Real Life Happening Here
Since then, I’ve been trundling around on a knee scooter, dutifully keeping my weight off that foot. I’ve developed aches and soreness in various compensating body parts. I’ve had to learn how to take things slowly and have patience with myself and the situation. It takes a toll emotionally and physically.
Friends have been wonderfully supportive, filling in for me, taking on my responsibilities, planting flowers, bringing in meals, sending me loving, healing energy.
My husband, Peter, has been marvelous picking up the slack around the house and mealtimes, and there has been a lot of slack to pick up. Of course, he and I have different ideas about what constitutes an orderly home. I’ve had to let go of my neat fixation and focus on what is most important. So, meals get prepared, dishes washed, kitchen counters wiped down, trash taken out, dirty clothes laundered, lawn mowed, plants watered and the dog fed and walked. On the whole it’s quite a lot, considering Peter is doing almost all of it.
Beyond that, we’ve let the rest of home care slide, most especially the picking up of the detritus of daily living. Consequently, scattered about most of our main floor living space are various collections, cardboard boxes from Amazon deliveries (hey, I’m sitting all day, what else do I have to do?) piles of mail awaiting attention, last week’s projects scattered on the dining room table, tiny legions of plastic cars and toy parts amass army-like on the living room floor from the recent visit with our grandchildren, scraps of playdough with crumbs of who knows what on the floor that our voracious lab has yet to discover.
Said lab is also in the midst of her twice a year molt. Goldie sheds at least a pound of fur each summer and fall. Usually, I brush her outdoors during shedding season, but the stairs to the yard are daunting when you’re negotiating them on crutches. We’re now growing fluffy, dog fur kitties under the kitchen counters, around chair legs, and something that looks more like a polar bear out on the porch.
Our pretty family room sitting area has become my de facto office, as I’ve gradually surrounded my favorite chair with pillows, crutches, knee scooter, laptop, tablet, chargers, drinks, tissues, file boxes, various writing implements, lunch dishes and meditation paraphernalia etc.
I’m considering putting a sign on the front door. “Watch your step, real life happening here!”
Yesterday, Peter collected our two grandsons, ages 6 and almost 9, and brought them to our house for an overnight visit. They settled in happily, pulling out toys and asking for snacks. Shortly after their arrival their other grandmother dropped off our granddaughter age 11 and came in for a chat. Normally I would have been mortified to have her see the state the house was in. But when she left, I realized that it hadn’t even occurred to me to worry about it.
The grandkids were delightful, helping out, cooperating, sailing around on the knee scooter, enjoying life in the way that children do. Today, the kids have gone to their Dad’s home, our house looks, well, you know, and my neighbor just stopped in for a short visit bringing chocolate chip cookies. I thanked her, laughed with her about life on a knee scooter and totally forgot to feel embarrassed about the fluffy polar bear brazenly sitting in the corner of the porch.
What’s the takeaway here?
Real life is happening here in my home. Picture perfect neatness, though I love it, is for magazines. No one lives or loves in those rooms. No one sits down to read a book together or share a meal. Perhaps a broken foot, a little mess, some clutter, a furball or two are tolerable, when the reward is time invested in appreciating those around you, allowing them to pitch in, do it their way, even if their way is not your way. It is a way, and it is real life, a good life.
The Universe Works for You
You are constantly wanting, whether you are conscious of it or not. So, what do you want? And how do you go about communicating that clearly to the Universe?
I had an experience yesterday that started me thinking about all this. Happily, my message to the Universe must have been pretty clear, I received support exactly when I needed it and even before.
Here’s what happened.
Wanting to add native shrubs to my shady, dry, back yard garden, I did some research into what might work and printed out a list. I went to Suburban Lawn and Garden (my fav!) to look at possibilities.
The nursery is enormous, with a large outside area for shrubs and trees, and many, long, open greenhouses. I walked all the way through to the back of the outside area, checking all the shrubs. I found a variety of viburnum that was on my list. The tag on the shrub said that it needed a pollinator of a similar type to produce berries. It was not clear from the tag exactly what I needed to look for, and I thought I’d better find a staff person to ask. I looked up to find one just as a young woman with a red staff shirt drove up beside me in a golf cart. She stopped and asked if I needed help. I was delighted.
