Just Breathe

I know, I know, November was supposed to be a month of blogging. My life and writing? Not particularly in sync right now. The full schedule will certainly let up right around the first of December – just after NanoPoblano ends. 😒 Mind you, I am not complaining. I may not be writing, but I absolutely love what I am doing.

In lieu of a post tonight, I would like to share an exciting process with you. I may not be writing, but I am most definitely breathing. Enjoy!

SOMA Breath – highly recommend the daily doses. But watch out! They might just change your life – for the better!

Namaste,

~C

Finding My Flow in North Georgia

It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then. 

Lewis Carroll

This is a continuation of the journey I began early in the summer of 2019.

I have long understood that everything in our physical realm is made up of invisible energy. This energy must flow freely or our lives will be filled with pain, chaos, and misery. Maybe that’s why I love fluid art so much. Pouring paint has helped me to learn to tap into the flow. But this summer it came to my attention that something was blocking the natural flow of energy inside me. I reached out to Dr. Tom and Emily to see if they could help me identify and eradicate it for good.

At approximately 11:00 in the morning on July 20, Tom Dill offered me a seat on a massage table in his office in the North Georgia Wellness Center. “So what brought you here today?” he asked, graciously omitting the unspoken but implied, all the way from Woodbridge, VA. Emily Francis sat on the couch to my right, preparing to take notes on her phone. At the time, I was unaware that Emily no longer accepted patients and that Dr. Tom never agreed to treat anyone who lived out of state. I still do not know how or why my email persuaded them to see me, only that I am so very grateful it did.

In the middle of my narrative, Dr. Tom glanced at Emily and said, “Do you see that?” “I sure do,” was her immediate response. He waited until I finished before asking, “Can you take a deep breath for me?” It was my first clue that I had come to the right place. Sometime in 2018 I had lost the ability to breathe deeply, as if a stone had lodged in the center of my chest. I felt pain in the area from time to time. I did not know what it was, but I did know that it was completely unrelated to my physical heart. I had an energy problem.

Most of us are unaware of the beliefs and thought patterns we carry around in our subconscious minds. When those beliefs tend towards the negative, they can become blocks in the energy field that eventually cause problems in our physical bodies. While there are several ways to hack the subconscious (many of which I already use, like meditation), I knew that whatever I was dealing with needed something more. I needed help from people who were trained to work directly with energy.

We skipped over the conventional NAET tests for allergens. Instead, Dr. Tom muscle tested me for various emotional issues, beginning with the general heading of ‘my past’. During this portion of the treatment, Tom made some interesting discoveries.

  1. I ‘tread lightly’, fearful of making mistakes.
  2. I hold patterns from my childhood in my chest (go figure).
  3. My heart was broken in the past (like most everybody else).
  4. My fifth chakra (throat) has always been weak. I found this one the most enlightening – a reminder that the gift of gab does not indicate a healthy throat chakra. The ability to effectively speak my truth has long been an issue.

NAET practitioners typically identify negative memories, beliefs, and thought patterns that have morphed into energetic blocks, then clear them using acupressure along the meridian points of the spine. It was quite similar to some of the treatment I have undergone with my acupuncturist. Dr. Tom wanted to know when I first experienced the block in my chest. While trying to remember, I commented how odd it was to me that I could not take a deep breath. “Every trained singer knows full well how to belly breathe,” I said. But I had lost the skill – even during meditation. Muscle testing revealed it began around November 22, 2018. “That was moving day!” I exclaimed. “The day we moved into the house that we love.”

“That makes sense,” Tom said, “since you have trouble allowing yourself to be happy.” Always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Which it rarely does. But if you believe you are not allowed to be happy and you are happy, self sabotage is your only recourse. Dr. Tom proceeded to clear my subconscious aversion to happiness. I couldn’t help but wonder if it would ‘stick.’

Emily’s turn came. The raw pain in my connective tissue brought me up from the table several times. I knew in my head that her brutality was a necessary evil and reminded myself that I hadn’t made the 10-hour drive to be coddled and left in my current condition. Something had to shake my body from its chains. When the massage was over, Dr. Tom returned for a final round of clearing and we were done. Other than the pain I had experienced at Emily’s hand, nothing particularly earth-shattering had happened. I drove back to my friend’s house in Marietta and wondered what I had really accomplished by coming all the way to Georgia.

The next morning I woke up and took the first deep breath I had taken in almost a year. I understood then that my trip had been worth every second and every penny. Life is all about flow, and Tom and Emily had helped my body find it once more.

Today I dream of running an art studio where fluid art and metaphysics come together. Until I open the doors I will learn everything I can about both, thanks to amazing teachers like Aaron Abke, Gilly Kube, Joe Dispenza, Gina Deluca, and many others. For now, I will set my intention, dream my dreams, and learn to live in the flow.

How about you? Is flow something that comes naturally or is it a struggle for you to find? When you detect blocks, how do you go about clearing them? Let me hear from you in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!

Namaste,

~C

Inner Musings – Part 1

The child standing before me was barely recognizable. Her eyes, nose, and mouth sat jumbled and distorted on the right side of her face – off-kilter, a mirror reflection of the state of my heart. Her head tipped back, revealing eyes filled with longing. How could I refuse the silent plea? As I lifted her into my arms, her features slid back into place. She turned her head on my shoulder and smiled. I knew then that I would take her with me this time. I could no longer leave her in my memories of the past. Perhaps she had outgrown them. Perhaps we both had.

My father made it for me. It hung humbly from the limb of a pine tree in my back yard.
Next to my little teddy bear classroom, that swing was my favorite toy.

I first encountered my inner child in the backyard of my home of origin. The swing made sense – it had brought me endless hours of delight. There I could forget everything but watching the sky rush down to meet my outstretched feet.

Her joy was a palpable presence as I stood watching her.

I remembered it like it was yesterday. The ground, the sky, the ground, the sky, the ground – then, when I had amassed enough courage, a final leap into thin air! The tumble down the hill, the laughter – just like it was yesterday. My allergy to the green carpet that covered the backyard like an itchy wool blanket had never stopped me jumping. In the interim, other things had gotten in the way of my courage, though.

That day, she did not jump. She just swung, and watched me watching her. I did not remember ever wearing the knowing smile she gave me. When I had amassed enough courage to stand before her, I held out my hand and said, “Come with me.” 

“No,” she replied, “you come with me.” Without a word, or even a moment’s hesitation, I turned my back to the swing, waited to feel its touch against my legs, then sat. A strange sensation came over me, as if my body were falling into hers – or had she fallen into me? Now I was swinging. The ground, the sky, the ground, the sky … 

But would I ever again amass enough courage to jump? As it turned out, I would.

