How to start again.

Recently, Lisa Winkler, a beautiful human being, writer and author of the Lisa K Winkler blog, wrote to ask me if I had any ideas on how to get started again after taking a long hiatus from blogging. “How do you do it?” she asked – blog everyday.

Habit. Mostly.

Though in March 2007 when I first began my daily blog thanks to the encouragement of fellow writer and friend, Mark Kolke of Musings and other writings, it took a lot of discipline and commitment to set the habit in place.

Even when I only take a couple of weeks off, as I tend to do in the summer, I struggle to find my way back into my routine.

There are two ways that work best for me —

One is the first imperative — and that is I meditate before I write. I will often carry a question into my meditation — like, ‘what am I grateful for this morning?’ or ‘what is on my heart?’ I also often awake with an ‘idea’ in my head. I have learned not to push it away but to invite it to simmer and percolate so that when I sit down at my keyboard, it is willing to become visible through my writing.

The other is to write to a photo I took of the world around me or a piece of art I’ve created.

I write first thing in the morning so I don’t get distracted by my day. My photos are mostly taken on my walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle so they are nearly always about nature.

And then…. on those mornings where no thoughts arise as I sit down to write, I begin with the sentence… I have no idea what I’m going to write about today.

From there I just write whatever pops into my head about ‘having no idea what I’m going to write about’ until… as it inevitably does, the words morph into something from my heart. And then, when I’m done, I go back and delete the first few sentences/paragraphs – the one’s about not knowing what I’m going to write about. 🙂

Sometimes, when I’m stuck, I’ll simply write about what I’m seeing. As an example, when I was responding to Lisa’s email, I wrote what I was seeing outside my window in front of my desk and right beside me:

Right now, there is a chickadee hopping around on the bare branches of the bush outside my window. I watch his joyful hops and feel my heart skip joyfully in harmony with his antics. The sky is grey. Beaumont lies at my feet, every so often nudging my knee with his head as if to say, “It’s time to get going.” I keep waiting for it to get brighter outside but I think it’s a losing battle. The sky is overcast, December grey. It’s time for me to go for my walk.

In 2007, when I first decided to get into the habit of daily blogging, I wrote a Commitment Letter to myself and posted it by my computer as a reminder and prompt for my writing.

I commit to writing a post a day.
I commit to being okay with writing 'bad'.
I commit to not letting judgement of the worthiness of my words stand in my way. 
I commit to being present to the page and whatever unfolds.

And then… I just let myself ‘write bad’ to get to ‘the good’ without fearing my inner critics yammerings.

In the beginning, I probably spent as much time editing as I did writing the first draft of my posts. Over the years, editing has faded by the wayside. As I became more trusting of ‘free-fall writing” – which is how I tend to write on my blog, I became more trusting of the ‘wise inner knowing’ within my heart and body – not my head. It means, inviting the critic (that critical voice of doubt and worry who sits on my left shoulder) to take a nap. This is why I avoid editing as I write – Editing invites both ‘the critic’ and my thinking brain into my process, interfering with ‘the flow’.

Writing everyday has become part of my life. It centers me, calms me and opens me up to the wonder and awe of the world around and within me, and, it connects me to the world ‘out there’. To you who visit and spend time with me here or on my social media feeds.

Writing every day is my contribution to creating better in the world around me, because, my commitment to myself is that, no matter what is going on, when I sit down to write, I must find the value in the darkness and share the light, the beauty and wonder and possibility I see.

By sharing light, I raise my own spirits. It helps me fee like I am living my life purpose “to touch hearts, open minds and set spirits free to dance in a world of love, joy and harmony.”

Thank you for being part of my purpose and for making my world so joyful and bright. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Namaste.

________________________________________________________________________

On another note, I was invited to participate in an online holiday auction “A Fresh Start – Gifts for the Holiday Season presented by Fiera Capital” on behalf of Fresh Start Recovery Centre. Fresh Start has been helping people impacted by the disease of addiction to recover and reuniting families for 28 years.

The invitation reads, “Your gift creates impact! Life is the most precious gift you can give … the next is hope. You give hope for a second life to someone struggling with addiction, to a mother worried about her son, to a child getting a father back, to spouses reuniting or a grandmother reconnecting with an absent grandchild. These are gifts you make possible. Consider giving these gifts of hope and healed lives.” 

