Day 1: Freedom

img_1882

 

So, yesterday was my first full day without Facebook. I took a break for several months years ago, but this was the first time in awhile that I didn’t check posts, post my thoughts or spend time scrolling through a news feed. It felt really good, actually. I do miss my Virtual Boot Camp group, and I guess I’ll have to text them to give my updates, but overall I’m happy with my decision.

I explored Instagram a bit and even interacted with a few friends that have long been absent from Facebook. I read some blogs, and I did some research on some issues that concerned me. I even had time to talk with my friend Laura on the phone. I should have taken my dog for a walk, but I didn’t. I just wanted to relax and create some new habits. The world, all of a sudden, feels like a nicer place to be.

I want to get out of town this weekend. I was booked for a winter camping trip with a Meetup group, but after someone posted on Monday that the camping area was really wet, I decided I didn’t want to drive less than 25 minutes from home and camp in a mud-hole. I’d save it for a better time. So, I’ve been asking around for good places to go for the weekend. I can’t decide if I want an outdoor adventure or if I want to go somewhere that has some great coffee shops and shopping just for a change of pace.

I talked to my friend Effie from Baton Rouge last weekend. She said it looked like I was really loving it up here. I confirmed that I was, but I feel the urgency to build my community and hate that I don’t have a group of best girlfriends yet. She said that maybe I should just take time to enjoy the quiet. “I think God gives us times when it is quiet so we can just relax,” she said. I felt the sweet comfort of God’s word filtering through the noise to land in my ears.  Ah, yes… I think that’s exactly what I will do. With all the struggle of my time in Louisiana, it’s time to enjoy a time of peace. The job is good … the house is perfect for me … my 401K is growing rapidly … Michigan is drop-dead gorgeous … I feel good physically … and it’s going to snow again today. Life is good.

fullsizerender

I pulled the Eagle card this morning in my Medicine Cards … AGAIN. The fox was my ever-present messenger in Louisiana. Now the Eagle seems to be hovering in my sphere. “Focus on the broader view,” she urges. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details and the challenges and my “to-do” list.

What is the bigger picture? To focus on that, I think of the concepts of expansion and elevation … expanding my sphere, elevating my perspective, and opening my heart and soul. As I write those words, I realize how different that energy feels than the energy in isolating, building walls and closing doors. The Eagle asks me to shift my energy in opposition to the current pull. I see an Eagle on a Great Lakes perch, eyes blinking, scanning the horizon. Freedom is her domain.

Eagle asks you to give yourself permission to legalize freedom and to follow the joy your heart desires.

~~Jamie Sams and David Carson in Medicine Cards

 

“Welcome Aboard,” The Conductor Said

img_1646

Some of my friends do not understand why I would ever come live in a place with a northern winter. I get a lot of flack from them when I post pics of this beautiful Michigan season on Facebook. I’m sitting here looking out my window at the snowy scene at the first glimpse of daylight. Frost etchings in the corners of my windows make the most delicate frame for the winter scene.

Why am I here … at this time … and in this place … AGAIN?? I’ve asked myself the question numerous times – each time for different reasons. Sometimes it’s in angst from the effort of moving. Other times the pain of loneliness begs to know why as I struggle to get connected. And just as often, it’s asked in a sense of anticipation and wonder. Why am I here? 

img_1641

I moved when I was younger out of a sense of adventure laced with some sort of searching urgency. I was looking for something. I’ve described midlife as a time of waking up for me, and, in this time, this relocation business has reframed to something else entirely. I’ve learned over the years – and the lessons – that everything happens for a reason. The urgency for answers has gone, and I find myself relaxing into the questions.

When I was first contacted about this job, I pulled the Eagle card. It is the first card in my Medicine Card deck, and it represents a strong connection to the Great Spirit. Eagle medicine urges me to look at things from the eagle’s perspective, a perspective much broader than a human perspective. My friend Ann reminds me of this when things get tough. Sometimes I’m happy to be reminded. Other times I ask, “But why, dear God, am I here?”

Loneliness is my greatest teacher. Being an extrovert, I have a high sensitivity to loneliness, but I also have this really strong need for solitude. Achieving a balance is critical for my well-being. I’ve gotten so much better at understanding my needs, but when events like a relocation happen in my life, the challenge increases.

This bench was at the top of a dune at Grand Mere State Park, and this was the view!