The Ring of Kerry, Dingle, and the Ballaghbeama Gap

The Wild Atlantic Way, Part II: A continuation of my time spent in County Kerry, September, 2018. You can read Part 1 here.

The road leading to the beginning of the Ring of Kerry was virtually deserted that time of morning, bewitching me into believing that the day’s drive would be equally as unchallenging. But once on the Ring, buses sped towards me at regular intervals, passing dizzyingly close. I could not help reacting every time, flinching and often pulling over, to the chagrin of the drivers behind me. Even after five full days, every time any car came near, my eyes told me there was just not enough room on the road for the both of us.

I arrived in Waterville – the halfway point – at about three o’clock in the afternoon. There I stopped for a cup of tea in a café serving only ‘staying’ customers, as evidenced by the large “no takeout” sign hanging beneath the register. The proprietor’s passive-aggressive insistence that his patrons sit to partake of his little slice of Irish heaven brought a smile to my face. For me the break from the stress of driving was a welcomed one, and I enjoyed it at my leisure.

Waterville gained renown as the favorite vacation spot of Charley Chaplin, who often enjoyed its charms when on holiday with his family. There were several photos of him on the cafe walls. I took a short walk along the beach after tea, and even went so far as to participate in a local legend. It is believed that picking up a handful of sand from a beach in Ireland and dividing it in half – reserving some in a bottle and throwing the rest into the sea – will ensure the traveler’s return. Fingers crossed for 2021…

Seashells, sand, stones, and a feather I collected from the beaches of Ireland,
rest in an abalone shell.

In the planning stages of my trip, I learned that the Beara Peninsula (specifically the Healy Pass) was a much more desirable sight than the commercialized Dingle, but at around five o’clock in the afternoon I reached the end of the Ring of Kerry, and on a whim, turned left onto the Dingle Peninsula.

As I drove west, the sky grew progressively darker. A steady rain greeted me in Dingle Town, but I pressed on for a few more miles before realizing my mistake. Having already experienced the difficulty of navigating the narrow streets of Ireland in the dark, I knew that to attempt it with rain too would be madness.

The downpour let up a bit as I headed east, away from the eye of the storm. Relieved, I continued to follow my GPS, pleading with Siri to avoid any gaps. Before I knew what was happening, I had entered the first hairpin turn of the Ballaghbeama Gap. Frantically, I shouted at my phone, “I said no gaps!” But the little wisps of fog trailing into my windshield were the only reply I would get.

Photo courtesy of beckeboo as posted on Trip Advisor. Used by permission.

The higher I climbed, the thicker the fog became. The problem of reversing direction seemed insurmountable. Not only was the road narrow and one-lane with nothing but air on either side of each switchback, but the fog made it impossible to see more than a few feet in front of my bumper. As if mimicking life itself, my only choice was moving forward.

The darkness grew. I considered contacting my hosts while cursing my lack of a flare. A wry smile crept across my face as I recalled the story they had told me not twenty-four hours earlier about their own search and rescue mission to save a Belgian guest who had lost her way hiking the hills of a similar gap. When it finally it dawned on me that I must be the only one who would dare to brave a gap in weather like that, I relaxed my grip on the steering wheel, at least sure that I would not find myself in a head-on collision.

I have no recollection of how long my slow crawl through the fog-enshrouded Ballaghbeama lasted, but it would be several hours later and a long shot of whiskey before I could calm down enough to sleep. The stress of the ordeal dogged the rest of my trip, and for the first time since boarding the plane to Ireland, I longed for home.

When I finally got around to putting together a photo book and writing down my adventures, it occurred to me the extreme bravery it had taken to make the trip at all. A 50-something woman, driving alone for 11 days through a strange country, willing to blindly follow a map, though it take her through the inky blackness of the Ballaghbeama Gap.

If there is one takeaway from my trip that really meant something to me, it was the realization that I can overcome any challenge thrown my way! Whiskey notwithstanding, I have what it takes to persevere. And at that moment in time, owning a belief in myself meant more to me than a thousand trips to Ireland. I can honestly say today that there was no more defining moment out of that week and a half than the harrowing hours I spent driving through what felt like the valley of the shadow of death. And I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience.

What life experiences have defined you? Or what experiences have shown you an aspect of yourself you had not before appreciated. Share them in the comments, if you like.

Many thanks for reading.

Namaste,

~C

LinkShare #1

As part of this year’s NanoPoblano, we are sharing links to websites and blogs that have had an impact on us. Today I would like to draw your attention to a favorite teacher of mine.

Geraldine Amaral has spent a lifetime learning and living the Tarot. I have taken several of her classes and am slowly working my way through her book, Tarot Celebrations, coauthored with Nancy Brady Cunningham. I will be sure to post a review here on the blog when I finish.

The Spiritual Tarot is filled with great information, pithy quotes, meditations, and of course, how you can connect with the cards. Please visit Geraldine’s site when you have some free time to wander around.

If you’d like to know more about my own journey into Tarot, click here.

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Namaste,

~C

Samhain Meditation

Día de Muertos, All Hallows Eve, Halloween, All Saints Day, Samhain – no matter the name, across cultures it is believed that from October 31 – November 2, the veil between the living and the dead – the spiritual and physical realms – is at its thinnest. It is the time when we honor our ancestors, when we give thanks to those who came before us – the ones who laid the foundation for our lives. In the Pagan tradition, Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”) also marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

I decided to reach out to my angels and guides for a message to the light workers, those of us looking to bring peace, healing, and love into the world. I asked for some word of encouragement for the coming year, something to help further the ascension of humanity.

I set my wand in the center of the spread as a representation of the divide between the upper and lower realms. What follows is my take on the cards. I welcome your input in the comments. Feel free to expand the meaning of the message(s) from your viewpoint.

1. LIFE: VIII of Wands 

Embrace all that we hear from spirit. The messages will sync with what we already know to be true. There is a strong sense of order in the way the wands are traveling – now is the time for unity. Standing together, we have the power to raise the vibration to a new level.

Wands are fire, movement, and the things we are passionate about. They can indicate growth. The eight of wands is communication, fast motion forward, and sometimes overwhelm. Messages will be coming in hard and fast, bringing the light of understanding to many. All of the wands are in sync with one another – although some are further ahead – showing that we are working together, yet continue to be on our own individual journeys, at different points along our path. The wands are falling from the sky to the earth – Spirit to flesh – and they are traveling to the right (for me, the ‘right’ direction spiritually – towards the future, advancing forward). 

2. DEATH: VII of Wands 

Let go of the need to defend our position. The light does not need defense against the dark. Light dispels darkness just by shining. Arguments, rivalry, jealousy – these have no place among those of the light. We are in this deal together or we are not in it at all. Separation & division are illusions.