If you are looking for a beautiful, unique gift that also does good in the world and can help change lives, please check out the A Fresh Start Auction for Holiday Season Gifts presented by Fiera Capital. Click HERE to go to the website.

(I had trouble getting my submission together so it won’t be on the site until later today. The painting above is one of the three I submitted)

The auction ends at 8pm on Thursday, Dec 17th.

Always Believe in the Magic

When I was in my teens, we lived in a village in southern Germany not far from the Rhine River.

On Sundays, my father and I would take Bijou, our black standard poodle, for a walk along the eastern bank that lined the river and soak in the beauty of life all around us.

Barges floated slowly along the waterway laden (I liked to imagine) with tea from China and silks from India and spaces from mysterious far off lands.

Sometimes, I’d see someone on the deck of a barge and I’d wave and they’d wave back.

Sometimes, a small pleasure craft would float past and I’d watch the people gathered on its deck laughing and eating and drinking beer and I’d wonder, “Where did they come from? Where are they going?”

And I’d make up stories about their lives and tell my father and he would harrumph and say, in his gruff, matter-of-fact way, “They’re just out for a Sunday cruise.”

And then, he’d stop and point out a ball of mistletoe growing high up in the bare limbs of a tree and quote a line of poetry that made my senses tingle with the delight of the words. Or he’d bend down and show me the beauty of a fallen leaf lying on our path and he’d tell me to always look for beauty. Always. And I’d know, like me, he believed in the magic.

Those days of walking the banks of the Rhine, of watching barges float by and stopping at a Gasthaus on the way home for a lunch of Weinerschnitzel and frites and hearing my father laugh and call out “Prosit!” to a stranger at the next table have drifted lazily into the past like the mists floating along the river this morning.

Yet, on mornings like this, when fog envelops the river and the trees stand barren and tall along its banks, I remember those days and say a quiet prayer of gratitude to my father.

He was a mysterious figure to me. A man of mercurial moods and sudden tempers that could blow in as fast as a summer storm.

He held many secrets. Yet, some days, walking along the riverbanks, a tiny fragment of his story would reveal itself in his words and I would feel like I was bathing in a ray of sunshine streaking through the clouds that hid the blue sky above.

It was in those moments I knew magic was everywhere because my father believed in magic. He believed in pots of gold at the end of every rainbow and genies sleeping in brass teapots waiting to be awakened just by the right touch and a whispered incantation of a magical word.

He believed I could do anything if I set my mind to it.

He believed in me.

Namaste

How To Surrender Fear

When we began self-isolation, I stopped walking the path along the river to get to the off-leash park near our home. Instead, I drove the five minutes it takes to get there, telling myself there were too many bicyclists and too many people on the path.

I was scared of the very air I breathed.

A couple of weeks ago, I started walking it again.

My fear still lingers. Joy of walking, being in the open air, of the tranquility of the walk keeps calming fear into quiet surrender.

My walking to the park again came about by accident.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I’d driven over. Walked for an hour and then, when Beau and I returned to the car, I discovered I’d lost both my phone and keys.

It was a lengthy search. Beaumont was delighted of the extra time at the park as well as the imperative of walking home along the path to get C.C.s’ phone so I could go back and search and ring and listen for it ringing. With Beaumont’s assistance, of course.

Eventually, my phone and keys were found. By a fellow dog walker.

When I saw the man on the trail in the woods ahead of me, I called out and asked if he’d seen my phone. He held it out towards me, smiled and said, “It’s been ringing and I keep answering but there’s no one there.”

Sheepishly I explained what I’d done. – held it away from me so I could hear it ringing. I never thought someone would be answering, I told him.

We both laughed. I thanked him profusely (I really wanted to hug him but I couldn’t) and we went our separate ways.

The next morning I began walking to the park again.

All because the day before my lost phone and keys forced me to walk along the path and face my fear.

There are still bicyclists on the path. And other pedestrians. But I no longer view them as ‘the enemy’. Like me, they are enjoying the park. The fresh air. The river flowing.