I had some energy work done with my friend Lexlee the other night because I was feeling lonely and low after the holidays. During my session, she said the Eagle came to her. It was a reminder of my purpose here, and she reiterated the assurance that ‘Every step has a reason.’ I pulled a card the next morning to see how I could “step into” Eagle energy because right now it seems a bit unreachable. Wolf appeared to me and reminded me that I am a teacher. And right in the middle of the reading for the card, wolf medicine urges me to “seek out lonely places that will allow you to see your teacher within. In the aloneness of a power place, devoid of other humans, you may find the true you.”

img_1654

I still don’t know the answer to “Why Am I Here?” I may never know the answer. But I do know that there is a reason I am here. I have learned that God does not send me anywhere for a job. He sends me to places because I need to be in a specific place with a certain group of people at a certain time. I imagine myself boarding this Southwest Michigan passenger train at this moment in time,  and none of us really knows where we are going or why we are aboard. We could be riding together for a long time or a short distance, but when I think of how this all came about there is no doubt that I landed here on the wings of eagles. So, I’m just trying to step into my own best self and contribute what I think is mine to give.

img_1634

Last week I hiked in Grand Mere State Park. Like Warren Dunes, it is a beautiful place with woods and enormous sand dunes overlooking that jewel Lake Michigan. I stood on the top of a dune and looked around. “Why am I here?” I said aloud. Without even knowing that I would later that evening brush wings with eagle, I felt her presence. The view was incredible, and I was literally on top of my world. The sting of loneliness ebbed beneath the surface of my heart, but the magic of this transition held me captive emotionally. “You know why you are here,” eagle answered back as she descended upon me playfully. My soul resonated with the knowing that this is a spiritual journey that led me to the top of a dune in a very cold place alive with a warm and inviting spirit.

“Welcome Aboard,” the conductor said. “Enjoy your ride.”

img_1638

 

Lessons From the Mountain Goat and Fox

capricorn5

I am a Capricorn. In fact, I’ve been told by an astrologist that I have four houses in Capricorn. I’m not really sure what all that means, but they say it means that I am all about work, work, work. I’ve been told that I have to learn to play and find some balance although my play will often become as organized and structured as work. No matter what I do – yoga, meditation, eating healthy, hiking, running – I tend to approach it as a project to be managed, a skill to be learned or a concept to be mastered. It is my cross to bear but even the bearing is wildly interesting to me.

IMG_6634

I was trying to find a topic to write about this morning, and I pulled a Medicine Card. I burst out laughing when I pulled the Fox. I have pulled the Fox card twenty times since I’ve been here. For a long time, I thought it was trying to tell me to be invisible. I hated it. It’s so against my nature to keep my mouth shut and fade into the background. Then my friend Leah suggested that maybe the card was trying to show me how much it is against my nature to be invisible. She suggested that the lesson was in my reaction to the fox energy. I became more curious about the message that fox brings me. Perhaps the medicine of fox is much more cunning than it would first appear.

A lot has happened in my life this past year. I can honestly say that I’ve changed. Some of it had to do with the backpacking and the feeling of confidence that it gave me. Some of it had to do with relationships that ended that needed to end. Even the ending of my last role at work taught me a lot about myself. While I felt I was in a holding pattern the first two years I was here in Louisiana School, I see now that I was just learning so that I could change into who I am today. Those first two years had me bound and gagged so I could look at myself, my innate reactions and the situations I was choosing. It was painful, but, man, was it informative!

A couple of my friends have told me lately that I’m the bravest person they know. I don’t feel brave at all. I’m filled with anxiety about mundane life things like getting into a relationship, entrepreneurship and choosing a place to live. I asked one of them why they think I’m brave, and she said because I travel by myself, go hiking alone, don’t avoid conflict at work and will move across the country at a moment’s notice. Hmmmmm …. okay. I’ll buy that those things may seem brave to some people, but they are the things I do with ease. I’m not really scared of those things! Is that bravery?

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 8.23.09 AM

Photo from The Weather Channel Blog: Mountain Goats: How Do They Do It?

