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.
But before I get further into that, let’s get to the point of this blog. Yes, this blog does have a point, and that is, that I’ve realized there are two ways I’ve gotten things done over the years.
The first was to decide what I wanted to do, make a plan and then rush through it to completion. I was motivated by fear, most particularly the fear of not enough. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough ability to create whatever it was the way I really wanted it. The result being that I often settled for “good enough” in what I created.
The second way was to decide what I wanted to do and carefully do my homework, researching and planning. This process was akin to priming the pump. Once the pump was primed, I released my hold on the process and allowed the project to move at its own speed, unfolding one step at a time. A little bit of guidance received here, a synchronicity there and the end result often looked very different from the original plan. Yet I was delighted with the outcome everytime.
The two processes are not unlike traveling on a river in a boat. You can paddle furiously along, not understanding the current that carries you, believing you won’t move unless you work hard, and exhaust yourself with your efforts. You arrive at your destination tired and anxious. You don’t appreciate the journey or enjoy the process. Or, you can trust that you will be supported, put the paddle away and allow yourself to be carried along on the current. You arrive energized and calm. You enjoyed your journey and the process of it. Either way you get to where you are going. The experience however, is very different.
In the past, I held several office jobs in which I remember taking the first approach. I felt pressed for time, worried that I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I couldn’t stop paddling furiously, the results were predictably mediocre, though I didn’t understand why at the time. My response was to paddle harder and harder until finally I was exhausted and quit.
Recently however, given a project to do, I’ve taken the second approach and it’s worked a whole lot better for me. The results not surprisingly, have been successful.
The difference is working from fear and lack of trust or working from love and trust. So simple, and so profound in its implications.
Anyway, I’m trying to figure out what to do with five or six of those tentacular cable things. I think they’re breeding back there behind my TV. Worst are the baby ones. They haven’t grown long enough, so there are enormous plugs to be dealt with half-way to the wall outlet. Grrr…
OK, enough ranting. I’m breathing deeply and relaxing now. I’m approaching this part of the basement project one step at a time, priming the pump with research and planning, allowing space for intuitive leaps of guidance, taking the next step that feels right, then some more research and planning, a synchronicity or two, and taking the next step after that. Allowing the process to unfold.
I’m right in the middle of it and even with all my planning, I can’t see what the outcome will look like because I don’t know where the current will carry me. I’m going to trust in the process and take my time. Sooner or later I will be successful, and my TV set-up will be neat, take up minimal floor space, and blend in with the décor, because I'm going to allow that to happen. That’s how I roll nowadays. 😉
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.