Like me, they do not want to contact Covid, so we keep our safe distance and when bicycles approach, I step off the path to give them room.

No matter the path, fear is an awkward companion.

Fear limits our thinking, sending our thoughts in spinning circles of anguished contortions filled with dire predictions of dark and gloomy possibilities.

Fear sucks the life and breath out of our bodies.

When self-isolation first began, my fear was reasonable. Not enough was known about the virus. Being cautious, taking precautions was imperative.

I still take precautions. I’m careful about who I see. Where I go and when I’m out and about, I wear my mask. (Thanks to my friend Wendy C I have several stylish options in mask wear!)

The difference is, I have faced my fear and embraced it, thanked it for doing its best to keep me safe, and let it know that it is no longer in charge of my thoughts and actions.

I am.

And in my being in charge, I lovingly embrace my fear and acknowledge its presence while also acknowledging that compassion, light, joy, love are also present. Together, they cast a brilliant light that shines brightest when I breathe deeply into my fear and surrender it to Love.

Covid is still to be feared. Fear no longer needs to control my life.

It is my choice.

To choose Love over fear.

And when I forget, I breathe and once again walk the path back to the light so that I can begin again to choose Love over fear. Always.

Love Will Always Find You

Lost and Found

Lost in the darkness of my fear
there was no hope for me,
I could not see the light
beckoning me to surrender
and fall fearlessly into Love.

All hope is gone, I cried
and Hope whispered back softly,
its breath gentle as a lover
kissing my eyelids awake. Come,
Hope promised, there is light
beyond the darkness
and joy beyond the sorrow
and Love beyond the fear.

Trusting in nothing but hoping it was true,
I opened my eyes.

And there was Hope waiting to greet me
with arms full of possibility and a heart full of Love.

And so I fell into Hope’s embrace
and that’s where Love finds me still. Always and forever.

_______________________________________

I saw an acronym for H.O.P.E. the other day. Hold. On. Pain. Ends.

My mind immediately thought, Love doesn’t. End. Love Endures. Love Captivates. Love Overcomes.

Hope is a gateway to Love. Hope holds onto truth in darkness, light in fear, possibility in despair – even when we feel like all hope is lost. Hope is holding on to us.

Thoughts of hope drifted into my mind this morning as I read the quote by Fenton Johnson that David Kanigan shares on his blog, Live & Learn.

I remember a time when I felt like all hope was lost. Hope of ever getting my life back. Of ever getting free of an abusive relationship. Of ever walking in the sunshine and feeling its warmth against my skin without feeling the fear stalking my every step. Of ever seeing my daughters again. Of ever being free to Love fearlessly.

And then, one beautiful May morning, there was hope. Shimmering in the sunlight. Beckoning me from the shadows. Encouraging me to step away from the darkness into the light. To choose Love.

I have been choosing Love ever since that morning 17 years ago when I had given up on hope and fallen into the darkness.

I have chosen Love in my despair. Love in my fear. Love in my every day.

It is one of the most inspiring aspects of life I experienced working in the homeless serving sector for so many years. No matter how dark, or grim, or chaotic life was for those experiencing the harshness and pain of homelessness, every morning people woke up, rose out of their makeshift beds in large rooms filled with others sleeping in the same space, breathing the same air, and they felt HOPE. They had survived another night of homelessness and could take another step today.

There was always hope.

I remember a couple who wanted to get married at the shelter. One day, the soon to be bride came to me and said, “Tell me I’m doing the right thing.”

I told them I couldn’t tell them that. It wasn’t my place. What I could tell them was, “Love prevails. Always. It doesn’t care about titles or the number of degrees or recognition you’ve gained or the colour of your skin or your address. Love prevails. It will find you no matter who you are or where you are.”

And it does.

Find us where ever we are.

For always, no matter what is going on, or where we are, or how we are, Love is always there. In everything. Always and forever. Love. Is. Everywhere.

And always, in everything we do. Everything we say. In every way we step into this day, hopeful. Scared. Sad. However we step, we can, and must, choose Love.

Because, while pain and storms and turmoil will end, Love prevails. It has no ending, nor beginning.

Love just is. Love.

