Monday, July 18, 2016


   Imagine you're at a movie theater, watching a fine film you've been looking forward to seeing, featuring a great script and one of your favorite actors.  You're having a good time when, suddenly, you feel a piece of popcorn wedged between your teeth, way in the back of your mouth. You poke at it with your tongue again and again, but it doesn't budge. Looking around to make sure no one's watching, you discretely attempt dislodging it with your fingers, but it stays stuck. You do your best to ignore it and focus on the film. No luck. You just can't seem to quit poking at that darned thing intermittently. So there you sit:  having paid good money to see a spell-binding, big-budget, action-packed film which you can't even enjoy, because all you can think about is this irritating thing stuck between your teeth. 

     It's no big deal. Normally, you could easily fix the problem with a toothpick or dental floss -- but you don't have any, nor are you willing to miss any of the movie by going out into the lobby to do something about it. But neither can you really enjoy the movie, because that #$%#$ popcorn hull won't go away. You, my friend, are officially stuck in the dreaded Popcorn Conundrum Zone.    
     Unfortunately, the PCZ is not limited to movie theaters. It can appear without warning in the midst of almost anyone's otherwise pleasant life, perhaps even yours. There you are, with more than enough to eat, a reasonably comfortable place to live, enjoying relatively good health. And yet... there's that one thought about one particular problem that somehow gets stuck between those dull teeth grinding away in the back of your brain, and no amount of mental floss can keep it from bugging you, over and over again. Whether it's a major financial crisis or a minor grievance against a co-worker that you're stewing over, each time the "popcorn hull" tugs at your attention, you probe the possibilities of doing something about it and get frazzled from worrying about it. But, then, realizing there's nothing you can really do about it in the moment, you glumly stash it away in a distant corner of your mind and do your best to forget about it, until the next time it pops up.   

     So what can you do about that yucky feeling of being stuck in the PCZ? How to get back to enjoying the amazing, technicolor movie that is your life? Well, I don't pretend to know all of the options, much less be able to present you with The Right Answer. But I do have a couple of clues to share. The first is to become aware of your breath and relax. The simple act of making this choice to engage in the conscious act of breathing, rather than continuing to ramble down the subconscious path of random worrying, restores a sense of balance. Focusing on your breath tends to slow your heart beat, enables you to connect with whatever sensations and feelings are present in your body, and come to peace with them for the moment -- rather than simply stash them away along with your grumpy resignation, thereby creating an even bigger piece of popcorn. 
     In addition to lowering your immediate sense of stress, restoring peace and raising the health of your immune system, engaging in this process of choosing to focus on your breath and relaxing creates an inner spaciousness, along with an enhanced possibility of receiving some new insight around the situation.

     I've had multiple opportunities to practice this process inside the PCZ myself in the past few weeks, ever since we discovered that the Circle didn't have enough money left in our Operating Account to pay all our bills for July. This is the first time that's happened since the global financial shakeup of 2008, and my mind immediately went into overdrive with worries, fretting about the possible causes, fixes and changes in the Circle that this fiscal shortfall implies. 
     Perhaps you remember those old-fashioned popcorn balls, stuck together with salt and syrup, that we used to get in our Trick or Treat bag in the days before Halloween became a potential source of danger.  Well, sometimes I felt like I had a whole one of those popcorn balls lodged in my throat! Time and again the "popcorn" in my mind has taken over the forefront of my attention, falling into thoughts of fear and lack. But, time and again, I choose to relax and take action by engaging in the process of softening my breath and opening into the field of infinite possibilities. 
     Has the financial shortfall been solved? Not completely. Have I found peace with it?Mostly. Do I still find myself in the PCZ? Periodically, but not nearly as often as before. And that's just how it is. But I have absolute faith that all is well and all shall be well. And that as I keep relaxing and opening to new possibilities in my way, and Zet does it in her way, and you do it in your way, the Circle community will find a good way forward. I don't know what that means, exactly, but I trust it nonetheless, and affirm that this situation, however uncomfortable and unsettling as it may feel, is a gift - something to be welcomed, embraced and learned from. 

     I do know that when we sent out a request for donations in this Around the Circle space last week, we received $1,650, which helped close the gap in meeting our monthly expenses of $9,895. And that the Council of Stewards met last Sunday, decided to transfer our remaining savings into the operating account and began working on new fundraising ideas.

     So as you work on your own PCZ, remember that all of us involved in the Circle family see each other and all of creation as a gift, as sacred. Right now is an opportunity for you to share your gifts with the Circle. I ask for your support in staying focused on the infinite field of possibilities. Hold the Circle in your thoughts and prayers, and help us visualize the generous flow of financial abundance that has sustained this community for the past 25 years - and will continue to do so for many more years to come. 
     Please consider making a donation now by sending a check or clicking on the link below. A gift of any size, whether $10 or $10,000, would help us move through this temporary low spot, in advance of our successful Sacred Art of Altars fundraiser in September, and help us dance through the coming months, as we continue our vital work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality.

With gratitude and blessings,

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