Focusing for a Change

It’s moving week. Today I am supposed to be painting my bedroom, but am distracted by the beauty I captured on my phone yesterday. Before I pick up any brushes, I feel the need to paint with some words.

As most of you know, I left behind a long-standing marriage in the summer of 2015. For the next couple of years I worked in a contract position as I went through the process of a divorce. When my 2-year contract ended, I had to make a decision. I could either find another office job (the prospect literally sent me to bed ill for a day or so) or take some real time off to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I found out about the contract end date in August – right in the midst of purchasing a home in which to run an AirBnB. Several circumstances besides the job loss turned me away from that plan, and on September 16 I moved in with my daughter and son-in-law, homeless, jobless, and wondering where all of this was going.

Some of you probably remember the backyard neighbor I had when I lived in TN. The funny blog I wrote several years back can catch you up to speed if you are unfamiliar with the saga, but in case you don’t have the time, let’s just say that he and I didn’t have the same standards in the areas of neighborhood beautification or peace & quiet. Two years after leaving TN behind, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw this:

Talk about contrast launching a million rockets of desire!

In fact, this yard is so much worse than anything I ever saw at Tony’s that I almost feel bad comparing the two. Almost… By the way, my bedroom is the only room in my daughter’s rental home with this view. Go figure.

A couple of months after moving in, I was on the phone gazing out at the madness next door, when I received an inspiration. I wrote about it here, so I won’t rehash it, I’ll just show you the photo of my solution.

One of my friends calls it my stained glass window.

When my son-in-law saw it, he walked up to my daughter and said, “I can see Ireland from your mom’s bedroom!” 🙂 With the view blocked, I forgot about the neighbor’s yard … mostly. Occasionally, I would raise the window up just to see if anything had changed. Nope. But my life has changed drastically in the past year.

In January of 2018, this was my view for about 10 days:

Sunset over Labelle, FL

Sometime in early spring, I revamped my website, and with my son’s help, developed this logo.

In May I self-published my first novel.

In September my dream of visiting Ireland came true.

And yesterday I took these from the kitchen doorway (also the view from my bedroom) in the new home that my son-in-law purchased this week:

Some would say that I have successfully manifested my dreams into reality, but it feels more like I relaxed, found a way to focus on the things that bring me joy, and beautiful stuff just started happening. There’s a little quote on my vision board/window that I grabbed off of the Internet when I was going through my divorce. I believe it truly encapsulates what our first goal should be anytime we are looking to improve something within ourselves or our lives. It certainly has sustained me through many a tough day year:

quote, forget, and shit image

Image Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/48256589

When you are ready to see a completely new life unfold before your eyes, this is step one – forget the past. Step two – accept what is, without judgement or complaint. Yes, you may be unhappy with something or someone, like I was with my neighbor(s), but when things are out of your control, finding a way to focus on something else is the real key to freedom.

Finally, move on. We have to be willing to step into that new future even through uncertainty or fear. I had a moment when I purchased my ticket to Ireland. A moment of pure terror! For about an hour afterwards, I kept asking myself, “What have I done?” After all, I had been out of work for nine months with no job in sight (I wasn’t even applying for jobs!). Yet I had just purchased a ticket to another country where I would rent a car that had to be driven on the opposite side of the road, to spend eleven days exploring an unfamiliar place – completely alone. The fear subsided as I turned my focus on the amazing adventure about to come. Now that my trip is over, I am looking for the next incredible journey coming around the bend!

Today I feel sad that I have to remove my vision board from the window. Those photos have sustained me in so many ways. They reminded me of the life I want to live, the adventures I want to have, and the power that I can exercise over any obstacle. But once again I am moving on. Seasons come and go; flowing with them is crucial to growth, and growth is a vital part of life.

So much good has come from my willingness to refocus – not just my eyes but my heart and mind. Focus is about more than seeing clearly. It’s really about what we choose to look at in the first place. What are you focused upon today? Hopefully your gaze is fixed on your dreams, your goals, your vision for your best life. The Avett Brothers said it well – “If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” We have been given one life. I think we would all be amazed at what can happen when we really choose to live it.

Namaste,

~C

 

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Irish Food Finds and Other Adventures

Besides the scenery, history, and its hospitality to tourists, Ireland is known for high quality food. I was not surprised to find a diversity of eating establishments in the larger cities of Cork, Galway, and Dublin. Everything from McDonalds to Thai to swanky English restaurants abound. What did surprise me was the lack of options in the smaller towns. One Sunday, for example, I had hoped to procure a picnic lunch for my tour of Scattery Island but was unable to find an open café. In fact, not much of anything opens on Sundays in the more rural areas. The only pub in Kilrush offered breakfast meat with eggs when I would have happily settled for porridge. A premade deli salad from a nearby grocery store had to do, but that was one of only two disappointments in 11 days of culinary delights.

My first full day in Ireland almost ended with nothing to eat, since the majority of the restaurants in New Ross were closed by late afternoon. Thankfully, The Captain’s Table managed to rustle me up one last bowl of vegetable soup and a couple of slices of dark brown bread. Mmm! I enjoyed hot tea and homemade raspberry cheesecake at a corner table overlooking the Dunbrody Famine Ship until my waitress asked me to leave. She had to unlock the front door to let me out. It was barely six o’clock!

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On day 2 I tried my luck at a pub. In the cramped parking lot of The Strand Tavern in Duncannon, I met with a trio visiting from England. Once they found out that I was traveling alone, the man, his wife, and their friend insisted that I join them inside for dinner. The three did their best to convince me to order a Guinness, but instead I chose a flight of local IPA’s (the first beer I’d had in almost four years). I was not disappointed. The Strand’s fish tacos were delicious! One of the perks of living on an island – you can bet that the seafood is always fresh.

