Hope Springs ~ Weekly Stretch 1-13-16


Springing at Michaels – Franne Demetrician

I was in Michael’s craft store the other day shopping for art supplies. I was running late for my first day of a mixed media painting class and just ran in to pick up my paints, not really noticing what was around me. I just wanted to get in and out and not be late for my first day. The last time I was in Michael’s was one of the many trips I made leading up to the holidays. Some of my gifts were special things I made for family and friends so Michael’s and I were good buddies for quite a while.

As I stood in line to check out I looked around the store – you know, the way you do when you wait and want to distract yourself. What I noticed was a major change in the energy of the store. Gone were the red and green, the garland and tinsel, the Santas and snowmen. Instead, all around me was the hope of Spring. I saw cute little outdoorsy things; green and pink decorations, tulips and daffodils, little painted wooden fences and pretty watering cans, all sorts of sweet Spring décor. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry I would have browsed and probably spent a lot more money. At the front window was a display of floral centerpieces. They were so pretty and it was all I could do not to jump out of line and grab one. One of these was in a little box that said “Flower & Garden”. It was my favorite.

As I looked at these pretty Spring decorations I could feel my mood changing, my spirits lifting, and something stirring in my heart. The word that came to mind was “Hope”. It’s no accident that during our President’s farewell speech he reminded us of the idea of hope and the importance of keeping it alive. In a world that consistently presents us with one challenge after another it’s vital, at least for me, to keep hope alive by seeking out the people and events that affirm that wondrous things are also happening. People are being kind and compassionate. Doctors and nurses are healing people. Scientists are looking for answers and researchers are searching for cures to disease and ways to make our lives better. Lovers are finding each other; babies are being made and the miracle of birth is happening in every moment. Children are learning to embrace each other and dedicated teachers are opening their minds. These and so many other things are happening in the world and hope is indeed a living thing.

The dreary days of winter can and often do bring our energy down. But I feel so blessed that for those few moments I was reminded of the promise and hope of spring. I could almost smell those delightful fragrances, and feel the warm rays of springtime sunshine on my face. And it gave me pause to stop and affirm that all is well. I will stop and look around more often. Don’t want to miss an opportunity to find hope.

STRETCH: See where hopefulness resides inside you. Stop and look at your surroundings with the intention of finding something that affirms hope is alive in your life. Dig if you must. It’s there.

A PRAYER INSTEAD OF A STRETCH 10-6-16

sun-in-clouds

You know the day that starts with brilliant sunshine filling your bedroom? The day that the light is so bright in your room that you can’t quite open your eyes all the way? The day when the sky is so blue and cloudless as to be almost surreal? The day when you step outside your door and feel the perfect temperature, and smell the perfume of fall, and feel a breeze that gives you just a tiny little chill? You know the day that you feel the fullness of what it means to be alive and grateful for every little tiny thing around you? You know the day when you ask the question, “How can anything be wrong in the world?”.

That was my day today. It reminded me of a day just after the September 11th attacks when the whole world was upside down, but it was the most beautiful of early fall days filled with bright sunshine and crystal clear skies. Clear except for the smoke and the heartbreak. I remember being out on the land with my husband. We went there to try to do something “normal”. We thought we’d be comforted by being as close to Mother Earth as we could get. We sat down in a field and looked at the blue sky, then at each other, then at the sky again. It was so peaceful and sweet where we were and we simply couldn’t wrap our minds around the fact that such peace could exist at the exact same moment as the fear and horror of the attacks was fresh and new and totally awful.

Today in my reverie, appreciating the beauty of this day, I was painfully aware that many people were suffering the loss of their homes and loved ones; many people were preparing for a powerful storm that has the potential to continue to take lives and homes and turn the world upside down again for millions of souls; many people are frightened and wondering how they will make it through the harrowing hours ahead.

