Tag Archives: Change

CREATING A NEW WINESKIN

May 5, 2015
(I wrote this 3 weeks ago while traveling to Chicago on the Megabus. I thought I had posted it. Today I began a new post and then realized that I had NOT posted this from 3 weeks ago! Eeeek!)

NEW WINE INTO NEW WINESKINS

My husband and I are preparing to embark on an exciting, but no doubt difficult adventure. We are going to do a 21 day Intense Detoxification program that includes a nutritional component of very healthy green juices, herbal cleansing teas and soups; body work to aid in eliminating the toxic waste that has accumulated and gotten stuck in the organs and tissue of our bodies, and self-care through walking, resting, meditation, stretching, detoxification baths and so on. It’s not difficult once you piece the information together and line it all up on a calendar, but that has taken some research and work to accomplish. Of course, then there is the doing of it.

Fortunately for us we have been making changes in our diet and lifestyle over the years, so we don’t anticipate that it will be traumatic, nor that we will have to radically change anything once we have completed the 21 days of detoxing and reintegrated into normal eating habits. There will be a few minor adjustments to our diet where we have grown lazy, or where we may notice sensitivities that weren’t apparent in our customary day to day diet. Also, and maybe because of those changes we made over the years, although we are having some difficulties, we are not in the midst of a scary health crisis. I don’t wish to wait until that point.

I have been frustrated with the health issues that I have been developing over the last few years; issues that regularly get blamed on the aging process. Screw that! From what I have read and what makes sense to me is that the reason we experience these things as we age is because our body is wearing out from too many years of overloaded systems. Bodies, like houses and cars and tools, if ill-cared for, or subjected to environments and forces that are difficult to “weather”, will wear out and deteriorate faster than those well cared for and maintained and kept in optimal condition.

With our stress saturated lives and all the unnatural things in our soil, our water, our air and our food it would be difficult to maintain a toxic free body even if our lifestyle and diet deserved an A+ for health consciousness. Recently I began to study more about the symptoms of toxicity in the body, and what to do about it. I am “textbook”. What I am reading and observing in the people around me is that indeed, much of what we attribute to aging is about bodies loaded with natural and unnatural  toxins that it can no longer deal with. Eating “better”, or exercising more by themselves aren’t going to do it. If they could, I would be in much better condition than I am. So I’m going to do something about it. I told someone when I was turning 50 that I refused to “get old”. “Not gonna do it,” I said. Now I’m 60. Still not gonna do it. At least not in the traditional way and just gradually wear away. Or rapidly wear out.

As I was preparing my lists and calendar and reflecting on the benefits I expect to experience from this detox program I thought of a proverb that I am familiar with; “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (New Testament). Old wineskins have been stretched to the limit as wine fermented inside them and then dried and became brittle. Reusing them would risk causing them to burst from the pressure of the fermentation process of the new wine.

Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but it made me think about how often we do this sort of thing–we try to improve a situation without first attending to the underlying cause of the difficulty–digging out the roots, cleaning it up, repairing the foundations.  We “look for love in all the wrong places” because we don’t know how to love ourselves, or are unwilling to do so. We look to the approval and rewards that others will give us to bolster our self-worth without believing in ourselves–so our sense of worthiness is fleeting and can evaporate quickly. We might go buy new clothes to feel better about ourselves, but without attending to the body we are putting them on. It’s like getting all new furniture without cleaning the house. Putting perfume on without taking a bath. Like the ruptured wineskin, the new situation or relationship or purchase is spoiled because we haven’t attended to the underlying issue that is problematic. We haven’t prepared a new wineskin.

I realized that my bafflement with why I would still have some of the health issues I do when I have done so much to improve my diet, my exercise, my attitudes and thinking was directly related to not having helped my body clear out the garbage left from years of bad habits, poor food choices, chronic stress, anxiety, negative thinking, etc. Having developed congestion in body organs sometime past, they can no longer do their job efficiently or thoroughly, and so the toxic waste of my cells, along with the toxins introduced into the body, accumulate and begin slowly to wreak havoc. Despite the positive changes, my body cannot adequately deal with what has fallen into disrepair, and the hidden stores of toxic waste. I have made new wine, but my body can’t utilize it efficiently until I clear away all this old stuff, creating a new wineskin, of sorts.

Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made! I am amazed to realize that our bodies have, in a sense, the same service functions we see played out in the world around us. Plumbing systems, garbage collection systems, super highways that all these cell workers travel on to take care of the business of keeping our bodies functioning at as optimal a level of health and well being as possible. And like those systems out in the world around us, they can develop blockages and traffic jams. Consider what happens to a city if the garbage collection system goes offline or the dump site is full and overflowing! If the superhighway gets congested and the emergency vehicles can’t get through, what then? If the sewer system backs up?

I am learning another level of what it means to love and care for mySelf, honor mySelf–this body that is the house where my eternal, divine spirit dwells. I like to think about the intelligence of these cells in my body, how they have specific purpose and yet somewhat a life of their own, too…choosing at times to do things that are not in the best interests of my body as a whole; or playing the hero and going above and beyond their job description to keep me going. I think about how these cells are me, and I am part of them, and yet, we are also separate. And then I think about being a cell in the body of the Creator, and the Creator being part of me, we are combined together. And I think about the Universe…maybe it is a cell in the great body of an even greater Creator…  how far does it go? Infinity…

SAYING “YES”! TO LIFE

April 20, 2015

ON SAYING “YES”!

My fifteen month old grandson despises the word “No”. Even when the word is not directed at him he feels in his baby soul the obstruction, the obstacle, the closing off of the flow of his baby curiosity and busyness and quite reasonably, he rebels with every cell of his little Self. When we say, “yes” we are opening ourselves up to experience more of something. Maybe that is more work, more love, more honesty, or an adventure. “Yes” is a positive word that opens up possibilities. Saying “yes” often elicits gratitude from the one standing in front of us hoping we will open up.

Having long struggled with clinical depression, as I began to learn about the power of our thoughts, attitudes and words, I developed the habit of throwing my arms wide and (when possible) shouting, “I say “YES”! to Life!” If I couldn’t shout outloud, I’d shout in my mind and whisper with my voice. Usually, no matter how I felt about Life in that moment, one good shout would lead to another. I’d begin to at least think, and often verbalize what indeed I was saying “YES!” to in my life; what I wanted to invite into my experience. Yes to joy filling up my heart. Yes to love and kindness and forgiveness. Yes to healing. Yes to the work of the day. Yes to Grace. Yes to the lesson that perhaps I was embroiled in. Yes to being present in both the bitter and the sweet in my life.

This often led to thinking about the blessings and gifts in my life. Sometimes, saying “Yes!” would break me open, and the sorrow, the grief, the anger and confusion would pour out. Sometimes it would take me to the floor, to my knees, weeping; trying to make sense of the pain.

But I knew that if I could say “YES!” and mean it, somehow, it would open a way out of the dark places and into the light.

The other day, with the sun slipping up over the horizon and the birds having a breakfast party next door, I opened the window to a surprisingly warm Spring breeze and I couldn’t help a little shout out, “I say YES! to Life!” And I was suddenly struck by the strangest little Aha!

Conditioned as I’ve been to resignedly accept that Life will serve up the bitter with the sweet, I settled however uncomfortably into the belief that I must accept both if I’m to live fully, living out both the blessings and the hardships with awareness, presence and grace.

But the other morning, I mused: Saying “YES!” to Life, means saying yes to the LIFE that is in everything; every person and creature, every situation. It doesn’t mean glumly accepting an experience I’d rather not be having; it means looking for the Life that is in that experience. It doesn’t mean heroically saying Yes! to kindness and compassion while putting up with a really difficult person; it means looking for the Life in that person, however weak and spindly it might be. It doesn’t mean humbly accepting disappointment and situations that I suspect are either of my own creation, or beyond my control…it means seeking for the Life in those situations as though looking for lost treasure. The Life I find might be a precious lesson that increases my wisdom factor, or leads me away from an old, skanky rut in my brain, or out of a vicious cycle I’ve been recreating for years. It may be a breakthrough in a tangled up relationship or it might open the way to a new friendship. It might be a new perspective on an old situation. It might be the arrival of good news. It might be a new opportunity that my fears had previously blocked. It might be presents. It might be the manifestation of my wildest dreams.

