Interrupted

cropped love to infinityI was out to brunch with a friend the other day. We were talking about something I felt to be important. My friend had just shared and I was responding with my thoughts. In the middle of my sentence my friend said, “Oh my gosh, wait a minute. I just figured out what to do with blah, blah, blah,” a subject totally off topic.

Hurt and feelings of not being respected or cared for rushed over me. I emotionally withdrew immediately, as if I had touched a hot stove.

My friend quickly apologized profusely. It took me a minute or two, but I worked my way back to open hearted again. I was happy because this has been an “issue” for me in the past. Getting my feelings hurt after being interrupted and taking a while to recover have both been recurring themes. It’s all wrapped up in worthiness.

What happened differently this time is that I recently read about Byron Katie’s “The Work.” I asked myself if it was true that my friend interrupting me was a sign of her not caring, not respecting, and not loving me. No, I couldn’t say that any of that was true. The next internal question was, how do I feel and act when I believe it’s true. Well that was evident, and it felt like crap. How would I feel if I didn’t believe that junk? I’d just let it slide, comfortable in my worth and knowing that I’ve done the exact thing to others and it wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t care or wasn’t listening.

This all helped to shift perspective, but the clincher was that I then emotionally went to a place where I remembered how loved I am by the Universe. There is so much love out there for each of us, simply because we exist. I don’t need to get wrapped up in whether or not someone’s actions step on my toes and hurt my feelings. Now granted, this was a minor issue. It wasn’t like she beat me or something, but it was a baby step forward in feeling how beloved we all are and the Divine Nature that resides in us all. And for that, I am so grateful.

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

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Thankful For The Icons Of Life

2014-10-24 16.23.44Icons abound in life. I’m not just talking about the images that you often see in orthodox churches, pictures of Jesus, Mary, or saints.

Icons are a conduit to connect you to the sacred. Through imagery that which is Holy speaks to us, revealing truths beyond the reach of words. They are a way to be present to the divine beyond seeing, beyond verbalizing, and without thinking. They are a wonderful way to get out of our heads.

The icon is not an end in itself, but assists us in going beyond what can be seen with physical eyes into the realm of mystical experience.

The other morning, I was looking out the French doors into the woods. It was a fall day and the large tulip and oak trees in the distance were swaying deeply in the wind. Their yogic bends contrast to the mid-ground branches twittering up and down and the foreground leaves freefalling. The scene carried me deeper into my meditation, feeling the sway of my being, the in-breath, the exhale. All is happening concurrently and in harmony. Breath, Breath. And, I am carried still deeper.

There are countless icons of all sorts around us. Spirit abounds everywhere, we just need to be open. And, there seem to be shortcuts all over. At least that’s how it feels to me.

What takes us out of ourselves, away from “me” and into a more universal sense, into realizing the Holy is all around you? It could be a sunset, a baby, a happy dog…take it where you can find it. Blessings on your journey.

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Path to Wholeness

2014-09-30 16.33.41I was out hiking a field trail the other day, through tall grasses and meadows, when the phrase “path to wholeness” struck me. Yes, I’m a firm believer in “Solvitur ambulando – It is solved by walking.”— often attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo. The idea of our lives being a path, a journey is not a new one, but here I was literally on a path seeking answers, looking for wholeness.

As often happens, as I walk I come up with a blog and I’ll speak parts of it into my phone so I can remember what I was thinking when I’m home and near my computer. You’ve probably had the same experience where you say something into the phone and it garbles it. But this time instead of translating what I’d said into “path to wholeness” it wrote “have to hold us.” I was struck by the beauty of this. What came to mind was Spirit holding me as I perambulated, processing my struggle.

The related phrase “to have and to hold” to me is not about subjugation, but to be responsible to and to care for. I love the idea of me being responsible to and caring for my spiritual well-being and Divine Wisdom doing the same for me.

The sense of being held and supported carried me on the rest of my hike and continues to the present moment.

I feel a great easing when I remember I’m not on my own, I’m not dangling out there alone on the edge, but Spirit is holding me all along the way on my path. And for that, I am so grateful.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

The Blessings of a Sick Day

photo(5)I have been rushing around getting all kinds of things accomplished, which feels good, but also not always sleeping well, and, in hindsight, a bit frenetic. Granted, there has been a lot to do. I just moved, and that alone has a ton of details as well as big picture pieces to it.

In the middle of the night I realized my throat felt dry, but I didn’t want to drink too much water for fear of my bladder waking me later on. Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning I realized I definitely had a sore throat. Damn! I was supposed to go help a friend among other things today.

I thought, “Come on, am I really sick or just a little dehydrated?” Plainly hoping for the latter. Nope, the throat thing didn’t go away. I called my friend and then looked at my day and how I really felt. I took that pause that people are always talking about. Don’t act too fast, don’t jump from one thing to another. Just wait.

I had just been talking with my son about how I just didn’t have the motivation to finish painting the living room. This is weird for me. Usually if I start a project I am totally excited to see it to completion. I thought about this and a few other instances where I was running out of steam.