Day 3 found me at The Old Thatch Pub & Restaurant in Killeagh, County Cork. I had my one and only Guinness over a lunch of carrot soup, a lamb sandwich, and homestyle chips. After that, it was ginger beer and Jameson for me. Following my historic tour of Kinsale, I stopped in at the Lemon Leaf Café where I enjoyed a late breakfast of oatmeal with fruit and hot tea.

Foley’s Guesthouse & Gastropub served up an enormous and unforgettable pot of mussels – straight from Kenmare bay – in a superb white wine sauce.

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I could not help wondering if I’ll ever be able to eat mussels again after this!

My second night in Kenmare, I opted for an Irish favorite, potato and leek soup. The Wander Inn was crowded, but somehow I managed to meet four people from the U.S. Two of them were from Philly, visiting Ireland on their honeymoon. The other pair had just finished a two or three week hike along the west coast and were enjoying a final night of live music over drinks.

In Oranmore I had my first seafood chowder before splurging on a dessert of homemade pie and ice cream. I enjoyed a take-out meal of shepherd’s pie and muffins from a little café called Food for Thought in Galway the next day. The spot is well-known for its coffee, and the food was great too.

Malachy Quinn treated me to my only steak dinner in Ireland. He had come up to Trim to trade rental cars. We spent the evening talking about how our diverse spiritual paths had somehow led us both to appreciate the work of Anthony De Mello. Life really can be strange at times.

Somewhere between County Meath and Dublin, I enjoyed a breakfast of sauteed greens, tomatoes, and feta cheese, while watching Hurricane Ali blow away my plans for the day.

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Later on after my tour of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, I took the only open seat inside The Hairy Lemon – at the bar – and ordered a bowl of Irish Lamb stew. I spent the rest of the evening talking with a brand copyright lawyer on holiday from San Francisco.

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This traditional Irish meal was truly outstanding!
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The seafood chowder from Arthur’s Pub looked delicious, but it really was not.

I was sadly disappointed by the food my last night in Ireland. Arthur’s chowder tasted old, and even the brown bread was stale! 😦 Not the best way to end my journey. Surprisingly, breakfast in the Dublin airport was phenomenal, right down to the specialty coffee, so I certainly did not leave Ireland with a bad taste in my mouth!

No two pubs in Ireland are alike, except that the food is almost always handcrafted (read: scrumptious) and accompanied by live music and a friendly atmosphere. I fear I may miss the pubs of Ireland nearly as much as the breathtaking scenery and painted sheep.

 

Ireland’s Ancient East

Newgrange, County Wicklow, New Ross, & County Wexford

My journey began in the Dublin Airport where I rediscovered my dependence on my cell phone. In this case, I needed it to locate Malachy Quinn of My Irish Cousin who was meeting me with my vehicle. He also had my SIM card sorted, but without it I was unable to call or text him. Thankfully … the Internet. We used email to connect up, and after a rather funny series of missed interactions, we were at last sitting across from one another in an airport cafe. Over coffee we discussed my itinerary. Malachy sent me on my way at approximately half past six in the morning, with little to no driving instruction. Let the adventure begin!

I drove north first to Newgrange, but arrived too early to take the tour. Eerily enough, Hurricane Ali prevented my attempt to revisit the prehistoric monument nine days later. I took this failure as a sign: “Not this time.” I suppose that could be interpreted as a promise to one day return. #Ireland2020

Wicklow Forest National Park

From Newgrange, I took a southwesterly route to Blessington, where I stopped in for breakfast. My Irish oatmeal came with fresh berries at Crafternoon Tea. The shop also sold handmade items – everything from knitted coasters to woolen hats, all as delightful as the food and drink. A narrow less-traveled road led me through County Wicklow. When I reached the National Park, however, the landscape bore little resemblance to a forest. I can only describe it as my idea of an English moor or heath.

Beautiful ground covers in lavender, bright green, and pale yellow swept across the rolling hills. When trees finally did appear, they struck me as an afterthought rather than a theme. I wondered at the culture that would call this stark land a forest. Random sheep grazed along the hillsides, but contrary to the many warnings I received, I never experienced a crossing.

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The color on the sheep means nothing … the location of the paint identifies its owner.

The Ruins of Glendalough

I could not have imagined, much less predicted, the mesmerizing effect that Glendalough would have on me. Its charms left no wonder as to why St. Kevin chose this particular area as his place of solitude. The peaceful, majestic woods gave reason enough for the existence of the ruins of the monastic settlement, but I found the remains of the ancient stone structures as compelling as the natural beauty of the Valley of Two Lakes.

Glendalough’s monastic city grew out of the settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Surviving structures today date back to the 10th and 12th centuries.

“Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. and the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united.”

~ www.VisitWicklow.ie

I strolled the Green Road Walk all that drizzly afternoon, taking time to wander into the shops surrounding the visitor’s center. My favorite photo would have to be the house I spied sitting up on a hill across a little stream.

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One of my more insightful friends asked if this is where the Faeries live. Indeed.

From Glendalough, I made my way to New Ross where I enjoyed a meal of vegetable soup and Irish brown bread overlooking a replica of the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

According to Wikipedia, “The Great Famine of Ireland during the 1840s saw a significant number of people flee from the island to all over the world. Between 1841 and 1851, as a result of death and mass emigration (mainly to Great Britain and North America), Ireland’s population fell by over 2 million. Robert E. Kennedy explains, however, that the common argument of the mass emigration from Ireland being a ‘flight from famine’ is not entirely correct: firstly, the Irish had been coming to build canals in Great Britain since the 18th century, and once conditions were better, emigration did not slow down. After the famine was over, the four following years produced more emigrants than during the four years of the blight. Kennedy argues that the famine was considered the final straw to convince people to move and that there were several other factors in the decision making.”