Suddenly, Life looks very different to me. And saying YES! to Life, is suddenly not about “doing the right thing”, or about holding the yawning “black hole” at bay.  Life is suddenly become a grand adventure!  A treasure hunt that cannot be rivaled, not by the grandest pirate king of all. And with it has come a flood of light and peace and little streams of joy, watering the dormant seeds long buried in my heart.

BUCKETFULS OF LIGHT

April 19, 2015

BUCKETFULS OF LIGHT

Once again I am struck by the simplicity of being Light in the world. I get distracted by the people who are doing great work–whose lives and careers have contributed so much to the “common good”. By comparison, my life begins to feel very small and insignificant.

I have a drippy faucet in the bathroom. Accidentally, the lever to plug the sink was pulled and left. At the end of the day, the sink was half full of water, just from the small, insignificant drips that kept on dripping, all day long.

As I sit in the quiet dawn of a spring morning, watching the early birds stretching their wings and looking for breakfast, I imagine a bucket catching the drops of Light that spill over from my Life. Each choice I make to Love rather than to judge or criticize or hate; each choice I make to move into my life with courage; each choice I make to offer gratitude; each smile I gift to someone; each is a drop of Light, dripping into my bucket.

My mother taught me that to Love means to show up. To be present. When I choose to make connection, it is another drop of Light in the bucket.

When I release my disappointment, my anger, my defenses and instead ask what is really going on…what needs to be learned…I allow more Light to drip into my bucket. When I act on the answers, even more Light spills into my bucket.

Suddenly, the bucket is full, overflowing, spilling Light into the world.

Imagine everyone with their bucket, waiting to catch the drops of Light leaking from their life. Full buckets spilling Light all over the city, the country, the world.

Even the shadows of darkness disappear when the Light is strong. We can’t shout down the darkness; perhaps we cannot even vote it out of existence. But we can keep filling our buckets with Light until we flood the whole world and the Darkness has nowhere to go.

It is the small, seemingly insignificant choices to be kind, to choose compassion, to refuse to perpetuate habits and practices that cause harm to ourselves or others, to choose what allows life to thrive within us and around us…this is what it means to be Light in the World; this is how we become the change we want to see in the world.

This is how we fill up our buckets with Light every day.

YANKING AT THE VEIL, KICKING AT THE DOOR

March 29, 2015

CREATING PEARLS OF LIGHT

It is grey here today and rain is predicted. The sky inside me is also grey, brooding. I listened to a presentation this morning about the deeper mysteries of the creation of human beings and of Earth that are coming to light; truths that are only beginning to be understood by the Western World. These are truths, realities, that many indigenous cultures have known for millennia because they were the keepers of the Mysteries, the keepers of the Secrets. I am wondering where I fit into this grander, bigger picture of the Universe, of Earth, of this shifting and evolving that is happening to us. My heart longs to understand what is veiled, to enter the full stream of the power of the Creator. I am irritated that we are fed riddles and enticed with visions of the possible–and yet most of us remain too weak or too dense to come fully into who we are. We have to work so hard, not only to overcome the unconsciousness and the fear within us–but to overcome the evil and darkness that aligns against us from without. I yank at the veil; I want to see things as they truly are, to understand fully who I was created to be! I kick at the doors; I want access–now–to all the desires of my heart. My limitations are a fiery itch under my skin that I cannot ease.

When I stop my kicking and my yanking and my stomping about, I grudgingly acknowledge that all I can do, the most important thing any of us can do is to cultivate compassion, love, kindness, forgiveness and courage. To keep faith and to steadfastly maintain positive thought creations while living from gratitude for whatever IS our experience in this NOW moment. How often have we heard it said, or read, that all we have is this present moment? How much better, how much brighter are each of those moments when they are lived with gratitude, compassion, kindness, and courage–moments strung together, connecting to the moments others are living with compassion and grace. Eventually a string of Light, like a necklace of pearls, reaches all the way around the world–spilling into new moments–lighting up entire days. The Earth turns and we spin through the years. And one distant day from this moment in which we stand today, the Light is complete and the Darkness overcome and Fear vanquished by Love.

