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From Darkness Into Light: Winter Solstice Edition

From Darkness into Light

This week, in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching Winter Solstice and the turn ever so slightly toward longer days and shorter nights. It’s a shifting out from the darkness and into more light.

Now is an ideal time to reflect on the year to date, and where you may be heading as 2018 approaches. In the quieter moments, what is emerging for you?

It’s a continuum, of course, just like the rotations of the earth, sun, and moon. Between the two polar opposites, or contrasts, lies the fluidity, the flow… It’s a rhythm and a cycle from the internal to the external, and back again. It’s a peeking out, and an emergence — from deep within the earth (ourselves) and out into the world above the surface (out into our external surroundings, relationships, etc.)

So, now is an ideal time to reflect on the year to date, and where you may be heading as 2018 approaches. In the quieter moments, what is emerging for you?

Three Soul Starters

If you’re in my tribe, you’re likely a woman attorney who has placed a lot of emphasis on your career, on your law practice, and on serving your clients. As the year winds down, and Courts too “go dark” for a few days around Christmas and New Year’s, I invite you to devote some sacred time and space to:

1. Consider where things are going well for you in your life and career
2. Envision where you’d like to see some things change, shift, or dissolve
3. Get excited about what your “Dream Theme” for 2018 might be (no need to commit right this minute…let your heart and mind wander for a bit and explore some possible themes that resonate for you)!

To set the stage, I urge you to put in your Calendar now a date and time during the next two weeks where you will allow yourself the opportunity to do this exercise. Rather than thinking that you’ll somehow wake up on New Year’s Day, amongst the typically frenetic energy of a New Year, and that somehow you’ll magically have your year ahead “all figured out” — take advantage of taking a few days off during the holidays to honor yourself and where you’d like to take your life and career the next 12 or 13 moons.

If drafting a yearly plan makes sense to you, feel free to try that on for size. Write it out, map it out…use one of the many “planner” systems available…if that helps you get started. There are all kinds of smart phone apps and digital reminder systems available now; and I remember the days of hard copy Franklin-Covey binders, and those hand-held Palm Pilots. What I know, from my own experiences, however – is that no matter what system you use they serve only as placeholders for your intentions and not as creation generators. Like any good tool, they are only as helpful to the extent that you use them, and use them consistently, and with frequent check-ins throughout the year.

Also, remember that any plans are simply that. They are not iron-clad. And, until you start taking action to implement them, you’re really only making guesstimates, anyway. And, that is more than okay! Be comfortable with knowing and trusting that you will likely, nee nearly always, need to make adjustments along the way. As when commanding a boat as it traverses the waters ahead, you’ll need to use the rudder faithfully and consistently to keep you on course. All systems go – push off from the shore. If you take the space to do so now, at least come January you will have gotten as clear as you can “from the dock” about where you’re ultimately headed. And you’ve envisioned whom you’d like to join you on the adventure, and you’ve packed a few appropriate provisions for the journey. Then, allow the magic of the adventure with all its joys and surprises to take its course!

This will help set you, your life, and your law practice up for success in the coming year. It will help you complete this year and ease into the next one, from a place of feeling calm, centered, assured, strong, and confident.

Illumination time!

Just as with the Winter Solstice, and moving forward from there, what is ready to be revealed? What needs to come out from the shadows and into the light? What needs to be released to lighten the load? What would make for a smoother, more secure, less encumbered voyage ahead? Revisit what you wrote down in response to the Three Soul Starters above, and annotate them now by incorporating into them your “illuminations.”

For your consideration:  What’s your DREAM THEME?

As you reflect on the year to date, and as you begin focusing on where you’d like to be heading as 2018 approaches — notice what emerges for you.

I encourage you to select what I’m dubbing a “Dream Theme” to serve as a guide post and to carry you through from now until this time next year.

You’ll be amazed at what you start to notice, once you select your Dream Theme. I’m curious as to what yours will be!

Your Dream Theme may change shape over the next several weeks…allow it to do so! Right now, mine is something along the lines of strength through vulnerability (or “vulnerable strength,” for short).

Okay, your turn:

What’s your Dream Theme for 2018? What have you come up with so far?

I invite you to SHARE your thoughtsfeelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All rights reserved.
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Staying the course, and the value of course corrections

Staying the course, of course! Or, rather, is it time to make a course correction?

“Without paying close attention, it’s easy to get off-course.”

Sailing back home from Catalina Island

Years back, a friend invited me to join him and a few of his friends for a weekend of sailing.  We left the shores of Marina del Rey, California and sailed across the 33 nautical miles to Catalina island, spent the weekend on the island, and sailed back. There are several tales to be told from that weekend, some more wild and adventurous than others!  For purposes of this blog post, allow me to focus on one aspect of the trip – and that is our return sail from Catalina, across the Pacific Ocean and back home.

Upon the return, I took my turn at the helm.  Clearly, we knew our intention, and our destination –  to get the boat and ourselves back to the mainland and the port from which we had originally departed.  It was at that dock where we had left our cars, too – so we knew that’s where we needed to point the boat.

Steering wheels on a boat work pretty much the same as a car – turn the wheel to the left, the boat heads toward the left; rotate the wheel to the right, the boat points toward the right.  Sounds simple enough?  Yes and no.  Out on the open ocean, conditions are in a constant state of flux, from the weather conditions, to the wind speeds and direction, to the water currents and cross-currents, to the presence of marine life and sea animals.  Additionally, the faster the sailboat is moving, inversely the more precise and subtle the movements needed to adjust the direction of the boat.  (There are lessons to be learned here about momentum, too.  Perhaps that topic shall get its due in a future edition of Soul Notes?)

