Dare boldly

Inspiring acts of grace in everyday living


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The maiden with leaden shoes and a cloak of worry (A fairytale)

Once there was a little girl who loved to dance. She danced so much her mother feared she’d never find her feet on the ground and if she never had her feet on the ground she’d never be able to take care of herself when she grew old. So she took the little girl’s shoes to the shoemaker and asked him to line them with lead.

Convinced it was the right thing to do, she put the shoes on her daughter and made her promise she would never take them off. “If you remove the shoes your feet will fall off and you will fall down, never to get up again.”

And so the little girl who loved to dance learned to walk with heavy step.

But still, she loved to sing and laugh no matter where she went. Her mother feared her daughter’s voice which sounded like birdsong would keep her from ever taking life seriously and if she didn’t take life seriously, how would she ever watch out for trouble? And so, she made her daughter a cloak of thorns and knit it together with threads of worry. “You must always wear this cloak,” she told her daughter. “If you dare to take it off, your skin will grow brittle and hard and fall off and your body will fall down, never to get up again.”

And so the little girl who loved to laugh and sing forgot the power of her own voice beneath the weight of the cloak as she took each step always looking out for trouble.

One day, when the little girl had become an old woman and no longer needed lead lined shoes to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground, or a cloak of thorns with worries sewn into every stitch to keep her taking life seriously, went into the forest to gather firewood for her hearth. As she carefully picked up wood to place into her basket, she saw a child dancing and heard her singing amongst the trees.

The sound of the child’s voice that sounded like birdsong, the sight of her spinning and twirling about set her heart racing so fast she had to sit down in a hollow at the bottom of a tree to catch her breath. But, before she sat down, she had to check the ground for spiders, and sweep away all the dirt and place a cloth upon the earth to keep her clothes from getting dirty. Worried that a wild animal would come and attack her, she sharpened one of the pieces of wood in her basket into a spear and placed her back firmly into the tree trunk where she sat.

But still it wasn’t enough.

She was worried that an animal might sneak up from behind her, or a storm would blow in and knock the tree beneath which she sat, down.

“Oh this life is such serious business,” she sighed as she moved her body deeper into the open space at the bottom of the tree trunk. “It is wise to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground at all times and always look out for trouble.”

And as she sighed and kept shifting her eyes around, making sure she was safe from attack, she forgot all about the little girl laughing and dancing in the woods.

And the animals never paid her any attention. They couldn’t see her tucked into the tree’s trunk and they were busy anyway. They were doing what animals do in the woods and did not have time for an old woman sitting in a tree, glaring out at the world, fearful of every noise.

And the little girl never saw the old woman sitting in the tree trunk either. She was too busy dancing and singing to her heart’s content as she continued on her way through the forest.

Slowly, over time, the old woman fell asleep to dream of a dancing girl with a voice like birdsong who long ago danced in the woods and sang to her heart’s content.

And as she dreamed, the seasons turned and the leaves fell and snow blanketed the earth and her heart grew still until only the sighs of the wind could be heard whispering through the leaves.

She sits there still today, tucked inside the tree, her body entwined in the ivy that spun its way around her like a cloak of thorns knit together by worries.

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This story wrote itself from a dream. It has many meanings for me. I’m curious to know what it means for you?

Please, do share your thoughts.

Namaste.


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AlexisMarieInk

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Image by: Britney-Gill-Photography

 As many know, my eldest daughter is an exceptional writer and a fearless soul.  For a year plus she wrote daily at How I Survived Myself and recently (Jan 1) launched her new website Alexis Marie Ink.

While I am healing my neck I will only be posting once a week. I hope you join Alexis on her journey as she casts light on our human journey and condition.

Alexismarieink


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It is his way. A message from the other side.

The three sisters.

The three sisters.

The first time he comes to visit it is in the time between restless slumber and awakening.

I am surprised to see him. He has been gone almost 20 years. I did not expect to see him in my dreams, let alone this semi-awakening state.

He smiles, his white teeth appearing between his black mustache, the impish almost dimple on the left side of his cheek puckering-in like the stem side of an apple.