Always and forever.

_____________________

Thank you David for the inspiration this morning.

And So I Pray

In every life, a little rain must fall so flowers can grow and hearts can learn to weather the storms and break open in Love. Pgs 28 – 29. Sheltered Wonder art journal

When I started this Sheltered Wonder art journal project, I wrote out the Wonder Rules to guide me. The reason for the journal is clear – to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the things I’ve learned, experienced, grown through, been challenged by and challenged during the sequestered solitude of Covid.

There have been so many moments where fear rose up, threatening to consume my peace of mind. It was through spending time in nature and in my studio that I was able to grapple with my fear so that I could find my calm even in its presence.

There have also been moments that absolutely took my breath away. Moments where the beauty of the world around me outweighed the sorrow and grief.

And, there have been moments where I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and grief. It has been here, in my studio, creating and writing, that I have found comfort, insight, healing, grace.

In this bubble in which I live, life flows as effortlessly as the river outside my window.

I struggle some days to align my world with what is going on in the world around me. And right now, that means how do I Share Grace, the fifth Wonder Rule, with my neighbours to the south where violence and death tolls continue to mount as the unrest boils over and Covid ravages lives daily.

There is little I can do in the physical world to change the course of events outside my own sphere of influence.

There is lots I can do in the metaphysical world, and also in this ‘cyber world’ where we meet up and share and learn and grow.

And that is, to practice every minute of every day, the art of sharing grace.

The issues that are impacting our US neighbours are deep and profound. Sitting here, north of the 49th parallel, it can tempting to sit in judgement. To cast aspersions upon those in leadership roles, those in power and control, those breaking the laws, those upholding them.

Grace means, I don’t do that. I cannot share darkness. I must share only light.

Light comes in many forms. For me, to add value (which is part of the fourth Wonder Rule – Find Value ) – my light must come in the form of my prayers. I must use my prayers to override any commentary I might want to make so that it is only my prayers that ripple out into the world for peace, understanding, compassion and healing for my neighbours to the south and all the world.

Just as the girl in the painting is carrying a bouquet of flowers to the tree surrounded by a field of wildflowers, I can only add my prayers to the millions of prayers going out to our US neighbours and to the world.

And so, I pray. In rain and sun, under grey skies or blue, I pray.

And I send my prayers out to the sky, the trees, the air, to the river of love flowing to those whose hearts are breaking, those whose lives are ending, those who are carrying burdens that feel too heavy and are falling under the weight. Those who are fighting for and against the turmoil of these times.

Those who are standing in confusion, fear, worry, sadness, sorrow, grief. Those crying in the darkness of their grief, those crying out for mercy, those calling out for the violence to stop, those calling out for change to happen now.

I pray and in my prayers grace finds me and hope embraces me. Hope for our neighbours to the south. For the world still struggling to come out from under the yoke of Covid. Those still struggling to come to grips with the loss of those they love, the life they had, the life they knew as normal. Those praying for peace. For change. For relief. For life.

I pray and send my prayers and my Love out into the world. It is the only way I can Share Grace.

May we all know peace. May we all know Love. May we all find the courage to heal what separates and divides us. May we all embrace our differences and celebrate our humanity as one people, one world, one human race.

And so I pray.

Namaste.

The Joy Of Letting Go

Have you ever laid in bed, late at night, listening to a faucet drip? Remember that moment in between each drop? You hope it stops. You fear it won’t and then… the next drip sounds and you wait again.

One part of your mind says, ‘get up and do something about that drip’.

The other part, it wants to believe it will just happen naturally. The drop will stop dripping all on its own.

And so, you lay there wavering between the hope it will stop, and the fear it won’t.

Like the child learning to feed the wolf of kindness and grace, or the nasty harbinger of grief and misery, we go through each day making decisions between drips and drops of time passing. Between choosing hope over despair. Possibility over holding on. Love over fear. The known over the unknown.

In our quest to hold on to what we know, we are blinded by our fear of losing what we already have. Trapped in the fear we will lose it all if we let go, we cannot see that letting go is the initiation rite of passage we must pass through to discover the joy of flying.

