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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Gratitude

The 2014 holiday season is here. But this year instead of simply saying the usual holiday blessings, I'd like to take some time to say a heartfelt "Thank You" to some of our unsung heroes. They live with us, work next to us, shop at the grocery store down the block, and send their kids to the same schools our sons and daughters attend.

I'm talking about people who routinely give of themselves in order to make the lives of others better, not expecting much, if anything, in return.

You probably know some of these folks - heck, you may be one yourself. 

A big Thank You to:
  • First responders everywhere - our police, fire departments, EMTs, search and rescue, and countless others who risk their lives daily to keep us safe
  • Hot Shots and all who battle forest fires to keep us and our homes out of harm's way
  • The good Samaritans who stop to lend a hand to others in need

  • Folks who train service dogs to assist those who require a little extra help in their quest to be independent

  • Volunteers at animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation facilities, and animal rescue centers who have hearts bigger than the whole of nature
  • Folks who give of themselves to help abused and neglected children around the world
  • Doctors Without Borders and other medical aid organizations who bring medical help to places most of us will never visit
  • Citizens like you and me who work quietly to conserve and protect the health of our environment and natural ecosystems
  • Hospital chaplains who are there for us when we're at our worst but need spiritual support the most
  • Hospice workers who help us have dignity and love during our transitions from this life
  • Meals-on-Wheels volunteers, and others like them, who make sure that those who can't leave their homes have good food on their tables
  • The Marine Corps Toys for Tots volunteers
  • And many, many more who work to make this Earth a better place...
If you know someone like this, someone who works behind-the-scenes to make the things better for others, please consider giving them a big hug and saying a heartfelt "Thank You" the next time you see them. They deserve it :-)

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Solstice Contemplation

Today is the day in the northern hemisphere that we experience the most hours of darkness in a day - Midwinter, or the Winter Solstice. Tomorrow, the longer hours of light slowly return. For now, though, the lengthy nights and colder temperatures force most of us to spend more time indoors. We may seek out light and warmth around a fire, bask in the company of friends and family, or spend more time watching our favorite sports teams on television.

My Solstice will be a bit different this year. I've decided to spend today in quiet contemplation, hoping to come to terms with some difficult, recent events in my life. Instead of drowning in a pool of pity and sorrow, I'm opening myself up to seeing and understanding the lessons I so obviously need to learn.

This idea came to me as I awoke this morning. I knew I needed to take time to reconnect with Spirit today, and as a side benefit, I might just receive some insights that will help me move forward in a positive way. This decision was later cemented by a friend sharing the blog of Fr. Richard Rohr this morning. Fr. Richard writes about the value of silence in a beautiful way. My personal favorite line comes toward the end of his blog:

Silence is at the very foundation of all reality. It is that out of which all being comes and to which all things return. 

So today I will spend time in silence, looking for insights, yes, but also simply allowing my mind and heart to reconnect to Spirit.

I do have questions for which I would like guidance, though:

  • What are the lessons for me in this recent event?
  • What part did I play in it, and what part did the other person play?
  • Why is this area of my life a challenge for me right now, and what can I do to change its dynamics?
  • What changes do I need to make going forward so that I can bring love and light into this area of my life?
  • Is there anything else that I need to understand?

I'll be thinking about these questions today and asking Spirit for answers. The insights may take some time to come into my consciousness. That's OK.  I just know that today is the day that I begin the process of questioning and opening myself up to answers. It's also the day to realign my heart with my Source.

How will I question and then listen for answers? This may change, but my intuition is guiding me to:

  1. Ask for clarity, out loud, and be willing to hear the answer. I find that when I ask for clarity out loud to Spirit, I usually get answers within days. The clarity may come as a sudden "A-Ha!" moment of knowing, or it may come in the form of events which reveal the answer. My job is to remain open to that insight so that when it comes, I recognize, learn from it, and internalize the lesson.
  2. Spend time in quiet - no talking, no music, no TV,  no cell phone, no internet. I find that spending some quiet time alone often accelerates my process of understanding. I don't necessarily quiet my mind, though. Allowing thoughts to rattle at random often brings up insights that I would otherwise miss in the cacophony of daily life.
  3. Take a gratitude walk in Nature. I discuss this in my upcoming book, but here's a sneak-peek: a quiet walk in Nature, spending time feeling grateful for whatever you see, hear, or feel can be a catalyst for opening up both the mind and heart to new levels of compassion, empathy, and understanding. Walk quietly, look around, feel grateful for the water and air that gives us all life, for the birds singing from the treetops, for the clouds bringing snow to the mountains, or for the peace and calm that comes from a frozen pond.
  4. Journal the questions, feelings, and issues in the "problem." I'm not normally one to journal on a daily basis, but during troubling times I find that it can help break loose an insight that I sorely need. At the very least, journaling allows me to get out my feelings on paper which helps me to release them and move on from the event. I usually journal on loose sheets of paper, letting all of my feelings and thoughts flow with the pen. I  might keep these writings around for a day or two, but then I either burn them or shred them as a symbol that it's time for me to move on with my life. 
  5. Watch for answers. The days and weeks to come is my time for quiet openness. I quietly wait for answers or insights. I may get an "A-Ha" moment as the result of something a friend says, or a new and important piece of information may come my way. This is my time to practice patience, openness, and compassion for myself.
Are you experiencing heartache, confusion, or challenges in your life? If you are, maybe you too can spend time today asking for clarity and listening for answers in silent contemplation. You might just be surprised at the insights that come.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Awakenings from the Light" Available for pre-order

My book, "Awakenings from the Light" is now available for pre-order through my website:

Go to the "Books" page to place a pre-order using PayPal checkout, or phone me at 720-295-2060 to pre-order a signed copy.

