Friday’s Focus—Retrograde

It’s been quiet on the front of lilypadheart and Friday Focus and for that I apologize. These last few weeks have been a cauldron of computer issues, delays, lack of communication and when there was some, it was miscommunication. Problems would not go away and there were days (there still are) where I feel wrapped in a sticky web that I can’t shake off. You know when you have that one piece of tape or plastic that attaches to you by static and no mater how much you try, you can’t get it off? It just moves from one part of your hand to another? Yeah. It’s been like that.

Is it just having a bad day (okay, a string of bad days)? Is it just bad luck? Is it Mercury in Retrograde being it’s worse bad-ass self than ever? A lot of people I talk to are going through the same thing right now. In the past, I would lightly, almost jokingly, attribute these life hiccups to Mercury being in Retrograde but this time, I’m not joking when I say it because there is definitely something in the air. This is the second Mercury Retrograde this year and it’s been the worst one I can remember. Or maybe it’s just that there’s more at stake and going on right now and so more things can get out of whack.

If you Google Mercury Retrograde 2016, you’ll get 1,610,000 hits. Mercury Retrograde alone will bring you even more information and opinions with 2, 070,000 hits. There’s a lot being said out there about it, and now of course, you can add today’s post (Hit 1,610,001). So, what can I say that will make any dent to what is already out there? Just to add my personal learning perspective in that the one thing these last few weeks have taught me is to be more flexible, and I have been; stretching beyond limits more than I thought was possible or I was capable of.

I’m learning to sit tight and hang on. These days I’ve never felt more challenged (or exhausted) from the constant barrage of problems and delays, with past haunts and issues rearing their heads. Some days it seems impossible that one more thing can go wrong (but it does) and I don’t know if it’s because of the Retrograde or not (but I can’t ignore the coincidence). The last weeks have been an uphill battling resolving past matters and new ones in a David and Goliath kind of way. I know this is true for many of you and I hear it from other people I know going through the same thing (small solace in that—it’s not just me!). It’s hard, but if we can grab a moment to catch our breath, we can see that this is the perfect time to look back on our actions with a new perspective and turn a new face toward healing and cleaning things up.

I believe that a positive spin to the effects of Mercury in Retrograde is to let it be our teacher. Just when we think we are pushed to the edge of what we can take, MR takes that line in the sand and moves it just a bit more out of reach; pushing  us to  go beyond any limits we have set for ourselves—physically and emotionally.

There is a moving box in my living room that has “Fragile” stamped across it. It’s been there for a while but it wasn’t until the other day when I realized the sidewalk oracle-message of it and how it perfectly captured how I was feeling. Though I may feel fragile right now, I know I am stronger than that. We are all stronger than we think we are despite how fragile we may feel on the inside.

May 22, the last day of Mercury in Retrograde for this month, can’t come fast enough, but with an eye toward the calendar, and a little bit of extra flexibility, humor, and patience we can make it through and come out the other side, ready to greet the next one with minimal scrapes and a new perspective.

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#takingitdeeper

Friday’s Focus—Smile! It’s All Good

It’s been said that the devil is in the details but, sometimes, the devil can be too many details. Yesterday morning, I made 9 phone calls in one hour to talk with 4 people to work out a situation that came up regarding selling our home. It’s still being worked on, but out of much confusion some great points were brought to light and so something potentially negative, turned into something good after all.

Trying to keep it all together and remember who needs to know what for when had been foremost in my mind but yesterday morning’s blip completely threw me into a hamster on a wheel mode until finally, I wore myself out and exhausted my email with so many “reply’s” and “forward’s”.

Lines are constantly being drawn in the sand, wiped away, and drawn again. Sometimes it seems the changes are only 1 inch forward and all too often, seem 3 feet back. But I see now, how I can’t take it too seriously or think I can manage it all.

There it is again. Surrender. And Humor. And Release. And a big ol’ bag of teenage “Yeah, whatever.” I’ve written about surrendering a few times now, but it’s not something you learn once and you’re done. Well, maybe for some guru’s but for the average us, it’s a daily lesson.

The stress of control is not worth the angst. Yes, there are certainly some pretty huge events that draw our attention and demand everything from us, but in the day to day average goings on, the desperation we feel and the agitation that rubs us is really from our own fear and insecurities and our sometimes desperation to command them blindly.

I’ve also learned that by relaxing the need to control, we allow situations to take a breath and a chance to work kinks out by themselves. There’s a fine line between being on top and informed about goings on versus controlling them and where that line is, is different for all of us. To find where our own lines are is the healthiest and best thing we can do for ourselves and the situation(s) we’re in.

