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First published 01/2012

The other day I drove by a young man standing on the middle berm of a busy highway right beside a stop-lighted intersection. He was holding up a handmade cardboard sign common to roadside panhandlers that read, “Need gas money!” with the appropriate prop sitting on the ground beside him: a red, plastic gas can. All the while he was sipping on a venti Starbucks frappuccino which as you probably know costs as much as a gallon and a half of gasoline at current prices. Even if he had been given that drink by some generous soul driving by, he was still unknowingly sending a mixed message to all other passersby: “I need gas. Not.”

We humans are brilliant mixed message senders. You might insist “I am fine,” when it’s obvious to everyone in the room by your gloomy countenance that everything is not fine. At all. You might be told “I love you” but it strangely feels much more like an attack as it’s said to you with eyes that are glaringly angry.

In my own belief system (subject to change at any time without prior notice), I see the universe functioning as a giant mirror. It reflects back to you who you are in all your beauty and complexity. So when you are lacking clarity in your life and the universe doesn’t seem to be helping, it is often because you are sending mixed messages to the universe and the universe is simply reflecting back to you your own inner conflict. For example, you say, “yes” with your heart to the dream of your soul, but your mind ticks off one negative thought after another as to why you shouldn’t/couldn’t/daren’t move toward the dream. And when you feel one way, but think thoughts in the opposite way, the universe is unable to respond in a clear fashion: does it respond to your feelings or your thoughts? Thus, you set up the universal mirror to act like one big pushmi-pullyu of Dr. Doolittle fame: a two-headed beast going in two different directions at once which gets you nowhere except maybe frustrated and exhausted.

When you are clear, you are in alignment—heart, mind, body and soul—and you will experience the Flow in totality, to support your every need in fulfilling your life’s purpose (not the same as your ego wants). This doesn’t mean you won’t encounter obstacles. You will. It is part of the hero’s journey to learn how to transform obstacles into stepping stones, as well as learn how to read obstacles as signposts redirecting you to fulfill your purpose in a better way than you could imagine by yourself. Without clarity, though, you don’t even encounter obstacles—you just experience inertia, the blahs, and lack of creativity and insight. You feel stuck in the mud and your inner lake stays muddy as the universe reflects back our own unclarity in a spiraling feedback loop.

So how do you find enough clarity to make a commitment (and then surrender the results to the highest and best)? Here are 10 steps to inner clarity!

1) Get quiet. Notice your inner chaos and confusion. Observe it for awhile.

2) Examine your thoughts. Ask “why” a lot. “Why do I think that way?” Keep asking “why” until you discover some understanding which will generally lead you to…

3) Feelings of fear. It is a simplification but a generally accurate one that we are either moving from a place of love or from a place of fear. If we’re stuck and not finding clarity, it’s usually stemming from some unacknowledged fear. So name the fears you find in this process.

4) Go deeper. Go below your thoughts and feelings to an inner place of peace and calm. You can visualize this as going below the stormy white-capped sea to a place of undisturbed water below the surface of the storm. Say some mantras here like “I am safe. I am calm.” If feelings or thoughts arise that bring up anxiety just notice them, thank them, let them go and return to the deep, peaceful calm.

5) When you are calm and still ask your self, “What do I really want?” See what comes. It could be anything!

6) Then ask, “Why do I want this?” until you get to the feeling you believe this new thing will bring you more of, whether that’s love, joy, peace, satisfaction, security, etc. Give yourself that feeling now. Imagine that you have exactly what you want and it has given you the feeling that you want more of. Continue to feel this feeling.

7) Realize that since you can give yourself this feeling, you already have and can give yourself at any time what you truly desire! Now that you are feeling this love, joy, peace, or whatever it is, now what do you want to do in your life since you are feeling good? What clarity comes to you now?

8) What one step of commitment can you make—as tiny as you need it to be to not bring up paralyzing angst—to go in the direction of your clarity?

9) Take that step and then let go and see what guidance the universe gives you. The universe might redirect you or adjust your direction along the way. If nothing comes back to you or if confirmation comes back to you, keep taking steps in the direction of your clarity.

