5 Tips For Developing A “Garage Sale Millionaire” Mindset…John Page Burton

Let me begin by confessing that I am a “garage sale junkie”. I love garage sales! Recently, I found a bottle of wine that had been produced exclusively for the late actor, Dean Martin. The label bears his likeness and the wine is 35 years old. The label also stated that only 850 cases of this wine had been produced. (this could be a good or bad thing?) My cost for this very cool find was a whopping $1. But I digress, this article is not about my love of garage sales, it’s about defining our relationship with money.

MONEY

Money is either a small sheet of paper or a piece of metal, WE attach the meaning to money. Depending largely on our upbringing, we either have a healthy or an unhealthy relationship with money. Many of us are frugal and hunt for bargains. Shopping this way allows us to channel the money we are saving into interest bearing accounts and investments. Over time, this money can become significant and help provide us with a secure retirement. (“garage sale millionaire”) Others find it challenging to exert any type of spending discipline. They habitually make purchases on impulse and tend to pay full retail price for everything they buy. Unfortunately, many wake up one day to find that they are in significant financial trouble due to their lack of discipline. Below are 5 tips for developing a “garage sale millionaire” mindset.

THE “GARAGE SALE MILLIONAIRE” MINDSET….

*Get in the HABIT of spending less than you earn. Let’s face it, we live in a world with a ton of cool toys. Delaying gratification can be extremely hard. The first step on the road to financial freedom is to spend LESS than we earn. You may be saying yeah, yeah, yeah, I already know that. The question is…are you practicing it? This one habit can dramatically change your financial future. Examine your monthly bank statement and determine where can you cut wasteful spending? Make the commitment to this for one year. You will be amazed by how much you save!

*Pay CASH for purchases. I employ 2 strategies that serve me well. If I can’t pay cash for it, I don’t buy it and before I make any significant purchase I ask myself if it is something I NEED or just something I want. Something I NEED will always take precedence over something I want. Paying cash and avoiding impulse buys helps curb wasteful spending. We can then invest this “impulse money” into our future.

*Look for opportunities to create new streams of income rather than new lines of credit. I carry one debit card and one credit card. I focus my energy on looking for opportunities to create new streams of income. This mindset is a proactive wealth building mindset opposed to a “credit” mindset. For example, this past year I wrote a book. My book has become a NEW stream of income in the Burton household. I have not applied for any new lines of credit this year. ***One of the best TAX strategies we can employ is to own a home based business. New stream of income, new TAX savings.

*Avoid paying retail. Turn this concept into a game. Garage sales, consignment shops and services like Craig’s list are great places to find items that are in great condition and many items are brand new. Diana and I have furnished three homes employing this strategy. We have saved thousands of dollars and routinely receive positive feedback on how nicely our home is decorated. For example, we recently purchased a desk for our mountain home. The estimated cost of this desk was $1000. We were able to purchase it for $50 dollars and the seller even threw in a high end desk chair. Our patience paid off! FYI…you are the only ones who know how much we actually paid for this gorgeous desk. Ha, Ha!

*Make financial education a priority. A person doesn’t have to make a lot of money to save a lot of money. However, we must make financial education a priority and we must design a financial strategy and maintain the discipline to see it through. Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are best selling authors who specialize in providing their readers with great strategies for creating financial freedom. Go to the local library and check out their books. (I just saved you $50 dollars) Make an appointment with a TAX professional to develop a strategy for paying less TAX. Meet with a financial planner to help you maximize your retirement plan. Remember, burying our head in the sand or relying on the government are not proactive financial strategies.