Here comes the aha moment: Maybe, since I’ve been going fast and furious for a couple of months now it’s time to take a breather. So, I treated the day like a silent retreat. It’s a rainy, cool day anyway, so it was a bit easier to climb back into bed. I did a long meditation, napped, and just really waited to get clear on what my body needed. I did a lot of listening to myself. The head didn’t just give orders on what to do next. I practiced mindfulness all day. Mindful breathing, eating, napping, listening. I’ve been able to just receive the gifts of this day.

Funny thing is I hadn’t noticed the effects of running ragged. I just kept focusing on what to do next. I’m thankful for the day as well as the awareness I was given to realize what that little dryness in my throat was telling me. Slow down, you are in overdrive.

Here’s hoping I’m on my feet soon, but I know when I get back to normal, I’ll be stronger than I’ve been in a while!

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Sunrise And The Spiritual Reboot

2014-09-07 19.37.17It’s not that I like to get up early, rising from bed in the morning chill, but, I am always glad when I do. It’s so easy to connect to the Truth of it all when the day is new, the light is emerging, and there is still the dewy calm to the day.

I sit in the living room looking out on the woods. The house is dark except for what light peeks through the French doors, just reaching me. I love to watch the woods emerge with the sun. A reminder that here is a fresh chance, a new start to whatever is working on me. The sunrise is the global reboot.

This blog has had a hiatus. Life brought some pressing matters and writing the blog was pushed off the must-do-today list.

But this morning’s daybreak brings a blog. And, I am so happy to be back.

I don’t know if this is how it works for you, but often for me a movement grows when I need to make a change. I’ll hear one person mention writing, for instance, and somehow it catches my attention. But I don’t connect the dots that it’s a message for me. Then I’ll read something about writing. Then another person says something else about it. Finally, it gets through my denseness and I say, “Yes, I finally hear you. I’ll hop to it.”

I am so thankful that Spirit is so patient!

Especially if the change is a tall order and I don’t think I’ve got the energy to do it, I resist. I may know what needs to be done, but I’ll procrastinate.

At other times, I’m just not clear. I’ll meditate and pray on it repeatedly. I’ve come to realize that when I think I’m not getting the answer, it’s perhaps that I need to break out of my old thinking. I’m stuck in an old pattern. For instance someone last week suggested I get back to writing. I’ve been a journal writer for most of my life, but it hasn’t been speaking to me of late. I tried it again thinking maybe that was it, and…nothing. There’s nothing wrong with trying something that has worked in the past, and this trial and error worked. I knew I wasn’t being called to journal at this time.

But, with this morning’s meditation, blog came over me loud and clear. Or, maybe I just shifted enough to hear it. Equipped with new learnings from life’s ups and downs, I’m back.

There is another chance. It may look a little different, but I think as far as God is concerned, there is always another chance and the sunrise is a powerful reminder of this.

How does it work for you? Do you get thunderbolt or trickling realizations?

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Cars And The Holy Spirit

2014-08-01 16.22.00I know it sounds weird but I’ve used my car as spiritual companion. I have used it as a vehicle (smile) to spiritual deepening, to contemplative living, to a place where I remember there is the Holy in everything.

Many years ago a seasoned Friend at Quaker meeting had mentioned that she regularly got in the car and purposefully did not turn on the radio. She would drive in silence, thus allowing this to be a pocket of stillness in her day.

I know others who have the spiritual discipline of saying a prayer before they start the car or breath deeply at every red light, and we all know there are lots of opportunities to practice forgiveness when on the roads.

In times of need I have pulled over and used this space for screaming prayers, soaker (tears) prayers, and in joyful times, singing prayers. I have used it as a place to open myself to Spirit. It’s a place where I can use red lights, for instance, as mindfulness gongs to bring me back to my awareness of the interwoven holiness of everything.

I don’t know about you, but I spend enough time in the car so if I can use some aspect of it as a spiritual discipline I figure I’m ahead of the game.

Do you have a vehicle-related discipline?

Travel mercies!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

The Delights of Dunking

2014-07-18 06.56.32I was sitting in a coffee shop near the airport having just dropped off one family member and waiting to pick up another. I was amazed at how lovely the view was outside the big picture window: clear blue sky, a few jet streams shooting off in various directions, the teenage tulip tree and sumac framing my perspective. Ahhh, gratitude for the abounding beauty.

I sat at this corner table typing away when I noticed an older man, about the age of my father, dunking his roll into his hot milky beverage. It reminded me of my childhood. I would visit my Ukrainian grandparents who owned a corner store in New Jersey. The rolls and bread delivered fresh, early every morning. I can hear the bread man pouring them into the heavy cardboard box they’d sit in, their coarse, grainy bottoms rubbing roughly.

While bustling back and forth from the store to help a customer to the kitchen to tend me and other duties, my grandmother would make me hot chocolate. I would take a fresh roll, slather on sweet butter (not the salted butter we had at home), and dunk it into my hot chocolate. I returned to the warmth of that little kitchen as soon as I saw this older man dunking. Then, I heard him speak to his friends: Russian or Ukrainian! The connection solidified.