Other things are simultaneously happening on the boat, too.  While the boat’s wheel moves the rudder, the sails themselves are usually in need of their own tending in the wind.  And, that’s not even taking into account the sway of the boom upon ‘coming about’…be ready to duck, or you may be knocked over by a solid wood beam!  In other words:  pay attention to what’s happening.  Be aware.  You’re the captain!

A slight variance makes for extensive consequences

Without paying close attention, it’s easy to get off-course. Even a less-than-one-degree variance as you’re heading toward your destination, especially over the course of dozens of miles, can mean the end point is miles from your intended target!  That indeed would have notable and undesired consequences.

If we were to veer that far off course, without course corrections, we’d find ourselves facing one of two situations: either we’d end up hitting the shoreline at a point where there’s no place to dock; or, we are able to dock the boat and yet are miles and miles from where we parked our cars.  (The same thing can happen upon leaving your car near the foot of a mountain, and trekking up one of several available hiking trails.  If you take a ‘wrong turn’ on the way back, and end up on a different trail at or near the top – without a course correction, you’ll likely find yourself hiking all the way down the hill only to arrive several miles away from your starting point. Hill bottoms by nature are substantially wider than are hilltops!)  So, the scope of error increases exponentially, unless and until you notice you’re veering off course and make the necessary course corrections along the way.

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  — James Dean

During this time of Summer Solstice, it’s wise to take another inventory of your life, your dreams, and your aspirations. Here’s a reminder from last Winter Solstice’s edition of Soul Notes:

“Review and Replenish
Every 90 days or so (you can use the solstices and equinoxes as an easy guide from the natural world) examine — not only your luggage and passport, but your life’s dreams and ambitions.  Not unlike the natural world, your life is dynamic and fluid.  Quarterly review and replenishment is about right – any more often than that, and you may be disallowing your aspirations their full due.  Your life is worth it – no short-changing or robbing your priorities the opportunity to fully settle in and calibrate. Throughout the year, consider:  How do you feel?  How do you wish to feel? “

For your consideration:

Is it time to course correct?  If so, what areas of your life are in need of calibration?

Did you keep notes in a journal near the end of last year, heading into this year?  Did you review it during the equinox three months ago?

What has emerged or changed for you since then?   Are your desired destinations the same, or have they shifted?  Has something or someone in your life changed in terms of your priorities, and what’s important to you?  Which ones may have veered a bit off track?  What steps will you take to get them back on track?  Make a commitment to yourself to do so, lest you find yourself miles away from your intended destination.

Okay, your turn:

When in your life have you noticed you’ve veered off course?  What, if any, course corrections did you make?  How did that impact the result?  Are there times when you didn’t notice you were veering off course?  If so, what if anything could you have done differently to increase your awareness?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

 © 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Special moments in time

Now is all we have, and it’s a lot!

One oh so enchanting evening

In this edition of Soul Notes we explore what it means to capture those special moments in time. 

Sitting in front of my casita, from atop the cliffs high above the smooth sea, along the central coastline of Mexico:  I am joined by two other caring souls as we look out at the nearly black night sky snuggling the horizon and the calm ocean waters a few hundred feet below.  Directly centered in front of us, along with a canopy of stars above, we see the moon slowly setting over the water.

As the moon descends, its reflection of sunlight forming a crescent shape, it turns with solemn power from a bright white to a warm and welcoming golden hue.  After several magnificent minutes, without even a whisper, the moon’s silhouette slips behind the horizon line and out of view.

We gaze out at the ocean in awe as we humbly appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this moment. We are reverent witnesses to nature and the cosmos, and to all that is.

Okay, so I may wax poetically like this from time to time.  How can I not?  Moments such as these beg for quiet reflection and invited rapture.

As posed by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

To be human is to live with a certain level of consciousness, awareness and appreciation for all that our senses, well…sense.  Our human experience is indeed a sensual one.

In the film “City of Angels” starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, there is a scene in which Seth (Cage’s character, who comes to Earth as an angel), yearns to know the taste of a pear. He asks Maggie (Ryan’s character) to describe it for him.  A bit perplexed by the question, Maggie takes a minute to find the words to convey how the pear tastes to her. Seth later in the movie experiences for the first time, the bodily sensations of hot water hitting his skin while taking a shower.

Simple moments perhaps.  Things we often take for granted.  And, yet they can be profoundly beautiful as well.   This is when our hearts and bodies serve our minds, and not the other way around.

“Where words fall short, experiences stand tall.” –Lori A. Noonan

As a writer, I’m quite fond of words.  Heck, right now you’re reading a blog article, I do realize (grin).

With words, we do our best to capture what our senses innately feel.  We have sensory-based phrases such as:

“In my mind’s eye”

“Touching moments”

“Hot blooded”

“Cold hearted”

“I hear you”

“I see you”

“I feel you”

“Tastes like freedom”

The senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and even a “sixth sense” of intuition and innate knowing -– all provide us an opportunity, in so many ways, to experience life in all its richness and supreme depth.  It’s up to us to tune in and be all that it means to be human.

Our lives are a string of special moments in time.  Let’s be aware of what makes them special; and: feel them, cherish them, and share them with others.  That is my wish for you today, and always.

Okay, your turn:

What examples come to mind or heart when you remember a beautiful moment in time?  Where were you?  What made it beautiful?  Did you take any pictures?  In what other ways did you memorialize that moment?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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From idealist to lost in the practice of law

From idealist to lost in the practice of law

I set off to the University of California at Berkeley as a budding journalist.  What better place, perhaps, than at the home of the Free Speech movement?  Along the way, I spent two college summers in Washington, DC, living in Georgetown, and interning in the nation’s capital.

And, by the end of my junior year, while I enjoyed writing and reporting and broadcasting (I was a news reporter for the campus radio station) – I came to realize that a career in law was what was really calling to me.  One of my majors was in Political Science, and I knew that I desired an advanced degree and was eager to learn more about Constitutional Law, and in particular the First Amendment.

