Let us not forget

November 11.

A day of reflection. Of silence. Of remembering. Our shared humanity. Our shared planet. Our shared capacity to be both loving and violent. Full of possibility and death. Ripe with opportunity and tragedy.

It is a day to give thanks for the sacrifices of so many and to remember that their sacrifice was not so we could continue to kill and destroy life and harm one another.

Their sacrifice was so that we may continue to build better lives and live in peace.

Let us not forget.

#lestweforget2022#remembranceday2022#lettherebepeace

Let Love Heal the Future

I met a woman at the park. She was crying.

I stopped to ask if there was anything I can do to help.

She smiled through her tears, thanked me for stopping to ask and told me no. She was missing her past and no one could give that back to her.

I agreed and asked if I could give her a hug in the here and now. She quickly replied, Oh yes, please.

And so, two strangers stood heart to heart creating a bridge from the past to the future.

Sometimes, when the past is fresh in our minds and we feel burdened by its harshness, all we can do is mourn its absence.

Sometimes, when the heaviness of our mourning brings us down, and words cannot ease our pain, a stranger’s attention gives us hope that tomorrow will come.

That woman in the park had a story. In that moment, it wasn’t her story that mattered. What mattered most was that she was a human being in distress.

I couldn’t fix what was wrong. I couldn’t change the past.

All I could do was share ‘love’ to help her continue to keep moving towards the healing that comes when the past drifts far enough away, we no longer feel the urge to carry its pain, darkness and sadness.

In that moment, for her, I was an oasis devoid of memories of the past.

In that moment, for me, she was a beautiful reminder of the power of Love to heal.

Where words bloom like roses.

I played in my studio this weekend. It has been a while.

Though summer is often a time of little studio play, this year’s sojourn away from its creative space was especially long.

I kept telling myself I was bored with it all. I just wasn’t interested. I had other things to do.

In reality, and retrospect, I was engaging in a lot of self-denial of engagement with the things that lift me up, balance and challenge me, and give my creative essence the spark it needs to keep flowing freely. And, when my creative essence flows freely, I feel calmer, happier, more spacious, more ‘me’.

I know I am not alone in my self-denial of the things I know are good for me.

Some time ago, I was chatting with a woman at the park as we walked along the river. Her two-year-old rescue, Toby, wanted desperately to play with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle. Beau was only interested in my throwing the ball.

Like me, she loves to write.

“I started a book three years ago,” she shared. “When COVID hit, I thought it would be the opportune time to finish it. I’m still only a quarter of the way through.”

I shared some of my unfinished manuscript stories and we both laughed and promised to check in on one another’s progress at our next park encounter.

Recently, we ran into each other again at the park. We chatted for a while until finally I blurted out, “So… I don’t have much of an update on progress to report.”

Sheepishly, she shared she didn’t either.

We chatted awhile about the obstacles, the why not’s, and the things that got in our way of doing what we say we want to do.

“I desperately want to finish it,” she said of her manuscript. “I just don’t know if I can.”

We looked at each other when she said that and laughed.

It is a shared experience.

See, intellectually I know I can do it but… and there’s always a but… my lack of conviction of the ‘can’ has more to do with the critter-mind’s constant chattering about why I shouldn’t do it.

Now that was a revelation as I sat in meditation this morning.

Why does the critter-mind believe I shouldn’t do it?

The answer is fairly simple.

The critter-mind always believes it knows best, particularly when it comes to keeping me safe. And the critter-mind believes that convincing me not to devote the time, energy and creative power necessary to complete this book is safer than risking failing, or never getting it published, or having it panned by readers, yada, yada, yada.

And so I wonder… What would happen if I simply turn up, pay attention and stay unattached to the outcome?

Will the critter-mind lose its power to convince me not to do it? In staying unattached to the outcome, will the creative act of putting words onto a page become the process through which I experience joy, happiness, fulfillment and love?

I wonder… What would happen if I imagine every word I type to be an act of love? Will words bloom into everything I imagine?

The More

What do you want more of in your life? It’s a question often asked in personal development courses.

What do you want? More of? Less of? None of? Lots of?

What you focus on makes a difference.

When I focus on the things that bring me joy, happiness, integrity, beauty, love, I move closer to the things I want.

If I focus on ‘the lack’, the things that don’t work, that upset me and pull me down, the less becomes my focus, drawing me away from all ‘the more’ I want to live a rich and fulfilled life.