The winds of change begin with the flutter of a butterfly’s wing. They begin with a choice to smile bravely; to forgive a wrong; to bless instead of curse. They begin when I steadfastly hold the vision that I am thriving even when in this moment there is no money to pay the bills, my child is ill and somewhere a bomb blows up some mother’s children.

I hold a stick in my hand. I wish it was a wand and that I could channel magic throu10857342_10152711930831439_858846269660153274_ogh it. I kick again at the door. I scratch the itch. I want to do so much more–NOW! I lift my face to the grey sky and let the tears of Gaia drizzle on my face, mingling with my own. I take a breath, and in this moment I offer thanks for this simple pleasure of the gentle rain that will bring the flowers.

 

 

 

 

SPRING

March 21, 2015

WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

According to the calendar, Spring arrived yesterday. The snow respectfully packed his bags and departed, running down the gutters, disappearing into the dirt, gathering into puddles to complain a bit. The creeks have broken the winter seal and are merrily plunging down the hillsides, roaring through the culverts, climbing over boulders, shouting at the sky.

The departure of the snow has revealed dead, brown grasses, empty gardens, debris left behind by careless folk. Everywhere is muddy, smelly, and barren.

There are hearts whose landscape is chilly, blustery, muddy, without color or softness or sweetness, locked in the stubborn grip of dark Winter’s harsh and frosty presence.

Deep inside the Earth and the tree and at the bottom of streams, magic is stirring. Spring is quietly waking up the World. We who have weathered the winter anxiously wait for Her to get up, take her shower, get dressed, put on a bit of make-up, a bit of jewelry, and come to breakfast.

Deep inside a winter worn heart sometimes this same magic stirs. A tiny spark of life flickers into form, gently nudging with toes and elbows, whispering, “Wake up! Please, wake up!”

Sorrow and pain fill the world and deep darkness is desperately trying to devour the Sun. Still, the Earth faithfully spins out Her annual journey around Her lover, the Sun. He does not falter in smiling warmly down upon Her because the Love that made the world is an unquenchable fire in His heart. Some days the rains fall gently down, softening the Earth. She lifts her arms and drinks it in. See? The spring flowers are returning, pushing up from the earth, bursting from the buds upon the trees and shrubberies.

So might a heart choose to wake up again; opening to the fiery warmth of Love and the gentle rain of Grace. Dormant seeds begin breaking open, filling up the hills and valleys with Joy and Beauty. Darkness is diminished as it shrinks back from this new Sun that just ignited in the world.

On such days, the skirts of the Universe swirl in a happy dance.

KEEP FAITH WITH ME

March 6, 2015

KEEP FAITH WITH ME

“Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life reveals just the opposite: that letting go is the real path to freedom.”  – Sogyal Rinpoche –

In a swirl of snow and roiling clouds the color of ashes I skiied across the ballfield and headed into the woods. With nine inches of new snow, I could break trail and go wherever I wished. The trees writhed and groaned as the wind tore through them, leaving only its tattered bits behind to brush against my cheeks. Inside myself a storm also raged, a nameless darkness boiling and screeching.

I found three chairs sitting in a circle of birch trees, holding space around a buried campfire. I stood and watched them for awhile. I became aware of the Circle within mySelf; except the chairs are not empty. And the fire has not gone out. A bit of Winter lingers, but the storm is quieting.

I skiied down the hill. Well, mostly I sat on my skiis and slid down the hill, the feathery snow flying in my face, washing away all trace of tears and leaving me breathless and laughing. I found a clan of cattails alongside the trail and picked one that was only beginning to release its seed to the world. I tucked it into my hand with my ski pole. As I skiied down the trail, little helicopters of cattail seed streamed out behind me, riding the frigid currents of air.