It’s simply impossible to control the world, even if the world is just you and your living room, but if the next time you find yourself stressing over the detail of one thing or another, smile, laugh even, throw your hands to the air and say, “It’s all good!” And then do it again tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow…..

#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—It’s in the Mail

As far back as I could remember, I’ve had a fascination with the mail. I loved getting letters and looking through catalogs. Even when I was too young to get anything addressed to me, I’d eagerly sift through the daily delivery. I don’t know what it is I found so exciting about getting mail. I think, on some level, mail represented everything that was out there and a whole world of who knows what kind of adventures. There was no Internet or texting when I was growing up so any big event and news always came through the mail or the phone. I even got a kick out of advertisement fliers!  And then the day came I discovered catalogs. Oh, I was in heaven.

One of my earliest catalog memories is lying on my stomach on the living room floor, propped up on my elbows with my knees bent, and my feet kicking each other in rhythmic slaps as I leisurely flipped through the Sears catalog, imaginary window shopping on the things I would buy for my house when I grew up. Nothing could beat that catalog except maybe the Christmas edition.

Sears catalogs eventually gave way to Speigel and Fingerhut. To this day, I look forward to going to the mailbox. My husband kids me saying he’s never seen anyone so excited to get bills. Trust me, I’m not, but I get excited about what’s in between the bills—or what used to be. These days it’s all advertisements. No one writes letters anymore. Do pen pals even exist? When I was in grammar school, I was a pen pal with a girl named Irina who lived in Europe and we exchanged letters for many years, eventually meeting on a trip she took to the United States. Eventually we lost touch but it was fun while it lasted.

I can’t remember the last time I got a letter—a personal letter. Even cards such as birthday cards have been relegated to e-cards or just posts on FB with birthday cake emoticons and texts highlighted with party hat icons. I think the only two kinds of correspondence that still prevail through our mail system are wedding invitations and sympathy cards, but neither of them have completely escaped the keyboard either. I think weddings and death are too sacred to completely go the way of electronic communication.

With cursive soon to be a lost form of writing, I find it sad to think that translates into a decline of letter writing as communication. I recently came across a packet of autographs and letters I received from authors whom I’d written letters to, telling them how much I enjoyed reading their latest book and it reminded me of how  fun it was to receive a letter that was sometimes nothing more than just “Hi, how are you? What’s new? Good to hear from you.”

I see stationary sets still being sold in bookstores and card shops but how many people really buy them anymore? I’m always tempted to buy a set just because it’s been so long since I had any kind of official stationary, but somehow I never get around to it.

As much as I love getting letters and things in the mail, I’m just as guilty by not sending out as much as I would like either. Yes, it’s definitely easier to send a text rather than going out to buy a card and then “damn, I thought I had a stamp,” so out again to the post office, and then finally getting ready to mail that card (which by now is a few days late), you stand there in front of the mailbox thinking how late it is and wondering if you should forget this card and go buy another one that says happy belated, or sorry I missed…. and start over. At least you have that stamp now.

Letter writing is fast becoming a lost art and finding those handwritten notes from some of my favorite authors reminded me of something I don’t want to forget or to lose to time or to the Internet.

Putting pen to paper is cathartic and studies have confirmed it. I hope today’s focus on the lost art of mail and letter writing might inspire you to pick up a pen and even a notebook paper and go write a letter. There’s someone out there who would love to hear from you.

#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—From Stuff to Simplicity

About a month ago we made the commitment to put our house up for sale and in preparation for the realtor’s picture day, we’ve been busy packing, boxing, disassembling, and either donating things or throwing them out. This has shown me two things: we have way too much stuff and the different ideas my husband and I have of ways to get rid of things.

I tend to just toss something either in a give-away pile to a local drop box of whatever charity I can find in the nearest parking lot, or throw it out in the garbage. Even larger things (thank you strong garbagemen). I want to add, as a caveat, lest my throwing things out is seen as being cavalier, it’s not. I would be more than happy to donate to any number of organizations but they have become extremely picky at what they take and won’t come to my zip code.

Trust me. I’ve tried….numerous times, from my father-in-law’s passing, to my mother’s passing, and now to us planning our move. I ended up having to hire a haul-away company for my mother’s things because no one would take the furniture. In speaking with the owner of the company, he agreed with how difficult it is to donate these days where we live but what I liked about them is that they bring the items they pick-up to other agencies first to try and donate them before just trashing it. Since I don’t have the capability to move larger items to the nearest facility (about 20 miles away) and take a chance they may not even accept the donation, this doesn’t leave many options open, so it’s garbage, parking lot donation box, or haul-away.