What do you want more of in your life?

Stop. Breathe Deep. Sink.

I get stuck sometimes in that space between, “I want to… and I can’t be bothered to…”

It’s as if the cosmos are misaligned and I wander in the netherland between planets orbiting in balanced harmony and bouncing around the skies in seemingly discordant chaos.

So many ideas swirling in my head. So many thoughts jumbling around in my brain I forget to Stop. Breathe deep. Sink into my pelvic bowl to feel the wonder and harmony of being embodied in the present moment.

My eldest daughter suggests my flittering-like butterfly thoughts are a symptom of ADHD.

Phillip Shepherd of The Embodied Present Process suggests it’s our western cultural bias to being headstrong versus whole-body connected within nature.

I think it’s a life-long habit of immersing myself in a project and then, coming up to breathe and allowing myself to simply be carried along by life’s undulating waves until I realized I’m untethered from gravity’s calming grace and remember to Stop. Breathe Deep. Sink.

Unfortunately, sometimes my brain-wanderings are more about diversion than anything else. In those times, I allow my brain, okay if I’m being totally honest and vulnerable here, my critter-mind, to have control. Abdicating all personal responsibility for how I spend my leisure/creative time, I flit between reading a book to concocting something in the kitchen or dousing myself in trash Netflix watching just to while away the time.

There is a Latin phrase, “Plenus venter non studet libenter” which, translated, means, A full belly does not study.

I think the same is true for a contented life, as in, A contented life does not want. Which by the way, translated into Latin reads, “Contentus vita non vis”. (Thank you Dr. Google)

I know! It carries so much more veritas et gravitas in Latin!

Regardless of which language I say it in, for me, contentment can be the enemy of creativity.

Now, that is something I wasn’t actually aware of until this morning when I started writing about this creatively slumped state in which I find myself picking at different project ideas and not settling on one.

Time to Stop. Breathe deep. Sink.

Time to listen deeply to my deep inner knowing, allowing the words written in the Bhagvad Gita, “Curving back within myself, I create again and again,” to stir my belly-conscious awareness of my creative essence’s drive to be present within nature’s constant presence.

Time to release my creative urgings, without placing limits, expectations or conditions on my expressions.

And oh gosh! It’s time to turn off Netflix and Prime and Acorn and tune into myself and allow the muse to draw me deep within.

And so, I Stop. Breathe Deep. Sink – Curve back and begin again.

How to reach the stars.

On Friday’s post, a commenter mentioned how wanting something too much affects their balance.

I share that feeling.

Except for me, it isn’t so much about balance as it is about fear. I have long known that I have difficulties with ‘trust’. The biggest piece being ‘trusting the universe’ It’s as if within me is this critter voice hissing “don’t tell the world your dreams or even put them down on paper and whatever you do, don’t wish for something too hard! The universe will do its best to push you down if you do.”

I didn’t say it was rational. It just is what it is.

The trick is to be conscious of its irrational and non-supportive nature. In my awareness, I breathe through the fear of being pummeled by the universe so that I am free to do what needs to be done to create a world of beauty, joy, love and laughter all around me.

Again, not trusting the universe ain’t rational. It is a learned behavioral response/thought that does not serve me well. Its genesis is buried deep in my psyche, formed when I was a child trying to cope with a world I did not understand, and a religious upbringing that had me fearing ‘god’ as an angry deity seeking to smoke and destroy those who disobeyed him.

Which is why I write about it.

In writing about it I get to see it, acknowledge it and laugh about it.

I mean, seriously? I think I’m so important to the universe that my wanting to reach the stars of my own dreams would cause it to direct the furies against me?

LOL — I am not that important nor powerful for the universe to change course.

What is important is that I play the leading character at centre stage of my own life – something I’ve struggled with for eons!

This is why it’s so important for me to care deeply about my limiting beliefs that have the capacity to keep me playing small in my own life.

None of us can afford to play small in our own lives.

The universe is going to keep doing what it does to keep the planets in orbit. We each need to do whatever we can to keep our lives growing and evolving and becoming our own special version of life on planet earth.

We need to play as large and loud and joyously as we can. We need to reach for the stars within our own dreams. Topple mountains standing in our way and soar above petty fears seeking to keep us playing safe in mediocrity.

To reach the stars of our own dreams, we must let go of the fears that keep us stuck in believing we don’t deserve to shine bright.