As I was noodling the message from the Fox card, I saw an article on The Weather Channel’s website about the mountain goat.How Do They Do It?” the title reads.  As a Capricorn, my sign is the mountain goat. I always related to the stubbornness of a goat. I could see that in my nature. But, one day, I spotted a mountain goat on the side of a cliff in Alaska. I was mesmerized by this creature that stood perched on the side of a monstrous cliff as if he was standing on solid ground. I wondered what characteristic I might have that is sure-footed in precarious situations. And I have often tried to channel that groundedness of the mountain goat when I felt I was hanging off the side of a cliff.

gettyimages-554985975

Mountain goats are made for this type of terrain. They have rubbery hooves that allow them to perch in places where their predators can’t go. Perhaps my unique makeup allows me to perch in situations that may seem inhospitable to some with a sense of ease. But, I’m totally uncomfortable and anxious in situations that others might find relaxing and quite normal. On solid ground, the mountain goat feels naked and afraid because of its vulnerability to predators. I can totally related to that paradox.

When I read Fox this morning, I had a totally different perspective because I’m in a different place now. It’s Fox’s nature to stand back and watch to see what he can learn. And, by doing this, he has this uncanny ability to predict what is going to happen. This is the power of fox. Yes, he’s silent and invisible, but it’s the knowledge that he gains during his surveillance that makes him a powerful foe. That resonated with me this morning. It took awhile, but I think I get it now. The message of fox is not that I need to be invisible – although that is part of the strategy. The message is that I need to observe my surroundings and learn from my experience. The knowledge I gain will become my advantage.

I’m not quite sure how to pull these messages together this morning. I know there is something I bring to the table with my innate nature, and then there are lessons I need to learn from the situations of my life. Perhaps I can focus on how to merge those things in my new role at work and in adapting to my life here in Louisiana. I really think I am just beginning again right now. In fact, I am sure of it. What was happening when I moved here has now ended. I am in a new era. I can’t wait to see what this “semester” brings.

Sunday Night Check-In: The Messenger

 

 

IMG_5962

On the way down the mountain this morning, a hawk (or maybe a kite) landed on the fence by the side of our driveway. I stopped the car, and I stared at him. He stared waringly at me. I hurried to get my camera and was stunned that he stayed there long enough for me to get it out and get it ready. Unfortunately, he flew away just as I was shooting a picture. Hmmm… I thought.. I need to look up hawk medicine in my cards when I get back home.

The drive to our little townhouse…

 

I am at FoxHunt Resort in Sapphire Valley NC. It’s beautiful. My brother Terry and his wife Laura gave me a week here, and it’s so much more than I expected. In fact, it’s so nice that I’ve completely canceled any plans to camp while I’m up here. My friends Carryn and JoAnn are about an hour away, and we’ll all be hanging out in a very nice townhome on the side of a mountain until next Saturday.

Heather and Rick

Since they don’t allow pets here, I found a young man to take care of Ashok for the week about 40 minutes away in Brevard. We’ve been texting back and forth for over 4 months in order to get this together. Ashok is staying with Rick and his roommates in a cute little house on Burrell Avenue. After checking in last night, I drove over to Brevard to have dinner at Rick’s restaurant and then leave Ashok at his home.

Rick works at Wine Down on Main. They serve light meals and a variety of wines, but, of course, I don’t drink so I just had dinner. They had a really nice back porch where dogs are welcome, and Rick gave Ashok a bowl of water while I had Bruschetta and a creamy bowl of Potato and Leek soup. It was delicious. Ashok and I walked around town until he got off, and I followed his bicycle home. Heather, his fiancee, is also keeping an eye on Ashok as well as some of his roommates. They leave the door open so I can go get her anytime I want to go hiking. It works out great as Brevard is very close to a lot of the trails in Pisgah National Forest.

A window in downtown Brevard….

IMG_5949

 

At Heather and Rick’s suggestion we hiked the Cat Gap Trail that starts at the local fish hatchery. It led me to another trail called John Rock , and I remembered Heather said that place was really nice. John Rock is a huge rockface with a panoramic view of the area. The hike up was lovely.

A stream followed the trail until we got into the higher elevations.  Wildflowers are profuse right now. The dogwoods, redwoods and fruit trees are in bloom as are many other trees that I don’t recognize by name. I saw several types of wild iris, trilium in three different colors (pink, white and blood red), and wildflowers of every other color under the rainbow. Ferns of all kinds are opening up and creating a lovely green carpet on the forest floor. It was a gorgeous sunny day and lots of people were out hiking.