My husband holds onto things he’s more than ready to let go of but would rather give said object to someone he knows, which I think is actually very admirable, sweet, and thoughtful, but it also makes it harder and takes longer to get rid of things which end up in bags in his car until he sees the person! I’m a big believer that things find themselves to people who need them and so, I figure, let the Universe decide who gets what, but my husband goes for the the more personal touch.

In the last few years, we’ve found a middle ground focusing on a community center we know of that does great things for the neighborhood and is much needed by providing crisis intervention, information, prevention, and support services to individuals and families. This is something we both strongly believe in and we’ve come to make special piles dedicated to donating to this center. We strongly believe in this place and what it does and means for the community, and personally, I’m happy because I’m still getting rid of things and my husband’s happy because even though he may not know the person’s name that will receive that shirt or book or whatever, he knows the type of people who frequent there and is more than happy to help those individuals and families out.

Now that we need to start weeding through a lot more stuff for our eventual move we’ve both become a little more ruthless at what stays, what goes, and how it goes. What I’ve found so interesting is not just our divesting styles but the psychology at play when you go through a clean-up.

There’s our parents philosophy that creeps through with “We paid for it so we need to hold on to it, because throwing it away is like throwing away good money” and then there’s, “Well, maybe one day we’ll use it.” And of course, the favorite, “Oh I’ll fit into that again…..It will come back in style…I’m sure I can use it somehow…..Every time I’ve thrown something out before I’ve needed it a few days later….” Not anymore. Whatever it is if it hasn’t been used yet—off it goes to a token person or a token garbage bag.

There are some things that are harder to toss than others because of personal attachments but it’s also those same attachments to people or places that make it easier to let some things go if the memories aren’t so good. I’ve learned that the memories in our minds and experiences of events mean so much more (and take up less space) than any tchotchke or T-shirt that doesn’t fit anymore anyway.

Packing things for our move has been very cathartic and a step towards simplicity that we’ve been yearning for. I’ve been yearning for. Every spring of course, there’s the token spring clean-up but judging by the amount of things we still have, spring wasn’t enough of a motivator. Moving out of house is though!

I’m craving the need to shake out and crawl out from under anything excessive and using that space to stretch and breathe. It’s more than metaphor or an inspirational passage. As much as I’ve been working on myself on the inside to rid things that don’t serve me, so I’m moving on to the outside. It’s time to create that much needed space around me in addition to inside me and it feels good. Looking around at the boxes already packed and the piles of books still needing to be gone through, there’s so much to do, but it’s a start.

When will you have enough of your stuff and what will make you move from Stuff to Simplicity?

#takingitdeeper

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Reflections of My Nightstand

The other night I went to put my water bottle on the nightstand and every time I tried to put it down, it was either on something or I had to move something else to make way for it. Since when did I have so much *stuff* on my nightstand and what is it all? When did I suddenly need those ear plugs, eye mask, and Valerian?

I didn’t have a cold, so where did all those tissues come from? And the dry hands salve? Well, yeah. I need that. Oh and then there’s my nasal spray for allergies. I need that, too.

Then there are those two crystals sitting on top of the book I bought months ago that I’ve been meaning to read but instead has been collecting dust. Becoming instead, an impromptu shelf for the odds and ends I somehow decided needed to be elevated from the rest of the ordinary clutter on my nightstand.

Where did all of this come from and when did I suddenly need these things within reach during the overnight hours of what should be a peaceful and restful sleep? I’m not bedridden. I can get out of bed anytime I want but it’s so much easier to roll over in the dark and reach for that midnight tissue or sip of water, then to hit feet to the floor.

I didn’t have a problem with any of it and to be honest, I didn’t really notice the accumulated collection until I couldn’t set down a simple bottle of water. The invasion of all this STUFF had taken over and now that I really looked, the top of my nightstand looked like my favorite junk drawer threw up.

I’m a firm believer that having too much clutter can create, or, at the very least, contribute to feelings of agitation, indecisiveness, and even claustrophobia. Looking at my bedside clutter made me wonder what kind of energy clutter can convey when it’s next to your own bed—a place that should be a sanctuary of rest and peace and relaxation? Could this be one of the reasons I haven’t been sleeping well? Too much stuff on my nightstand?