10) Repeat process above as necessary!

May all good things Flow to you as you seek ever greater clarity in your life!


If you are so moved and are able, please consider supporting my writing by making a donation (PayPal Donate button in the footer) or buying one of my books. Thank you!

Monica McDowell is a dynamic speaker, author, and practitioner in alternative wellness and spirituality. Find her on Thought Catalog here. She is the author of The Oracle of Devor, The Girl with a Gift, Confessions of a Mystic Soccer Mom, You are Light (internationally published by 6th Books in over 14 countries) and My Karma Ran Over My Dogma, and has the distinction of being the first ordained minister in America granted civil rights by a federal ruling. She lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, and can be reached here.

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Originally published Feb 2015

Putting said book and movie totally aside (ahem), let’s focus on what Love really means.

From my perspective, everything in the entire universe is sourced and continually fueled from Love. And because we live in a multi-dimensional universe, Love is revealed through the many layers of vibrations (shades?), even into the densest of all vibrations/shades—physical form. There are many implications that result. Consider:

1. Thus, there are many levels of Love. It begins with the perfect unconditional Divine Love for all that is the highest vibration and the strongest power known.

2. From there through various lower vibrations, we can experience familial love, friendship love, romantic love, etc.

3. It also means that even the lesser forms of our emotions are just lower vibrations of Love. Let me explain with the emotion of fear. What do you fear? You might fear losing someone. Why? BECAUSE YOU LOVE THEM! You might fear something bad happening to you. Why? BECAUSE YOU LOVE YOURSELF! Think of that! Every lesser form of emotion is simply a lower vibration of Love that got a little lost and maybe a little twisted and needs tweaking, needs upping into a higher form of Love. Fear just forgot that it is Love and needs to be reminded where it came from!

4. For your own transformation, then, you can use anything that comes your way as a teacher to help you transmute the lower frequency of whatever energy that is in your life into a higher vibration of Love. This always reminds me of this Rumi poem:

Even if you can’t yet see the Love, if you know it is there, you can work with what’s happening to shift into Love. So if you feel fear or anger, ask yourself, What about this feeling is coming from or pointing to Love? Maybe an injustice makes you feel anger, and you realize in asking yourself this question, What about this anger is coming from or pointing to Love?, that you’re angry because you love fairness and equality. So, what you can do, is rather than focus on the anger, shift it up a notch and focus on FEELING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE all the Love you have for fairness and equality. 5. So, even if a person or circumstance in your Life isn’t demonstrating perfect Divine Love, that Love is still present anyhow, no matter how absent it might seem. Even what most people would consider the worst of humanity and the worst circumstances in the world have Love in them—somewhere. Even if hatred appears to be what is most forthcoming from a person, group, or circumstance, and even if a LOT of people agree on that, Love is still there, even if only in a spark, even if totally hidden from your eyes, because Love is in every single atom and subatomic particle, everywhere. Without Love energy, nothing would exist. “Love makes the world go ‘round” is quite an accurate lyric. 6. What this does not mean is that we tolerate abuse or other acts of hatred that demean others or ourselves. (Okay, so maybe I’m bringing in a little social commentary on the book/movie which probably should be called 50 Shades of Domestic Violence—Hey, I’m a preacher by training—I can’t help myself!) It does mean we can refuse to get caught up in the drama of the hate, fear, or whatever is presenting, to pull us off our own center. We can stay in the Love that we know and we are and act from there to love others and ourselves in ways that bring not only personal healing and transformation but social healing and transformation. 7. By focusing on the Love in your body, you bring healing to this dense vibratory miracle of embodied soul living. Drawing hearts over your body even helps your Radiant Circuits. Here’s Donna Eden and daughters showing you how:

8. By focusing on the Love in the earth body, you can bring healing. Look at all these earth hearts! Picture hearts all over the earth!

LOVE is all there was in the beginning. It is all there is in the end. Love is all there ever is. Happy Valentine's Day!!


If you are so moved and are able, please consider supporting my writing by making a donation (PayPal Donate button in the footer) or buying one of my books. Thank you!