After some enlightening discussion about what I needed, she offered to carry the viburnum I’d found. Alternatively, she offered to give me a ride up front to get my own golf cart to drive. Not so sure about driving a golf cart I declined that generous offer. I was glad for her to carry the heavy shrub though. She then directed me to the greenhouse where other viburnums were kept.
In the greenhouse I found exactly what I was looking for, and hefted four, heavy shrubs onto the walkway. I wondered how I would get them all the way to the front payment area. A couple of customers, husband and wife, joined me in the greenhouse as I was moving shrubs around. Outside the doorway I spied a golf cart. I thought the pair might be using it, but figured if they weren’t, I would. Of course, then I’d have to drive the golf cart. But really, how hard could it be? Right? They responded to my query saying it was theirs. Being kind souls, they promptly offered me and my shrubs a ride. My problem was solved. The woman, who I learned was a golfer as well as a gardener, drove me to where I could load my shrubs onto a shopping carriage. She was cheerful and kind about it and I was most grateful. May she be blessed with wonderful karma for that good deed!
From there I easily purchased the shrubs as well as a set of hand clippers, and brought them out to the car. As I was negotiating the unloading and stuffing of branchy shrubs into my car, a man offered to take my carriage. Then he handed me the clippers I’d left in the carriage saying, “Don’t forget these!” I had forgotten all about them as I was so focused on loading the plants. I would have driven off without them.
Such a delightful experience of support as soon as I knew I needed it, and even when I didn’t know I needed it!
Now imagine the nursery in this story is the Universe. The staff people are Spirit, there to run the nursery and support you. They drive around in their golf cart Merkabah’s, attending to their duties, making themselves available, just waiting for you to ask for help.
So, you have arrived in this Universe nursery and you are shopping for what it is that you desire. You have done your homework and you know basically what you want. You feel clarity about your deservingness and the appropriateness of what you want. You know the nursery and the staff are there to help you get it. You take anticipatory action.
What is anticipatory action?
Anticipatory action is action based on the certainty that you will achieve what you desire.
Back to the Universal nursery. You absolutely trust you will get what you want, but you’re not sure how or where to find it. You ask for support from Spirit and it is there almost before you ask the question. You have a direction which leads you to your next action step. Synchronicities occur, leading you on toward your objective. You reach a stumbling block and again ask for support. Help shows up in ways you might not have imagined. You continue on towards your goal taking the next obvious action steps. This time, guidance shows up without you even asking or knowing you need it, but it is exactly what you need. You keep taking action one step at a time, following the opportunities presented by Spirit. You know you will achieve what you want.
This is anticipatory action, moving forward with what you want even before it appears in your life. You provide the ‘what.’ Spirit guides you to it.
This is how the Universe works for you. The Universe, like the nursery, is staffed by willing Spirit in service. The garden the Universe supports is your life.
So, what is it that you want?
Photo by Leonie Christine on Unsplash
Weathering the Weather
Perspective is what makes the difference.
Maybe that’s a good metaphor for how I could feel about life’s unfolding dramas. Depending upon how I perceive events I can either freeze in the cold and wet of my life’s most recent storm of problems, or I can step back into the eye of the storm, dry and protected, where trust lives. Trust can change how I perceive the storms that swirl through my life.
If I know, not just believe, but know, deep in my heart, that “everything is always working out for me,” as Abraham-Hicks says, it changes everything. Whatever is occurring in my life is not happening to me, but is happening for me.
And trust goes even deeper. Trust is knowing that Spirit has my back. Trust is owning that whatever is happening in my life, guidance and support are there for the asking. When I trust, Spirit holds a strong roof over my head and warms me with the fires of love. I am held within the arms of angels, as I stand protected in the eye of the hurricane.
What this means is that we don’t have to be blown around by the storms in our lives.
Unfortunately fear often sucks us into the drama with a tornado of emotion. Fear tells us we have to fix the problem, or make it go away somehow. Fear causes us to struggle against it and be so fully focused upon the problem that we inadvertently keep creating more of it.