Wands are fire, movement, and the things we are passionate about. They can indicate growth. The number seven relates to evaluation. It is time to take a hard look at our methods. Infighting, anger, jealousy – these are tools of the dark. Self-defense is resistance and cannot serve the light. Only love has the power to change and transform this world. It is time we stop meeting violence with violence. Only love signifies.

3. Our Courage: IX of Swords 

We have come to the end of a cycle characterized by worry, fear and doubt. It is time to trust in our dream for a better world. No more sleepless anxiety. Only have faith that all is moving according to plan.

Swords are thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and intellectual patterns. Nine promises an ending that will make room for a new beginning. It is time to let go of old beliefs/thought patterns and the anxieties that accompany them. The light of dawn is coming. Trust, take courage, and walk in hope.

4. Our Fears: X of Cups 

We fear that all the goodness we have known is coming to an end, but just the opposite is happening! For the new to come, we must let go of the old. It is time for our traditional ideas of work, family, spirituality, and prosperity to die. Everything is vibration and there is no separation between us and the Divine. All is one. I say again, separation is an illusion.

Cups are emotion and intuition. They speak of Spirit and the flow of life. Ten is overabundance, fulfillment. Do not listen to the doom and gloom message being touted by the media, trying to keep you trapped in fear and worry. Listen only to Spirit. It is in the still small voice that we discern the truth and learn to hope with faith. There is no end to the abundance we can experience when we walk in the light. We are not fighting over a limited pie – the abundance of this universe is boundless!

5. To Celebrate: III of Pentacles 

It is time to celebrate our expansion. We are coming together as one at last. New discoveries are beginning to verify what we have heard for so long from Spirit. Things are beginning to make sense and it is becoming more and more difficult for anyone to discount the power of the Divine in the world. 

Pentacles are things of earth, the things we value in the natural/material world. They can be money, time, relationships. Three is the number for expansion, growth, fertility. Unity is growing in the camp of the Light! “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” What we build together will stand the test. It is time to begin to trust one another again, to celebrate not only our similarities, but our differences too. We each bring something unique to the table that will help build the new world we all desire. Celebrate this time of increase in numbers, depth, and understanding.

6. To Contemplate: III of Swords 

It is high time we dive deep into our ability to heal our own past hurts and pain. We have been the walking wounded for long enough, but even that has only been in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our past. Take another look, reframe the picture of your life. Understand that everything has served the purpose of increasing the light – even our darkest days have taught us to trust – to listen to our intuition.

Swords are thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and intellectual patterns. Three is the number of expansion, growth, and fertility – but in this suit, the growth is stymied by wrong thinking. Our hearts are pierced by the thoughts in our minds. Love cannot flow from a heart hardened by bitterness and resentment. It is only our thoughts that cause us to suffer – how we think about our situation and the things that have happened in the past is key. Change your thoughts, change your life. Find gratitude for all that has come to pass. Staying anchored in the pain only keeps us acting out of that pain. Contemplate and reconsider reactions to everything in life. It is time to take courage, let go, and move on. Remember it is the story we tell ourselves that determines how we see everything. Let’s make our story a masterpiece!

The number of the spread = 5. Five is change. And change is coming! This year we have been given the opportunity to make our own change. To contemplate the past, choose new thoughts that will bring healing and find the strength to move on.

May you walk in peace and joy in light of this message from Spirit. As always, thank you for reading.

Namaste,

~C

The Brilliant Dark

 There exists around me
A wide world of insanity
Voices filled with promise
Vie for attention before my eyes
Enticing paths run in all directions
Begging me follow
at my peril. 
 There exists inside me 
A vast realm of possibility
Darkness alive with potential 
Shrouding treasure behind my eyes
Untapped thoughts lay in the crevices
Marking time
'til I awaken. 

For more on experiencing the space within, check out Dr. Joe Dispenza.

What’s Your Story?

What if every situation in our lives comes to help us in some way? I mean every situation. Like the ones that tear your heart in two … financial loss, illness, death. What if ALL OF IT is an opportunity to teach us to tell a different story?

I love to paint. But let me clarify – I am hopeless with a brush, a pencil, a pen. Just give me a canvas, acrylic paint, and a way to make it fluid. I like to watch it crawl around the surface in little lines and swirls. Sometimes the colors surprise me; other times they are predictable, like when I make ‘mud’. But a child delights in mud. No one ever told them that ‘mud’ is not a pretty color. To a child, mud is nothing short of an opportunity to play.

The child knows how much fun mud can be, while grandmother sees the mess. No wonder Jesus said we have to become like children to understand life properly. Children never see the mess, they see the opportunity. After all, they are only in it for the fun.

A fellow artist was faced with this challenge today:

The storm came, the shelves shook, and a mess ensued. She awoke to a muddy disaster. She called for help, outside the box of her frustration and pain, and discovered that others had experienced their own disasters, and had found new ways to create beauty from them. They had looked for the opportunity in the mess. They had changed their stories and created beauty from failure.

What if this principle of finding joy and creativity inside the mud puddle applies to every area of our lives? The job ends, leaving room for new and better opportunities; the breakdown of a marriage leads to true love; the illness teaches you how resilient you are, giving you the strength to pursue a long-abandoned dream. Life’s disasters can open the door to possibilities never before imagined – if we will let them. But then, it all depends on what story you tell.

“Remember, you write your own script, so make it a masterpiece!” 

Marisa Peer

The only truth in life is the story you tell yourself.

You might want to read that again.

Now, imagine turning every story on its head. For instance, a friend of mine told me that when someone is driving haphazardly around her (too fast, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, etc.), she thinks, “That person must have a serious stomach illness and they’re looking for a bathroom; or perhaps they are trying to get to the hospital to say farewell to a loved one before it’s too late.” Actions easily interpreted as inconsiderate, reckless, or even hostile can be instantly transformed into a story that moves me to compassion and empathy, away from anger and frustration. 

What kind of world could we create if every person assumed the best of everyone else, and even went so far as to find a silver lining in every situation? It would certainly make for a beautiful life story, wouldn’t it? A masterpiece even.

I’ll bet money that there is a disaster going on in some area of your life right now. It may be small or large, it may have gone on for years or just happened this morning. I am here to tell you that you have it in your power to tell whatever story about it you would like. It’s your story so the sky’s the limit! Why not make it a good one?

I challenge you to rewrite the story of your disaster – even better if you can find a silver lining. Have fun with it! Let me know what happens in the comments.

Namaste and thanks so much for reading,

~C

November 1, 2019 CheerPeppers post.

NaBloPoMo According to Ra

Tomorrow a group of bloggers will begin a new journey led by our fearless dino-sister, Rarasaur. November is traditionally a writing intensive month. I have no clue how it all began, but NaNoWriMo is a tool many writers use to push themselves to write, track their progress, and hopefully come up with their next great publication – all in the space of 30 days.

