Inhaling Spirit

 

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Rumi

The answers always come to me in the stillness when I sit and listen to God.  Not long ago these words, loudly, resoundingly, silently:

I am the open vessel through which my Divine creation flows

What’s that now?  The message came to me during meditation on the morning of January 15, 2014.  I know this for a fact because as soon as I came out of meditation I typed it into my iPhone “notes” so that I wouldn’t forget.  I needed to remember these words because I had to figure out what the heck they meant.

Being creative has always been a calling for me.  I have tried my hand at drawing, painting, quilting, costume designing, prop building, stain glass design, and of course, writing.  I adore getting lost in the process.  The inspiration comes, I gather my supplies, I download my lessons and tips, I carve out some time and then I find a patch of sunlight and CREATE something.  The results have ranged from the downright ridiculous to the surprisingly sublime.  But as with most journeys, the destination is not as important as the path itself, and as I grow wise (I’m over 50, so I get to call myself wise) I realize that the process of creating is what I have been seeking, and not necessarily the products of that process.

I am hooked on the creative process.  I feel so alive when I am inspired, flushed with excitement.  Some idea will occur to me, seemingly from nowhere and I become consumed with it.  Etymologically speaking, Inspiration literally means inhaling spirit, or to be under the immediate influence of God.  When I am first inspired, in those precious moments before my thinking, judging mind steps in and takes over, I feel such a wave of euphoria. It is as if I finally recognize that I’ve had wings all along and I suddenly remember I can fly.  I try to stay in that space of inspiration as long as possible, careful to quiet the nagging voices of my ego long enough to get the creation flowing.

While in that flow of inspiration I create the authentic expression of my most Divine self.  Once I get my ego out of the way and allow the flow of inspiration I am able to become that vessel for the creation itself.  The creation has a longing to come into existence and I am the instrument helping it to find form.  Seeing my role as being of service to the divine flow has helped me to remove any self doubt or judgment, and left me free to be completely authentic.

I create to tell, not to sell.  When I have set my mind to create for any personal gain (money, fame, etc.) I have tripped and fallen before taking a real step.  When I free myself to create for the sake of creating, I fly.  Creating for its own sake allows me to forget that others may see, read, judge what I am doing, and takes the self consciousness away.  I am then able to be authentic, brave and true to who I really am.  Oh what a feeling… what a rush!

Discovering our spiritual nature is the purpose of this human experience. The ultimate creator is God and by becoming creators we connect with that part of ourselves that is divine.   There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground, as Rumi says.  Each creation is a prayer of sorts, an answer to the silent voice of the divine that whispers to our hearts, inspiring us to fly.

Find a patch of sunshine.  Carve out the time.  Create.  And then you will remember you too can fly.

The Art of Dreaming

Dream Chaser by Cypherx
Dream Chaser by Cypherx

 

“Let yourself be drawn by the strange pull of that which you truly love.”  Rumi

Don’t you just love all of the inspirational quotes about following your dreams?  “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.  Preach it, Eleanor Roosevelt!  Or what about our buddy Walt Disney:  “If you can dream it, you can do it”.   And since I have reached that 1/2 century marker, C.S. Lewis has become my new BFF with this one:  “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream”.  Makes me want to take up embroidery so that I can put that on a pillow.

I have found that the problem with growing older is that my freedom and capacity to dream seems to have diminished.  When I was young I could look toward the future and know that anything was possible.  Everything I wished for could actually come true.  Life was expectant and exciting and I hadn’t learned to temper my dreams with logic or reality.  What a wonderful, breathless time that was.

But life set in and before I knew it I was paying a mortgage, raising a child, building a career and taking care of everyone else.  I made sure to cultivate my daughter’s dreams, signing her up for classes and driving her here and there, excited to see her so vividly open to her own beautiful future.  I was busy, never having a moment to myself, but that really didn’t seem to matter.

And then one day somebody asked me a question.  It was a simple question, but one I hadn’t  thought about in a very long time.  The question made me pause, and by pausing I finally understood how very out of touch with myself I had become.  Why was it so hard to answer?

“What are my dreams?”

I honestly couldn’t answer.  Dumbfounded and flummoxed I did what I always do in situations like this one.  I googled.  My searching brought me to a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, called Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling.   I recognized his name from PBS specials my Dad liked to watch and decided to give it a try.   I ran down to the local bookstore and picked it up.  It was my first book by Dr. Wayne and I was captivated almost at once.  My family and I were headed to St. George to visit my parents and I ended up reading the whole thing on the way there.  Every word, every new chapter was another AHA! AHA! AHA!

