how do we change?

What you are, the world is. And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.

 – J. Krishnamutri

 

Many of us seek change from outside rather than slowing down to look within. If we have problems or concerns, we are somewhat habituated to look for remedies outside of ourselves. This belief is very much a part of the culture here. We seek remedies of all kinds before we create time for ourselves to examine within, just what the source of our difficulties may be. Do you know that your beliefs about yourself and the world manifest in myriad ways?

Listening objectively, even for a few moments – to the news, or to video or audio recordings – it is easy to discern the messages of fear with a promise of protection “from”.  The message of fear with a suggestion or promise of protection or “fixing” underlies much of what we are exposed to in advertisements or in many shared memes in social media.

What we are, the world is. Indeed. How do we change this?

Begin within.

It can be a scary thought – the very idea of examining what is inside of us. We fear our own vulnerability.

In our culture, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.

 – Brene Brown

It’s ok to be who you are – different from everyone else.

Acceptance of ourselves – which can be one of our greatest challenges in life – can lead to peace within. Acceptance of ourselves has its roots in love. Love of self can be a monumental challenge in a world where we are encouraged to be like everyone else. Promoting the messages of striving for success, beauty as defined by others, among many similar messages is another insidious way in which separateness is cultivated.

Until we learn to love and accept ourselves fully, completely and without fear; our love and acceptance of others is compromised. Closed hearts, closed minds support and enable fear and keep us far, far away from the softest parts of ourselves – our vulnerability. Open hearts, open minds support acceptance of self and others while honoring our vulnerability and creating safe space for others to live into theirs.

 

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

 – Rumi

See yourself in others. See others in yourself.  Beyond the unhealed pain, the intense anger and unexpressed grief, we all have a heart – connected to the place of our origin and therefore to each other.

Artwork from one of my grandsons. A beautiful heart…

anger, rage and healing

I really believe that all of us have a lot of darkness in our souls. Anger, rage, fear, sadness. I don’t think that’s only reserved for people who have horrible upbringings. I think it really exists and is part of the human condition. I think in the course of your life you figure out ways to deal with that.

 – Kevin Bacon

In the course of our lives, we hope that we figure out ways to deal with the “anger, rage, fear, sadness” that we all feel.

I have written previously about grief. In some ways, I feel as if some of our fear, anger, and rage is rooted in the sadness of the unfelt, inexperienced grief. It is also worth mentioning here, that anger and rage also have connections to, if not deeper roots, in fear.

Many of us were taught to be “good”; to behave, to not say a “cross word” or to “keep our thoughts to ourselves.” When we are not in nurturing environments, where we are invited to talk about our feelings – whatever they may be – we generally put them away. We essentially bury them. We sure don’t believe rage is good….or that we are capable of feeling anything as intense and ugly in its display as that. Right?

Did you know that these buried feelings leak out? Did you know they find their way to the surface of our experiences – to the light of day, through the words we speak, the sharp judgment of others or the actions we take? Oh, how we wish they would remain buried…deeply buried in the dark recesses of the past. No one wants to dredge up all that stuff, right?

 

It would be impossible to estimate how much time and energy we invest in trying to fix, change and deny our emotions – especially the ones that shake us at our very core, like hurt, jealousy, loneliness, shame, rage and grief.

 – Debbie Ford

There are many ways in which the unexpressed, the unfelt or unspoken feelings manifest within. Depression. Chronic headaches. Hives or other breakouts. Stomach ulcers. Excessive weight gain.

How do we unleash this dark monster that lies so deep within us? How do we acknowledge all of these feelings, express all of this anger and process all of our grief?

There are so many ways to do the extremely important work of healing ourselves. And for each individual, what will ultimately facilitate the effective and successful reclaiming of oneself, is different. It’s also important to remember that it is a process, and not a one time fix.

Meditating, guided meditations, extensive journaling, screaming into pillows, beating our fists into pillows, talk therapy, crying all of those tears which have been held back for so very long, and the list goes on. There are many ways to embark upon this path. Taking responsibility for our healing is one of the greatest gifts we give ourselves…and others. When the breakthrough begins, we may notice that we have found more energy. We may find a part of ourselves that we didn’t even know we were missing. We find that compassion toward and acceptance of others where THEY are is so much easier.

