FINDING PEACE IN CHAOS ~ 12-1-17

As we move into the holiday season, once again I’ve decided rather than dread the darkness of winter I will invite it into my life as I would an old friend. While this time of year can feel heavy and dank, I have noticed that it is also embedded with tremendous opportunity. The most wonderous thing about it, especially these weeks leading up to the Solstice, is that the veil between worlds is thin. In my imagination I see it as a beautiful silvery mist that undulates between us and what lies beyond. If I listen deeply I can hear the voices of the ancestors and the spirits of those across the mist, and I’m often given precious guidance and always receive great love during these moments.

I love giving gifts and this season is laden with the opportunity to express love and appreciation in this way. I spend a lot of energy planning gift-giving. Last year I made many of them in the kitchen. It was messy but fun, and I was able to infuse love into each concoction. My gift-giving is always purposeful, so I’ve spent a lot of time making a list and checking it twice – three times – changing it – checking again and so forth.  I’ve loved the whole online shopping thing, though I can see how easily one can become “drunk with power” with a laptop, a keyboard and a credit card!  As a Leo that’s my kind of fun. A little scary, but a tons ‘o fun.

The impulse to slow down, be silent, and go within is probably running even with the gift-giving opportunity. I have a busy life, juggling many different pursuits. And while the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years have been frenetic in the past, I finally realize that I don’t thrive in “frantic” and have adjusted my pace to reflect that truth. As an empath and a highly-sensitive person (HSP) this means that all the noise, lights, and pumped up energy can be detrimental to my sense of well-being. I’ve learned to manage my exposure by making conscious choices, like shopping online rather than hitting the mall with a gazillion shoppers and listening to the same Christmas songs blaring in my ears for hours and hours. (Don’t you feel sorry for the sales people?) I love stillness and the winter months have asked me to be still. So, I get still. I wrap myself in my cozy blanket and sip a warm drink or eat some fresh hearty soup. I may draw or paint, meditate or doze, read or watch a great movie. And maybe I’ll just sit and be still, watching rain or snow, stroking Sophie and allowing my mind to be the wandering fool that it is. Allowing these winter stillness moments gives me energy for my winter days activities.  It also allows me space and time to dream and contemplate. My thoughts often go to the people in my life and the blessings they bring. My primary spiritual practice is gratitude, and in the winter I find that practice enhanced. Perhaps it’s the extra space allotted for stillness.

I am also finding myself awakening earlier and earlier. Perhaps it’s the desire for more light, except I’m often out of bed before the sun. The early morning hours are my favorite. In these hours I feel closest to my parents. In these hours I also hear the heartbeat of the planet and can feel into the essence of what I call God. During this time I find I can open my heart and mind more fully to hear what the Universe wants me to know. And while I feel that every moment of every hour is holy, these hours feel infused with “extra”. I find peace.

As you move through the days ahead my prayer is that you find time to nurture yourself, to go within, to find your way to stillness and peace.

Until next time.

STRETCH:  As you move through the holiday season, consciously schedule time – even if it’s only five minutes or whatever is realistic in your life – to stop, breathe, be still and release. Allow yourself to relax the muscles in your face, the ones that become tense as you focus on all you need to do.  Notice where tension resides in your body and with each breath consciously release it, even if only for these moments. Allow your mouth to curl up into a gentle smile. This gesture relaxes the muscles of the face – and a smile is always better than a frown.  Do this as often as you can.   It will make a difference.

 

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.

Weekly Stretch – 1/22/16

nightlandingIn the nearly two weeks that my husband has been away we’ve learned many things about ourselves individually and about our relationship, not the least of which is that we hate being apart. No surprises there. One thing I noticed during the long days and nights when he was away was that I missed very mundane things about being together and realized so many things that I simply take for granted, some not as obvious as others. One thing I missed was the lingering smell of his cologne in the bedroom and bathroom long after he left for work each morning; the sound of the garage door opening in the evening that precedes him walking through the door; him taking Sophie out for the late walk; and of course him taking out the garbage…to name only a few. Chances are each of you has experienced missing someone you love at one time or another so you’ve also learned this lesson…the one where the little things mean so much. Bob’s absence for these two weeks made that lesson a poignant one for me.

We live on the flight path into Newark Airport and each day I’ve been keenly aware of the sound of the planes overhead. During those late night walks with Sophie, when I missed him the most, I’d look up at the lights of the airplanes and realize that they carried other people’s loved ones inside them. It made me think that at the same moment I’m missing my beloved many others are too, so I would send a prayer to everyone who was missing someone in that moment as I thought about how much I missed Bob.
Thus my inspiration for this week’s stretch:

YOUR STRETCH: Listen for the sound of airplanes overhead and use that sound as a mindfulness bell. Stop for a moment…think about your loved ones and send them your conscious appreciation. Then send a prayer for the safety of those flying overhead and for those who love them. It’s a wonderful opportunity to practice the fine art of mindfulness.