Wayne’s words were like water to my thirsty soul:  “There’s a voice in the universe calling each of us to remember our purpose; our reason for being here now, in this world of impermanence.”  Yes, Wayne!  Yes there is!  ” The voice whispers, shouts, and sings to us that this experience of being in form, in space and time, knowing life and death, has meaning. The voice is that of inspiration, which is within each and every one of us.”  YES!   It IS within me!

I could have danced with joy had the airplane aisles been just a smidge wider.

This beautiful book began me on my journey to finding my inner bliss, my purpose and my calling.  I began to really pay attention to what excited me.  And once I finally figured out what my dreams were, I made efforts, even if they were just baby steps, in the direction of those dreams.  Baby steps to personal fulfillment.  Baby steps to divine enlightenment.  Baby steps to Bliss.

In these subsequent years I have learned a few things about being a Dream Catcher.  Perhaps a list is in order?

1.  Dream big, then grow into it.  There is no sense in attaching limitations to our dreams.  Shoot for the stars and wait for the Universe to build you a rocket ship.

2.  Be specific.  Clarify what you want so that you can easily visualize it.  Write it down and remind yourself as often as possible so that you stay focused on the Dream.

3.  Ask for help.  Call in your celestial team for a meeting and delegate the tasks to your angelic helpers and spirit guides.  In other words, pray. .. whatever that means for you.

4.  Believe.  Trust that your Dreams will come true and they will.  You become what you believe.  Simple as that.

5.  Let go.  The hows and the whens will be sorted out by the Universe.  Don’t try to micro-manage the celestial team, because that is just likely to slow things down or trip things up.  They know what they are doing a whole lot better than you do.

6.  Take a few steps.  With every moment of every day take those baby steps as you are guided.  The path will show itself and you will be guided in the perfect way and at the perfect time to your Dream destination.

Your life is yours to live.  Dream big, and believe that those dreams will come true.

The Promised Land

Photo by:  Walter Babinski, My American Husband
Photo by: Walter Babinski, My American Husband

“Raise your words, not your voice.  It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”  Rumi

“There’s a new world somewhere, they call the promised land”.  These words have echoed in my mind, unbidden, on many occasions in the past few years like some echoed message from the ethers, always making me just stand up and pay attention.   I am not one to latch onto the movement that is afoot that talks about the coming Ascension, DNA activation, Galactic councils or 5th Dimension stuff.  This is not to say these things are not real, just that they are not resonating with me at this point.  Who knows… tomorrow I may wake up with a whole new understanding about the situation, but for now I can only go by what my own experience has brought me.

There is a shift happening.  Most definitely. I have no label for it, but here is what I am experiencing as the times change.   I see archaic systems of government and business begin to exhibit greater and greater nastiness, ultimately to crumble.  On a personal level I feel it in the way time sometimes seems to jump, past present future all balled up into one.  I find myself having waves of sheer euphoria and connection and then on the opposite end of the spectrum, waves of desperation and fear.  It feels like all of the old ego based stuff is bubbling to the surface so that it can finally be evicted for good.  Relationships that have reached their expiry date are falling away with little or no effort.  New relationships are forming with people who seem to have like minds and spirits.   It is all very subtle, and yet not so subtle and it seems that once I turn my attention to what is happening it comes much more clearly into focus.

It appears to me that the earth is making the shift from fear into love.  We are nearly at critical mass where we reach that perfect Tipping Point and humanity will be brought into a new paradigm where love, integrity, authenticity and compassion are the norm and fear, greed, competition and avarice are left behind.  Sounds idyllic, don’t you think?  Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn calls it the Love Revolution, and while I am usually not much into labels, this one is pretty awesome, so I am just going to go ahead and borrow it.  Thanks Matt!

The Love Revolution begins with such simple steps.  We start to hold kindness and compassion in our hearts instead of judgment and fear.  Our words fall like gentle rain, they don’t resound like thunder.  We realize how important it is to love ourselves first, and that love becomes the message we bring to the world.  After awhile we notice that our energetic vibrations become the ones that uplift an entire room when we walk in.  People are suddenly drawn to us and want to be near, though they don’t know why.

