The Road to Resilience

Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds. Trauma cannot always be conquered, fixed, or resolved, but it can be heard, held and loved.

Gabor Maté, The Wisdom of Trauma

The road less traveled…

My road to resilience has been a long one, and still going. At times the smell of burnt rubber from my spinning wheels made me wonder if I had ever gained any ground, or if I dared hope I would one day arrive at wholeness. In those times it helped me to remember that the universe moves in circular motion – that our very hearts beat to the rhythm of daily, monthly, and yearly seasons and cycles. A deepening spiral into the depths of ourselves more accurately reflects life on earth than the idea of a direct route to any sort of destination or end point, and the process of awakening inside 3-D reality has convinced me that growing into the fullness of our humanity may in fact take several lifetimes – both collectively and individually.

Looking back at my movement towards resilience, I would have to say that (in this lifetime, at least) my journey began at age 13 – the year I started thinking seriously about ending my life. This suicidal ideation would continue throughout my teens, and even into my mid-twenties, although the relationship I established with the god of the Bible prevented me from carrying out the deed.

So What is Resilience?

re·sil·ience/rəˈzilyəns/noun

  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
  2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

It used to astound me how two people could have virtually the same experience and come away with completely different reactions. My family of origin illustrates this well, actually. Four children raised by the same parents, all assigning their own personal meanings to their childhood. This phenomena makes sense when you understand that the nature of an event itself neither supports nor negates the definition of trauma; rather the subjective experience of the one affected by the event defines that event as traumatic or not.

Perception really is everything.

In college, one particular friendship made all the difference in my perception of the world and my place in it. A late-night conversation in her car stands out in my mind to this day, and while it may not have meant all that much to her, I believe that it literally saved me at the time. My friend’s willingness to not only see through my meticulously crafted walls, but also dare to find a way inside them introduced me to a new resource: vulnerability. To this day I do not do vulnerability particularly well, but she showed me that as painful as it can be to face and reveal the darkness inside, vulnerability also has the power to strengthen, liberate, and connect us together.

To me, resilience means having access to an abundance of resources (inside and out) that can aid in navigating the difficult storms of life, but despite the lesson(s) my college friend taught me, I managed to recreate the pain of my childhood in my marriage. When you are at the mercy whim of a person with narcissistic tendencies, vulnerability seemed like an UNuseful tool, so out the window that went.

I remember in my thirties coming to the stunning realization that amidst the vast number of emotional tools available, I had truly developed only one: anger. For most of my life, anger was my go-to problem solver. Anger helped me survive. At first I kept it in the dark. My childhood taught me in thousands of ways that to reveal a negative feeling about anything led to vilification through guilt and shame. Happy was the order of the day. Every. Single. Damn. Day. Whether I felt happy or not. I learned to build thick walls, and at the same time, stuff my anger deeper and deeper down, making the eventual explosions that much more painful for me and those around me. Much later I learned that anger turned inward often manifests as depression. Despite my moody broody Pisces nature, I never did depression any better than I had vulnerability.

Instead, my body manifested an autoimmune disease.

The Body Keeps the Score

Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

In 2004, during a routine physical, my doctor discovered nodules in the right side of my thyroid. An ultrasound and eventual lab work dismissed cancer but revealed extremely high numbers of antibodies. My anger-turned-inward had literally caused my body to begin attacking itself. Considering how much difficulty I had in expressing my feelings (remember, crap at vulnerability), it is no wonder that my immune disorder of ‘choice’ targeted my throat, my voice, my self-expression. When the body begins to manifest disease, it’s time to face the hard truths about the source(s) of chronic illness.

Owning up to trauma and its devastating effects does not necessitate blame. Trauma is my response to an event, so facing it makes me response-able, as Gabor Maté puts it.

Taking responsibility requires self-awareness and a willingness to either walk away from toxic relationships or develop the self-care tools necessary to diligently acknowledge, own, and heal our own trigger points. Today my toolbox holds way more than anger inside, although I came to learn that anger properly expressed proves quite useful at times. When we allow our emotions to teach and inform us, true healing and incredible growth can occur, but –

You must feel it to heal it.

Michelle D’Avella

So many events in my life contributed to the building of my resilience toolbox that it would take a memoir or three to adequately talk about them all. Some that stand out in my memory:

I daresay that every experience in life potentially adds to our resiliency toolbox, depending on our perception and level of awareness. The big ones stand out, but the little ones carry weight too. And my teachers – WOW!! Dr. Joe Dispenza, Abraham Hicks, Alan Watts, Bruce Lipton, Michelle D’Avella, Niraj Naik, Marshall Rosenberg, Daniel Quinn, Patrick McKeown, Gabor Maté, Peter Levine, and so many more have expanded my toolbox in ways that I find hard to express. These days Byron Katie’s idea of approaching thoughts with curiosity has become a helpful point of focus for me.

What about you?

  • What life experiences have helped build your resiliency toolbox?
  • What teachers/ideas influence and inform your growth towards resiliency?
  • What does your practice of self-care look like and what place does it have in your toolbox?

For me, resilience must offer more than the ability to recover from trauma – it also must give me the strength to walk in love day-to-day through a world that at times feels like a mass of painful meaningless chaos.

May you develop within yourself a resilience powerful enough to shine the light of joy into every moment, every trauma, every sorrow, every fear, and become a beacon of gratitude strong enough to anchor you into an inner knowing that the source of this universe truly is pure positive energy love.

Thanks so much for reading!