Now, it took me 4 years to complete a novel of approximately 92,000 words from beginning to end – I have a writing prompt from the King of the Matticus Kingdom to credit for that. It was difficult enough to finally make my way to a published work on Amazon … I cannot imagine the stress of trying to complete a novel in one month (the years of editing to follow notwithstanding). However, I have enjoyed the way that Rara takes us outside of that box to offer a challenge I can really sink my teeth into. This year is even more gratifying because it is designed to give us ample time to write, read, and comment (10 days of each). 

In 2015 I participated in NaBloPoMo, and it was quite the experience. I even surprised myself that I was able to pull off a blog post every day. Some stuff has happened since then like grandkids, pickleball, acrylic pouring, a divorce, and 2 moves (one last November, coincidentally), I simply have not found the time to jump back in. I am hoping that this challenge will spark some ideas to get me moving in the direction of the sequel to The Mists of Tir Na Nóg. Never mind that very soon I’ll be moving again.

I hope you will stop by and comment from time to time this month. It’s always nice to know that someone is walking by my side. Who knows? You might get inspired to jump on the Cheer Peppers bandwagon yourself. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Namaste,

~C

That Pesky Shadow

Of late I have been reminded that the only way forward is through. The real problem comes when I want to bring some of myself and leave the ‘unwanted’ pieces behind. My daughter wisely says, “Everyone has to come if anyone is to come.” In the same way, all of me must go if any of me is to go.

Today I participated in a collaborative Facebook live with my dear friend and fellow light-worker, Delia Beadle. Delia founded Spirit Bear Rising, a Facebook group dedicated to helping the ‘woke’ community move forward. It was a joy interacting with her regular viewers. I even pulled a few cards, which is always fun. Two of the questions that came up today gave me pause. They were common enough. One had to do with success, the other with being ‘on track’. When Delia read them, I stumbled inwardly, as if a languid stroll had been interrupted by the tip of a rock against my tender big toe. The questions gnawed at my mind long after the live was over.

On a seemingly unrelated note, this evening I rifled my way through a ridiculous number of emails before deciding to read the weekly edition of Winning Writers. At the very end, I found this little gem:

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion. And he answered saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows—then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,—then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.” And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

Reason and Passion: An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Suddenly it clicked. During the live, I explained that to answer the question about job success would require a definition of the word ‘success’. For example, in March I took my last job as an administrative assistant and am counting down the days until it ends (July 31!!). I am not retiring. I decided to quit. It is doubtful that many – if any – would call my decision a success. After all, I make good money doing something I excel at. But quitting a job I hate, with no prospect of income on the horizon might be the greatest definition of success for me right now that I can think of.

Using that example, I asked the querent to take a different tack. Maybe the journey is not about success and failure but growth. Despite my explanation, I still had the nagging feeling that something more was at play. The words ‘on track’ gave me my next clue. What does that phrase even mean? If our life’s journey is the track, how can we possibly get ‘off’ of it?

We are human beings, bound by the limitations of physical time and space. The path we walk is defined by our current individual interpretations of vague, half-remembered past experiences etched into our subconscious minds long before we reached the age of rational thought. The implication in the question is whether or not the chosen path is right. But what do the words ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘on’ or ‘off’ even mean in this context? The path I walk is my path, right, wrong, or indifferent. It is my reality, my truth. I am certainly ‘on’ it, whether I like it or not. And if I am on it, then I have chosen it. Perhaps I am unable to see another path, or perhaps I see all of them, but can only choose the one I am on.

These words: success, failure, right, wrong, on and off have got me thinking again about the deep-seated need we humans have to form dichotomies. I read somewhere recently that our dualistic ideas stem from the notion that our lives have a beginning and an end. In a way, they do, but only as viewed from the physical sense of birth and death. The fact is we are so much more than these earthly shells we currently occupy. (My daughter would add that we are stardust incarnate. 🙂 )

Some of you know the impact that Marisa Peer has had on my life this year. Learning to espouse the phrase “I am enough” has literally begun to transform my life in ways I never could have guessed. Questions about success or being ‘on’ the path bring to light our need to qualify and quantify our lives into something worthwhile – something good, something others will agree was successful. But what if just being here is enough?

How quick we are to judge ourselves, our thoughts and actions, even the paths we choose. We seek comfort in categorizing everything we perceive into a neat little package we call good or bad, right or wrong, on or off, light or darkness. But what if the path is none of those things? What if we are none of them either? What if our path is just that – our path – without qualification or the need for justification? What if everything in our experience – even us as human beings – just is. Beyond simplistic definition. Beyond dualism. Beyond imagination.

Perhaps the greatest challenge we will ever face is the discovery of the truth that we are both light and dark, good and bad, rational and passionate. What would our lives look like if we recognized that all of those seemingly disparate parts have indeed been packaged into one harmonious whole, and that all we are required to do is joyfully walk the path of our amazing, incredible, glorious life experience?

What a wonderful world that would be.

Lions and Shadows and Bears, Oh, MY!

An amazing friend of mine (I could say my daughter’s friend because that’s how I met her, but thankfully, she’s my friend now too) is working through a series on facing the shadow within. My *birth number is 8, which corresponds to The Strength card in Tarot. Traditionally, Strength relates to exposing the shadow, both within myself and others. The purpose of shadow work is to integrate those parts of us which we think do not belong – you know, the things we are ashamed of, that we try to hide from ourselves and others.

But all of it belongs. All of it is us. Our shadow has a lot to do with who we have become, who we will become. Too often we dismiss our darker side with labels like ‘bad’ or ‘unacceptable’. This attitude is less than helpful when moving forward is the goal.

What we leave in the dark will rear its ugly head in ways we never imagine, and usually cannot control.

Always better to face the beast head-on, and give it the love it needs to feel heard and accepted.

Anywho, she posted a prompt today encouraging her readers to create something as an expression of a frustration they are dealing with. Something related to their shadow.

My frustration is two-fold. First, I feel stuck, like I am spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I know that this is completely untrue, but that is how I feel none-the-less. Second is the shadow part of that equation: my own feelings of inadequacy, blame, and the fear of taking the leap that I believe I need to take in order to get where I want to be. The challenge for me is to learn how to give myself the grace to wait, to be okay with where I am, to understand that this ‘quiet time’ is an important part of the process, and that there really is such a thing as divine timing. As a strong Type-A, I tend to feel like I am ‘less than’ when not actively pursuing something with purpose and gusto. But the Universe is working behind the scenes right now, putting all of the puzzle pieces into place. My task is first to trust that truth, and second, to find joy in the process.

A huge part of self-care for me right now is ending the cycle of self-recrimination. I would have poured some paint but ended up having other things to do today. So tonight I wrote a poem. I hope you enjoy it.

