Exposed

Yesterday, I followed through on my commitment to work on Steps 9 and 10 of my 20 Attitudes and Actions to help you live the life of your dreams.

It worked.

Once I’d printed out the two lists, I had to laugh at myself.

The ‘I can’t list’ – pretty well all lives in my head. The blocks and hurdles imaginary things I tell myself which, through repetition or simply remaining unchallenged, have become limiting beliefs that do not serve me well. And definitely don’t do much towards helping me live the life of my dreams!

And isn’t that what we all want? To live a life where we feel inspired, passionate, engaged. A life that reflects our desires, whatever they are, for love, friendship, comfort, and yes, success.

I realized as I was working on my Can’t and Can lists that defining what ‘success’ looks like to me at this certain age of my life is different than what it looked like at 30, 40, 50. I haven’t spent as much time considering the question, “What does a ‘successful’ life look like to me now that I’m no longer ‘out there in the workforce’ but here, spending time writing, painting, creating. Am I creating ‘things’ or am I creating a life worth living?”

It was a great question to carry with me as I wandered the forest and trails of the park Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walk in every morning.

I walked through the forest along the river and looked up into the naked branches of the trees, listened to the birds, a woodpecker hammering, chickadees calling and the wind. Always the wind.

I stopped and took photos. Noticed broken bark and branches. Touched crenellated trunks and scarred limbs.  And was reminded of how life is often a journey that leaves us scarred and scared but also beautifully weathered, worn and wise.

When I came home, I played Rod Stewart’s hit, Scarred and Scared. Stewart was one of my dad’s and my brother’s favourites way back when.  Before they left this world a year a half apart. Before we had to learn how to fill in the spaces of their missing with memories and stories of their lives interwoven with ours. In the past. Always in the past.

And then… the poem below wrote itself out as I meditated on life and the joy of my many circles. From art circle creatrixes to writing circle poetresses and family circles and friendship rings and everyone in between. We have all weathered life through days and months and years, words and poetry and actions and colours splashed against the tapestries of our lives coming into full bloom and then, softly, lovingly, gently beginning to fade.

I do not know about ‘the fading years’, as I heard the latter years of life called once. I love the visual imagery of it. The softness and gentleness.

But I don’t know if I want to fade or go out in a great big burst of colour!

And that’s the beauty of life. I don’t have to know. I simply have to live. Every moment. Every colour. Every word and action, every sight and sound the way I want to live them. Now. Fully. Completely. Wholly. In this moment.

Until there are no more moments, no more sights or sounds or even breaths to live.

Perhaps it was the melancholy of the trees, the quiet of the forest, the reading through a course I created several years ago and spent a good part of the day updating that pulled me into the lure of time. Its gathering. Its weaving. It’s meandering course through life. Its unravelling. It’s gathering. It’s weaving….

Whatever the impetus, I am grateful.

________________

NOTE: The course I created and updated is called, “Right Your Heart Out”. It is currently available for free download on my website – I would be incredibly appreciative if you took it for a test run and gave me what feedback you can — feedback is the only way to make it better!

To learn more about this 21 day/lesson course click here – Right Your Heart Out

To dive in without learning more, to just ‘go for it’ click HERE for immediate download.

And… working on updating this course was my diving into Step 12 of the 20 Attitudes and Actions.

Here’s the deal – a marker on my path is having someone download the course… Don’t you want to be a marker of my path forward? I get to surprise myself with a reward if you are! 🙂

The Song of Your Heart is Always Brave

Spread 6 – left hand page – Listen to Your Heart – The song of your heart is always brave.

Have you ever noticed how, when fear awakens, so do the voices in your head?

That’s my experience. As I get closer to doing something I’ve been avoiding or putting off, or doing something that’s new and/or different or requires me to step outside my comfort zone, or at least the lizard brain’s comfort zone, the cacophony of sound emanating from the dark recesses of my grey matter get louder and louder.

Intoxicated with the lizard brain’s negative feedback, I begin to tell myself it’s right. I shouldn’t… – Do whatever it is I’m attempting. Step outside my comfort zone. Talk to someone I think could really give me guidance on a project [as in, ask for help]. Submit my work to a magazine. Create that Art Journalling 101 course…

Working in my “Learning to Fly” art journal has been an awakening and an inspiration to keep on going, keep on digging in, keep on stepping out, reaching beyond my comfort zone, looking at all the things (lies) I tell myself I risk losing if I do… x, y, z.

it’s also been a great wake-up call.

As in, the only thinking that’s stinking around here is mine!

And I smile as I type that. I might sound like I’m being hard on myself – it’s actually a loving form of tough love – I’m being real and honest with my fears — as I wrote on Spread No. 6 of the journal – “Fear is the voice of doubt and confusion that would have you believe you don’t deserve to live your dreams.”

I also think I’m suffering from Covid-brain Weary Syndrome.

You know, the falling into lazy patterns of thinking without even realizing I’ve been doing it.

