Monday, February 9, 2015

Beauty is Never Only Skin Deep!

Chiang Mai Flower Festival was such a sight to behold I just had to share it with you.

Their incredible pride and attention to detail created an event that was intoxicating to all of our senses, and to tell you the truth, it left me giddy and totally in awe of what I had just experienced.

The excitement had been building all week as magnificent flower displays began springing up wherever they could find a place.

It was as if little elves were fast at work everywhere beautifying an already magnificent city with visual delights depicting the most incredible scenes of celebration of life and Mother Nature in her finest.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I felt my HeartShift from spectator to participant

Most celebrations in Thailand are associated with the lunar calendar.

So to see that The International 10,000 Monk Walk was on the same date last year and the year before, not only did I know that I was safe to plan my day around it, but I also knew it had to be a really important to the people here.  (This was good because it started at 6:00am on a Sunday morning…need I say more?)

The monks here in Thailand are all supported by charitable contributions called alms.  

This can be in the form of food, drink, flowers and sometimes, money. 

This however, is not charity in the usual sense as we know it in the West. Instead, it is given as an opportunity to connect as humans to the Spiritual realms. 

The monks perform daily rituals and prayers and teachings that service the Buddhist community which comprises approximately 90% of the population.

These alms are given without seeking anything in return.  

This is simply, a way to pay respect and to practice generosity. 

This collection of alms takes place a few times a week here in Thailand as the monks walk the streets collecting food and drinks from the local people as well as from the businesses and merchants.

This 'walk' was different…its purpose was to not only collect alms for the Thai monks, but also for the monks of Laos and Myanmar as well. (formally known as Burma) 

So I knew it would be huge, but I didn't realize just how huge this was…
About a mile long strip of road covered in cloth to create a sacred space…….thousands of people quietly, reverently, peacefully taking their places in the median created in that space, as well as lining the sidewalks many people deep. 

Hundreds of young monk and military cadets lining up, sitting in lotus position to create aisles for the monks walking.  

Still without the light of day, the chanting and teachings could be heard and felt reverberating through each of us in waves like blankets of sound as they were delivered over a loudspeaker. 

Even moments of silence, deafening with its quiet. 

There was a hush, and then it came.  The sun rose casting it's brilliance over the shadows of the buildings that gave form to the formless.  Taking it all in, I felt my HeartShift from spectator to partner, from receiving to giving.
Our hearts beating as one palpitating in anticipation, our minds focused as one thought, our intentions to BE one.  

We were all illuminated and bathed in the light of that special moment where friend and foreigner joined in prayer and welcomed the first line of senior monks in...

And then they all came...thousands of monks, young and old, big and small...all with their heads bowed in prayer and gratitude.

What I witnessed then was a heart filled giving of the likes I have never seen.

Each monk carrying a covered bowl at first, spreading their blessings and then, only after they had given what they had come to give, returning until their bowl was filled, emptied, and refilled many times over. 

They kept coming, and the alms did the same.

People giving their offerings and then without needing any explanations, simply retreated and opened up their space for another and another and another to come forward. 

No pushing, no shoving, no cross words or exchanges.  Simple, orderly, efficient shared purpose… all to give their thanks, to pay their respects, to share their love, to practice being generous and to guarantee their futures.

An abundant heart lives in abundance. 
Giving Alms

That's me giving alms, practicing generosity. I can see clearly now why Thailand is known as, "The Land of Smiles".  

I'm smiling now just thinking about it.  Are you smiling too? Feels great doesn't it?

In celebration of this New Year, how can you practice generosity? Where would your alms serve best?

Oh, I wish you were here. It's truly Heaven on Earth! 

With much love and heart filled gratitude,
Marcy, The HeartShift Coach

Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm jumping all over but I just can't help myself

I know I'm jumping all over the place, but I can't help myself! There is just so much that I want to share with you and soooo much that happens here on a day to day basis, I have to get it out!

Christmas in Chiang Mai is absolutely nothing the way I imagined it would be!

Here in this country that has a population of about 90% Buddhist, Christmas is not celebrated by the majority of the people.

In fact, some of my earlier holiday conversations with people while looking to compare some Christmas traditions, were met with blank stares…then a smile…then a giggle…then a shake of their heads; No, we don't celebrate Christmas here!

But to tell you the truth, I was somewhat bewildered by this because all around me, I was witnessing the transformation for holiday celebrations in the stores, hotels, streets and restaurants, as well as a constant stream of Christmas carols piped into our midst.

If they didn't celebrate Christmas, then who was all this for??

Then it dawned on me…It was for us.

It was for all of the
foreign visitors here in Chiang Mai, to make us feel welcome and at home.

When I realized this, I was in awe. I've written about the generosity of the people here before, but this really takes the cake.

All of this, for us?

Now I know, you may be thinking, of course, increase the consumerism right? That could be part of it, but frankly, much of it has no association with even being able to make a purchase at all!

No, these are gestures of love…gifts of the heart that far exceed the generosity of hearts that I have ever witnessed before. They have no need or desire of it for themselves..they simply offer it to us, with no strings attached….just to enjoy.

Everyday, with every greeting, with every bow, with every helping hand that we receive, every night sky that is illuminated with fireworks or their huge gaslit lanterns, I am more and more taken by the beautiful, tender and loving nature of these people.