It might look like this. You’re having a lousy day at work. You started out that morning tired, having slept poorly. Your emotional weather forecast - grey skies with a chance of drizzle. Now, you’re feeling insecure and you’re doubting the decisions you’re making at work. Emotional rain is drizzling down your neck, cold and wet. Your co-workers are enjoying themselves, laughing and chatting, and you’re feeling left out. The cold, drizzle becomes a constant rain of negativity on your unprotected head. You’re feeling too tired and grumpy to make the effort to join in with your co-workers, and you tell yourself there’s too much work to do anyway. The rain becomes a downpour. Almost without your volition your mind is increasingly filled with negative thoughts, about what you are doing, about what others are doing. Finally, like a cartoon character with her own personal thunderstorm pouring and crashing about her head, you leave work for the day. You get into the car and your stomach is in a knot. Your mind is looping over and over the day and what you and everybody else did wrong. Your perfect storm has descended.
But what if you didn’t have to go there?
What if you could be more of an observer of what is happening, like a weather-watcher of your own life? What if you knew you were safe and protected within the arms of Spirit? Could you experience a grey and drizzly emotional day from a protected space inside rather than standing out in the wet and cold? What would that look like?
It might look like this. You start out the morning tired, having slept poorly. As you get out of bed, your emotional weather forecast is grey skies with a chance of drizzle. Making yourself a warming cup of tea, you ask Spirit for a little extra support and energy today.
At work, feelings of insecurity well up, you don’t know why. So you ask your Higher Self, “I wonder what’s going on?”* You return your attention to work and let go of worrying about those ‘not good enough’ feelings, mentally turning them over to your Higher Self. With your attention focused on work, an image memory seeps into your awareness of yourself as a young child believing she wasn’t good enough. You respond to the image by imagining your adult self holding your inner child, loving her, with the angel of your Higher Self standing behind you enfolding you both in her wings. In a few moments, everyone feels better. 😊
Later in the day, your co-workers are enjoying themselves, laughing and chatting. You’re working nearby. You feel a cold drizzle of negativity seep into your mind, as you feel left out of their community. Again, you stop and ask, “I wonder what’s going on?”* In doing so, you step out of the rain and back into the warmth of Spirit’s protection. Giving it over to Spirit, you return to your job and once again remember yourself as a young child. This time she’s feeling abandoned and alone. You visualize yourself holding her lovingly and telling her you will always take care of her. Again, you see both of you enfolded within the wings of your Higher Self. You feel comforted, loved, and able to refocus upon the work you were doing, grateful for the support from Spirit.
The end of the day arrives and you’re tired, but you feel balanced and calm. You’re glad to be going home to a warm dinner and look forward to a relaxing evening. You offer a prayer of gratitude for the support and guidance received as you turn your car and your thoughts toward home.
I'd rather have a day like that. Wouldn't you?
I'll admit that was me in those examples. Though I didn't get to the guidance part until I finally remembered to ask. And really, it was just a little storm in the overall scheme of things given all that is going on in the world. Still, the metaphor holds true. The more that we can let go of the struggle, step into the role of observer, and back into the arms of Spirit by asking for support and guidance, the more gracefully we can weather all the storms. Support from Spirit can be the roof over our heads and the fire that warms us. It can be our safe place from which to observe the storms swirling around without getting caught up in the drama. Who knows, with practice we might even come to enjoy the stormy days as well as the sunny!
* This wording is a specific technique for accessing guidance from your Higher Self taught by Maureen J. St. Germain in her wonderful book, Waking Up in 5D: A Practical Guide to Mulitdimensional Transformation.
Photo by Viktor Bystrov on Unsplash
Breathing Through Fear
I heard the wind come up from behind and whirled about to see if anyone was there, although logically I knew there was no one. This annoyed me. I didn’t want to feel fearful on my favorite woods walk. In the past, I might have dealt with this by redirecting my thoughts, or I might have cut short my walk and gone home. This time, I was inspired to try a different approach. I breathed into the fear. I allowed myself to feel it inside and breathe into it. After a few deep breaths, I was surprised to discover that underneath the fear was a feeling of excitement. The more I breathed into it, the more I felt the excitement.
The fear melted away. The dark, snow-lined branches surrounding me looked beautiful now. The drifting snowflakes like magic. I closed my eyes and breathed into that feeling, feeling myself expanding out of the constricted state of fear right into a feeling of connection and alignment. I pulled energy up from Mother Earth and into my heart. I pulled energy down from the Great Central Sun and into my heart. I felt the connection and sent love out and in, up and down. I pushed my hood down and turned to feel the exhilaration of the wind on my face. An amazing experience begun in fear!
What a concept, fear is excitement without the breath. But what is the excitement? Perhaps it is the realization that I don’t have to be afraid of fear. I don’t have to struggle against it. There’s a thought.