Namaste,

~Cindy

Happiness is an Inside Job

2020 was a strange one, eh? Difficult for some. Devastating for others. A year filled with pretty much everything. The near impeachment of a President, peaceful (and some not so peaceful) protests, the death of a Chief Justice, life-threatening storms, fires, and other natural disasters, an election filled with more political shenanigans than I could ever imagine (does anyone remember the days when we knew who was President close to 24-hrs. after the polls opened?? 🙋🏻‍♀️), oh yeah, did I forget to mention the global pandemic?

That's what I'd call the kitchen sink!

Certainly no one’s life went to plan in 2020. I can hardly believe that at this time last year I was enjoying frigid temps in sunny Florida, without a care in the world. Who knew that a mere 60 days later the country would be in lockdown, the least of my worries would be the cold weather in FL, and I would dedicate 77 straight days to caring for my parents, sans pickleball? Despite steering clear of mainstream media, unfollowing every annoying (read: politically obsessed) friend in my Facebook newsfeed, and the help returning in June to lessen the load, by December my exhaustion was complete. In utter disgust, on New Year’s Eve, I deactivated my Facebook account and this time I am not looking back. Gone are the inane, endless debates about whether or not a mask is effective (wait, is Covid-19 even real?!? 🤦🏻‍♀️). No more memes stating the obvious fact that Donald Trump will go down in history as the greatest embarrassment the United States has ever had for a President. And on January 6, I managed to wiggle back out of my hometown and into the open arms of my grandchildren. Whew!

Yeah, 2020 was hard on all of us, and some definitely more than me. RIP 🥀 Cousin John. Still, when December came, every time I heard something along the lines of, “Thank the stars 2020 is gone! It was horrible! I can’t wait for 2021 to get here!!

In 2021 (when the virus is contained, a vaccine is found, and the madman ousted) I can finally be happy again!!”

More times than I can count I had to bite back my reply:

If you did not find a way to be happy in 2020, rest assured that happiness will not find you in 2021.

Packing for move number 31 (or is it 34? clearly I’ve lost count), I was reminded that a change in location had never markedly improved my happiness factor. If anyone knew that, it was me. As far back as 1991 I learned (the hard way) that ‘wherever you go, there you are.’ Turns out time is the same (read whenever in place of wherever). In truth, despite the global difficulties we all waded through last year, I managed to accumulate many beautiful amazing memories, gained a treasure-trove of relationships, achieved personal milestones, developed new skills, read life-changing books, learned all sorts of useful things, had fun, and discovered ways to take care of and appreciate myself and others on a whole new level.

As I look back on my life, it occurs to me that there have been even harder years in the past. I remember standing in my kitchen in 2014, having just ‘celebrated’ my first birthday without my sister, begging my was-band to let me join him for counseling in a last-ditch attempt to save a marriage that had died many years earlier; and when I asked my daughter if she knew the last time I had been happy, she answered without missing a beat: “Hawaii,” she said. Too bad I hadn’t lived in Hawaii since 2005!

Happiness is a fickle companion when we allow circumstances to dictate it.

I spent oh so many years doing that! Enough to teach me that happiness is a state of mind, one that I can find in the blink of an eye – completely apart from any outer circumstance.

Did you know that you become what you practice? There is an old saying among caregivers of the elderly:

When you grow old, you just become more.

More of what you were when you were young(er). I used to think it was due to the loss of impulse control. But having become more intimately acquainted with the elderly, I now believe it is simply a matter of habit.

They say that workers in nursing homes can tell the angry from the forbearing and the kind from the nasty in the first few minutes they spend with a resident. It is as if what we choose moment by moment when we are young eventually cements into a personality – a fixed way of being that is not easily altered. With age, some not only lose the desire or capacity to change, they become inured to their bad behavior altogether – or worse, they feel entitled to it.

AT MY AGE I CAN SAY WHATEVER THE EFF I WANT I'M A CRAZY OLD LADY - Keep  Calm and Posters Generator, Maker For Free - KeepCalmAndPosters.com

Having experienced first-hand the end result of people committed to a life of complaining and otherwise negative thoughts/behaviors – people who cannot enjoy the good in life without finding something to complain about – I cannot see a downside to seeking the kind of happiness that is not blown about by every wind of circumstance.

Sometime in late summer or very early fall of 2020 I asked a family member a question that I hope I never forget. They had spent several minutes lamenting how miserable Donald Trump had made their life, how unhappy they were because he was President, and how Trump had basically ruined their life. I had been listening to this diatribe in one form or another for close to a year at that point, and just couldn’t take it anymore without voicing the question that bubbled up inside me every time anyone of privilege complained about their quality of life under the regime of Donald Trump:

Give me one example of how your personal everyday life has been affected (for good or ill) since the day that he took office almost 4 years ago … … …

IF you never watched the news.

Perception really is everything. And perception is dictated by one thing and one thing only: Focus. Keep your attention on what is bad in the world and you will feel bad. Focus on what is good in the world and you will feel good. But when we realize that good, bad, and even great have always been and always will be present around us, maybe then we will finally turn inside to discover the divine spark that is able to bring forth the joy of being alive despite any outside circumstance. That, my friends, will be a great awakening. And it is one that each of us can choose to have at any point in time.

I will not look for happiness in 2021. Instead, I will focus my gaze on the one place that happiness is always available to me – inside my heart. Nothing can shake it loose – except my willingness to place my attention elsewhere.