I headed off to Boston University School of Law, where I had been accepted into their joint JD/MA program in conjunction with B.U.’s School of Broadcasting.  Overwhelmed, though, by the high cost of living and at the time even higher interest rates on my law school loans, I made the difficult decision to try to get accepted to another law school in a more affordable town.  I ended up transferring to a law school in Sacramento, California where I could save money on rent.  And, I was able to apply for and did receive an academic based California Graduate Fellowship to help fund my education.  Nonetheless, lacking any proverbial ‘rich uncle’ to assist, I still remained financially challenged.  I continued to incur tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

The topics in law school, though, sometimes thrilled me. I learned even more about the First Amendment, including artists’ rights and other constitutionally protected forms of expression.  I was ‘in the zone,’ thinking I could advocate on behalf of principles that I truly felt passionate about.

If you knew me back then, you would have called me an idealist.  I was also, though, a pragmatist.  I couldn’t end up helping anyone if I couldn’t afford to complete my law school education and pay off my law school debt. Accordingly, I found myself “chasing the almighty dollar.”

I went into what attorneys refer to as “big law,” by taking a job as an associate at a 100-lawyer civil litigation defense firm.  Unlike the plaintiffs’ side, on the defense side, your “worth” is measured in terms of billable hours.  Our time was broken down into one-tenths of an hour.  Each morning, I arrived at the office with tabula rasa – a blank time sheet to be filled out.  It didn’t matter how many hours I had billed the day before.  Each day, I was expected to prove my value to the firm, by racking up another 10-12 hours for that day, and so on, and so on.

We represented large corporations, mostly with regard to breach of contract disputes.  Why did I end up at a large firm, doing something pretty much polar opposite to what I really wanted to do? In a nutshell:  Because it paid well.

My first year as an associate, I brought in a salary that surpassed any dollar amount that my parents ever made. I bought my first-ever and only “brand new car,” right off the lot, with only four miles on it. The firm had a courtroom built right into the center of one of the two floors we occupied in a Century City high rise. It had its own jury box, and two-way mirrors, and we were provided acting classes where we could hone our trial advocacy presence and skills.

Admittedly, at times it was kind of intoxicating.  Parts of it did feed my ego as well as my pocketbook.  That feeling dissipated, though, within a short period of time.  While grateful that I had landed a well-paying job, I became increasingly disenchanted with the practice of law.

Whatever work that I didn’t complete before I left the office at 7 pm, I often finished back at my apartment, sometimes up to 1 o’clock in the morning before needing to rise a few short hours later and beat rush hour traffic downtown to appear at the courthouse in time for an 8:30 am court appearance.

My energy, my enthusiasm, and my eager idealism – the very zeal I initially brought to the practice of law – was waning, and waning fast.  Where did I go astray?  The money’s nice, I kept telling myself, but I also kept thinking that “this can’t be all there is”?  Like a line from that Talking Heads song, I kept saying to myself, “How did I get here?”  This was not my beautiful life; not really.

What was unclear then, and has become readily apparent to me now, is that I was so focused on paying off my law school debt, that I was paying a steep price of a different kind:  I was paying with my sense of purpose, my spirit, my health, and my overall joie de vivre.

Feeling as if my life had been reduced to six-minute increments, even standing in a post office line seemed stressful.  “I could be billing my time, instead of standing here,” I found myself thinking.  Day to day errands had become a source of dissonance and tension.

And the work that I was doing wasn’t fulfilling.  While everyone deserves zealous representation, and I maintained my dedication to doing quality work for our corporate clients, my heart wasn’t in it.  Instead of fighting the good fight to protect journalists, artists, and others deserving of First Amendment protections, I was drowning in the minutiae of whether certain conduct or conditions were considered breaches of contracts, and whether they would withstand judicial scrutiny.

And I was doing so in largely male governing, patriarchal law firm environments, where there were few women partners and no women serving as managing partners.  There was no attention paid to bringing anything remotely akin to a “holistic” approach to running the firm or the practice of law.

While my brain and analytical abilities were put to good use, my consciousness, like a faucet, was shut off.  All in pursuit of a paycheck.

Then even the paychecks stopped.  That firm ended up going bankrupt.  I was one of the few high-billing associates that survived the firm’s earlier lay-offs so that I could help keep the boat afloat.  One fateful Friday, the office manager came into each attorney’s office, one-by-one, and let us know that even though our paychecks had been issued – it would do no good to cash them, as they would bounce.  The bank had cut off the firm’s credit line, and there was no chance of a rebound.  Stunned, and angry, I soon also felt the sting of having to look for another job.

Ever in pursuit of an income to keep my debt from swallowing me whole, I took a job at another, smaller, law firm across town where another attorney friend of mine had headed.  I left that firm within a year.  That firm had all kinds of partner in-fighting.  And, among other things, this is the firm where one of the paralegals one day brought me into his office to show me the handgun, stashed away in his briefcase, that he’d been bringing with him into the office. The firm later fired him.  Throughout, I was billing out at a rate of 2,400 hours/year.  Walking into the office, on most mornings, I couldn’t even make it from the front desk to my office down the hall without someone at the firm needing to tell me about the latest shenanigans going on “behind the scenes.”  I couldn’t stand it any longer.  Practicing law was stressful enough, let alone working in such a turbulent and toxic environment.

One morning, after spending those middle-of-the-night hours breaking down in an emotional heap on the front steps of my local Catholic church (one of those dark nights of the soul, for sure) – I decided to give my two weeks’ notice, and to the shock of the male partners there, set out to find a more promising work environment.  I ended up leaving the practice of law, and never went back.

That was a couple decades ago now,  and I’ve since paved my own way through a creative career path that I’ve carved out for myself, and while not always quite as lucrative, has definitely been more fulfilling.