Before I started on the path of spiritual development, I spent most of my life feeling afraid. Then I learned that I could take charge of my thoughts and change my experience. It was amazing. The flip side of that, however, was that I struggled against feeling fear, anxiety, stress. Telling myself that if I could just keep my thoughts positive, I wouldn’t be dragged into those negative emotions. My thoughts took another tack then and turned into a litany of criticism for not staying positive. Sigh. What we resist, persists.
We don’t always manage to stay positive and maybe that's OK. After all, we chose to incorporate in this dual Universe of plus-minus, positive-negative, for the experience of both sides of the coin.
What if we greeted fear simply as an one expression of life? What if we choose to allow the feeling, breathe into it and BE with it. As we release the struggle, it will rumble through, rather like that freight train of wind blowing past, clearing the air so that we can experience the connection and love which lie just behind.
Given this experience, next time fear comes up, I might greet it with a deep breath and a feeling of positive anticipation. Hey, it could happen.
Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
Present in the Pantry
OK, I thought, nevermind the bugs, thirty minutes. That’s all I have to do. Focus Holly.
I narrowed my visual field and chose one set of shelves, telling myself that was all I needed to tackle today. I could organize one set of shelves in that time, right?
Thirty minutes later my phone played a happy, if somewhat muffled jingle from the back pocket of my jeans and I looked up to realize I had accomplished more than I set out to do. One whole wall of the pantry was neatly organized. I had a pile of recycling outside the door and a bag of trash. The children’s chairs sat in the next room awaiting their new home. Paper goods sat primly in their own corner of the space. Plastic containers, out of season kitchen equipment, disinfectants and cleaners occupied another set of shelves. Serving dishes and items for entertaining took up still another, ready for the next party. The time had whisked by and I was pleased with how much more open the pantry felt. I almost didn’t want to stop there, but I knew that if I left the job feeling that way, it would be much easier for me to pick it up again the next day.
Within a few days, the pantry was reorganized and I'd enjoyed the whole process, celebrating the product of my efforts. And that’s the secret, enjoying the process as well as the product.
But what could possibly have been enjoyable about organizing the basement pantry? I mean really, it’s the basement. The concrete floor and walls are cold. There might be spiders, or worse, those thousand-legged crawly things that jump out at you when you move stuff off the basement floor. Shiver. How is that a good time?
Well, let’s take another look at what actually happened.
First, I set a timer. I limited the amount of time I would have to spend on that particular job, on that particular day. This allowed me to quiet the voice in my head that whined about what a big job this was and kept asking me if I wouldn’t rather be reading that good book I started last night.
Limiting the time also encouraged me to focus my attention. I had to narrow my field of vision. No falling down the rabbit hole of figuring out where those children’s chairs or anything else that didn't belong were going to end up. Just pick them up and move them out of the pantry so I could reach the set of shelves I was working on.
As I focused my attention, I got fully present with what I was doing, and that is the key to enjoyment. I had all my attention centered in the process. I knew I wouldn’t finish the pantry that day. I wasn’t rushing or thinking about the future product of my efforts. I was attending to what I was doing in each present moment, flowing from one into the next, and that was really enjoyable. In fact, I’m looking forward to my next reorganization project.
Also, not a spider in sight, and the crawlees kept to themselves. 😉
Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash
Then there is the inaugural of our new president with all of its attendant political issues from insurrectionists and virus alike. Riots are threatened, but mostly we wait to see if this new president can do what he’s promised. The old authoritarian structures are breaking down all around us as we try to live our lives amidst the energetic rubble. Negative stress.
In odd juxtaposition with the outer world’s struggles, I gave birth to new aspects of my spiritual self at a small women’s retreat. At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I spread my angel wings. Words hardly do the experience justice. My inner life shifted dramatically as I stepped up and expanded into my Divine Feminine Self. I was stunned by this seemingly sudden transformation. Positive stress.
As it turned out, it was right on time. I, along with two other women, co-facilitated the first two classes of, Goddess: Seven Rings of the Heart. A course all about healing through Goddess energy and connecting with the Divine Feminine within.
Despite the fact that I have a Master’s degree in Education, facilitating this course pushes my comfort envelope. I have to be willing to step into my larger Self to do this material justice, and my small self balks at the exposure. Be that as it may, I’ll breathe and meditate through it, intending grace and ease as I move into the next class. Positive stress.
