Five Invitations

“I have come to know that death is an important thing to keep in mind – not to complain or to make melancholy, but simply because only with the honest knowledge that one day I will die can I ever truly begin to live.”

– R.A. Salvatore 

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For those of you who missed my last newsletter, I’m posting it here.  There are links to articles and lots of exciting news about upcoming events.  If you want to sign up for my newsletter, you can sign up here – under ‘Stay Inspired.’ 

 

Welcome to This Way Up!

Thank you for being part of this community! Keep reading for more on what death has to teach us about living life, news about upcoming summits, and updates about the This Way Up Audio Book! You can always find me at ThisWayUpBook.com.

What Can the Dying Teach Us if We Are Willing to Listen?

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Once again I have so much to be grateful for in what my sons teach me. This time, I am grateful for both of them pushing me to explore the wonders of podcasts. Of course I have listened to podcasts, I’ve even been interviewed on several, but it’s been a half-hearted effort. On their last trip home, they downloaded a podcast app and steered me to several podcasts they enjoyed. Since then, I have been playing podcasts on every trip in my car. I’m hooked! Mind you, as most of you know, I’m an addict at heart—so everything I do, I often overdo! But at this point, I’m loving it and it doesn’t seem to be doing me any harm.

The first podcast that my sons turned me on to was an interview with Frank Ostaseski, a leader in the field of hospice and end-of-life care, on a podcast called Waking Up with Sam Harris. But actually Tara Brach is much more my style, so I then listened to her interview with Ostaseski on her podcast, Tara Talks.  I was so affected that I bought Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations.

I explored this concept, learning about life by listening to the dying, in my latest article on Thrive Global. The message in the book has five invitations to us based on what Ostaseski has learned from people who are dying:

  1. Don’t Wait.
  2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing
  3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience
  4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things
  5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind

Don’t Wait. The idea of the first invitation seems obvious.  If you are dying, you can’t wait to do things; there is an immediacy to everything.  But this has a message to all of us:

“This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness.  We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, ‘I love you’ more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.”

Push Away Nothing. When I think about the second invitation, that feels very hard.  My logical mind says, but what about the horrible stuff?  I don’t want to welcome the bad stuff. Ostaseski explains, though:

In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality. At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.”

Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience is a good invitation for me. I often hold back, thinking I have nothing to offer here or I don’t know how to deal with this. I believe if I can’t contribute some kind of knowledge to something, then I should not contribute. I know this is from ego, that I want to look good if I’m going to contribute. But Ostaseski explains gently:

“We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance. Yet more than once I have found an ‘undesirable’ aspect of myself—one about which I previously had felt ashamed—to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity.”

Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things. The fourth invitation is a wonderful reminder for all of us, I think. After listening to the podcast with Tara Brach, I downloaded another app to help remind me to find a place of rest in the middle of a busy time.  The app, Insight Timer, has meditations on my phone to remind me and aid me in resting.

Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind. The fifth invitation is a Zen flavored-invite, one that describes a mind that’s open and receptive, one that is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations.

“It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge – it’s always there in the background should we need it – but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control.”

These five invitations are a gift to all of us, supportive in our life. They invite us to continue to explore and understand what it means to be alive now; not just to cope with death, but to live.

And I whole heartedly agree with Ostaseski, they are relevant guides to living with integrity. We need to live these invitations: to be truly understood, they need to be lived and realized through action. They indeed are “five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.”

If you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to watch the conversation between Tara Brach and Frank Ostaseski. It is enlightening and inspiring!

Upcoming Summits: You’re Invited!

I am so excited to be participating in two events in March.  Each summit or master class is completely free and full of amazing information from a host of experts.

Authenticity Is Power: Get out of your own way and into success, by being yourself always!

Live online now.

Learn more and join the event.

Reclaim Your Life: Get Clear, Simplify and Do Something Worthwhile

Going live March 12.

Learn more and join the event.

This Way Up Will Soon Be an Audio Book!

This Way Up is being made into an audio book! The book is being narrated by the fantastic character actress, Janice Kent. When it is ready, it will be available on my Amazon page and I will send a special link for the book in my newsletter. I can’t wait to share this new version of the book with you!