Happiness is right here, right now. It is within me and within you. Do you have the courage to go within to find it? I warn you, it will demand that you drop everything else. The happiness inside will require you to let go of all the stories you tell about your past, and you will have to release all of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how tos’ of your future. The past is a murky, half-remembered thing and the future does not – will not ever in fact – exist, apart from your dream of it. You and me, right here, right now. I choose to celebrate that.

Please don’t go looking for happiness in 2021. It is not there. Happiness is within you. All it will take to find it is a little bit of focus.

Much love, much light,

~C

Writing in the Context

This post was inspired by a friend’s comment on the difficulty of clear communication in relationships between men and women.

When you figure that out write it down,

he said.

As if relationship itself is a concept, an abstract idea easily understood once pinned (or penned) down. But relationships – like words – require context, and that context is us. You. Me. Complex humans who cannot come to any word without interpretation specific to you, and to me.

Where ne’er the twain shall meet?

I laughed when you said, “Write it down.”

You have no idea. Behind countless scrawled journals and screens I hide, safe to distill my thoughts into carefully crafted scripts. My words form a wall, my own personal fortress – the one place I can be truly me, whether anyone else understands who sits behind it or not. 

With you I force myself to speak, an attempt to be done with hiding. This time I will see, hear, know what comes of my words in the context of us. The relationship that cannot bear the sound of them is a mirage, an oasis shimmering in the distance with only the empty promise of connection.

words too heavy
float like boulders in my mind
i fear the weight of their fall 
on ears too fragile

Most often the words will not come. When they do, the anticipation of possible outcomes stop them in my throat. I watch you do it too, ill-prepared for the vulnerability that revelation invites.

Peter Pan Diamond Edition - Peter's Shadow Clip - YouTube
Peter tries to catch his shadow.

But what if the fear is a lie, the mere shadow of a monster cast by our own egos upon that flat featureless expanse of time we see stretched out before us? Unlike Pan, we reject it, content to let it drag along behind, weighing us down with the burden of truths we are unwilling to face in the glaring light of context.

As always, thanks for reading.

~ Cindy

Paint Pours from Early 2020

I’ve been busy! Between pickleball sessions, a lot of paint has been wandering around on canvas. Check out my most recent creations below and let me know what you think.

Click here to take a look at some of my other work.

As always, thanks for reading!

Namaste,

~C

Another Year … Another Decade

Hard to believe that it’s New Year’s Eve once again. It seems like yesterday I was hanging out with my grandchildren on this night last year, reminiscing about Ireland and contemplating what I thought might be one of my toughest years yet. Turns out that 2019 was kinder and gentler than I had imagined, but not without its challenges. It was a personal 9 year, after all.

Of course, my life for the past 30 years could be most easily characterized by the words ‘let go’ and this last decade was no different. Since 2009 I moved 6 times, started a blog, pulled off a wedding and a divorce, buried a sister, witnessed 3 grandchildren come into the world, published a novel, began a new craft, found a new sport, became a Tarot reader, and spent 11 glorious days in Ireland. All in all, 2019 was a much tamer beast than expected with only 2 job changes and one move – practically dull! 😉

Perhaps it’s me. Hopefully 4-1/2 years of meditation begins to count for something. Living a more minimalist lifestyle helps. If I had not become a paint pouring addict aficionado, everything I own can now fit into one bedroom. But I am not entirely sure how moving back into my home of origin fits into the theme of letting go. The end of a 9 year is also the beginning of a 1 year – a whole new journey of self-discovery. This feels like the old, not the new – like moving backwards, not leaving the past behind to move forwards. And yet … something about being here now is so completely different than before, it could almost be called ‘new.’ Besides, my personal 1 year does not actually begin until my 2020 birthday so, I still have some time.

To say I am looking forward to the coming year would be an understatement, truth be told. I am very excited about what looms down the pike for me. It begins with the cherished time I have now to spend with my parents. We celebrated my mother’s 90th birthday this month and will mark my father’s 92nd year this coming March. I have multiple books begging to be read and at least two asking to be written; my vision for a place to pour paint and read Tarot is coming into focus; I have plans to hike the Northern coast of Ireland and search out my Scottish origins; and there are new relationships waiting around every corner. I expect my next decade to be just as full or fuller than the last!

Now it’s your turn. What words would you use to describe your last decade? 2019? What about the year(s) ahead? I hope that you are as excited as I am about the future we are making together.

If you feel so inclined, please let me know all about it in the comments. I look forward to our conversations! As always, thank you for reading.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and all-out amazing New Year!!

Namaste,

~C

True Love Is …

True love is … receiving a custom made sign commemorating key locations in my novel. 😲 I cannot think of a more creative and thoughtful gift than this!

Click the picture to visit Houser House Creations, home of Dragyn’s Fyre Designs.

Roxanne, you just succeeded in making the Christmas of 2019 BEYOND special and amazing and incredible and stupendous, and … I have no words. ❤️💚💜🧡💛💙

The maker of this amazing sign wants to use it to promote my book!
This is like the gift that never stops giving!!!

Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

X X X O (kisses, kisses, kisses, HUG!) Or as my sister would say, love you bunches and bunches & tons and tons!

Your bestie,

C

Blessed Yule!

A Sunday Meditation

Welcoming back the light.

Even though this is not getting out until Monday, the energies for the reading are good for 1-6 months. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21 marked the 2019 Yuletide and Winter Solstice. In an intimate celebration, a friend and I welcomed back the light of the sun. Winter has never been my favorite time of year, so thinking about longer days filled with sunshine left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. In the process of researching the various ways that Yule has been celebrated throughout history, I ran into this tree Tarot spread and decided to pull some cards for all of us in honor of the season. This is a general reading for all signs of the Zodiac.

