What’s Happening {When It Feels Like Nothing Is}, Part 2

Zen Circle

On the theme of feeling like nothing is happening, it was a quiet week last week. So quiet, I couldn’t even get myself to write a post to you.

And then this week, anticipating the big storm that didn’t quite happen (at least where I live in NY’s Hudson Valley)…that was a good nothing happening!

It’s a time of things brewing under the surface; been honoring that energy even more this winter than in years past. The practices that I’ve cultivated — meditation, prayer and inquiry — are creating new currents of acceptance and faith. My roots feel wider and stronger because of them.

And out of that has come a poem, the first one in a long while. Which just goes to show that sometimes, you need a lot of fertilizer and weed pulling before the fruit is ripe enough to harvest.

Trust

There’s a hole that your whole being wants filled.
It will never be filled.
The best you can do is sit
in the center of it
and sink.
There is no bottom, but once
you surrender to the feeling
of tumbling
You’ll begin to float.
And in floating feel buoyant
yet held.
The fear of falling will cease.
In its place
tender shoots of trust will sprout,
tendrils wrapping you lovingly
within the web of creation.
{SHR 1/25/2015}

Have you had an experience of this? I would love to hear about it…

What’s Happening {When It Seems Like Nothing Is}

Feather, old-style vector

I noticed a different energy yesterday as I ran errands in the 14 degree chill of Upstate New York. A sense of impatience in the supermarket parking lot. A weariness in the shoppers milling about in the produce department.

A hunkering down. A pulling in.

There’s no denying it — we’re in the deep part of winter now. It’s when time can feel as frozen as the ground, as suspended as a feather floating slowly in midair.

Even though the pace of life seems to go hurtling on no matter what (hey, we have electricity, 24/7 everything, devices for every available moment and location, why stop?!), the sheer intensity of cold and nature’s inertia still pulls on us.

And that’s not a bad thing.

There’s a reason there’s a season for everything. We need time to sleep. We need time to dream. We need time to stop producing so that when we go back to producing, there’s light and space and air to let new things emerge.

In truth, there’s always something going on under the surface. Even as we sleep, cells are dying and being born, air is moving in and out of our lungs, blood is pumping through our veins and arteries.

The question is, can we trust the quiet? Can we lean into the wisdom of cycles, of changing rhythms, of the something that exists in the nothing, and vice versa?

Truthfully, we all show up in a variety of seemingly dualistic ways:

active/passive
confident/questioning
bold/reticent
caring/self-serving

Each of these has a place. It’s the yin to the yang, each a piece of the whole that makes you who you are, that keeps the world spinning in its orbit. Some bulbs and trees get planted in the fall so they have all winter to acclimate to being in the ground, while others wouldn’t survive and need to wait until spring’s thaw.

How do you acclimate to the changing rhythms of the season? Do you allow yourself space and freedom to hunker down? And if not, how does that serve you, truly? (That’s not a sarcastic or judgmental question — it may in fact truly serve you and I’d love to hear how/why).

Please share your insights, aha’s and challenges.

Serving Life 101

4 Nested White Bowls On White Background

First, happy new year to you! If you’re anything like me, there’s a certain relief to turning the calendar to January first and putting the rush of December into the past. Resolutions or not, there is a sense of freshness and possibility that comes with the clean slate of a new year.

What does it mean to you to serve life? You might be thinking “oh yeah, I serve all right! My partner, my kids, my co-workers, my parents. What more could I possibly be doing?!?”

On one level, yes, serving those we love is serving life. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find more refinement. The biggest one is sometimes the hardest to believe:

You serve life by serving your own needs.

This is why it’s Course 101, the gut level course. It’s the foundation for all the rest. Trust that serving your own needs (and I’m talking true needs, not desires for chocolate cake and pedicures — although sometimes those can fit the bill) adds to the goodness and beauty of the world:

  • Your need to write poetry.
    Your need to buy and arrange fresh flowers for the kitchen table or office credenza.
    Your need to play the guitar, or piano, or ukelele, fumbling fingers or not.
    Your need to lie on your back with your legs up, gazing out at the sky and trees.
    Your need to have peace and quiet while chopping vegetables for soup, enjoying the rhythm and the crunch.