And January was not yet done with me.
Several days ago, I had a Zoom meeting with the developmental editor, Fritze Roberts, who I hired for Contract with a Guardian. She gave me some wonderfully insightful ideas for how to rework parts of the story arc to deepen and expand it. I’m thrilled with the possibilities. I’m also looking at months of rewriting. Positive stress.
The thing is, my body doesn’t know the difference between positive and negative stress. She has a set number of responses to anything that registers as stressful. My heart rate speeds up, my underarms and hands feel clammy and my body would really like to jump up and run around, or run away. As the stressful conditions persist, I’m looking at bouts of racing heart. A most uncomfortable sensation.
Exercise and getting outside help, giving my body something to do with that excess adrenaline. But what really supports me is regular meditation.
This week, I was busy and tired and missed a couple of days of meditation. My thoughts veered toward worry without my conscious volition. The peaceful feeling inside that is a result of regular meditation drained slowly away. The changes were subtle and I might have gone on like that for several more days. But my body stepped up with a short episode of racing heart. It was just enough to say, “Hey! Pay attention here. You’ve forgotten something.”
The racing heart thing is rare for me, but then so is the particular combination of stressors in my life right now. I take it for the communication that it is.
The physical stress responses in my body are initiated by the thoughts I think about whatever is going on. That’s why meditation makes such a difference. It’s like a reset button, bringing me back into alignment. When I am meditating regularly, the worry thoughts become less important. I feel an underlying sense of peace. I am aware of the love in my heart. My focus shifts from fear to love.
Meditation really works for me.
Will I miss meditation days in the future? Probably. But if I do, I’ll intend to get back to it before my body has to reprimand me.
I imagine this new year has more adventure in store for all of us. Let’s intend that should it be stressful it be positive stress. That sounds good. But even if some of the other kind sneaks in there, lets intend that we support ourselves to keep shifting from fear back into love.
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash
I've been through a number of dog training (really, owner training) classes. I know the fundamentals of dog training. But I quickly ran through my repertoire. In desperation, I finally told him to “Sit!” trying to give him something else to do. Much to my amazement, he obediently sat and looked up at me expectantly. I patted him and effusively told him what a good boy he was. That was all he needed. He stood up, Goldie’s leash forgotten, and trotted off to look for other adventure. I stared after him, bemused.
Still feeling anxious and irritable when I got back home, I went upstairs to my office, thinking that I needed to do something to fix my feelings. (Wouldn’t you think I’d know better by now?) I sat for a moment gathering myself and realized what I needed was not to fix or struggle against my feelings, but to redirect my ego fears. Just like with that young dog who couldn’t stop grabbing the leash, I needed to give my ego something else to do, to distract myself from continually grabbing onto anxiety. I needed to change my focus and place my attention on love, telling my ego to, “Sit!”
The easiest way for me to do that was by listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s short meditation, GoLov-20.
After that, I felt calmer and more balanced. I was able to appreciate the lesson offered me by a young golden retriever. He reminded me that struggling against anything becomes an energy loop, attracting more of the same. Redirection into positive action, positive thought, appreciation and love, is what resolves the issue. This works with anxious, irritable blog writers as well as with young dogs.
It also works with young children. The best way to handle my five-year-old grandson when he just can’t seem to stop himself from doing something he has been asked not to do, is to redirect him into something positive. Because he doesn’t really want to misbehave, he’s just stuck in a loop, he takes the cue and throws his considerable energy into the redirected positive activity. Then, both he and his harried grandmother (me) feel better, and the negative thought cycle we both participated in is redirected into a positive thought loop. That positive thought loop attracts more positive thought.
I can tell which loop I’m participating in by the way I feel inside. I’ve tried the negative thought loop on for size for a couple of days now, and I don’t like the fit. It’s uncomfortable, and just keeps getting tighter and tighter. I’m going to try on a positive thought loop for a while and see how that feels.
This idea has bigger implications as well. Our nation has been in a collective, negative thought cycle since the inception of the pandemic, perhaps even longer. This negative cycle has rapidly escalated with recent events. Each of us has the choice now, whether to continue to participate in this collective negativity by struggling against it and worrying about it, feeling more and more anxious, or we can redirect our thinking into more positive thought loops. As each of us redirects our focus into positive channels we attract additional positivity. In time that will ripple outward, and the collective will be able to respond with more positive thought, creating more and more positive action.
