WEEKLY STRETCH – 7-28-17 ~ Attitude Shift


(I just love this photo and thought it a good one to post to welcome my birthday month, August.)

We are going to be moving again. I have mentioned that the woman who owns the house we live in will be selling it in the Spring, which means we are about to start sifting through our stuff again. We moved into this house two years ago January. It’s been a great transitional place for us to land and recharge. We took this time to heal and reflect on where we’ve been and envision where to go next. We’ve found a wonderful place not far from here and are excited about the prospect of living there.

What has been hovering in my consciousness is a double-edged sword of dread around the hard physical and emotional work of cleaning out, letting go, packing and unpacking juxtaposed with the wonderful feeling of lightness that comes with shedding excess, the prospect of living space that suits our lifestyle, and starting over with a sense of the fresh and new.

Chatting with my cousin Lana the other day I shared my conflicting feelings with her. She told me that she absolutely loves moving. I looked at her like she had two heads and asked her why. I loved her enthusiastic response. She shared how much she loves the idea of handling all of her “stuff” again. She loves touching things that are around her home that she ordinarily would take for granted. She enjoys taking time to remember where she was when this thing or that thing was purchased or received. She enjoys having time to hold these memories and feelings in her consciousness. For her it’s a gift, an opportunity, a great pleasure – to reflect on her life and the events and circumstances that brought these things into her life and the people and places associated with them. As she described her perspective on moving I noticed a peaceful faraway look in her eyes and could feel how sincere she was. I sort of shook my head and wondered what I might be missing.

So, I’ve taken Lana’s point of view to heart. I’ve decided to make the effort to shift my attitude about the upcoming move. I admit that this requires a good deal of consciousness since I am aware that my thoughts and responses thus far have been reinforced – by me. Up to now I’ve allowed myself to perpetuate the idea that moving is going to be a drudge, a bummer, a pain in the ass, (I could go on but that’s not really helpful). Instead I’m adopting Lana’s take on the whole thing, looking at my belongings with new eyes, and approaching the move with an embrace rather than “talk to the hand” resistance. I’m looking around my home assessing my stuff; thinking about what stays and what goes, what we should sell or give away, what is a treasure and what is no longer of service to us but could be of value to someone else. I’m realistic enough to know that some of these decisions may be difficult, especially when handling things that belonged to my parents or that I’ve been saving as memorabilia but only look at when I’m moving it from one place to another. Some of the boxes we have stored can be likened to Pandora’s, filled with things I haven’t seen for ages that, uncovered once again, suddenly becoming seductive valuables that I can’t imagine parting with but have no real meaning or value in my life now, or that bring up times and places I may want to leave behind. I’m preparing for those – steeling my resolve to make choices to finally let these things go.

The best part, and the most fun, is envisioning the space that will be made for the “new”. Clearing away the debris and residue of our life will give us the latitude and spaciousness to allow new things to come in that will enliven and beautify our new digs. I’m already “acting as if” when I browse magazines or stores that have furniture and décor that I’d like to purchase for us. I’m putting things on Pinterest, clipping pictures, taking snapshots, and choosing wall colors to help envision our new surroundings.

I’m so grateful to Lana for sharing her take on moving and giving me another way to approach it. Like so many things in our lives, it’s a day by day shift that I now welcome since I know the other side will be provide lightness and newness that will refresh our life and lead us to what is next.

More to come.

STRETCH: Look at your material things, things you treasure. Think about how they came into your life and remember – remember the time, the place, the people – remember the feelings and emotions – the season and the reason. Take a little time to appreciate it all.

Travel Epilogue ~ 7-8-17


St. Bonaface Cathedral, Winnipeg, Canada, 7/17

Home again from our most recent voyage I am grateful to be safe and sound, snug in our little nest with Sophie. She certainly enjoyed her days with her human sister, brother and nephew and her furry nephews too. So grateful that she was loved and happy while we were away. We managed to survive a variety of travel challenges, somewhat the worse for wear, but more experienced for future travel. Wish those lessons had been a little easier, though.

I find my thoughts drifting hither and yon right now. So much has come into my life these past few months and I feel the urge to be still. And yet there is so much to do. My sixty-eighth birthday is in six weeks. Sixty-eight! I can barely type the words much less wrap my mind around that reality. In so many ways I feel like a young woman with my whole life ahead of me (though the mirror would belie that notion). I remember being in my thirties, making plans for my future, thinking I had all the time in the world to try this or that. I thought I might go back to school and become a graphic designer or a therapist. I had time to do that if I wanted to. I remember feeling like there was always going to be time for things I might have had to put off for one reason or another. Time was on my side then. More ahead than behind.