To let go of the fears, we must give ourselves permission to acknowledge our fears and breathe through them.

To breathe through our fears, we must be willing to both laugh at ourselves and be our own biggest cheerleaders.

And, to shine bright, we must never stop believing in ourselves, our dreams, and our right to reach for the stars, no matter our age!

Hangin’ on to lettin’ go

Hangin' on
to everything 
that doesn't matter
I lose sight
of everything
that matters.
Letting go
of everything 
that doesn't matter
leaves me free
to cherish
everything 
that matters.

I am wearing a comfort sweater today. One elbow is worn out. There’s a hole in the right armpit. But, the sweater is cashmere. It’s cozy. Well worn. Welcome.

I don’t want to let it go.

Fact is, its weary threads don’t matter. What matters is I am happy wearing it, especially in the house. It keeps me warm. It feels good against my skin.

No need to throw it out.

I can hang on.

There are other things in my life, however, that don’t measure up to hanging on.

If I inventory my emotional closet I’m bound to find things that no longer serve or fit me.

Like anger. Regret. Blame. Righteous hurts. Guilt. Shame…

They don’t serve me well as I continue to strive to live my life true to my values, principles and beliefs today.

Those things that do not serve or fit, I need to discard, no matter how well-worn the pathway to their memory vaults may be.

To let them go I must be willing to also let go of the story I tell about why I hang onto them. It’s the story that keeps me clinging to their threads of discord wending their way through my peace of mind. It’s their story that keeps me stuck.

We all have stories we tell ourselves about past events. Those stories where we’re the victim of someone else’s bad behaviour. The recipient of someone else’s anger. The target of someone else’s lies.

Fact is, victim or not, whatever ‘the other(s) did, it happened in the past. We truly can’t change the past, we can choose to free ourselves of its shadows by letting go of repeating the stories that hurt us.

Do you have a story you tell yourself about a time when you were the victim of someone else’s bad behaviour?

Can you find value in what happened? Can you find one gift from those events that create beauty or joy or love or wonder or possibility in your life today?

Search hard and when you find its gift, start telling yourself that story. Again and again. Eventually, that story will lead to a letting go of the other story. The one that doesn’t serve you today.

To live in possibility today, to create a world of wonder, awe, possibility, love, let go of the things that are keeping you stuck in holding on to everything that doesn’t matter. When all that really matters is left, love and joy will fill your heart and create beauty throughout your world today.

I am wearing a comfort sweater today. I’m holding on to it. It matters.

Never stop growing and exploring

Episode 36 – Dare Boldly: No matter your age

On Sunday night, we were 13 gathered around our dining room table for a late Thanksgiving dinner.

I’d spent three days immersed in prep. From creating the menu, painting name cards for everyone, and baking two different cakes, setting the table, and preparing all the fixings. I had fun!

For me, the kitchen is one of my happy zones. People often laugh at me when I tell them this is the first time I’ve made the dish I’ve made that I am setting before them.

“Isn’t that risky? What if it fails?” is often the response.

Fact is, I love experimenting with new recipes (I quickly grow bored of making the same thing again and again) and… most recipes can be saved before hitting the failure button.

This weekend, both cakes I made, along with two different veggie dishes, were new to me. All four came out well — though I did have to rescue the cauliflower from blah to ensure it pleased the palate of all our guests.

In my book, stretching out of my comfort zone, experimenting with new ideas, learning new things is critical to living a rich and full life, no matter my age.

For example, recently, I started learning new video editing software. Ouch! It’s professional software versus the semi-professional one I am accustomed to. My mind is boggled with all the options, processes, and opportunities to create film magic. It is a slow, arduous process of reading directions, following along in videos, figuring out what works and doesn’t work, making mistakes, losing my edits, and starting all over again.

It’s frustrating and invigorating.

It takes me an inordinately long time to do something I could easily do on my old software in a quarter of the time.

But, every moment I spend learning the new software is time spent stretching my brain, my thinking capacities, my memory muscles, my ability to learn and grow.

And all of that is healthy for me.

I think it’s one of the big takeaways for me in having spent the past month writing and thinking about aging well. We can’t stop doing, thinking, creating, being all of who we are.

We all have many gifts, talents, and unexplored creative terrain. The key to getting older without getting old is to always keep pushing into the unknown territory of our limitless capacity to continually be creating better with everything we think, do, and say as we become ‘the more’ of who we are becoming.

Namaste

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