Winding country lanes led me to my first AirBnB – a dairy farm in Ramsgrange, near the border between County Kilkenny and County Wexford. Somehow I never spotted Phil and Shirley’s cows, but that did not stop me enjoying their (raw) milk in my morning tea. Phil and I shared breakfast the next morning, and he sent me off with a couple of apples picked fresh from the trees you see in the photo above (left). Irish hospitality at its best!

Wexford Town

I spent the morning of Day 2 walking the streets of Wexford Town. There I found an embroidery shop where I had my grand daughter’s name etched into the belly of a lamb. I spent a good hour or more in a Birkenstock store conversing with the shop owner about everything from divorce to the rewards and difficulties of running a small business in Ireland. It might have been uncanny how easily she and I got on, except I’ve gotten used to meeting kindred spirits along my path. Happens to me all the time.

Street performers were pretty common in the shopping districts.

Kilmore Quay

A visit to the Ballyteigue Burrow Nature Reserve made for an excellent afternoon. The green tract in the photo on the left follows the coastline, then makes a loop back to the harbor for about a 4 kilometer hike.

The views along the way were stunning.

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Hook Head

Shirley had recommended I visit Hook Lighthouse and Loftus Hall, so those were my final destinations for day 2. The lighthouse was amazing, but I missed the tour of the most haunted house in all of Ireland by about 30 minutes.

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A Templar monastic ruin in Templetown on the Hook Peninsula:

During the first few days of my journey, I delighted in traveling the back roads for scenery such as this. But as I neared the end of week one, the stress of driving on the left, along roads almost too narrow for two vehicles to pass, finally lured me back onto Ireland’s main thoroughfares, but already the breathtaking beauty and variety that is Ireland’s southeast had stolen my heart.

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Exploring the Emerald Isle – Introduction

In 2015 I made my first bucket list. I was 51 years old. There were exactly three items on my list:

  1. Publish a novel
  2. Vacation in Ireland
  3. Open an AirBnB

Three years later two things astound. One, that it took me so long to set any goals for my life; and two, that in only three years I have accomplished two out of three. I buried goal #3 sometime last year, but did I mention that I’m a strong believer in resurrection? 2018 must be my banner year, ‘cause on May 29th I self-published my first novel. You can find it on Amazon – assuming you are into fantasy fiction with a Celtic feel. Here’s my blog post announcing the release. One month ago I stepped back onto American soil after 11 magical days in Ireland. Yesterday I ordered the photo book of my trip. I’m thinking that tomorrow will be a good day to set some more goals.

Well, maybe not so fast. First let’s process Ireland, shall we? This post is the beginning of a series of travel blogs about my amazing Irish adventure. On the Emerald Isle I learned some things about myself. I remembered my love for photography … looking at the world through a zoom lens … focusing on various elements … seeking the perfect shot … and capturing moments that made me feel really good. Because of this newly rediscovered love, there are going to be lots of photos. I also found out that I am braver than anyone ever imagined – including me.

And, I became just a wee bit better at listening to my heart. You know, that still small voice inside that most people ignore? Yeah, that. Paying attention to my heart is why I went to Ireland, and why I went alone. Most everyone is familiar with the voice inside, the one that knows things that the rational mind could not possibly know. But our fear of being wrong (or more often, looking foolish) prevents us from paying close attention to it. According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, “we live in a time when it is not enough to know, we have to know how.” It is not enough to quote platitudes like “follow our heart,” it’s time to learn how to do it.

I used to think that I needed to live in a quiet environment to be able to listen to my heart. I have learned instead that stillness is the key. Stillness is a characteristic of the mind, therefore it is something that I can find even in the most chaotic of settings. Only when the ever-present chatter inside my mind fades into the background can I begin to hear the subtle language of the heart. The heart speaks in feelings, emotions, and gut reactions, not words. But I did not need to go to Ireland to learn this. In fact, it is something I have known for perhaps twenty years or more. No, I went to Ireland in response to the call of my heart, not to learn to hear it in the first place.

Of course, learning to follow the heart is a life-long quest for all of us. It is not something we necessarily ever fully achieve, but I believe we can get better at it. Going to Ireland reminded me how much fun this journey can be.

May you find joy unspeakable as you discover the path to your heart.

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My view from the plane on my way home from Ireland. Gotta love the shamrock on the wingtip.

Letting Go Accountability

Today I had the chance to share my journey into forgiveness with someone on Facebook. I thought I might post it here in case it might be helpful for any of my readers. There really is healing ahead – assuming you want it badly enough.

Question:

How do I stop holding an ex accountable for their behavior? How do I let go and forgive?

My response:

I have been going through this for the past 3 years, so for what it’s worth, here’s how it went for me.

1. I started a vision board for my trip to Ireland, and in the process, ran into a little meme that reads: “Forget shit and move on.” It didn’t have much to do with Ireland, but I put it on my board anyway. It became a very useful tool when I needed to stop the stream of hateful thoughts that came up often in those days. In terms of painful experiences, a short memory is the fastest road to salvation (read: freeeddoooommm). (See Joe Dispenza for more on this.)

2. I spent a reasonable amount of time sending the white light of love to him in meditation. Not something I could do when I was NOT connected to my inner being (who loves him, despite my feelings about it).

