No; what I experienced had to be, must be, religious in nature—something only Christians can experience. My mom even had a term for it, which she told me at breakfast the next morning. It was “the baptism of love.”

“Last night, you received the baptism of love,” she pronounced, but it didn’t make me feel special. There was a look in her eye that said, “You’re different now. I respect you more because you experienced this.”

I really didn’t like that look.

She went on. “This is the true salvation. It’s beyond the simple John 3:16 prayer. You were saved before. Now, you’ve been chosen.”

I nodded, understanding, but I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted her to forget it ever happened. I wanted to remember the experience my way: an innocent, loving moment without strings.

I just wanted to love my mother.

But I didn’t. I mean, I did–I did love my mother, and I trusted her opinion. I believed her when she told me I was meant to be “used by God,” and so, from that day on, I started my journey to discover what the hell that meant.

It was a very long journey.

I won’t go into the messy consequences of this self-aggrandizing belief. I’ll merely say that through the rest of my school-aged years, I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. I had few friends and none that weren’t equally religious. And for good reason: I was a judgmental jerk.

And that’s the way it goes when we recall the experiences that shaped us, isn’t it? Nothing is as straightforward as we’d like. That night at the retreat I felt the most compassion I’d ever felt in my life. And the next day, it turned into pride.

The results of this spiritual experience weren’t all bad, of course. Most of them were pretty positive.

That summer on, through the end of high school, I tried as hard as I could to be a good person. I went to church twice a week. I devoted myself and my future (Christian writer? Missionary?) to the saving of souls. I learned about honesty, failings and forgiveness. Then there was my real talent, one perfectly suited to a spiritual type: when it came to self-improvement, I was relentless.

At the time, if pressed, I would’ve admitted that my faith sometimes made me a poor confidante. But I would’ve also said it made me a better person. Looking back, not much has changed; my brand of belief is different–I’m no longer a Christian–but I still think that spirituality is good.

Mostly.

“Spirituality is good.” It’s the longest-held and most fundamental tenet of my personal faith. But does it stand up to inquiry?

Before I delve into that central question, though, a bit of Byron Katie background seems appropriate.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

Alone and Together: A Very Short Primer on Happiness

“When you can read a book, read a poem, take walks together, that is love.”

That is what my dad told me one time.

“When you can be alone together,” he said, “That is love.”

He was right.

My dad is a pretty cool guy.

Alone and Together is a  serial I wrote in 2012, three years after meeting my husband, David. It tells the story of our meeting and of my realization that being married isn’t all that terrible.

I can be married, and still be me.

Here is the full list of installments.

Part One: Alone

Part Two: Together

Part Three: Alone and Together

Law of Attraction Success Story: “My Top Five Law of Attraction Techniques,” Part Two

Contributor: Ralph Dorr, author of the recently published book Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind.

As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.

Here’s how I discovered the final three of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.. (You can read about the others right here.)

Technique 3: Act As If You’ve Already Done It

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

This was tough for me to overcome because it was a confidence issue with me. I knew the advice, keep your back straight, walk tall, don’t let people get the better of you but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Or so I thought. It can be clumsy or awkward at first but I promise it will make you smile from ear to ear once you try it. When I was feeling lost just a few years ago I gave it a shot. I thought to myself, “If I were a successful author, how would I behave?” So I changed. Instead of being slumped in my chair when writing, I got up, stretched myself out, took some deep breaths, and resumed writing, only this time tried to look confident. And you know what? It worked! I managed to brainstorm numerous ideas for my books and even got started on the one I recently published.

Take a moment and picture a successful person in your mind. What is their body language like? Are they smiling? What actions and activities are they doing? Now, ask the same questions again, only picture someone who is depressed or unsatisfied with their life. I bet you’ll start to see a difference.

That’s the trick! Having a fulfilling life really just boils down to how you act. Recent studies confirmed this by determining that “. . . the way you walk and move your body and posture affects your mood.” For instance, if you’re not happy with the amount of money you have in the bank nothing is stopping you from acting like you’re already at the goal you wish you were at. Walk with confidence, smile more, live better and the Universe will notice. Go ahead, act it out!