I used my Waite-Rider-Smith Centennial Deck – a new go-to favorite of mine.
  1. Ideas/Inspiration – the 6 of Cups, nostalgia. It is no surprise that this card came up during the Christmas season. There is something about this time of year that brings up the past like no other. I am sure that many of you have spent more than a few moments this year thinking about what Christmas was like when you were growing up. This card is asking you to pay attention to those memories – to consider the dreams, visions, and ideas you had as a child. It is also time to uncover the ways you may be stuck in that past. If Christmastime was less than happy for you as a child, perhaps you can find ways to reimagine the season to bring you joy. This rewriting of the past has the power to unblock the root & sacral chakras, allowing new ideas and imagination to flow. It is a good idea to look back with gratitude and love on the people who have impacted your life to bring you where you are today. Consider how your past experiences can ground you, and draw on that energy moving forward.
  2. What is growing – the King of Pentacles, prosperity & mastery of the material world. Many of you are figuring it out & becoming the captain of your ship and the master of your domain. This could also be another person who has come into your life to bless and take care of you. It could be someone who is grounded and well-able to manage the things they value. Look to them for advice and guidance in the areas of finances, time management, or even relationships.
  3. What you give (bring to the table) – the Hanged Man, faith, patience, and a new perspective. Trust in your unique viewpoint, even though it may be different from those around you. Or maybe the cards are telling you that it is time to look at things in a different light, trusting that everything is working out for your highest good. Be willing to sacrifice your habitual ways of dealing with difficult issues as this could be what opens the doors for the new growth and change you desire. Ultimately this card is a call for patience, so work to temper your desire for immediate results.
  4. Your plans – the Hierophant, education, mentoring, and traditional ways/values. This card can also indicate a departure from tradition, which I believe may be the better interpretation in light of the Hanged Man with his ‘other’ perspective. This can also be the marriage card. Perhaps some of you are about to receive a proposal or will be tying the knot this Christmas! Whatever the circumstance, I am getting that it is time to both learn and teach. Be willing to sit at the feet of those who are ahead of you on the path and listen to their wisdom (take it in). Likewise be willing to give that knowledge away to help others along as well. It may be time to open your mind to other possibilities and beliefs.
  5. Process for bringing plans into being – Strength, facing the shadow, standing in the power of compassion, humility, and gentleness. Find the strength within to admit where you have missed the mark and do this in light of your commitment to learn, grow, and perhaps find a new way of moving forward on your path. No matter what, you got this.
  6. Be attentive to … (potential obstacle) – the 8 of Cups, new journey, leaving behind what no longer serves you. It is time to give some attention to the things from your past that are continuing to trip you up. Holding on to the emotions of the past will only hinder your progress forward. It is okay to look back (6 of Cups), but this is best done through the lens of gratitude, with a view to the lessons the past can teach. Memories can be useful teachers, but hanging on to the things that brought you pain (breeding unforgiveness and resentment) can keep you stuck in an unhappy life. You cannot change what was, and you can only move forward into all that can be by letting go of the past. Perhaps some focused journaling is in order.
  7. Your gift – what emerges (resolution/completion) – the 7 of Cups, choices. Sevens always indicate evaluation, and cups are emotions, feelings, and inspiration. This card carries with it a sense of overwhelm, but for me the message is simple: The choice is yours, you have the power to decide whether to stay stuck in the past or move forward.
  8. As clarification, I decided to pull another card. The 10 of Cups promises abundance and fulfillment in every area of life. It comes as assurance that the decision to let go and move on is a good one. Keep in mind that there is no bad choice, only what is. Stand in your power and do not fear making this choice. Your destiny awaits!

As I looked again at the spread, I was struck by a couple of things. First, the progression in the second row from the King of Pentacles, through the Hanged Man, to the Hierophant. This looks to me like movement from the material to the spiritual with a flip in perspective on the way. It is as if your ideas of what is of value are being turned on their head, and you are moving from an obsession with the things you can see, taste, hear and touch to a renewed focus on the unseen world of spirituality.

In the next row up, notice how the woman is facing left (for me, the past), the man is walking to the right (future), and the 7 of Cups hangs betwixt them. It is as if the 7 is taunting you, even daring you to make the choice – remember that no decision is a decision. Facing yourself, your shadows and weaknesses, coming to terms with your failures, is the requirement for progress forward. Once you make that choice, the journey promises to be so much sweeter than the past. I do feel there is some sorrow involved in this path, but the 10 of Cups stands as a promise that you can trust it will be worth it. It is high time to leave behind the emotions and beliefs pulling our energy away from the now! Time to throw off all that hinders our journey into the light.

It is time to choose.

The numbers (without the clarifier) add up to 8 – manifestation, power, and the energy embodied within the Strength card. You can do this. Never doubt it.

I hope this reading was helpful to you. Feel free to email me at ripplesofinsight@gmail.com with insights, questions, or anything else you would like to say. If you are interested in diving deeper on a more personal level, I offer intuitive Tarot readings in person (in the Greater Richmond, VA area) by phone, or video chat. You can email your question (and specify your preferred format) to cecetarot@yahoo.com. Payment of $40 can be made via PayPal and is completely refundable if you are in any way dissatisfied with your reading.