And then things begin to occur to us.  Things like, Wow this is a mighty big waste of sweet Mother Earth putting all of this lawn here.  What say we dig that up and plant some seeds and grow some food.  That way we get good, organic food to eat plus we stop wasting water on growing grass and stop supporting the senseless shipping of food from places so very far away.  A local economy begins to make so much sense to us, and wait just one minute! Let’s stick some solar panels on the roof and see if we can’t begin to get off this nasty fossil fuel energy grid.

Tell me the truth.  Am I turning into a hippy?

Yeah.  I thought so.

We all chose to come to earth at this most interesting time in our evolution as humans.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience and we are waking up to this fact in droves.  And as we awaken we begin to remember that we are all connected and that collaboration and cooperation are the only things that make sense.  Competition becomes irrelevant as we follow our hearts and are guided to compassion and kindness.  We begin to be led by the workings of our hearts and not by the thinking of our minds.  And as we shift  our perception, this new energy joins with the great invisible grid of connection that we are all plugged into and we elevate the hearts of everyone else.

If the only thing you do in a day is to follow your own joy, then understand that you have done enough.  Your role can be as easy as that. Or if you really want to join in the fun, just simply reach your hand out and see who needs to grasp it.  There will always be someone reaching back.

Just ask Tom Springfield and The Seekers.

There’s a new world somewhere
They call The Promised Land
And I’ll be there some day
If you will hold my hand
I still need you there beside me
No matter what I do
For I know I’ll never find another you

It is a Love Revolution, baby! Let’s Dance!

The Language of God

Photo by:  Walter Babinski, My American Husband
Photo by: Walter Babinski, My American Husband

“Silence is the language of God.  All else is poor translation.”  Rumi

If I could point to one single thing that has been my greatest guide, teacher, healer and solace in the past few years it would be developing a meditation practice.  For quite some time I had read about the benefits of meditation to overall physical and mental health and would think to myself “gosh I should really learn how to do that.”  Somehow it seemed like it must be really difficult.  Shouldn’t I have a guru?  And sitting in that lotus position for more than 3 minutes made me dead from the waist down, legs completely asleep.

But then life happened and things got pretty intense.  I had struggled with minor anxiety for many years, occasionally having bouts of panic attacks, but had always been able to muscle through them without any medical intervention.  When things got real and I found myself in the throws of some pretty major PTSD I decided that I would give meditation a shot.   From what I had read meditation was shown to help cure all manner of ailments, like asthma, cancer, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, insomnia, and praise the good Lord, anxiety.  Time to give this a try.  What did I have to lose?

I began reading about techniques and was soon adrift in a sea of terms I had never heard before.  Kundalini, chakra, blue pearl, third eye, etc.  It all sounded very foreign and scary to me.  I almost gave up before I started, but the panic attacks had begun to rule my life, so I persevered.  Happily, I found these things called Podcasts on iTunes and there were a whole bunch of free guided meditations to choose from.  I found a few I liked and began what has become a daily necessity for me.  Twice daily that is.

My tips for anyone wanting to start a meditation practice are pretty simple.  I even wrote a list for you.  Here they are.

1.  Start slowly.  5 – 10 minutes every morning listen to a nice guided meditation.  After you get comfortable with that you can increase the time to whatever length best suits you.  I do about 1/2 hour morning and night and that seems perfect for me.

2.  Sit or lay down or walk or do whatever feels best in your body.  I don’t do well sitting cross legged on a cushion because I end up spending the whole time concentrating on how uncomfortable I am.  So in the mornings I sit on my couch with a cushion at my back to keep my spine straight.  My hands rest in my lap.  In the evenings I lay in bed on my back with my hands on my hips.  Both positions allow me to just forget about my body and turn inward.

3.  Once you are getting the hang of things try switching it up from the guided meditation to some binaural beats, or simple meditation music.  I have a couple I like on my iPhone and they are 1/2 hour each, so I don’t have to worry about setting a timer.  Once you are comfortable with the process you may find that you don’t need to use anything anymore.  I now prefer silence for my meditations, but sometimes I will listen to the IAM Wishes Fulfilled Meditation by Dr. Wayne Dyer and James F. Twyman.  The binaural beats are subtle and the music is very soothing.

4.  Follow your breath.  Focusing on your intake and exhale allows you to centre yourself and not be carried along by your thoughts.  Personally, I have never had my thoughts stop completely, but now when I realize I have jumped on a train of thought I just gently move my focus back to my breath and let that train carry on without me on board.

