Friday’s Focus—Again

It’s been some time since I’ve been here last. Did you miss me? I did! Literally. Things have been so hectic with the selling and moving from our home to not only a new house but a new state,  I feel as though I lost myself in the process. Everything was put on hold that didn’t have to do with the day job, lawyers, bankers, or real estate agents. The only writing I was doing were checks and emails. Subjects of blogs and short stories swirled in my head borne out of people we met and circumstances but there they stayed, behind the wall of my mind and never making it beyond the thought, “Oh, I should write about that.” It’s time to breathe life into those stories and writings again.

Last night, I decided enough was enough and sat down to the keyboard to let my fingers do the walking so my mind can do the talking, and well, here we are. Again. Still feeling my sea legs in the new place, I look for corners and spaces as new homes for my yoga mat and books. Settling into a daily routine of day job mixed in with the new neighborhood sounds will take awhile, but in the meantime, I’m growing accustomed to the sounds of hammers and saws sprinkled with a few swear words from my husband, which has actually been helpful to use as a gauge on how well (?) repairs have been going!

This move is the cap of what has been a fierce 8 months (actually the last 3 years) of continuous major life events. Feeling tense and uptight had become very familiar feelings for me. Sitting within these new four walls, with the dust settling and the boxes slowly being unpacked, I can still feel the anxiety continue to surround me, which is exactly what I had wanted to change. “Maybe it’s too soon,” I tell myself. “I need to give myself time to slow the twitching and unwind from the hectic pace,” I add.

Almost as a ready response, I hear the words “no matter where you go, there you are” echo through my head and immediately recognize the truth in it. No matter where you go—house, hut, country, or planet you move or travel to, if the changes you seek aren’t made within, it won’t matter what zip code you land in.

I knew better than to expect a complete whoosh of having all my problems disappear as I watched the tail lights of the moving truck leave, but I guess to be honest, on some deep level, I must have expected it to happen all the same.

How we experience things all comes from our perspective, and if our perspective, our basic way of seeing something, doesn’t change, our experiences and our views will continue to be more of the same. This week, as I get myself back into my writing, and once again set my sight on the changes I want to make within (and without), I’m consciously refining my perspective of what each day can bring. This is not about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses but rather taking off those glasses to get a clearer and more honest view. One of the simplest and most profound ways of doing this is by intention, which is something we can all do.

Even if you don’t have any plans of moving or traveling any time soon, you can still set your intention and perspective anew each day and welcome yourself home.

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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—Keep Your Monkey to Yourself

Don’t invite other people’s monkey’s to your circus. In other words, don’t let other people’s attitudes affect your day. I woke up early this morning to get some coffee at a local popular cafe, which at 7:20 a.m. was already filling up with tourists. I exchanged a bit of chitchat with the girls behind the counter and moved on to the next table for the milk and lids.

I stayed near the edge of the wall to keep the majority of the table available to the other patrons. As I searched the canisters for the soy milk, I had no idea that this guy had come up on my right and in the 12 inches of space I left between me and the wall, had put his coffee down. It wasn’t until my elbow made contact and I heard a “grff.” that I realized someone was there.

Startled, I looked over and saw that I had knocked this guy’s hand enough to spill a little of the coffee he had, on the table. I quickly gave him a once-over to make sure nothing was spilled on his light-colored clothing (which, thankfully, was not). As I profusely apologized, I caught the micro-moment of annoyance on his face. That nailed me. He was not very friendly about the mishap but brushed it off saying it was alright and reached beyond me for some napkins. I gathered my things and ducked out of the cafe feeling bad and well, like an idiot.

It was not my fault that this guy found the smallest nook to be able to place his coffee’s down without even saying “excuse me” or anything else to alert me that he was there. What happened was exactly why I chose that end of the table and left the rest of the table open and available.

I came to realize that whatever was behind that micro-moment really had nothing to do with me. I don’t know what was going on with him or what monkey’s were in his circus but I was damned if I was going allow his attitude to ruin my day when I really did nothing wrong. It could have been so easy to let this morning’s exchange fester and turn into a full-blown, “I’m such an idiot, I should have known someone was going to try and squeeze into that space,” but I refuse to take on whatever he was dishing out.