Monica McDowell is a dynamic speaker, author, and practitioner in alternative wellness and spirituality. Find her on Thought Catalog here. She is the author of The Oracle of Devor, The Girl with a Gift, Confessions of a Mystic Soccer Mom, You are Light (internationally published by 6th Books in over 14 countries) and My Karma Ran Over My Dogma, and has the distinction of being the first ordained minister in America granted civil rights by a federal ruling. She lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, and can be reached here.

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Excerpt from My Karma Ran Over My Dogma, Chapter: Reality is a Unity © 2007

My unusual experiences went beyond asking and getting immediate, specific answers. I began noticing a unity with events and my surroundings that went way beyond any previous experiences in my life. Once more, the first episode I had was when I was still working at the church. It was Ash Wednesday morning, February 28th, 2001. I was to preach that night for the church’s Ash Wednesday service. I had prepared a sermon based on a scripture passage about how catastrophes have within them the potential to help us open up all of our hearts to God and to one another. Just as I was about to email my finished sermon to the office administrator who was in an office down the hall from me, I was silently lamenting to God: No one is going to connect with my sermon. We don’t suffer social catastrophes of any kind in the Northwest, let alone one on the order that could open up any hearts. Why did I feel so strongly compelled to preach on this topic? This is completely irrelevant.

As the saying goes: be careful what you pray for…

For at the exact moment when I hit “send” to forward my email to the office administrator with sermon attached, the earth started to move. It moved and it moved some more and I looked out the window and saw the normally straight, statuesque evergreens dancing as though they were made out of rubber and the earth rolling in fluid waves like the sea. As I dove under my desk to wait out the earthquake, my first thought was, NEVER MIND, GOD! Forget my complaint! I decided an irrelevant sermon on catastrophe was much more desirable than a relevant one after all.

As I looked out from under the desk watching the trees continue their dance and the earth its rolling, I pleaded out loud with God over and over, “Save my children, oh God, please keep my children safe.” Then, in a matter of seconds it just stopped. The rolling, the shaking, the rumbling, it was all over. I ran out of my office and the church staff and I gathered for a quick prayer. I then sprinted outside, jumped in my green Volkswagen Beetle (license plate: HUMBUG), and drove the all of two blocks to the school and then pre-school to check on my kids. There was terror in my son’s eyes, but everyone, everything was fine.

Back at the ranch, I surveyed my office. Only one thing had fallen over—a picture that had been sitting on a picture stand. The picture was a calligraphied scripture verse, “Be Still and Know That I Am God.” Wow! Then it hit me. This verse comes from Psalm 46 that begins, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should quake, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.” It would be a good story for my sermon that night, Ash Wednesday, when we remember our physical mortality.

Church was full that night. The Nisqually Earthquake, as it was to be named, had shaken everyone on a lot of levels and spiritually they wanted reassurances. Preaching my already finished sermon on how “catastrophe can open our hearts to God and to one another,” and “God is the one we can rely on during a total crisis” was surreal. Twilight zone chills kept running up my spine. How could I have prepared a sermon so relevant to the day’s events without any conscious knowledge of what was going to happen?

Later that year, after everything had blown up when I’d filed complaints of sexual misconduct and was retaliated against by the senior minister for doing so, catastrophe hit again. Extraordinarily, for the second time in a few short months, I experienced a knowing that came from a profound interconnectedness.

By Labor Day of 2001, we moved into a house in Lake Forest Park, a suburb of Seattle, and settled our kids in their new elementary school situated just behind our house. I loved being able to walk them to school, past all the towering, stately Douglas Firs lined up like sentries along our street. After walking them to school every morning, I would then take my whistleblower survivor routine and walk to Starbucks and then on to Third Place Books. Many days I would meander through the bookstore to find a good read and spend the better part of the morning in an oversized leather armchair, sipping my chai latte, contemplating all the while. Nothing like good old-fashioned escapism when your life is falling apart.