5.  Be kind to yourself.  It is a learning process and there is no right or wrong to it.  Some days I never get past the monkey mind and other days I get a glimpse of that perfect, beautiful stillness that is always there waiting for me in the space between my thoughts.  That is what makes it all worthwhile.

I began to meditate specifically to help heal from a trauma.  I continue to meditate because during the silence and stillness I can finally sense that I am so much more than this human existence.  Where prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening.  I have moments when I feel the oneness of all that is and am filled with a bliss words can’t describe.  Those are the magic moments.  Those are the glimpse of eternity.

Meditation has taken away my panic attacks completely, and the added benefits to my health and physical, emotional and spiritual well being are endless.  I have much less stress.  I very rarely feel ill or get colds, flu, or bugs that are going around.  My immune system feels stellar most of the time.  Plus I sleep like a baby, which is something new for me, too.

If you haven’t tried meditating yet, I highly recommend you do.  You never know… It may just change your whole life like it did for me.

Heaven Sent

Photo by:  Walter Babinski, My American Husband
Photo by: Walter Babinski, My American Husband

” My soul is from elsewhere, I am sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”  Rumi

I rise.  As I leave the weight of my body and of the material world behind I feel a euphoria I have not experienced since putting on this personality.  Leaving the physical manifestation behind feels like music sounds.  I rise.  I rise and all is love.  Fear no longer exists.  I am weightless where I had no idea there was weight.  There is a cloak of fear, a mantle of it that held me in my skin and once I am released it falls away and there is nothing left between my Self and pure bliss.

What I have seen as reality parts like a curtain and there is my home, right there. I experience recognition. This is my home.  This is where I came from in the first place.  How had I not remembered that?  I am surprised at how close it has always been.  The veil was very effective while I was in human form.  Transparent from this other side, I am able to see whatever people and situations come to my mind.  Past, present and future meld into one and all I need to do is cast my interest somewhere and I am there.  Simply, instantly, I experience this most current lifetime.  What was once experienced by mind is now experienced by Spirit.  I see and hear and feel from every angle.  All that I felt and experienced on earth, all that others felt and experienced, and all of the waves and ripples created by every situation.  It is like a vast, musical arrangement and I hear the harmonious chords of each relationship played… a symphony of love and light.

I am still wearing the vestiges of human consciousness and can see that my human mind created every moment of discomfort, drama, pain and fear that I experienced.  I am amazed that I was so attached to the pain that I forgot how to allow the Divine to flow into my moments.  I have a knowing that my purpose in this lifetime was to find my voice.  I watch the pivotal moments as they fleet through the movie of my now Spirit mind.  So many opportunities to be authentic and to speak my truth and I watch as my human self cowered, hiding behind the mask of acceptability.  So many growth opportunities squandered.  There is no judgment, either from my Self, or from the guides that surround me.  I know that Life is our biggest challenge and that I will be given many more opportunities to grow.

I wonder if next time I will remember.  Will I know that the veil shrouds the truth and that the truth is utterly simple?  The only trick to fulfilling my life’s purpose is to feel good.  Just that.  Feeling good allows the divine river to flow and that wonderfully swift current journeys us through lessons and experiences that bring us to our Purpose.  Whatever lesson plan we have devised for ourselves will flow to us faster and easier through joyful means.

It is when we allow our human fears, doubts and wrong thinking to freeze us into inaction that the Spirit team will step in and help us along by giving us the traumatic catalysts for change, like loss, humiliation, imprisonment, despair, or any number of other triggers.  From this new perspective I understand that floating on the river of joy is so much more effective than being kicked along the shore.  The destination remains the same, even if the journey seems vastly different.

Would I choose to learn my lessons through trauma or learn my lessons through joy?  No brainer.  Next time I pick joy.

Gosh I hope I remember that.

Born to Fly

Emily tests her wings Photo by: Walter Babinski, My American Husband
Emily tests her wings
Photo by: Walter Babinski, My American Husband

“You were born with wings.  Why prefer to crawl through life?”  Rumi

A year ago in January I attended a workshop in Maui on Divine Love. It was led by Dr. Wayne Dyer and turned out to be a life changer for me. I am not surprised that this happened, afterall a couple of my life changing moments happened as a direct result of this incredible man.