There was an unspoken bond I felt to him, the gratitude I felt for him bringing my grandmother (Bopchi) back to me!

As an adult I had tried to recreate that culinary experience but the roll, butter, and hot chocolate just never tasted as good. The magic of childhood and my grandmother spoiling me was the key ingredient missing. She’s been gone for more than 20 years, but I’m amazed and grateful that her love and warmth can come back to me in a chance glance in little coffee shop in Maryland.

So thankful for the many gifts already this morning!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Who I Am In Life

2014-01-09 16.25.59“…the life I am living is not the same as the life that wants to live in me….I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden like the river beneath the ice. And…I wonder: What am I meant to do? Who am I meant to be?” (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, p. 2)

My son will start his senior year in high school in the fall and lots of well-meaning adults will ask him and his friends, “What do you want to do when you grow up? What do you want to be?” My son and his friends think, “How should I know.”

I commiserate with his stress over these questions. At my age, I am still pondering them. I keep searching for my Truth, my Path.

As Parker asks, “Who am I meant to be?” Does this feel like a struggle because we are trying to figure these big questions out while living life: doing laundry, living, food shopping, praying, loving, hurting, getting confused and clear again? Or, could it also be that on this holy journey we (God and I) keep peeling back the layers of ourselves, revealing a new me each time, one that will again try to figure out what the Truth is.

There have been times in my life when I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do at that moment in time. I didn’t suppose that this was IT, as if that was what I was supposed to do until my last breath. So there has been wiggle room, space to pray and ponder and wonder. What’s next? At times there’s a restlessness that comes over me and I know, change is coming. “Show me, God. What am I to do next?”

I heard a talk the other day and the speaker asked several probing questions:

What are you most afraid of?

What would you do if fear was NOT a factor?

What would you do if you only had a year to live?

I’d add:

What gives you the most joy?

What gets you really excited?

When are you most passionate?

What comes to you in prayer?

If we follow that and know that we are given what we need to know, we’ll be on our way, whether we realize it or not!

Blessings on the journey and here’s to a little more clarity!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

From Independence to Peace

2014-07-04 13.06.58It’s July 4 and the morning blessed us with cool temperatures (70s), low humidity, and clear blue skies. The past week has been full of high 90s, higher heat indexes, and unhealthy air, but a large storm came through yesterday evening and blew the stifling weather away. Thus far we are blissfully independent of our air conditioners!

I am filled with gratitude and not just for the weather, which is magnificent. This morning finds me in one of my favorite places, the back porch. I watch the woods inhale–all the leaves rise, pause, and swoosh their communal exhale. The sound of the forest breathing, birdsong, and the lack of air or car traffic is delicious bounty. The sun beams down through a skylight, spotlighting particles that float through the screens in a wave toward the other side of the porch. This catches my attention. The porch stands strong and supportive, allowing her inhabitants to take part in the beauty of being in and among the trees, 40-50 feet up, but she doesn’t need to hold onto the little stuff. Ahh, more independence. She lets it just flow through her. She stands up for the big stuff, the important things, but lets go the little flotsam that we can get gunked up with as we hold tight. This is perhaps the non-dependence on trying to control everything, living without fixating on those things that don’t really matter.

Thank you, Gentle Reminder, for showing me the way to Peace.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Getting Rid of What You Don’t Need

2014-06-27 10.18.06I was at the kitchen sink doing dishes on a perfectly still morning when I heard a crashing sound out back. I looked up and saw a 15-20 foot branch tumbling down from a poplar tree. I went out on the porch to look more closely and what struck me as strange was that the branch looked perfectly healthy. There was even a totally dead branch still holding on to the tree just below where the healthy looking one had been living. I wondered why the dead one clung on, while the green, leafy one took a dive.

A few days later I was working on the back porch and it happened again. A large branch came tumbling down for no apparent reason. I wondered what is going on here! I’ve not seen this before and now it happens twice in the span of about 5 days?!

My friend’s husband is an arborist, so we asked him. He said this is not uncommon. There can be some past injury that makes the limb drop.

This made me think that we all carry around old stuff that no longer lives for us. Maybe they are memories, maybe they are old habits, but they are pretty benign.

Then there are the old injuries that we’ve covered over, we look healthy on the outside, but the fractures are there underneath. We can’t keep faking it. Eventually we need to shed those parts of us in order to move on in healthier ways.

It seems like this is a more complex aspect of letting go of what doesn’t serve me. It’s not just ridding myself of the obvious stuff (a negative relationship, drinking too much diet soda, whatever the case may be). It’s opening my eyes to what I’ve covered over, maybe I don’t even realize it’s there and unhealthy. It’s a part of my shadow work, admitting to myself that this is not only a part of me, but one I need to jettison. For example, perhaps I don’t think I’m trying to be right, but maybe I need to admit that I’m not really trying to help the other person, I just want them to do it my way. It’s ugly, but life is too short to carry around excess baggage. In traveling light we can reach to great heights.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.