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Life Lessons from Facebook


Life Lessons from Facebook

Life Lessons from Facebook
Guest post by Marla Ernest

I like to think that everything, positive or negative, is a learning experience. Recently, proof of this came to light in the most uncommon way. It was a simple social media post. It went like this.

Friend: Killing me softly with his song. : (

Me: Well, don't listen to that song then. Time to change stations.

Friend: I totally love the song.

Me: And I totally understand. Sometimes, you have to listen to the sad song until the dance music starts.

Friend: Yeah. The sad song lasted like 2 seconds. Then, I was listening to Prince, "Kiss."

It's a metaphor, right? Do you see what I see? Hmmmmm . . . the inner voice speaks deep and powerful truths. 

We can choose to focus on the sadness, or we can choose to focus on the blessings in life. Recently, I have had some very painful experiences that have brought grief to my life. Yes, I walk through that pain. I grieve, I cry, I hurt. Then, I find the good in the situation. When I went through my double mastectomy, I could have lived in the place where I mourn the loss of body parts, but I choose to move past the illness and live in the place where I am extremely grateful that the cancer was caught early. I choose to focus on the fact that I get to continue to live and grow. When I lost my uncle to a lung infection, I wept.

I could have lived in the place where my heart hurts, because he is no longer here with us, but I choose to move past the grief and live in the place where I enjoy the memories I have of conversations about family and life. I choose to focus on the relationship that I was lucky enough to have with him. Sadness is there. We have to pay attention to it and move through it. But, oh those happy times. They are the things in life that shine, that bring us hope, that remind us why we're here.

Let the sad songs play. Then, dance, my friends! Dance!

Marla Ernest, M.Ed., is a breast cancer survivor, mother, grandmother, and educator. When she isn't writing for her blog, she is making art and jewelry specializing in healing stones. Marla is an English as a Second Language learning facilitator and holds a Masters degree in Education with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction. Her goal is to help others heal their physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies through humor, honesty, and the gifts of our earth.


Live and Love Like a Dog


Live and Love Like a Dog

Live and Love Like A Dog
Guest post by J.P. Rippetoe

Even, and perhaps most importantly, when you act in ways that are out of alignment or cause yourself pain, show unconditional love.

There are two movies that are quoted on a regular basis in our house. The first is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “The blessing” makes a regular appearance at family dinners and whenever I finish a project around the house, I proudly announce that I “fixed the newel post.” The other movie that we quote often is Steele Magnolias. This is partly due to my having worked on a production of the play years back and six months of rehearsals has embedded the lines firmly into my long-term memory. Recently the quotes from Steele Magnolias that have been coming forward most are from the funeral monologue. Our house is grieving the loss of one of our dearest friends, fellow healer and our soul sister, and, like M’Lynn, I wanted to know why. I feel blessed that as I meditate, I can often get answers, and in this case I did. The Universe let me know she had learned the lessons that she needed to learn in this life and that the lessons that she had for we who remain would best be learned through her crossing the Rainbow Bridge. One of the lessons for me is to learn to live and love like a dog, which seems apropos considering she was a veterinarian.

Be Fiercely Loyal to Your Pack

Your pack is going to be defined by you. For some, it will include a large number of family and friends, for others it will be a small clan. Regardless, loyalty is key. When a member of your pack is hurt, you circle around them and do all you can to help them to heal and protect them. This loyalty goes beyond protecting them from external forces. We all know that there have been times when we have said and done things that have been hurtful to others or ourselves. In those times, our pack needs to remain fiercely loyal to us and help us to not only see the truth of our actions but also (and maybe more importantly) see the value in who we are. It also may be the case that a member of the pack may need to have time away from the pack. This should only be done when there is discord being created and I would suggest working to resolve the issue in other ways prior.

Love Unconditionally

There is no greater example on this planet of unconditional love than a dog. I don’t think it is at all a coincidence that dog and God use the same letters. I have seen first hand this love from my own dogs. When things were the darkest in my life, my dogs loved me when it seemed that others (including myself) could not. Even in those rare times when I have been less than the ideal doggy daddy, I have been quickly forgiven and loved. Take this example and start to apply it to your pack and the world in general. When your relational partner snaps at you for doing or not doing what was expected, show unconditional love. When someone cuts you off in traffic, show unconditional love. Even when you act in ways that are out of alignment or cause yourself pain, show unconditional love.

Shake It Off

With this lesson, I am not referring to the annoyingly catchy Taylor Swift song that is most likely stuck in your head right now. I have watched my dogs when they clash with the cat or each other over something. In the moment, there is a lot of growling, barking and showing of teeth. Once it is all over, they walk away, shake their body and move on. Some level of conflict is inevitable, but how long you carry that conflict is a choice. When it shows up in your life, be able to share your point of view, try to understand the opposing perspective and, when it’s all done, shake it off.