Yesterday, on a bi-weekly call with two beautiful women friends, I shared how I fear letting go of ‘this space’ to create a new, exciting platform from which to launch my ‘next phase’.

I know. I know. Who says I need a next phase anyway? Heck! I’ve paid my dues. Done my service to humanity. After almost 20 years working in the homeless serving sector, I ‘deserve’ to ‘go quietly into the sunset’ or some such trite apothegm.

Fact is, I say I need, no wait, want a next phase. I want my life to have meaning that is purposeful and of service to humanity. Not because it feeds my ego. It’s not my ego that yearns for sustenance. It is my soul, my heart, my ‘person’.

I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward to explore a different terrain than the not for profit world I embraced so whole-heartedly in the past. A world that gave me great joy and fulfillment.

And see, there’s the thing, right there. It ‘gave me’. Past tense. It is not of the present.

What brings me joy today?

The peace and tranquility of my life is lovely. But as I told my friends yesterday, I miss the feeling of being busy. Of juggling many things. Of making purposeful decisions about big ideas.

Ahhh yes. I miss big ideas and big thinking. I miss feeling like I am part of making change happen.

I don’t want to go back and I cannot go forward without letting go of this space between the drip and the drop.

The end of this month will mark my one year anniversary of freedom from the 9 to 5, which as my daughters remind me was more my 24/7.

It has been a year of challenges. Of gut-twisting growth and heart-wrenching breakthroughs. Of soul-defying deep dives and fear-inspired pushing back.

I am ready.

And that’s the exciting part. “I don’t know” is a beautiful place to start my exploration.

I crave depth. Substance. Meaning.

Always have.

I crave growth. Creative expression. Connection. Belonging.

The question is: Am I willing to let go of holding on to what is, to fall into the unknown that is calling out for me to soar and discover all that is possible beyond what I already know? Am I courageous enough to live the questions with grace?

As Rilke so beautifully said,

Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainier Maria Rilke

The question is: Am I courageous enough to live the questions knowing the answers can only be lived through letting go of holding on to what I know?

Am I willing to let go of holding on to what is, to fall into the unknown that is calling out for me to soar and discover all that is possible beyond the edges of all I know?

Ooohhhh…. What heady, exciting, life giving questions to live everything now!

 

This small, succulent, juicy moment

 

The day begins here
at the edge of the horizon
where earth and sky embrace
with sun sweetened kisses
breaking morning open.

A stranger writes to tell me how much my words meant to them, and tears well up in my eyes.

I watch a man in a bright yellow jacket standing on the bridge watching the water flow, and tears well up.

A chickadee lands in the naked branches of the bush below my window. She hops from branch to branch, a fragment of a song slips through my mind. The Sunshine Band. “Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight….” A smile raises the corners of my lips slightly. Tears well up in my eyes.

A squirrel poses against a tree trunk, tail straight up pointing towards the sky, his body pointed towards the ground, head lifted as if looking straight at me. I smile again and again, the tears well up.

I sit and watch the river flow past. A chunk of ice floats. A duck balances its body on its surface, bobbing up and down as the ice moves along. Smiles and tears again.

There is so much beauty in the small moments.

My heart aches for the small moments. For the moments devoid of virus counts and mass shootings where innocents are slain, not by a glob of proteins attacking their lungs but by a man with a gun intent on taking lives and destroying the peace and beauty of an entire community.

My heart aches and I feel the tears and I feel the sadness and sorrow and I let them flow.

Like the river, they move on, flowing ever onward toward a distant sea.

I sit and breathe and pause. My eyes take in the ineffable beauty of the moment. I fill my senses with the wonder of it all.

So much beauty. So much ugliness. So much darkness. So much light. So much life and death entwined in the eternal dance of being present within the gravitational pull of this planet that sustains us, grounds us and holds us up every moment of every day.

I feel the tears pushing at my eyelids again. Tears swollen and bruised with the sadness of these days of deaths by a virus and manmade destruction.

And then, two geese rise up off the river. Honking loudly, they fly up into the sky, up towards the sun rising in the eastern sky.  I run outside onto the deck to capture their wild, carefree flight and feel the cool gentle kiss of morning against my face.