Transformation

Sun, rain, leaves of green,

eat, stretch, grow.

Cloud, wind, heavy branch,

weave, stretch, grow.

Dark, dissolving, thick cocoon,

sleep, stretch, grow.

Awake, renewed, azure sky,

fly, stretch, GO!

As always, thanks for reading.

Namaste,

~C

*Note: To calculate your own birth number, simply add together the month, day, and year that you were born. Now keep adding the digits together until you have reduced the number to a single digit. If you complete this task and would like to know the corresponding Tarot card and its meaning, feel free to email your number to ripplesofinsight@gmail.com. Happy transforming!

Gratitude as a Way to Move Forward

Never in a million years could I imagine that one day I would wake up and say, “Thank you for this illness” and mean it. I have been avoiding, resisting, and lamenting dis-ease and pain of any kind for most of my life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do pain well.

Today I read the blog of a dear light worker friend about facing the shadows within. But what do you do when your shadow is embodied in physical pain?

This time the pain and limited movement lasted two full days and nights. Sleep was torture and pickleball out of the question (a monumental travesty in itself). In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I tried meditating – in child’s pose. To anyone watching, it would have looked like downward dog on my knees. In the midst of my agony I remembered that this same thing had happened the last two times I was sick with a respiratory infection. It was a head cold for god’s sake! So why did my back, hips, and IT Bands feel like they had been set ablaze?! If the pain had been everywhere, I would have chalked it up to body aches. But it wasn’t.

Why does my back hurt when I have a cold?

Google to the rescue!

Mark Zawadsky, MD, and orthopedic surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC., ‘When you’re sick with the cold and flu, stress hormones can potentiate the feeling of pain.’ In other words, feeling sick can make you hyper-attuned to other aches and pains you might otherwise shrug off.

But there’s more.

‘When you have a cold, the body makes pyrogens, a byproduct of cell breakdown,’ says John Stamatos, MD, director of interventional pain management at Syosset Hospital in Syosset, New York. ‘While these pyrogens create fevers and help your body fight infection, they’re also toxic to the body and contribute to that all-around achy feeling you get when you’re sick.’ That’s because pyrogens tend to gather around nerves that transmit pain, which can heighten those nerves’ ability to transmit the pain. So if you’re already prone to an achy back, having a cold can worsen it.

Source: https://www.health.com/pain/4-weird-causes-of-back-pain

A-HA! Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing in the proverbial ‘aha moment’. But last night’s realization was more useful to me than learning how pyrogens make my back and hips hurt. Understanding that these little demons chemicals were exposing areas of chronic inflammation turned a light on for me. Dr. Joe Dispenza, Mingtong Gu, and many other alternative health practitioners have taught me that chronic inflammation leads to serious illness and disease. That is not something I am willing to sit still and wait for. Add to that the persistent presence of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (since 2003) and I am looking at a bleak future physically, unless I decide to do something about it.

Now I have to back track just a bit. I have actually been dealing with some sort of back pain, somewhere in my back, since the 1990’s. Once while water skiing, I threw my lower back out so badly that I was forced to walk bent over at a 90 degree angle until the chiropractor could right the wrong. The worst bout by far ran from mid-February to mid-March of 2016. It began the day I contacted a lawyer to file for divorce. Nothing physical had triggered that particular attack. It was all emotional, and it lasted longer than any other flare-up before or since (imagine a full month of not being able to tie your shoes, sit in a chair, lie down, or stand comfortably). Over time, I have learned to mostly block the pain from my awareness. Don’t get me wrong, I often wake up too stiff to bend over. But in light of what the pyrogens taught me, perhaps that is a good thing.

After the attack in 2016, I began looking at my back pain with an eye to find the emotional energetic source of it rather than the physical one. My metaphysical friends know that all disease begins in the energy body where the chakras are housed, and that the main trigger for every disease is stress, be it emotional (like traffic or loss), or physical (GMO’s, food allergies, or a string of infections). Each of the seven main chakras is connected to an area of the body and corresponds to emotions based on our beliefs. (Never before has Rob Bell’s teaching “Everything is Spiritual” meant so much to me.)

What I am dealing with is primarily a root or base chakra issue. The lowest chakra is housed around the sacrum and develops over the first seven years of early childhood. It relates to our family of origin and ancestry, and determines our overall feeling of well being, support, and security in the physical world.

According to brain wave studies, the first seven years of a child’s life are spent entirely in a Delta (ages 0-2) and then Theta (ages 2-7) state. Theta is called the dream state (REM) and is the realm of the subconscious mind. The child’s psyche has not yet developed to include rational thought, so he or she simply absorbs everything from the environment, without discrimination or judgement. The development of rational thought (the ability to differentiate right from wrong, good from bad, or even the delineation of self from others) continues until age 14 – a full 7 years! So whatever happens to the child in the years leading up to age 7 cannot be evaluated as good, bad, or indifferent during that time. It is all simply accepted and absorbed into the subconscious mind, which then forms the programs that run for the rest of his or her days.

Here’s an interesting stat: 95% of your life as an adult is lived out of your subconscious mind. In other words, your day-in and day-out life is based on the programs that were placed in your psyche by other people (your parents, siblings, teachers, and caregivers) before you turned 7! So the next time you do or say something that your rational thinking mind did not intend, you will know why.

I cannot help but think of Paul’s lament in Romans.

15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the [rational mind’s intention] is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; but [another power] within me.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love [my good intentions] with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.

Romans chapter 7

What Paul called ‘sin’ we now know are the subconscious programs running the show of our lives. Here is where the demarcation between I and me truly exists. Only 5% of your life is run by that rational thinker inside your head. It has a slower processor than the subconscious and way less power and influence over you. (For more information, click here.)

If all of this is true, then what can be done to change the programs? How can we reverse the chronic issues and behaviors (even illnesses) stemming from something we were given basically a lifetime ago? So glad you asked! The programs of the subconscious mind can be rewritten in three basic ways.

  1. Will Power. We all know the chain smoker who finally kicked the habit through self-denial and behavior replacement. It can be done, but it can also take a long time. And it’s hard.
  2. Reaction to a Prognosis. This is often a faster process, but the results may not be as positive if the disease has gone too far before the behavior change can take effect. Dr. Joe often asks, “Why wait until you are in crisis to change? Why not make the choice now?”
  3. Hypnosis/Subliminal Affirmations. This is the fastest track to altering the programs of the subconscious mind. I like to call it ‘hacking’. To hack your subconscious requires reentering the Theta brainwave state, which, as it happens, you do twice every day.