I followed a deer trail back up into the woods. The wind had dragged off most of the piles of dirty clouds and the sun was spilling through the openings, a raging fire against the deep blue sky. Cresting the hill, I wandered off the trail into a natural basin ringed with birch and a huge boulder. I sat and leaned wearily against the boulder, gazing up into the drama in the sky as the last of the fuzzy clouds were blown out over Gitchi Gummi, somewhere beyond these forested bluffs and ridges.

“Keep faith with me.”

Such a quiet, unobtrusive thought to slip in between the ragged clouds slowly dissipating in my soul. “Keep faith with me. Keep faith with yourSelf. Trust.”

I have clung so tenaciously to what I want for my life, to what I want to do with my life, to what I want to do for others. Year after year I struggle against obstacles and hurdles and although I make headway, it seems so little–so far removed from the thriving life of abundance that I desire to create. I get tired. Discouraged. I feel abandoned. I get angry.  And then I feel guilty and ashamed because I have been blessed with so much that is good, and so often experienced the love and support, encouragement and direction of that which is beyond the veil of what my human eyes and ears can see and hear: God, Ancestors, Angels, Light Beings who guard and guide me, the Divine Soul within me. Shredded to tatters like those clouds, bullied about like these trees, my courage and faith are at the mercy of the dark winds of Fear–the Saboteur. And then I cling tighter…I will to create and manifest the life I not only desire, but feel I have been purposed to live. But all I do is tread water, and wait, and grow weary.

I see mySelf now, laying back against that boulder in the snow, all the weariness draining slowly away into the rock and the snow and the earth beneath. My spirit flies away to another scene where I am clinging with my little boat to a tiny bar of earth and rock in the midst of the River of my Life. I am nervous in the rapidly increasing tumble of white water. I insist I cannot continue without assurances of safety–either calmer waters, or a better boat–something! I design a map and wave it about, asking for assurance that the path of my River will conform to this map.

I’m told that all my requests have been received; there is no need to continue waving the map about and shouting out my litany of desires, requests and intentions. “Trust the benevolence of the Creator; of ‘God Inside’. Trust the flow of life that is indeed shaped by your intentions. Trust that the journey will unfold as you allow it to. Get back in the boat and release your fear-filled grip. Let go of the map, let it melt into the Energy of Life that surrounds and fills you. Breathe! Fill your lungs with this sweet Light that is the very Power of Creation, the Power of Life–a Power fueled by Love–a Power that dances with the Joy of Consciousness. Sing! And with trust and gratitude move again into the flow of the River of your Life.”

I won’t know until I go.

This is paddling down the River of my Life: acting upon what I DO know and keeping the promises I’ve made to mySelf, to my Creator and to others. It is honoring the Gift I have been given by developing it and sharing it with the world. It is focusing my energy and love upon the work I’ve been given, embracing joy and gratitude each day. Stroke by stroke, I move down the River, in the flow, the flow of Life that allows more Life.

I don’t know if the path of this River will conform to the map I carried in my head; perhaps it won’t and perhaps I will be glad because there is so much I do not know. Keeping faith with the Creator of the Universe? What a terrifying and awesome request–to trust enough in the benevolence of the Creator to let go of my control, releasing my expectations, and relaxing into Love.

SNIPPETS

February 4, 2015…Happy Birthday to Meridith!

SNIPPETS

1. BALLET OF THE BIRDS

A large flock of fat birds are cavorting in the sky. Bird ballet. They, as one Being, flow south, bank in a wide arc to the northeast, swoop earthward, soar heavenward, bank again to the west, to the south, reverse, around and around, not one wing out of sync with the whole.

I stand transfixed wondering what these birds are. Large as crows–but they aren’t black. Small seagulls? Wrong time of year.

Suddenly the music has finished its final note and they fall inelegantly toward ground, alighting on the cable wire strung across the alley outside my window. Thirty pigeons on the wire, fluffing their feathers, jostling each other for room to catch their breath.

And then as one they depart across the rooftops beyond my sight.

2. THE STORY MAKER

Every morning she had tea and decided what story she would make today.