I wanted to share this experience in today’s Focus as a reminder that not everyone’s attitude and annoyance have to do with you. Each one of us has our own story and circus, and it’s enough to deal with our own monkey’s without taking on someone else’s.

#takingitdeeper

Friday’s Focus—And What If?

The universal Mind contains all knowledge. It is the potential ultimate of all things. To it, all things are possible.” —Ernest Holmes

In other words, think it, imagine it, believe in it, and it can happen. What is something that you have been wanting to do or travel to? Just because you haven’t yet doesn’t mean you won’t. If traveling is in your dreamscape, then start looking up airfares or bus schedules; sights to see; even the temperature of your destination and act as if.

Putting it out there with solid intention is the first step in telling the Universe you are ready.

If it’s going back to school, getting a new job, look into the logistics of the times of classes and how you would register. How would you commute? What would you need to wear or do you need a new backpack for commuting?

Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” —Ernest Holmes

What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t think was possible?

Have a great weekend!

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!

Defining Moments

Today, I woke up and fell in love with the sound of the rain.
The clock ticked and the refrigerator hummed as I let my coffee grow cold beside me while I continued to listen to the drips of water outside my window.

It was a moment of perfection.
Not THE defining moment in my life but certainly one of them.

Yesterday I heard the expression, “defining moment” more times in one day since I don’t know when. It inevitably caught my attention and by the third mention, I could almost feel the poke on my shoulder and hear the “Pssst” in my ear.

What was my defining moment?
Did I have one?
It was a great question and gave me much to chew on.

I don’t think I can say I have ONE defining moment but rather several small ones that, looking back, certainly add up. Maybe my big ONE moment is still to come. Maybe not. Maybe it is meant to be chuncked into these smaller pieces. I think the end result is the same though. Moments occur in which my self meets my Self in a series of Howdy do’s.

Falling in love with the sound of the rain and the quiet moments between the ticks of the clock, was certainly one of those times because in that pause when everything is just so….a realization, a shift of perception, was finally able to wake up and bubble up. But they haven’t always been so peaceful and serene.

I think that any time something happens (whether it’s an event or simply a time of reflection) that gives us the chance to redirect and realign where we are in our thoughts and actions—basically where we are in our life, is a defining moment. They’re not always welcome…at first, and not always what we think they are… at first.

I believe that these moments, whether they come as softly as a whispered ah-ha in meditation or as powerful and disruptive/destructive as a hurricane, it’s what we make of them that holds the key to our growth.

Hindsight has the gift of reflection and hopefully clarity. I’m not going to lie and say I never thought “Why Me?” when things happened to me and it was only through hindsight, sometimes years away from the original incident, did I see the circumstances for what they were and  looking back has now allowed me to say “I’m glad it was me.”

Have you given thoughts to any of your defining moments?

Making It Work and Making It Worth It–My Top 10 Best Relationship Tips

There is no shortage of articles on how to have a successful relationship or ways to save your marriage so with my husband and I celebrating 20 years together this past June, and an 18 year wedding anniversary in December, there’s a few things I’ve learned along the way that I feel can’t be repeated often enough and I’d like to share them here.

We all want to be loved and accepted, and we all want someone we can call home. Relationships are tough enough to navigate and some people need the rawness of experience to really understand these bumps in the road, regardless of how many relationship articles are written about them!

I can’t take away those experiences from people, nor would I want to deprive them of such a growth opportunity, but here are some steps I’ve learned along the way that that I’ve found to have made the road a little easier to navigate.

My Top 10 Best Relationship Tips:

1. Relationships are rarely, if ever, an equal 50/50 split for long and the rare moment it is, know that it is fleeting and won’t stay that way for long. Relationships are fluid; they are a living thing and need constant feeding to keep it alive. It takes two to stoke it so when your relationship turns to a 60/40 or 70/30 shift of balance, see it for what it is in the moment. The key is to make sure it doesn’t stay in that tilt for long, and then bringing it back into a more even flow. This is best done by being aware of your relationship and what’s happening. One of the worst things you can do is to keep score. It’s underhanded and not fair. Relationships are an everyday give and take the balance is always changing.