This chart shows the various brain wave states of a normal adult:

Note that the Theta state (the same state you spent your early years in) can be reached through meditation, but you also pass through it every night while falling asleep and every morning while waking up. These are the key times to feed your brain information that can alter the preprogrammed behaviors in your body. I have been meditating for about four years, but only began using subliminal hypnosis about 4 months ago. Yet I still have an overabundance of thyroid antibodies and chronic back pain of some sort. What’s a girl to do?

The first thing for me was to decide that enough was enough. It is time I discover and deal with the subconscious beliefs that have been holding me captive both physically and emotionally. Clearly the meditations and QiGong exercises are taking too long – or worse, not actually reaching my subconscious mind at all!

Sometime last night I ran into information on Emily A. Francis.

Emily, the author of the book The Body Heals Itself, has a Master of Science in Physical Education with a Concentration in Human Performance and a BS in Exercise Science and Wellness with a minor in nutrition from Jacksonville State University. In 2004 Emily graduated from the Atlanta School of Massage in Clinical and Neuromuscular therapy. Immediately after, she went on to study and complete the Dr. Vodder School International for Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Combined Decongestive Therapy (graduating in 2005 and completing recertifications with the school every 3 years since). Over the years since massage school Emily has taken courses in advanced TMJ dysfunction, MLD/CDT recertifications and has become a Certified Pediatric Therapist. She holds a gold medal in the US Open in Tai Chi Form and many more credentials

You can find out more about Emily on her site, or better yet, check out this interview!

I am so ready to move past this challenge in my life, and have decided to roll the dice and place my energetic block in Emily’s hands. Emily works with a local naturopath specializing in NAET and kinesiology. Dr. Tom Dill helps Emily point her therapy in the right direction. My appointment is not until mid-July, so until then, I will do what the meditation I found last night encouraged: Breathe in acceptance of this present moment and all of its circumstances, relax into the experience, then breathe out, letting go with gratitude for what the pain is teaching me about myself. It is time to face and embrace my shadow.

As always, thanks for reading.

Namaste,

C

P.S. I will be blogging about my experience with these two practitioners, so stay tuned!

The Art of Finding a Soul

The pleasant female voice on the radio described the composer as a Renaissance Man. She elaborated with the words “musician, writer, and painter, among other things”. I couldn’t help but think, That sounds like me!

A whirlwind of music blew through the first half of my life. As a teenager, I stood on my bed belting “I am Woman” out of the open windows, to the chagrin of my neighbors; my senior year in college, I performed a vocal recital in four different languages, none of them English; and for 25 years I led a congregation of worshipers behind a guitar and sometimes a conductor’s wand. Today the only exercise my vocal cords will get is either in what I like to call ‘car karaoke’ or joining my daughter and son-in-law around the family upright. Here is a humorous sample of what I used to do.

A coffeehouse in Johnson City, TN, circa 2010. In the evenings, alcohol was served.
The drunk man dancing to and from the bar makes this piece a classic.

I am so passionate about reading that I finally created a novel of my own, and hopefully a few more to come. Over the years I have engaged in all sorts of arts and crafts, including sewing, gardening, and even putting together bird feeders using vintage dishes, wire, and beads. But the 1940’s sewing machine my mother gave me is long gone, I sold all of the bird feeders when I left my yard behind, and most of the other crafts in my life have given way to a new-found passion for acrylic paint. With four family members who are painters in their own right, I often wondered if I would ever create something of beauty on a canvas, especially after this nightmare experience I had as a child. In December of 2018, while investigating abstract art, I stumbled upon paint pouring and decided to give it a try. Interspersed in this post are some of the pieces I have made (and sold).

12X12 Acrylic on Canvas

We have all heard the saying,

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

Today as I scrolled through the Go Make Some Art! Facebook page, it occurred to me that true beauty is in the soul of the creator, kind of like the difference between the technically savvy pianist and the one who can make the instrument sing. You know what I mean. Writers whose words come to life, painters, singers, even cooks who ply their craft with such heart that those who partake of their works are moved to deep emotion. This is the connection we crave, for without it, what meaning can we give to the things we create?

There is something about working with the hands that bridges the gap between body and soul. When I plant a seed, push a needle, or tilt a canvas, my mind is forced to let go its heady thoughts and focus on that space inside me where the real life of me lies. As an outer reflection of what the inner eye sees, the visual arts demand the most of a person. But to lay anything to canvas is to subject one’s soul to the judgements of every passerby, and if the artist does not love his or her own heart well, there is the possibility of self-loathing and despair. But excusing what the hands have made diminishes the life of the soul within, even if just a little.

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the hands are the expression of it.

I commented on a post in that same forum that perhaps artists (of any kind) have a unique avenue to discovering their own worthiness. We all know the feeling of ‘not good enough’ – not smart enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, not thin enough, not, not, not… E N O U G H. But there is something healing in the physical expression of that invisible part of ourselves – at least it can be, if we will let go our judgements of good, bad, beautiful, ugly, worthy, unworthy. Perhaps all that has ever been necessary is connection – the commitment to transform the invisible into something tangible.

Last week my daughter gave me permission to go to India – or anywhere else in the world – if I ever felt the need to ‘find myself.’ As much as I appreciate the freedom she afforded me, the idea makes me laugh! I have learned the hard way that wherever you go, there you are.

Galaxy Rising
9X20 Acrylic on Canvas
$100 plus shipping

As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.

Proverbs 23:7

If you lose touch with yourself, a new address will not suffice to find you. Truly nothing outside of you has the power to discover the you that exists in that mysterious unknown of the heart, where no tangible road goes – except the one that travels outward.

Mystic Garden Spray
8X10 Acrylic on Canvas

Creating a work of art requires connecting with that invisible part. If the artist succeeds in ignoring the critical mind, a true understanding of the self emerges. With understanding comes a healing of the breach. All that is needed is acceptance. When we know who we are and learn to love what we have come to know, then not only can nothing outside of us discover us, but nothing outside of us can ever judge or harm us again.

Today, may you be inspired to create.* Go make some art! ~ and discover parts of you that up until now, you never knew existed. In the making, in the doing, in the expressing, and in the seeing, be kind to yourself, and may that kindness be your road to wholeness. Remember that you are a soul on a journey of self-discovery. A journey that never ends.

Namaste, and thank you for reading.

~C

*If you or someone you know in the Woodbridge, VA area would be interested in exploring using intuition to create an abstract acrylic pour, please contact Cindy at ripplesofinsight@gmail.com to book a class.

Classes offered for donations, max 2 people per class. After delving within, each person will create on a canvas of their choice: 5X7 to 16×20. Paint, pouring medium, canvas, tools and a spot of tea, coffee, or wine are included. Pours take 3 weeks to cure before adding a gloss finish. When your masterpiece is complete, I will contact you to arrange for pickup.