My inside is smiling now.
Photo by Julieta Simone on Unsplash
Where do we look for the exit from this spinning hamster wheel of survival fear? There must be a way we can we make 2021 different, more positive than 2020.
As individuals we may not be able to do much about the world events swirling about our lives, but we can look to our inner environment. That’s where we can create a 2021 that feels and lives on a different, more positive level than we may have in 2020. We can hop off this hamster wheel, open the door to the cage and step out into the fresh air, one appreciative moment at a time.
The other day I was enjoying our backyard. It is bordered by trees, standing like sentinels at the edge of a grassy field. The tallest are the black locust, their bare black-brown branches reaching high into the sky. In front of them stand the junipers, dusty green and full. As I gazed at the treetops high above, branches outlined against the sky, I saw two squirrels chase each other up the trunk of a black locust, all the way out onto the twiggy ends of the uppermost branches that just barely supported their weight. Then they leapt into the air, one after another. The grey forms seemed to hang suspended in midair, their agile bodies curved like commas in a sentence, heads, tails, and paws reaching for the juniper branches below. Then the juniper caught them like a loving parent, in branches that bent and swayed beneath the aerialists, breaking their fall. The squirrel chase continued on down into the thick foliage of the juniper and I saw no more of them.
The image of that leap stayed with me. Later that day, this quote from Abraham-Hicks showed up in my email inbox. I had to laugh. The message was clear.
“By thinking and speaking more of how you really want your life to be, you allow what you are currently living to be the jumping-off place for so much more. But if you speak predominantly of what-is, then you still jump off —but you jump off into more of the same.”
2020 was our jumping off place, the twiggy ends just barely supporting us as we leapt off into 2021. The question is what are we jumping off into? Will it be more of the same?
As I type, a fire crackles in the woodstove beside where I sit, embraced by our once white, leather barrel chair. The chair is marked and speckled with years of laughing, spinning grandchildren and territorial felines. Golden flames dance above the dark shadow of wood in the hearth and the fire warms me as I turn to look out the wood-framed bay window of our living room. A wintry mix of rain, snow and sleet is decorating the branches of the crabapple which shelters the front of our home. Frozen droplets of rain hang like twinkle lights strung along every branch. Tiny, burgundy red crabapples dangle below, each one encased in ice. A slate sky hangs above, contributing an increasing supply of much-needed moisture to branch, berry and ground. The usual community of birds who frequent the crabapple are nowhere to be seen. No doubt they are hunkered down within the sheltering branches of the junipers.
It feels good to hunker down myself, safe, warm and dry, and consider this transition time in which we now find ourselves.
The biggest lesson for me from this passing year is that of letting go of how I think things should be and appreciating what is. Throughout the year, unexpected and unwelcome events kept piling up and it became clear that I couldn’t anticipate what the next month or even the next week would look like. I had to let go of my ideas of what was, and allow what is and what could be. Most of all, I had to learn to take pleasure in the positive parts of my life that I might have taken for granted, but do no longer.
I learned at a whole new level, how to enjoy the little things, spread over the branches of my life, like berries from a tree, waiting for me to savor and appreciate. A warm fire, a good roof over my head, the beauty of nature just outside the window, the antics of my grandchildren as posted on Facebook with riotous subtitles by their Dad, the love and health of family and friends, my own health, learning how to use Zoom, my small yellow-lab, dancing and twirling on the end of her leash, hip-checking the neighbor’s huge, young golden, plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, and food to eat. And did I mention toilet paper? I have a whole new appreciation for that humble roll of white. Everyday life, so easy to take for granted just because it is always there.
Until it’s not.
We are lucky here in the Midwest. The shortages of supplies have been short-lived. The pandemic has been survivable for most. The political situation hasn’t affected our everyday lives too, too much. Yet, as each thing threatened from the outer world, the little everyday things we depend on became that much more precious.
I look out the window once again and a single robin, harbinger of hope, alights in the crabapple and helps herself to the frozen crabapple banquet spread before her. 2021 stands before us, a banquet of tiny, delicious moments awaiting us. May we be as the robin, hope-filled, braving the storm, and appreciative of each moment of happiness and enjoyment spread before us in 2021. May we be as the squirrels, leaping off into a new year that supports and holds us in loving embrace.
Happy New Year to you, dear friends.