3. I started noticing that I kept meeting men who were JUST LIKE HIM. Seriously, ALL of them. Hm, I knew enough about the LOA to know that it was my focus on his faults that was pulling these people into my experience. I was doing it – ME, not him (reminder: I attracted him into my experience in the first place, after all). When I finally had enough, I began with the new people who were rubbing me the wrong way (I couldn’t begin with him). I reminded myself of an old adage, “hurting people hurt people” and started finding positive aspects in those folks. Then I thought about and talked about those positive aspects to anyone who would listen (especially others who were annoyed by those same people). Soon the weird relationships I had been encountering either disappeared (I started meeting really wonderful people), or the relationships began resolving themselves. One in particular continues to amaze me in terms of how much the person changed in my view of them over a very short period of time! Perspective really is everything. Now I just don’t think ill of the ex anymore either – maybe I’ll call it ‘the bleed effect’. I’ve seen too much positive change in my world to want to go back there again.

4. I reminded myself over and over that we ALL do the best we can with what we have. There are people in this world who simply do not have useful tools in the emotional box. Asking a crippled person to walk and then becoming angry when they don’t is worse than counterproductive. Shouting their disability to others who can see clearly that they have limitations is less than helpful. Usually just makes me look like an ass, not them.

5. I started believing Abraham Hicks – that I really don’t need to explain anything to anyone or justify my divorce by trashing the ex. None of it is necessary. Who I was then is not who I am now. If he chooses to change, great; if not, it’s his loss and still won’t affect me in the least. I began choosing to look into the future and stop wasting my energy in the past. A good quote: “Unforgiveness is equivalent to me drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” You have to get tired of being sick. An even better quote: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Something that will never change no matter how much energy I give to it. The past really IS passed!

6. Finally, this person is the father of my children. If nothing else, I can find great satisfaction in the joy that these three beings continue to bring me.  Without him, there would be no them. I am learning from Abraham that the road to healing is paved with appreciation for the positive aspects of everyone in our experience. After all, each person I meet contains wanted and unwanted. What I focus on is MY choice, and only mine. I got tired of being miserable and started either focusing on his positive aspects or looking at something else entirely. It does help to bang a pickleball around 5 or 6 times a week. hehe

Perhaps I have not yet achieved total freedom, but today I am much happier on my journey than I have ever been. And I can even say that I am grateful beyond measure for the 28 years of pain that taught me how important happiness really is – AND the truth about where happiness comes from. Hint: Happiness cannot come from any source outside of myself, so why would I hold anyone accountable for not giving me something that they could never have given me anyway?

Many blessings on your journey into joy!

Namaste,

C

Past is Passed …

… but the Future is Now

Three years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. The following is my attempt to ‘flesh out’ where I stand currently on what it means to live in the present moment.

~   ~   ~

Anyone who knows me very well is aware of the serious condition from which I suffer. I affectionately call it  made up a name for it: Youtubeitis. It’s more of an addiction than an illness. That’s right, my name is Cindy, and I am a YouTube addict. Whether driving to and from the pickleball court, preparing a meal, or sitting on the couch in my room, you will most often find me listening to back to back talks given by my favorite teachers, all offering their wisdom for free on the Interwebs. My AT&T data plan cannot begin to keep up. The good news is, I think it is finally starting to pay off.

When I turned the last page of The Power of Now, I was fairly convinced that whatever Tolle was talking about, it was both impractical and unreachable – at least for me. Nothing about sitting on a park bench for two years, while becoming enamored with the life force of the leaves on the trees has ever remotely appealed to me. I watched the online class that he and Oprah Winfrey put out to help us ‘get it’, but I still didn’t, and I knew it.

Right around the time that I encountered The Power of Now, a cousin of mine introduced me to Dr. Joe Dispenza. Quickly I found that the science of spirituality made much more sense to me than the esoteric, ethereal notions presented in Tolle’s book. I have since read two books by Dr. Joe, listened to almost everything he has out on YouTube multiple times (this is a great place to start), purchased (and use) several of his meditation CD’s, and in December of 2017, I attended a Progressive conference in Austin, TX. Here is a meditation you can try for free. Let me know what you think in the comments.

About 6 months ago, I stumbled upon Abraham Hicks, and suddenly everything I had learned from Dr. Joe was amplified ten-fold! I moved from directing thought and emotion during meditation to becoming aware of my moment-by-moment feelings throughout the day in light of all that I have become. I am now learning how to elevate my thoughts and emotions in real-time, and the skill is transforming my life in ways I never imagined.

When I first read Tolle’s book, probably my most memorable take-away was that the moment you realize you are in the ‘now’, that moment is gone, and you are actually looking back at the past! Clearly I did not understand how to live in the present moment if every now moment is really a past one by the time it registers in my mind as present. (Try repeating that sentence five times fast.)

This week I have been re-immersing myself in Dr. Dispenza’s interviews on YouTube. Here is one of them. So far, he has not said anything that I have not already heard him say. In fact, the books and conference materials explain the same concepts in much more detail than he provides in the interviews, but somehow I am receiving a greater understanding in terms of application. Maybe something that Abraham said is bringing new meaning to Joe’s words, or perhaps some life experience has built a proper framework for me. After all,

words don’t teach, life experience teaches.

Whatever the cause, I am making new connections that I was unable to make before.

The concept is simple enough. We use our memory of who we were yesterday to remind us of who we are when we wake up today. That means that the majority of us depend on our memories of past experiences to tell us who we are in the present moment. Likewise, the beliefs we have about life and others, come from the thoughts of the past that we have practiced over a long period of time. Added to that, the subconscious mind guides and directs 95% of a person’s actions and emotions on a daily basis, yet the majority of the beliefs governing the subconscious were established before we turned five years old. On a subconscious level, we live completely out of our past experiences. This is why lasting change is so difficult to come by.