The wildness within me stirs. My senses awaken to this beautiful dance of life in all its complex beauty. Love and joy, sadness and sorrow flow and mingle, forever entwined within the inexplicable beauty of this moment in which I stand, outside in the rising sun, feeling the freshness of spring air against my skin, listening to the honks of two geese flying towards the sun.

And I breathe again, relax the tightness in my shoulders, close my eyes and stand in the cool, crisp air of this spring morning.

No matter the source of these tears, I tell myself, let them flow free. In their passing, you will find yourself rising again into the beauty of this sun-kissed morning where the most precious thing of all is this moment in which you stand, exposed, wild of heart, grateful for the gift of the inexpressible beauty of this world in all its light and darkness.

And so I breathe into this small, succulent and juicy moment and count my blessings. They are many.

Namaste

 

 

Sheltering-in-place

Saturday morning. I think. The days no longer marked off on a calendar of events, appointments, coffee dates and meetings. Their normal ebb and flow blurred in the wash of life lived sheltering-in-place.

I know they say it’s best to keep to a schedule. To set your alarm. To rise and go to bed at the normal times.

Normal feels so strange in these days of isolation. Normal feels abnormal, unnatural.

Saturday morning. I sit at my desk at the large picture window that overlooks the winter parched strip of grass that separates our yard from the wild space along the banks of the river. The space where trees and bushes and tall grasses wait, bare-limbed, for spring’s warming kisses.

Beyond the trees the river flows its normal flow. Effortlessly. Easily. Its surface unmarred by ice jammed up against the bridge abutments.

There is nothing normal about this time. Yet, in the ordinary moments the extraordinary appears. A slab of ice floating down the river, a fleeting reminder of winter’s presence drifting off to a faraway sea. Between here and there it will thaw and melt, break up to join the river water running wild.

More ordinary appearing as extraordinary. A squirrel leaps from tree limb to tree limb with the grace of an acrobat flying from trapeze to trapeze without a safety net below, only the invisible nature of gravity.

It is in the moments of letting go and reaching out to hold on that the extraordinary waits. It is in the moments where we hang suspended in the ineffable grace between each moment, supported only by gravity, that all things are possible. Even flight.

Two geese skim the river’s surface in preparation for flight, their giant outstretched wings never touching the water. Their bodies lift off. Their wings extend even further and they are flying. Up. Up and away. Held up by gravity and air. In harmony. Wing to wing connection.

I want to know the feeling of flight. To feel my wings stretching as wide as wide can be. To feel my body outstretched, reaching for the sky.

I want to fly free.

Free of this grounded reality where staying at home is the safety net I fall into day after day after day.

I want to unhook the newsfeeds carrying stories of death and rid my home of talking heads and pundits gathered together yet apart, sharing their predictions of a future they cannot see but do not hesitate to prophesize.

I want to be like the river otter that sometimes pops his head up out of the river where he lives on the banks at the edge of a calm deep pool. It lies just around the bend where the dogs run on a gravel beach and children play in summer at the water’s edge. Floating carefree like the otter, I would look up at the sun and sky and bear witness to its extraordinary beauty in every ordinary moment.

And here I sit. Grounded. In place. Safe.

Carefree. Careless. Couldn’t care less… about the news. The statistics.

But it’s not true. The not caring part.

I do care.

Deeply. About the people. The lives lost. The lives falling ill. The lives of those fighting to live and those fighting to save lives. About those who go out every day to create the possibility of my staying at home, sheltering-in-place in safety.

I care.

And so, I do not turn off the news. I do not shut out the talking heads and block my ears to pundits’ prophecies of what is to come. I cannot live in the moment isolated from reality. I cannot contribute to creating a better future separated from the here and now.

Instead, I teach myself to consume it all in palatable bites. Bites that do not feel too big to chew or swallow. Bites that keep me aware of, but not consumed by, the deaths of my fellow members of our human race, real people whose lives have been ended by a tiny invisible-to-the-naked-eye microbe about whom books shall be written, movies made, stories told for generations to come.

I am teaching myself to be present in it all, like the otter in the pond, like the geese taking off, like the squirrel flying from tree limb to tree limb. Suspended. Held up. Letting go. Holding on. Trusting. In gravity. Grace. Time and space.