May this Yuletide season be bursting with love, gratitude, and peace.

Sending you much light,

C

NanoPoblano Leavings

November 30, the last day to post, read, comment, or link share for Team Tiny Peppers 2019, has arrived. Many are celebrating a great accomplishment, and well they should. I am so proud of everyone who met their writing goals this month – whatever they were!

On October 31, I intended to make the most of November – to write 10 posts, leave 10 comments, and share 10 links. While that goal was probably quite doable, the month did not exactly pan out the way I had planned. Still, I cannot view this as a failure. After all, I wrote, commented, and posted links more this month than I have in the past year. I also managed to pack up my stuff and move it to a house a few hours away, all the while continuing to teach pickleball, paint, and spend time with my amazing family! I just cannot find it in myself to feel bad about missing the mark this time.

Guilt, as a whole, lost its appeal to me years ago, when I saw it for what it was: a feeling of unworthiness masquerading as a noble emotion able to effect change. In fact, guilt and shame are the worst motivators I have ever come across. I do at times succumb to their lure, both towards myself (I must be to blame) and others (he/she/they must be to blame). But time and again I find the tactic painful and unrewarding.

Much better to finally discover that no one is to blame, that judgement itself is a construct of the ego, an outdated software program compelling me to do whatever it takes to survive. Perhaps the shame/blame game had a place in our earlier evolution when life literally depended on connection to the community. But throughout history are examples of those who understood that the shame/blame game was not the way, that judgement only ever leads to misery (for everyone involved), and that love alone signifies (Jesus, Gandhi, and other ascended masters come to mind).

In the spirit of link shares, I would like to give you a little something that has helped me begin to identify the problem of ego in my own life. I hope that it will inspire you too.

This universe began with love and the story of life must end with love as well. Sure, we may blow this world to kingdom come in an effort to keep the shame/blame game going, but I believe in a universe that will continue to expand even if earthlings do not course correct in time. We are part of the eternal Source of all that is, and there is no power able to bring about the ultimate demise of Source.

If and when this world is shattered, we will surely build another.

Until then, I choose to walk the path of love: taking care of myself, taking care of others, continuing to explore life while letting go of shame and blame. It all must start with me.

So I close November with grace – towards myself, towards you, towards all who can receive it. And I send out the message I have been hearing all year: I am enough … you are enough … we are enough.

May you come to discover the incredible freedom found outside the bounds of the shame/blame game. May you grow to know the amazing person you are and always have been. Today, apart from any perceived success or failure, may you realize your worthiness to thrive. May you come to believe, without any shadow of doubt, that you are enough!

Hope to see you in December. Much love and light.

Namaste,

~C

Thanksgiving Meditation

On Thursday this week, many families in the US will celebrate Thanksgiving. Somewhere in the cloudy memory of my younger days, I recall being taught that the holiday commemorated a camaraderie between Pilgrims and the Indigenous peoples of the land. I came to question that narrative as I grew older, and considering how we continue to mistreat and marginalize the people whose land the settlers stole, I have my doubts about any sort of harmonious relationship between the melting pot of invaders and the Indians of the Americas. Certainly if it ever existed, it was short-lived. I once heard someone say, “The winners write the history books.” That sounds about right to me. 

Yet here we find ourselves year after year, coming together around a table to indulge in the abundance of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave … well, depending on who you are. Apparently, freedom is a fluid concept that may or may not be dependent on the color of your skin. 

Which begs the question, what is freedom anyway? 

I remember a man speaking to a full auditorium about his life as a prisoner of war. I do not recall his name, which war he fought in, or what country held him. I do remember hearing him talk about the sense of freedom he experienced during that the days, months, and years spent alone at the bottom of a hole in the ground. Freedom must be more than the ability to go and do where and what you want. 

Could it be that freedom – like love, joy, and appreciation – is a state of mind? Maybe true freedom is knowing that there is no substance to the things that enamor us in this world, that what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is merely energy coalesced into different forms, enticing us to believe that something outside of ourselves owns the power to grant those higher emotions. What if true freedom is not possessing the land, having the job, getting the vacation, or the ability to eat ourselves into a turkey-induced coma? What if freedom is the understanding that no circumstance, thing, situation, person, or place outside ourselves can ever bring or take true happiness?

I cannot help but wonder if we who indulge our appetites so recklessly every fourth Thursday in November are not the real prisoners. Enslaved by the sheer hunger for more, we do not stop our indulgence on Thursday, but now carry it on through Friday – the day we try to fill a different hole in our hearts, the one reserved for more stuff.

A quick search of the origin of the term “Black Friday” yielded this little gem. It seems to me that the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday was more of a political ploy or an excuse for a couple of paid days off than an opportunity to focus on gratitude. Maybe that’s just my propensity for cynicism talking.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Thanksgiving as a rule. I am glad that our family has an excuse to get together every year around a table full of food we all helped to prepare. And I am one of the lucky ones – my family comes together often, without any excuse but our love for one another. For that I am immensely grateful. 

My heart goes out to the countless Americans who have no family with which to celebrate this or any holiday; those who are estranged from the ones they love; and those who have no means for a feast. Sad conditions indeed. Sadder still are the ones who have all of those things yet live a life enslaved to their perception of reality, complainers, unable to find joy or peace within despite their abundance without. 

The true inspirations are those who manage to find joy without any of those things. Just as a bad circumstance has no power to steal my joy, freedom, love, or gratitude (unless I let it), so abundance and good fortune lack the power to give any of them to me. 