Today’s message is not a stretch. It is a prayer. I invite you to join me in praying for the safety and protection of all of the people in the path of hurricane Matthew. May all be well; may all be safe; may all be aware of the love that surrounds them. May we all know the peace of a bright, sunny, crisp fall day.

WEEKLY STRETCH 8-18-16

baby in heels grow up

We are all growing up. At least that’s what I’m told. We arrive little and vulnerable and we have mommy and daddy (if we’re lucky) and eating and diapers; then we are walking and falling, more eating and sleeping and mommy and daddy; then we go to school and learn things, play, make friends and encounter a little drama; then we enter teen-hood with more school, sports or dance or whatever we start to love, friends, “no one likes me”-hood and much more drama; and then off to college or work or whatever pulls us into the responsibilities of adult-hood and guess what…more drama.

I had a birthday this week. I am old enough at this point to have had more than my share of all of the above, especially the drama. I sort of wish that upon arrival, we are given a “Welcome to Earth Life” manual that said, “expect lots of drama along with all other great stuff you get” so I would have been better prepared. Or maybe that’s the whole point. We don’t grow up without it and we need the element of surprise in order to learn from it all.

I find that at this point in my life I spend considerable amounts of time pondering these things. Is all this pondering a waste of time? I wonder that too. I wonder at many things and I find many things in my sphere of living quite magical and worth pondering about. One big ponder is that I realize that there are more years behind me than ahead of me, and that truth is poignant. I ponder on whether I’ve done right by the gift of this lifetime and could I have done better. I ponder on how I can do better with what I have ahead of me. I ponder on how my relationships have changed over the years and that the ones in my life now are changing as I write this. That reality is also poignant and somewhat painful. I ponder on what to do next and how much more fun, love, and pleasure can I bring into my life to help balance all the drama that seems to be necessary for the growing up part of this deal. I ponder on how blessed I am to have arrived at this point, with this many years behind me, alive and intact.

So after all this pondering I’m formulating a decision. The decision is still in the formative process, but it goes something like this – I am deciding to make drama less of an enemy. Notice I haven’t decided to embrace it and ask it to tea. Right now I’m just deciding to regard it as a “non-enemy”. I’m giving myself credit for that with the hope…intention…of befriending it in the future. I’m not there yet – haven’t quite evolved this relationship to the friendship stage. However, for this next year of my unfolding lifetime I will begin a new relationship with drama and look at it with less disdain and more value. That’s the best I can do for right now, and right now is what I have to work with.

So in an effort to continue the grow up process, I publicly offer a very tentative and shaky hand of “maybe we can be nicer to each other”-ness to drama, knowing that it has an important place in moving me to whatever the next level of wisdom, compassion, grace, and worldliness will be for me. The other stuff is easy and I enthusiastically invite more and more of that into my experience…Love, passion, abundance, play, laughter, sharing…you know, the juicy stuff. Come on in! The water’s fine! And place must be made, with grace, for the other stuff; the not so easy stuff; the painful stuff that seems to be jumping around in the water making it turbulent and less easy to stand in. I’ve noticed that when the water is turbulent and rocky, I find ways to stay upright and maintain my balance because I must, and much as I hate to admit it, drama gives me the opportunity to develop the muscles to do just that. Not quite as much fun as the juicy stuff, but in the end equally valuable.

STRETCH: Pay attention to your growing edge. Notice when your life presents you with opportunities to grow and see if you can give these opportunities a wide berth so that you can learn more and more about yourself and how to be the best You that you can be, right now. And most of all – be gentle with yourself.