Buy the Book!

“Author Patti Clark is a cross between Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron.”

This Way Up is a story of healing for women who yearn to lead a fuller life, accompanied by a workbook to help readers work through personal challenges, discover new inspiration, and harness their creative power. . .

Women spend so much of life nurturing and giving to others that when they find themselves alone—because of an empty nest, the end of a marriage, or the death of a partner—they often struggle with feeling purposeless. This Way Up provides a step-by-step way out of this sense of loss and into a life filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and joy.

Buy Online
 

 I’d like to close this post with a guided meditation by Tara Brach called Opening and Calming.  It is well worth the watch/listen.  It is soothing and calming.

 

Thank you for being part of this movement. Watch this space for more in the months ahead.  Stay informed about all of my upcoming events.  Sign up for my newsletter here.

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What the Dying Can Teach Us About Living

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.”
– Leonardo da Vinci 

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Once again, I have so much to be grateful for, in terms of what my sons have taught me. This time, I am grateful that both of them pushed me to explore the wonders of podcasts. Of course I have listened to podcasts, I’ve even been interviewed on several, but it’s been a half-hearted effort. On their last trip home, over Christmas, they downloaded a podcast playing app and steered me in the direction of several podcasts that they enjoyed. And since then, I have been playing podcasts on every trip I take in my car. I’m hooked! Mind you, as most of you know that have been reading my blog for awhile,  I’m an addict at heart, so everything I do, I often overdo! But at this point, I’m loving it and it doesn’t seem to be doing me any harm.

The first podcast that my sons turned me on to was an interview with Frank Ostaseski on a podcast called Waking Up with Sam Harris. But Actually, Tara Brach is much more my style, so I then listened to her interview with Ostaseski on her podcast, Tara Talks.

I was so impacted that I bought Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations. A wonderful book that I highly recommend.

In an article in Daily Good, Ostaseski describes his journey:

“Over the past thirty years, as the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, people who were dying generously invited me into their most vulnerable moments. They made it possible for me to get up close and personal with death. In the process, they taught me how to live. I distilled their wisdom into five heart lessons for living fully and without regret.”

The message in the book has five invitations to us from what Ostaseski has learned from people dying.

1. Don’t Wait.

2. Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing

3. Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience

4. Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things

5. Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind

The idea of the first invitation, Don’t Wait, seems obvious. If you are dying, you can’t wait to do things, there is an immediacy to everything. But this has a message to all of us:

“This idea can both frighten and inspire us. Yet, embracing the truth of life’s precariousness helps us to appreciate its preciousness. We stop wasting our lives on meaningless activities. We learn to not hold our opinions, our desires, and even our own identities so tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have in front of us right now. We say, “I love you” more often. We become kinder, more compassionate and more forgiving.”

When I think about the second invitation, Push Away Nothing, that feels very hard. My logical mind says, but what about the horrible stuff? I don’t want to welcome the bad stuff. Ostaseski explains though:

“In welcoming everything, we don’t have to like what’s arising or necessarily agree with it, but we need to be willing to meet it, to learn from it. The word welcome confronts us; it asks us to temporarily suspend our usual rush to judgment and to be open, to what is showing up at our front door. To receive it in the spirit of hospitality. At the deepest level, this invitation is asking us to cultivate a kind of fearless receptivity.”

Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience is a good invitation for me. I often hold back thinking I have nothing to offer here, I don’t know how to deal with this. I believe if I can’t contribute some kind of knowing to something, then I should not contribute. I know this is from ego, that I want to look good if I’m going to contribute. But Ostaseski explains gently:

“We all like to look good. We long to be seen as capable, strong, intelligent, sensitive, spiritual, or at least well-adjusted. Few of us want to be known for our helplessness, fear, anger, or ignorance. Yet more than once I have found an “undesirable” aspect of myself — one about which I previously had felt ashamed — to be the very quality that allowed me to meet another person’s suffering with compassion instead of fear or pity. It is not only our expertise, but exploration of our own suffering that enables us to build an empathetic bridge and be of real assistance to others. To be whole, we need to include and connect all parts of ourselves. Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.”