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.

 – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This is the work of our lives. May you be blessed as you take those first sacred steps into the beauty that the darkness will unveil.

Love is always a heartbeat away…literally.

Breathe.

words of comfort

I have been a fan of Brene’s Brown’s research and findings since I first heard about her and her work on vulnerability and courage. Lately I have found great comfort in at least two things she has written. First a quote that just showed up in my email box today:

 

“Vulnerability — the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging and joy. The downside? You’re going to stumble, fall and get your ass kicked.

Worth it? Yes.”

It’s a challenge to remember  the power of vulnerability when you are down yet one more time. And…this is a powerful, yet gentle reminder of the reward of being real and authentic.

I also came upon her Manifesto of the Brokenhearted while watching a live stream of a conversation she had with Oprah a year or so ago. Oprah read the last two lines of it and  it brought tears to my eyes.  I offer it here, as a gift to you in this season of healing, gratitude and love.

 

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fear mongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.

With skinned knees and bruised hearts; we choose owning our stories of struggle, over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us.

When we run from struggle, we are never free.

So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.

We are the author of our lives.

We write our own daring endings.

We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure.

Showing up is our power.

Story is our way home. Truth is our song.

We are the brave and brokenhearted.

We are rising strong.

Yes, indeed.

We are the authors of our lives and will write our own endings.

We are rising strong.

 

the healing journey of a lifetime

The healing journey is the journey of our lives. Every person, relationship, situation, interaction, provides bits and pieces of the matter or stuff with which we can work.

I once thought healing was a linear process. Learn, heal and move on to the next lesson. What I know now is that it is more circuitous and is linear as well. It is an interesting observation to make now, as I had hoped that at this point in my life, I would be finished with all that stuff and onto living a peaceful, quiet, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing life. Alas! All of this and more are available in every moment and of my very own creation.

The circuitous route of healing means that just when I thought it was safe to venture back into challenging, dark waters, I learn that it is not safe. The linear becomes circuitous, as I revisit those spaces, places and relationships which I thought were healed…and I feel deeply in those moments that they are not. Moreover, I find that there is yet another layer of healing just waiting for me. The deep dive that is required to look deeply into past traumas, to embrace the child within and assure her/him that all will be well, is one that is not for the faint of heart. And yet, it is the journey of our lifetime.

The more we learn, the more we can begin to change the narrative that we are running in our heads about who we are and therefore what others are as well. We project our thoughts, our stories and our wounds onto others; most especially those who are more vulnerable, are behaving in ways that we may find unacceptable or simply look different that we think they should. The more of our life energy that we invest in our healing journey, the more likely we will feel a deeper compassion for and acceptance of ourselves. When we are love, expressed as compassion, we accept. We no longer project, defend, react, etc., as we have in the past.

We take full responsibility for ourselves. We choose those with whom we will spend our precious moments; those who see us as we are and accept us without attempting to redefine, control or make us the object of their own unconscious and painful projections.

We learn through the healing process to let go; to release those people, memories and relationships which have brought to us something, in our human experience, that may have hurt or injured us. In our heart, we know that these are people who had something to remind us of within ourselves that we may not yet remember about who we really are.

We feel.

We heal.

We choose.

We create.

One of my favorite poets penned a lovely writing years ago that resonates. It initially served as a call to my heart and today it is a reminder…a most powerful one.

Everything is Waiting For You

Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions.

To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus,

crowding out your solo voice. You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and

ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

Posted on Facebook 11/12/2017 by David Whyte
“Everything is Waiting for You”
from EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU
Poems by David Whyte
© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press

~ ~ ~

As we continue to face the most challenging of times and circumstances, throughout the world and in our own lives, focusing on the inside healing work of the journey of our lifetime, is the most important contribution we make to our individual healing, as well as to the larger healing process of the world – from the condition of the planet to all of the relationships on this plane of existence.

We are individuals in a larger collective. We are segmented into families, communities, villages, towns, cities, states, nations, countries, to name only a few. Our healing will bring us to a realization. We will begin to wake from the slumber of forgetting and will begin to re-member. We will see ourselves in each other. We will begin to reach out to those that we may have not have considered opening to previously.