WEEKLY STRETCH 8-11-16 ~ SUMMER SO FAR

healthy boundaries beach
Photo by Franne Demetrician

It’s been a great summer so far, not without ups and downs of course, but in general I love these wonderful days of sunshine and warmth. I even enjoy the occasional thunder storm, watching the sky do its thing with voluminous clouds that gather and scare me…along with the wonder of lightning and thunder and the awesome power of Nature when She decides it’s time to get out of the house and do something a little different. It’s thrilling and scary and all about summer.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting our summer vacation. We will be traveling to Sedona, AZ with our family in a little less than two weeks. This trip has been a dream of ours for quite a few years. Sedona is a second home to us and we’ve dreamt about sharing this very special and sacred place with the people we love most in the world. It’s not easy orchestrating a trip for nine people, but we are just about to see the realization of our vision and it’s quite exciting.

There have been some wonderful experiences this summer and as I reflect back on the last few weeks I am grateful for the insight, the fun, the music, the connection and the gifts received. I truly love the beach and I’m happy to have been there a few times so far to surround myself with the healing energy of ocean, sun and sand.

All of this said, this week I had an experience of great disappointment. It was staggering and left me with many questions. I found myself in a quandary that seemed impossible to resolve given the circumstances. So what I have before me is an opportunity to grow. OH BOY…yet another opportunity to grow (or as it’s been said, AFGO!…Another F*&%ing Growth Opportunity). Life is filled with them, of course, but this one is about as challenging as it gets. I asked a confidante, “What do I do now?” and the answer was, “You have to let it go.”. Deep breath…how do I do that? I think right now the only answer is to love myself enough to keep a safe distance until the pain and disappointment reach a tolerable level, then move forward with the information and wisdom I’ve gained. Mostly I need to “drop the knife”. This idea comes from a poem by Hafiz which I share below:

Once a young woman said to me,
“Hafiz, what is the sign?
of someone who knows God?”
I became very quiet,
and looked deep into her eyes,
then replied,
“My dear, they have dropped the knife.
Someone who knows God has dropped
the cruel knife that most so often use upon their tender self
and others.”

So today I make the commitment…albeit a shaky one…to drop the knife. To be kind and gentle with myself and my tender heart. To be OK with conflict and to dig as deeply as I can to find forgiveness, remembering that forgiveness is NOT condoning, but simply letting go of attachment to what I think “should” be rather than what is. I am speaking with the Universe and asking for support on this task because it’s about as important as it gets that I get it right.

And so this summer thus far has been rich in so many ways, including the challenging ones. I learned today of the death of someone who is about my age. I feel blessed to be here and thankful that I am given every day to live fully, with as much grace as I can muster. In spite of challenges…or really because of challenges…it’s certainly never boring. And because of the lifetime I am living and the people in it, it is filled with love.

STRETCH:
I offer this stretch for you and for me.
Ask yourself, “Where am I able to drop the knife I use on myself and others? Can I love myself enough to let it go?”

See You In The Light

In MemoriamOn Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14, 2016, my husband and I facilitated our first Higher Love event. Our Higher Love events are workshops and retreats for individuals and couples focused on deepening relationships and loving intentionally. This was our very first so it was a day of “birthing” a project that has been in the gestation period since 2009. And now, after much time and consideration it has been birthed and on its way to healthy growth and aliveness.

We had a wonderful day of sharing and loving with an amazing group of people and when the day ended we were absolutely thrilled and triumphant – it was high-fives and fist-bumps all over the place. We lingered awhile with some of the attendees then packed up for the drive from New York City to our home in central NJ where we met up with my brother and sister-in-law for a celebratory Valentine’s Day dinner. Finally, after a very long day, we arrived home exhausted and ready to surrender to rest.
When I sat down on the sofa to remove my boots I noticed the blinking green light on our phone indicating messages waiting. Flopping back into the seat I put my feet up and began to listen.

