Tuesday, July 17, 2018

No Longer Denying Who We Are


Change is the whisper that whistles through our being. It resonates deep within our soul’s marrow. We transform on a subcellular level where thoughts and emotions become tangible. While we might sense those internal changes, another may be unaware. 

We show up authentic and true, but find our self slotted into the same peg. Try as we might, we cannot break free of the same script. We believe that people will truly see us, but they do not. We want more authentic connections, but cannot seem to bridge the illusion of what was to what truly is. 

We get stuck in angst when everyone sees and expects the old us instead of the the transformation into our authentic self. We wonder if anyone will ever see us for who we are. We don’t stop trying to climb out of the peg hole even though the sides are illusion slick. (Some may say this is an example of insanity. )

Discouraged we may just want to stop — to accept that the old, illusory script is the only one we will ever be given. To accept this untruth is to stop evolving. Transformation halted, the same old triggers wring reaction after reaction after reaction out of us. Exhausted, the de-evolution leaches hope from us. Our light dims; our truth is only a distance memory. 

But, then, something amazing happens. We have seemingly one inconsequential interaction. In a momentary burst of compassion, we connect with another — spark to spark. As the flash of connection burns away the crust of uncertainty around our soul, our true self is revealed once more. This heart to heart connection reminds us that our transformation has not been in vain. Those tiny mustard seeds of commitment to true self grow up toward the new day embracing a new way.

The fear, the uncertainty, dims in those moments we were seen by another. That seemingly simple connection gives life to our hope. It powers our courage. It encourages us to live with curious daring. We gain the strength to reach out again and again and again not to change the world but with the intent to be our true self. 

Change. We do not transform because we have anything to prove or to meet the standards of another. We change because we can no longer deny who we truly are. We change, and, in doing so, no longer meet others through our ego. We connect with others through compassion.   


Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.


Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2018

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On The Uneven Road Of Fair & Unfair

The little girl sobbed, “it’s not fair!” Stomping for foot for good measure, she demanded, “Why?” And stood, arms folded, daring me to answer. 

As I looked into the mirror, I had no easy answer for her. Wiping her tears, I gently said, “Oh, little one, the world is a wild and wonder-filled place. It is not always fair. Is it fair that those who live in the city cannot enjoy the dark night sky with so many stars twinkling?” 

“Precious child, the world is uneven, filled with highs and lows, the good and the bad. Maybe the not fair, the unevenness, is there so that we can appreciate the hope seen from the highest mountains and reflected in the densest of jungles. If life were fair, we risk becoming complacent instead of relishing the good while learning from the unevenness. Life isn’t fair, but it is ours. Along the way, we are not judged by fair or unfair, but in how how well we navigate through our challenges and find peace despite the turmoil.”

“No, life is not fair. Sometimes there is no tangible outcome in all the good that you do. Sometimes the best you can hope for is have a good set of struts to absorb the shocks on this bumpy road called life. Sometimes our only reprieve happens in those moments when we sail across a dip in the road too fast and go airborne. Enjoying those moments of flight, we are free of the fair/unfair paradox.” 

“Little one, as my father reminded me, ‘no one promised you fair.’ One think I’ve learned from the unevenness of my life is that I cannot base my life upon judgments drawn from what is happening in another’s life. Perhaps what I believe to be unfair advantage is a result of the unevenness in their life.”

“So, my darling quest-for-truth, breathe deeply, dry your eyes, unwind your tangled limbs, let go of what cannot be. Life isn’t lived in the fear moments. It is not lived for the fair moments. Fair and just are respite from challenges and life lessons. They remind us to drink deeply of the well of self compassion — to quench our thirst so that we journey through the arid lands.”

So, no, dear one. Life is not fair. When we let go of our need to know why, we begin truly live. A life well lived is powered by self compassion and lived on that crazy, bumpy, windy road that brings us through unevenness into life well spent.”

Love, Yourself.  


Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.

Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2018

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Compassion: On Being An Adult

Have you seen the meme “Bob and Sally are still friends, because Bob and Sally are adults. Be Like Bob and Sally”? It equates disregarding value differences with being an adult. I don’t get that meme and the shaming and blaming that goes with it.

What happens when someone acts in a way that reveals a part of themselves that you didn’t know, and that part of themselves is fundamentally different from you? Those revealed differences have you questioning how the relationship can remain the same. Ignoring them doesn’t make you an adult. 

Being an adult does not mean that you stay in a relationship in every relationship regardless of differences. I am not advocating that you leave every relationship in which you and the other person have disagreement. If you did, you would soon find yourself without family or friends. What I am advocating is discernment when the perceived differences of your and another are extreme. For me, these differences usually are values based. 

I believe that it is everyone’s right to decide who to invite into our circle of friends and who to exclude. We have the right to leave a relationship that no longer works for us. That meme and others like it attempt to shame and blame another who chooses to leave a friendship. It is a form of cyber bullying. 