 

While we were taking in the view on John Rock, several hawks soared by. They were catching the wind as it moved over the rock. They played and played and came back for more. Once again, I thought of the hawk this morning. Hawk was definitely talking to me today.

After sitting up on John Rock for awhile, we descended on another trail which was just lovely at the higher elevations. New growth was bursting out everywhere, and the sun and crystal blue sky was a lovely backdrop for scenic overlooks. It was extremly steep going down, and I was really glad we hadn’t hiked up on that trail. As steep as it was, I met a guy trail running. Amazing!

IMG_5977

I bought some fresh local trout, broccoli, sweet potatoes and new potatoes to cook for dinner tonight.I don’t know if I was just really hungry, or the fresh air enlivened my taste buds, but it was delicious. The trout melted in my mouth, and as I ate it I remember a big trout I saw in a stream today. I thanked the trout for giving up his life for my well-being and felt extremely grateful.

IMG_5980

Hawk is called the Messenger in my Medicine Cards. This is what my Medicine Cards say about Hawk.

…..you are to be aware of signals in your life – so notice and receive them. Hawk may be teaching you to grab an opportunity which is coming your way. On the other hand, Hawk may be bringing you the message that you should circle over your life and examin it from a higher perspective. From this vantage point you may be able to discern the hazards which bar you from freedom of flight. Remember: Hawk has a keen eye and a bold heart, for Hawk flies close to the light of Grandfather Sun.

Okay, Hawk. I’ll pay attention. Thanks for reminding me!

IMG_5961

 

Allowing the Struggle to Take Me

swan

I’ve been struggling lately. And, let me be upfront and say that I sort of love it when I’m struggling. It makes me feel alive. It means – as I’ve experienced a hundred times in my life – that change is coming. Struggle – as in giving birth – signifies that whatever “is” is giving way to something different. Struggle could mean that I’m changing or need to change, or it could mean that something outside of me is changing, and I have to adjust or move on. But, just because I know struggle is a good thing doesn’t mean I enjoy it.

I’ve been enjoying the last few months of focusing on backpacking and hiking and making friends. It’s been grounding and a blast. Work has been an obstacle to hiking. I put in my time and do my job but my focus – my heart’s desire – is on the forest. Life never lets me stay in one place for long, so it’s changing. All of a sudden – thanks to Louisiana’s state budget woes – my focus on career has become front and center. Honestly, it’s not like I can do anything about it, but the reality is that job loss could be in my immediate future. And that sort of wakes my ass up!

I’m a 30-year corporate veteran. I’m no stranger to restructuring. I’ve seen many of them. My path so far has not included being laid off. I either got out before it happened, or I was a lucky – or sometimes unlucky – survivor. Of all the people I’ve ever known that have been laid off, most have survived. In fact, many have thrived. I saw many of my Whirlpool pals enjoy their layoff and “Reduction-In-Force” package like a well-needed vacation and then move on to a new role where they were happier and more successful. Layoff is not a death knell. In fact, it often means it was time to move on, and, since they couldn’t make the decision themselves, the Universe made it for them. And I know that “reductions-in-force” are a part of business. They are not a cruel hand dealt by horrible employers that want to hurt people. If it happens to me, I am not a victim. It’s just what happens, and I have to deal with fall-out.

Granted, if I get laid off by the state of Louisiana there will be no fancy package. I’ll be lucky if I get anything more than my vacation time. So, the reality is I have to be thinking about Plan B. I don’t have to be obsessed with it – as if you can’t be obsessed with it – at this time. But, I have to be thinking about the plan I would put into place to afford living, looking for jobs, finding “bridge” jobs and surviving in a world where you need a paycheck. If I ignore it, I am in denial. And I don’t do denial. I’m a realist.

But I’m also thinking about what it might mean as a transition to a different sort of life. People who are laid off often jump into careers that they would not have considered before because the pay might be less than they were making, or the work is just drastically different. Given the fact that I would be making nothing, the salary for any career would be higher. It opens up a whole lot of options that aren’t desirable to me now. A friend of mine who used to do corporate gigs found herself without a job for quite a long period of time. One day she realized that she was always the one who liked to hand out bandaids and take care of kids and decided to apply for a nanny job. She is now a nanny and jets off to exotic locales and lives with the rich and famous. There are downsides to be sure, but she has just what she needs right now and is experiencing a side of life that she would never have known without coming to a place where she needed to be open to anything that presented itself.