Upon leaving the practice of law, it was about at that same time that I started to revisit and deepen my spiritual practice. And, recently, through expert guidance and tuning into my own intuition, I’m now discovering that I am fully committed to helping other women attorneys stay in the practice of law.

What if, yes, what if  I had the type of heart centered support from other women attorneys, mentors and role models available to me now, back then, so that:  I didn’t feel so alone; didn’t feel so dismissed for my ‘feminine qualities’; I was valued for more than purely the number of hours I billed; and I was able to cultivate a culture that not only helped transform “big law” firm environments – but in doing so ultimately created more meaningful, heartfelt environments and results for litigants, too?

As a bit of an aside (yet, it’s relevant here!):  Little known fact about me – I’ve coordinated and participated in the painting of murals on walls of buildings all over Southern California.  One of the murals that I helped design and paint was a children’s mural in a room down the hall from the Family Law department in one of the local Superior Courthouses.  Our purpose was to create a welcoming environment for the children to have as a safe waiting room and play area, when their parents (and sometimes themselves) were scheduled to appear in court. Now, THAT was fulfilling.  My heart swelled with every paint stroke as I brought fun pictures of farm animals and cute meadow scenes to life on those walls.

As I write this, I’m remembering and recapturing that which is the true essence of me.  As I continue to listen closely to what my soul is calling me to embody next, I pledge to keep stepping forward to help serve those whom I’m most meant to serve.

Stay tuned!  I’m heading off to a remote setting, and will be “off the grid” for a vitality retreat led by one of my trusted spiritual advisors.  I’ll be taking several days to discern and envision what the “whole”-istic approach to law may look like.  And, I’m designing a program to help women lawyers do exactly that.

My idealism is back, front and center. I look forward to bringing it, and my new programs, to you!

Okay, your turn:

Where or when has your life path taken a sudden or surprising turn?  What would you like to do differently going forward, given what you know now, that you didn’t know then?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Breaking through and bursting forth…

This is a powerful week in the cosmos!  We’re within the arc of a new moon along with an annular solar eclipse (where the sun appears to create a ‘ring of fire’ around the moon).  We’re also within the Chinese year of the fire rooster.  Wow – that’s a lot of heat!

In this edition of Soul Notes we explore the concept, and the reality, of emergence from the dark out into the light.

Breaking through and bursting forth…

As seeds germinate in the soil, they seem to be dormant.  Are they, though, truly dormant?  Before sprouting, seeds are drawing nutrients from the ground, and from oxygen, and water and other natural elements.  Along the way, they are also building up their strength.  It takes power to sprout up through the soil.  It also takes durability for a seed to break through its outer coating or “shell.”  So, it’s in essence an active, deliberate process.  Once that seedling’s toughness has been established, it’s ready to emerge from under the ground and out through the surface. From there, it is ready to grow into its fullest expression.

So, too, with each of us on our own spiritual journeys.

Are you ready to break out of your shell?

NO LONGER CONCEALED: In plain sight.  For all to view.  To see and be seen.

As nature continues to turn toward more sunlight in the Northern hemisphere, what in your life is ready to emerge into the light?  Sometimes this may seem so ominous.  It needn’t be.  Take a deep breath, and think smaller.  Smaller?  Wait a minute, why smaller?  I thought this spiritual stuff is all about ‘bigger is better’?  Yes and no.  Smaller is on the way to bigger.

It’s in the smaller increments of our spiritual growth where we can build our confidence, our strength, our resolve.  It doesn’t need to be all parts of you, all at once.  Take a few moments to inventory what you set out as desires for you to bring into fruition this year.  Or, consider whether there are any “roll-overs” from last year that have been slowly building strength and are ready to burst forth?

Rising and shining:  Emerging from the slumber

As with each daybreak, each sunrise, each of us has the opportunity to awaken from our slumber.  What would you say has been slumbering for you?

For Americans, it may be the very core principles of democracy and its values as a republic that are being held up to the light, and are awakening from their slumber.  (See, for example, last moon’s blog about the March Heard ‘Round the World.)

The phrase “Rise and Shine” likely originated in the bible, later to be adopted by soldiers.  Some say that the “shine” part for soldiers refers to their shining their boots each morning before heading out.  My personal favorite is the British’s usage of the catch phrase “wakey-wakey” as a precedent to invoking “rise and shine” each day.

There’s also the phrase “shake a leg,” and “wiggle a toe.”  This brings awareness from your sleeping state into your waking state. Again, it’s incremental.  It’s not all at once.  Isn’t that a relief!

A yoga session often ends with savasana – a final resting pose which often results in deep meditation.  In bringing you back from savasana (aka corpse pose), the instructor will ask that you begin your ‘return to the room’ by wiggling your fingers and toes.  Then, you’re likely to be prompted to rub together briskly your hands and feet.  This brings awareness (and warmth) back to your body.  You may then be prompted to turn into the fetal position on your right side (allowing your heart to rise first and for your heart to be positioned above your other organs).

This too is done in stages.  And, I love learning the reasons behind why such things are done in a particular way.  As in nature, there’s a purpose to the sequence. It’s a deliberate progression.

All right then:  Are you ready?

Wiggle, wiggle.

Wakey, wakey!

Okay, your turn:

What is emerging for you in your life?  What have you been building the strength for, that is now ready to rise to the surface?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What does it mean to live and lead from the feminine?

Marching to the beat of a resurging drummer

This edition of Soul Notes is devoted to the seemingly ever-emerging resurrection of feminine leadership.  By this, I mean not only the women (and men) who are stepping into leadership positions where they embody feminine principles (creation, co-creation, cooperation, and the like); by this I am also suggesting that each person has the opportunity to “lead with” and from a foundation of feminine principles in their own lives, in their families, and in their communities.