Their enthusiasm for life, their determination to celebrate life at every opportunity is mind boggling, so uplifting and so very inspirational.

Wait until you see the photos I am sharing with you ….you'll see what I mean…..A Snow Festival in Chiang Mai at 76*F ?

We have so much to learn from these beautiful people.

Thank you for letting me share them with you and please take a moment to think about how you might extend yourself to another; with no strings attached in a way that speaks to their hearts and not necessarily what would speak to yours.

It's an interesting thought isn't it?

This is Heaven on Earth…Wish you were here!!

With much love and best wishes for a wonderful holiday of giving,


Sunday, December 14, 2014

We interrupt this program.....

We interrupt this program……

I've been writing about our adventures while living in Thailand, but over the Thanksgiving holiday, we had to make a 'Visa Run', which means that we had to leave Thailand in order to activate our reentry Visa process and continue our stay.

We decided to enroll in a 9 Day tour of Vietnam and Cambodia which included visiting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Halong Bay, 3 days on the Mekong Delta and then on to Phnom Penh and Siam Reap to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I have to tell you, it wasn't top on my list. I had lost some friends during the war back in the 70's and wasn't really sure about visiting some of those places where they had been lost.

Let me just say, there was
nothing that could have prepared me for this trip.

As I said, I lived through the Vietnam war through the eyes of my friends and family who did everything in their power to beat the draft and the great possibilities of coming home on a cargo transport instead of a passenger transport. The newspapers were filled with stories and photos of our young men maimed and missing limbs and their vacant eyes spoke of their devastated Spirits.

The VC were depicted as enemies of the
civilized world, ignorant peasants who deserved to die. The Americans were depicted as emissaries of the free world, aiding in the fight for freedom for all. There was no truth in either of those statements.

After visiting multiple museums we discovered the true impact of the propaganda and programming that we had been fed. We found that the world was not in agreement or support with our involvement in the war and in fact, were protesting such around the world. We also learned with newly opened eyes about the politics that were involved and the power and riches that were to be won all in the name of democracy.

And what did we discover about the Vietnamese? We learned that contrary to what we had been lead to believe, that Vietnam fought a courageous war, a sacrificial war and that they still struggle to survive nearly 40 years later. 40 years where the USA have moved on to 'fry bigger fish' in many other lands. However, the continued devastation due to birth defects caused by Agent Orange and bombed out communities and mine fields that they have been left to clean up continues to plague them and deform them and yes, claim even more of their lives effects them still. Yet, they had no hesitation in welcoming us as important visitors. They were inviting, welcoming, respectful, open to discussions and questions and even extended their generosity by repeatedly telling us that, "there were no winners in that war."

And do you want to know what they teach in their schools? The younger generation is being taught forgiveness, to hope and work for a better future, to actively seek to create peace, and to
let go of their anger, prejudice, blame and even, their victory. In fact, they even share my personal mantra that we heard repeated over and over, " That was then and this is now!"

This attitude of peace even as they still witness the effects of that war on their families and friends and loved ones, is amazing These 'ignorant peasants' have a thing or two to teach us about what can be achieved in letting go of the past, no matter how painful, no matter how devastating, and turn our intentions instead into creating peace.

What are some of your personal 'programs' that you could 'interrupt' and let go of that would bring you to this place of peace as you prepare to enter into your New Year??

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me".

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bangkok, A whirling, twirling, swirling Dervish!

Bangkok is a whirling, twirling, swirling Dervish!  A madhouse of a city filled with an energy that could rival NYC but with traffic jams that can even put it to shame! I've never seen the constant drone of traffic so dense, so unrelenting as I did experiencing the streets of Bangkok.  Imagine, NYC without it's trains, subways and taxi's and instead, it's millions of people are traveling via cars and motorbikes and little 3 wheeled 'tuc tuc's'  (taxis) weaving in and out adhering to no apparent traffic laws or enforcers to boot! A madhouse for sure that can leave you as dizzy as a carnival ride, yet, exciting, inviting and oh, so welcoming.


It was here that we were first introduced to the complexities and contrasts of Thailand.  Amazingly even with the craziness, the Thai people remain kind and gentle and helpful, going about their business but never seem too busy to explain or redirect.  The pantomime can be hilarious as the language barriers are overcome, with gestures and soulful attempts at forming words uncommon to either party.  But somehow we managed and they managed us and we soon found ourselves to be navigating comfortably from one end of the city to the next albeit it at a snails pace most of the time!


Nonetheless, we hit the ground with both feet running wanting to take in everything possible in the few days we had arranged to be there.  All of the exotic splendor that you might imagine being found in someplace like Thailand is real….only what you don't expect, is to see it juxtaposed in the midst of the 'other' real life the way it is.


One minute we're studying the hundreds of food stalls lining the street, trying not to gawk at the dried insects or the roasted ducks swinging by their necks or dodging one of the many merchants pushing their carts, careful not to step on any of the 'soi (street) dogs' aimlessly sleeping in the most inconvenient places.  And then we suddenly find ourselves face to face with the most magnificent temple or palace and wonder just when did we stepped into Disneyland and asked ourselves, how can this be real??? But real it is!  Wish you were here! It's Heaven on Earth!!

Hope to see you soon, Marcy