Photo by Silje Roseneng on Unsplash
Care of Self
I had it all backwards. Self-care is the foundation upon which all else rests. I’m not just talking about eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. I’m talking about spiritual Self-care. With a capital “S” for the larger self, the God self. As you have probably figured out if you’ve read any of my blog posts, the spiritual path is central to my life’s journey. How odd is it then that connecting on the inner has been so sporadic for me?
I think about God and Spirit a lot. I think about how the Universe works. I see Spirit moving in my life. I write about it all and feel that sense of connection through the writing process. But still, I know there is more. I yearn for it, and now that I’ve reevaluated my priorities, I’m willing, driven even, to take the time to pursue what that yearning is all about.
What is taking priority in my days now? Care of Self.
What does that look like? It begins first thing in the morning. Now, instead of getting immediately out of bed when I wake and stumbling into my usual morning routine, letting the dog out, feeding the dog, emptying the dishwasher… you get the idea, I stay in bed for an extra few minutes and listen to a guided meditation about visioning who I want to be (as in being rather than doing. Or, I’ll place my hands over my heart and mantra my way into heart/brain coherence. (See the blog post Got Heart.) Then, when I get up and move into the usual morning routine, it feels different, better, more graceful. During the day, at odd times, I refocus through gratitude, breath and prayer. In the evening I do another guided meditation. The result is that I’m sleeping better and feeling more aligned and balanced throughout the day.
It has become the basis of better days.
It is true that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Enter the guided meditations by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Dr. Joe as he is affectionately called, combines science and spirituality, teaching his students how to access and rewire their energy systems for healing and mystical experience. He has done extensive research into the effects of meditation, providing the explanations and proof for the Western mind, as well as the methods for how to achieve higher levels of consciousness.
His combination of rational scientific explanation and inspiring, exciting, guided meditations strikes the right balance for me. I am like a kid at a candy store, wanting to practice the many different guided meditations he offers on his website.
So, why is it that in the past I’ve given up on meditation? I’d stick with it for a little while and then I’d go back to focusing my attention and energy on the mundane aspects of daily life.
I believe there is a natural ebb and flow of energy between our small self and our large Self. Our small self, our ego, has a job to do. That job is about survival, which equates to managing the ins and outs of daily life. The ego will usurp all our attention if we let it. Focusing all of our time and energy into the 3D world of doing and having. That is until the large Self, our God Self, gently reminds us to refocus upon our being.
My God Self has reminded me not so gently during this year of 2020. The highs have been higher. The lows have been dark and deep. It has been challenging to find my balance, and even more challenging to maintain it. Fortunately, I’ve discovered an unexpected ally in my search for balance. Through the meditations I’ve had the unanticipated, loving experience of connection with my God Self and the inspiring experience of something very much greater. The natural effect of that is a desire to give back, to be of service.
This year of one calamity following another is a wake-up call. Now is the time to focus attention on what is most important. For me, that looks like putting the connection with my God Self, that is, Self-care, at the top of my list of priorities each day. From there, all else flows.
A Lesson in Patience
The TV blared sports casts just outside the door. Various magazines and newspapers were scattered haphazardly across the tables. The walls were covered with a matte light grey paint and fluorescent lighting glared down from white Styrofoam looking dropped ceiling tiles. The whole effect was one of cold austerity.
The room was warm and stuffy. Not a lot of air circulation going on. I had left my water bottle in the car which was now inaccessible, and my throat felt parched. The TV was droning on about acid reflux disease and I considered checking out the games on the computers around the corner.
An elderly gentleman entered the room with a middle-aged woman, wife or caretaker, maybe both, it was hard to tell. He sat in a chair in the well-lit area. She gently insisted that he get up again and move to the other side of the table out of the glare of the overhead light.
“You will be more comfortable,” she said.
“I can sleep anywhere,” he jibed, as he pulled himself to his feet. He moved over to the chair she pointed out, his socked and sandaled feet shuffling along the carpeted floor.
She sat down at the table in the seat he had just vacated and watched him settle in. She was unsmiling, her cheeks a ruddy pink, and brown hair curled over the collar of her jacket. Then she stood and walked over to the adjacent table picking up several magazines and a newspaper.
“They have Road and Track here. Or today’s paper, if you want them,” she said, holding out the selection.