Allow me to clarify that this is not in any way intended to discredit the masculine.  It’s merely an observation that the time has arrived where we’re seeing an uprising toward “tipping the scales” back a bit more toward symbiosis.  The yin yang symbol itself, for example, represents this well, in my opinion.  It’s a swirl of two mirror image shapes of the same size, embracing each other within the one circle.  They complement rather than compete with one another.  They hold each other in balance and securely in place.

So this is what leading from the feminine looks and feels like

As I joined hundreds of thousands of other marchers in Los Angeles on January 21st, it struck me how much this experience represented for me what leading from the feminine looks and feels like.  I found myself coining my own phrase for it – what came to me was:  power humanified.

Power humanified

Although I anticipated that discord and perhaps even violence may erupt on the day of the March, especially in a large urban center, and during such a highly charged political climate right now – I was filled with a reassuring contrast, from start to finish throughout the day.

I found myself immersed in a completely peaceful, collaborative, supportive, and nonviolent expanse of humanity.  From the trains to the roadways to the downtown street crossings, to security officers to the marchers, to the weather even (!), all seemed to be cooperating.  Now, I wouldn’t say that this type of energy is at all limited to one particular gender.  And, I realize that this day may have been an isolated occurrence whose energy and peaceful activism may not last in the coming weeks and months.  Regardless, I can say that at least it is possible; I was there; I witnessed it; I experienced it.  It happened.

It was striking to notice, too, that the men who attended seemed to feel ‘free to let down their shield’ so to speak – the stereotype of men having to be forceful, stoic, and nonexpressive, truly seemed to fall to the wayside.  I watched as the men among us enjoyed being supportive and feeling supportive and supported themselves.  They were welcomed into the fold, and walked side by side, not charging ahead or showing dominance in any way.  This was equal footing.

And let me say a few words about American privilege, whether you are a man or a woman.  Yes, I am an American, born and raised.  I’ve traveled to other countries and other continents, and yet I do not presume to understand fully the experience of women (or men) who have been raised outside the United States.  I do recognize that I’ve been able to travel by way of means and access not readily available to women in many countries. What I find a bit difficult to accept, though, is the suggestion posited by some that because women in some non-American countries suffer unimaginable violence and abuse, that this somehow diminishes the need to increase awareness of the injustices and inequities in our own land.

While twenty-two countries from Argentina, to Chile, to Croatia, to Denmark, to Germany, to Jamaica, to Norway, for example, have had women leaders in recent years as their head of state (Presidents or Prime Ministers), America still has had none.  For a century and a half after the nation’s founding, the women in the United States had no legally recognized right to vote.

Is it about ensuring that any  woman attain the highest office in the land?  No.  Unequivocally, I say no.  I would suggest, though, that a woman who brings abundantly more experience and depth of knowledge than the other frontrunner (man or woman) running, then yes.  I say yes.

Words, and symbols hold power in them

In response to the proliferation of pink hats worn during the marches, a friend of mine posed the following question:  “Isn’t that merely perpetuating gender stereotyping?” My response to his question is this:  When you’re a member of the stereotyped group, there’s power in taking back the words or symbols that have been misappropriated by those who are not members of that group.  There’s strength in reclaiming those words or symbols that have for generations been used to demean, belittle, or make dismissible the members of that group.  So, to that end, I say yes, pink is ours…you can have it, too, thank you kindly, if you would please do so with honor and reverence, and not with arrogance, disgust, or power-over.

Many women, and some men, each have their examples of being “put down” for their gender.  I’ll share one here.  As a civil litigator working for a defense firm in Los Angeles, I was a young associate and member of a three-attorney trial team (myself, and two male partners).  We had just returned from a successful day in court.  I was pleased that we advocated well for our clients, and had emerged victorious.

As the three of us rode back up the elevator together from the underground parking lot to our firm’s office suite, after returning from our day in court, this transpired:  The managing partner, in front of the other male partner, turns to me and says:  “You did a nice job in there today…for…a girl.”  A few minutes later, the two partners then took off to have a celebratory dinner on their own, leaving me to stay at the office to continue working that evening.

Women are “girls.”  And, men are well, men (or ‘dudes’ when leaning toward the more casual).  And, they’re held to different standards of what’s acceptable.  [There’s a case in Northern California, for example, where the judge has issued sanctions against the male attorney who made accusations that the female opposing counsel had purportedly displayed “unlady-like” behaviors during a deposition.]

Even the word “guys” has been blurred to include men and women in ‘mixed company,’ because, well, its true counterpart “gals” doesn’t seem to stand on equal footing, either.

Often men are referred by their last names, while women are referred by their first names.  Women themselves often perpetuate this disparity in usage.  Many have come to accept it simply as commonplace.  A way too subtle, picky difference over which to make a fuss, you may say?  Maybe.  It’s the very subtlety of it, though, that makes it that much more able to escape scrutiny.  It’s not as blatant as “bitch” or “chick” (both of which are animal references, and as such are used as a way to dehumanize).   So, it’s sometimes easier to let slide.

Nonetheless, this pervasive belittling, whether overt or covert, brings with it a price.  That price is the ability of all people to embrace and exhibit all of who they are, with authenticity and dare I say even wild abandon.  Society as a whole suffers.  Repression costs us all.

Vibrating resonance

Despite what some may contend, I vote for the continuation of the conversations that have come to the forefront during this recent election cycle, and its aftermath.  I’m suggesting that the marches worldwide on January 21st were not an isolated moment in time.  Although a powerful day on its own, I’d say it started a “reverb” like no other, at least since perhaps the Civil Rights movement.  As with strumming a guitar, the sound continues its vibration well after the first chord or note is struck.  January 21st was a strong strum heard ‘round the world.

May we continue strumming.  And may we lead from the feminine.