I have been wealthy and I have been broke. I can honestly say that a life free from financial worry is a much easier one to live. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, running out of money before you run out of month or you just want the peace of mind of knowing that your retirement is secure, then I encourage you to begin developing your own “garage sale millionaire” mindset. Here’s to prosperity!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

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Managing Our Demons…John Page Burton

All of us have demons and many of us find ourselves in a seemingly endless battle to exterminate these destructive “bed fellows”. As the recent death of Robin Williams clearly illustrates, our demons can exert a death grip on our soul. Our demons come in many different forms and no two demons are exactly alike. Your demons may be similar to mine in nature, however, the circumstances (back story) and characteristics of your demons will be vastly different from mine. This also holds true in how we CHOOSE to address them. For most of us, our greatest demons originated in another place in time, yet we have allowed them to travel with us wherever we go. A few of our more common “bed fellows” include the demons around physical, emotional or sexual abuse, body image, intelligence, sense of belonging, success, sexuality, financial loss, abandonment and relationship/marriage dissolution. Our demons from the past often surface and wreak havoc in our most intimate relationships. I can certify that my demons surrounding abandonment would routinely raise their ugly head whenever I found myself beginning to enjoy and place trust in a new, intimate relationship. As soon as the relationship became comfortable, an alarm would go off in my head screaming “danger, get out” and I would commence the slow, deliberate process of sabotaging and ultimately blowing up the relationship long “before my partner could”. Intellectually, it made no sense to “blow things up”, however, my emotional intelligence was not developed enough to quash my demonic thinking. I was finally able to destroy my abandonment demons when I was in my late forties.

For many of us, our demons surrounding abuse are the most difficult to make peace with. Abuse demons feature layer upon layer of scar tissue, often rendering us incapable of trusting anyone, especially ourselves. Many of us have turned to drugs and alcohol as a misguided way of quieting the demonic voices in our head only to wake up one day and find ourselves with an entirely new “bed fellow” to contend with. Demons attract demons!

A friend recently asked me how I have been able to overcome my personal demons and enjoy the happy, prosperous life I live today. My answer seemed to surprise him. I have learned how to manage my demons.

Managing Our DEMONS…

Distance. I have learned to distance myself from the past. I recognize that everything in the present moment is perfect and that ALL of my current pain originates from past events. Many of the sources of my pain and discomfort are no longer alive or living in proximity to me which illustrates the absurdity of hanging onto these programs. This realization and a great deal of daily prayer and self exploration enables me to view my life with a present moment perspective. I can manage the present moment and recognize that I have no control over the past.

Ego. Demons are figments of our imagination, hand delivered by the Ego. The Ego desires for us to stay in pain and readily uses guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, envy and depression to try and hold us hostage. I have learned to counter the darkness of the Ego with the light of compassion and love. I routinely find myself fighting my Ego and there are times when it actually wins a battle. The good news is that I have the awareness and resolve to win the WAR! The most effective way to manage the Ego is to look at everyone and everything from a place of compassionate understanding. We are ALL on our own custom designed journey.

ME. The greatest breakthrough I realized during my process of making peace with the past (demons) was the moment I truly understood that the quality of my life from that moment forward was entirely up to ME. I was “the adult” in charge and remaining a prisoner to my thoughts was INSANE. The quality of my life would be a direct result of the CHOICES I made from that moment forward. As simple as this sounds, taking personal responsibility for ALL of my actions and subsequent outcomes was the single biggest game changer in my process of personal transformation. When it’s about ME there is no room for demons.

Ownership. As long as I AVOIDED addressing and confronting my demons I remained in a state of constant pain. Once I took ownership of my right to CHOOSE what I focused on, my life began to change. Denial guarantees that we will continue experiencing pain. Taking ownership is the first step toward abolishing our demons and living a life of inner peace.

Numbing. When I was under “demonic control” I found myself “numbing” to avoid feeling the pain and disappointments in my life. My numbing included, drugs, alcohol, exercise, thrill seeking, work and travel. Once I made the decision to confront my demons head on, I found myself living my way into a state of moderation and balance. At first this was a bit odd but now I have become quite used to it.

Support. One of the best ways we can manage our demons is by seeking support. Friends, partners, spouses, life coaches and cause specific support groups are excellent resources to help us stay on track. Everyone’s pain is different and as I mentioned earlier, no two people will experience the exact same demonic experience. When we seek support we are sending a clear message to the universe that we are committed to ending our demonic bondage once and for all. Seek and you will find the support you need in the moment you need it.