No one can deny, this has been a long year. And there is still more to come before we can step out of our front doors and into the world without fearing this invisible microbe’s attack. As the world has hunkered down, so too have I in some ways.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been very creative and given birth to lots of creative expressions. The challenge is, I’ve not done much with my body of work. I’ve just kind of floated from project to project like a sleep-walker drifting through the silence of the night.

To wake myself up I have to get out of my feelings and into my body, my whole body, where I know, beyond doubt deep, deep within my entire being, that I am more powerful than I could ever imagine, more creative than I could ever express and more fearless than I could ever envision.

We all are.

More than we imagine.

Think about it. Our imaginings take place in our minds. Our minds are constructs of our habitual thoughts.

If our thoughts are limiting, so too will be our expressions of ourselves.

Living under the thrall of Covid has limited all our lives in so many ways, it makes sense that some of our thoughts could evolve into more limiting than freeing.

Which is also why birds appear throughout my Learning to Fly journal.

I don’t know where they’re leading, I don’t know where this journal is going (it’s all part of the adventure) what I do know is… if I do nothing, nothing will happen other than what already is. I must follow the flight of the birds where ever they lead. They carry my dreams.

To pursue my vision of creating inspiring and compelling work that ignites the creativity and passion in others, I must pursue pathways to getting my work out there.

And so… the adventure continues.

Going back to my 20 Attitudes and Actions to live the life of my dreams, today I commit to working on No.s 9 and 10.

What about you? What do you commit to doing today to move you one step closer to a dream you want to transform into your reality?

I hope you share your thoughts. I’d love to be your accountability buddy!

_________________

No. 6 – Attitudes and Actions — “Don’t let fear muddle-up your thinking. Even when you think you can’t, tell yourself you can. – Listen to your heart.”

Learning to Fly

I love heights. I know. I know. There are many who don’t. But I do.

I love to stand high above looking out and over the world. Buildings. Mountains. Even on the bridge looking into the river below. The higher. The better.

And here’s the deal. My challenge is, when I am standing on high, I truly believe I can fly. That I can just open my arms wide, release myself to gravity’s thrall and leap.

It’s not that I believe I have wings waiting to unfurl, it’s more a feeling that somehow, through alchemy and magic, my body will be transformed into a beautiful, light as air, ‘thing’ of majestic, airborne wonder.

I didn’t say it made sense. I only said I believe it’s true.

I have not tested my premise. Ever.

Though I have been tempted.

When I used to climb mountains it was always my challenge – to stay grounded at the edge of the peak and not let go and leap. Though there was one time on a descent that began with a 2ft wide ridge walk with a 3,000 ft drop straight down on one side and about a 1,000-foot drop on the other. That day, about halfway to the point where we would be rappelling down the mountainside, I wished there was a helicopter that would come and pick me up so I wouldn’t have to leap a one-foot gap in the rock and land four feet below.

Fear made me forget I could fly or even jump as if it was a gap in the sidewalk. I had to let go of my fear

Which is the impetus for the art journal I’m creating, Learning to Fly.

In life, flying is not about heights or wings. It’s about overcoming fears that keep us tethered to our comfort zones, to dreamless-sleep-walking through our days and spiritless wanderings through time, feeding ourselves on inertia.

I have some big dreams. Had them for awhile. And still, I hesitate. I act on them. One tentative step at a time. And then, I hesitate. Holding back. Jerking forward.

No one is holding me back. Except me.

So…. I decided to focus on the things I can do, need to do, must do to unfurl my dreams.

The “Learning to Fly” art journal is my Declaration of Independence. My Magna Carta. My Holy Grail of Getting Sh*t Done.

So…. here we go….

_______________________

About the Journal:

Using various papers from watercolour to mixed media to newsprint and scraps from junk mail, I gessoed and painted backgrounds to create a 40-page journal with cover. I then bound it all together into a book. (Below is a 19 second flip through of the painted and bound journal before I painted the cover and the first 4 spreads)

As well, I’ve created a list of 20 ‘actions and attitudes’ on the theme of “Learning to Fly”. For each one, I’m writing a one-line quote and using that action or attitude as the inspiration for the spread.

Over the past few days, I painted the cover (birds in a tree in gold), the title page and worked on the first 4 spreads:

  1. Take the longview. Even a bird needs time to grow into its wings.
  2. It’s a long and winding road. Every step makes a difference. Keep going.
  3. Wherever you grow, let your heart grow wild and free.
  4. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

Colour me excited, but I feel the energy flowing, I feel my heart pounding as I work on this journal.

And, as I step through each of the 20 Action and Attitude steps I’ve created, I feel myself expanding my wings.

I won’t be jumping off mountain tops but I will be diving into making dreams come true and soaring on the wings of creative expression!

I hope you join me on the journey — I’ll be sharing my 20 Actions and Attitudes tomororw.

Today… I’ve got a dream come true to fulfill. C.C. and I are getting our first vaccinations. I’m trying not to make it a ‘big deal’.

But… it is! 🙂

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.

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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