2. Talk, talk, talk, talk. Crystal balls tend to be in the shop a lot getting fixed and no one is a mind reader. Well, there are some people who may be, but don’t assume your partner/spouse is one of them unless they have this crazy hidden talent they didn’t tell you about. If something bothers you that is happening with the other person or in the relationship, talk about it. And when I saw talk, I mean have a conversation—don’t accuse or point fingers. Good conversation starters are “I feel that,” or “It seems to me that….”. No one can judge you for how you feel or tell you that what you’re feeling is wrong.

3. Don’t assume. If you don’t talk about what you’re feeling, don’t assume that the other person will be able to navigate your moods based on your sighs or eye rolls or door slams.

4. At least try to see the other person’s point of view. It’s said if you truly want to understand someone,walk a mile in their shoes. While you don’t need to walk a mile in your partner’s shoes to understand whatever is happening, you should at least try to be in their shoes for the situation at hand. You might be surprised by what you learn.

5. Be friends. Unless your relationship has been based on pure sex, there is something in there that got you two together in the first place. Sometimes, liking someone and being friends with them is just as important, if not more so, than loving them. While love is important, it’s that underlying friendship that I’ve found to be the core of every successful relationship and the respect for each other that is the bind. If a relationship blip becomes too hot, it’s that core friendship that can allow a work-through of whatever is going on.

6. Listen. And I mean really listen. Don’t listen for the other person to stop talking so you can add your point of view. Listen to what is being said and also, what is not being said. Some people don’t know how to articulate their feelings or are uncomfortable stating how they feel so they’ll tend to imply what they’re feeling. If you don’t understand, ask the person to clarify.

7. Allow the other person to be just that—their own person. Give them room to breathe. You may not always understand why they do something but each of us is on our own path and must learn to live our own lives, which includes making our own mistakes. Support them, don’t judge them, and don’t get together with someone because you think you can change them. Relationships are not pet projects. If you really feel the need to change the other person, you need to look to yourself instead or else, you shouldn’t be with them in the first place.

8. It really is the littlest things that mean the most and help keep things fresh. A cup of tea when it’s not asked for, a random chore done for the other, and even notes left for each other to find. My husband and I leave notes for each other all the time, saying anything from I love you to Have a great Day! We leave them all over the house or in places we know the other person will be looking in.

9. Tell the other person how you feel about them every day. Let them know that you’re thinking about them or just wanted to say hi, instead of using the call or text to remind them about some errand that has to be done or to vent about the kids.

10. Forgive. Whatever it is, forgive. As hokey as that may sound, I’m a big believer especially having been on the receiving end of forgiveness more often than I should have been! Unless you can say with utmost certainty that you would never do whatever it is they did wrong, or you really don’t want to be with the person anymore and don’t feel that your relationship is worth fighting for, then forgive. You can get mad and you don’t have to like or agree with whatever was done, but the only way to get past the inevitable relationship bumps and grinds, and move on and grow is to forgive.

Relationships can bring you to the heights of ecstasy and drop you to the depths of despair. They can be the bane of our existence or the only existence we want to live for and ultimately, a mirror of ourselves. I hope that my experiences here have given you pause, and will help enrich wherever you may be in whatever relationship you’re in and help you take things deeper.

Blogging From A to Z: Vulnerable

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A newly hatched bird;
A flower bud;
The first one to say I love you;
Asking your girlfriend to marry you;
Being told you have a disease and there’s nothing more that can be done;
A newborn baby;
An elderly person’s first night in a nursing home;
A bride on her wedding night;
A teenager who just found out she was pregnant;
Openely stating your sexual orientation for the first time;
Writing your first poem, story, post and hitting the “Publish” or “Send” button;
The first public exhibit of your paintings or photographs;
Being interviewed for a much needed job;
Being laid-off;
Burying your loved one;
The first day on your own at college after all the families have gone home;
The first night alone in new a apartment;
All of us in our deepest hour.