I confess, my original plan for this post was to tell you that on Black Friday I will be moving instead of shopping, that it would mark the thirty-something time I have moved since I was 18, and that the thought of moving again makes me tired. Instead I was made to remember that everything I need already exists inside of me. To top that off, my outer world is a place of abundance, a veritable feast of loving family members, places to live, and countless wonderful things I enjoy doing! These thoughts made me realize the many ways that I allow my perceived circumstances to dictate my sense of freedom or bondage, joy or depression, love or fear. My own words have confronted my propensity to complain rather than to thank.

Today I choose to remember that freedom, joy, and gratitude are states of mind that nothing in my outer world may alter without my consent. 

May you find the joy that nothing outside of you can steal, the love of yourself that you deserve because you are worthy, and the gratitude & appreciation for the wonder of life itself. May your Thanksgiving be truly blessed – both within and without.

With a thankful heart, 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

Meditative Visions

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 the back yard. Next to my tiny 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, the sky – 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.

Samhain Meditation 2019

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 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 are being 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

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.

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.

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 atop 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 wrote a novel of my own, and should the stars align, a few more to come. Over the years I have engaged in all sorts of arts and crafts, including cross stitch, sewing, gardening, jewelry making and even putting together bird feeders using vintage dishes, wire, and beads. But the 1970’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 the nightmare experience I had at ten. 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 or given as gifts).

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 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 judging with criticism 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 all kinds) 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

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 can emerge. With understanding comes a healing of the breach – the chasm between self and other grows smaller or disappears. All that is required 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 will never end.

Namaste, and thank you for reading.

~C

Paperback Writer

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

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

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

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

You can find my book

on Amazon.com, in either Kindle or paperback.

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

As always, thanks for reading!

Namaste,

C

Making Space

painted-guitar-1087209_1920

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

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

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

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

S p  a   c    e  is being made.

Continue reading “Making Space”

4 Ways Yoga can Improve your Life

Guest Post

My daughter, Ray Lightheart, is 2018’s first guest blogger here at Ripples of Insight. Ray is a Waldorf-trained teacher and avid proponent of RIE parenting. If you’re looking for a yoga mat, Reviews.com can help you find the best one for your needs. Continue reading “4 Ways Yoga can Improve your Life”

All the Little Ways

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

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

This is my favorite example of the universe speaking to me.

Circa 1996:

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

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

He was at it again – telling me his plans for the job he had applied for a week ago. Never mind that it could take up to a year to even hear back from a church. He had no interview scheduled, did not even know if anyone would ever look at the application. Still, he had plans for the money he was going to make, for the ministry he would do. He had already mapped out where we would live! He had a plan for everything – everything except another rejection. He assured me that this church would be the one, this time it would happen. I had listened to the same speech multiple times over the previous months – many, many more if you count all the years of training. Same song, umpteen millionth verse. And like the tune, the outcome never changed. Standing there in front of that soapy water, I could not have imagined two more failed internships, bankruptcy, a three-month separation, military service and deployment, another job loss, three more years of graduate school, 12 more moves, and finally divorce were all headed my way.

Yet even back then, I had run out of words.

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

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

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

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

It’s All Right to Dream Again

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

Message in a book

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

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

Much love and light,

~ Cindy

Magnificence

Coming (back) into my own.

This is a response to Litebeing’s Magnificent Challenge posted by Ra.

magnificent-challenge-badge

I have written sparsely over the years about my family of origin. My favorite piece was part of a fictional tale crafted from the story retold every Christmas of how my grandfather came to America. The vast majority of the rest of my family posts relate in some way to my sister, who passed in December, 2013. During the year and a half following her death, writing was my way of grieving that loss. I have not, however, devoted any time to writing about myself as I stand within my family of origin.

How appropriate that I should run across this writing challenge. My family is where I learned of my own magnificence, and it is what brought me home to it at last.

My father is the youngest of eight siblings, and I am the youngest of four – by eight years (I do have a cousin a mere four years my senior). Being the last offspring of a large Lebanese-American family makes a person a lot of things: privileged and spoiled for sure, but also very much loved. Being my Fambly’s version of Lebanese makes a person an entirely different list of things: bold, hard working, loud, extravagant, and fiercely loyal. No, we are not all extroverts, but growing up, it certainly sounded like it – thanks for all the memories Uncle Saiad and Uncle George (by far, the loudest of the lot).

My family excelled at many things: tennis and hearts, laughter, good food, affection (Aunt Evelyn always kissed you three times, be you friend or total stranger), playacting (costumes and props included!), great food (did I mention food already?), telling the story, criticizing outsiders, teaching the importance of having a close-knit family, and gathering together around amazing food. My daughter and I often joke that with my Fambly, it really is all about the food, but the truth is, food was just a very large part of the love; and if this Fambly did anything truly well, it was love.

As is typical of immigrants of every race, my family looked within to find its identity. Sure, my father and uncles served in the military and all of them worked hard at their jobs and hobbies, their wives had friends and sometimes jobs, but when it came to who we were, our core values and beliefs, it was the Fambly that defined us. It was there that we turned for guidance toward our goals and the support we needed to reach them, but, above all, we discovered who we were in a deep well of unconditional love. I was far too young to have been a part of my siblings’ and nearby cousins’ lives, and now see myself as the last and arguably least of my clan. Yet, somehow, I always felt magnificent.