Oh, and remind me to share the story sometime – the one about when I showed up on the lot at Paramount Studios to be an extra in a movie, and ended up playing a suffragette who marched in the streets during a President Wilson campaign rally.

Yep, that happened.  And, so did the marches this past weekend, millions of people strong, worldwide.

Power humanified.

Okay, your turn:

What, if anything, did you take away from the recent marches around the globe?  To what extent do you feel there’s a resurrection of the feminine?  Is this merely spiritual mumbo jumbo, or evidence of a real shift, rooted in practical reality?  What would you like to see more fully emerging in our world going forward?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Forgive a little, forgo a lot

Forgiveness:  For the past, or for the now? 

Close on the heels of Thanksgiving in the United States, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of what it may mean to give thanks for forgiveness – giving forgiveness, that is.  (Although receiving it, too, has its advantages, I suppose. I’ll leave that for another blog post, another new moon.)

forgivenessGive thanks for forgiveness, you say? Oh, that sounds kind of like the celebrating of giving in – giving in to another’s (perceived or actual) transgression upon us, you may be thinking. In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s take a closer look:

Forgiveness may mean letting go of something that occurred recently, or long ago.  Either way, however, it’s not about the past.  Not really, anyway.  It’s about the present. And the future.  Yours.

There’s healing to be gained. And, a lightness of being to be enjoyed.

There’s the removal of the sting, the dropping of the hurt that lingers until you let it go.

Giving up any corresponding resentment, too, sets you free.  It’s liberating as well as empowering.

To carry the burden of nonforgiveness is a heavy weight to bear indeed.  Working through the ‘transgression’ and out the other side allows you to move forward with greater facility and with a lighter spirit.

Make the choice.  Decide.  Honor the hurt feelings, feel them, and then allow them to dissolve as if dropping a capsule into a glass of water.  It’s not an abrupt excising.  Rather, it’s a settling of the sediment, so that it may be sifted down and removed away from the present moment, and from your ongoing experiences.

Hidden Opportunities

There are opportunities, too, hidden in forgiveness.  What possible opportunity could such transgressions afford us, you may be asking?  Through the act of forgiveness, a transgression or the so-called ‘offense’ no longer holds any power over us.  We retain our sovereignty.   Conversely, allowing the offense to remain in our system (our body, our psyche, our spirit) grants it permission to maintain control over us.   We in effect trade in our sovereignty for suffering.

Forgiveness, I would venture to say, is not a “one-and-done.” It’s an ongoing commitment that each of has the good fortune to invoke on a regular basis.  As with other scenarios we’ve explored here on the blog, we now have yet another opportunity to engage in a daily practice!  Try it out:  Start with the “little” offenses you wish to forgive, and work your way up to the “big” ones.  As with any practice, it gets easier through consistency and repetition.

As I’ve shared before in Soul Notes, I lost my dearest brother to suicide.  It’s been quite a few years now since he took his own life; and yet, of course, new reminders continue to pop up from time to time, even all these years later.  My brother’s suicide has afforded me lots of opportunities to  practice forgiveness.  I’ve forgiven him for leaving me and the rest of our family to continue on without him.  I’ve forgiven him for what sometimes has felt to me like his having “taken the easy way out” – of our dysfunctional family, of a morass of financial struggles, and of deep emotional pain and suffering.  I’ve forgiven myself for even feeling that way about him, about the one person I felt really close to within my immediate family.  I’ve forgiven myself for “survivor’s remorse,” and have allowed myself to feel joy again (that was a big one for me, and one that only within the past year or two have I truly come to terms with).

Whether it be the loss of a loved one through illness or death, or the loss of a current relationship, or of simply unmet expectations, there’s a time for grieving.  Truly grieving.  That, too, is a topic that could fill up several editions of Soul Notes.  For now, though, on this new moon, I invite you to welcome in all the ways in which you can also take those losses and transmute them into instances of forgiveness.   Allow yourself the opportunity to forgive the other person or persons, and yourself.

To forgive, forgo

To forgive is to forgo:

Forgo the lingering.

Forgo the suffering.

Forgo the entanglement.

Forgo and let go.


For your consideration:

What if instead of hanging onto hurts and resentments, we each made an ongoing commitment to hand them over to and for forgiveness?

Okay, your turn:

What are you ready to forgive and forgo?  For you, is forgiveness a one-time only event, or rather an ongoing state of being?  What is your commitment?  What stand are you taking, in this moment? I would love to hear what comes up for you around this topic.

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.


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Every time a bell rings

At this time of year when the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is at its thinnest and most transparent, I’m struck by the emergence of seemingly non-coincidental coincidences.  In this edition of Soul Notes, allow me to share a story of what happened a couple weeks ago.

Fanciful Financials

This year for me has been one of self empowerment – in my outlook on life, my relationships, and in my money matters. Among other things, I’ve been taking a more active role in creating and stewarding my wealth.  Along those lines, in reviewing my credit card statements this month, I discovered multiple charges on one of my accounts, that I did not authorize.

If you’re anything like me, calling an 800 number and working through a myriad of voice prompts and being put on hold for great lengths of time is not high on your joy list.  Even lower on the list is calling a credit card company to challenge hundreds of dollars in charges.  So, I took charge (pun intended!) of the situation by allowing the experience to be a lot more pleasant and perhaps even fanciful.  Fanciful financials, why that would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

I set the intention that, instead of taking on my usual dread of calling a credit card company, I would first make a call of a different kind.  I took a deep breath, got quiet, and called in the angels.  Not any ol’ angels mind you – I called in angelic helpers of a certain variety, namely those looking for a specific type of assignment.

My spiritual call went something like this:

 “Hello…any fanciful financial angels available in this moment?  Especially ones who are good at facilitating the resolution of billing disputes, so that I may remain calm and patient throughout, and get this resolved smoothly, today, if possible?”