Your own fulfillment adds to the integrity of life. It’s not an addendum, a “when everything else is done” or a negotiable. It’s a must. It’s an art. It adds to the balance of our imbalanced planet.

You know it when you experience it. That sense of calm and purpose. That tickle of joy behind your ribcage. The undeniable sense that this seemingly small act ties you to what lies beyond the physical realm.

It’s different for each of us. For me, one way is writing to you each week, offering encouragement, ideas, inspiration. How about for you?

What Lights You?

Abstract sun illustration

It is just a few days now till we experience the shortest amount of daylight, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. And this year, it will occur within about two-and-a-half hours of a new moon — talk about dark!

Solstice coincides with holy days that inspire us to kindle lights — Hanukkah menorahs; Christmas lights on trees, houses or in windows; Kwanzaa candles; wood burning stoves and fireplaces lit for warmth, both literal and communal.

There is also a drive to be lit from within. To know what really lights us up and then act on that. It can be as simple as a cup of your favorite tea and a book, or as complex as creating packages and delivering them to shelters and food banks as you move through overly full days.

This season can be harsh, even in its directives to be merry and happy. Some feel the loss of loved ones more acutely as gatherings are planned. Some don’t have large gatherings to attend and wish they did — others feel pushed to attend parties and celebrations when they’d rather be home hibernating.

It’s rarely as straightforward as it seems.

This week, I urge you to be the light that you seek. Let the prompts below become a beam that will lead you through this darkest, most sacred time.

Prompt #3 — What lights you from within? How can you cultivate and spread more of that light, in even the smallest ways? Are you happiest offering it to others, or is there a deep comfort that comes from holding it and basking in the glow of your own sweet fullness?

What Moves You?

bigstock-Fragment-Of-Wheel-Reviews-4705326

It’s good to pay attention to what gets you into motion, and what place stillness plays — or not — in that dance.

There’s often a whirl of motion that’s put into place around this time — holiday parties, shopping for those just right (or at least not-all-wrong) gifts, offering time at a local charity for those whose holidays may not be so merry.

Sometimes it feels effortless and joyful (don’t we love that?) Other times it’s more like a merry-go-round that becomes a perpetual motion machine and keeps going until someone throws the lever to the off position (meaning you get sick, or break your toe as you’re rushing around, or otherwise come to an unhappy, sudden, unplanned stop).

How do you want your ride to feel over these next 3 weeks?

What motions can you take control over, and how can you keep from spinning too quickly?

Continuing on last week’s theme of year end meditations, contemplate the prompt below, preferably in writing. Sometimes the best, most unexpected stuff comes out when we take some time to apply pen to paper and let loose for 5 or 10 minutes.

Prompt #2 — What type of motion feeds your soul? Where in your life do you get to pay close attention to the rhythms and flows that weave your days together? What place does stillness play in all of this? Please share your insights with us here!

Stitching Together A New Year

woman knitting green threads closeup

Are you as surprised as I am that we’ve come to the end of another year already? There’s always something a little shocking about turning the page to December, even though you know it’s coming right after November. Funny, that!

People are starting to write articles and blogposts about visioning into the new year. I am currently taking part in Quest 2015, 12 Days With 12 Visionaries to Imagine Your Best 12 Months. It’s being offered by the wonderful writing/business/creativity mentor Jeffrey Davis, who was kind enough to read and offer me a heartfelt book endorsement (proudly shared on the back cover).

One day into this quest, and it’s already giving me much food for thought.

Yes, there is something about the turning of the calendar year that naturally brings out our introspective nature. Not to mention our desire to wrap things up and start with a clean slate.

I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s resolutions. They seem more like a recipe for disaster than true motivation. Yet we all desire to improve on some level:

~eat more life-force illuminating foods.
~deepen our connection to our soul or our Creator.
~express our needs more clearly, both to ourselves and others.
~share our gifts and talents through creative endeavors — writing, painting, gardening, serving the hungry and disheartened.
move our bodies more regularly and with greater ease.