He does not say hello. He does not even seem surprised at my surprise to see him.

“I’ve been worried about you,” my brother says.

“You’re dead,” I blurt out. In retrospect it might have been a little rude on my part but when a dead brother comes to visit unexpectedly, thinking straight is not my forte. Anyway, what’s he going to do about it? Not like he was still around and could whip me with a towel or stick me in a closet as was his yen when we were young and locked in sibling disputes over who was boss of who.

He is older than me. The only son, or as I used to like to say, “The son for whom the sun rises and sets.” Yeah. I wasn’t too mature where my brother was concerned.

My brother and his wife died in a car accident March 27th in 1997. There was a lot of angst and anger and sorrow and unfinished business in the wake of their passing. Having him pop in now, years later, without so much as a hello or even a postcard from the other side feels a tad disorienting.

And for that matter, who knew ghosts could worry?

“Not relevant,” he responds when I ask him about worrying ghosts. “I’m worried about you. You need to take better care of yourself.”

And then, he’s gone. Poof. Just like that.

But I do not question that he was real. That he really did come to visit. He was there.

The next time he comes back I am in the shower.

“Excuse me!” I squeal when he makes his presence known. “I’m in the shower!”

“So what?” he says without batting a single one of the jet black eyelashes surrounding his big brown eyes. “Spirits can’t see human matter. They only see the essence of what matters most. Did you get my message?”

“What? That you’re worried about me?” I want to shrug him off. To ignore him like I always tried to do in our growing up years.

My brother can be persistent and insistent. He can be dogged in his approach to just about anything. When we were young he once dragged me out of a discotheque in Germany where I was not supposed to be. Something about being 16 and underage he told me. I did not want to hear him and tried to go back. He got all his friends to come and make sure I didn’t.

“Yeah, I heard you.” I reply quickly reaching for a towel. I don’t care if spirits only see what matters most. He is my brother.

“Look. I’m not here about your vanity. Pride means nothing after you’re dead. I am worried about you. You need to take better care of yourself.”

And once again, he’s gone. Poof. Just like that.

Later, I tell my sisters about our encounter.

I heard his voice, my eldest sister tells us. Just the other day.

I wonder why he’s visiting, my middle sister asks.

It’s Christmas, I reply. George always loved Christmas.

And he did.

Just as he always loved us. No matter what. No matter where. No matter how difficult our encounters. He always loved us.

My brother came to visit. Twice.

In death as in life. My brother always had something to say, something to tell me about how I was behaving, or mis-behaving. He always wanted the best for me even when I thought he was being a pain, a pill, an interfering older brother who wanted to control me and my life.

I want to ignore him, just as I always wanted to  when he was alive and pestering me with his silly game of ‘name that tune’ or thinking he can beat me at Scrabble.

I want to tell him I hear him. Finally.

I’ve tried every which way to re-conjure him up in my mind, and I can’t. No matter what thoughts I create, I cannot feel his presence though I can still hear him laughing all the way from the other side.

I’m hoping he reads my blog so he will know — Message delivered. Loud and clear, bro.

And then, I smile. He doesn’t need to read my blog to know I got the message. He’s watching over me, just as he’s watching over all the ones he loves.

It is his way.

 


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Have you given thanks today?

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The mind is like a crazy monkey, which leaps about and never stays in one place. It is completely restless and constantly paranoid about its surroundings. From “Trapping the Monkey” in THE TEACUP AND THE SKULLCUP: CHOGYAM TRUNGPA ON ZEN AND TANTRA. Page 72

Lying in bed, ‘doing nothing’, is a great opportunity to reflect, and to ‘do nothing’. At least, it would be a great time for such indulgence if my monkey mind didn’t keep interfering.

“Don’t be so lazy. Get busy.” Its voice whispers with a sibilant hiss oozing like steam seeping from a lumbering volcano.

The more rational part of me leaps in to defend my indolence. “Get busy doing what? I don’t have to go into the office today. It’s an extra long weekend. Relax.”

But still the monkey mind persists. “There’s gotta be something you can do. Quit lying there justifying lying there. Nobody likes a lazy person.”

