The Game of Life


My grandfather taught me to play chess when I was a little girl. I couldn’t have been any older than six, for I wasn’t in school yet and we’d play during the day in between his patients (he had a home office medical practice) with a wooden chess set that he kept in a neat wooden box in the bottom drawer of his desk.

I remember being very impressed with the way that the board unfolded on its little hinges and how all the pieces had felt bottoms so that they could move smoothly across the squares without scratching.

I also remember him patiently correcting my moves “no Steph, the knight moves either two squares up and one square sideways, not cat-a-corner, that’s the bishop.”  And he’d laugh over my anger over a piece being “taken,” not because I was mad that he’d won the piece, but because I was upset that he’d taken the piece away from its “family.”

But he was nothing if not a good teacher, and I learned the game well in spite of my grandmother’s concerns that it wasn’t a kids game, and my mother assuring me that I would find it boring and my own trepidations about splitting up the ‘families’ every time we played (though I always found it reassuring when the game was over and all the pieces could be put back in their respective family compartments).

In fact I learned it so well that as I got older I began seeing any sort of complex interaction with another person as a sort of endless series of chess moves in games that were being played simultaneously on a board that looked suspiciously like life.  Sometimes I could get to where I wanted to go simply by moving a pawn one space.  Other times it took multiple “jumps” with my knight in order to save the situation, or occasionally I’d have to come at the situation from a new angle – sort of like a bishop – or plow straight ahead regardless of the consequences like a castle.  And then there were the moments when I could sweep in with a beautiful series of unexpected moves – like a queen – and sweep the board in triumph.

But not only did I make moves designed to help me “win” the situation, it also became apparent that in life, just like in chess, when a person made a certain move; when they did or said a certain thing; there seemed to be only a limited number of ‘moves’ that I could make in response to it; at least if I wanted to “win” the game (or at least score the piece).

In fact, just like there are some professional chess players who memorize all the moves of famous chess matches; I began to see repeating patterns in particular interactions and relationships.

Each time I ‘played’, even though I was playing different game and against a different person, when the other person would make a certain kind of move (the opening move from a particular type of match) – I would react/respond in the same way as I was ‘supposed’ to or at least in the way that I had before.

But there was just one problem – with both of us making the same kinds of moves, the end result was inevitably predictable.  I KNEW how it was going to turn out long before the game was over because logic dictated that these particular moves were the only moves that could be made in response to the other person’s moves.   But uncertain of what else could be done – of how else to react – I would continue to make the moves, even if I knew that it was going to be a disaster.

There was one particular game that I remember well; a game of repeating personal interactions where I thought that I had worked through a particular issues and a similar situation would arise (only with a different person).  The details would be different; the intensity of the situation would change from situation to situation – but the end result of the game was always the same; stalemate, with both sides hurt and blaming the other of being controlled and manipulated because of the way the game had been played.

While this particular game had been repeating throughout my lifetime with different people, for some reason – this one time – everything was intensified tenfold.  This time when everything fell apart at the end – I was devastated.  It hurt worse than anything I could ever remember and as usually, one of the first things I started doing was analyzing my game.

I had played the game exactly the way it was supposed to have been played – the only way it COULD be played.  What had I done to deserve this kind of misunderstanding and pain?   Why did it hurt so bad?  What mistakes had I made to bring that sort of situation on myself?   How could I make sure that it would never happen again?

I struggled with these questions; searching for answers; beating myself up over the missteps and mistakes I’d made, and just when I thought I’d figured it out; just when I thought I had a handle on it – it happened again!  And while this time involved a different person in a different situation – the moves were the same.  I could SEE it even as it was unfolding, and this time I saw the glaring similarities to the first game when I was no more than halfway through.  How on earth had I managed to get into the same situation again?  And wouldn’t you know it, once I’d gotten the board set up and all the pieces laid out – it started all over again!

The third time was the charm however.  After the first moves had been made and I realized that the same damned game was beginning again, it dawned on me that something had to change unless I wanted to voluntarily go through that same hell again.

And that was it you see – when the third time rolled around, it finally dawned on me that it wasn’t the choices I made in response to these individuals’ decisions and reactions that mattered.   It didn’t even matter what pieces I was choosing to play with.  It was the game itself that was to blame.

It was the game; the conditioning of a lifetime  (or even of lifetimes) that said that when you are confronted with THIS situation (or THIS person in a different form) you have to react THIS way; habits of a lifetime that were kicking in; responding to a situation that kept presenting itself to me in different forms.