The fourth invitation, Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things, is a wonderful reminder for all of us I think. After listening to the podcast with Tara Brach, I downloaded another app to help remind me to find a place of rest in the middle of thing. The app, Insight Timer, has meditations on my phone to help me find rest in the middle of things, to remind me and aid me to rest.

“We often think of rest as something that will come to us when everything else in our lives is complete: At the end of the day, when we take a bath; once we go on holiday or get through all our to-do lists. We imagine that we can only find rest by changing our circumstances.”

 

And the fifth invitation, Cultivate “Don’t Know” Mind is a Zen flavored invite, one that describes a mind that’s open and receptive, one that is not limited by agendas, roles, and expectations.

“It is free to discover. When we are filled with knowing, when our mind is made up, it narrows our vision and limits our capacity to act. We only see what our knowing allows us to see. We don’t abandon our knowledge — it’s always there in the background should we need it — but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control. The night before my open-heart surgery, my 26-year-old son Gabe and I had a tender conversation. Our sharing was filled with reminiscing, kindness, and laughter. At one point, Gabe became quite serious and asked, “Dad, are you going to live through this surgery?” Now I love my son beyond words, and like any father, I wanted to reassure him that I would be just fine. I felt into my experience before answering. Then I heard myself say, “I’m not taking sides.” My answer surprised us both. What I meant was that I wasn’t taking sides with life or death. Either way, I trusted that everything would be okay. I don’t know where the words came from; they spilled from me without censorship. I wasn’t trying to appear sage or to be a good Buddhist. Yet we both were reassured by my response. I think it was because we knew we were in the presence of the truth spoken with love.”

These five invitations are a gift to all of us, supportive in our life. They invite us to continue to explore and understand what it means to be alive now; not just to cope with death, but to live. And I whole heartedly agree with Ostaseski, they are relevant guides to living with integrity. Yes, we need to live these invitations, to be truly understood, they need to be lived and realized through action. They indeed are “five invitations for you to be fully present for every aspect of your life.”

The conversation with Tara Brach and Frank Ostaseski is truly inspirational, and I invite you to take the time to watch it now.

 

Let me know your thoughts on these Five Invitations.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Live Life Fearlessly!

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

– Rabindranath Tagore

The importance of love – and remember to love yourself first;  Live life fearlessly; and remember love keeps you safer than fear does. What wonderful messages.

I have been preparing for my book launch, so sending out short writing pieces about finding purpose after feeling purposeless; about empty nest and other major life transitions; and a lot about the Seven Tools from my book, This Way Up as I get closer to my book launch date (pssst it’s on April 26th if you didn’t know!  You can order it now on Amazon)

I talk about the concept of finding purpose, about love being stronger than fear and about living fearlessly to just about anyone who will listen.  So I was quite thrilled when my friend Jayne sent me the link to a TED Talk called Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani.  Anita went into a coma and almost died – and now thanks the cancer which riddled her body for saving her life.  Moorjani states it was that near death experience which taught her the meaning of life.  Moojani explains that what we focus on, what we pay attention to is what our life reflects.

She states that the five main lessons she learned from that experience are:

  1. The main thing we should be focusing on is Love.  And it is vital to love ourselves first.
  2. Live Life Fearlessly (and remember love keeps you much safer than fear does!)
  3. Focus on humor, laughter and joy
  4. Life is a gift.  Live each day as a gift.
  5. Always be yourself. Be the best You that You can be.

I think this TED talk is amazingly inspiring.  Thank you Jayne for sending me the link – and thank you all for watching it.  I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

 

 

I’d love to hear about ways that you life fearlessly.  And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

Be Kind Now!

”Our lives are not our own.  We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”

– David Mitchell (Cloud Atas)


I watched an amazing movie last night with my sons, Lukas and Devin.  The movie is called Cloud Atlas – if you get a chance, it is well worth watching.  It’s a long, ambitious film – it has to be – since it’s based on the tome by David Mitchell.  Check out the trailer, even that is pretty epic!  At times it is confusing, but the main point comes through loud and clear – as our lives intersect, karma prevails, and one way or another our kindnesses or our cruelty come back to us. It is a bold and creative book/movie about karma, unity and connection.