The book is just over 250 pages and will be available in paperback and eBook format. Sorry for the expected publication date is June 30 for paperback, July 30 for eBook. Both will be available on If you'd like a signed paperback copy, it will only be available through my website, above, or at my events and seminars.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why Me?

For many months now, I've struggled with the question of "Why me?" Why was I spared when according to all of my doctors, I should have have died at several different points during my ordeal and recovery? Why was I given such a startling glimpse of what lies ahead during my near-death experience? And most importantly in my mind, why was I given such profound understandings and been asked to pass them on to anyone who wanted to listen?

Initially, since I couldn't get out of my own mind and heart, I though it was all about me. Pretty narcissistic, huh? But in reality, my own mind and heart is all that I knew. In my mind, through my NDE, I was given the opportunity to improve my own life and turn it into one that was soul-satisfying. That was pretty much all the explanation I needed at first.

This morning, though, a case of nervousness gripped me as I thought about tomorrow. Thursday, Dec 11, I am to give my first presentation on my near-death experience to an audience. Public speaking usually doesn't bother me too much so this nervousness took me by surprise. Since the weather today was beautifully warm and sunny, I decided to head out for a walk in hopes of calming my nerves.

It turns out that the walk was exactly the thing I needed.

I retraced the route I took during my many walks while recovering from my injuries. The route took me past a store called "TRI" (The Restoration Initiative) here in Lafayette, CO. A local family began the store as a way of raising funds for social initiatives in India. 100% of the profits from the store go to fund women's and children's improvement projects in the poorest areas of the Indian subcontinent. The owners keep nothing for themselves save what it takes to operate the store. I've spoken with the owners several times but today as I walked past the store, their commitment to improving the lives of people half a world away grabbed at my heart and wouldn't let go. I started to cry thinking about their compassion and kindness toward others from a different country and culture.

That softening of my heart turned out to be the catalyst for more compassion and understanding to flow.

As I continued my walk, I began to get tantalizing glimpses of understanding about why I was given the opportunity to come back to reinvent my life. I allowed the insights to come and during the remainder of my walk, I started to see a bigger picture emerge.

Yes, part of why I was given a second chance was for me to make my life into something happier, more contented, and more soul-satisfying. That made sense intellectually, and I already knew that. But another very important reason was learn to have a soft heart, to feel compassion for others, and to pass on what I learned so that someone else might learn from it too.

I suddenly realized at a deep, emotional level that all of my life is feeding into this moment. Everything I've experienced, done, endured, and chosen is working together to soften my heart, to more fully allow me to empathize with people everywhere who endure pain and heartache in life. My life and near-death experiences are allowing me to feel deep compassion for those for whom life hasn't been easy. And my experiences also allow me to understand more fully that joy, love, contentment, and happiness are indeed possible for almost everyone.

My Guide's insistence that I chose this path makes sense now. I can see and feel this with extreme clarity and depth of understanding. Everything I've experienced on my path through life is helping me be a better messenger of the information in my book. Whether you believe that I chose the circumstances of my birth or they were given to me doesn't matter, but what I choose to do with my circumstances and experiences matters more than anything. I can choose to harden my heart and withdraw into my own little world, or I can risk allowing my heart to soften in order to feel compassion and empathy for others.

I've endured abusive relationships both as a child and adult, made poor choices in my twenties, had my heart broken too many times to count, endured the death of many close family members, wallowed in grief, let a potential great love walk out of my life, ignored the guidance of my heart, been through physical and emotional traumas, endured health crises, and dealt with judgement and condemnation from others. I've survived it all, and still love this life.

My experiences and choices made sense all of a sudden: everything is working together to soften my heart, and I feel deep compassion now for others who have been knocked around by life. This will make me a better person, but it also allows me to be a better messenger.

I could have avoided some heartaches if I had made better choices, yes, but no one is perfect. We all make mistakes and I've made my fair share of them. Now, instead of telling myself I should have done this or that, I choose to allow compassion to take over. I feel compassion toward myself in making those mistakes. Whether necessary or avoidable, they now soften my heart and allow me to empathize with others in similar situations.

My job and career choices also feed into this moment. My training as a scientist allows me to think critically about my experiences in that near-death state. My twenty years as a writer gives me the ability to more easily communicate what I learned and how I felt. My time as a trainer allows me to get up in front of an audience and talk about all of this without my knees buckling in fear.

While I'm not a psychotherapist or counselor and cannot directly help people learn to better their lives, I can be a cheerleader, a voice of inspiration and encouragement, and maybe even an example of what's possible. Some of the insights in my book might help someone, but if all they do is encourage a few people to get help to achieve a happier life, then perhaps that's enough.

Blessings to you all...


All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.