The next morning, my intention was to straighten things up a bit and decide what to put away and what to keep out. I took a good look at what exactly was taking up so much space and each item—from the crystals to the book on the Romanov family to a loose pair of earrings, held memories. Taken altogether, they were a snapshot of my life. I decided to put some things away and keep others right where they were. It never occurred to me that the top of my nightstand could possibly be a reflection of me and my life, but why not?

It’s human nature to want to populate the areas in our home where we spend a lot of time with things we want to keep close to us—photographs, keepsakes or tchotchkes and for some people medications or pills that are just handy to have within reach. I think you can tell a lot about someone from what’s on their nightstand or end table. Look at your own and see how many fragments of yourself you see. What do your tabletops say about you?

Am I what’s on my nightstand? On some days, I’d say yes. Most days actually. Now, each night as I get ready for sleep and I reach over to turn out the light, my eyes take in a final sweep of the pieces I’ve chosen to keep in full view on my nightstand, and I smile as I roll over, pulling the blankets up to my chin, at the memories those things have given me and how lucky and loved I feel. And that I have room again for my water!

Life’s Focus

I wear glasses for my everyday vision but I’ve been noticing that I’ve had to take them off to read anything up close. Annoying but dealable. I’ve even taken to the habit of pushing my glasses up onto my forehead or resting them atop my head as I hold out whatever I’m reading at arm’s length to find the right focus. I’ve always seen other people do that and now I am one of them. I’ve officially joined the club. It’s fine, really. It’s stylish yet casual and convenient, I tell myself.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have no problem with getting older. Sure, I joke around with my friends that things aren’t where they used to be and part of my morning ritual has come to playing the games, “Search for That New Gray Hair!” or “When Did That Wrinkle Happen?” I embrace getting older and look forward to seeing what kind of woman I’ll shake out to be when I grow up.

One of the tell-tale ways our bodies change is in our vision. I’m used to wearing glasses and have for most of my life. I’ve even accepted the fact that lineless bifocals are my friend. But every so often, like that maverick gray hair or new laugh line, something will happen that is like my body’s version of a car’s Check Engine Light that will tell me it may be time for a tune-up and changes in my vision is one of them.

Each week I promise myself to make an optometrist appointment until the week ends, I haven’t gone, and then I promise myself that I promise myself I’ll do it this week until this week ends and I promise all over again next week to do it that week. Well this morning found me renewing that promise again as I turned on my computer and I had to adjust my glasses more than usual. The point of clarity had my frames balanced almost on the tip of my nose, which allowed me to see my computer screen in perfect 20/20, but the frames were pinching my nostrils closed making me feel like I had a stuffy nose, which I don’t and I hate the feeling of.

I moved the frames up the bridge of my nose so I could breathe, but now I couldn’t see. A few more times of this back and forth and eventually I found the sweet spot that let me see and breathe at the same time, but then I developed a crick in my neck from my head tilted back because the only way I was able to make out the screen clearly was by peering through the very bottom of the glass frames and my chin jutted out just so.

Not very comfortable but good enough for now so I can continue to search the Internet. I look down at the computer screen and the cursor blinking in the search box of Google. Now, what was I going to look up?

Happy weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Want…

I’ve been quiet for a while so I thought it was time to post some things I’ve been thinking about….

I want my breath taken away by something beautiful, not knocked out of me by anxiety.

I want my heart to ache from loving so much it hurts, not aching from hurt love.

I want my eyes to see beauty and hope in all corners of nature and humanity; even ugliness and hard lines have a duality that embrace some good.

I want my mind to come up with possibilities and solutions where thinking out of the box is the norm rather than staying boxed in.

I want my soul to create opportunities of inspiration, aspiration, and celebration not just for myself but for whomever the magic touches.

I want to dream of ideas and worlds that change the questions of “What if” and “When” to the sentences, “Yes,” and “Right now.”

I want to walk out of the shadows of my ancestors and add my own colors and stories for my descendants.

Finally, I want to thank all those who are or have been in my life even if for a moment or a day, and for helping me choreograph my dance, add colors to my canvas, and for being an audience to my stories.

Peace.

Life is Like a Shoe Store

Teaching a yoga class and demonstrating the Dancer pose, I was explaining another way to grab the foot of the raised leg, and I told the class to reach back and grab the inside of their sole. One of the students chuckled and when I asked her what was funny, she said it wasn’t funny, but poignant—to grab the inside of our soles, and she emphasized the last word, “You know, souls?” I loved her take on it!