I love the concept to Pay it Forward (another wonderful movie if you haven’t already seen it.) Practicing random acts of kindness makes such perfect sense to me. And even if we really don’t reincarnate, and even if karma does not prevail, paying it forward and being kind just feels good.  So how about we all just Be Kind Now! And with that in mind, I want to close with a wonderful video clip about paying it forward.  Enjoy!

I’d love to hear any stories of how you’ve experienced kindness being paid forward.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

What would you regret?

“Remorse is the poison of life.”

– CHARLOTTE BRONTE


I was having a rich conversation the other night with a friend about regret.  She asked me, if you died right now, what would you regret most? And honestly, I don’t think I would have many regrets.  I did some stupid things in my life, but nothing horrific, and most of the stupid stuff actually made me who I am.  And now at 55 years old, I like my life and I feel like I’m pretty much living according to my values.  And that feels really good. The most important thing to me is my connection to people – to my sons, to my husband, to my sister and my niece, to my friends. And I feel like I work hard to keep those connections.  I feel like I’ve worked hard to connect with my authentic self, and to not give myself away anymore.

And in terms of regrets for what I haven’t done yet – well I have done most of the things that I have really wanted to do in this lifetime – I have a wonderful family and two amazing children, I have a home that I love, I have travelled a lot – I feel very blessed . . . although sigh, to be honest if I was dying before my book got published, that would be a regret.

We were having the conversation after she had sent me this article in The Guardian:

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The top regrets seem to reflect remorse over a life where people did not honor their authentic selves, where they let the pressure of others and of expectations rule how they lived. I think it is a good question to ask a friend, or oneself – If this were your last day of life, what would you regret? Am I living my life in line with my authentic self?  Do I have the courage to truly be myself and live my life according to my highest values?

The same day that I had that conversation with my friend, another friend sent me an email with this link for THE OVERVIEW EFFECT.  And although at first it seemed unrelated to the conversation about regrets, after watching it, I realized it is deeply connected.  It is about unity and compassion and caring.  And what greater regret could any of us have than to regret destroying our home, this beautiful planet.

What would you regret?  Are you living a life true to yourself?  Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

Living Life to the Fullest . . . Now!

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

– James Dean


James Dean instructs us to live as if you’ll die today.  Wonderful sentiment, but how many of us really do live life to the fullest NOW?  A lot of us say, I’ll live life to the fullest when I (fill in the blank) – when I win lotto, when I get that new job, when I find my soul mate . . .

I’ve been reading a memoire by a friend of mine (check out her inspirational blog,  Lois McCullough)  This memoire, and her blog to some extent, chronicle the journey of a woman who nurses her dying husband, and then has to deal with the grief but continute to stay present and be there for her young sons.  It’s a brave and honest account of one woman’s experience dealing with the death of a loved one.

Lois’s memoire But You Cope So Well has been a great reminder to me to stay present and to live as if I might die today, and to cherish those I love because they might die today as well.  It’s not easy staying in that place, so many little things get in the way.  But in my opinion if we don’t do it now, it easily could be too late.

While contemplating all of this – death, living life to the fullest, appreciating my own life and the lives of those I love – I did some research and found this remarkable woman, Candy Chang.  She mirrors my sentiments when she says: “Thinking about death clarifies your life.”

Please take the time to watch this short TED Talk.  Her talk, Before I Die I Want To is moving and inspirational.

 

 

Please let me know how you fill in your own blank:  Before I Die, I Want To . . . .  And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Here’s to aging with adventure!

“It happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, but we all end up mutilated. Most women know this feeling of being more and more invisible everyday.”

– Chuck Palahniuk


I have to admit, it always surprises me a bit when people comment on my blog, or when people who know me and read my blog, stop me on the street to comment. I guess sitting here typing feels a bit like I’m in a vacuum, and then getting the affirmation that there are actually people out there reading this – well it’s a bit startling.

At any rate, my last post on aging seemed to have resonated with quite a few people, so I decided to continue my research.  And I was glad I did, because I came upon this wonderfully inspirational talk by Jane Fonda, entitled Life’s Third Act.  In this talk, Ms. Fonda uses the analogy of life as a staircase:

“I have come to find that a more appropriate metaphor for aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity.  Age not at all as pathology; age as potential.”