Technique 4: Love What You Do

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

Most of us have experienced going with the crowd rather than paving our own path. Early in my journey I was taking tests online all day trying to figure out my personality, passions and strengths. It wasn’t until I pushed my laptop to the side and starting spending some quality time with myself that I realized what I truly love, which is writing. It can be tough to sit down and have a mental “talk” with yourself. It took me hours to figure out what my heart has been trying to tell me all along. But guess what? When I figured out what my soul wanted me to pursue, I got an instant energy rush which touched every inch of my being. I had found my passion. No other feeling can relate to how spectacular it felt. Since it was my true passion I love every second I spend doing it and my life has become so much better since I found it.

This right here is where success and happiness are intertwined. Have you ever noticed that people who have it all (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.) never stop working? They have enough money and success to last multiple lifetimes but many people like that work harder than when they were young. Here’s the secret: they love what they do!

I love writing, improving myself, and connecting with others so I make it my mission each day to do at least one of those three things. If you love taking photos, take them every day, share them with who you can, and enjoy the process. There has never been a better time to cash in on your passion. Or if you don’t want any financial success from it, do it because it makes your soul feel good and alive!

I spoke about this in my book Power Mindset Mastery, as follows:

“If you do not discover yourself, and know exactly what you want from life, you have no idea what you are living for.

“A step to self-discovery is identifying your needs. Most people are clueless of what they want. To identify your needs, you first need to take a step back and think thoroughly. Then, when you are in a relaxed state of mind, meditate and focus on your thoughts. Ask yourself questions like what makes you happy, what makes you sad and so on. Along with the question of what, also ask why it makes you feel certain emotions. Seek a deep and strong reason behind it, not a common or general answer.

“When you have identified what makes you happy and sad, you can focus on the things that make you happy and stay away from moments that make you sad.”

Technique 5: Accept Who You Are

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain

This can be tough for many of us because often times we shove our true thoughts or feelings to the side for quite some time. I was in a nasty habit of doing that for most my life. I would keep my mouth shut when I had something to say. Or I would keep myself from saying how I really felt when I was given the chance to speak. At first I thought I was doing good by not upsetting anyone and that I was attracting good people in my life because of it. However, I was battling myself on the inside to stop wearing so many different masks. The people I was attracting into my life didn’t share my vision or passion which made it tough to be around them. Much like the other techniques, I decided one morning that I would start to speak my mind and be honest with myself. I started slow but eventually got to the point where I was speaking my mind and telling the truth every time I opened my mouth. It was an incredibly freeing feeling and one that still hits me to this day. The result? I began attracting wonderful people into my life who shared my passion for writing and helping. It is a completely different feeling when you are surrounded by people who genuinely know you and care for that part of you that you tried so hard to push away.

As we age, our ambitions tend to fade. Do you still love doing the activities you were doing as a child? If you so happen to write a book, what subject would you write on? Questions like these can help bring perspective to where you are at in your life and what you value.

You’ll always have people tell you what you are doing Is wrong, weird, or too different. Caring about what others think of you is a HUGE distraction. What does it keep you from? Yourself.

Deep inside you know yourself. We all do. Some of us just need an extra nudge to get it out. For me, I always tried to hide the fact that I love the self-help genre from my friends and family. I remember I was terrified to get caught listening to Tony Robbins on my computer as a kid so I would close the tab when my parents walked by. I was scared of what they would think. Unfortunately the only person that was affecting was myself because I was stopping myself from exploring what my soul was telling me to do.

When I became open about how much I appreciate things like the law of attraction or meditation I was met with questions and laughter from the people that were close to me. However, I also gained respect from them because we naturally respect those who are brave enough to let go and be true to themselves, it is freeing. Be honest with who you are. Identify the areas in your life that you feel you aren’t being true to yourself in and make a change.