I was thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me how life is like a shoe store. Really! Stay with me here: Take any shoe store and you’ll see racks upon racks of shoes—various sizes, styles, and materials. When we go shopping, we look for footwear that fits us well and can also be an expression of us. I would even go so far as to say that we express our souls through our soles!

Taking that idea further, as we grow from children and adolescents to teenagers and finally adults, one way we learn about our selves is by trying on the “shoes” of those around us thinking this is who we should be. Honestly, haven’t we all tried to fit in someone else’s shoes? I know I have.

When someone leaves or passes away, you’ve heard the comment—“Those will be tough shoes to fill”, and then there’s the adage, “You shouldn’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”.

Some of us are still wearing shoes that really aren’t ours and we’re in serious need of shoe shopping. Look down at your feet right now and using your imagination, whose shoes are you wearing? Are they really yours or are your shoes those of your Mom? Your Dad? Cousin? Teacher? Boss? What the social media says you should be?

In time, we may realize that the shoes we wear don’t really fit, so we try on another pair and see how that goes for a while. We try on the shoes of those around us, but some of those shoes are too big, too small, too fancy, or not bold enough for us.

After trying on many different shoes in our lifetimes, if we’re lucky, we find a pair that fits us just right. It feels like we stepped into home as we slide our feet in and don’t think twice about walking that mile! Finding the perfect pair of shoes to walk in is more than just about the soles of your feet. It’s about walking in your own shoes and in the soles of your soul.

Wondering About the Seven Wonders of the World

Question for this Thursday—and no peeking!

What are the Seven Wonders of the World?

How many did you get? If you are able to name them, good for you and I bow to your memory! But if you’re anything like me, coming up with anything beyond one or two was a struggle. The only one I could readily name is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and my husband could only name the Taj Mahal. Together we were able to remember the Great Pyramid of Giza, but after that we just stared at each other.

Curiosity got the better of me so I did a little digging and discovered that there are not just the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (and sometimes an Eighth), but there are apparently other “Wonders” as well: Seven Wonders of the Modern World, Seven Natural Wonders of the World, New Seven Wonders of the World, Seven Wonders of the Underwater World, Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, and Seven Wonders of the Solar System, and many other Wonder lists that aren’t relegated to the number Seven. As a matter of fact, a Google Search of the Seven Wonders of the World resulted in 33,800,000 hits (!!).

For those of you like me, who couldn’t remember the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (also known as Seven Wonders of the Classic World), here they are:

The Colossus of Rhodes
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Later historical lists included more “contemporary” sites such as the Taj Mahal (the Wonder my husband came up with) Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Great Wall of China, and Cluny Abbey. Maybe they were added because the only one left from the original list is the Great Pyramid of Giza!

Many of these lists are subjective and were created from the public surveys and compilations guided by groups such as The American Society of Civil Engineers, CNN, New 7 Wonders Foundation, USA Today newspaper, New7 Wonders of Nature, and CEDAM International to name a few.

Thinking about all of these Wonders inspired me to create my own Seven Wonders of Renata’s World. I’m not a time traveler or a world traveler and these wonders aren’t all man-made, or all natural-made but they are Wonders to me nonetheless. In no particular order of Wonder, here is my list:

The strength of a tuft of grass or dandelion to find the spot to push through and grow in between cracks of cement
The power of thunderstorms
The grace of an ocean wave
The depth of feelings of relief, acceptance, and gratefulness when forgiving and being forgiven
Falling asleep curled up in your lover’s arms
A Parents’ hug
Falling in love

If you were to list Seven Wonders in your world what would they be?

Blogging From A to Z: You

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Sometimes we feel as though there is no one we can talk to; no one to turn to share our fears and hopes and whatever it is we are feeling. How often have you wished that someone would just grab you by the shoulders and say, “yes, you….”?

So, I am dedicating this next to last post in the A to Z blogging of the letter “Y”, to you:

Yes, you are going to make it through this hour, this morning, this afternoon, this evening, today.

Yes, you are going to impress them with your interviewing skills.

Yes, you are strong enough to handle this.

Yes, you can commit to this relationship.

Yes, you are going to be a good mom/dad.

Yes, you can finish that marathon.

Yes, you can go back to school.

Yes, you can stop drinking/smoking.

Yes, you will survive this and get through it.

Yes, you can write it/compose it/draw it.

Yes, you can / will _______________________[fill in the blank], and no, you’re not alone.

Taking it deeper…..