Okay, if you’re thinking that this blog post is getting way too hocus pocus for your taste, stay with me.  My wish is that this lil’ story serves as a heartwarming respite from the otherwise heavy news you may be reading elsewhere today.

Wonderful Wonders

Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  Originally released during the 1940s, it’s now considered to be an all-time favorite holiday classic.

Jimmy Stewart plays the protagonist George Bailey who at the beginning of the film, we find out,  considers himself to be a failure.  He wishes that he had never been born.  The film continues to weave between two “realities” – one where George’s life and the lives of those around him take a certain course; in the other, without George, those same events transpire in an entirely different way.

It is through the intervention of a visitor in town, a messenger named Clarence, that we and George see the true value of George’s life, and the vivid impact his life has had on everyone around him.

Near the end of the movie, George is seen standing next to his wife in front of a Christmas tree, with his daughter in his arms.  George looks down to find a book gifted to him by his friend Clarence, inscribed with prophetic words, and ending in: “Thanks for the wings!”

At that moment, a jingle-jangle is heard, and the camera zooms in on a small bell hanging on the Christmas tree.

christmas-bellsThe daughter points to it, and says:

“Look Daddy!

Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

George says to her, in response:

“That’s right.  That’s right.”

Looking up and winking, George says:

  “Attaboy, Clarence!”

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Now, back to my credit card story.  After I had invoked the fanciful-financial-spirit-helpers-on-assignment, I took another deep breath, and dialed up Bank of America on their customer service line.  With renewed faith and an uncommon-for-me dose of patience, I followed the multiple recorded voice prompts, and then waited calmly on hold, when eventually a person came on the line.

“Hello,” she says.

“This is Angel.”

What the what?  Come on, you’re kidding me, right?  I say this to myself, and then smile as I realize what’s happening…Well, of course her name is Angel.

I feel a gush of glee and satisfaction, and think to myself:  Well, this truly is fanciful financials!

Angel couldn’t have been more helpful.  She carefully reviewed my account and the disputed charges, and assured me that she would do what she could to get the charges removed.  To do that, she said, she would need to call the merchant.

Rather than hanging up with me – or giving me the usual “we will look into it and you may or may not see any changes reflected on your next statement” – Angel did something that in my experience was a first:  she offered to call the merchant while I was still on the phone, so that we could get everything taken care of in one fell swoop.

A Three-Way Call

Here’s how the next part of the conversation went:

Angel:  “I have the merchant’s representative on the line, Lori.”

Lori:  “Angel, will you stay on the line, too, or are you transferring?”

Angel:  “Yes, I’ll stay on the call with you.  Here he is…”

I listen for his voice, and he says:

“Hello, this is Clarence.”

We worked it out, and all disputed charges were removed.




For your consideration:

Now is an ideal time to invite in clear communication and assistance from behind the veil. So, I leave you with these words from Train’s “Calling All Angels”:

“I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear

… And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels”

Okay, your turn:

What messages are coming through for you in your life?  Are you calling in any angels?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Embracing Excellence

Close on the heels of the Olympic Games, I recently found myself contemplating excellence and what that means in today’s world. I discovered, as it turns out, that along with respect and friendship, excellence is one of the Olympics’ three core values, as set forth by the International Olympic Committee. Excellence is an important element of what many consider to be inherent in the athletes who perform “at that level.”

excellence-In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s hold in our hearts this notion of excellence.  What, if any, purpose does it serve?  Is it a worthy goal, an end state?  Or, is it rather a state of being?  Is it something to be embodied, rather than pursued?  Does it matter?  Does embracing excellence (or, its opposite – not embracing it) come with a price?   What does it cost, in terms of our serenity, health, or overall well being?  What impacts result?


So often we hear the phrase “in the pursuit of excellence.”  Is it, however, all about the pursuit?  I’d like to challenge each of us to replace that with:  embracing excellence.  Unlike the pursuit of something, embracing it sounds and is more encompassing, more in the moment, more present, more “now.”  Pursuing sounds as if it’s a constant state of grasping for something that’s still out in front of you, almost as if it is something that remains ever oh so slightly beyond your reach.  It seems unattainable.

For those on a spiritual path, I would venture to say that it is the embracing of, rather than the pursuing of excellence, that rings true.  It’s a setting of an intention that each of us will embody a way of life, of living, that emerges from our highest state of being.  It is soul centered, soul activated, soul sustaining.  Accordingly, it’s something that, once accessed, can and may be cultivated and developed.

During this season of Northern hemisphere harvesting, it’s a good time to reflect on what each of us has already cultivated with regard to excellence in our lives.  Take a few moments to inventory your relationships, work endeavors, wealth signs, health indicators, and the like.  Remember, as an excellence “embracer,” you’re simply staying on the path of excellence, nurturing and cultivating it throughout your journey.  Survey your life’s stock.  Appreciate and celebrate all the fruits of your excellence to date!  For those areas that are still germinating and not quite yet ‘in full bloom’ for you, continue to foster their continued growth, regeneration, and renewal.


Excellence is not an innate gene or trait.  Not unlike integrity, or loyalty, excellence is a quality.  It’s a commitment.  Embracing it is a choice each of us can make — today, and every day.

Why does embracing excellence matter?  I’d say it matters for many of the same reasons we enjoy watching the Olympics!  It brings out the best in ourselves, and in others.  It motivates. It inspires.  It raises us, and others, up.

“Excellence encourages one about life generally; it shows the spiritual wealth of the world.” –George Eliot

Yes, in the Olympics there are medal counts and world records, and pride amongst nations.  What we experience when witnessing the various Olympic events, however, runs deeper than that. Olympics - flag

A few brief weeks or even days after the Olympics have ended, many of us do not even remember who placed in what order, and in which particular event.  Sure, there are those few standouts, who become household names, who garner multimillion endorsement deals, and who receive the ongoing, related spotlight and ‘stardom’.   Or, perhaps a few of the athletes are our personal favorites.  We will remember those names.