That wraps up my explanation of the five law of attraction techniques that changed my life. It felt great writing these out. If they help even just one person then it will have been worth sharing.

As a final note, don’t overthink it. When it comes to living the life of your dreams or attracting success into your life, focus on finding yourself first. Practice self-love and gratitude and your journey will align more and more with where the universe wants you.

Ralph Dorr

P.S. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I love talking to anyone I can meet! It would make my year if you could check out my book, Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind and leave an honest review.

Law of Attraction Success Story: “My Top Five Law of Attraction Techniques,” Part One

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

Contributor: Ralph Dorr, author of the recently published book Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with the Power of Your Mind.

As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.

Here’s how I discovered the first two of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.

Technique 1: Be Thankful

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark

For the longest time I was going through life without being thankful for all that I had. I thought the world was somehow conspiring against me to bring me pain and suffering so I felt no need to thank it. That all changed back in May of 2015 when I found a YouTube channel called Infinite Waters. Here was a man who was telling me all that I could be grateful for. Everyday something beautiful would happen to me and I never gave the Universe even a “thanks” in return. I had a wonderful house, a family who loved me, and nature to appreciate but I never gave any of it attention or gratitude; I only focused on the negative. I felt ashamed and I needed to change. I decided that I would never leave my room in the morning without recounting all that I am grateful for. It began empowering me. When you open your heart and start being grateful, amazing feelings start to flow in. My life changed forever when I started doing that. Instead of only seeing the bad in the world, I saw everything that was good and all that could become good with some changes.

The simple act of recounting all the blessings you’ve been given in your life feels powerful. It can give you purpose to achieve more and pay it back. Don’t just take my word for it, though; Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson and countless others practice gratitude every day.

The best time I’ve found to practice gratitude is right when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Try writing in a gratitude journal or simply run through three things you’re grateful for in your head. For example, when I wake up I tell myself, “I am so thankful for the amazing family I’ve been blessed with, the comfort my room provides me, and the access to food I am able to enjoy every day.” It always gives me some much needed perspective on how much I truly have. Although we all have our problems, everyone has been blessed with so much that often times we forget to turn around and tell the Universe, “Thank you.”

Technique 2: Build a Dream Board

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein

When I first heard about constructing a dream board, my first thought was, “What? I suck at arts and crafts.” Due to that limiting belief I shrugged it off and didn’t consider trying to build one for almost a year. Well, one cloudy morning back in 2016 I was thinking to myself, “What am I attracting into my life and what am I focusing on?” I had found my problem. I had no clue what I was focusing on and my life was becoming chaotic because of that. I remembered hearing about building a dream board and how it can help keep you on a focused path towards your dreams. I spent a few sleepless nights building my very own dream board, filling every possible space with an image or word that directed me towards where I wanted to go. Now, I look at it every day on my bedroom door and beautiful thoughts of my dreams rush into my head. It’s an exhilarating feeling and one that I would recommend to everyone!

This is one of my favorite techniques and has helped me change my life in so many ways. A dream board is something physical that showcases your desires in life, like a poster or even a sheet of paper (the bigger the better). It usually has images and words posted on it that align with your goals and vision. It can be a cutout picture of a new car or house from a magazine. Non-material items also work just as well; if one of your goals is to reduce stress, for example, then think about what that would look like. Would you be relaxing on a beach? Going for a bike ride? Think hard and visualize how that picture looks in your mind and put it on your dream board.

The dream board doesn’t have to just be limited to images. Write out how your dreams feel to you. For instance, one of my dreams (which I have not yet achieved) was to write a book. I wrote it out as if I was already living it, saying something like, “I spent all day replying to people’s emails about how much my book meant to them and I loved every second.”

I am hoping you are seeing a pattern by now. When you continue to write out positive phrases or look at images your focus will shift towards that instead of negative distractions. That is the core of this belief and if you are able to do it then you’ll be well on your way to success!

Remember to keep your dream board in a place where you will see it every day. I am a big fan of putting it in spots I can’t avoid like the refrigerator, my bed stand, or even my bedroom door. Add looking at your dream board to your daily morning ritual and think about it often.