It was then that I realized that in order to learn this particular lesson I had to make a completely different move, because in a way they had been right – I WAS controlling and manipulating. So had they been – though neither of us had been doing it intentionally mind you, but because that was the way that the game is played.   You can’t play chess (successfully) without knowledge of the moves and an idea of how the other side will probably react if you make them.

Anyway – this new move was a move only I could make – it was a move inside of my own head – a move to not let what the person did affect me. Not to take it personally (even though it sure as hell felt like it).  In short – it was deciding not to react; not to play the game.

And what do you know – once I had decided not to play everything changed.

And maybe that’s how it works in different games; maybe even in different lifetimes (if you believe in such a thing).  There is something that we’ve been too stubborn to learn; something that we respond to the same way over and over again because we’ve been conditioned to believe that that is the only way that the game can be played (that when someone does this we have to do that) and it is something we are destined to repeat until we can simply make a decision not to play the same game again; not to make the same knee-jerk reactions.

Then and only then can we let go of the need to control the board and predict the next move (ours or theirs) and let go of the urge to be offended by some move that we don’t expect and finally get on with the really important stuff, like moving on in our own spiritual development as well as working together to make the world a better place.

Authentic Living 102: Clearing Your Space

You feel the urge to start over; to be someone new; to start living your authentic life.

Perhaps you have just started a new job, moved to a new house, ended or begun a new relationship, had a child (or conversely finally gotten your kids out of the house) or have had a spiritual epiphany. Or maybe, just maybe you feel that, for some reason, the time is right for a new beginning.

The reasons are not important. What is important is your urge – your NEED – to begin again.

This urge – this NEED – shows that you have reached a new level in your personal development and are ready to acknowledge the fact that you have begun a new chapter in your life’s story and, interestingly enough, all new chapters always begin on a fresh page.

Where I personally have messed up multiple times, is in not taking this urge seriously. By brushing it aside; treating it as something amusing but not a priority, by not following through I have found myself falling back into the old habits and patterns that inevitably take me back to the beginning again, and once more I find myself having to relive the lessons that I thought I had finally mastered.

Each person will go about the “starting over” process differently, depending on their personal preferences and priorities. I am going to share with you what has worked for me. This list is in no way all-inclusive, so feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. Instead see it as a sort of outline, flesh it out with what feels right for you.

How to Clear Your Physical and Emotional Space

I’ll grant you that really getting into your house/apartment or room clearing DOES offer you an opportunity to vent your frustrations with whatever it is that is bothering you, but it is also a lesson in psychological clearing. For when you physically clean your space you are emphasizing a simultaneous psychological clearing as well.  So as you work, take time to mentally evaluate those things that are directly tied to the space/items that you are clearing out of your life.

Step #1:  Clear the Clutter

It is amazing how much STUFF we tend to accumulate – both physically and emotionally. Where on earth does it come from? Better yet – WHY DO WE KEEP IT? Books and magazines and ticket stubs to movies we didn’t actually enjoy. Outmoded ideas and beliefs; collections of various knickknacks, photographs of people whose names we’ve forgotten, broken pieces of furniture that we’ll get around to fixing one day, the list goes on and on and on. Each and every item not only takes up physical space but emotional space as well.

Get rid of it – all of it (yes the emotional and psychological clutter as well!).

Any physical object that you do not use at least once a year (the exception being specialized sports equipment) a GET RID OF IT! If you HAVE to collect something, pick your top five favorites (for me its books, sheet music, elephants (don’t ask), international gods/religious statues, paperweights and baskets).

I set myself a limit in each category depending on the amount of space I have for it. If I want a new item, I have to get rid of one of the old ones. Allow yourself one box for “Personal” items (ticket stubs, birthday cards etc.) and, when the box is full, purge the old stuff. It’s amazing how many memories (many of them negative) that we attach to these odds and ends. Clearing them out of our lives can help emphasize the new beginning that you are wanting to embrace.

Step #2:  Clean Top to Bottom

From your ceiling fixtures to your baseboards – CLEAN EVERYTHING. Clear the cobwebs out of the corners, scrub the stains off the carpet, run all of your curtains and bedclothes through the laundry. Check the air vents for dirt build-up, change your air filters, and wash your windows. You will be surprised (or maybe not) at how your mood will lift when everything is CLEAN, and free of the odors and stains that you may not even realize you were associating with past mistakes and failures.

Step #3: Mental Re-evaluation 

Go through your paperwork, your magazines, your computer files, and purge and pare down. Condense those things you want to keep, delete or shred those things that are no longer needed.

This is the perfect time to start a journal (or to get a new journal if you already keep one). Select it carefully; the color and type you pick out can speak volumes about your personal self-image.