“I’ll just sleep,” he answered, and pulled the rim of his green and tan baseball cap down over sparse, white eyebrows and pale, red-rimmed eyes. Large pink-edged ears and thin wisps of white hair stuck out from under the cap as his breathing slowed and deepened.
His care-taker wore a brilliantly striped sweater, jeans and black leather walking shoes. Her brown, pouchy leather bag sat on the table in front of her. She flipped absently through a women’s magazine reading with one hand folded under the side of her chin, jaw resting on her knuckles. Her wedding and engagement ring, obviously long-time residents, sat upon her finger, occasionally sparkling in the glare of the lights. She read quietly, patiently waiting, as we all waited. Some of us not so patiently despite the paragon of patience before me.
The elderly gentleman snored gently, proving that he could indeed, sleep anywhere.
Someone had changed the channel on the TV and a soap opera filled the room with erotomania and desperate conversations about kidnapped sisters. I found it hard not to get caught up in it. I peered around the doorway to see two other waitees in the next room. Settling back into my chair I could hear their occasional comments to each other about the unfolding soapy histrionics taking place in front of them.
I glanced about at the unchanging greyness of the room about me, filled with the panicked voices of the TV actors creating drama, heartache and murder for entertainment. Then the program went to commercial break and strains of “You Are My Sunshine,” replaced the script of desperation. The two watchers in the next room sat entranced, the old man slept, and the bright-sweatered caretaker read about skin cleansing and make-up tips.
I was surrounded by patience, but I didn't take the hint.
I sat for an hour and stewed. Surely they should be finishing up and coming to tell me my car was ready. I might never find out how the melodramatic kidnapping on the TV turned out, thank goodness.
Just then I remembered that when I’d checked in, I had neglected to mention the replacement hub cap I ordered by phone the previous month. I gathered my books, pad, jacket and purse and went in search of Bob, the service technician who checked me in an hour earlier.
I found him in a room with three other service techs, all working busily at desks spaced around the rectangular area. His desk was at the end of the room and feeling impatient I didn’t wait for him to look up from his work, but blurted out something about ordering a hub cap a month ago. Bob looked up at me briefly, blue eyes considering, then down again at the stack of papers he was going through.
“No problem,” he said in a cheerfully distracted way, still thumbing through the papers, “I can go down for it and pop it on for you.”
Looking about while he finished what he was doing, I saw my car pull up outside the window, and pointed it out to Bob. He got up and left the room. I waited, still standing in front of his desk, vastly relieved to be almost free.
After a few minutes, another service tech asked if I was being helped. I answered in the affirmative. Several more minutes and the tech at the desk next to Bob’s made a good natured comment about how the sun was going to peek out any minute now from behind the clouds, outside the large wall of windows. I was feeling better now that I was almost out of there and I responded in kind. We had a conversation about the beauty of the fall weather this year, the abundant rain of last summer and the good weather predicted for the upcoming week. Then we fell silent and I continued to wait, surrounded by a general atmosphere of conviviality. I stood and looked around as if interested in the sales displays posted around the room.
Bob returned, escorted me to the payment desk and left once again. I paid the bill, told the woman I would wait at my car for Bob and the hub cap. I was so ready to leave.
Out at the car, I threw my jacket, books, pad and purse on the passenger seat, heaved a relieved breath and got into the car to wait. Any minute now, I thought. I rolled my window down to let in the air and breathed deeply, feeling glad to be almost on my way, my mind already on all the many other things I wanted to get done that day.
Bob appeared shortly thereafter walking up to the open window.
“I’m sorry but they’ll have to put in another order for the hubcap. Some kind of mix-up,” he said.
Disappointed, I sighed, “Uh, OK. Will you do that?”
“They are on it.” He gave my car door a pat as if sending me on my way, then glanced over at my wind shield, “Say, did you know that you’re thirty days overdue for an inspection sticker? You can’t drive the car like that. We can take care of that now if you’d like.”
My head drooped till my forehead rested upon the edge of the steering wheel. I began to bang it slowly and methodically.
“Mam? Are you alright?”
Bang. “Just give me a moment Bob.” Bang. Sigh. I looked up at the young, concerned face peering in through the car window. “OK Bob,” Deep sigh. “I’ll wait.”
Photo by Maxime Agnelli on Unsplash
Life is full of spiritual lessons. Some feel good, some not so good. All support us to grow. This blog is about my life lessons. Perhaps you'll find yourself within these stories.