Being vulnerable is like standing on the threshold of what was and what will be.

Some of us dance over it, some crawl, some step over it one toe at a time, and some eagerly jump over the threshold with both feet. Being exposed in vulnerability is actually a powerful place to be. Vulnerability is fragility wrapped in hopefulness, hopelessness, security, doubt, wonder, joy, and sadness, all at once.

Are you on the threshold with something that is making you feel vulnerable? Have you made the jump today? Take my hand and let’s walk over that threshold together taking vulnerability and what it means to us deeper.

 

 

Blogging From A to Z: Uncomfortable

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Come sit for a minute. Go ahead, sit back, settle in, take a sip of water and let’s begin. I saw you yawn (I know, I’m tired too). Bless you. Take another sip, I’ll wait while you cross your legs and relax. Comfortable? Good. Now let’s get ready to get a little uncomfortable. Well, okay, more than a little. You’re in the control seat and the level of comfort you want to feel will all depend on how you sit with what I am about to share with you.

The role of spirituality and mysticism has come roaring into our culture fueled to a previously unforeseen level thanks to mainstream media. Individually and collectively, many of us are realizing that things aren’t working so well anymore in our lives and there is still something deep inside the deepest part of our hearts that niggles at us, incessantly knocking from the inside trying to get our attention. We are saturated with seeking ways to satisfy our feelings of lost spirituality, but perhaps it’s not spirituality we seek but the connection to our soul. There. I just saw you blink and shift in your seat. Now you’re uncomfortable, at least a little bit, aren’t you? It’s okay. You can admit it. It’s just you and me here.

I’m not writing to answer the questions of why are we here and what is our life’s purpose. I’m writing to say that we can search all we want, read and meditate all day and all night, eat only organic foods and wear only natural fibers so that we can say we live in perfect accordance with the Earth but that does not mean we are living in accordance with our true selves.

It’s not the road that will get you to Nirvana but the potholes and fallen trees and the cold rain that soaks you to your bones when you have no umbrella that will make you uncomfortable and make you wonder why you are doing this. Let us be acupuncture needles with each other and learn from those people and situations that make us uncomfortable and look into why. Are you being mirrored and don’t like what you see? Are you being reminded of something you’d rather not be? Those things that make us shy away and fearful and uncomfortable are exactly the things we need to be with and not turn away from.

It is our human nature not to want pain, but it is our ego’s nature to create comfort and distraction regardless of what is at stake to keep our soul path in the shadow. How do we avoid this? By remaining present when we notice our discomfort. Let the pebbles in our shoes be reminders of moving forward out of our comfort zone. Change can only happen when we go through the muddy, thick, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful metamorphosis that will birth ego and shadows into the light.

You have to get off the mountain and get off the mat. Get angry. Get dirty and then shake the mud off like a dog that got wet to move forward into our true selves and get closer to our bone. Life is messy. Buddha taught that life is pain, and so pain equals being uncomfortable. Personally, I would rather be kicked out of my comfort zone on an hourly basis if that were what it would take me to make me shed my ego habits.

Taking it deeper.

 

Blogging From A to Z: Quiet

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Have you noticed that there seems to be different kinds of quiet?  The quiet of a snowfall versus the quiet of the early morning dawn? The quiet of the house when the family is still asleep from the quiet of a room when you’re alone?   There is something about the quietness of a Sunday morning that just makes the air itself feel holy.  And then there is the almighty silence that comes when the power goes out! I’ve always believed there were different kinds of quiet. Maybe it’s not so much the level of sound in the quiet but rather the energy. Each of the scenarios I mentioned has it’s own distinct change in energy, which in itself can be immensely soothing.

Call it what you will–down time, being unplugged, quiet time it all comes down to the same thing–a regathering of ourselves and our senses and finding a moment, just a moment, to settle down and listen to your inner hum.

Taking ourselves deeper.