ALL of us have experienced things we would like to forget. ALL of us have done things we regret. ALL of us have the capacity to offer and accept forgiveness but before that can happen we have to give ourselves permission to FEEL the FEELINGS. Once I made the decision to confront my demons and release my anger I was truly ready to move forward. This is an ongoing process. EVERYDAY I am tested to see how serious I am about managing my demons and living a pain free life. My personal report card indicates that I am a solid B student working toward an A.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback. Cheers!

People Pleasing, A 12 Step Recovery Program…John Page Burton

We all know people who are serial “people pleasers”. The art of people pleasing is not gender specific nor is it limited to race, religion or culture. People pleasing is an addictive, learned behavior that can be very difficult to change. The stereotypical people pleaser is adept at creating an environment of co-dependence in every area of their life. People pleasers are masters of avoidance. The philosophy of a people pleaser holds that as long as I am doing everything possible for someone else then I will never have to be responsible for my  life, my dreams or my desires. People pleasers are also extremely comfortable in justifying their behavior. “My kids could never function without me”, “my spouse would burn everything if he had to cook dinner for himself”, “the committee would be lost if I didn’t guide them every step of the way” or ” it just makes me happy to see them so happy” are some of the many excuses people pleasers routinely use to justify their inflated sense of self importance.  Unfortunately, people pleasers are also teaching their children that it is normal to do everything for everyone else and to do nothing for themselves. Children of people pleasers often grow up to be socially stunted adults. Remember, we teach people how to treat us.

Finally,  although they put on a happy public face, most people pleasers give of themselves begrudgingly and tend to harbor a great deal of resentment toward those they do everything for. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to sign up for the “People Pleaser 12 Step Recovery Program”.

The 12 Steps To Recovery…

1. We admitted that we were people pleasers and that we were sick and tired of obsessively doing everything for everyone else.

2. We came to believe that doing everything for everyone else was robbing us of our dreams and goals.

3. We made a conscious decision to turn over the majority of our dysfunctional workload to those around us who were just as capable of fending for themselves as we were.

4. We then took a fearless, moral inventory of our lives and came to the realization that we were in fact worthy of and open to letting other people meet some of our needs for a change.

5. We admitted to a power far greater than ourselves that we no longer had the desire to be in obsessive control over every single aspect of another persons life.

6. We were then ready, willing and able to let someone else do the laundry, cook meals, shuttle kids, mow the lawn, shop for groceries and search tirelessly for the remote control.

7. We humbly asked our creator to re-wire our brain to reflect a more self-centered mindset.

8. We made a detailed list of everyone we had been doing everything for and gave them each a copy of “the do it yourself guide to empowered living”.

9. We also made amends to everyone we had been doing everything for and let them know it would never happen again.

10. We continued to take a personal inventory and when we found ourselves slipping back into our unhealthy, enabling patterns we promptly rapped ourselves upside the head, thus bringing us back to our senses.

11. We continued to seek through prayer and petition the strength needed to first recognize and then act upon the principle of “feed a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”.

12. Having had this “mind blowing” revelation regarding how much time we were taking away from our own dreams, needs and desires we made it our mission to share our message of hope with people pleasers everywhere.

And so it was…..

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback on people pleasing.

3 Considerations for Creating an Authentic Life…John Page Burton

Do you find yourself routinely questioning what you “should” be doing with your life? Do you find yourself comparing your success to the “perceived” success of others? Have you ever felt like a complete failure? Is your life heavily influenced by the opinions of family and friends? Have you ever questioned whether you deserved happiness and success? If you’re like the vast majority of us, the answer to these questions is a resounding YES! ALL of us have had moments of self doubt and we have ALL been exposed to the “wisdom”of those who seem to always know what’s best for us. We live in an image driven society where a great deal of our perspective is shaped by perception. Here’s a thought…If we are shaping our perspective (current beliefs) on perception (what we assume to be true) it stands to reason we could be wrong on a fairly regular basis. Assumptions are not a true indicator of our actual reality. With this being said, ALL of us would be well served to tap into and trust our inner voice. I refer to my inner voice as my “authentic self”.