This time around it was a simple sentence that seemed to resonate in my whole body. A great big A-Ha moment that left me ruminating with it for quite some time, wondering how to begin to live it. The words were a paraphrase of a Herman Melville quote and are at the root of a lot of Dr. Dyer’s teachings, but for some reason these words more than any others did the trick for me. They were:

Beware the half lived life.

Shazam.

I am a linear thinker, for the most part. I love writing lists of things to do then checking them off. Sometimes I even add stuff to the list I’ve already done so that I can have the pleasure of checking them off as “done”. So I thought, what better way to begin to truly live intentionally than to write myself a list? So here goes. My 5 steps to the fully lived life.

1. Stop Numbing

There are certain activities in my day that put me into a zombie-like state. I stare transfixed, and yet completely disengaged. My eyes glaze over. My jaw hangs slack, mouth agape. I am in a coma of soothing non-being. For me this usually happens when I think I am just going to “quickly check Facebook”. I open the site and begin to scroll and when I finally look up again I see that hours and hours have passed and wow, is that drool on my chin? And what valuable life lessons, entertainment or worthy knowledge did I gain in all of that time? Usually nothing. Someone just ate spaghetti for lunch, and someone else has a great recipe for gluten free cardboard bites, and somebody else has a hella-cute grandbaby and that a friend of a friend went to Mexico for vacation. Also there is typically a dump truck load of inspirational memes, most of which are pure unadulterated crap. (I mean really people, if you are going to take the time to go to meme-generator and create some inspirational quote, against a dancing silhouette at sunset on the beach, please, please, please, I’m begging you, check your spelling. If I read one more “Lif begins at the end or your comfort zone” my head just very well may explode).

And so my decision to deactivate Facebook for the month of July seemed the best and most productive step in my journey toward engaging back into life. Some people numb themselves with alcohol, drugs, or binge watching tv series on Netflix. For me, Facebook was my drug of choice and so it was time to pull the plug… at least for July.

The month off was easier than I had imagined it would be.  You can read about that here if you like.

2. Mindfulness

I live in one of the prettiest places on the planet. Surrounded by mountains, forests and glacier fed lakes, and with the most sunshine hours in all of British Columbia (so “they” say). Cranbrook is pretty close to being paradise, and yet I find that my senses have become dulled to it all. My monkey mind has me everywhere but here. I worry about what is coming, I rue what has been, I have fake conversations with people, coming up with all sorts of issues and problems and scenarios that only exist in the madness of my rampant thoughts.

Luckily, because I’ve read Deepak and Eckart I know about the present moment. The elusive NOW. I meditate twice a day, so I have times when I skirt around it pretty nicely and I’ve even had a few spectacular instances where I was really there, in the NOW. When it happened I immediately had the thought arise, “oh wow this is the NOW” and with that realization was of course thrust back into the world of thought.

So my plan to be more mindful brings me to write a sub-list (I get tingly just saying that). To be more mindful I will:

2a. Follow my breath. Whenever I think about mindfulness, just stop, drop, and follow my breath. Here is goes in. Annnnnnd, here it goes out. Ahhh.

2b. Pay attention. Practice using all of my senses to experience where I am and what is happening around me. See the way the light changes as it dapples through the leaves. Listen to the wind and the migrating birds and the leaf blower down the block. Feel the air around my skin. What do my toes feel like, right now? Smell that perfect, autumn mix of cool crisp air, falling leaves and distant frost. Taste the pumpkin spiced latte. No I mean really taste it. Experience it all, with my senses and try very hard not to judge any of it. Just BE with it.

2c. Meditate. Duh.

2d. Let music take me away. For me a good, loud Billy Joel song, or maybe some old Joni Mitchell making ice cream castles in the air, or even Mozart in a pinch, will set my mind to rest and allow me to just feel. Loud music, played through real speakers is the only thing that works. Forget the tinny shit that comes from the laptop speakers. Just no.

Ahh you blessed sub-list. You complete me.

3. Live on Purpose

How easy it is to slip into the redundant, mediocrity of just moving mindlessly through the days and weeks. It is so easy to fall into the rut of daily living, and years can slip by while we check the tv schedule and plan how to spend time living vicariously through fake people. Each morning I write a list (yay!) of my intentions for the day.