In my book, A Constellation of Connections, I address the balancing role of compassion in relationship. It is a tricky business being true to ourself in the best of relationships. When we discover that a person isn’t who we thought they were, responding with compassion becomes difficult. We are faced with a choice. We can ignore the issue causing dissonance or we can examine our connection to another compassionately. If you choose the latter, I recommend asking yourself several questions: 
    • How do I want to be in this relationship? 
    • What do I need from my partner? 
    • How do I receive what I want and need? 
    • How do I perceive that the other wants to be in relationship with me? 
    • How able am I to provide what that person needs while remaining true to myself? 
Spend some time in quiet reflection answering these questions. If possible, ask your partner to reflect upon the questions. Then dialogue the answers. Perhaps as a result of your discernment you discover that you can remain connected despite your differences. You may discover a pathway to deepening the connection. Another reality is that you may decide that it is time to step back from the relationship. When you choose from your authentic self, you engage in an act of self compassion.

There is no right or wrong decision — there is only your decision made through compassionate reflection. Sometimes for change to happen, you need to be willing to change. And, that is what being an adult in relationship is all about. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.

Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2018

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Arid Land & Growing Empathy

In a flourishing land not so far away or long ago, there was plenty for all. Then some discovered that more for them was better. Piece by precious piece they stole the enough that was rightfully another’s. Larders filled by the few; the land became arid. Those with more looked disdainfully upon those with less. They proclaimed, “Oh, ho! If only you would try harder! I take for your own good. Learn from me so that you may become successful.” 

The shaming and blaming continued as the baron thieves stole more and more. The land became a parched desert with few oasis. Through othering and objectifying, certain people were seen as less than human. Soon the internal lives of the thieves reflected the parched external land. Their most treasured reservoir had dried up — their ability to be empathetic.

Empathy. Compassion. Nonviolence. Relationship. I’ve written books and present programs on each. Organizations like the Charter for Compassion encourage individuals and communities to grow and share their compassionate spirits. Many people reseed the arid land with their compassionate hearts. 

I look at the evolution of a world where one person’s overabundance necessitates another person’s poverty. I wonder where is the empathy that seeds the root of compassion. The answer to my pondering is found in the precarious balance of good and evil seeded in the ground of each person’s being.  

But, what is evil? For me, the definition of Captain G. M. Gilbert, a US Army psychologist present at the Nuremberg Trials, resonates. He says, “Evil, I think, is the absent of empathy." It is through empathy or the lack of it, we choose to live walled off from the world’s suffering or be active alleviators of suffering. In each and every choice we nurture good or sustain evil. 

Few of us are 100% good or 100% evil. We act upon a continuum. Sometimes we grow the fibrous stalks of evil for many reasons — unaware, tired, suffering within our self — being empathetic takes a lot of energy. At other times, the evil grows from a blatant disregard for others. Ultimately, the good and evil we grow is a result of both our intentional and unconscious nurturing of our ground of spirit. We nurture the fragile seedlings of relationships through understanding or we grow the stalks of evil — apathy and narcissism — through disengagement.

Living in our world can be emotionally exhausting. Maybe some have become desensitized to the suffering in the world; maybe others never recognized that suffering exists. Who knows why anyone experiences a empathetic drought? Maybe origin of the drought is not as important as how we as individuals and community reclaim our empathetic nature. 

How do we become an world of empathy? Through our actions as individuals and as members of community: By being aware of the suffering in the world but not allowing our self to become consumed by it. Through the practice self compassion and within proactive groups who power their action with compassion. By waking up and stepping into our empathetic spirit. By using our empathy as a spring board that alleviates suffering and roots out the stalks of evil.  

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.


Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lift the Weight of the World

Sometimes the suffering in the world overwhelms me. Being constantly bombarded by suffering — mine, yours, and the worlds erodes the interior place of peace and clarity. I find myself walking unsteadily on that fine line between disconnect and losing myself in the suffering. In empathy overload I cannot see through my angst to compassion’s essence. 

How can we maintain our core while being a beacon of compassion in the world? I can tell you the mechanics of moving from affective empathy to cognitive empathy to compassion, but of late I am unsure how to put the process into practice. I am aware of the times that the weight of suffering tips me into a place so dark that I cannot see even a flicker of compassion’s light. 

It is a challenge to do what I know what I must do. For filled with the angst of suffering, I have only one option. Finding a quiet space, I rest in the dark. I feel its velvet caress and its sharp jabbing edges. I identify the sores rubbed raw by suffering. I feel the muscles strained by holding myself erect during the buffeting onslaught. 

No longer in denial, I feel suffering but do not cling to it. I do not judge myself or another for the suffering. I do not defend my inability to be compassion’s presence. I accept my humanness as I wait for peace to rise within me. As it rises, I do not grasp at it, but allow its silk to swirl around me.

I wait within the dark knowing that eventually something mystical, something magical, is happening. Compassion arises not with fanfare, but as a gentle breeze. What begins as a whisper grows in volume — the voice of ethereal compassion sings a song of healing. The sparks of hope ignite within me.