The Wild Atlantic Way, Part I

Early in the morning on day five I left my AirBnB to drive north through the Gap of Dunloe. “You’ll see the view if you go that way,” my host had advised. She was right. Winding roads led up and down through the hills in what seemed a haphazard fashion. The way the road rose to a peak in the center had me guessing that a ‘gap’ in Ireland is equivalent to a ‘pass’ in America. The beauty found in every direction was well worth the hairpin turns I endured, and the occasional hiker or horse-drawn carriage made the drive even more interesting.

I arrived at Killarney National Park sometime around ten o’clock then spent the next five or so hours walking down long wooded pathways. On either side of me, a forest of trees surrounded by rolling knolls covered in alternating carpets of springy moss and bright green ferns spread out as far as my eye could see.

As I crossed a sturdy stone bridge, I came upon a small café. The usual hot tea and coffee were served along with baked goods, ice cream, and a few sandwich choices. It had not begun to rain in earnest yet, and the outdoor seating was full, so I opted to eat my granola bar while strolling along the banks of a nearby stream. Early on, the paths through the park were pretty well deserted, but as I neared Torc Falls, I found myself hard-pressed to get a shot of the landscape without a tourist blocking the way. The Falls themselves were less than spectacular, but I was glad I had gone the extra mile to see them.

(Clicking on individual photos will enlarge them.)

Late in the day, I wandered into an adjacent nature preserve. There I came upon a large buck, grazing. I was not game to get too close and had to settle for this blurry shot. Later I learned that these animals are practically tame.

I passed by Muckross house on my way out but was too weary to spend much time in the spectacular gardens surrounding it. I was sorry I had missed my chance to walk amongst the colorful roses, in particular, but the garden was very crowded, and I no longer had the energy to photograph anything of consequence.

Moll’s Gap took me back to Kenmare where I shared a high-top table with a pair of newlyweds from Philadelphia. Funnily enough, the young American groom’s name was Hamish. Over drinks and potato & leek soup, we listened to a lone Irish singer in the crowded Wander Inn. Turns out that one family owns all of the eating establishments in Kenmare (or so I was told). I never found tastier food anywhere.

Day six dawned sunny and cool, perfect weather for my trip around the Ring of Kerry. Richie, my AirBnB host, urged me not to backtrack into town, but I was determined to see the Kenmare Stone Circle. Unable to fully explain my desire to visit the ancient site (even to myself), I simply nodded, leaving him none-the-wiser to my silent rebellion against the sound advice.

As I had hoped, the circle and its surrounds were deserted and a palpable hush hung over the sacred grounds. I avoided crossing into the middle of the ring and instead stepped slowly, even softly, around the perimeter. I felt an odd affinity for the place, as if I had been there before. Could it be possible that an earlier version of me lay buried beneath one of the stones? A chill went up my spine as I stood there in the stillness. My first week in Ireland had taught me that anything was possible.

Two wishing trees stood at one end of the circle, their limbs filled with pieces of paper tied on with colorful string. Many of the prayers, wishes, and even confessions were illegible due to inclement weather and time. I took a moment to breathe in the stillness before finally heading back to my car. The stop made for a peaceful beginning to what would become the most harrowing day of my journey.

Next up, Part II, coming soon:

The Ring of Kerry, Dingle, and Ballaghbeama Gap

The Richness of Ireland’s Southern Coast

County Cork: Cobh, and Kinsale

Day 3 dawned bright and clear. I ate an early breakfast of homemade brown bread and hot tea with Shirley, my AirBnB host, before heading west into County Cork. It wasn’t long before I understood where the money is in Southern Ireland. Wide lined roads, large homes, and modern cathedrals stand out in my memory. When I glimpsed the seaside towns of County Cork, I first began to think that I could happily call Ireland home.

An hour or so in, I followed a left-hand turn sign promising “scenic views” then spent the morning on backroads wending through Ringville and Ardmore. I could not resist making frequent stops to gaze at the lush fields and coastal bays. 

Yes, the fields are really that green and the water that blue.

This leg of the drive offered some of the prettiest scenery, for me even rivaling the Cliffs of Moher. 

*Click on a photo to enlarge it and eliminate the caption.

I skipped Cork in favor of quaint but tourist-ridden Cobh (pronounced “cove”), but just missed the day’s final tour of Spike Island. I did manage to snap a quick shot of an impressive church.

I have never been a fan of touristy places so I made another unplanned detour (thanks to Trip Advisor) and enjoyed late afternoon solitude amidst the vibrant colors of Fota Arboretum & Gardens.

Bright green moss grows everywhere in Ireland. No wonder fairies and gnomes love it here!

A must for tree and plant lovers, this garden situated on Fota Island on the coast close to Cork city, is home to one of the most important collections of trees and shrubs in the British Isles. Many would not grow elsewhere in Ireland, but thrive here thanks to the micro climate created by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. In fact that is how Fota got its name – it is derived from fód te, meaning warm soil. The arboretum was established in the 1840s, and many of the trees were collected on expeditions to South America, Japan and China. It’s not just trees though. In the Victorian Fernery you can see Tasmanian tree ferns planted over120 years ago … and the beautifully restored Orangery is a perfect home for citrus plants and a magnificent Canary Islands Date Palm.

DoChara Insider Guide to Ireland

Very near sunset I arrived in Kinsale, just in time to catch these gems:

Day 4 began with a sun gazing session – the first I’ve had in some months. My plan was to follow the Wild Atlantic Way (N71) until I reached Glengarriff, where I wanted to do some sightseeing and perhaps even hike in the local Nature Reserve. I planned then to turn left onto the Beara Peninsula with a hope to cross the Healy Pass at sunset. But after seeing Kinsale the evening before, I could not resist returning there that morning. I met Don Herlihy and about eight other travelers at 9:15 A.M. in front of the Tourist Information office. The weather was partly cloudy with sprinkles, but the rain did not diminish our enjoyment of Don & Barry’s renowned 90-minute stroll of Kinsale. Although completely spontaneous, the €8 tour turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. 

Kinsale, from the Irish, Ceann tSaile, meaning Head of the Sea is a medieval fishing port renowned in Ireland for its fine food to this day. Because of its geographic location, Kinsale played an important role in both world exploration and Ireland’s military defense. The bulk of the town now sits on land reclaimed from the sea. It rises up in distinct tiers from the harbor to the radio tower in the background of the photo below. The tower marks the original water line.

A narrow, winding street about 2 blocks above the harbor. The left side of the road still bears the natural curve of the shoreline it once was.

After the tour, I stopped in at the Lemon Leaf Cafe for brunch. An excellent choice (thanks, Trip Advisor)! There I met a couple from Minneapolis. Being Americans meant that I had to explain the title of my book – the people of Ireland knew what Tir Na Nog referenced. Yes, I shamelessly promoted my novel everywhere I went, and grinned with delight when I saw understanding dawn in a pair of Irish eyes. I may be half Lebanese, but the Irish get me.