Do we think that Life happens to us; that every day unfolds according to the dictates of some hidden writer sitting in a stuffy room in a galaxy far, far away? Do we never suspect the writer is us?

3. THE SHIFT

She glowed. She had swallowed seven suns and every cell in her body was drunk with their Fire and Light. She smiled and the air crackled–angel hairs of fire running wild. One touch and reality would shatter.

She stood still. Only her eyes moved. She knew in the next breath, one turn of her head, the world would shift–like a kaleidoscope.

Like a kaleidoscope; every turning reveals a new story in color and light; another pattern to comprehend. There is no need to fear the turning. Light and Beauty never cease their dance with Love and Joy.

Shift.

4. COURAGE

Four fat pigeons are hanging out together on the cable wire strung across the alley. Meeting adjourns to the ridgepole of the house next door. They are lined up beak to butt like children waiting their turn to jump off the high ledge at the swimming hole.

The pigeon first in line hesitates at the edge, looking down at the deck below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left. He looks down again, wobbling his head up and down, back and forth. He steps back, forward, back, forward. He suddenly stands very still, slowly tips his head down, his body forward, and he falls off the ridgepole, head first! Three feet, five feet, ten feet and finally wings spread, flap, beak pulls up, and his plump pigeon body lands in the mess of birdseed strewn on the deck by the squirrel raiders.

Up on the ridgepole, the remaining three have each stepped up. Pigeon #2 hesitates at the edge, looking down at his friend below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left, looking down  again…and over he goes, deck-ward ho!

WE ARE ONE

January 27, 2015

THE PAINTER AND THE SONG

Off to the side of the stage, the bare form of the Lion emerges from the canvas, black and white strokes of paint, some splashes of deep emerald green, blood red, a streak of magenta, a line of sun-bright yellow.

As the music rises and falls, like waves running to shore scouring the rocks and stones, like the wings of wind gusting through the forest tugging hard at leaf and bough, life slowly fills the Lion. He begins to breathe. Soaring through the people gathered, the music whirls through the room, swirling the Lion’s mane as it grows full and thick, shimmering with every color broken from the Light. He opens his eyes, golden green pools gazing out at the crowd.

The music climbs to the stars pulling the singers and the dancers and the listeners in its wake. At the very pinnacle, with one last mighty explosion of sound and Light the Lion roars. In silence we plummet gently back to ourselves, the music echoing in the cells of everything it has touched, weaving us together with Love and Light. We hear in the deepest parts of ourselves, we are One.

We rise to our feet with shouts and tears and laughter; the applause thunderous. The Lion looks wisely down upon us, willing us to rise to the call to carry this Light, to sing this song, to remember every time we look into the faces of Others, whether friend or foe, we are One. He wills us to rise to the call to bury our fearful judgments and our terrified hate along with our swords. We are One.

We are One.

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The painting described in this post was done at Adam Sippola’s RISING POINT CD release concert party by artist Moira Villiard. You can see her work, including The Lion at http://mivala.deviantart.com/journal/

The song, One by Adam Sippola from his new CD, Rising Point can be heard on his website, http://adamsippola.com/music  Rising Point is also available for purchase on Adam’s website or at Electric Fetus in Duluth.

ON REMAINING LOYAL TO ONE’S SELF

December 21, 2014

ON REMAINING LOYAL TO ONE’S SELF

“Commitment means REMAINING LOYAL to what you said you were going to do long AFTER the MOOD you said it in has LEFT you.”

My friend shared this quote on a social media site I share with a Circle of women. It struck a chord in me that resonated for several days. Even now, returning to it, I feel the resonance sounding even deeper down.

We are rapidly approaching the close of the year, trailing its well-worn days behind us.  A brand new year of days stretches out ahead like a new journal or a fresh canvas with no mark upon its pages or spill of paint upon its surface.  Traditionally it is a time when, knowing it is one of those “fresh start” seasons–a time to change areas in our life that don’t serve us well–we make promises and resolutions and vows, mostly to ourselves. Typically, we soon lose sight of them, defaulting back into our comfortable ruts.