Three more techniques to come.

Ralph Dorr

P.S. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I love talking to anyone I can meet! It would make my year if you could check out my book, Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind and leave an honest review.

I Really Like My Rock Collection (My Byron Katie Detox, Part Two)

Everyone just leave my boobs alone, Goddamnit! That was the thought I was having several times a day. Of course, when I sat down to confront my problem, Byron Katie-style, I wrote something a bit more restrained.

I hate breastfeeding, I wrote. I’m sick of it. It bugs me. I hate the boredom, the discomfort. The whining for “boo-boo,” “boo-boo.”

It was June, and I’d recently given birth, and my barely-turned two-year-old nursed, too. At the time, breastfeeding was–no exaggeration–a part-time job. More than thirty hours a week I was spending with a person (sometimes people) fully attached, often doing nothing but waiting to be done.

Which is why after discovering The Work it was one of the first thoughts I brought to the method; it seemed like a pretty good test. CBT couldn’t touch it. At least that’s what I believed. And I doubted The Work could, either. But I’d just read another book of Katie’s, my third, I Need Your Love – Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead, and cover to cover, it was super inspiring. So one afternoon I got my pen and paper, and after writing down my negative feelings on the subject, I answered the four requisite questions.

Is it true? Yes. Obviously. Duh.

Can you be absolutely sure it’s true? Uh, I guess not.

How do you feel when you think this thought? Terrible. Trapped. On the verge of a scream.

How would you feel if you couldn’t think the thought? Well, I guess I’d feel … fine?

And then I turned the statement around to the opposite and found examples to confirm.

I love breastfeeding, I wrote. I don’t hate it at all. Look at all the benefits it provides my kids. Not to mention the benefits to me–all those burned calories while just lying on my side, doing nothing. And when the baby cries, it always makes her feel better, which of course makes me feel better, too. Plus, what other activity in my life will I ever do that is this easy and yet this important? It’s, like, the best-ever excuse to be lazy.

Then, as Katie does in several examples in her book, I returned to the first question: Is it true?

Well, no. I mean, not entirely.

Hmmm. That’s interesting.

Later that day, I thought about the exercise and checked in, asking myself if anything felt different. It didn’t, I concluded. I felt just the same. But then something strange happened: nothing.

The following morning when Jack, the two-year-old, woke me while groping for my breast, I didn’t feel the extreme annoyance I usually felt.

In fact, I didn’t feel much at all.

Holy crap. I smiled. Holy crap. I think it worked. I didn’t think it’d really work. But it did.

After this experience, my interest in The Work quickly increased, and soon I found myself substituting my CBT practice with the new method. Every few days or so, I’d jot down the thoughts that came to mind, then select the most troublesome to move with through the process. Here are just some of the feelings and ideas I successfully distanced myself from during that first incredible month:

  • I’m bloated.
  • I should go on a diet.
  • David should have [fill in the blank].
  • My friend should not have [fill in the blank].
  • I can’t sleep.
  • Caring for a baby is too hard.
  • All parenting is too hard.

To say the least, dealing effectively with these thoughts rather than letting them run amok was an improvement. So it wasn’t very far into July before I started hatching a plan.

That plan: this book. This serial. This story. About doing the Work for a year. Not much more to it than that–no detailed list of rules. Just dedicating myself to the practice and seeing where it takes me. Along the way, I’ll question my current life philosophy, too, since without that intention I’d likely focus only on the day-to-day stuff. I want to see big changes, big shifts, major differences in perspective.

I want the Work to be the game-changer I’ve been seeking.

Here are my six basic spiritual beliefs, which I will write about at length in this serial.

  • Spirituality is good.
  • People are holy.
  • Life is a game. There are no rules.
  • God is reality.
  • People have power.
  • My religion is peace, pain, hard work and appreciation.