I love that – Age not as pathology, but as potential.  
That was what I heard from the women and men who commented on my last post, either in person or on the site. That people, as they are aging, are tending toward emabracing life even more.

I also loved her reference to neuroplasticity:

“Perhaps the central purpose of the third actis to go back and to try, if appropriate,to change our relationship to the past. It turns out that cognitive research shows when we are able to do this, it manifests neurologically – neural pathways are created in the brain. You see, if you have, over time, reacted negatively to past events and people, neural pathways are laid down by chemical and electrical signals that are sent through the brain. And over time, these neural pathways become hardwired, they become the norm – even if it’s bad for us because it causes us stress and anxiety.

If however, we can go back and alter our relationship, re-vision our relationship to past people and events, neural pathways can change. And if we can maintain the more positive feelings about the past, that becomes the new norm. It’s like resetting a thermostat. It’s not having experiences that make us wise, it’s reflecting on the experiences that we’ve had that makes us wise – and that helps us become whole, brings wisdom and authenticity. It helps us become what we might have been.”

I circle back now to Chuck Palahniuk’s quote: Most women know this feeling of being more and more invisible everyday. This feeling is deeply explored in my book: A Woman’s Guite to Transformation- perhaps it’s central theme.  So that quote resonates deeply for me.  But if as we age, we can redefine ourselves and our relationships, imagine the liberation!

“Women start off whole, don’t we? We are the subjects of our own lives. But very often, many, if not most of us, when we hit puberty, we start worrying about fitting in and being popular. And we become the subjects and objects of other people’s lives. But now, in our third acts, it may be possible for us to circle back to where we started and know it for the first time. And if we can do that, it will not just be for ourselves. Older women are the largest demographic in the world. If we can go back and redefine ourselves and become whole, this will create a cultural shift in the world, and it will give an example to younger generations so that they can reconceive their own lifespan.”

So this reclaiming of self, this changing of our relationship to the past, can have a wider impact than simply rewiring our own brain, it can perhaps create a cultural shift in the world!  Wow.  How cool is that!

So to quote my old high school friend Doug Haussler: Here’s to aging with adventure!

 

 

I hope you enjoy Jane Fonda’s Ted Talk, especially for those women out there over 50. Such a hopefull message!

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

If it were up to me . . .

“Death is a billion-dollar business. They can’t even pass a law where it takes seven days to get a gun. Why don’t you have to go through the same kind of screening you do to get a driver’s license? It’s totally insane.”

– John Cusack


A break in my series on Understanding Happiness on iTunes U.  I cannot focus on happiness in light of the events in Colorado.  It is heart breaking.

A wonderful post on Common Dreams.

A wonderful video by Cheryl Wheeler.  Tell your friends to watch it. The Gun Violence has got to stop!

 

Lifelong Learning!

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

– Benjamin Franklin


WOW!  I am so excited!  My son Lukas just introduced me to iTunes U.  Have any of you had the opportunity to explore iTunes U?  It is absolutely amazing – such an awesome free resource! For a tutorial go to http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/

So much knowledge and information at iTunes U.  There are lectures and talks on absolutely every subject from most Universities in the US, and a few from Europe and the rest of the world.  I found an exciting series of lectures in  Psychology called: Understanding Happiness. There are mind boggling lectures in Science on subjects like Quantum Physics and String Theory. The basics are also offiered – like Intro to Psychology or Intro to Philosophy from Standford or Berkeley.  One of my favorite lectures that I’ve watched on iTunes U is:  On Death by Professor Shelley Kagan at Yale. Professor Kagan’s course has lectures, slides, and lecture notes – it’s an entire course!  And it’s free!

Some of the lectures are available on YouTube (such as the the Intro to Death by Professor Kagan that I include here)  Some of the talks are TED talks and available on TED. But many others are only available on iTunes U, full university courses.  There are no excuses now to say that we cannot continue to learn through our lifetime.  The only problem that I have found is that there are just not enough hours in a day to explore all the topics available on iTunes U!

Please let me know your thoughts Professor Kagan’s course On Death, and I’d love to hear about any course at iTunes U that you have experienced.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.