I release my need for surety and hold onto only that which sustains me in this moment. The beauty. The wonder. The awe. The extraordinary grace of being alive. It is not a lot but it is everything I need in this moment to feel peace, calm, grace flowing in and all around me.

It is not a lot but it is all I can do to remain present to the ordinary magic of this extraordinary time in which the whole world is waiting, sheltering-in-place, for a new day to begin.

When fear beckons. Dance.

I awaken to the ruckus of a Magpie squawking outside our bedroom window. Weak dawn light seeps through the blinds.

Beside me, my husband sleeps. His rhythmic breathing a hushed whisper barely discernible beneath the Magpie’s cacophony. I watch his chest move up and down with each breath. His breathing is measured, easy this morning. I push the first ‘what if’ of the day out of my mind. The alternatives to his easy breathing are too scary to contemplate.

I rollover. Check the time on my phone where it sits on my night table. 5:30 am. Is it too early to get up?

I lay in place, sheltering under the blankets, breathing. Thoughts of the day ahead infiltrate the quiet in a swoosh of choppy waves frothing at the edges of my ease of mind. They are filled with distress-riddled words. Pandemic. Covid. Self-isolation. Social distance. Shelter-in-place.

The last vestiges of sleep are ruthlessly washed out of my mind with the tide of emotions stirred up by my thoughts. I get up.

Restless, I walk into the kitchen, turn on the lights above the island to brighten the tepid morning light. I press the on button for the cappuccino maker. It gurgles its familiar greeting.

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle lifts his head from where he sleeps on the chaise by my desk. He raises his back haunches, puts his front paws on the floor, stretches and lowers his back end off the chaise to join his front paws on the floor. He paddles over to where I stand on the far side of the kitchen island. I scratch behind his ears, he leans his warm body into my leg. We stand like that for a few moments. Breathing into the quiet. The morning. The noises and words that disturbed my sleep slip away with his warm, familiar comfort against my body. I say nothing about lying on the chaise where he’s not supposed to be.

I take him out for his morning walk. Long coat covering my pajamas.  The Magpie is gone. The sound of distant traffic ripples through the air in concert with the river flowing past. The streets are empty.

Inside again, Beau wanders off to sleep away the morning on the bed, curled up in the curve of my husband’s legs. I close the bedroom door. Shut in. They won’t arise for a few more hours.

I walk back into the kitchen. Make my latte. Think about cleaning the oven. It’s a self-cleaning oven. Doesn’t take much to get the job done. The job feels too much for me today. I let the thought pass.

I wander through the room. I pick up some papers from one spot and move them to another. I fluff a pillow on the sofa. Fold the blanket I used last night to keep me warm while I lost myself in some forgettable movie on Netflix. I carefully place the blanket at the end of the sofa. Just so. Order amidst chaos.

My head keeps running through the litany of things I should be adding to my To Do list. I need to write them down. I decide its too much effort. I’ll think about the To Do’s later.

I check in with my feelings. Restless. Uneasy. Weary. And my old friend, fear, is there, lurking in the back corner of my mind, seeking disruptive entry.

And I haven’t even checked the news yet. I haven’t read the statistics.

And already I’m weary.

I am weary of the mounting losses. Weary of the constant reminders to wash my hands. Keep my distance. Stay home.

I am weary.

I take a breath.

Weary or not, here I come.

I turn on some music. Not my normal gentle morning sounds of piano and cello.

This is music to stir my soul. Raise my heartbeat. Get me moving. Chase the worries away.

Andra Day. Rise Up.

Aretha Franklin. Respect.

Eurythmics. Sweet Dreams.

Survivor. Eye of the Tiger.

Gnarls Barkley. Crazy.

Gloria Gaynor. I Will Survive.

Journey. Don’t Stop Believin’

Lee Ann Womack. I Hope You Dance.

The voices rise. I rise up to greet them. I start to move. My body. My arms. My legs. My feet. I start to move. Back and forth. Side to side. I find the rhythm beneath the words. I let my body have its way to the beat.

And I am dancing.

Dancing in the morning light. Dancing to greet the day. Dancing to raise me up.