I know. Scary, right? This is good stuff here. I like every single one of these. I’ve come to each of them like a child comes to a rock lying on the beach: I pick it up, turn it around in my hand. I notice the color, the uniqueness, even the flaws–but they don’t seem like flaws to me. After a moment of inspection, I might throw it back, but more often than not, I don’t. I put it in my rock bag and refuse to leave it behind, though on the car ride home it already seems out of place.

Beliefs are interesting. They’re important. They stabilize us. They help us relate to other people. We like our rock collections. We really, really like them. We carry them wherever we go. Sometimes, when we find other people whose rocks look a lot like ours, we even meet every Sunday for a while to describe them.

Rock collecting is a wonderful hobby. Spirituality is a noble practice. But do we have to take it quite so seriously?

Do our beliefs have to be so darn firm?

Which brings me to the first Byron Katie quote of the series–one that I’ll probably revisit later on.

“God is everything, God is good … Ultimately, of course, even this isn’t true … All so-called truths eventually fall away. Every truth is a distortion of what is. If we investigate, we lose even the last truth. And that state, beyond all truths, is true intimacy. That is God-realization. And welcome to the reentry. It’s always a beginning.”

The quote is from the second book I read of Katie’s, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. It was co-written by her husband, Stephen Mitchell. The sentiment is puzzling, yet it rings true to me, especially since it echoes the Buddhist view of ultimate truth. I start with it this year for several reasons.

The first is that if Byron Katie is known for one thing, she is known for eradicating belief. To her, belief is dangerous. Undesirable. Scary. Belief is the root of all suffering, of every problem we have. Which is why her four questions encourage us to question our thoughts so relentlessly.

If you’re not familiar with this teacher, the above probably sounds a bit strange. Don’t worry. Hang in there. We’ll get to your questions. For now, let’s move on to the second reason.

The second reason the quote is so appropriate here at the starting line is that it makes me wonder what my time with The Work is going to bring. If nothing is true, really and ultimately true, where will that leave me by year’s end? Will inquiry excise my favorite, most comforting beliefs–steal my precious rock collection like a school bully? Or will my spiritual beliefs hold up, at least for now, and continue to help me get through this earthly adventure?

The final reason I chose this quote first is that it’s Katie’s direct answer to the first of my seven beliefs, namely, spirituality (God) is good.

Sure, she says. Sure, you can think that. But ultimately, no–spirituality isn’t good.

Like everything else, spirituality is nothing.

Welcome to the rabbit hole that is Ms. Byron Katie.

All this said, I don’t regret—not for one moment, not for one second—any of the years I spent as true believer.

It was the start of everything to come.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

Sometimes, You Get Way Too Excited (My Byron Katie Detox, Part One)

A lot of times, when you discover something great, you overestimate its greatness just a bit. Well, okay, sometimes more than a bit.

Sometimes you get way too excited.

Every once in a while, though, your excitement proves justified. And when that happens, you cross the line. Before you were a fan, a follower, an advocate.

Now, you’re a believer.

Granted, when I discovered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, my hopes were high for good reason. According to articles by the National Institute for Mental Health, the National Center for Biotechnology Information and, of course, Wikipedia, CBT is the most-practiced evidence-based therapy for tons of emotional and personality disorders.

More important, when I tried it, it worked.

Unfortunately, I was late to the party; I’ve had depression my whole life, but didn’t learn about CBT till age thirty-eight. Yikes, right? I often wonder what I was thinking, not looking up popular depression therapies sooner. Then I remember exactly what I was thinking.

I was thinking spirituality was the answer.

Ouch.

I mean, spirituality is great. Spirituality works. But sometimes, other stuff works better. And every once in a while, you hit the proverbial jackpot, and you find a regular therapy that’s spiritual, too.

Which is where Byron Katie comes in.

Soon after discovering CBT, I found this teacher, and when I did, the above process repeated itself. Excitement. Enthusiasm. Fandom. Advocacy.

Then, full-on belief.

Here’s how that happened.