Some days I do better than others. I had a rough day yesterday. After all, I’m a human resources professional. I know enough to know that it’s not easy to find a job. And best practices include networking, applying for jobs, making your job search a full-time gig. So, some days I panic that I need to be looking and making this happen. After all, I’m single. Since Ashok isn’t bringing in an income, I’m it. Of course, being single has its advantages, too. If I need to move, I can do it on a dime. If I need to live in a studio or in a tent for awhile, I have permission. I’d just have to figure out how the keep the cats in a tent. If I decide I want to hike the Appalachian Trail and spend my 401K now instead of later, I’m the sole decision-maker. But I know I also pay the consequences by myself if I make the wrong decision. So, yesterday, I was overwhelmed. I was scared. I was paralyzed.

IMG_5455

I went to Stacy’s talk at the Indigo Spiritual Center last night on the Law of Attraction. A lot of people think it’s about positive thinking, but that’s not entirely accurate. You have to actually be existing in the vibrational level of what you want to attract. She gave the example of rich people. They’ve always had plenty of money, so they don’t even know how it would feel to be poor. So, they live in the vibrational field of being wealthy. Being a wealthy person naturally attracts more wealth. But we also have “lessons”. So if their lesson is about losing all their money, then that will happen anyway. So, the Law of Attraction doesn’t trump everything. Basically, she reminded me that I have to believe that the very best situation for me will happen and bathe in the energy of how that will feel. But, I have to let God figure out how it will happen. Trust is always the lesson. Let go and let God.

This morning I pulled the Swan card. Not surprisingly, this medicine card is about surrendering. Swan trusted the Great Spirit’s plan and let herself go down the black hole into the future. When she came back she was transformed and beautiful. The plan was so much better than she ever imagined. I pulled it reversed, and it’s telling me – just like Stacy did last night – that I have to get grounded and realize that I don’t know what’s best for me. I don’t have to know what’s going to happen. I just have to deal with today and surrender to the plan that is set before me. Swan’s message tells me that the rules of the world are not the rules of the Universe. I have to decide which ones I believe and act accordingly.

So, today I’m going to do what I know is always the best path. I’ll get grounded. Stay in the present. Meditate. Get out in nature if at all possible. Trust … surrender .. allow the struggle to take me ….. let go and let God. And, if it’s coming … well, somehow I’ll just have to suck it up and let the whirlpool take me. If a layoff or job change is in my path, I know I can handle it. Bring it on. Whoever or whatever you are, you are no match for me and my team. We got this.

 

 

Transmuting Fear Into Light

FullSizeRender

I had the opportunity last week to see the screening of Audubon the Film. John James Audubon spent a good chunk of his life in Louisiana and always said it was his favorite place. It was a beautiful movie and got me thinking about where I could see an exhibit of his paintings. I’d love to see them again now that I know more about his story.

In the midst of this beautiful movie, something happened that really saddens me. I contemplated what I would need to do if somebody starts shooting. I considered laying down at my feet and hope they wouldn’t see me. Should I run for the door? I caught myself before I got very far, but I realized that this is a new normal that I don’t much like. I experienced the same thing when I went to the planetarium for the Christmas tree celebration in downtown Baton Rouge. In fact, while we were standing outside, I found myself thinking the same thing. What should I do if someone starts shooting?

I read a lot of arguments about what needs to happen with the guns. I read a lot of railings against the Muslims. Everything I read is about the imagined solution…. which is always infinitely more difficult than it might appear to us mere mortals. If societal problems were that easy to solve, we wouldn’t have any for long. What I don’t read a lot about is the real issue that is bothering everybody. Because, if I can be mad (anger) or figure out how to fix it (bargaining) or even pretend it’s not as bad as it is ( denial), I won’t have to feel sad. I won’t have to grieve the loss of safety and peace of mind that I have had most of my life. And grief sucks. Fear sucks even more. I can grieve and move through to acceptance. But, I’m at the mercy of my fear.

A good friend messaged me the other day and asked me if all of this going on in the world is affecting me? She was struggling with how to be a good model of love and light in the midst of all the hate flying around on social media. I’ve heard loud and clear the silence of the fear. I was happy to be able to talk with her about it a minute because I do feel it’s important for us to talk about our feelings. But, it’s most important to get to the bottom of what we are feeling rather than be in the anger. Anger is a secondary emotion that just covers up our fear or sadness. It helps us feel powerful when we are feeling powerless inside. Unless we release the underlying feelings, we’ll stay stuck in our anger – or even worse – our fear.