3 considerations for creating an authentic life…

*GET TO REALLY KNOW THY SELF. When we really don’t know who we are or what we stand for we can be easily influenced. When we do know who we are and what we stand for we are bold. Knowing ourselves means that we acknowledge our strengths and weakness and we consciously choose to focus our energy on building upon our strengths. “Going along to get along” is never an option because we are firmly rooted in our beliefs. When we really know ourselves we can remain open to different perspectives because we recognize them as a pathway to knowledge and growth, however, we will only adopt a new perspective if it is in alignment with our core beliefs. Really knowing ourselves keeps us grounded in authenticity.

*ALIGNMENT. When our car is out of alignment most of us will grip the steering wheel tightly because we know if we let go the car will drift off center. When our spine is out of alignment we tend to over compensate our movement. Over time, this overcompensation can cause other health related challenges. Equally important is our physical and emotional alignment. What people and groups do we align ourselves with? What are their attitudes and beliefs? What does our health profile look like? Are we making time for exercise and consuming the proper nutrition? When our health is not in alignment we lack energy and other areas of our life begin to suffer. HEALTH IS ENERGY! Are our actions in alignment with our intentions? Are we moving toward what we desire or are we avoiding personal growth? Living authentically means we are continuing our quest for balance.

*GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE. All of us have experienced fear. Fear means that we are alive. I have a friend who is a daredevil. She lives for the next adrenaline rush and will attempt just about any type of stunt that meets her “need for speed”. Ironically she is deathly afraid of spiders. This fear causes her to have her home fumigated once a month just in case a spider may have survived the last fumigation. Trust me, the word is out in the spider community to steer clear of her house! We must learn to embrace our fear and move forward. Once we confront a specific fear and experience a breakthrough, that fear will never hold us hostage again. The sooner we face our fear, the sooner we can be free. My friend would be well served to visit The Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum and learn how vital spiders are to our ecosystem. Because many of us fear “hurting someones feelings” we hold back from speaking our truth. Speaking our truth may at first be uncomfortable but the more we do it the more comfortable it becomes. Truth by it’s very nature is authentic.

Realizing our authentic self is a life long process. Every challenging life experience presents us with an opportunity to learn and grow. Every choice we make comes with an important life lesson. Sometimes we pass the lesson, sometimes we fail miserably. No matter what life presents us with, our goal is to remain grounded in our core beliefs and values. This is what it means to live an authentic life.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

REVENGE…It just feels good! John Page Burton

For many of us, thoughts of revenge feel pretty darn good! “I’ll get even with that no good jerk, nobody is going to wrong ME and get away with it” is a common utterance of someone immersed in a revenge mindset. Thoughts of getting revenge tend to get our blood pumping and give us a new sense of purpose, one which enables us to summon all of our plotting and planning skills and formulate a misguided strategy to right the “perceived wrong”. We are determined to channel all of our frustration and anger into one big, tightly wound ball of hateful energy and let it fly! It feels GREAT to visualize the misery we will inflict on that no good, scum sucking weasel! Sound familiar?

At one time or another all of us have harbored thoughts of revenge. For some, these thoughts have become all consuming and are clearly effecting a person’s physical and mental health. Fortunately, most of us fail to act on our thoughts of revenge or else our prison system would be more taxed than it currently is. We create a great deal of internal turmoil each and every time we harbor thoughts of revenge. Let’s be honest, people do things to us that make us angry. They may hurt our feelings, cause us financial harm or in many cases they subject us to significant physical and emotional abuse. We want our perpetrator to feel the same degree of pain “they have caused us”. We repeatedly visualize how good it will feel to “give them a heavy dose of their own medicine”. Thoughts of revenge allow us to seemingly regain the power that has been taken away from us. The Ego is LOVING every minute of this drama and is more than willing to add more fuel to an already raging fire. Revenge is a verb. Revenge is action! The Ego unconditionally supports our feelings of anger, rage, hurt, jealousy and disappointment.