I am dancing away my fear. My anxiety. My weariness.

I am dancing.

I hope you dance. Too.

_______________

Thank you Brian Webb for your ‘Shelter-in-Place Playlist’ and for your inspiration.  I’ve only included a few of your songs here — but the whole list is amazing! Thank you for your inspiration which inspired me to ‘Dance Away the Blues‘ this morning. 

When Will The Future Begin?

Dawn rises quickly here above the 51st parallel. It graces the sky with hurried rosy hues like a prima donna blowing kisses to adoring fans before exiting stage left as the curtain falls and the audience rises to continue on with their lives.

Night has fallen asleep. Day has risen. Daily life begins.

For citizens around the world, especially those of us who have the luxury to take care of ourselves at home in these days of Covid, daily life has taken on a new rhythm. For many of us it is slower. Calmer. Perhaps even less stressful and pressure-driven.

Yet, for the majority of us, there is a constant concern rippling through our minds. Concern for our health and wellbeing and for the health and well-being of those we love. Anxiety about ‘what will happen next?’ Anxiety for what the world will look like when all of this is over.

In a world of information at the press of a key on our laptops, we worry about which sources to trust. Which politicians to believe. Which pundit to heed. We worry about whether we have enough information or the right information to weather this storm. We worry about what the unseeable future will look like.

We worry about whether our children will fall too far behind in school. We wonder how they’ll ever catch up, forgetting the disruptions we are experiencing are universal, including for our children.  In their disruptive nature, possibilities for change, for different, for better arise. Yet, we worry we will not be able to trust what might happen in the future.

For some, the worry of no job and fast depleting resources disrupts their sleep, keeping them from the gift of rest and the relative ease that comes with being at home.

For others, the fear a loved one will die and that it could happen without a loving family member at their side causes an ache in their heart that cannot be eased by positive affirmations.

And for others, this long, drawn-out good-bye to the lives we knew clouds our minds like fog shrouding our view of the road ahead. Lost in its misty, impenetrable greyness, we crave a certainty we cannot see.

We want to know. When will all of this be over? When will the future begin?

No one knows.

Sure, there are graphs and charts mapping out what the timeline could look like. There are projections of illness counts and death tolls.

But there is no concrete, marked on the calendar with a giant X date to say, This is what the future looks like. This is when the future begins.

The future is now.

We are the future.

This future we are living now demands we let go of old ways of living that do not work for us, nor the world. It demands we embrace new ways of being on this planet, ways that do no harm for our fellow human beings and the delicate ecological fabric of our universe. And, it demands we see the world as what it is: One planet. One ozone layer. One gravitational pull. One global environment. One animal kingdom. One humanity. Connected in all ways through all things and beings.

We are living on the practice field of our future. This stay-at-home condition which so many of us are living right now is our ground zero. Our place where we get to choose to make it a sacred, safe environment where we can learn new ways of being with one another, together and apart. To explore creative ways of being at peace staying at home without racing out into the world to find habitual distractions that momentarily ease our angst but cause disruptions throughout our lives and the world around us.

And, it is a time to build our gratitude muscles and practices. To be thankful for all we have, especially those who make our lives rich and meaningful. Those who make what we have possible while taking care to say thanks to those who risk their own well-being in order that we can stay at home during this time of Covid.

We are mapping out our future by sheltering in place. As we go through each day, we are being invited to breathe deeply into what is present in our lives right now. To trust we are doing the right things to take care of ourselves and others. To let go of fear so that we can breathe easily together as one planet, one humanity, one human condition.

Our fear clouds the present. It builds pathways to tomorrow that are not built on trust, but rather, anxiety.

Anxiety does not make a good bed companion, nor a good road builder.

Trust in yourself. Trust in this precious planet we call home. And trust that in doing the right thing today, whatever tomorrow brings, your courage, strength and Love will rise up to guide you in handling whatever comes your way with grace.

Trust that you gave your best to every moment today. You gave your all to create a world of peace, hope, love and joy.

No one can tell us when the future begins. But we each know when tomorrow comes. Right after today.

Let’s live today for all we’re worth so that every tomorrow is built on the beauty and love we bestowed on every minute of today.

 

Namaste