While I have no conscious clue of how to navigate this dark night, I trust that the song and the sparks will lead me step by step out of this dark chamber. As compassion’s song reaches crescendo, the agony echoes of suffering fade away. And, I realize it is the little things that each of us do that increases the light and chases the dark into the shadows. When we combine the little things, we have a powerful force of compassion that cannot be denied.  
Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.


Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Into the Wild: Diversity & Ecology of the Spirit

The woods behind my home is mostly green with intermittent swatches of brown. Yesterday as the storm approached, I looked outside my window to see the trees waving at me. As the trees bowed, I spied a face deeply gnarled into one tree’s truck. Eye to eye, I connected to the soul essence of Tree. Through our connection I resonated with the network of Nature Herself as Tree whispered to me, “We can withstand much, but not too much.” 

Tree and I were in communion during that storm. During this wordless connection, Tree said, “It’s going to rain. I may lose a few leaves, maybe a spindly branch or two, but I am going to drink the refreshing water pouring down on me.” 

Ecology of the land. Ecology of my spirit. They are entwined. I cannot extricate myself from the rhythm of connection in nature. And, I wonder how can we learn the lesson of nature’s ecology? How can we, as human’s, create a system that is ever expanding and inclusive? How can we celebrate diversity instead of shutting our self away? How can we stop stifling life energy that on the surface doesn’t seem to resonate with ours when in reality that life energy is inexplicably twined with ours? 

It is not only my friend Tree that speaks in communion. The ecology of the wooded area resonates to me, heart to heart, soul to soul. I am reminded that we cannot live in isolation. If we learn nothing from nature, we recognize that its Wild has a subtle way of encroaching upon so called civilization. And the Wild creates a beauty that cannot be found in neatly manicured lawns and boxes of perennials. The wild is a mosaic of colors and textures and smells that invite us to be our true self.

It is clear to me that to live as an homogeneous society is to stifle our creativity and deplete our possibilities as both individuals and as a collective. In this environment our knowledge is severely limited and so is our understanding. We lack the basis for critical thinking and the ability to act wisely. In this space the powers-that-be decide we cannot think for our self and purge anything that does not fall within the parameters of an increasingly narrow box of control.

I cannot live in a box where the spindly plants that manage to grow toward the sun are burnt by an overabundance of compost. I yearn to live with Tree and the diversity that thrives in the Wild. For there, natural compost works itself into the fertile ground that is shared by all. The water isn’t collected and meted out. It falls from the sky and all those in the Wild drink freely. 

The course is clear: Leap outside of the box lest you be burnt by the compost and become stunted, unable to grow into your true self. Breathe in courage. Grasp the rim of the box. With curious daring, vault into the Wild. For the Wild isn’t a fearful place. It is a place where the ecology of blooming diversity resonates with the ecology of our spirit. In the Wild we resonate with our true self. 


Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.


Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Compassion of Enough+

May you live in interesting times. Well, we are living in interesting and uncertain times indeed. I remember not so long ago wondering why I had chosen the easy path — to incarnate in a country of plenty instead of living in a more challenging environment. I wondered how I could reach spiritual enlightenment surrounded by so much.

Lately, I have been reflecting upon the illusion of living in the land of plenty and home of the free. Even basic necessities like clean water are no longer guaranteed. Another person’s rights no longer end where mine begin. In this blurry space, rights that we have taken for granted are trampled on. The illusion of greatness has eroded. Through the gaping holes erosion creates, the force of suffering blasts — I feel the agony of those who are not living the illusory dream. I hear in disbelief the shaming, blaming, and othering.

I ask myself, as the illusion crumbles around me, “Why are you here if not to live the American dream?” The answer  to that question haunts me in the darkening night. It whispers
ever so softly, “Paradigm shift.” There is no simple action to create an all is well paradigm. The answer demands that we shine our light into the dark to navigate the road that leads from the fantasy of “living the dream if you try hard enough” into a reality that provides access to that dream for all. 

Maybe I chose this life because I am a dreamer, a change agent. I believe that we can create a better life for everyone. I believe that there is a table big enough for everyone to sit at. I believe that we do not have to compete for precious little when we can collaboratively provide enough+ for all. I believe that when we move from a mindset of forced compromise into a life powered by consensus that we live compassionately in one of those gates of heaven Merton wrote about. 

I believe that to get from the uncertainty of today to this place of enough+, we need to make some tough choices. These aren’t the choices that destroy opportunities to realize our basic needs; rather, these choices elevate all of us to a place where needs are met and some wants realized for all of us — the community of enough+.  We sustain this community when we stop othering by choosing to be compassion’s presence.

I am a dreamer, a believer who knows that each of us is alive in this moment to make the world a better place. A place where we reside, with others, in a gate of heaven — there we commit to live in each moment fully aware and compassionately responsive to each part of creation. In the gate, our light attracts the lights of others and we stand part of an illuminated community of compassionate consensus. Paradigm shift realized.

Set aside your wants, gather your needs, and join me at compassion’s table. Seated at the table of unconditional love, we are a community of consensus. Within this community of enough+ we navigate within the gate of heaven to live in these  interesting, uncertain times together.


Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa assists clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com for keynotes, programs, and consultations.


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