This week I was reminded of the fragility of life and the passage of time. On one hand it was deeply saddening holding space for dear ones who have lost a beloved family member. It reminded me poignantly of my own losses, specifically of my parents. I felt the depth of our friends’ sorrow and grief and couldn’t help but be reminded how it was for me and my family when we faced the same process of letting go and resolving my parent’s lifetime of worldly goods and possessions. It’s a dichotomy – we have possession of a lifetime of memories that bring us tremendous joy and yet break our hearts and bring us to floods of tears at the loss of those days and the people we love at the very same time. Such events bring on the melancholia that goes along with living a life that is full, and if we are lucky, long. And if it is long, one of its inevitable gifts will be navigating the losses that accompany lengthy time on the planet. Those of us who are older are now facing the departure of the elders, yes; but we are also facing the loss of friends and workmates and people like us, requiring a reality check that may feel a bit uncomfortable.

So I am reflecting even more on what is still on the table for me to do with my time here. It’s even more valuable with each passing day. I am resisting the urge to hurry up and “do” and the mentality of trying or striving to get it all done before it’s my turn to move on. Rather, I am choosing to step mindfully and consciously so as to touch those I love and those I encounter as gently and lovingly as I can. I am choosing to create beauty with my hands, with my brush, with my heart, with my words. I pray to leave behind a legacy of love and good work so that my memory is one that brings smiles, inspiration and laughter more than the inevitable sadness of loss. I know there is still time and I plan to use it well and with an active sense of humor about it.

It strikes me that I may need to go walking in nature, re-invent my meditation practice, stretch my body and still my mind and heart. I am in that place of reflection and will be asking my Guides to show me how best to step into each moment of each day so that my being may be a blessing. And as I do I hold in my heart the memory of all of our dear ones and the gifts they have left for us.

Happy Easter ~ 4-14-14 ~ Stretch

Today is Good Friday. I love that a day is called “good” and, while most of us know why today is called Good Friday specifically, I think every day has the potential to be good. In fact, I’m consciously affirming that my days are good. Upon awakening each day, as soon as I’m aware that I am back in my body from sleep, I say, “Thank you for bringing me back to my body. It’s a good day.” This has been my practice for many years. It’s especially poignant now for a million reasons, not the least of which is that I love that I’m in a body, especially this one.

The season we have entered is life-affirming. Today I’m reflecting on memories of springtimes past. Some of the memories are happy, some bittersweet. Regardless, every memory is infused with a sense of newness and hope. I find that coming out of the heaviness and darkness of winter my awareness is sharp and little gets passed my notice. Yesterday I saw the sharp green points of my beautiful hostas poking out of the ground, more blooms are showing up on trees – you know the white ones that when they begin to fall look like snowfall in warm sunshine, and tiny little green buds are more and more apparent on the trees outside our door. Gaia is awakening and I’m feeling the urge to break out my camera and take myself on an “artists date” to the park or a garden. This year more than any other I want to be in it, up to my neck in hope, growth, flowers, dirt and new life.

Today, on this very good Good Friday, my heart is full and hopeful. Easter Sunday marks a magical moment in time that reminds us that there is life after life and that we can emerge from what seems like dismal darkness into radiant light. It says to us that while there may be dark clouds around us, beyond the clouds the sun is shining, always shining. It affirms to us that there is always hope and that we are never alone.

Happy Easter beloveds.

STRETCH: Get outside and feel the Earth under your feet and the sunshine on your face. Don’t miss it.

Another Tango 12-8-16


Photo by Lysandro Trotta

In the process of creating something altogether new I find myself in unfamiliar territory and it is scaring the crap out of me. It’s amazing that at this stage of my life I am once again at a starting point which is rife with all the questions of worthiness and enoughness that seem to arise at a time like this. In artist-speak I’m looking at a blank canvas wondering if I have the right stuff to make a piece of art appear and I can feel myself shaking and quaking at the thought of failing. I keep asking myself, “When have I felt this way before?”. The answer, “Many times.” And I see each one of them percolate up from my memory banks into my consciousness so that I can review them and remember the terror.

Most vividly I recall my first day of seminary. By the end of that day I felt completely defeated and unworthy. I was quite certain that I’d made a mistake in judgement and who was I to think that I could be a minister. I feel that way right now – and who am I to be what I’m trying to be this time?

The massage therapist in me is aware of the gathering of tension right at the top of my shoulder blades then slithering its way up my cervical spine to make a nest just under my skull at the occipital area. I can feel the beginning of of a headache, you know the one that makes your head feel like it’s been blown up like a balloon and the pressure of all that air inside wanting to find a way out. In general I’m wound up like a tight spring and frankly it doesn’t feel great. All of this drama because my old friend, Miss Unworthy and her pal Lack of Confidence, have decided to stop by to remind me that they only went on vacation – they didn’t move out of town.

After a fitful night of sleep, still feeling uneasy about my new project, I asked for help. I allowed myself the luxury of being totally vulnerable and admitted that I need to find my center with this work if I’m to be be able to do it well and enjoy it. I feel that there IS a way, I just haven’t discovered it yet. The fallout from my night of anxiety and tension is the way my body feels. My neck is extremely tight and sore, my back and shoulders ache, and I have the obligatory headache that accompanies tight neck and shoulder muscles. I feel like I was in a bar brawl. And I guess to some degree I was. I was brawling with myself. I was fighting with my inner critic, the one who says “You’re not good enough to do this. You don’t have the skills. You should know how to do this. You are not going to succeed. You will let people down. You’re small.” This sort of unrelenting negative self-talk has been a nemesis of mine for many years. I have clocked many hours in the therapist’s chair working on it. I thought I had conquered most of it by now but here it is again. Me and my shadow doin’ that famous tango.