What we tend to remember most, however, are the MOMENTS.  The moments of excellence personified.  Individual moments.  Team moments.  Moments frozen in time. We remember the stories of triumphs, and personal “overcomings.” These are what are emblazened on, and held snugly, in our hearts.

For what end?

Some say excellence means something along the lines of “putting out a high quality product.”  This begs the question, of course, of where to draw the line.  It discards and leaves behind, without consideration, the notion that excellence is an admirable quality in and of itself.  It remains of value – with and without attaining a specific, predetermined outcome.  It’s more fluid than that.  Excellence in this sense is more in the shape of a circle than in a straight line.

Let’s consider the fourth place finishers at the Olympics, for example.  Do they embody excellence any “less” than those who get to stand on the podium as the gold, silver, or bronze medalists?

There are inherent benefits of embracing excellence, within ourselves and in appreciating it when we see it in others.  It FEELS GOOD to excel!  It feels good to watch others excel!  It’s PASSION in MOTION!

For your consideration:

As we close, I leave you with these words, from Nobel laureate, Pearl S. Buck:

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.

Okay, your turn:

What does excellence mean to you? Is it worth pursuing?  Better yet, is it worth embracing in our daily lives? If so, in what way or ways?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Trust what you hear when you listen

listening“Trust what you hear when you listen.”

— This is a line repeated in the Japji (Song of the Soul), as translated from the original Sanskrit.

What does it mean to truly listen? And, to trust what you hear? In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we dig into this spiritual concept and practice.

Truly Listening

Truly listening — to the sounds of your soul, and to the souls of others – is what allows trust to develop.  It cuts through the egoic, often times camouflaged or staged fronts that come from the mind.  It’s a matter instead of tuning into the heart.

“Trust what you hear when you listen.” – Japji

Trusting what you hear when you listen means listening for and trusting your intuition:  Your inner truth will sound beautiful, satisfying, and fulfilling – you know, “the nodding your head, ‘uh-huh’ ” kind of truth.  It will ring true – it will be harmonic and resonant.  With practice, you’ll notice and KNOW the difference.

When you’re truly listening, your truth will be recognizable by its purity. It will sound and feel loving and expansive.  In contrast, your inner untruth will sound false, faulty, and anything but resonant.  You’ll feel yourself contracting or worse yet fleeing from your peaceful, respite place.  It will seem as if someone suddenly changed the serenity channel to something that grates on your nerves, throws you off-balance, and disrupts your inner harmony.  That, dear one, is the critical mind calling – don’t pick up that call!  Let it go to your spiritual trash bin to be discarded and composted away.  There’s no space for it in your inner sacred harmonic energy field.  Say to it, “No Thank You — There’s no room for you at THIS inn”!

Or, it may not sound critical per se – yet, it may nonetheless still sound or feel “off,” meaning that it’s not the sound of your own voice calling, but that of someone else.  What you’re hearing may be their truth, but not what’s true for YOU.  This takes discernment.  With practice also comes discernment.

As with most things worth your devotion and attention, trusting what you hear when you listen takes consistent, ongoing practice.  Fine tuning your listening skills and hearing what your intuition has to say — to reveal, and to divulge to you from your innermost being – that wisest part of you —  gets stronger and stronger over time and with frequent repetition.  Accordingly, leaving it alone too long between sessions, without engagement, results in it becoming out of tune just like a piano, guitar or violin. So, keep at it!  It’s worth it.

The benefits and ways to get started:

stillness with quotation

To be able to trust fully in what you hear when you listen, it helps to get quiet, still, and free from distractions if at all possible.  Dedicating even a few minutes a day to this practice will engender worthy results.  Bring your full presence to the moment at hand.  Engage your mind, body (your heart) and soul.  Tune into the silence, and be open to hear what comes through the quiet solitude.  Treat this as your own soul session, your own meditation, just for you! Listen for the voice of the DIVINE WITHIN yourself!

Allow words, images, symbols, or even just a ‘hunch’ or a ‘gut feeling’ to come through.  Some messages will gain further meaning afterwards, maybe even hours or days later.  What’s important is setting the scene so that you truly hear the messages.  You can decipher them over time.  There’s no rush, only devotion, dedication, to spirit, and the messages and meanings that are intended for you.

Feel free to journal what comes through – or draw, or compose a poem or sing a song…whatever feels best for you to express what you heard.

Listening this way is what truly allows divine messages to come through.  Deep understanding results.  Then, you can take action from THAT place, and not from a place of disruptive self-flagellation, and nasty untruths.  Inspired action feels enlivening, and uplifting, and not disheartening.  Heart engaged?  Check!  All soul systems go!  Use THAT as your energetic and spiritual launching pad.  That is: Divine Lift-Off.

Your soul and the divine are available to you “24-7” – you just need to connect via the proverbial wi-fi.  It’s one of the special, beautiful technologies uniquely available to us as human, spiritual beings.  It’s already encoded within you.  Embrace it.  Enjoy it.  Welcome it in all its glory.

Given any situation you may be contemplating, or for which you seek clarity: Surrender yourself to the experience.  And, be prepared to and do, take inspired action based on your new, finely tuned, receptivity. As from a stone skipping across a pond, circles of understanding will continue to ripple outward from within.

For your consideration:

I leave with you these words, from the Japji:

 “Trust what you hear

When you listen,

And bring all your loved ones


Trust what you hear

When you listen,

You will swim across

All difficulties

And your very presence

Will carry others

Across as well.”

Okay, your turn:

In what ways have you been tuning in and listening for your own truth?  What do you notice when you get still, quiet, and really listen?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.