I asked my guides to help me pull a card this morning that would give me some insight on how to deal with the fear that is just under the surface with most everybody right now. Not surprisingly, I pulled the Rabbit card reversed which is about … you guessed it … fear. I’ll let you read the story by clicking on the above link, but, in essence, Rabbit was cursed with the gift of calling whatever he fears to him. So, if he’s afraid of an eagle, he will call Eagle toward him and be eaten.

Here is the lesson. If you pulled Rabbit, stop talking about horrible things happening and get rid of “what if” in your vocabulary. This card may signal a time of worry about the future or of trying to exercise your control over that which is not yet in form – the future. Stop now! Write your fears down and be willing to feel them. Breathe into them, and feel them running through your body into Mother Earth as a give-away.

I pulled the Rabbit card in reverse which is indicative of the paralyzed feeling that Rabbit feels when he is stalked. The medicine card urges me to wait for the forces of the Universe to start moving again but, in the meantime, I should relax and take care of myself. I’m working on doing things that support my energy and not deplete it.

Take a hint from Rabbit. Burrow into a safe space to nurture yourself and release your fears until it is time again to move into the pasture, clear of prowlers who want a piece of your juicy energy.

The key here is to feel my fear and then let it go. I can blow it into a stone or a stick. I can let it drain into the Earth. I can write it down and burn it. Ignoring it (denial), trying to fix it (bargaining) or getting angry will never resolve it. It will only keep me stuck. I believe the world needs all of our positive energy raising the vibrational energy higher. We have enough lowering it, and fear and hate continues to lower the energy even further.

Kenny G has a version of Auld Lang Syne that I love. The music is interspersed with recorded radio broadcasts of significant events in our history. When I listen to those broadcasts, I realize that the world has gone through many periods that were tragic and scary. We are still here. I hope one day today’s problems are a distant memory, too.

I’ll leave you with that. I hope it will bring you hope and a sense of peace like it does me. All of us light bulbs need to bond together and shine. The world needs it.

If you want to know ways to raise your vibrational energy, please see these resources below:

11 Ways to Raise Your Vibration by Lexlee Overton

Demon Slayers Handbook by Tracee Dunblazier

Putting’ on the Dog

IMG_4504

I’ve been sliding downhill a bit this week. When I get overwhelmed at work or life, one of my tendencies is to shut down … hide, isolate and withdraw affection from others. It’s an ENFP trait. My friend Laura and I were talking about it the other day. I’m normally open and energetic, but, when I get overwhelmed, I boomerang back the other way with a dizzying intensity. Yesterday was really hard. I’m not going to lie.

Luckily in the last few months, I’ve been given some tools to work with my energy, and I’ve been learning how to use them. In an unusually long span of feeling clean, clear energy, it’s been easy to keep up the pace. But, yesterday, I had to really focus myself on using them. My negative bent was telling me nothing would work to pull me out. I ignored that message as much as I could, and I chose a few crystals to put under my pillow last night. I did my yoga practice last night and this morning. This morning Lexlee’s light-raising meditation perked me up a bit. I’m still flying half-staff this morning, but it’s half better than yesterday. I’m grateful for tools.

I pulled the dog card from my Medicine Cards. Dog medicine is about service to others and loyalty. Dogs are so loyal that they often are trained to go against their loving nature to please their masters. They are protectors, and they have been servants of man for many, many centuries. I think of my girl, and I know that she puts up with a pretty boring life most days waiting on me to come home from work, and she never complains. She basically does whatever I want her to do. It inspires me to treat her like a queen when I can.

When I first read it, I recoiled a little because I’m already feeling overwhelmed. Is dog medicine telling me to just buckle down and keep my mouth shut? But it asks some questions that changed my insights. “Have I recently forgotten that I owe my allegiance to my personal truth in life?” dog asks. “Have I been loyal and true to my goals?” There are others, but those are the ones that seem to apply to my “pain” today.