The next Sunday, September 9th, early in the afternoon, I was sitting in our sunroom praying and reflecting on my ongoing travails, when suddenly I was overcome by “something.” An impression? A premonition? All I know is that I gasped and said out loud, “Oh no! There’s not just doom for the church, there’s doom for our country!” I immediately started praying, “Lord, have mercy on our country. Lord, have mercy on our country. Lord, have mercy on our country.” In fact, that is about all that came out of my mouth for the next hour as I went about household chores. But it gradually faded away and I totally forgot about it.

Later in the afternoon, my husband walked up to me rather jerkily and mechanically, like a robot, and declared in monotone, “I need to go to New Jersey. I need to fly out tomorrow.”

“Okay.” I replied casually, “If you must, you must.”

So, he went back to his office, booked a ticket online (a very expensive ticket), and started packing.

This did not strike me as unusual at all. Looking back I really don’t know why I didn’t question my husband’s strange behavior. Usually he planned his business trips well in advance in order to get good prices on tickets, and so I could pre-plan the kids’ and my schedules while he would be away. I guess it was because he sounded so certain that he had to fly, that I just shrugged my shoulders and went along with it.

I took him to the airport the next day, Monday, while the kids were in school and he called later that night to say he’d arrived safely.

The next morning I woke up hearing the phone ringing—early. Way too early for me. I slowly got out of bed, brushed my teeth, and went downstairs to find out who had called. I figured it was someone from the East Coast—probably one of my husband’s business associates who didn’t yet know that my husband was actually on the East Coast, and who had forgotten that we on the Pacific Coast are three hours earlier than our Atlantic cousins. I was fuming at whoever it was who had forgotten to check the time and their brain before trying to reach us at such an ungodly hour.

Just as I got downstairs the phone rang again. I picked up the remote phone and said mildly, “Hello?” successfully withholding my early morning, pre-chai grumps.

“Monica! I’ve been trying to reach you. Have you seen the news? Oh my God, there’s another one! I’m watching TV right now. Go downstairs and turn on the TV! Oh my God! A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center and now another one. Oh my God! Hurry! They think it’s a terrorist attack. I’m watching this live on TV!”

It was my husband. I ran down to the basement with the phone and turned on the TV. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Airplanes crashing into skyscrapers? It looked like a scene from a movie. Maybe a bad joke. Maybe a “War of the Worlds” error, but no, it was on all the channels we got with our antenna (about 5) and it was the top news agencies reporting. This was no joke. This was no movie. I immediately flashbacked to Sunday afternoon: “There’s not just doom for the church, there’s doom for our country. Lord, have mercy on our country.”

“Oh my God, I had a premonition on Sunday that there was doom for our country, but I completely forgot about it. Oh my God. I can’t believe it.”

“I’ve gotta go, Monica. I’ve got to make some more phone calls to reach some people here about meetings in light of this. I can’t believe this. I’ll call you later. I love you.”

“Love you, too. Bye.”

I sat shell-shocked for a minute or two, and then I checked the messages. My husband had left several, as had my mom. I called my mom and recounted my premonition. I also recalled while talking with my mom that my daughter had night terrors during the night after she had gone to bed. I finally let her crawl into bed with me, because she just wouldn’t settle down. She kept stirring, moaning, muttering, and waking up. I had never known her to do this before. Perhaps she was on some level having a sleeping premonition as well.

As you know, the rest of the week was a bit hellish. Airports were shut down; the stock markets plummeted. In fact, this is why I believe my husband had automatedly declared on Sunday afternoon that he was flying to New Jersey the next day. On some level he too had known. With the stock markets’ nose-dive, the family business went upside down, and the banks it had loans from were all in New Jersey. If my husband had been in Seattle when the World Trade Centers were attacked, he never would have made it to New Jersey with all the airports closed, and we would have lost everything.

But because he was already in New Jersey the very evening before the morning of 9/11, he could arrange face-to-face meetings with business partners and bank personnel to salvage what he could. It was a divinely appointed flight he took on 9/10. He was able to salvage enough to keep us afloat for quite a while. It was a miracle of protection. Even so, things would still be crashing down around us for a long time to come.

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