Revenge presents itself either explicitly or implicitly. Explicit revenge is action based and immediate. For example, your dog just bit my kid. I am going to load my gun and shoot your dog. Implicit revenge is the most common form of revenge and thankfully for humanity it remains primarily in our mind. We consistently visualize what we will do to the person who “wronged us” and we create imaginary scenarios that depict the suffering and humiliation they will endure from our callous acts of revenge. Explicit revenge is clear and concise with an eye for an eye being the only rule of this game. Implicit revenge is a slow and painful emotional process that causes the person who is immersed in thoughts of revenge to relive their drama over and over. In the end they put themselves through twice as much emotional pain as anything inflicted by the perpetrator. The object of “implicit revenge” is oblivious to how much energy is being devoted to them and therefore the only person continuing to suffer is the person consumed with the thoughts of revenge. “The wheels on the bus go round and round”. Implicit revenge rarely leaves the planning stage. Over time, the intensity usually wears off and the person seeking revenge moves on to their next psychological drama.

3 questions that can help us manage our thoughts of revenge…

Did they really do something significant to us? Asking ourselves this question causes us to pause and ponder. This process can bring us to a more reasonable state of mind. Nobody is worth ruining our physical or mental health over. It is also a good idea to ask ourselves if the object of our anger is really just a trigger for something else that is lurking below the surface? On several occasions I have placed a target in the middle of someones chest for no other reason than they were available in the moment. My anger and frustration from another “perceived wrong” had been lying in wait, impatiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike!

Will I become a better person if I act out my revenge? The answer is always a resounding NO. Revenge never has a positive outcome. Revenge is an unhealed response that fosters more negative energy. The only way can we can truly grow and become better people is to take the high road and move on. If someone steals from us we can press charges and let the legal system take it from there. If our spouse cheats on us we can choose to seek marital counseling or we can hire a divorce attorney. Taking the law into our own hands and dealing out the punishment of our choosing is not a wise option. NEVER ACT OUT REVENGE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL!!!

What would happen if I simply let it go? We must trust the universal law that says… what goes around will come around. It may not come around the way we want it to but it eventually will come around. Letting go is hard to do because of the Ego’s need to control. As I wrote in my book, Wisdom Through Failure, I experienced issues with a neighbor over the non stop barking of his dogs. Eventually our HOA manager was able to get it to stop. We recently arrived at our mountain home (neighbor with barking dogs) to find that 3 of our upstairs windows had been shot out with a pellet gun. I can’t prove that he was involved, however, none of the other homes in our neighborhood had any pellet holes in their glass. Being that he is the only person who I had any type of conflict with, the odds seem reasonably high that he knows something about it. It’s his Karma. I filed a police report for insurance purposes and released it to the universe. FYI…I am human and had a wealth of vengeful ideas rolling around in my head but chose to not act on them.

Thoughts of revenge are a normal response when we feel we have been wronged. Holding onto these thoughts for any length of time is unhealthy. Carrying out acts of revenge is not only unhealthy but can have dangerous results. When we were children our parents encouraged us to count to ten when we were angry. The purpose of this exercise was to allow us to pause and ponder rather than respond impulsively. I contend that this is still some very solid wisdom each of us should strive to follow.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.
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The Secret to Surviving The RIPTIDES of Life…John Page Burton

If you have ever spent time around the ocean you have more than likely heard the term riptide. Hopefully, you have never experienced a riptide while enjoying a swim. If by chance you have, you know that getting caught in a riptide is a terrifying experience. A riptide occurs when the sand suddenly shifts on the ocean floor, creating a canal that is approximately 8-10 yards wide. If you are caught in this canal the receding current will begin pulling you out to sea. For many of us, our immediate inclination is to begin swimming toward our “comfort zone” which in this case is the shore. As we exert our energy swimming toward the shore, the tide is exerting it’s own energy pulling us away from the shore and back out to sea. If we continue to fight the current, we will eventually use up all of our energy and drown. What we resist will persist. The secret to escaping the pull of a riptide is actually quite simple…CHANGE DIRECTION. By swimming approximately 15 yards to either side, a person is usually released from the pull of the riptide.