So the problem becomes that even though the past is gone, we do not actually live like it is. Every morning when I wake up, I formulate a view of myself and the world based on it. If that past was painful, then pain becomes the defining hallmark of my life. I define others based on the past as well, determined to hold a person hostage to the day I became the target of their bad behavior. But because we define our present reality based on the past, we are unable to imagine a different future. And when we do try to imagine our future (thanks to the subconscious programming in our brains) we envision the worst case scenario based on things that happened to us in the past. We know these fears are rooted in events that are now gone, yet we allow those same events to color our picture of tomorrow in dire shades we dare not entertain thoughts about.

What if a person was able to wake up and only see themselves through the framework of who they wanted to be, rather than who they were yesterday? What if people approached everyone they encountered on any given day as if it were the first time they met? No history of wrongs, no preconceived notions of what that person was like, only a soul, just like them, living out the greatest expression of themselves that they could be in that moment in time. What if people learned to ignore everything from their past (since the past literally does not exist in any form as a reality) and began to focus their attention on the present moment, in the context of becoming the greatest expression of themselves that they could be? Maybe that is what John Lennon really meant.

Would you be willing to imagine such a world? Do you think that you could imagine it? A world where people everywhere viewed themselves and others in light of what we are becoming, rather than dragging forward what we/they have been. The fact is, the only way to truly live in the present moment is to utterly leave the past behind. Tolle probably said that, but clearly I did not get it.

The key to it all is the human brain’s incredible ability to use thought. Did you know that when you entertain a memory (a thought) of something that occurred in the past, your brain produces the exact same cocktail of chemicals that were released during the event itself – no matter how far removed you are from it in time? Human beings are the only species on the planet who have the ability to make a thought as real as an actual event. It follows then, that our brains are capable of producing chemicals equal to future possibilities through thought alone as well. In this way, our thoughts are able to bring the future we desire into the present moment, but instead we continue to practice the habit of dragging the pain of the past into our now. We could be dreaming about a future filled with joy, appreciation, love, health, peace, and happiness – all along releasing the necessary chemicals that can change the hard-wired programming in our brain. This skill would enable you and me to live with intention going forward, and it is the true meaning of the power of now.

Backward is impossible. Forward is inevitable. And if you can imagine it, you can create it – good, bad, or indifferent. We have the choice to stare fixedly at the past, or to dare to imagine a better future. Whatever we give our attention to is what we will create in our present now reality.

Perception really is everything.

Paperback Writer

For a long time I have known something about myself: I am really good at starting things, but finishing them? Not so much. A friend recently reminded me that this is but one mark of a Pisces. Imagine my surprise when, on May 29, 2018, the paperback version of my book went live on Amazon. That’s right! I actually succeeded in beginning and finishing a full-length novel. Wow! I have not completely wrapped my brain around this yet, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

The thing is, I am not exactly sure how to get my brain around the completion of something I began almost four years ago. I should be ecstatic – and I am, don’t get me wrong! But there is also the very distinct question of ‘what’s next?’ banging around in my head right now. I mean, I spent almost every waking moment for the past several YEARS thinking about and writing the book that I wanted to read. And when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, I could hear it whispering in the back of my mind, “Git ‘er done!” I did that. Now what?

Let’s see … I have several Tarot books I’ve been meaning to read, Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey, and two travel books on Ireland to tackle before my trip in September. There are several metaphysical books gathering dust on my shelf, oh, and one incredible poetry book by Ra Avis that I have been meaning to get to. The hardest thing about writing was not feeling like I had time to read much of anything (or feeling a bit guilty when I did take the time). I still did read – a lot – seeing as it’s so difficult for me to not be in the middle of five or ten books at one time. I worked my way through everything that Patrick Rothfuss has published (Rothruss is by far THE best fantasy writer I have ever read, and I am not kidding even one little bit), The Four Agreements, two of Joe Dispenza’s books, one by Eckhart Tolle, Inner Engineering, another book on meditation and one on yoga, some things I reviewed right here on this blog, and a handful of novels that I listened to on CD (written by Sanderson, JRR Martin, and Mark Lawrence, all excellent writers of high fantasy). Now I am looking forward to finally knocking out the twenty or so more books that have been calling for my attention. I won’t be writing one anymore, at least for a little while.

If you are at all inclined to read fantasy fiction, check out my first novel. Honest reviews are appreciated, of course (although, if you really hate it, I would appreciate that feedback to come to me personally before it’s posted on Amazon – maybe let me catch my breath before flogging me publicly. 😉 ). Please feel free to email me with suggestions or comments about the book at ripplesofinsight@gmail.com. I am always looking to become better at this. Mostly, though, I hope you enjoy your journey into the little world I was privileged to create.

You can find my book

on Amazon.com, in either Kindle or paperback.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any new adventures happening in your life. Leave a comment to get the conversation started.

As always, thanks for reading!

Namaste,

C

Making Space

“So you’re saying that you’re open to dating now?” It was asked innocently enough. By someone well acquainted with the practice.

“Dating…” I hesitated. “That’s a funny word. And I’ve never been all that fond of it.” I took another sip of the Kentucky Mule. “Let’s just say that I’m open.”

“You’re open to exploring a relationship, then?” he asked.

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

S p  a   c    e  is being made.