Take Long Walks in Nature With Your Pack

We live in a digital age. As I write this, I have two laptops, an iPhone, iWatch and two headsets within easy reach. Despite all the technology, we are losing our connection with each other. The time to put the tech down and move into nature is at hand. I find that when I walk in nature with my pack, magic happens. Conversations start and flow in directions that it would never go in other circumstances. I am not sure if it’s the closeness to the plants, the abundance of fresh air or the exercise, but our hearts open in nature. Use this to your advantage, get out on a regular basis and connect with our planet and each other.

Never Miss a Chance to Wag Your Tail

Celebrate. Do it often and for as many things as you can. This is showing the Universe gratitude for the gifts it brings to you, so be grateful for everything! If your friend calls and offers to take you out for lunch – celebrate. When you find money, be it $20 or a penny – celebrate. When you are playing volleyball and the other team wins – celebrate with them. Never miss a chance to celebrate for at the end of our lives we will not be remembered for how much stuff we have, but for the memories we have created with our pack. A surefire way to create those memories is to celebrate – wag your tail.

As I move forward in my life and heal the hole in my heart left by the loss of my friend, I know that I will do so as a better man for having known her and for having learned her lessons. I appreciate my pack more now than ever before. I am sure to let them know how much I love them. I hope that you can incorporate these lessons as well. Above all else, be kind, to those in your life and to yourself.

J. P. Rippetoe, the Alchemist Life Coach, is a blogger, writer, public speaker and the owner/co-founder of NRG Concepts ( Through his company, he takes a holistic approach to providing solutions for his clients, bringing balance and bliss into their personal experience. This is done through programs that include intuitive one-on-one coaching, creating community through small group life classes and assisting clients with the energy of their space through interior decor consultation, energy clearing and clutter cleansing. J. P. lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his co-creator, Gregory, their two cats, Mischa and Sasha, and two dogs, Botti and Nicky.


Momentary Peace:  Breathing Through Pain


Momentary Peace: Breathing Through Pain

Momentary Peace:  Breathing Through Pain
By Kary Schumpert

I am grieving the loss of my dad.

This grief is a bit of a surprise. I didn’t know that I would feel like a I hit a brick wall, over and over again. In the last three months since his death, I haven’t slept. I haven’t been able to read a book, and I usually read one or two in a week. I have had faulty judgement. I have made some bad decisions. I have been walking in a fuzzy, cloudy, fog, which is a bit ironic, since I live in sunny, bright Albuquerque.

They say grief can be unexpected and surprising. Yes, I concur. There is pain and I can see how people can get lost in it. How can we honor our grief and our pain, but not get lost? How can we face our feelings, and yet not wallow? A moment of clarity struck the other day, while I was running.

I love running and recently joined a running group, because I thought I could use some companionship in an activity that I usually do solo. While my mind spins, I need exercise to feel right again. Right now, casual companionship feels wonderful, because I feel most alone.

Monday night, we met at the track and divided up into smaller groups, based upon our goals for the evening. Some were running/walking. Some were walking. I placed myself in the running group. That night’s run was three miles. I started out by myself in the middle of the group, but running solo. The group coach and another woman were slightly ahead of me. They slowed down to my pace and we all ran together. Their conversation resumed and then I joined in. In running, a good way to measure your pace and ease is to see if you can talk while running. I was a bit winded, so we slowed down a bit more and I took a breath.

It was in that moment, the gap in conversation that I realized all I need to do is breathe. Sometimes, it’s harder, while running uphill or running at a faster pace. Sometimes, in the middle of a busy day at work, it can be tricky, but taking a moment to breathe deeply can bring peace.

Why is it that it took a routine run to remind me of something so basic? Lately, it has been all about breathing. I am a newbie to yoga and as I move my way through the poses in a class, I breathe and move into the next pose. On a day when I feel cloudy and confounded by grief, I take a breath and count to 10. In a moment in the car, on the drive home, when a lane is closed and a car rushes in front of me, I am surprised by my anger. Usually, things like that don’t bother me. Then I take a deep breath and make room for that car, plus one more.

One day at the gym, while swimming laps, I felt the effort seemed much more difficult. I then realized my timing and breath were off. If I open my mouth and breathe out in a spurt of bubbles, I don’t take such big gasps when I turn my head up out of the pool.

Breathing helps me in my stumbling meditation practice. When I feel blocked and upset and don’t know which way to move, I realize all I can do is breathe. I will move and breathe myself through this. I will take moment by moment:  up the hills, through the shadows of grief, until I find my way back. I fill the void with a breath, sometimes a gasp.

I will breathe until I sleep, until I read again, until I find myself again. I will breathe. Eventually, I will let go of the pain. For now, though, it reminds me to breathe.

Kary Schumpert
Guest Blogger
New Leaf Meditation Project

Kary Schumpert is an environmental educator and writer living in New Mexico. She loves running, hiking, camping, reading, teaching, writing, and exploring spirituality. Her writing has been published in Elephant Journal, Green Teacher, and Community Works Journal. She keeps a blog at