Pick out several new books that you want to read, or subscribe to a magazine that reflects your philosophy on life.

Go through your “favorites” list on your computer. Do you even know what some of those sites are anymore? Why are they taking up space? Do you belong to extemporaneous internet sites? Are there games taking up space on your hard-drive that you haven’t played in years? Delete them, discontinue your subscriptions.

Chances are that as you come across various objects in this particular category you will be inundated with memories and emotions associated with them, don’t be afraid to let go of these as well!  Especially those that are not serving you (that is, those that do not reflect the highest expression of who and what you really are).

Step #4:  Re-evaluate Your Wardrobe

It is not just your physical wardrobe of course, but how you present yourself to others. Is the persona you are presenting to the public authentic? Or is it simply what you are “expected” to be?

As to the evaluating the wardrobe you keep in your closet…this may sound particularly ridiculous, especially to a guy, but try it! Go through all your clothes, put aside everything you haven’t worn in a year (the exception being heavy winter clothing or specialty items, such as ski-suits, swim-suits or evening gowns/tuxedos).  Put those items you no longer use (or that are too small or out of style) immediately into a plastic bag or box and get it out of the house. Give them to charity, or put them up for adoption at a consignment shop if you can’t stomach throwing them out but if you haven’t worn it in a year, DON’T KEEP IT.

Once you’ve pared out the things you haven’t worn – go through everything again and this time delete everything that you don’t want. This is harder. This takes an evaluation of who you are, what you want, and you may be surprised to find that you have been wearing things that don’t fit the image of the person you want to be, things you’ve worn because you felt obligated Were they a gift? Something someone expects you to wear?  Don’t let someone else’s expectations dictate the persona you present to the world.

Finally, check your underwear. Yes, I said underwear. Does your underwear fit? Does it cover what you want to cover or show what you want to show? Why not? It’s amazing how much better you feel in your clothes if you are wearing the right kind of underthings. Again, this can be seen as a psychological process as well – WHAT IS SUPPORTING YOUR BELIEFS? What lies at the core of your understanding? Will it hold up those things that should be supported?

Step #5:  Physical Reboot

No psychological clearing is complete unless one has undergone a physical purging as well. Some people are blessed with enough income to go to a spa or health retreat and spend their hard-earned $$ on mud-wraps and massages and steam baths, but a two-day juice-fast, long-hot soaks in the bathtub and over-the-counter face masks as well as long sessions at the gym can make you feel amazing inside as well as out, as can committing to a long-term (realistic) exercise and/or diet plan.

I know that it may seem like a lot of work, but by paying attention to all aspects of yourself, by re-evaluating everything from your grocery purchases to your wardrobe, you can uncover a host of psychological blocks that you never even knew existed and which, had they gone un-detected and un-addressed, may have caused you to fall back into your old habit patterns.


Step #6:  Ditch the Guilt

Finally – ditch the guilt over getting rid of the things (both physical and emotional) that are no longer of use to you. The whole point is to re-create your world to reflect WHO YOU ARE NOW. Not who you were.  Without this last step you have will keep your clutter at bay for a while, but eventually it will creep back in.  So don’t skimp on this last step.  But when you have taken it, take a deep breath and look around you and revel in the openness and authenticity that you have incorporated into your life.

And So It Begins

I have a story to tell you; a story that needs to be told. I will not tell you if it is truth or fiction – that is something which you will have to decide for yourself.

So listen closely.

Listen well.

If my story rings true for you, then truth it is. If it does not, then there is no harm done. You have wasted a few minutes of your time, nothing more.

If, however, you find what I have to say disturbing, you may want to ask yourself why – and to answer yourself truthfully.

And so it begins…


Once Upon A Very Long Time Ago – so long ago that even the rocks that make up the earth’s foundations don’t remember it – there were energies that were set loose in the universe.

These were not random, chaotic energies however, no. These were energies with purpose, and each of them made their way to a specific set of coordinates, coordinates which, oddly enough, intersected with planets – planets on which life was destined to evolve.

One of these energies was assigned to Earth – and its purpose was singular and simple: To bring about and advance the evolution of life on earth.

And so it was that the energy did as it had been directed – it brought about the beginning of life, and, having done so, it faded into the background, waiting patiently as change after change occurred, as eon after eon rolled slowly by, bringing with it plant life and aquatic life, amphibian and avian life.

And each time that it seemed that life had reached a stalemate – an evolutionary dead-end – the energy would re-awaken, each time taking a new and different form through which to act, through which to serve its purpose: serving as a catalyst to re-activate the evolutionary process.