Eight days later, I sold my guitar. I remember distinctly the day in 1995, walking around a music store in Atlanta. Row after row of dreadnoughts hung from the ceiling overhead. The Guild was mounted on the wall. It had been my first choice, but that was Sue’s fault. What did I know about guitars? Not very much. She had played a 12-string Guild, and had done it brilliantly. She used to tell me that I had “thonky” fingers. After all, my true instrument was my voice. The guitar was just accompaniment. In the sound room, I plugged them in, one after the other. The Guild was dear, but it had the only bass sound that resonated in that deep space inside of me. More than the Martin. Certainly more than the Taylor and the much cheaper Ovation. What were they but names anyway?

When the Guild was plugged in, the richness of sound was astonishing. Not at all “tinny” like the round-bodied Ovation I would leave behind that day. Inside a molded black case, complete with strap and tuner, I carried my 6-string with me for 33 years. One of my favorite pictures was taken of me standing behind my guitar. Midnight jam sessions, beer and Bible studies, and the last day spent with my sister are just a few of the memories we shared. I never forgot that it was handcrafted. I always knew that it was beautiful. At one time, its music defined me. Now I have no instrument to hide behind. But then, I’ve lost the need for accompaniment.

My guitar case has been closed for the better part of three years. Still, it felt strange to let it go. The man who bought it played it for me one last time tonight. He told an endless stream of stories of guitars owned, lost, and sold, and then he told me that I am going to miss it. I have only ever had three guitars, and only ever loved one. Now space is being made.

Seven days from now, my first novel will be available for purchase. It sat open on my desktop almost every day for a good 3-1/2 years, begging to be closed. It feels strange to let it go. Even before I have done it, really. The question, “What now?” keeps coming up. A marriage and a lifetime of music are behind me, and now the novel is too – almost. It feels like I am making space. But, for what? I have no clue. All part of the adventure, I suppose. The new normal that is my life on the fly.

I may not know what is coming next, but I’m open.

S p  a   c    e has been made.

One Magical Life

I can no longer remember how or when the idea for a vacation in Ireland came to me. I know it began as a desire to spend an extended time (3 months, even) in a different environment, possibly tied to writing my novel (fantasy fiction with a Celtic feel). I do remember creating a bucket list, and those few short sentences morphed into a vision board overflowing with photos of Ireland, modest homes surrounded by peaceful gardens, and a few pithy quotes to help me move past a difficult divorce. Continue reading “One Magical Life”

Dreaming of Change

Yesterday I drove from D.C. to the end of the Jersey Turnpike. And back. In the rain. Sometimes in fog and sometimes in the dark. But mostly in traffic. Probably about one-fourth or more of that stretch of highway is undergoing some form of construction. The vast majority of it is surrounded by concrete, factories, and high rises. There was a bit of water along the way but very little green that I could see. Yes, it is wintertime, but still. It was heartbreaking. Continue reading “Dreaming of Change”

Heart Space

The view from our host’s cabana.

Winter is my least favorite time of the year. Even as a kid, I could take or leave the snow, and I have never, by any stretch of the imagination, enjoyed cold weather. As for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding? Blech, I am hopeless at both! No wonder I adored the time we spent in Hawaii. But this winter has seemed particularly harsh to me. Besides an early snowfall and frigid temps, the wind has been brutal. And if you know me at all, you have heard me complain about it too. Continue reading “Heart Space”

4 Ways that Yoga can Improve your Life

My daughter, Rachel Bleicken, is 2018’s first guest blogger here at Ripples of Insight. Rachel owns and operates a Waldorf-inspired daycare in her home and is an avid proponent of RIE parenting. You can check out her amazing vision and work by visiting http://www.marigoldchildrensgarden.com. If you’re looking for a yoga mat, Reviews.com can help you find the best one for your needs. Continue reading “4 Ways that Yoga can Improve your Life”

Looking Forward in 2018

Happy 2018
Happy New Year!!

Abraham Hicks likes to remind us that our inner being never looks back. In fact, whatever is manifesting today is the result of a bygone vibration. She often describes the present reality or current manifestation as a piece of gum that has had all of the flavor chewed out of it. If Hicks is right, then for me to experience any kind of change, my vibration must change ahead of the manifestation. But humans have a difficult time not looking back. We find it almost impossible to take our attention off of what is in order to really focus on what could be. When we focus either on what was (past memories) or what is (current reality), we stay locked into old patterns of thought, action, and reaction. For me, a cursory examination of past and present realities is only useful for one thing: Identifying attitudes, patterns, and habits that I need to leave behind. Continue reading “Looking Forward in 2018”

The Energy of Gratitude

thanksgiving-2903166

Late autumn, my favorite time of the year. The air is getting cooler, the leaves have turned and fallen, in some places there may even be the first dusting of snow. Everyone is taking a deep breath in anticipation of the busiest season – the Christmas holidays. Right there, slammed in between Halloween Christmas, comes Thanksgiving. Supposedly the time of year when to count our blessings. The real danger is finding ourselves lulled to sleep by the turkey or drifting into a diabetic coma by Grandma’s pecan pie. Much worse is the feeling of overwhelm in a house full of visiting relatives we never really liked anyway. In today’s world, how many of us truly use the time to give thanks? Continue reading “The Energy of Gratitude”

A Vision of Clear Vision

Sometime in May of 2016, I began a quest for 20-20 eyesight. In conjunction with that, I started sun gazing and have worked my way up to 40 minutes. Although my eyes have a ways to go before I can flush my last pair of glasses, the speedy improvement to my vision has been astounding. Never mind feeding my lifelong addiction to sunlight.

In sixth grade, I complained about an inability to see the blackboard at school. Soon afterward, an opthamologist explained that my eyes were curved too much, or too little, or the wrong way or something. Apparently my eyes projected the incoming images onto the wrong section of my cornea. All I know is that I will never forget the day that I could see actual leaves on trees. It was glorious! Corrective lenses became a permanent part of my existence and have been for some forty years.