IMG_4308

When I think of those questions, my body relaxes as I realize that I need to remember to focus on the people I’m serving in my work and in my personal life. What I do requires a presence of mind and a heart connection to those I’m teaching. In order to be present with that intensity, I have to let go of all of the political crap and inconsequential  drama that goes on with work. It sort of reminds me of Ashok’s recent incident eating sand. She was trying to eat something in the sand and ingested too much sand along with it. What she was eating didn’t cause a problem, but the sand could have killed her if I had not intervened. I have to focus on my goal and my personal service to others. The rest of it is just sand.

So, here goes … I’m going to try to channel dog today and see what happens. I think I’ll bring a citrine crystal along with me, too, just for good measure.

 

Monday Blues: Nap-time, Butter and Squirrels

Naptime after work.

Nap-time after work.

I’m not feeling so well tonight. I felt great this morning. I mean I felt so good I noticed that I was feeling much more clear-headed and energetic for the morning. I’m on a sugar detox again. I’ve still been pretty good about sugar, but my usage has gradually been creeping up into more of a habit again. And, when I went to Michigan I enjoyed quite a few sugary treats. I didn’t feel so great the Tuesday after I returned. So, I immediately stopped buying the occasional mocha at Starbucks and eating dark chocolate as a snack. But I was still putting honey in my tea and eating granola and cane syrup on my yogurt in the mornings.

I managed to quell some of the sweet cravings by cutting back, but I wasn’t totally committed. My friend Jennifer and I went to lunch on Wednesday, and she was really working hard on continuing her sugar detox. After a long discussion about sugar, I came away re-motivated to come off the sugar again. Thursday was my first real day without sugar at all on purpose. I haven’t had much of a withdrawal. I wasn’t doing that much regular sugar, but I have found myself getting into down moods on occasion due to the withdrawal of my favorite drug. Friday night was bad. And, tonight got bad. It seems to hit me in the evening around quitting time at work. I even came in and took a nap tonight.

IMG_2195

I woke up from my nap with an intense craving for sugar or junk food or something comforting. It’s the depression wanting a snack. I knew it, and I promised myself I wouldn’t give in. This will pass by tomorrow morning or maybe even by the time I go to bed tonight. I’ve read that eating a high protein, high-fat meal will help with sugar cravings, so I cooked some fresh asparagus with butter, sliced a half of an avocado with some cherry tomatoes, sauteed some grass-fed beef and slathered a piece of Sunflower Bread with cracked pepper goat cheese. It was a yummy, tasty meal, and the sugar craving has gone away. Now, I’m just left with a little bit of a down mood. I’ll either do a yoga nidra later or take a hot bath. Either will make me feel better in the long run. I just want to curl up and close out the world.

I re-read one of my blogs that I wrote when I gave up sugar before, and I had some good tips that I had forgotten. I need to make some of that yummy black rice pudding for snacks and some blackberry grits. I have some frozen blackberries. Maybe I’ll make them tomorrow morning for breakfast for a change. That would be creamy and comforting. I’m using rice grits now. I find they taste much better than corn grits plus I get the nutrition of brown rice. I can see why I got back on some sugary treats. I forgot about the yummy snacks I was making that made me feel like I was having dessert. Sugar is really a relentless temptress.

IMG_2196I pulled the squirrel card tonight in my deck of Medicine Cards. Squirrel medicine tells me to prepare myself for the future. If squirrel has scurried into my cards today, it may be that it’s telling me to honor my future by readying myself for change. Squirrel tells me to be prepared but don’t go nuts with it. I’m supposed to be reserving something for future use. It also urges me to know that all will ‘be taken care of in its own time.’ Maybe part of my drive to give up sugar is an effort to gather my energy and my wits about me for some change that may happen in the near future. And my body may be telling me to rest with my down moods. As erratic as squirrels seem to be, I think I like squirrel medicine. It seems to suit me right this moment. I think I’ll go do a yoga nidra. I feel like checking out. Night, y’all. Sweet Dreams.

Slip-Sliding in Integrity and Impeccability

IMG_0970I’m having writer’s block. I don’t feel like writing. I feel like what I’m writing about is boring. Most days I’d just rather go to bed than write. They say the way to get through it is to keep writing. So, I’m going to do the best I can to keep using the prompts I know that work. Tonight, I pulled a Medicine Card with the request that they give me a topic to write about. I pulled the Jaguar card reversed.