It has come as fire and it has come as ice. It has come as the breath of life and the agent of destruction, each time rearranging energies and circumstances in such a way as to fulfill its original mission. And even though it can sometimes appear to be causing great suffering and upheaval, it knows what it is doing – fulfilling its original mission – and it will not be deterred.

It is an energy with a mission….and that mission is even now not yet complete.
And so it was that for millennia this oldest of earth energies, this energy containing the Breath of Life, the mind of change and threat of Chaos, laid dormant for a very VERY long time.

But once again its time has come. Once again it is time for the next step in the evolutionary path to be taken, and this time it has targeted humanity as a whole as the means to unlocking the next cycle in the evolutionary process.

And this time it has chosen a much more subtle means of evolutionary advancement, for this time fire and ice, flood, climate change, none of these will work, none CAN work, for while this is an evolutionary change of momentous proportions, its work – its change – cannot be accomplished purely on the physical level. For this is a change of the mind, an evolution of the spirit.

This time it is choosing to propel humanity past its own mental blocks and into an era of spiritual evolution that will unlock the potential of mind, body and spirit: potential that humanity has been sitting on for millennia.

And in order to accomplish this….this most ancient of energies had to do something very unusual indeed.

It had to be born.

But it was not born, as you might expect, into a physical body. Rather, since it is the mind and spirit that will be doing the changing, it had to be born into the human psyche.

This is not a future event. This is not something that WILL take place days or months or years down the road. IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED. It happened while you were sleeping; while you were working; while you were laughing; while you were making love.

It is in your mind, right now, and there is nothing you can do about it.
One day you will wake up and find yourself looking out through its eyes, but they won’t be the eyes of a stranger. Somehow you will know that you have finally woken up to the person; to the potential that has been inside of you all along.

Looking at the world through eyes made fresh by understanding; life will once more be a marvelous place where every day is a gift and dreams are not impossible but loom on the horizon like the shores of distant but not unobtainable countries.

These eyes will see a world where wonder and mystery still abound and peace is the order of the day.
And these eyes; these eyes will cry for joy that once more, in the heart, love reigns supreme.

For Such a Time as This

All around us the world is changing; its energy is changing; moving; shifting; preparing for an upheaval of unimaginable proportions.

You are aware of these changes. You can feel them. Everyone is aware of them at some level. Everyone can feel them whether they realize it or not.

Even for those who deny it, the energy will out. It makes itself known; felt; understood, and it will use whatever means; whatever emotions and feelings it has available. It may make itself known as a nagging annoyance; as an insatiable restlessness; as a need to find something (though you may not know what it is you are looking for); as a persistent and underlying anger; as moments of uncontrolled rage against the injustice of it all (though you may not be entirely sure what you are raging against); as a low grade apprehension that keeps your insides churning with the knowledge that something is about to happen; or even as outright fear.

Human nature being what it is most people will try to find reason for these emotions; someone or something that they can point to and say “Look – they are to blame!” or “Here is the reason that everything is falling apart!” Then they proceed to find a way to reason it out; to justify it for themselves. They can’t help the way that they feel because they are being controlled/manipulated/influenced by outside persons or forces.

But all it amounts to is YOUR reaction to the changes in energy that you feel; the result of your fighting the changes in the energy that you feel; and it is not even energy that you have any control over. It simply IS.

This change in Earth’s energy simply IS.

It is time.

That is all.

And we happen to be living here in one of the most monumental times of Earth’s history; standing on the brink of an evolutionary shift so profound that it cannot be described; only felt and experienced.

It cannot be avoided.

It cannot be ‘fixed.’

This is exactly what is supposed to be happening and you can’t ‘fix’ it because this IS the fix. These changes in energy are what is going to set things right. The upheavals in everything from societal standards to plate tectonics are part of the cure; as is your being here.

You being here; you being here now – at this particular moment in time – is part of the cure.

You chose to be here during one of the greatest evolutionary shifts in earth’s history. Yes. You chose it. You may not remember doing the choosing, but you did or you would not be here.

Some of you chose to be here because you were curious and wanted a ringside seat; others because they wanted to experience it for themselves – wanted to get in on the action – take the ride if you will; and some few because they wanted to contribute in some way, shape or form to this restructuring. Then of course there are those who are contributing to the changes in ways that have been building over many lifetimes with the knowledge that it would come to this in the end.

But it isn’t the end, and that is the whole point.

No matter how scared you may be; no matter how angry you may feel at your life being turned upside down or inside out; no matter that you have forgotten as to why you are here, and how this is part of what is supposed to happen right here and now; it doesn’t matter.