We will see all living beings as fundamental and necessary parts of our natural experience on this planet. We will find ways to consciously create our lives. We will consciously see what is real and what is not. We will no longer give ourselves up to societal demands be, look or act as we are told or see in various media. We will sense truth in ourselves and in others.

The light within will shine brighter. We will see and know our own light as it begins to shine brighter. We will see the light in others.

We will live and be Namaste consciousness.

 

 

 

forgiveness

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.

 — Maya Angelou

Forgiveness is an oft used and not well understood word. It’s meaning is vast. The practice of it can be challenging. Even when you think you have forgiven someone, things will happen to bring some of the unhealed (heretofore unconscious) wounds to the surface.

We’ve all heard and read the many entreaties and suggestions on forgiveness.  Many of use have a quote or two rumbling around in our heads that we can speak in any moment! Do we really know and fully appreciate the importance and power of the multiple facets of forgiveness?

I was recently reminded of a prayer I had forgotten about. After searching for it online, I found a lovely post on naturalawakeningsmag.com. The prayer is a Hawaiian Mantra, and is named Ho’oponopono. It is as follows:

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

What gives more depth to this forgiveness mantra for me is the expanded description of each forgiveness phrase.

“I am sorry for participating in this erroneous memory data.

Please forgive me for not seeing the perfection in this moment, and playing back a universal memory I have received within me that is riddled with wrongs and errors.

Thank you for cleansing me, others, the world and the universe.

I love you. Loving the sweet divine is the greatest power or energy there is in all space. I am now loving everyone involved and affected. I know that my perceptions of them are within me, where this error first occurred and where it can be eradicated.”*

There are many internal conversations that we all have – with ourselves and perhaps with others. I’ve certainly had my share of them over the years. It seems I have found my way back to a few that I truly though I had moved past…through forgiveness.

I see each of the phrases as an offering of forgiveness to myself and to others…all at once.

Can you imagine what is truly possible when forgiveness is offered by everyone?

Miracles.

 

 

 

Forgiveness is a process. It can happen quickly or it can take a long time.  Some teachers, authors and leaders have spoken eloquently of the power of forgiveness and the freedom which comes with releasing the pain which has been held for a long time. Some have even intimated that by forgiving, we free ourselves AND we can go right back into the relationships or situations which were negative, abusive or deeply painful.

Sometimes, we forgive and release the other and ourselves…and we move on.

Compassion for ourselves is important here. We can be blinded by the act of forgiveness and believe, for example, that all is well and we can go back to living as before forgiveness, with the negativity, the abuse or pain.

When we buy into an idea of forgiveness rather than the process of healing through forgiveness itself, we unwittingly entrap ourselves.

Forgiveness, as a concept, is a lofty proposition for us human beings. Indeed it can free us when we have looked deeply into the pain we are carrying and can truly forgive. We can forgive anyone, from anytime, even those who are no longer walking among us.

How do we know when our forgiveness is real?

“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

And as the late Wayne Dyer said:

“Love is forgiving and Love is for giving.”

 

 

If you enjoy the images which are included in blog posts here, I encourage you to check out the Images page on this site to learn more about the gifted photographer who captures them! Many of her images are available for purchase.

If you are looking for a brief note of inspiration, be sure to check the Drops of Wisdom page on this site. New quotes and inspired thoughts are added all of the time!

 

 

*http://www.naturalawakeningsmag.com/Natural-Awakenings/February-2014/Healing-Hurt/

 

 

 

 

 

 

remembering our ABCs

I have come to believe that curiosity is the greatest gift we have and that many of us don’t remember to engage often enough. For me the ABCs of curiosity are so very important!

A  – Always

B – Be

C – Curious

Curiosity about all things internal and external to our lives can serve us well in our daily living. Asking questions is always a good tool to engage in our relationships  – whether with ourselves, our loved ones and others we know well (or think we know well), and with complete strangers.  I’m reminded that we have two ears and one mouth. Listening is one of the greatest gifts that we give to others and ourselves.

I have just happened upon an author, whose newly released book, “Wait, What?” focuses on five questions. Simple, easy to remember and life changing. Here is a warning: You have to truly be willing to listen to the other person’s answer to fully derive a benefit from the engagement of these questions.

In a world where we barely hear the other person because we are too busy thinking about our reactions or answers, it becomes abundantly clear that our past practices are adding to the turbulence in our world today. Time for a change.