How many of us find ourselves valiantly fighting something or someone only to find ourselves being pulled further and further into a sea of drama. Our riptides occur at work, in relationships, friendships and for many, our internal riptides have pitted us against ourselves for as long as we can remember. We forcefully defend and justify our positions as we continue to frantically swim toward shore. If we would be willing to change our strategy and start swimming in a different direction we could be released from the bondage of our emotional riptide once and for all. Lets take a closer look at some of the ways we can avoid the push-pull in our lives.

COMMUNICATING OUR TRUTH IN REAL TIME. For example, if we really don’t desire to go to our sisters house for dinner, we need to tell her! Rather than “go anyway” and be miserable we must learn to be all right with asking for a rain check. When we express our true feelings in REAL TIME we can’t help but feel empowered because we are being true to ourselves. Many of us have conditioned ourselves to “go along to get along” for so long that at first “honest communication” may seem odd. SWIM TO THE RIGHT, it’s worth it! Our truth will indeed set us free!

STAY AWAY FROM GOSSIP. Gossip is unconscious, immature communication that never has a positive intent. When you find yourself in the pull of this disturbing current it’s time to SWIM LEFT, FAST!

MAKE COURSE CORRECTIONS WHEN NEEDED. When we recognize that something doesn’t feel right or simply isn’t working it is ALWAYS in our best interest to make a course correction. Trying to force things to work is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, it isn’t going to happen. Far too many of us are trying to “make” an abusive marriage work, “get through” another miserable week at work, “force” a sibling to finally “respect” us or “demand” that a parent be proud of us. Rather than continue to slowly drown in expectations, SWIM TO THE RIGHT! Our ability to be proactive will release us from our emotional riptide.

SURRENDER The Ego desires us to see ourselves as the end all be all. It is empowering to have a healthy sense of self worth and it is admirable to be willing to lead the charge but there are also times when we have to recognize that it is time to get out of our own way. Surrender comes in different forms. It may be to our creator or it may be to a spouse, co worker or friend. We should never feel shame in surrender. Surrender is a conscious acknowledgement that we have given our best but recognize our limitations in a given challenge. Rather than fight the current, we must SWIM TO THE LEFT!

Riptides are scary. Once we know how to release ourselves into safer water they will no longer hold power over us. Having a healthy respect for nature is always a good idea but having a healthy respect for ourselves is where the real magic happens. Here’s to swimming in the ocean!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

ONE RUG AT A TIME, A Dogs Journey To Inner Peace…John Page Burton

A year ago this month Diana and I adopted a dog from The Humane Society of The White Mountains. Our new “fur buddy” had been significantly abused and for Mr. Deeks (his new name) the world was an extremely dangerous place where the next kick, punch or worse could come at any moment. He had been found roaming the woods with his brother. Both dogs were extremely malnourished, scarred and understandably mistrusting of humans. Upon arriving at our home, Mr. Deeks instantly found a specific place in the living room that he deemed safe, curled up in a ball and spent the majority of his first week anchored to this “comfort zone”. We fed him by hand. A week later we adopted a companion for him, a little puppy who we named Kensi. From the moment Kensi arrived in our home she and Mr. Deeks hit it off and we can’t help but credit her whimsical nature for bringing out the “inner puppy” in Mr. Deeks.

