Friday’s Focus—Our Dash

Changes changes
The planets are aligning
Our stars are falling,
The winter full moon
shines a light for the storm coming home.

Passages and endings make way for new beginnings, yes, but couldn’t there yet, just be one more day? For some, a death is expected while for others, it’s not. Either way, it’s a part of the bigger cycle but who cares about the bigger cycle when all you want is that one more day?

It makes us stop and snaps us out of where we are. I’ve written before about how a death can make us take stock of where we are in our living, and where we think we’ve been, but I’ve found that with each passing, the snap is fresh and the restocking feels brand-new. When my mother passed away, my life shifted in ways I could never have foreseen except by first-hand experience. It’s still so new to me and I keep sifting through my mental attic and basement; shuffling, sorting, tagging, boxing, and working through old habits, memories, thoughts, and baggage that don’t serve me any more and so I don’t want them around. It’s a process, for sure, and one with a capital “P”.

Then came news of the deaths of several musicians and actors. All well-known, all larger than life, suddenly a headline with a new date added to the end of a dash. It was shock after shock for many people. The papers reported most of the causes were from long-term illnesses so it’s safe to say that their passing was more of a surprise for us than for them, but no less devastating. Grief doesn’t care how famous you are.

David Bowie and Glenn Frey’s deaths hit me the hardest. I felt sucker punched. They were the soundtrack to anyone growing up in the Seventies. Pick any song by either of them and guaranteed there is a memory curled and wrapped around it. It was the theme to boyfriends, first loves, summer nights, great friends and days filled with the innocence of blue jeans, long hair and the freedom of a full tank of gas in that first car you bought with your own money. It was about taking the world by the balls and we were innocent and hopeful enough to think we could. No matter what, it was all going to be alright. Their voices, their music was inspired and inspiring.

“People don’t run out of dreams, they just run out of time” sang Frey in “River of Dreams.” It really is all about that dash in the middle and what you do with it. The death of loved ones and creative giants like those we’ve recently lost grabs us and shakes us and challenges us to look at ourselves and our dashes. Their music and movies are a reminder of our younger selves and who we wanted to be, who we could be. Not like them necessarily, but the best of us.

“What will be left of all the fearing and wanting associated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention? A dash, one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone.” ― Eckhart Tolle

Last night I stood outside under the light of the moon, and stared, in awe, at the alignment of the planets and I couldn’t help but feel the smallness of my humanity under God’s dome.  I will do this again tonight, and then, when the snowflakes begin to fall ushering in this Winter’s first fury, I will come inside, sit by the fire, hug my loved one, and pay attention to my dash.

Will you?

#takingitdeeper
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Friday’s Focus—Getting Up, Showing Up, and Doing It All Over Again

This week has left me feeling more stressed than usual and I found myself sitting down to my computer every morning filled with dread and ending the day feeling completely drained to the point of answering my husband’s questions in one-syllabic grunts. But then this morning I finished reading a book by Michael Singer called, The Surrender Experiment in which he talks about surrendering to what life is asking each one of us and to look at our lives not as what we want out of life, but rather what is life asking of us.

Near the end of the book, he says “It was not my responsibility to find out what is binding me; that was life’s job. My responsibility was to willingly let go of whatever was brought up within me.”

Wow.

This week in particular had been a struggle for me as a new level of challenges popped up at every turn. Stress begat stress and by the end of Thursday evening, I found myself feeling feverish, achy, and with a sore throat. I was stressing myself into illness.

I already knew from early in the day Monday, that this week wasn’t going to be easy but I tried to keep in mind  Singer’s words about questioning what it was that life wanted from me and not what I wanted out of life. Though it wasn’t always easy, there was a freshness to the approach that appealed to me and my curiosity of where things  could go.

Each day, I showed up and did the best that I could give and knew how to do, and in that I could take solace in and pride. My job is not brain surgery and no one’s life is at stake but I have a high ethic in everything I do and what is expected of me as an employee, daughter, and even my personal expectations of myself. In hindsight to this past week though, it turned out to be more than I could give. Was I seeking perfection? Maybe, as I tend to lean toward that, but it took my body to feel like it was breaking down to really bring it home the stress that I had put on myself. Instead of building on yesterdays gains, I was building upon yesterdays fears and losses as I perceived them. This is how disease and depression grows giving way to a loss of hope.

“My responsibility was to willingly let go of whatever was brought up within me.”

Yes.

Every day I get up, show up, and do it over again the next day. But today was different. Today I showed up with a renewed determination and focus of letting go of whatever is being brought up in me from what’s going on in my life. Surrender. This act, in of itself, is asked of me and each of us every day. It’s not something you do once and you’re done.  Life is continually upping the ante and asking for us to do things that oftentimes we don’t feel we can handle. We can fight life and our situations or we can surrender.

But doesn’t surrendering mean giving up? Giving up what we think we want, yes. Giving up on opportunities that life presents to us, no. It’s surrendering to the energy of the flow of allowing ourselves to end up wherever we need to be. In other words, getting out of our own way. The only control we really have is over our own reactions and so all we can do—the best thing that we can do—is to surrender. Again and again and again and again. Singer calls this the journey beyond ourselves, and what a ride it is.

I don’t know for sure what life is asking from me, but I do know, that at the very minimum, it’s asking me for an open heart, a curious soul, a creative mind, and a clean body. And that, my friends, is what today’s Friday’s Focus is about and what every day hereafter is about, not just for me but for each of us.

Taking it deeper…

Friday’s Focus—Saying, “I’m Sorry”

Admitting you were wrong about something and then telling the other person you’re sorry, doesn’t make you weak or any less of a person or less of “a man”.

It can be scary to reveal our mistakes and fess up to actions or spoken words that don’t show us in our best light.

But at the same time, that vulnerability can make you stronger and deepen your relationship with the other person. Don’t let pride or ego stand in the way of taking things deeper with another person, including yourself.

Have a great weekend!

Friday’s Focus—Follow Your Instincts

These last few days have been a series of postponements, withdrawals, and redirects for commitments I made and tentative plans penciled in, but late last week situations arose that almost immediately tested my best laid intentions. For a few days, I was flexible and rolled with the changes but there came a point I knew it wasn’t going to last and I needed to make some decisions.

I was torn between “I can do it all!” and the more real thought, “I can do it all, but either I’m going to wear myself out or the projects committed to will suffer.” I know all too well about burning the candle at both ends and burning myself out in the process and I wasn’t keen on going down that road again. Giving my word and commitment to someone and something is important to me, but the way things took a zig from its normal zag recently in a plan still known only to God and the angels, I decided to put aside my can-do zealousness and listen instead to my instincts for guidance.

I sat and thought and prayed and listened deeply to what I wanted to do and what I needed to do, and without any hesitation and the loudest cheerleader of all, my instinct gave me the answer right away. I knew what I had to do and that my decisions were fair not only to myself but to those people and projects I committed to.

Sometimes our instincts go completely against the things we want to do and yet we hush and ignore them only to have regrets later. Maybe the next time you get a gut feeling or your instinct is kicking up about something, listen and trust it.

Whether you want to believe that whisper is your guide, God, an angel, a favorite relative that passed over, or your higher Self, listening to your intuition—that voice—is a decision that will never steer you wrong and you won’t regret. I know I haven’t.

Have a good weekend!
Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way…