***

It was one of Those Moments. You know the kind. They feel normal at first, then later earn an unexpected spot on your greatest-hits playlist. It was evening, and I was depressedmuch more so than usual. Worse, earlier that day I’d taken a three-mile walk and even that, my go-to strategy, hadn’t helped. I didn’t get an endorphin high. I didn’t clear my mind.

I felt just as bad after as before.

If you struggle with a mood disorder I don’t have to tell you what a frightening realization this was. Will I have to starting walk more than three miles now? I wondered. Has my body acclimated to this level of exercise? Heavily pregnant, with two other children in tow, I couldn’t imagine putting more time and effort into walking than I already did. And so, after dinner, after my husband had taken our two boys to the mall, I decided to try something different. Desperate, I went to my office to scan the titles on my bookshelf, looking for anything that might help.

I didn’t actually believe I’d find something.

But I did. I found The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns.

One year prior, I’d bought the Handbook on the advice of my doctor and then, after a brief review, dismissed it. Platitudes, I thought. Nothing new here. Nothing I haven’t heard a million times before. I had no idea it was a psychotherapy classic. (Why hadn’t the doctor told me that? Sheesh.)

That day, thoughthat greatest-hits dayI sat on the couch and for the first time, gave the method a chance. After reading a few chapters, I took its suggestion and started writing down every negative thought in my head. When I couldn’t think of any more, I stopped writing and counted the pages.

I’d filled seven pieces of paper on both sides.

Okay, I thought. Maybe the book is right. Maybe my depression really is caused by my thoughts.

Prior to that time, I knew negativity played a role in depression. But I had no idea how big that role was. I’m a positive person, I thought. I’m hopeful about the future. It’s a chemical imbalance that’s to blame.

And I still believe that. I’ve been moody my whole lifenever lighthearted, even as a kid. But maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the story. Maybe part of the problem is solvable.

Because, it turned out, I wasn’t the optimist I thought I was. I was actually sort of the opposite, but in a different way. The kind of thoughts I wrote down that day had nothing to do with my faith in God or my many dreams of success. They weren’t about my overall health, or my financial or familial satisfaction.

They were about the little annoyances of life.

They were about the way my clothes fit, the kids’ morning moods, the tyranny of my family’s need to eat. Only a few of my troubles even mattered long-term. And yet, when I emptied the contents of my head, these silly little details were what I found. Obviously, my pessimism wasn’t as much about the significance of my negative thoughts as it was about the sheer number of them.

I had accumulated a bunch of mental crap.

And so, that night I began the process of excavation. And I haven’t stopped since.

Even after that first writing session, I noticed a changea lifting, even a slight high. I felt the way I feel after a thirty-minute jog, or a long talk with a friend, or an especially enjoyable night out.

Holy crap, I realized. It worked.

And it did so when I was at my very worst.

And so, like I said before, after discovering CBT, my hopes were ridiculously high. Somehow, I knew that this was my game-changer, my next major level up.

Somehow, I knew it would be epic.

The cool thing is that I was right. During the month that followed the discovery, I was the most hopeful I’d been in my life regarding my ability to deal effectively withmaybe even overcomemy depression. Then, a shocking twist: I found another strategy, a variation of CBT. And for me, it was even more powerful. You probably already know what that method was. It was Byron Katie’s process of self-inquiry called The Work.

Byron Katie is a spiritual teacher, someone you may have heard of before. I had, too; the previous fall I’d even read her free ebook, The Work of Byron Katie: An Introduction. At that time, though, her ideas didn’t particularly appeal to me.

Truth be told, I wasn’t desperate enough to try it.

But after practicing CBT for a while, her name came up again, and I thought back on what I’d read. Wait a sec, I realized, Now that I think about it, The Work is a lot like CBT.

I decided to look into it again.

More about Byron Katie’s method later, and how it compares with CBT. Suffice it to say here that it’s a way to look objectively at your favorite (or not-so-favorite) thoughts. It gives you four questions to ask yourself that help you realize, deep down, what is true and what is, well, a bit crazy.

And as with CBT, my first experience with The Work didn’t disappoint.