The five questions that Dean James Ryan (Harvard) introduced in his May, 2016 commencement speech, are:

1 – Wait, what?

2 – I wonder…?

3 – Couldn’t we at least…?

4 – How can I help?

5 – What truly matters?

Just reflecting on the relative simplicity of these questions, I can imagine the deep, meaningful conversations that are possible. I look forward to reading the book (Wait, What?: And Life’s Other Essential Questions) to learn more about Dean Ryan’s five specific questions which seem to culminate in the last one, which he says, “gets you to the heart of life.”

You may read the transcript of his speech here. If you prefer to view the video, it is contained in the same link.

 

vulnerability

Many of us are comfortable with and living fully in our vulnerability. That isn’t to say that we don’t care for ourselves, or leave ourselves wide open to accepting the negative projections in our present milieu which are very hard to take sometimes. It does mean that we are aware of the power of our vulnerability when we embrace and honor our hearts.

For people like us, these times are very challenging. We find ourselves feeling worse than we have in quite a long time – about the condition of our world; about the conditions of those who are under siege in our own country; and about the suffering that continues to play out before our very eyes that is seemingly being ignored by governments.

I happened upon this brief conversation with Krista Tippett (onbeing.org) and Brene Brown (brenebrown.com) with animation.

I hope you enjoy it and find it to be helpful.

Namaste.

the gifts of grief

“Grief is essential to finding and maintaining a feeling of emotional intimacy with life, with one another and with our own soul.”

 – Francis Weller

There are many people whom I regard as expert in the area of grief – the feeling, processing and holding of it in emotionally safe ways – for themselves and then for others. For each of them, the deep dives into their own experiences, whether from painful losses of loved ones or a commitment to a path of loving support to others who are grieving, make them all highly qualified to speak, write or be with others who are embarking upon their own process.

Last summer, a friend suggested a book to me. She felt it might be useful as I was entering a period of mourning and rest, following the sale of my home. The long period that it took from market to sale was filled with many challenges. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. When I started reading the book, I realized that she was right. I really wasn’t aware of the depth and wholeness (holiness) of the grief that was still buried beneath the surface of my awareness.

What I didn’t know about my grief was that it is multifaceted, very deep and embedded in my psyche.

Francis Weller’s book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, introduced me to aspects of grief that I had no awareness of and yet as I read about them, feelings surfaced that were surprising and healing. He suggests that each of us must undertake an apprenticeship with sorrow.  Reading that so early in the book, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the very idea that I might be embarking upon my own “deep dive” into grief. Courage is what is needed to take this very important, healing and life affirming journey.

The reading of the book is a journey into oneself. Weller offers that there are Five Gates of Grief and I have listed them here for you to read to see just how much resonance you experience.

The First Gate: Everything We Love, We Will Lose.

The Second Gate: The Places That Have Not Known Love.

The Third Gate: The Sorrows of the World.

The Fourth Gate: What We Expected and Did Not Receive.

 The Fifth Gate: Ancestral Grief.  

Perhaps you are more familiar with grief already and may know these areas in which grief resides. I found these to be eye and heart opening. All at once, I had a container for many feelings that were still buried, unknown to me at this point in my life and as I came to unearth them, I realized an even greater peace within, tolerance without and acceptance of what is. Journaling through each gate allowed me the opportunity to name people, experiences, and events which heretofore were “hanging out there” in memory and had not been truly seen, heard or felt for what they were. I owned them, held them and put them safely away.

Our triggers have an origin. We react, and upon reflection are puzzled by our reactions. I found that mine were grounded in unknown, unexperienced grief for events that I had no idea how to hold. So…they still had a hold on me.

The connections we make to our grief can be revealing, healing and amazing. This is living.

If you choose to purchase and read this wonderful book, you may find that you essentially take back your life, in ways that you didn’t even know were missing. You will find your heart of hearts…your very soul. You will find peace. There will be tears, memories and many “a-ha moments”.