One brother holds me firmly, while the elder basks in my presence. (bottom left) Look how I magnetize all of my mother's attention! (upper right)
One brother holds me firmly, while the elder basks in my presence. (bottom left) Look how I, the smallest in the group, manage to capture all of my mother’s attention! (upper right) Even Uncle Saiad (top left) looks to be enjoying the exchange between mother and child.

I am not sure what to make of my own feeling of magnificence or why it was given me. It was simply an unspoken truth that I was special (the cousins still joke about it today at family reunions, so this year I reminded them to never forget it!). Perhaps it can be attributed to the years of space preceding my arrival (I was a ‘surprise’ after all), or that I was the baby of the baby, or maybe my parents just told me of my own magnificence in enough ways that it became true for me. No matter the cause, the fact remains that I grew up believing that I shone brightest.

I was the most magnificent of all.

On paper that line reads as egotistical, but I am speaking with the voice of a child the emotions of a child. A child filled with wonder and at times quite overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of a Fambly able to loom so high above her. I wonder sometimes if I did not make myself magnificent just to be heard over the booming voices of my Uncles when they were arguing over the cards, the clattering noise of my Aunts as they busily prepared enough food for armies, and the uninhibited din of my cousin’s reunited horseplay. Other than age and my much-indulged precociousness, I cannot remember any clear distinction between myself and my same-generation family members. If anything, they outshone me in a hundred myriad ways (actors and artists, doctors and lawyers, musicians and teachers…the list goes on). Yet, astoundingly, while everyone in the Fambly knew I believed myself to be the brightest star, for some reason they encouraged that belief – or I simply convinced myself that they did!

After years of hearing about my own magnificence, other voices entered my life. Many disparaged and criticized my origins, or mocked the qualities that made me ‘me’. Some even urged me to put out the light that used to shine so brightly. Under the constant drone, I forgot my place. For a time, I could not remember who I was, where I came from, and how truly bright I once was allowed to shine. But the Fambly that indulged my youthful aspiration to be most magnificent of all reminded me that I am magnificent because I belong to each and every one of them, and they to me. We make one another magnificent.

Unconditional love taught me that I do not have to shine the brightest, but I do have to know my own magnificence if I want to bask in the love of such a Fambly. This kind of love will not settle for less in the beloved.

when-the-roots-are-deep

Slowly I remember. I begin to see glimpses of the star-child of my youth in the reflected gaze of my Fambly – and, even occasionally, the mirror. May I never forget my roots again. They are strong supports and the stuff from which I am made, and remind me that no matter what I do or where I go, I am a part of them and they of me.

My roots remind me that I am magnificent.

I hope you will take the time to visit Litebeing’s site and read what some others have written about their own magnificence. If you are so inclined, join the challenge and put a link to your post in the comments below.

Celebrating the Day of the Dead

I am fairly certain that I have not donned a costume for Halloween in at least 35 years. This particular celebration, while fun as a child, never really found a foothold in my heart. Add to that, in Christian circles, Halloween was disparaged as “Satan’s high holy day” – something to be avoided as avidly as cursing or reading Harry Potter.

Tonight it occurred to me that little about the rituals and celebrations of Christianity ever took hold in me either, despite spending 30+ years in that paradigm. Granted, as a child, Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year, to borrow a well-worn lyric. Certainly my parents and their tradition of Santa Claus helped (I can still remember my father peeking into my bedroom to ask if I had heard the sleigh bells – his voice was as filled with wonder as my child’s heart!), but even later on in my teen years, I remember sitting in our living room mesmerized by the glowing coals in the fireplace, while white lights twinkled between evergreen boughs laden with ornaments and tinsel. Sometimes when I think about what peace feels like, that is the picture that comes to mind.

Over the years, Christmas came to mean less and less to me – especially once I understood that December 25th was not the birthday of any deity in the flesh, much less Jesus of Nazareth. In the early 2000’s I stopped putting up a Christmas tree, and have been hard-pressed to find ways to create meaningful traditions for myself or my family ever since. Anyway, every Christian holiday is nothing more than a hijacked pagan celebration of one kind or another.

In 2006 I began what turned out to be a 10-year trek out of my Christian faith. Not that I am an atheist per se. I believe – probably stronger than I ever did as a Christian – in the absolute existence of a spiritual dimension. I am certain that death is not the end. But the job of determining whether there is a personal god out there running our universe is beyond my pay grade, the purview of religion, and better left alone by li’l ol’ me.

Perhaps because of my recent fascination with the Celts, faeries, and magic, I have gravitated most towards the old religion or what many call paganism. Admittedly, my stint in Christianity has caused me to shun any and all religious traditions, especially those who claim to know ‘the way’ or ‘the truth’. But the seasons of the year and of life are something I am familiar with. And I have always had a special affinity for the moon. That is the other strong memory I carry from my teenage years: monthly chats with the man in the moon. I had a perfect view of the moon at its full from the swing in our backyard, and I have always been able to see a face on the surface of it. In fact, I am hard-pressed to look at a full moon and not see a face.

At the same time that I find myself drawn to the cycles of the moon, I also feel a renewed sense of connectedness to the earth. I do desire to establish traditions to follow, but I am content to move slowly, listening closely to my own heart and what it whispers about the lessons, comfort, joy, or depth that a particular holiday celebration can lend my spirit. I began following the full moon cycles sometime in 2015, and this year added the new moon cycles to my monthly observances. Late in the summer, I determined to celebrate as many of the eight pagan festivals (beginning with Samhain, pronounced Sow-en) I am able to this year. October 31 marks the end of summer, the last of the harvest celebrations, and the beginning of the new year for the Celtic pagans of old. Samhain is a time to give attention to our ancestors and other loved ones who have passed. Many see it as an opportunity (perhaps even an obligation) to learn about their heritage and honor dead loved ones in some fashion. Still others believe that the veil between our world and the world of the dead is thinnest on this night, making possible communication with those who have passed.