That’s where the quote at the beginning of this post comes in. What is it you wish to change in your life? What promises to yourself have you not kept? Why is it okay to break the vows we make to ourselves but not okay to break our promises to others–(even though we do that as well)?  Is it indeed because the mood we were in when we made the promise is gone? Ugh, I don’t feel like taking my walk or getting up to meditate or eating vegetables instead of bread or cooking instead of eating junk food or spending 30 minutes making my art today. I don’t feel like choosing the path of love and to check out my assumptions because my emotions are in cahoots with my Ego and I’m boiling over with defensive rage. I don’t feel like telling myself something as ridiculous as “I’m happy!” and smiling like an idiot when it feels like the entire grey, drizzly sky is sitting on my head.

I made a commitment to myself three years ago: to keep my feet on the path of Love and Joy. It has not been an easy path. Especially when changing means I have to confront my own twisted beliefs about myself and others. Old stuff rooted in another time and place but still radioactive. Stuff I have to let go of if I really want to change. Sometimes I just don’t want to scrabble around on that rutted, rocky, slippery trail. But as I have kept bringing myself back, the easier it has become to remain. The more old stuff I’ve released the smoother the trail has become. Gradually I have begun to see others and life and myself differently than I once did. I’m looking more often through lenses of love, joy and gratitude. It is a little like when I got my first pair of glasses when I was ten. Evidently I had been quite nearsighted for a long time without anyone realizing it. I remember being amazed at all the things that I could see that I had never been able to see before.

Five years ago I made a commitment to myself that I would finally honor my gift and calling to be a writer. It is a commitment I have struggled with–in part because some part of me barely dares to believe that I should be so blessed–me, a “real writer”? The other part is because it is damn hard work and I get stuck and yes, lose the mood. Lose my confidence, forget that I really do have the guts to make it through. But I keep returning. Little by little it has become easier.

Recently I renewed my commitment to meditate, journal and walk every day, seven days a week. I need to do this for my mental, emotional and physical well-being. I also made a vow to myself that I would do a 15 minute writing exercise every day for a year working only on description. I so admire author Terry Pratchett’s superb command of metaphor and simile and just plain old description–I want to be able to write like that! One day I was thinking this when I “heard” the man in my head. “Do you think I could always do this?” he asked. “I had to practice–for years! It takes work, my dear.” So, I wondered to myself, how would my ability to describe things improve if I worked on it a little everyday for a year? So, I made this vow to myself.

A few days later I broke it. I was busy and then I was too tired. The next day I was traveling. Then I forgot.

But I regrouped. I decided to honor myself and keep my commitment. A year stretches out too far…but I can do it a day at a time. So far I’ve made it 20 out of 26 days. And going…

I wrote in my journal, “Stay loyal to your Self–even when you’re not in the mood. Especially when you’re not in the mood!” The Sun never stops shining–alive and brilliant, giving light and energy and warmth to the Planets in his care. The clouds in our world can pile up and try to block the Light. They never totally succeed as even the darkest of stormy days will still have more Light in it than the dead of night. But, eventually the clouds dissipate, or we have the special thrill of rising above them in an airplane to find the brilliant azure sky and the blinding yellow Sun up above–still there.

I’m still here, too. I’m always creating my experience of life with my thoughts and my attitudes. Will I be faithful to shine, faithful to my vows and commitments even when the clouds come with their grey blankets, their drizzle and their storms, pressing down on me until sometimes I can barely breathe? The Sun is not hiding or on vacation. The Truth is still shining inside me: I am Love and Light and Joy. The ability to be happy–still shining inside me. I can keep my vows and commitments and I will be the happier for it. Healthier. More peaceful. More comfortable in my skin. More accessible to others. And when I break my promises to myself, I can forgive myself and get back up and back on track; much better than just giving up on myself.

This Gift of Free Choice we’ve been given is at once the most precious and the most terrible of Gifts. It is a privilege and a curse. For as much as we love to shift the blame for all the misery in our lives and in the world to our mothers or our fathers or our exes or God or the devil or the liberals or the conservatives…the truth is that ultimately we are responsible for how we experience the world, and what we give to the world and what we take from Her. We alone are responsible for whether we remain loyal to ourselves long after the mood to do so has passed.