The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes

I bump into 

all of the places

where I said no

to my life

all the untended wounds

the red and purple scars

those hieroglyphs of pain

carved into my skin and bones,

those coded messages

that send me down

the wrong street

again and again

where I find them,

the old wounds

the old misdirections

and I lift them

one by one

close to my heart

and I say   holy

holy.*

Poem from: “Claiming the Spirit Within,” by Pesha Gertler (Boston: Beacon Press)

And always remember,

“…walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone.”

stewards

In a conversation with a long time friend this week, the word steward came up as she was describing an aspect of her life. Since that conversation, I have been reflecting upon this word and it’s meaning.

I’m sure you can think of many places or conversations where this word or one of its forms has been used. I recall saying more than a few years ago that I regarded myself a steward of the souls who chose me to be their mom. They are not mine; I do not own or have power over them. I DO love them and support the men they are now, when or if I am called upon. Otherwise, we enjoy each other’s company, and of course the hugs…always the hugs.

As I reflected on the word steward, I sought the definition and here is what I found:

“A person employed to look after the passengers on a ship, aircraft, or train.” *

My interest in etymology caused me to seek some brief information on its origin. Here is what I found:

“Old English stiward, stigweard “house guardian, housekeeper,” from stig “hall, pen for cattle, part of a house”. Used after the Conquest as the equivalent of Old French seneschal (q.v.). Meaning “overseer of workmen” is attested from c. 1300. The sense of “officer on a ship in charge of provisions and meals” is first recorded mid-15c.; extended to trains 1906.” **

As I have watched the commitment of the Standing Rock Sioux over else many months, I felt so deeply connected to them and their mission and purpose. They see themselves as “stewards of the natural world.” What really hit home for me when I saw that was the question, “why aren’t we ALL stewards of the natural world?

I then went to look at Lori Coleman’s pictures on her Flickr website to see all of the natural beauty that she captures in her pictures and picked out a few to include here so that we might all pause and reflect upon our role on this planet as stewards…of everything.

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As stewards of everything, we make choices about how we honor (or not) the planet, other humans, other beings/energies (plants, animals) and even our bodies, minds and spirits. Even the work we are doing or the role we have chosen as parents has a connection to caring for, providing for or looking after.

From parenting, recycling, caring for companion animals (pets), and caring for the vessel that our souls occupy, we are stewards.

After all, we are on a journey here, yes?

We have bodies for this journey, yes?

If we are parents, we are guiding the young souls we call our children, yes?

We are stewards of life. ALL of us.

What will you choose, which may be different from what you have chosen in the past, that honors your purpose as a steward?

You are wise.

You know…even if you can’t “pull it out” right now. Need help? Go take a walk in the great outdoors. I’m sure spending time there will help bring to the surface what may be unknown to you in this moment. It works every time. (smile)

We are stewards. We own nothing.

 

 

* From oxforddictionaries.com, February 24, 2017.

** From Etymology Online Dictionary, etymonline.com, February 24, 2017.

just for today…embrace

When fear makes your choices for you, no security measures on earth will keep the things you dread from finding you. But if you can avoid avoidance – if you can choose to embrace experiences out of passion, enthusiasm, and a readiness to feel whatever arises – then nothing, nothing in all this dangerous world, can keep you from being safe.  

 – Martha Beck

The unknown and the unfamiliar are scary. In our humanness, we like to avoid these as well as anything else that scares us. And yet, beyond what we most fear or seek to avoid are the very experiences that we long to have. Embracing what is in front of you now – whether fear, exhaustion, the unknown, the unfamiliar – is the beginning step in no longer allowing your power – to be, to choose and to love life – to be held hostage by your fears or your thoughts.

I once heard a poet say that when something that you wish to avoid or has scared you or hurt you in the past shows up again, invite it in for tea; for it will not remain with you for very long. Embracing what shows up frees you, while simultaneously allowing the door to be opened for the offending thought, feeling or situation to leave or end.

Be here now.

Wherever you are, notice your thoughts.

What are you feeling?

Embrace rather avoid.

Just for today…embrace all that life is for you right now.

Then tomorrow, open your heart and embrace it again. Let this become a habit so that it becomes your practice.

 

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Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.

– Albert Einstein

If you enjoy the images which are included in blog posts here, I encourage you to check out the Images page on this site to learn more about the gifted photographer who captures them! Many of her images are available for purchase.

If you are looking for a brief note of inspiration, be sure to check the Drops of Wisdom page on this site. New quotes and inspired phrases are added all of the time!