Setting intentions, for me is similar to goal-setting, but with a slight, very important difference. Setting a goal is like saying I want to arrive at this destination (the goal) and to get there I need to take this highway, turn left at this juncture and follow the road to the intersection of this and that, then arrive at said goal on this date at this time. Logical, linear, brain thinking action plans.

Setting an intention is figuring out where you want to go, imagining how that will feel, then really feeling it. But here comes the tricky part… that is when you hand it over to the great universal mind to figure out the hows and whens. You still jump into the car and you still head toward the destination, but you trust that the Divine has the wheel and will know the best shortcuts and routes to take to get there. It’s all about letting go of the outcome. Sounds easy in principal, but for one such as I, great lover of lists and plans, it is more challenging that you think.

Who me, control issues? What?

4. Follow Bliss

Have you ever watched a little kid when they are playing outside, all by themselves? They talk and laugh and have conversations with the invisible people who live in their imagination. They find bugs and make shadows and run just to feel their hair move in the wind. They watch clouds. They live life. I have watched my daughter in the throes of delicious that I describe. Heck I even remember way back to the olden days when I was like that, standing on an old stump, singing Black Velvet Band at the top of my lungs, imagining that I was on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. Guileless.

Life happened and I find myself now trying to separate the “shoulds” from the “coulds”. What makes me happy? And why is that such a difficult question to answer?

In an attempt to regain my own sense of blissful wonder, I look back to the times in my life that I felt the happiest. And I turn to the theatre. I have recently volunteered to shadow Terry, a locally famous director of community theatre. I run, fetch, sew, glue and do whatever needs doing, and in the process I learn all about directing and producing plays. I remember, even back when I was performing, how cool it seemed to be the director. It is like creating a piece of art with the stage as the canvas and the talented willing people as the paint. How stupendously cool is that?

Also, writing. Time disappears when I write. Worlds are created, people live and die, and I am in control of it all. I laugh and I cry. I look frustration and apathy in the face and sometimes I win. And lots of times Facebook wins. (see number 1).   It’s a process…

And then there is the Book Club. Moving back to Cranbrook offered me lots of surprises, good and not so good, but the greatest so far has been my adoption into the Book Club. We had our meeting last week to talk about The Signature of All Things. We range in age from fabulous to extraordinary, five intelligent women who love to read, raise families, travel, cook, laugh and commiserate. Bliss achieved.

I have set only one rule for this step. It is simply this: If it feels good, do it.

5. Gratitude

To be thankful for what I have is the secret to my happy life. I figured this one out a few years ago after reading the Secret. I originally read the book because I heard it was a how-to guide on getting free stuff from the Universe. It was my first real introduction to the law of attraction and I went a little bit crazy with it. I manifested a new computer, car and house all within the course of a few months. But then I felt like something was missing in the process. I got all of these things that I was sure would fulfill me then found out that they didn’t fulfill me at all. It was disenchanting. I realized then that the important things in life aren’t things and that was the second best lesson I took away from that book.

The greatest lesson I learned from the Secret was about gratitude. I had put my heart and soul into the gratitude exercises. I would sit and appreciate the heck out of stuff until I would have tears of happiness streaming down my face. It was during one of these sessions that I understood (a-HA) that gratitude is its own reward. Being in a state of pure appreciation means that nothing is missing. And if nothing is missing, then I have everything and that is all anyone could ask for. Just everything.

I kept a gratitude journal for a long time. Every day I listed (don’t you just love lists??) five things that happened that day for which I was truly grateful. The process of journaling the things I appreciated instilled a mindset that I still have today. I look for things to be grateful for. It is a constant process of finding stuff to appreciate. If you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it. I swear it will change your whole life.

So everyday is thanksgiving day, sans the turkey dinner. And today I am grateful for:

5a. Inspiration, that invisible muse

5b. Meditation and the elusive NOW

5c. Silky, glorious, abundant words

5d. Life in all of its messy glory

5e. Lists

And now that my lists are written, I surrender the intention to the universe to guide me through this beautiful fall and into winter, living on purpose, with intention and fully, completely engaged in my life.

Simply put, I intend to Live Life.

Reflections

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”  Rumi

Have you ever noticed how patterns in life will keep repeating until we finally “get it”? For me this was never as apparent as when my family and I moved to another city, far far away.  I left behind a lot of great friends, but also a few toxic relationships and I was ready for a nice, shiny, new start.