Read the rest of the series at My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts.

My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts

Once upon a time, I thought I was a positive person. Wow. How delusional was that? Then one day, I decided to actually write my thoughts on paper.

To say my results were surprising would be an understatement.

Soon after that, I discovered Byron Katie, and, well, I’m really glad I did.

Byron Katie is a guru. Let’s get that out of the way. She’s a spiritual teacher, one I admire the heck out of.

Which is why recently, I decided to devote a year of my life to her.

Okay, well–not to her, exactly. But to the spiritual practice she teaches. It’s called The Work, and it’s a way to question and change your negative internal beliefs.

And it’s powerful. Explosive. I don’t want to say “mind-blowing,” but I will. It’s similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the most well-researched and effective depression therapy, but with a spiritual bent, too.

I know.

Read My Byron Katie Detox: One Year of Questioning My Unhelpful Thoughts right here.

My Byron Katie Detox Installments:

Part One: Sometimes, You Get Way Too Excited

Part Two: I Really Like My Rock Collection

Part Three: I Just Wanted to Love My Mother

Part Four: Of Course, It Happened in Southern California

Part Five: Let’s Face It: We All Want to Feel Good

Part Six: It’s Cancer, Man. I’m Not Playing Around.

Part Six Point Five: Byron Katie Versus CBT

Part Seven: Dad, Do You Think I’m a Good Person?

Part Eight: Even Maurice Sendak Was Holy

Part Nine: Sticky Ickies, Every One

Part Ten: An Excavation

Part Eleven: Byron Katie Tips and Tricks, Part One

Part Twelve: Byron Katie Tips and Tricks, Part Two

Part Thirteen: My Boyfriend Won, and Easily

Part Fourteen: You Just Try Shit and See What Works

Part Fifteen: Alexander the Great Had a Lot of Fun, Didn’t He?

Part Sixteen: The Only Rule Is There Aren’t Any Rules

Part Seventeen: Surviving Death and Other Fairly Surprising Occurences

Part Eighteen: Right Then–Then Exactly–I Was Done

Part Nineteen: A Byron Katie Metaphysics

Part Twenty: God Is . . . Reality? That Sucks

Part Twenty-One: The Tree Falling in the Woods Really Doesn’t Make a Sound, and Actually, It Doesn’t Even Fall

Part Twenty-Two: My Stress Levels. Where Are They? I Think I Dropped Them Somewhere

Part Twenty-Three: A Little Skepticism Is in Order

Part Twenty-Four: It May Seem Silly. But at Least It’s Popular.

Part Twenty-Five: People Aren’t Bad. We’re Just . . . Well, Team Players.

Part Twenty-Six: Neuroscientist is the New Doctor

Part Twenty-Seven: The Spirit Has Goals That the Mind Knows Not Of

Part Twenty-Eight: Not All Good News

Part Twenty-Nine: We Have Power. Just Not All of It.

Part Thirty: A Complete Revised Worksheet for The Work of Byron Katie

Part Thirty-One: A Belief Questioning Round-Up

Part Thirty-Two: A Bold Decision, and a Rare One

Part Thirty-Three: Acceptance Isn’t Liking Something. It’s Not Liking It and Appreciating It, Anyway.

Part Thirty-Four: Depression Is Complicated

Part Thirty-Five: Byron Katie, Thank You

Conclusion: A Byron Katie Q and A

Self-Help Success Story: “I Got Rid of the Voices in My Head”

Contributor: Gary Leigh. Gary offers energy cleansing, past life therapy, Bach Flower Remedies and more. Visit him over at psychicsupport.net.

When I was around nine years old, I began to hear thoughts in my mind that were talking independently. I would have conversations with them and eventually they got to the point where they would talk full-time. I don’t recall what was said now, but I do remember there were a lot of them and that they all became overwhelming.

As you can imagine, I assumed I was making this all up and it was just in my imagination.