What the light of day has brought with it is the realization that I am indeed dancing with my shadow again, and I have had enough of this particular dance. I’ve reached an age where I feel like I’ve earned enough gold stars to be free from this sort of angst. And it’s because I CAN look back at times in my life when I’ve felt this way and can see how it all turned out. I am a great mother, I have taught myself a great many things and am proficient at them-without a college degree, I am a talented massage therapist and have helped many people heal themselves, I have been a successful minister and mentor not just formally but all of my life, I am an intuitive and a psychic and I trust my inner knowing, I CAN speak in front of people-coherently- and not die. This is a small fraction of my list of triumphs. And in every case I was sure I would be a flop, a big ole’ failure. Like the little engine that could, I think I can. In fact I know I can. I also know that I can find my center by asking the questions that need asking and by insisting on having the appropriate information and tools to do what I need to do so that the project will be successful and I can leave an imprint I will be proud of, all without feeling pressure and tension that make me ill.

Last night my fear of failing was getting the better of me. The self-imposed pressure was making me feel sick. I will not allow myself to feel that way again. I deserve better. My body deserves better. There are many stresses in life that are out of our control. I get that. This, however, isn’t one of them. I will find the information I need to move forward with my new project and I will once again see that I can do whatever I set my mind and heart to do – without long visits from old friends. In fact, I think they need to go on a much longer vacation, preferably very far away.

ELECTION REFLECTION 11-10-16

cry-eye

It’s not easy to formulate a post this week considering the events of the last 24 hours. I shared on Facebook that I went to sleep Tuesday night with hope in my heart and awoke to news that made me cry for the better part of the day. And yet, as someone who has said “Yes” to the call to service I find myself living the epitome of what it means to stretch. Coming to terms with the reality that half of my country supports a man who is not fit to lead for reasons I choose not to reiterate (simply because I’m sick to death of the list that has been shared time and time again) is the ultimate stretch indeed.

I’ve heard it said that growth can be and often is painful. I can certainly attest to that having lived enough years to look back and see the truth in it. And many wise and insightful people have noted that our country has been considering the face of its own darkness for months. Those same wise ones are also saying that with the outcome of the election comes an opportunity for us to bring light into that darkness; to be agents for change – of heart and of mind. I dearly want to believe that to be true, and I dearly want to be one who bears light for those who cannot see. But today all I can do is honor the depth of my own feelings of disappointment, despair, fear, anger and confusion. Today I must acknowledge the feelings that arise, bow in great humility to those feelings, cry, hide, pound a pillow, whatever I CAN do to allow these feeling to come up and out. I must do this to clear the space in my heart where Love lives. And in this as in all situations, Love is all that matters. So, I spent the day giving voice to my feelings; letting my emotions have their way; crying my tears and connecting to my loving communities in prayer and meditation. I am noticing the wide expanse of emotional ups and downs, especially noting the depth of Love that has been shared in various ways. I’m always stunned by the human spirit, and how much we can hold in one tiny moment. I’m also stunned by the resilience of the human spirit and the way it finds its way to its CenterPoint in the aftermath of upheaval.

Deep in my heart, despite what has occurred, I believe in the Divine Spark that is alive in everything. I know that even within a shattered heart live millions of sparkling fragments that continue to illuminate our being and all of life. I know that all people share a deep desire for peace and happiness. That is our commonality and the point at which we come together regardless of our politics or beliefs. This is where I intend to arrive once I’ve had my tantrum and have come back into my own sense of balance. And from this place of intrinsic Divinity we will move forward into the mystery of what is to come. Personally, I feel that our best is ahead. I believe the wisdom we will gain from recent events and those to come will give us deeper and wider understanding so that we as a world can move forward into our greatest glory.

In the meantime, I am still working through my grief. I intend to emerge from this work with renewed dedication to be of service to all beings and to live into the idea of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept that comes from ancient rabbinic teachings calling for the “healing of the world”. Today I am reminded of the personal vows of service I took when I was ordained in 2003. I humbly share them with you here.

It is with great humility and gratitude that I vow:
to live each day with God as my friend and constant companion
to keep my heart open to myself and others and to look deeply into the heart of my fellow beings to see the Divine Spark that resides in each of them
to live with integrity, authenticity, and mindfulness
to be a conduit for God’s divine creativity and love, for the benefit of all beings
and to live with the consciousness of the Universe as a harmonious Oneness.

STRETCH: Honor your feelings; allow yourself to express any emotions that arise. Accept what you cannot change and stand firm in your intention to see the world as completely whole and at peace. Look beyond the darkness for the Divine Spark that illuminates all things.