Ahhh, the power of the monkey mind to disturb peace of mind and tranquility.

Oh, and Beaumont the eager pup too! He wants to get out and play. I will him to relax. Be calm. Be patient.

Buddha is quoted as having said,“Patience is the greatest prayer.”

If I had one prayer, it would be, “Thank you.”

Perhaps gratitude is the most powerful force for healing.

As I lay in my bed I whisper to the birds at the feeder, “Thank you for brightening my day. Thank you for your song. Your lithesome spirit. Your twittering verse.”

I look up through the green leaves turning gold of the birch and the red buds of crabapples peaking out through leaves and gaze up at dull grey sky above and whisper, “Thank you for your shade. Your whispering leaves. Your beauty.”

Gratitude.

To fall into prayer I must surrender my ego’s need to justify my existence — my state of doing nothing, as well as my state of doing ‘busy’. To surrender, I must release my need to feel that everything I do matters. As my daughter Alexis wrote in a blog, “I am nothing. And everything… I do not matter. And yet, I am matter, so I must.”

I must surrender my need to matter enough that my matter becomes all that matters to me. When I matter enough to cherish the goodness in my being me, to respond from my highest good, no matter the weather, the time of day or night, or the circumstances surrounding me, then I will have fallen into that place where all that matters is — the moment in which I breathe.

I move into gratitude, the gateway to patience. If I had but one prayer, let it be, Thank you.

The question is: Have you given thanks today?


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Day 1: the ultimate un-guide to Surrender

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Yesterday I made a commitment to myself to explore the question, “What is the more I seek?

To begin my quest, I wrote a list of words (surrender, hope, faith, mystery, loss, God, and the power of love) which I felt were all inclusive of my seeker’s journey and declared that I would dive deeper into clarity by exploring each word without expectation of an outcome.

Staying unattached to my need for an outcome is a challenge for me. I like to know what’s going on. I like to be in control, or at least give myself the illusion of being in control.

Realization 1:  The journey begins with surrendering my need for an outcome.

“Surrender”. It is a big word for me. A tough one.

I let go of my labelling of the word and begin.

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I enter meditation with a question. “What does it mean to surrender?”

My goal is to allow myself to fall effortlessly into the silence and allow answers to find their way to the surface.

It isn’t working. I find myself fighting, resisting, defending against the word.

I want to push it away. I want to cry out, “No! No! No! Look at those synonyms! You do not want to succumb, to yield, to give in. Don’t do it.”

My mind, ever-willing co-conspirator in over-thinking, resists the quiet space and leaps eagerly into the fray of my thoughts run amuck in my resistance to stillness.

It begins with criticism.

Why didn’t you start this quest on a Monday? Really? Who begins a spiritual journey on a Friday?

I ignore it.

It is unrelenting.

Surrendering is not good. Surrendering is a sign of weakness.

Weakness?

How can that be?

Is it true? Am I weak when I surrender?

A thought swoops in like a hawk diving for a mouse. “What are you surrendering to?”

Is it ‘to’ something or is it all about the act of surrendering with no outcome in sight, I wonder.

I breathe. I scurry after the last thought, searching in its entrails for the stillness of mind that comes when I surrender my thoughts to the nothingness of being present.

Resistance rises up. Again. 

Seriously? Can he not just stay quiet just this once?

I notice how I like to separate my thinking from my desire to be still.

My resistance to my resistance crumbles. I give up and submit to its call.

There’s something here, it says. There’s a piece of information that is important for you to see. Don’t stop thinking. Let the thoughts roll in.

I do not want a cloudy mind.

I want the stillness of reflection.

I find neither in my resistance to letting go of having to know the answer.

Surrender.

How can I surrender when my mind wants desperately to be in control?

Good question.

Live it.

Breathe into it.

Be it.

Surrender your desire to know and be present to your breath moving in and out.

Let go of your resistance. Stop defending against that which you fear and be present, right now. Allow yourself to…

Surrender.

I think I’d rather run away.

Is that another form of surrendering?

Or is that just a way of avoiding?

Good question.

And I begin again.

Live it.

Breathe into it.

Be it.