I followed the coast for the remainder of the afternoon but saw little to cause me to stop. After a disappointing side-trip to Baltimore, I was delighted to find the little town of Bantry. The graveyard below sits on a hill overlooking the harbor.

In Glengarriff I had just enough time to step into Quill’s Woolen Market. My allergy to wool and the lateness of the hour pushed me back out the door quicker than I would have liked. I was now fully committed to my quest to see the Healy Pass before darkness overtook me.

More amazing coastline along the Beara Peninsula.

Though overcast, the rain held off. Still, the clouds offered a forbidding view of the pass up ahead.

Colorful sheep dotted the steep hills to either side of the road that carried me upwards. Its switchback turns would have been more harrowing to drive, were it not for my solitude. 

I arrived in Kenmare sometime around 6 P.M. My AirBnB hosts had advised me to choose someplace there to eat and Foley’s Pub served up the best mussels I have ever had. That night would mark my first time driving in the dark to find my AirBnB. The long country road to Richie and Kathleen’s house was daunting, but I found my way (thanks to *Google maps) without mishap. Richie welcomed me into his home with open arms and after a good night’s sleep, I was ready for the next day’s excursions.

*Did you know that you can download large areas of the map to use when you have no cell service? That feature came in quite helpful throughout my trip.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you’ll stay tuned as my Great Irish Adventure continues.

The Teacher in Me

My friend Linda over at Litebeing Chronicles posted a Divine Mission-Possible challenge this month. Here are her instructions:

1 – Write about your spiritual mission here on Gaia. Are you a lightworker, Starseed, forerunner, Indigo, or none of the above? What have you incarnated to do or to be? Describe your mission and your journey to achieve it. Are you delighted to be here? There is no correct answer, by the way. Make it your own.

It is my hope that this blog will inspire each of my readers to consider their own life purpose. Surely it is no accident that we have all come together in this time and space, right here, right now. Rachel, I am inviting you to rise to the Challenge. Your life is such an inspiration to me and I believe an explanation of what you see as your role in this life would spur many others on as well. ❤ 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

As a child, I remember having a toy classroom: several little desks glued to the top of a sturdy piece of wood with a larger desk at one end facing the others. The teacher and students were bears, with the teacher being the largest. I am not sure if there ever was a little bear for every seat, but I recall spending hours with a friend of mine, taking turns at teacher and student. I definitely enjoyed playing teacher best.

Image result for teddy bear classroom toy

It was not long before I actually started teaching. One summer in high school, my job was to visit the various parks around town to offer free tennis instruction to the kids. In college I led the first of many Bible studies with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. Unsure of my ability to ‘make it big’ as a soloist, I earned my BS in Music Education, and although six months of student teaching would be the only time I set foot in an actual classroom, I spent the rest of my life teaching others in some capacity. As a church choir director/band leader, I found many opportunities to teach music theory or vocal skills. I spent 15 years home schooling my three children. Now I blog, answer questions on Quora and write books.

In the late 90’s I ran into an interesting set of education material called “Lifetime of Learning.” The author intended to convince any reader of the evils of public school and the benefits of something she called ‘delight directed learning.’ Her theory was that the modern idea of classroom-bound education (imparting endless facts that have little to do with a student’s real life experience) was sure to drive the inborn desire to learn from anyone. I do not completely agree with her premise, but I do believe she was spot on when it came to what ought to be the impetus for any means of education: the desire for knowledge. To be a good teacher, one must first be an excellent student, and nothing delights me more than discovering new information in an area of interest to me (thus my current YouTube addiction).

The truth is, I can’t not teach. In fact, I’ve lost some potential friends over it. Perhaps another trick to teaching is knowing your audience. I have come to understand the phrase “words don’t teach, life experience teaches,” yet here I am, using a bunch of too many words specifically for the purpose of teaching! Maybe words don’t teach, but when a person has been through enough life experience, certain words will resonate. They will begin to make sense and carry the power of influence. Isn’t that the true mission of a teacher – to influence others in some way?

Today I would call myself a recovering Evangelical. I spent over 30 years tied to a religion whose beliefs I now consider silly at best, harmful at worst. During that time, like any dutiful disciple, I taught others that this religion was THE Truth and contained the answer to every question. I believed in it (or most of it) with my whole heart, only to later reject almost everything about it. Looking back, I could feel bad about how many people I potentially offended or even harmed in my dogmatic approach to the subject matter, except that I know a few things now about life that I did not understand then.

Like that evolution is a thing.

Related image
Photo source: https://edu.glogster.com/glog/evolution-of-dolphins/1jpbvjm0fan

No, not Evolution like fish turning into people (which might be a thing – don’t know and don’t care), but the evolution of thought through the course of life experience. I understand now that this life is a journey, and that along that journey people change – everything from how much money is in their bank account to what they believe. I also get now that we can only give out of the well-spring we are dipping from. Christianity was all that I knew – until I blew the walls down and looked around. In that process I learned what I consider the most important lesson for any teacher: it is okay – no, imperative to be okay with – not knowing. Not knowing everything, that is. I can still feel the freedom of finally being able to say, “I don’t know.” Take it from me, having to know the answer to everything is exhausting.

There is a piece of wood paneling running between the ceiling and the top of the closet in my new bedroom. My first inclination when I saw it was to paint the phrase “Temet Nosce” (Know Thyself) across the panel. I know myself to be a lightworker – one who has come to shine in the dark places, be it a person’s soul or the world at large. One of my favorite cards in the Tarot is the Hermit. This figure portrays a solitary researcher seeking knowledge (often from within), as indicated by the lantern he carries. But the light is not only there to illuminate his own path, it is for others as well. Anywhere that his light travels, the darkness of ignorance is dispelled. That is my goal, to bring the light of knowledge to everyone I come into contact with, be they a student of pickleball or metaphysics. Will my endeavors always be successful? It depends on the audience. But as long as I keep learning, my mission will always be possible.

In answer to Linda’s final question, “Are you delighted to be here?” Yes! There is nothing I love more than learning and then spreading the word to others. And since there is SO much that I don’t yet know, I will give you some advice I once heard: “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.” In other words, take what resonates and discard the rest. Maybe ‘the rest’ was wrong or maybe it was given to you outside of the context of your experience so it just won’t resonate. Remember, no one has the answer to everything, and in the end, life is the best teacher. So live it, and learn from it.

What about you? There are still a couple of weeks left in Linda’s blog challenge. Would you be game to write something about your Divine Mission? Reach out to Linda using the link above. You can post a comment there indicating your willingness to participate.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

Namaste,

~C

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

 

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.