In 2003 an optometrist told me I was a candidate for retinal detachment. He began dilating my eyes every year and warning me to pay attention to floaters or bright flashes of light. I was living in Hawaii at the time – a place I would call “eye candy” for a completely different reason than the accepted use of that phrase. During the two and a half years I spent there, I could easily say that I witnessed a rainbow well beyond half of those 912 days. The exit from the H3 Tunnel offered a stunning view of Kaneohe Bay, but all I ever saw were the infinite shades of green and blue that comprised the color of the water. The sight never failed to take my breath away.  Once I was lost in Aiea. As I was making my way back to the main highway, there, directly over Pearl Harbor, I saw the most beautiful sunset ever. A flip phone is useless at capturing such beauty, so you will just have to settle for the Hawaiian sunset I did manage to photograph:

I met a lady with a detached retina in 2008. She basically lived with a large black spot in the center of her eyes. At all times. With no hope for change. The spot covered almost everything she looked at. She lost the ability to work, drive, or read. But to no longer be able to enjoy the sparkling blue eyes of my grandson … two red-throated hummingbirds fighting over territory … my daughter’s wry expressions … a window to Ireland … my son’s incredible talent … the crashing waves of the ocean beneath the rising sun of a new day … my daughter’s colorful clothing … autumn leaves, spring flowers, summer rain and winter white. I do not even want to imagine life without all of that. As a child, I sometimes played a game with a friend where one of us would pretend to be blind and the other, a guide. I never told her how much the idea of blindness terrified me.

Of my five senses, sight is the one that brings me the greatest joy. It is also the one I could least do without.

What the doctor in Hawaii failed to tell me is that corrective lenses were responsible for retinal detachment. And I am happy to note that since beginning this journey, I see virtually no floaters at all anymore. If you are interested in learning more about what myopia really is (and how to fix it) hop on over to Jake’s site and read the blogs. Not to be punny, but I found them quite eye opening.

My quest for clearer eyesight happened to coincide with my journey towards clearer insight as well. I have often wondered if the vision coming through my physical eyes could in any way be related to what I see with my spiritual one. The pictures I receive in my inner or third eye tend to be a bit blurry around the edges too. Could there be a connection, or does every clairvoyant “see through a glass dimly”?

There is no real way to tell, I think. It is certainly simpler on the physical plane. If a clear-sighted person wanted to see what the world looks like to me without glasses, they need only to put mine on. But finding out what anyone else sees through their third eye is beyond me. Perhaps on the day when I no longer need glasses, my question will be answered. Until then, I will continue my quest for 20-20 vision, all the while remembering to be thankful – so thankful – for the ability to see.

This blog was inspired by the November Sense-sational Blogging Challenge presented on the Litebeing Chronicles WordPress site. Hop on over and check it out! Oh, and please don’t forget the other contributors. The blog before mine was penned by Kristen on November 16. The next blog in the series will be published by Anupriya on November 20. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Ruination

Welcome to my blog and the very first International Tarot Day Blog Hop!

I’m thrilled and honored to collaborate with Bree Ferguson from Nym’s Divination in celebration of International Tarot Day (July 8, 2017).  For this year, I was asked to contribute my thoughts for the 10 of Swords. I hope you enjoyed Attila Blaga’s look at  the 9 of Swords. For a complete list of all the blogs in the hop, click the ITD thumbnail to the left. A link to the next blog in the hop can be found at the bottom of this page.

Below is a poem I wrote that encapsulates my understanding of the meaning behind the 10 of Swords. Please feel free to start a conversation in the comments. I would love to hear your take on this challenging and at times frightening card. Continue reading “Ruination”

Out of the Tent & into the Light

I remember the days when carnivals wandered in and out of America’s small towns. Rickety roller coasters, acrobats, games of luck and skill, and icky-sweet sticky cotton candy in pastel shades of pink and blue were just a few of the offerings. My favorite ride was a toss-up between the Swings and the Ferris Wheel, but what carnival would be complete without its resident Fortune Teller? Continue reading “Out of the Tent & into the Light”

No Resurrection Without a Death

For quite some time now I have dreamed of three things.
  1. Completing a novel and seeing it published.
  2. Spending some time in Ireland.
  3. Purchasing a home suitable to run an Air B&B.

In December, 2016 I completed my first novel. It is currently in the editing stage and I hope to submit it to a publisher for review by the end of June 2018. My other two goals have proven a bit more elusive. Last year I created a vision board in two parts – one for my trip to Ireland and the other for an Air B&B.

Vision board behind the latest manifestation crystal grid.
Inspiration at Work

Last fall I made the decision to postpone the Ireland trip until a more opportune time. In December I began searching for a house, and three weeks ago I viewed number fifty-one. I did make an offer on a cute bungalow (probably number forty-six or so), but it was rejected by the seller due to circumstances my agent was unaware of. I think fifty-some houses is more than enough, don’t you?

Continue reading “No Resurrection Without a Death”

All the Little Ways

The universe (God, goddess, angels, universal consciousness, whatever you want to call it) speaks to me in many different ways. I have had dreams, visions, heard a public speaker (complete stranger) reiterate in a talk the exact words of a private conversation I had with a friend earlier that day, seen repeating numbers, and on rare occasions, heard a voice inside my head. I cannot count the number of times I have thought of a friend only to have them call or email me soon after. So many serendipitous things have happened in my life that I no longer believe in coincidence. My family even coined the phrase co-inky-dink years ago in an attempt to make light of these strange occurrences.