It’s time to take a step back from the anger.

It’s time to take a step back from the fear.

It’s time to take a step back from the emotional upheavals and remember that this is part of something much bigger; YOU are part of something much bigger.
Take a step back, and then take a deep breath.

Stop fighting the changes – even if you feel that they are changing you. Let them. This is part of the process.

Stop fighting the emotions that these changes are generating and LET THEM GO.
Let go of the anger. Let go of the fear. Let go of the hatred and the rage and the irritation and the restlessness. Let it all go.

Feel the changes as they occur; observe them; let them move through you, but don’t become attached to them; don’t let your emotions get stirred up by them. Let them do what they are here to do, even if what they are doing is inside of you.

These changes are going to happen, no matter if we fight them or not, and resisting them will only cause us pain. We knew this was going to happen. In fact, we’ve been planning on it.

So relax and let it be.

You came here for such a time as this.

Firewalls of the Mind

There are a lot of complaints about firewalls – especially in the corporate and government spheres and in fact the term “firewall” has become a byword for restricted access to outside websites.

But firewalls DO serve a purpose. A firewall is dedicated software running on a computer that inspects network traffic passing through it and allows or denies passage of said traffic based on a set of pre-programmed rules. They are necessary to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks which are connected to the Internet.  They are also used to keep unauthorized information from leaving the protected system thus protecting the company’s assets.

While firewalls may be a necessary part of the internet world – necessary in that they allow corporate entities and government agencies do their work without undue worry as to their information being compromised, there is another aspect of the concept of a ‘firewall’ that most people don’t consider, and that is how the idea of a “firewall” carries over to the mind.

Humans are complex creatures with dozens of interconnecting systems that keep us working and functioning properly, but perhaps the most complex of our systems is that of our brains.  Consider this; the average human is bombarded with over 10 million bits of information a second through the eyes alone!

Not all of the information that our senses pick up makes it into our consciousness.  Our brains filter out an incredible amount of information every second, enabling us to function on this physical reality without being overwhelmed by physical stimuli. But we’re not content to leave it at that. As humans we also put up mental and psychological firewalls to further inhibit the flow of information, but in addition to the mental and psychological firewalls we put up ourselves, we also have to deal with those that have been put up for us, many times without our knowledge or conscious consent.

From a very very young age we are programmed by our families, religions, schools, governments and societies that certain things are “okay” and other things “aren’t” that certain behaviors are appropriate, and others aren’t. This programming becomes our own personal firewalls even though we may not have consciously chosen them, and they are ingrained so deeply in our psyche that 10, 20, 30 years later we’ll still automatically “screen out” anything that conflicts with them – sometimes without even wondering WHY.

And if, by some chance, we do actually manage to consider an idea “outside” of our programming, we get the mental equivalent of a security pop up window…”An Unauthorized Program is requesting access – do you want to allow it?”

Now it may be logical to install security software on a computer system – or even on a child’s mental system so that they are not overwhelmed by extemporaneous input from outside or from untrustworthy sources, but when is it time to stop using the “recommended security settings” and begin using the “custom security settings” where we decided for ourselves which sites or information is safe to peruse?

Those same people and institutions that installed the firewalls to begin with always recommend against using the custom security settings, especially if they go against their own interpretation of the system’s operating parameters.  Why?  Well, have you ever heard of a system administrator?

A system administrator has the authority to change things in the computer.  They are employed to maintain and operate the computer system or network and it is up to them to make sure that the network of computers they maintain continue to run smoothly and continue to operate according to the parameters set down by the SOP of the company or organization.

Well, just as many individuals work computers are tied to one system administrator (who has the authority to decide what is allowed into the system or not) so too do many institutions (such as societies, religions and the like) act as system administrators for those who subscribe to them.

Granted it is simpler to allow a system administrator to control your computer for you; that way you do not have to worry about what information is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ but simply follow the guidelines set down by that system, but does that make your mind yours, or is it the organization’s?

So here is the question that you need to ask yourself; Are you more comfortable allowing someone or something else to decide the parameters of your operating system, or are you going to choose to use the custom settings and decide your system’s operating parameters for yourself?

If you choose to work with custom settings it is not as easy as just flipping a switch, for at every turn you are going to be confronted with the old firewalls and security settings that were set up for you or that you allowed to be installed.  This can be time consuming and sometimes disturbing as it goes against everything that you’ve been programmed to believe, but only once you have disassembled those firewalls will you understand the true scope and power of your system.


©Stephanie S. Henry 2012