February 27, 2008

Uplifting video "Get Service" at YouTube

Ever have one of those days where it seems no one cares, and that your life is uniquely sucky?

I used to have those every day, but only for abour 40 years. I really saw myself in the young man portrayed in this video...before and after.

Everything is not as it appears; I'm so glad to know this.

Unfortunately the embed feature of this video has been disabled, so please do go see it at YouTube.com:


©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

February 24, 2008

What Is Love?

I never much enjoyed Valentine's Day. Back in elementary school, I used to give a valentine to everyone in my class, and I received very few back; proof that I wasn't loved. My father would give my mother a large box of chocolates, and a much smaller box to me; proof that he loved her more. When I complained about this, he started getting me a large one too, but that didn't count because I had to ask for it. If he loved me, he would have known. (Besides, he ate most of it.)

Our first Valentine's Day together, my first serious boyfriend gave me a valentine card that was basically a dirty joke. So much for love, I thought.

This year, I received some very sweet valentines (mostly from married friends of both sexes), one naughty one (this time I laughed)...and the most beautiful and tasteful (and very purple, therefore very Carolish) small bouquet of flowers I have ever received from a dear friend who perhaps wants us to become something more, and I don't know that for certain, and it was hard to be gracious about it because I don't know if I want us to be something more, yet I don't want to eliminate this possibility either. Sigh.

"Personalities don't love, they want something." —Byron Katie.

I can see where my personality wants something, always. More accurately, it wants plenty, and it gets depressed when it doesn't get what it thinks it wants.

Mostly, cartoon-character Carol thinks she wants love, and she wants it on her own terms, which are subject to change without notice, and side effects may occur.

So what is love? It can't be what I think it is when I believe I don't have it, because those thoughts do not bring me joy.

In the past, love has meant, "If you loved me you would ____ ." That didn't work.

It has meant, "I need you, I can't be happy without you." Ew.

It has meant, "If you loved me, you wouldn't be so critical of me." Seeing through this lie has been one of the most enlightening realizations of my life.

I don't know much, but here's what I know about love so far.

Love has a life of its own. I'm no good at hating, and I can't help loving. I can try and try to resist love, but it will have its way with me. I can try to write people off, but I can't do it; it's like trying to stop myself from breathing. I tried to write off my mother, my best friend from high school, my exes, my former guru. I can't do it.

That friend who gave me the purple flowers? I've done everything I can think of to discourage him and push him away, and when I don't see him for awhile, I see his face in my mind's eye, and I smile.

I've come to see that love is none of my business.

Love is honest. Last week I listened to six peoples' Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheets about me, and facilitated two of them. The week before, a friend called to say, "You think you are better than I am." I experienced their words as love letters...especially since these friends were brave enough to come to me with their thoughts. I just wept, hearing their hearts. I felt merged with them as one feels with a lover.

By the way, this is how I know The Work works; the same judgments seven years ago would have left me in a morass of hatred and self-hatred. The tears would have come out of pain, and I would have shot back zingers and/or never spoken to these people again.

Love says,
"Carol, you're too fat. Your glasses and hair are all wrong."

I understand; that's so often what I see in the mirror. You must really care about me to want me to look better. Any suggestions?

Love says,
"Carol, I need you to show me your true self."

Thank you. I want to give you that as well...fearlessly. I'm not able to yet, and I'm working on it.

Love says,
"Carol, you want to destroy me."

Oh, yes. I've been there, out of irritation, out of a desire for control, out of competition...in short, out of fear. Thank you for pointing this out to me. It helps me to see that it's not personal, and to realize how much I really do love you.

Love says,
"Carol, you think you are better than I am."

Yes, I have thought so, and that hurts. Thank you for helping me to see where that belief comes from, so that I can stop hurting myself.

It just doesn't get more intimate than this.

What can you say that I haven't thought, that I haven't been? Where do I defend? Thank you for the loving gift of clarity in your criticism.

Love is a murderer.
If Love wanted to call me home, to consume me, wouldn't it come fiercely, an irresistible force that completely unravels me?