I’ve been getting messages of one kind or another my whole life, but it has taken me some time to really learn to pay attention to them. Many were so subtle that they could have easily passed by unnoticed, yet they are the ones that speak the loudest to my soul. We all hope that the universe will come through for us in the big stuff (the job, the healing, etc.), but when something small happens just to delight us, well, then we truly experience the whole of the depth and breadth of the love available to us.

If you will indulge me, I would like to share one of my favorite examples of the universe speaking to me from circa 1996:

It was early, maybe six-thirty in the evening, and I was where I usually was at that time of day, in front of a sink full of dirty dishes. My husband stood behind me in the doorway to our kitchen talking at me. Apparently he knew the script of our lives as well as I did – he was in his place as much as I was in mine. In the background I could hear my two girls arguing over some perceived injustice that one had suffered at the other’s hand. I had grown so accustomed to the constant bickering that it was little more than background noise. They knew I would not choose a victim and had been forced early on to learn to work out their squabbles on their own. My husband was another story. He was always the victim. Me? I was the sounding board.

The townhouse the four of us shared was nothing to write home about. At least it was in a nicer area of Georgia than some I’d seen. God only knows how we paid for it. Life for the wife of a pastor-turned-construction handyman was no walk in the park. Wasn’t God supposed to take care of us? Then why was I never able to buy shoes for my children? Why did I have to choose between health insurance and groceries? I had learned one very useful thing over the course of ten years: how to pack a kitchen in one hour or less. Since 1987 we had lived in seven different dwellings, three different states, and one foreign country. After almost ten years of moving, I was tired. Tired of jobs ending. Tired of every application being rejected. Tired of listening to the pie-in-the-sky delusions that comprised my husband’s life story.

He was at it again – telling me his plans for the job he had applied for one week ago. Never mind that it could take up to a year to even hear back from a church. He had no interview scheduled, did not even know if anyone would ever look at the application, but he had plans for the money he was going to make, for the ministry he would do there, and he had already mapped out the place we would live. He had a plan for everything – everything except another rejection. He assured me that this church would be the one, this time it would happen. I had listened to the same speech multiple times over the previous months – many, many more if you count all of the years of training. Same song, umpteen millionth verse. And like the tune, the outcome never changed.

In seminary we had two children. I stopped working to care for them, so we learned to live on student loans and my family’s charity. Seminary included a year-long internship in Australia (it was not glamorous, sorry to disappoint). Then in 1992 a mission board told us we were not missionary material. By their estimation our marriage had a three in ten chance of survival. Graduation from seminary was followed by an eighteen month stint where my husband served as a youth pastor. It ended in disaster, financial and otherwise. Application after application generated rejection after rejection. Even though one church voted to hire him in 1994, the Presbytery said no – twice. Standing there in front of that soapy water, I could not have imagined that two more failed internships, bankruptcy, a three-month separation, military service and deployment, another job loss, three more years of graduate school, twelve more moves, and finally divorce were headed my way.

Yet even then, I had run out of words.

I could not muster a response to his assurances. All I could do was bristle in silence against the barrage of his pipe dreams. I remember rinsing the last of the dishes while staring at my reflection in the darkened window above the sink. My eyes looked hollow and empty of life – just like I felt. Whatever joy I had known was gone, trampled under the hardships of a life lived without enough of anything – money, stability, family ties, friends, or, most importantly, love. In my head I spoke to the only one I thought might be listening. “God,” I said, “I can’t dream anymore. It’s too painful.”

I rinsed the soap down the drain then turned and left the kitchen. He was likely still standing there talking as I plodded mechanically up the stairs. I went through the motions of my nightly routine with my own voice still echoing in my head, “It hurts too much to dream.” The truth was, I had never learned to dream about much of anything for myself. As a child I was told I had to marry because women needed to be taken care of by a man. The church told me I had to obey my husband, follow his dreams, and die to whatever it was I might desire. In my mind, there was no room for my dreams, even if I had them. In my marriage, there was no room for me.

Funny how the universe has a way of giving us back things we do not even realize we have lost.

It has long been my practice to read before falling asleep. In fact, since I was in middle school (maybe even earlier), I cannot remember my nightstand bereft of a book or six (yes, I am always in the middle of approximately six books at a time, don’t ask me why). That night I was reading He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado. After flipping on the lamp, I climbed into bed, pulled the covers up, and opened the book to my mark. The entire page was nothing but the title of Chapter 5. It read:

It’s All Right to Dream Again

Suddenly I could not breathe. The words before me bled together like watercolors bathed in my tears. The shock of such an immediate and crystal clear answer to my thoughts left me speechless. I smiled as I placed my bookmark back where it had been, shut the cover, and set the book on the nightstand. Then I turned out the light and went to sleep. I did not need to see anything else. The universe had spoken.

Message in a book

Since that night twenty or more years ago, I have heard that voice speak to me again and again. Sometimes it has been direct, like the title of Chapter 5. Other times it has been more subtle and harder to perceive. Perhaps hearing the universe speak is a function of belief – I expect it to speak so it does. I trust that what I am hearing is a message for me and that the message is good. So I work to hone my intuition, increase my attention span and ability to concentrate, and develop exceptional listening skills. Meditation is helpful, although in my experience, the universe seems to wait until I am surrounded by noise just to show me that it will always be louder, truer, and more reliable than anything else I hear. After all, what has the power to drown out the still small voice of love? Absolutely nothing.

Do you ever receive messages from the universe? How do the messages come to you? How do they make you feel and what do you do when you get them?

If you are game to share an experience you have had receiving an unexpected but timely message, please email me at cecetarot@yahoo.com. I would love to feature your story as a guest blog here on Ripples of Insight.

Much love and light,

~ Cindy