Suddenly the mood of this auspicious day changed drastically as I heard my dear friend Beth telling me that her husband, Larry, had passed away early that morning – Valentine’s Day morning. Larry battled pancreatic cancer for the last four years. It was one of the most amazing battles I’ve ever seen. He did it with powerful intention, lucidity, and tremendous courage. Oh, and his usual dry intellectual sense of humor. Beth and Larry were an amazing team fighting this disease together – a united front and a force to be reckoned with. It was a rough go for a long time. Long hospital stays, the ravages of chemotherapy and endless testing and doctors and waiting for news. It was the proverbial roller-coaster ride of physical and emotional ups and downs. He actually conquered the original cancer site and at one point was actually cancer free, an unheard of result with pancreatic cancer. But those cells were virulent and eventually showed up in his liver. He was actually doing much better in the last year, gaining weight and regaining his joie de vivre enabling him to attend his son’s wedding in Florida as well as sharing sporting events, parties and family time with more vigor than had been seen in many months. Only two weeks ago he was accepted into a cutting edge clinical trial for immunotherapy. In spite of how ill he has been these last four years, his death at this time came suddenly and shocked us all. We had hoped this new therapy would give him much more time. It was not to be.

As soon as I hung up the phone after speaking with Beth I began hearing Larry’s voice. Nothing specific, just a sensation of his voice. I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it, if the fatigue from the day and the shock of this news had rendered me a little bit crazy and I was just hearing things through an exhausted brain.

After a rather rocky night trying to sleep we got up and tried to have a relatively “normal” morning. I was alone in our living room sipping my coffee when he came to me. It was Larry. I could feel his energy as clearly as I felt my own. It was as if he were in the living room with me, sharing a cup of coffee. There is no easy way to say this so that it makes sense, but I will try. Larry was “telling me” that he was amazed at how “cool” it was to be where he was. His energy was that of child-like wonder…excited and amazed. I said his name out loud and he sort of “nodded” hello (I know this sounds wild but this is how it happened) and kept indicating that it was “so cool” to be where he was. I could feel him everywhere. Then he indicated that while he felt ecstatically happy and free, he was concerned for his family and how his leaving would impact them. All I could do was acknowledge his being there and mentally offer to him that all would be well. He stayed a little while longer and his energy simply faded away. The experience lasted about two minutes…maybe less; time is hard to measure at a moment like that. I went upstairs to find Bob and told him simply, “Larry was just here” and told him what happened. Knowing me as Bob does he was not at all surprised and just hugged me and said he was glad he came to me.

Of course I allow a certain amount of healthy skepticism to enter my thinking after an experience like this one so I phoned a good friend who is also a gifted psychic and channel for some support and counsel. She was very supportive and knew that Larry and I had many spiritually-oriented conversations and that I had done a Reiki session with him while he was ill. She said that he came to me because he knew I’d understand how he was feeling the freedom, the joy, and the total happiness – and that I would know it was him. She said that he saw me as a beacon and knew that he could come to me to share “how cool” it was. I cried then. I cried because of the loss of Larry’s earthly life; I cried for the release that he was now feeling. And I was and am deeply humbled that he chose to come to me that morning. I am also truly amazed that we humans can hold deep sadness and great joy in the same exact moment.

Larry is the first friend of my generation and group of friends to die. He had a million friends, all of us in relatively the same age group. No doubt we all reflected on our own mortality and where we are in our own earth continuum as we escorted him home and held space for his family. In my thoughts I realize that Larry has done the hard work. Larry now knows the answer to the question we all hold in our minds – what happens when we die? He has stepped through the veil and knows the deal. And I sense that he is paving the way for us all for the time when it’s our turn to step across. Larry is now the beacon. I can’t help noticing that February is the gateway to spring. It’s fitting that Larry would leave at a time when new life is stirring beneath our feet.

Valentine’s Day will forever have a new meaning, just as my own birthday, when my father died 4 years ago. Not a day for sadness, although we will feel that and remember. It will be a day for Love in a new way. A day to reflect on how we are expressing love. A day to remember how much love Larry had for his wife, children, grandchildren, family and his millions of friends. It will be a day to dedicate ourselves to the purity of that Love and to remember our friend Larry Rudnick.

Farwell my friend. I will see you in the light. ~ FD