How do we do that without making some declaration, even if just to ourselves? How are our declarations and intentions bolstered by sharing them with friendly, like-minded others who are also declaring their own?

That’s why I’ve been inspired to start a challenge, a quest of my own to share with you. Over the next few weeks of posts, I will pose a prompt to get you thinking (and hopefully writing, even if just in your own journal) about how you want to feel and act in the new year.

Allow yourself to really sink in; let them move you to uncover something new or perhaps forgotten within your heart and soul.

Prompt #1 — What would change in your relationship with your body if you only came from a sense of deep self-love and joy? Please share your thoughts below so we can inspire and support one another..

And remember, life is strung together one stitch, one act, one moment at a time. May you make as many as possible from a place of awakened aliveness.

It’s All Thanks To You

bright closeup picture of magic twinkles on female hands

 

I am so grateful to you. For stopping to read this post. For taking the time to read these weekly love notes and hopefully relax a bit because of my words. For living your life in the most conscious, loving, awake way possible. The world needs loving, awake people; it’s the only chance we’ve got.
My offering to you on this snowy day (lights have been blinking but power’s still on!) is a portion of the chapter on gratitude from my book Crazy World, Peaceful Heart. ​
Because while tomorrow is a day dedicated to gratitude, in truth every day is an opportunity to be grateful for all of the large and small ways we are supported. Even if it’s simply the chair beneath your tush in your worst possible moment, remember that you are always supported. And love truly is all there is.
So here it is; enjoy, and thanks.

 
Sanctify Daily Life With Gratitude

Mother Theresa is famous for having said, “We may not be able to do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” This may be the wisest hidden-in-plain- sight spiritual truth of all — it is the quality of attention we bring to what we do that brings the juice of holiness to every action.

We hear a lot about gratitude these days, but have you really thought about what gratitude is and why it is so powerful?
On the most basic level it makes us feel better to think about and appreciate all that we have in our lives — a roof over one’s head, enough food to eat, people who love us warts and all, a hot shower to help us start the day — than to focus on what we don’t have, which often just leads to a pity party.

On its deepest level, gratitude is a way of taking our place in the circle of life. It shows that you acknowledge you are here for a reason, a unique and complex piece of All- That-Is. There is a prayer that is said by religiously observant Jews each morning the very moment they become aware of being conscious: “Thank You for mercifully reawakening my soul within me, great is Your trust.”

WOW — Great is Your trust. The life force awakens us with tremendous trust and mercy to do something worthwhile with our allotted time here. We acknowledge being given a fresh chance each day to do more good than harm, to add something positive to the collective consciousness, to offer our time in service to something other than our individual self.

What a privilege…what an honor…what a mantra for giving shape and direction to a day that might otherwise start with thoughts of “oh shit, today I have to…” You may still have those thoughts — worry is as much a part of life as anything — but when you shine the light of awareness on gratitude for the opportunity to be part of a larger energy, the worry thoughts slip further out to the edges where the light is not so bright.

Take a Hint From Moses

One of the most amazing things about the Jewish faith in which I was raised is that there is a blessing for everything…and I mean EVERYTHING!

It starts with the blessing for coming back to life each morning. There are blessings for wine and for bread, for washing hands before a meal, for seeing a rainbow, and for the first fruit of the season. There is even a blessing of gratitude for having a bowel movement, praising the Creator of orifices for their ability to work correctly (now isn’t that something to offer praise and thanks for—imagine if they didn’t?!?). It reminds us that everything is indeed holy, from the loftiest vision to the earthiest bodily function.

I don’t know all of those blessings the way rigorously observant Jews do, but my life is deliciously informed by the fact that they exist. The path of blessing is deep and wide, and we have only to step into its flow and sanctify as many moments of our lives as possible. With attention and gratitude, we remember that we are an integral part of All-That-Is and take responsibility for our impact on the whole.

Happy Thanksgiving…happy life!

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