Then around age eleven, I started to feel what I can only describe as a clawing sensation in my mind. It’s a very difficult thing to put into words, but it was highly unpleasant. It felt like something was trying to take me over. Not so much possess me, but eradicate my being.

Every day this would grow stronger until I was constantly engaged in my own hidden, private battle. As I could not really explain what was going on, I never told anyone around me until one night, when I was thirteen, I was staying with my mother at a friend’s place. I told her what was going on and instead of dismissing it as rubbish, she took it seriously. She had no answers, though.

But a month later, we went to visit these people who also happened to be Jehovah Witnesses. One night, she told them what I had told her, and the next day, they sat me down and told me that Satan was trying to get my soul and I needed to ask God for help.

So I began to do that and the attacks would stop for a short while, only to return a little stronger. So many times a day, I would say, “God help me, Satan be gone.”

In the meantime, I would carry on with my life as normal, and no one ever knew what I was battling. Over the years, I started to become weary and at the same time, more persistent with fighting Satan and attacking him back as best I could.

It was an ever-perpetuating circle and I was losing. Eventually, at age twenty, I had an epiphany that if fighting Satan with hate made him stronger, then maybe love would have the opposite effect. So I said to him in my mind, “You can join me, but only in love.” Then I sent him thoughts of love, compassion and peace.

The change was instant. The attacks stopped immediately, never to return–something I had never imagined was possible. At first I was cautious, just in case they returned, but instead of my old mantra of “God help me and Satan be gone,” my new one was a constant “Love and peace, love and peace.”

And that’s when my spiritual journey really started to take off.

Incidentally, this is a perfect example of the saying “What you resist, persists and what you look at and make your own disappears.”

What began after that was years of spiritual study and pursuit. I read everything I could find for answers to how the Universe worked, but true information was limited back in the 80s. Still, I slowly began to piece it all together. It took decades before I finally started to really remember who I was and why I was here and most importantly, why those attacks had happened.

Today, I practice sending love out daily. It’s a state of being now. It’s a message I’ve been trying to get out there for a long time. Especially for those so called spiritual warriors who believe that attacking and destroying the darkness is the answer. It’s not. You’re just feeding them a feast.

But love is only one part of the solution, which is why it doesn’t always produce the serenity that you desire. You also have to heal from past traumas and shift your perspectives.

True love is unconditional. It’s not judging others. It’s being there for all regardless of who they are. It’s compassion, healing and caring. But that does not mean you allow others to use, abuse or attack you. It’s standing in your own power and healing the lines that cause the attacks to begin with.

In light and love,

Gary Leigh

P.S. I can often do in a session or two what others tell me they have not been able to achieve in years of therapy. I heal the soul rather than treating the symptoms. If you would like to learn more about my services, visit psychicsupport.net. For full details of my journey and experiences, visit thephoenixarchives.com.

The Mathematics of Coats

Best Nonfiction Book - Instead of Education

This is my first winter with three children, and here is what I’ve learned about the mathematics of coats.

To find the total square footage of your home that you will need to devote solely to winter wear, use the following equation.

  • For each child in the family, add two lightweight jackets or sweatshirts, one point five heavy coats, one snowsuit, one rain suit, plus gloves, boots and hats.
  • For each adult in the family, add five to ten lightweight jackets or sweatshirts, one fancy coat, one rain jacket, one heavy coat, plus gloves, boots and hats.
  • For each adult bicyclist, motorcyclist, skier, scuba diver or other athletic type, add one pair of specialty pants and one point five specialty coat per sport. Because the volume of each of these items is almost double the average volume of other items, multiply this number by two.

Thus, if your family has five members (as mine does), you will need approximately eight thousand items of winter wear in your collective wardrobe.

After determining the total number of items, measure the square footage needed per item. This will vary depending on how much space between items you require to access them. Now multiply this number by your number of items.

If you did the math right, you will likely come up with a figure that will make it necessary to buy a second home. Or at least a Pod.

Seriously, though. Our coats take up two entire closets right now. And my kids are still tiny.

Summer, please come back soon.

(I’m off to buy a Pod.)

***

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