Bring it on.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

February 11, 2008

On Blaming Dr. Phil for his Britney Spears Comments: How's That Workin' For Ya?

I just read an interesting article in The New York Times (it came out more than a month ago; okay, so I don't exactly have a finger on the pulse of the nation) called Do The Rules Apply to Dr. Phil? It's about whether or not Dr. Phil McGraw violated the rules of the California state medical board and the non-disclosure rules of Hipaa (the federal act restricting doctors and therapists from sharing patient information). The short story is, Dr. Phil hasn't been licensed in 20 years, therefore what he does is not covered by Hipaa or the state's rules. As long as he doesn't charge anyone for therapy, basically the man can say or do what he likes; and he did. (Just in case you haven't paid attention to the media for the last few months, briefly, Dr. Phil went to see Britney Spears when she was hospitalized, at her parents' behest; and then told the world—as if news reporters hadn't already done it—that she needs medical and psychological help.)

The issue is not that he was wrong in his assessment—so far no one's arguing with that—but that he violated the privacy of Ms. Spears and her family.

I don't understand why everyone is so surprised by this. I mean, do you think Lynne Spears, Britney's mom, has never seen or heard of the Dr. Phil show? Can we accurately surmise that, in having this very famous and unlicensed fellow come to their daughters' hospital room, the family didn't expect or want any "negative" publicity?

Dr. Phil shouldn't exploit vulnerable people, is that true? Watch the show sometime; his guests—who are there voluntarily—air their dirty laundry, he tells them on a broadcast watched by millions that they're nuts and need help, and the people agree with him; that's why they came. The audience loves it; that's why they're his audience. The sponsors love it because of all the people who love it and watch their commercials and buy their products as a result.

Many of us have strong opinions about this. Take a look at the letters to the author of the Times article, overwhelmingly in favor of feeding McGraw to the lions.

I am not defending Dr. Phil’s actions, mind you, nor am I blaming her parents…but, you know, their super-famous kid is having problems, and they allowed a "TV doctor" to get close to the situation. When you see a sign on a fenced yard that says “beware of the dog,” the dog is barking, and you enter the yard anyway, is it reasonable to expect that the dog won't bite? And can we blame the dog—who is, after all, only doing its job—if its does?

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

February 6, 2008

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Did He Pave the Way?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM, was a controversial man, to say the least...beloved of and reviled by many. He wasn't the first yogi from India to make a splash in the Western world (that was probably Swami Vivekananda), but he was, undeniably, one of the greatest influences on the Boomer generation and those that followed, as he did much to bring to light the benefits of a regular centering practice. The Beatles' adherence to him and rejection of him made Transcendental Meditation a concept known, if not understood, to billions of people worldwide. Many if not most of the people I met during my years of spiritual seeking had begun their inner journeys with TM.

Here's my connection to the Maharishi, seemingly small as it is: I tried TM for about five minutes at at 15—albeit without the costly "personal" mantra—when I read about it in a teen magazine. Clearly, it wasn't my path. However, fifteen years later, I was chanting and meditating in an ashram in upstate New York, and meditating every morning at home. I did that for eight years, until my guru was no longer my guru and this school of yoga wasn't my path any longer.

Even more short, and long, and windy roads led me to other doors, with secret passages to many others. I seem to be a lifelong learner; I look forward to following the road that presents itself to me. I've never had to make a decision about any of them. What fun!

We can't know that we'll be asking "Is it true?" on our deathbeds. We can know that whatever we're doing, it will be exactly the right thing. So I, for one, am grateful that Maharishi paved the way for me, and so many others, to find our own way. I love knowing that each of us does that. Om shanti.

"Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear." —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, d. Feb. 5, 2008

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

February 5, 2008

Carol Skolnick's Interview on Healthy Trends Radio

On January 25, 2008, I was interviewed on Healthy Trends Radio, where I discussed The Work of Byron Katie and facilitated host Dr. Romel Axibal on the belief, "My son doesn't love me." We had a blast!

Listen to the mp3 recording here.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.