This past weekend Diana and I paid a visit to our friends Tom and Judy. Our dogs love to interact with their dogs and it quickly becomes a circus atmosphere as all of the dogs are rescues, with each dog exhibiting their own unique set of challenges and triggers. For example, Mr. Deeks is very cautious when he encounters sliding glass patio doors. On Saturday morning, “the humans” and all of the other dogs were in the living room area, that is except for Mr. Deeks who was standing in front of the sliding glass patio door making a familiar squeaking sound that lets us know he is afraid. I encouraged him to come to me. Initially, he put one paw across the door frame and quickly pulled it back. This process went on for several minutes. I continued to encourage him. Eventually, he stuck his head and two paws through the door frame but quickly withdrew to the safety of the patio. I continued to speak words of encouragement to my buddy. A few minutes later the squeaking sounds began in earnest and much to my amazement Mr. Deeks was standing on the first of three throw rugs placed between the patio door and the opening to the living room. He looked at me and again “bolted back to the safety of the patio but this time he quickly returned to the first throw rug. With his squeaker in full force he reached his paw toward the second throw rug, closed his eyes and launched onto rug #2. By now all of “the humans” were cheering him on. He quickly bolted back to the safety of the patio. Kensi began making her own unique little squeaking sounds and before we knew what had happened Mr. Deeks was now standing on rug #3. This time instead of racing back to the patio he began to extend his paw across the door frame leading into the living room. After about 30 seconds, he bolted back to the safety of rug #2. Yes, I said rug #2. Deeks had established a new safety zone. Finally, he looked at all of his raving fans, turned his squeaker up full volume, closed his eyes and made a dead run for the couch. Mr. Deeks was safely in my lap. Cheers went up and his sister Kensi began licking his face. Mr. Deeks had just experienced a major BREAKTHROUGH in Tom and Judy’s living room. For the rest of our visit Mr. Deeks cruised around the house, stood in line for treats and bascially acted like he owned the place. His courage combined with a great deal of encouragement and acceptance from Kensi and “the humans” had led Mr. Deeks to finally leave his comfort zone and enter a brave new world of endless possibilities. He had built new muscles of courage.

How many of us “humans” live in a world of fear and doubt? Our life experiences have left us feeling frightened and alone. We don’t know who to trust and so we cling tightly to our comfort zones. Much like Mr. Deeks, we desire to expand our world and experience what lies on the other side of the “patio door” but we end up giving in to our fears and we return to the patio feeling even more frustrated and defeated. All of us can learn a great deal from the journey of Mr. Deeks. Here are a few of my takeaways from the BREAKTHROUGH I witnessed on Saturday.

*We ALL need a companion, someone who is there to pick us up when we are down. (They may not lick our face but we know they love us unconditionally and accept us for who and where we are) We ALL need to know that we have “raving fans”, people who cheer us on as we build our muscles of courage. IF YOU DO NOT NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW PLEASE FIND SOMEONE WHO DOES AND BE THIS PERSON FOR THEM.

*We are not our past. People can be cruel. They can do very unconscious things to us. We must show ourselves grace and keep moving toward the light. There a far more amazing, loving, caring, understanding, supportive people than there are cruel people. We must give ourselves permission to trust again, albeit one validation at a time. This is often a very slow process but one we must engage in if we desire to find inner peace. We must be willing to approach our desires and goals ONE RUG AT A TIME. Once we experience this BREAKTHROUGH our patio doors will never hold us hostage again. We now know what lies on the other side and IT IS GOOD!

*We must show grace to ourselves and others. Saturday was not the first attempt by Mr. Deeks to cross through a sliding glass patio door. Prior to Saturday he had never done it before. We have encouraged him to join us on our deck at both our mountain and city homes and although he has stood at the door and squeaked he has always retreated back to the safety of the living room couch. With every failed attempt we have shown him grace and let him know that the patio was his to enjoy as well as ours. We never placed him out there against his will because we knew that this would keep him from ever having a patio BREAKTHROUGH. We showed him grace and didn’t make him feel bad because he was afraid. This continued grace allowed him to finally experience his BREAKTHROUGH on Saturday.

We were ALL born into a different set of circumstances. None of us are any better than anyone else! We are ALL children of God who have traveled down different, sometimes painful paths. Our challenge is to live our lives in a manner that prioritizes grace and unconditional love. Strength doesn’t come from inflicting pain, strength is born from compassion. BTW….Since returning back to our mountain home, Mr. Deeks has routinely traveled back and forth through the sliding glass patio door and now spends much of his time lounging in a patio chair. Go figure, he has expanded his world!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.