Imagine my surprise when the exact same toxic relationships showed up, disguised as other people. It was nearly comical, the week I started my new job and began to see the character traits blooming.   Oh wow.  Shirley is my new Back Stabbing Dawn.  Jake is my new Lascivious Larry.   And OH NO Clarissa is clearly my new Angry Annie.  WTF, Universe?  I thought I had left those problems behind and yet here they were again, only this time even bigger caricatures of their predecessors.  Where Dawn had been sneaky and sly in her back stabbing, Shirley was openly mean.  Where Larry had been subtle with his advances, Jake was a creepy octopus.  And Clarissa’s dark cloud of wrath made Angry Annie seem like a ray of sunshine.

Recognizing the repeating patterns was my first step in breaking these toxic relationships that kept developing in my world.   Once the pattern was recognized I was able to determine what lesson this person/relationship was here to teach.  Why did these annoying people keep showing up?  If I could just figure out what part of me they were polishing, maybe I could get the rubbing to stop.

I have come to realize that being a people pleaser, I tend to attract those inch/mile people who have no sense of boundaries.   So I set some boundaries.  I learned to calmly, gently but firmly speak my mind and even realized that “No” is a complete sentence.  Personal growth in leaps and bounds, right?  Now those annoying boundary pushers would leave me alone.  Lesson learned… let’s move on.

But no.  Seems the same “types” are still finding me, and it seems with each new representative they have become ever more extreme in their behaviors.  I continue to set my boundaries, but they keep showing up, leaping the fence, rubbing up against me until I am raw from their incessant polishing.

So what?  Were there more lessons to learn?  And if so, what could they be?  Bigger boundaries?  Going on the offensive, being rude?  Ending relationships?  Becoming a hermit?

Getting still and silent one day, I heard the whisper of wisdom.  Speaking my truth and setting boundaries was one lesson.  But the true lesson went far beyond.  The cold hard truth was that I was being judgmental.  If somebody wasn’t fitting within the sterile parameters of my idea of what was acceptable, I was shutting them out. Ouch.  Truth bomb.

The true, spiritual lesson was that I needed to break down my own barriers and build a sanctuary of acceptance.  Maybe the Annie’s, Larry’s and others simply had a different sense of what was proper, socially acceptable behavior than I had.  Being different did not make them wrong.  Maybe my feelings of discomfort came because they were here to help me to stop keeping myself detached from life.   Maybe the real lesson was to love, unconditionally, in real and tangible ways and not just talk about it.  Maybe – just maybe –  I needed to walk the talk…live the talk, and break down the barriers I had built between me and my true Self.

My new practice is simple.  I accept whoever comes my way.  If they are angry, petty or gossip, I don’t react, but send them loving kindness.  I respond with gentleness and quiet acceptance and the results have been nearly miraculous.  The people who have come to polish my mirror reflect to me the things about myself that I have hidden away, secret shames and fears.  At first these relationships taught me how to have a better human experience.  Now they teach me how to have a better spiritual experience.  They shine and polish my mirror so that I can be the clear, divine love that I am meant to be.

And when they finally gaze into the mirror that they have helped to polish, they too get a glimpse of their eternal nature as I reflect back to them their own light.

The Light Enters

Photo by Walter Babinski, My American Husband
Photo by Walter Babinski, My American Husband

“The wound is the place where the Light enters”  Rumi

There comes a time in most every life when our apple cart is upset, dumped over, or even smashed to smithereens.  Seems we are just rolling along minding our own business when out of nowhere something HUGE and HORRIBLE comes along and scatters us all over the place.  Could be a relationship falls apart, or a job is lost, or somebody dies, and we are forced to go through something that was not in our plans, at all.  Our quiet little life is shaken to its core and we are broken open.

Why do these bad things happen to good people?  Can’t we just live our quiet little lives without this drama and mayhem?

It seems that we have come to this earth school to learn certain lessons and when we get ourselves trapped into the rut of a mundane existence, sleepwalking through life, the Universe tends to give us a kick in the pants and help us to get back on the right track.  The only constant in life is change.  Nothing stays the same.  We grow and move along and learn and when things stagnate, we get a shove to help us get moving again.

Change cracks us open.  We judge changes, especially the dramatic ones, as traumatic or hard or bad, but in reality they are the challenges we need to shake us from our stupor and help us to expand our souls.  To truly live we must experience all of the emotions, not just the ones that feel “good”.