ON TRUST

December 4, 2014

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE

Her heart beat like a panicked bird caught behind glass. She pocketed the promise and stretched out her arms–the full beautiful length of them. She uncurled her fingers to receive whatever help might come and stepped off the edge. She didn’t leap, or jump. She was crying a little. No tears of joy; hopefully that would come later. No, she just stepped. Courageously she picked up her foot and moved it forward and set it down beyond solid ground smelling of earthy, familiar things. Her body followed, flying and falling through the sky with a promise in her pocket.

It’s called The Leap of Faith, something each one of us faces periodically. Whether we arrive anxious or excited, we have all come to moments when we are challenged to step off the edge of what has been familiar and fall through the sky into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket. Or, maybe for some it is sailing across unchartered waters away from familiar shores. We are called forward, upward. We are called to shed the old skin of who we’ve been and how we’ve lived. All we hold is a promise: everything always works out; life is good.

It sounds like suicide. If feels like suicide. When we step off the edge, we have to leave behind our old habits of mind and being lest they snap us back again like a bungee cord that won’t let us go. The naysayers caution us against our foolhardy notion to venture forth into new ideas, new places, new spaces in the world within ourselves–such things might lead to new worlds outside of ourselves. They want to keep us safe, they say, as they clip the bungee cord to our belt.

There is a universal law: “intention precedes manifestation”. It means that what we focus our thinking upon will begin to gather energy and mass and eventually solidity and physicality and thus it is that we create our lives. We create the stories we live. Sometimes the only way out of one story is to take that leap of faith into a new one. Faith has been defined as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. This is the promise we hold in our pocket as we take that leap without the bungee cord–sailing through air, through water, through testing and trials, all for the sake of realizing our dream: to find the Holy Grail of our lives, whatever that may be for each searching Soul. Stepping off the edge is to live fully with every cell into every moment of our lives.

That cliche, live life to the fullest used to bug me. What the hell did it mean? Once I dissected it with a dictionary in order to understand its meaning–fully. I believe it means to be aware and awake in the present moment I am living; aware of my surroundings, aware of what my senses are experiencing, aware of the choice I have in each moment. Sometimes these are small things in small moments, like appreciating the feel of warm water streaming over my body in the shower. As I stand there I become aware of the fact that I am privileged to have warm water that is safe for me to shower in right here in my home at just a turn of a knob.

Sometimes these are big things in big moments, like the moment when I receive a job offer, or sign the deed to my new house, or board the plane that will carry me to a new adventure.

Then there are the really big moments when I come to a crossroads in my life. These really big ones usually precede the plain old big ones because they involve making decisions that require I choose one path at the exclusion of another, altering my life forever. Usually one of those paths is familiar, a continuation of what I have been living while the other leads to unfamiliar, unexplored territory. Sometimes neither is familiar and to move forward requires a decision between two entirely different lives from my current one, both full of the Unknown, with my only alternative being to camp out at the crossroads which is sort of a metaphor for stagnation. But to move forward requires one of those suicidal leaps of faith. 

For those of us who choose to camp out for awhile, sometimes the authorities come and evict us and we have no choice but to head down one road or the other. Or die. And sometimes none of the choices are pleasant. Sometimes the material we have with which to create our life isn’t very beautiful and the roads we have to choose from are difficult; even dangerous. But, we still have choices. We get to choose whether to live fully conscious or numb ourselves into oblivion. We still have an internal garden we can cultivate, or allow it to be overrun with thorns and stinkweed. We can choose to make our life a work of art, a powerful poem, or abandon ourselves in the misery around us.

Living life fully: opening ourselves to full awareness of what we are experiencing in the present moments of our lives. Living life to the fullest: being intentional to fill the moments of our lives with as much life as we can possibly cram into them. Creating a life that is thriving and beautiful like a fertile garden or an amazing work of art, at least internally if not also in our external experiences, requires intentionality, presence, and quite possibly having to periodically step off the edge and free-fall into the unknown with only a promise in our pocket.