For me, I wanted to take some time to think about how those family members who have gone on affected me while they were here. To that end, I put together a display of photographs, peppered with candles, fresh flowers, and crystals (particularly those related to the root chakra) on my buffet.

My Tree of Life Grid
My Tree of Life Grid has never held as much significance for me as it does now – a lovely reminder of my life, my roots, my heritage.

I started the process the first week of October and did not complete it until this past Friday. I took my time, and thought through the many photo choices, discovering a couple of folks whose legacy I found myself unable or unwilling to honor. They are not on display this year, but perhaps I will come to terms with them enough to include them in future.

A

Through this process, I began to think about the legacy that I want to leave behind. I even asked myself what kind of legacy would be left should I pass today.  Sometimes I wonder if the reason many of us throw our lives onto the wide screen of the internet is in hopes that something we say, do, write, or photograph will touch enough random people that our legacy may somehow live on after we pass. Perhaps it is our way of dealing with the fact that death comes to us all. We as a society have certainly invented many ways to avoid ever thinking about our own death, yet that is precisely why we remain haunted by the prospect.

My sister used to tell me that she believed when we die, there is nothing, it’s over, kaput. Nonsense, I say. Her belief created years of fearful living, but now she knows the truth. Those who are able to celebrate life understand that death is not the end, but merely the beginning of a new phase of our journey. J.R.R. Tolkien said it right well:

PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.

GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?

GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

For C.S. Lewis death was an expansion of the world of the heart. Narnia opened up into infinite possibility, like the layers of an onion peeling back in reverse. Because of him, I will forever think of death as a doorway from the barn into the open field, with mountains beckoning beyond. (The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia)

Last night was the new moon, a black moon (by definition, the second new moon in 1 month). Tonight begins Samhain, the Day of the Dead, and tomorrow the Wheel will start to turn anew. The near overlap of the black moon and the beginning of a new year holds special significance for me. I have learned that new moons are a good time to set intentions for the coming months. Since this was a rare black moon so closely connected with the start of a new year, it became a time for me to consider what I would like to see in my own life in the coming months. As I reflected on my day, I realized that it was filled with exactly what I want for the coming year: meditation, healthy eating, work, writing, and loving encounters. A good omen for what is to come, I think.

Whatever your tradition, Halloween, Samhain, or All Saints Day (November 1), may you find comfort in your roots. May you come to understand the legacy your ancestors left behind. May you honor that legacy, and learn from both the victories and mistakes of those who precede you. Above all, may you find comfort in knowing who is watching over you, and who waits for the joyous reunion to come.

Blessed Samhain!

Share Your World

Yes, I still exist and (sort of) keep a blog.

I did not want you all to imagine that I fell off the face of the earth in the recent past, but truly, the blogs I am working on are not quite up to posting snuff as yet. You will have to content yourself with a short blog resuscitation question and answer session. (Apparently, this has become a thing on the Interwebs in my absence.)

List 2 things you have to be happy about?

  1. My grandson. In a few short days, the miracle born on my Birthday will be 6 months old! There are not enough adequate blogging words to convey my joy when I am with him. Happy is a poor weak word for it. Ecstatic, over-the-moon … these come a wee bit closer to the mark.
  2. I live less than 20 minutes from my parents. My mother graciously cooks me breakfast every Wednesday before work, and I sit and sip my coffee while listening to my father and brother talk politics (government or church, whichever is the choice of the week). On Wednesdays I come to work with a smile and a heart filled with love. I also live close enough to my daughter, my son-in-law, and my grandson to spend almost every other weekend with them! The presence of my family members in my life has served as a much-needed anchor through the turbulent seas of divorce. Perhaps now you will know why I have been conspicuously absent of late…

If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world, what and where would it be?

The coasts of Ireland – the one place in the world I most want to visit. I often think of my novel as basically Irish, and I love everything Celtic, for one reason or another.

Should children be seen and not heard? 

Not hearing my grandson would be a tragedy in every sense of the word. His gurgles warm my heart; and although his squeals at times may pierce my ears, I eagerly await the day when his amazing words of wisdom pierce my soul.

List at least five of your favorite first names.

Collin, Aubrey, Ian, Desdemona (Desi for short), and Justine

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week I created a gratitude wheel prior to finding out that my contract (job) would be renewed in September. I am grateful for the contract renewal, but even more-so that I have learned to be grateful without needing everything in life to go smoothly (did I mention that divorce is hell?).

I have another 3-day weekend coming up, during which time I plan to engage in deep discussions with my daughter and her husband. We like talking about parenthood, spirituality. money. education, and even politics. I will be cooking new GF foods making a mess in my daughter’s kitchen (not mine!), and rolling around on the floor taking pictures of the wonder of my world (yes, of course my grandson) gurgling, squealing, attempting to crawl, or all of the above. His bubbles remind me that all is right with the world.

My life simply could not be any better than this.

Gratitude Wheel
2016 Gratitude Wheel

So, what’s going on in YOUR world? Please share, then link back to your post in the comments below!

I got this idea from Anxious Mom. Be sure to stop by and give her a holler!