There is a Japanese practice called Kintsugi that when a piece of pottery has been broken,  instead of discarding it the cracks are filled with gold.  The resulting designs are considered to hold much greater beauty than the original pieces.  By highlighting the cracks that life brings us we honor our journey.  The HUGE and HORRIBLE things that life sends are the challenges that make us expand and as such can be viewed as beautiful and worth cherishing.  To be able to feel truly thankful for all of it, good, bad and ugly, we fill in our own cracks with gold and become the living beauty that is our journey.

In my life I have been broken open and had long stretches where all I would see were the jagged cracks.  But eventually I would begin to see the light streaming in.  Once I focused on the beauty of the newly crafted me I have even been able to fill some of those cracks with gratitude, which is pure gold.  Some of my cracks are not visible and some show up in the silver threading my hair, the lines etching my skin, but in the best light, they too can look like gold.  I am a product of all that I have been through, good, bad and ugly.  I know there are lessons to learn each day and I turn my intentions to learning through joyful whispers instead of angry shouts.

When I find that I have lost my mindfulness, I say a prayer I heard Oprah once say:  “Please don’t teach me nothing new today”.  And then I listen for the whispers.  Hey, I’m not crazy.   I would much rather polish the gold than endure new cracks.

Out Beyond

sunrise-dawn-wallpaper-landscape

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”  Rumi

Once upon a time there lived a Princess and a Dragon.  The Princess and the Dragon worked side by side for many years, creating a Kingdom that was both vast, beautiful and affordable.  The fields were abundant, the skies always blue, and the Princess and the Dragon liked and respected each other very much.

But then came a scourge upon the lands.  The Dragon began to singe the Princess with his fiery words and terrible silences.  The Princess became sullen and bitter and spoke unkind words behind the Dragon’s back.  The Dragon built a huge wall to divide the Kingdom and refused to give the keys to the Princess.  This made the Princess very sad and angry.  She pelted the wall with insults and taunts and rotten produce.  It was an unhappy time in the land of Everafter.

Things went from bad to worse and one day, in a fit of rage, the Dragon cast the Princess out of the Kingdom, forever banished, never to return.

She cried and cried and then when her self pity turned to rage, she wielded righteous anger like a sword and Lawyered Up.  Thus began the Epic Battle of the Princess and the Dragon.  It would be the fight of her life, or so her American Prince would tell her, one from which she could not back down.

The Epic Battle waged for a long, long time, neither side willing to give an inch of concession.   Accusations flew like cannonballs, and the siege of  “I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG” set in, keeping them at loggerheads for many years.

Weary of battle, the Dragon and the Princess finally agreed to allow the great Magician, Merlin to help them find peace between them.  The date and time was set and the two met across the battlefield from each other.  Merlin began the task of arbitrating a deal fair enough that they would both be willing to compromise.

Grueling hours  were spent under the blazing sun as Merlin rode back and forth to each camp carrying messages, offers, counter offers, threats and pleas.  Neither the Princess nor the Dragon would bend their positions, both righteously waving the flag of “I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG”.

The afternoon waned.  Despair that peace would never be found swept through the Princess.  She sat alone in her camp waiting for Merlin’s return.  In the quiet moments the thought arose unbidden:  “Out beyond  ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field.  I will meet you there.”  At that moment she released all of the righteous anger that had held her hostage.  It was time to let go of the hurt and the need for revenge.  It was time to stop judging the Dragon.  It was time for peace.

Her anger rose in a bubble above the Kingdom.  The Dragon looked up from his camp across the battlefield and saw the iridescent bubble rise and rise and finally burst open, sending sparkling light across the sky.  A fat tear fell from his eye.  Merlin captured the magic of sparkling light, mixed it with the Dragon’s tear and created a Treaty of Peace that both the Princess and the Dragon were happy with.

The Kingdom rejoiced!  Peace once again reigned and the people sang and danced in the streets.

As for the Dragon and the Princess?  The Dragon lived in the Castle and continued with his fine work.  The Princess moved on, finding great creativity and job satisfaction in other lands.  They wished each other well and enjoyed their separate peace.

Lessons learned and morals taught, the people of the Kingdom now understand that forgiveness lives in the willingness to release judgment, for “being right” brings bitter comfort in a war torn land and “being kind” brings magic to span any chasm.

And,  they all lived happily ever after.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*               *               *

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.

I will meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

 the world is too full to talk about.

 Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi