Tag Archives: essential journey

Born to be Magnificent.

We are all born magnificent. It is imprinted in our DNA at the moment of conception.

It is imprinted in our soul, or DNA, genetic blueprint, core essence this Divine Expression of Amazing Grace that is within each of us. We can call it placed there by God, Yaweh, Allah. It is not the word we use to name this Divine Essence of our being human that matters. What matters is we awaken to its presence.

And that’s the challenge Life can be hard. In its unfolding we forget the magnificence at our core very early on in our journey. As lie happens, we adapt to its happenings, layering over our magnificence with pain and anger, sorrow and regret and a host of our human mal-adaptations that we carry with us to protect our ego and its constant need for reassurance. In the process,  our magnificence becomes a tiny seed of memory, always present, always with us. Not always seen or known or remembered.

As we grow and age, we remember something is missing. We carry a sense of loss, of curiosity that maybe there’s more to this life than just ‘the daily grind’. This making a living day-to-day, of getting by.

In his newsletter today, theologian and philosopher, Richard Rohr calls it “The Further Journey”. It is the journey into the second half of our lives that always awaits us, though some of us may never take it. Not because we don’t get old enough to enter ‘the second half of our lives’, but rather, because we get stuck in the identity growing and boundary establishing that occupies the first half. Stuck in ‘me’, we never awaken to the magnificence, or divine spark, at the core of our human presence to realize awakening is necessary. It is an integral part of our human journey.

My awakening happened gradually. In my twenties, I could not understand why I felt like I never fit into my family. They did a few things, all unintentional, to reinforce my sense of unease within their midst, which lead me to question, “Who am I?” early on.

Who am I, I discovered, isn’t about the things I own or do, it’s about who am I when I am being my most magnificent self. When I am being of service to the world.

For me, creating things of beauty and wonder, creating a sense of welcome and peace is critical to my nature.

For you, it may be something else.

Whatever ‘it’ is, your ‘who am I’ will resonate at a deep soul level and express itself in a way that is unique to only you. In the presence of its truth, you will feel so light of heart, you might feel like your entire being is dancing in the light of love.

Answering ‘Who am I?’ is a lifetime journey of unfolding and discovery. Of turning back into yourself again and again, letting go of self-judgement and criticism to realize, Who am I is the beginning of a wondrous journey into self-forgiveness, acceptance, understanding and Love.

For today, stand in front of a mirror, look deep into your eyes and ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’.

Keep your heart soft, your mind open, your senses awakened to whatever rises up from deep within you.

Let go of judgement. Let go of self-consciousness and that fuzzy little flurry of embarrassment that wants to burble up and make you laugh uncomfortably.

Just stay present. Ask the question. Listen deeply.

The answer may surprise you.

The answer may confuse or excite you.

And always, the answer will be fascinating. Because, beneath all the stuff of life, is the answer you were born to know and breathe life into:  You are magnificent. The Divine Expression of Amazing Grace.

 

 

The truth may surprise you

the answer may surprise you copy

How often do you jump to conclusions about another person’s motivation or reason for doing something especially when what they are doing is causing you angst?

If you’re human, the answer is possibly, a lot.

The brilliant Ian Munro of Leading Essentially shares  4  Thoughts For Navigating The Every Day Path, on his blog this week. As Ian writes,

How often do we find ourselves rising up the “Ladder of Inference” (theory first put forward by organizational psychologist Chris Argyris), creating new truths for ourselves that clutter our view of our world and make it difficult to answer the question “what’s really happening right now?”  (you can see the diagram for the Ladder of Inference Ian mentions by clicking here.)

We are New Truth Makers, continually spinning tales of ‘what’s really happening’ outside our sphere of influence to deflect from what’s really happening within us when we become hyper engaged in someone else’s story.

Recently I had a perfect example of my ability to be a new truth maker. A simple mistake, omission, moment of forgetfulness by another lead me down a path to telling myself the story of how they were being deceitful.

Fact is, what I knew to be true is they had not done something that needed doing. Whether it was forgotten, an oversight, or an intentional omission made little difference to what needed to happen — and that was for them to address the situation so that it would be resolved.

Challenge is, in my story-making-up-of-their-motivation, I fell into my own trap. I believed less of them and in that place, felt less of myself because my response, based on my less-than thinking, did not keep me in the moment, did not leave me operating from my higher self, but rather, thinking from my baser instincts.

And that does not serve me well.

Life will always offer up opportunities to rise above or sink below our instinctual habits. For example, I know that I don’t trust people’s motivations easily. It is learned behaviour that I am conscious of, and when acting from a place of esteem, balance, openness and authenticity, does not pull me down to my baser instincts. However, because I have an inherent belief that people are ‘out to get me’, I can fall into the trap of believing they are not acting from a place of wanting to contribute their best in moments of discord. When I let go of my desire to stand in the light and be at peace with the world around me, it is relatively easy for me to leap to the conclusion that what motivates others to do what they do, is proof I should never have trusted in the first place.

From that place, it’s just a short hop, skip and a jump to seeing what someone else is doing as being nefarious, underhanded, deceitful…

Staying conscious of my innate distrust of other’s motivations keeps me grounded on my path, without my capacity to create new truths that prove my child-centric belief, ‘I can’t trust anyone’, interfering with my ability to continually check in with ‘what’s really happening right now’.

Making ‘new truths’ is convenient. It means I don’t actually have to see inside myself to what’s really happening now within me. It means I don’t have to be 100% accountable for my responses, my actions, my own story. It puts me in that treacherous place of negative fortune-telling where I see ‘what’s really going on here’ as the one and only truth – and that’s not a truth based on fact. It’s based on the story I’ve created to keep me from feeling at risk.

We all encounter moments where it is convenient/habitual to make up stories about why someone else is doing what they’re doing that is causing angst or drama or unease in our worlds.

Fact is, we can never be 100% all-knowing of what motivates another.

We can be 100% all-knowing of what motives us when we stop our rapid ascent of the Ladder of Inference, take a breath and go back to the basics of asking, ‘what’s really going on here, right now, inside of me’.

When you do that, when you take the time to stop and ask yourself, ‘What’s this really about for me?’ ‘What do I really want right now’ ‘Is my belief about the other 100% true?’ ‘Is my story about what they’re doing 100% fact?’,  or, ‘Is my story about the other interfering with my ability to be… happy, content, peaceful, accomplished…?’, when you ask yourself the tough questions and lovingly embrace the answers that appear, the truth may surprise you.

 

Do life or be done by life. There is no in-between.

do life copyWe can either do life or be done by life. There is no in-between place where life is not happening.

As so often happens, the words emerged as I was rising out of my meditation this morning.

And then I forgot them.

Ugh.

I scrunched up my eyes, scrunched up my face into a grim expression and fought to remember the words that had hit me like a potent cocktail just moments before.

Relax. Breathe, the voice of wisdom from within me whispered.

Relax. Breathe.

And the words emerged.

We can either do life or be done by life. There is no in-between place where life is not happening.

There is no in-between place.

Where are you in your life today? Are you standing in your power? Standing in your voice, speaking out in loving kindness for what is true for you?

Or, are you letting life have its way with you? Letting life dictate the ebbs and flows, rhythm and tempo of your journey? Stuffing down the words you yearn to speak, the actions you ache to make?

It’s often been said, ‘life is not a dress-rehearsal’.

It’s the real deal. The real thing. And we only have one crack at gettin’ ‘er done.

Get on with life today.

Breathe deeply and tell yourself, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is my life where I stand tall, speak up and let out all the wonder and magnificence that lives within me, just waiting for me to wake up and set it free.

It’s easy to feel defeated. It’s easy to feel like life is a daily struggle to get by, moment to moment, without any thought for the quality of each moment passing by.

Being passive in life is easy. It’s what you’ve done for so long. It’s how you’ve felt for the forever past you can remember.

Let go.

Being passive in life doesn’t get you anything other than more misery, more feeling defeated, more feeling like you’re not worth the bother.

Give it up.

And hold on.

Hold on to the belief that if you don’t turn up and speak your truth and live your life as if it’s the only life you’ve got, no one else will. No one else can.

Sure, there are rocks on the road, hills to climb, obstacles to overcome.

That’s life.

And so much more.

There are sunrises to witness. Sunsets to breathe into.

There are rivers to swim and seas to cross.

There are mountains to summit and ocean deeps to dive into.

There are pools of love to fall into. There are arms to embrace and smiles to share.

There are moments to experience the wonder and awe and pure joy of being alive, being here, being you!

Don’t let life do you. You do it!

Go on. You know you want to. Go ahead. Do life!

 

 

Safe journey

I feel rushed this morning. Hurried. Rain presses down upon morning’s awakening, a sodden blanket of sleep lingering long past the hour of awareness breaking through my dreams.

Lesson 2 of my course material waits in my Inbox. And I lay in bed listening to the rain and the wind chimes in the backyard.

Get up, Louise, my mind encouraged me at 5:30am.

Sleep some more the critter whispered. You don’t have to get up yet.

The critter won. I lingered in bed drifting in and out of wakefulness.

And morning rose and I held my eyes closed.

Time is running. It is time to greet the day, to get busy.

This morning’s lesson included a photo of a spiral staircase. Looking down from above it, looking into the well of its spiral, there is a light at the bottom.

And my mind quickly carries me into the light. I look up and find myself rising. Stepping up through the tiny pinprick of light curving up into the open expanse at the top of the stairwell.

What awaits above is a mystery greater than what lies below, my mind whispers, and I breath deeply into the expansion of this moment right now.

I am not rushed. Hurried. Time does not change because of the slowness of my awakening. it expands out into each breath, opening me up to wonder and awe and mystery.

I stop racing. Stop trying to fit it all in and breathe again into this place where all I am and all I need are all that is present.

Letting go of searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, my heart hears dawn’s breath awakening within me. And my eyes open to the beauty of the rain falling, the wind whispering and the chimes tingling in anticipation of another day opening up in mystery and wonder all around.

My eldest daughter, Alexis, returned to the city where she lives by the ocean last night. She said a final farewell yesterday to her father’s mother, her other grandmother who turned 94 at the end of July. Two days before her birthday she was told of the cancer that would steal her life within a week.

Alexis’ gratitude for her holding on until she got here to see her one last time is palpable. She got to visit every day. To spend time with this woman who was the first ‘other woman’ to care for her on the day I got out of hospital after her birth. She has been there for both my daughters throughout their lives and now, she is in hospice. The end approaches, shrouded in mystery, in finality, in darkness and in eternal rest.

For my daughters, with both their grandmother’s life-breath growing shallower, this has been a time of uncertainty. Of sadness. Of letting go. Of recognizing the delicate hold life has on each of us is only as strong as time’s willingness to hold on to our beating hearts, the deepness of our breath moving in and out.

Time passes and soon this woman who shared so much love and time and care and attention on my daughters will pass away in time’s hands moving beyond her last breath.

And I breathe and take time to honour this woman who has meant so much to me and to my daughters. This woman who has given so much time and love and care.

Fare-thee-well Jill. Safe journey to the other side.

May we all travel safe today. May we all be held in loving hands, our hearts beating freely in the knowing, we are loved. We are loving. We are love.

May we all take care of our planet Earth

Film-maker, Louie Schwartzberg, has been filming time-lapse video of flowers for years. The work, he says in his powerful Ted Talk, The Hidden Beauty of Pollination, is something he will never grow tired of. “It fills me with wonder, and it opens my heart.”

To be filled with wonder. To walk through each moment with my heart wide open is my intent every morning when I awaken. In the summer, I walk into our garden and marvel at the colour, the beauty, and the wonder of it all. How from a tiny seed set in earth, such luscious beauty can grow never ceases to amaze me. How a bumblebee can buzz around a flower, sip its nectar and go off to create honey is a constant wonder to me. I love to watch the Hops grow and climb up the wall of the garage — they grow so quickly I swear I can see each leaf unfolding! I love to hear the splashing of the water in the fountain, the rustle of the breeze whispering in the branches of the crab apple tree, the birds twittering at the feeder.

Time in the garden opens my heart to awe and wonder.

Yesterday, my beautiful friend BA sent me a link to view just the video from Louie’s Ted Talk. I knew I had seen it before so went in search of the entire presentation.

I’m glad I did.

In his words and through the beauty and wonder of his video, I was reminded once again of the incredible gift of being alive on this planet. I was reminded of how precious each and every life and life form is and of how we are all inter-dependent upon one another. How we are all connected. All breathing in the same air. All walking on the same earth.

We live on a precious planet. We live in challenging times. As I read of a plane being downed by a missile, of human beings being killed by one another, of animals being harmed by humans, of pain and desolation, destruction, and more, I can sometimes lose hope. I can sometimes lose sight of the power of life itself and forget about how precious this life is and what a gift it is to be alive, in this time, in this place, in this moment.

There are so many things in this world I cannot change, cannot undo, cannot prevent. But there is always something I can do to make this moment better, to create beauty in the world around me, to send out ripples of peace and love and joy and harmony.

There is always something I can do.

This morning, that something is to share with you Louie Schwartzberg’s Ted Talk so that you too can hear his words and watch the video he created. May we all take Louie’s words to heart:

“When I heard about the vanishing bees, Colony Collapse Disorder, it motivated me to take action. We depend on pollinators for over a third of the fruits and vegetables we eat. And many scientists believe it’s the most serious issue facing mankind. It’s like the canary in the coalmine. If they disappear, so do we. It reminds us that we are a part of nature and we need to take care of it.

 I realized that nature had invented reproduction as a mechanism for life to move forward, as a life force that passes right through us and makes us a link in the evolution of life. Rarely seen by the naked eye, this intersection between the animal world and the plant world is truly a magic moment. It’s the mystical moment where life regenerates itself, over and over again.”

May we each know the wonder and awe of being connected to life all around us and to one another. May we all take care of our planet Earth.

 

There is no separation between mind and body.

If I Knew Then... Art Journal Cover Mixed Media
If I Knew Then…
Art Journal Cover
Mixed Media

river  flowing forward
dawn breaks 
darkness falls back

I am on my mat. Body bent in child’s pose, forehead touching mat, posterior reaching for heels, arms outstretched above my head. Torso pressing down towards the earth.

I am a supplicant bowing before the altar. I am a priestess offering up her prayers. I am hot and sweaty and I am crying.

They are unexpected these tears. Not particularly welcome either. Who cries in a yoga class?

My eldest daughter tells me it’s not unusual. Yoga touches the core. At the core, emotions flow and when released, can express themselves through tears.

Yeah? Well I don’t cry in public.

Good thing my forehead is pressed to the mat.  Good thing I’m sweating so profusely. No one will be able to see my tears.

I replay the teacher’s words through my mind once again.

“The body needs the mind to be engaged. They need each other for strength, courage, balance…. Where the mind goes, the body follows.”

Even as I type the words, I can feel the emotional tug of recognition, remembrance, awakening.

My body and my mind. I have treated them as separate. Independent. They have continually battled for voice. To be heard. To be recognized. To be known — as independent. The mind fighting for control, the body fighting to lead the way, to take charge, to be in charge.

Connect. Make peace. Body bows to mind. Mind makes way for body.

I imagine a bridge. Water flowing beneath. My mind wants to take the bridge, the route of safety. My body wants to swim. To immerse itself in the raging waters and go with the flow.

From above, the water looks dangerous. “Do not go in,” my know-it-all mind cautions. “You do not know what lies within. The current is too strong. You might drown.” And then it adds for good measure, “Someone built that bridge to make it easier. Why not take the path of least resistance?”

“I will never know what lies within if I do not venture,” my dare-it-all body responds, desperately trying to break free of mind’s control. “Anyone can cross a bridge. But to swim across, to tempt the fates, to venture into the depths, to discover what’s really there, ahhh, that takes courage. Fortitude. A spirit of adventure. A willingness to risk.”

“The bridge is there for a reason,” mind parries back. “The object is to reach the other side. It doesn’t matter how you get there, what matters is you get there.”

“I disagree,” yells body. “You always decide where we’re going but I am the one who carries us there. I am the one who decides how we take the journey.”

And they duke it out on the safe side of the river, the distant shore forgotten in their fight for freedom from one another.

And the water keeps flowing and I keep holding back from stepping away from the shore where I am comfortable in what I know to be true. Whether I step onto the bridge, or enter the waters, it isn’t about how I take the journey, it is that I take it with mind and body engaged, each one supporting, loving, carrying and caring for the other.

To live means to risk. It requires stepping into the unknown. Pushing against boundaries, forging new trails.

Many years ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

And I remember what I have forgotten in my flight and fight to get to the other side.

On the journey, no matter where I am going, there is only one thing that carries me across, through and over. There is only one thing I need to carry to wade into the waters or step onto the safety of the bridge.

Love.

In Love, I am safe no matter where I go or how I travel.

In Love, body and mind travel united.

In Love, all things are possible.

I bent my head to the mat. Tears flowed and I found myself once again, flowing in Love.

 

 

 

Ain’t no power in feelin’ sorry!

The lovely Elizabeth who writes at Almost Spring, posted a comment on Monday’s blog. She asks: “In regard to feeling compassion for your abuser, is that sympathy as in feeling sorry as you would for someone with an illness, or is it empathy in fully understanding WHY?”

Her question triggered an immediate fissure of disquiet within me. The phrase “feeling sorry for…” sets off alarm bells. It triggers memories of my past that do not sit well with me.

I love triggers! I get to look at them, explore them and then, set myself free.

When my youngest daughter was about five or six years old she had significant back pain. Doctors, numerous tests, twice yearly MRIs didn’t solve it.

Irish dancing did.

At least, that’s my belief.

But that isn’t what triggered my feelings of disquiet this morning. What triggered them was the memory of my mother saying, “Poor Lele. I feel so sorry for her.” She would repeat this, whenever we got together. Say it again and again. It drove me crazy!

Ugh!

I hate that. Seriously I do. Okay. Hate is a strong word. I strongly dislike when someone says, “I feel sorry for….” or, “Poor you, blah blah blah.”

I feel powerless in sorriness! And believe me, when your five-year old daughter is in constant pain and there are no answers as to why, feeling sorry and powerless just doesn’t cut it.

Eventually, the doctors did label her distress with a word I couldn’t spell let alone pronounce. Didn’t make the pain go away, but it did give me a label to focus on, to beat up, and to try to stuff into a box of my understanding.

Label in hand, I let go of ‘why’ and worked with my daughter to not let the label circumscribe her life. (which is where the Irish Dance came in and the subsequent years of ballet and jazz and every kind of dance she could imagine — the dance strengthened, and stretched, her muscles, improved her posture and in the movement, overrode the pain with grace and litheness that continues to enhance her life today.)

My biggest fear at the time was that my daughter would grow up believing she was ‘sick’ or different, even ‘sorry’. I couldn’t change the label and I definitely didn’t want her to believe she was dis-empowered by her disease. I wanted her to know she was powerful beyond her wildest imaginings.

I forbid my mother to say it.

It didn’t work.

It is part of her make-up. Her way of expressing sympathy and support. It is her way.

It’s not mine.

So when Elizabeth asked, ” is that sympathy as in feeling sorry as you would for someone with an illness,” my mind leaped to that  ‘No Way!’ place, as I began to back pedal through memory to ensure I wasn’t wallowing in feeling sorry for someone else.

And now I’m smiling. And laughing at myself.

The answer is so simple.

I don’t feel sorry for him. That would dis-empower him and the universe. Feeling sorry for him would be to say he has no ability to manage his own actions, no capacity for change. No place for miracles in his life.

Like me, like you, like all of us, he deserves miracles. It’s his choice whether he chooses to open up to his own power, and the gifts of the universe, or not.

And I have nothing to do with his choices.

What I have to do with are mine — how I look at the past. How I chose to let what happened then, affect me now. And I choose to let it affect me, in Love.

I choose to breathe through Love into those spaces where discord, angst, pain and sorrow once consumed me. I choose to stand in Love and trust in the Universe to always be there, to always support, applaud and make possible our wildest dreams come true. I choose to believe in the wonder and awe of humankind. I choose to believe in the essential nature of our magnificence.

I choose not to ‘feel sorry’ for someone else. I choose to see their brilliance, their capacity and courage and ability and power to deal with whatever life has given them without my heaping ‘sorriness’ onto their back. They don’t need my sorry. They need my belief in their power. They deserve my absolute conviction that we are capable of creating miracles in our lives because, we are, each and every one of us, powerful, magnificent, miracles of Life. The Divine expression of amazing grace.

And when faced with situations where I have no control to change what another does (which is kinda always ’cause I can’t change another, I can only work on me :)), I choose to not dive into asking why does he do that? The why will always lead me back to the inexplicable. And trying to figure out his why, keeps my light from shining in my own life.

I choose instead to accept, it is who he is in this moment right now and what he is doing does not fit with my life — and let my thinking, and him, go. And as I do, I release myself from wishing and hoping and feeling sorry for another. I dissolve into Love. In Love I celebrate the capacity for change inherent in each of us. In Love I am released from feeling responsible for anyone else’s life but mine.

Thank you Elizabeth. Your question triggered my exploration of what is true for me. Your beauty inspired my heart to grow in Love.