Surfacing With Pearls

As a high-energy, firstborn, Capricorn, first-generation American with that immigrant mentality of working hard and growing up with a solid dose of the good ol’ Protestant work ethic, I have struggled with shifting from Doing to Being. To allowing things to take their natural course of fruition instead of feeling like I need to work harder to make things happen.

There are so many metaphors out there of how we destroy the very thing we are trying to grow by forcing it. For example,
the metaphor of blowing on the butterfly’s wings as it’s emerging from the chrysalis and killing it in the process.
Or, as is evident in one of my friends who has her own business. She has been wondering why she’s not getting more traction when she works six days a week, 18 hours a day. It’s clear to everyone around her that if she just relaxed a bit, she’d get better results, but she just keeps pushing on.
Years ago, when I was a parent educator, we talked about how it was important not to give something for your child to fight against, to push against. Allowing things to unfold as they naturally will has more power, time and again.

So, then I arrived at a crossroads in my life’s work, wondering, where is this going to take me? My knee-jerk response was to quick, do something!! But I was not so easily tricked this time! Instead of rushing off to “make something,” I stopped to listen. I went inward and did all those super-ninja spiritual and personal development tricks I teach all the time. I meditated, journaled, and relaxed into a season of quiet where I listened deeply.

There were times I felt lost in that Quiet, when I thought, “What the hell am I doing?” But gently, I would turn like the tide and rest in knowing I was just where I was supposed to be.

The one thing I did was stick like Gorilla Glue to my spiritual practices. I did not get out of bed before I did my affirmations, read my books, meditated, and journaled. And, I did not touch my phone or computer before I finished all of the above. I felt like I just needed to be on my side, like a dear friend would be. Cheering for me, consistently doing those little things that mean so much. When I felt scared or down, I would listen to or read inspirational material that I knew would get me back on track. You can’t will yourself to be positive. “I’m going to be happy dammit!” It has to be an inside job.

I listened to music that was positive, spent time outside, wrote lists of what I was grateful for. Anything I could get my hands on to keep me joyful.

And when I would feel the constriction of wory, like the metaphor for when we are meditating and we get Monkey-Brain, we are instructed to allow those thoughts to pass by as if we are on the river bank watching the occasional boat move by. “Goodbye thought, thanks for passing through.”

I knew my positive outlook, my trusting that it will all work out for the best, was what was going to be my path to the breakthrough.

This called for a level of trust deeper than what I have beckoned to before. During this season of rest and rejuvenation, I surfaced with pearls.

I came to understand my worthiness at a whole new level and an ability to feel secure in it. If I am worthy to give to others, and they are worthy and enjoy receiving from me, it is a short step to me being worthy. I could make that step.

I came to a new understanding of vulnerability and that I don’t need to feel vulnerable unless I am giving my power away to someone. Nope, not going to give away my power. I can be honest, loving, and wide open, but it’s fear that makes us vulnerable. I realized I could stay on the positive side of that equation: deep sharing without fear. This also calls me to a deeper level of honesty, with myself and others with whom I’m in relationship.

And, speaking of relationships, just like the de-clutter movement that says you should look at your possessions and ask if it brings you joy, well, I think that is a version of what we can do with our relationships too. Is this relationship bringing me joy? Now, I’m not saying we can be all joy all the time, but if there is a relationship that drains me and drags me down, or has no value, I have to ask myself, why? Why am I sticking around?

I learned to trust God/Spirit/the Universe at a new level (yet again! Geez!) And, as a recovering people-pleaser and Doer, I am learning what My Desires are and how to live into them. Not bad work! Of course, these issues have been bubbling below the surface for years, and like water’s affect on rocks, the layers are being swept away and the Truth is surfacing.

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Gifts Hidden Beneath

2014-12-02 12.03.32It’s a rainy December day, gray and still. As I adjusted the plants in my son’s room, trying to give them enough slanted winter light, my attention was pulled to the creek below our house. The serpentine curves are wide and full of this winter rain. There is even a little white ripple in the normally meandering flow.

We recently moved, so this is the first fall and early winter we’ve experienced here. When we moved in, the woods were thick and lush. When my son opened his shades the other day he said, “How did I not even know there was a creek below my window?”(It could be because he is a teen and doesn’t open his shades all that often.) Regardless, this is one of the blessings of this season. This part of the earth has shed what’s extraneous at this point. It is stripped naked and in traveling lighter more of what’s beneath becomes clear.

Last night I had a glass of wine whose brand boasts of not being encumbered by the oaken aging process. Here too, traveling simply without losing one’s delicious essence is illustrated.

I’ve often thought of autumn’s gift as the symbol of letting go, of releasing what is no longer needed. I thought the traveling light was the gift, but now I see that is just part of it. In letting go of what is carried we’re not just lighter, but we can see more deeply what has been hidden. What gifts are laying fallow, waiting to be seen and brought into service?

Photo and content © Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

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.

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.

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.

Meditative Kayaking

It’s funny but true. You can find God and peace anywhere.

M2014-06-07 17.12.17y cousin, my fiancé, and I went kayaking down the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Princeton, NJ. The three of us left the house early before it got hot. I am by no means an expert kayaker, but the smooth canal water made it carefree.

We had the canal to ourselves and we quickly relaxed into the dip, pull, dip, pull, rest-coast. The rhythm, the glassy water, the beauty, the quiet made for an easily meditative experience.

Peace filled my being.

Isn’t it wonderful when God sneaks up on you like that? God was just waiting there.

Kayaking that morning was a body prayer as well as a prayer of gratitude for the surrounding beauty, the willing and able muscles, the communion I shared with people I love, the turtles sunning themselves, the moments filled with the Holy.

Gee. Wow! Thanks.

 

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