I had to buy some new Medicine Cards before Christmas. I took them to work in my lunchbag and something leaked on them. I’ve had those cards since about 2000. I hated to get new ones because I loved the fact that those cards had been everywhere I’d been, but I had no other choice. They were sticking together, and I couldn’t shuffle them anymore. I ordered off David Carson’s website instead of going to Amazon. A friend of mine had ordered off Amazon, and the quality of the cards was not as nice as mine. I thought I’d do better to go to the source. I had some problems with PayPal, and contacted the website. Lo and behold, David himself emailed me back. I actually had an email conversation with the creator of the cards. I told him how much I loved them and that I write about them on my blog. He assured me that he didn’t know much about technology, but he’d love to check out my blog. I have no idea if he ever came by. But, it was really cool.

I got out of the habit of using the cards while I was waiting on my order. I’ve only drawn a few in the last few months. So, I thought I might draw tonight for inspiration. The Jaguar is about integrity and impeccability, a standard that is usually impossible to meet but is a great goal. Since I’m a perfectionist, I think in terms of always having integrity. If I slip up, I’m doomed…. a bad person ….needing to be punished ….  going to hell if there is any such thing. So, I hate when I draw this card. It reminds me of my imperfections in this area. I knew the card was reversed, so I suspected it was calling my attention to an area where I have not been impeccable or in integrity. I immediately listed all of those things I’ve done that I shouldn’t have done, the words I’ve said that should have never been spoken, the days when my attitude got the best of me. Really, Universe? This is what you want me to write about? Well, I’m not telling them where I’ve fallen short. This is public.

It does indeed ask me to correct those areas where I’ve fallen short. But, in the last few sentences, it also says, “Integrity requires a forgiving and open heart. Compassion and mercy are also needed. Self-blame or pointing fingers at others only shows your own lack of integrity.” It reminds me that I need to forgive myself when I fall short. I hate these slippery goals that aren’t black and white. If I’m going to be damned if I’m not in integrity, just do it. Don’t tell me to do it and then let me slide by telling me to forgive myself. I’m being facetious, of course. How could I function if I had to carry all of those faults over the years with me forever? And, I’ve learned over the years that I cannot forgive others completely until I forgive myself. If I’m still holding my own debts in unforgiveness, I truly can’t let go of others’. It is such an important practice and one that I slip and slide on all the time. I’m working on compassion for others’ shortcomings now in a big way. In some areas, I’ve expected too much of people who couldn’t do any better. It’s part acceptance, part forgiveness and part compassion. And none of it is easy… especially when it comes to my own shortcomings.

I’m working really hard to enjoy what is put in front of me. It’s a combination of having gratitude, cultivating acceptance and resolving to lower my expectations. The fact that I’m even trying is amazing because there was a long time in my life when I didn’t understand my role in my own unhappiness. And, if I’m truly honest, I know that some of the people I interact with on a daily basis are clueless in that area, too. Having been there, I should have more understanding that they don’t know any better. There I go with the ‘shoulds’ again. Let’s try that again. Having been there, I am going to have more understanding that they don’t know any better. When I was a supervisor at Starbucks, one of my teen baristas got treated really rudely by a customer at the drive-through. He was so hurt and didn’t understand why she treated him like that. I told him that he had to deal with her for 10 minutes. She has to live with herself all the time. His face brightened, “You’re right,” he said. It doesn’t make it hurt less, but sometimes it does help me have compassion when I remember how miserable it is to be unaware of what is causing my pain.

I’ve Decided to Let Myself Fall Apart

 

MeLeah

Me and Leah

“I am releasing myself of all plans at the moment because I’ve decided to let myself fall apart,” my beautiful friend said.

“I support falling apart,” I replied, knowing that when it comes time to fall apart, it is much better to slide into the disintegration and rest than to keep trying to rise to the f*cking occasion.

I learned something very significant in my trip to Memphis. It is something that I had suspected, but I had to get around my friends that don’t hold back and who don’t rise to the occasion when it’s not needed. I don’t know how I found such a large population of single, courageous women in my 7 years in Memphis, but I am so grateful that I did. It was the first place where I built a community where I could be real and needy and irritable and still be loved.

A friend of mine shared with me her disappointment in her closet friends in the last 4 months. She just separated from her husband and not one of her closest married friends has even contacted her to ask about how she’s doing or offer support. I had a similar experience after my first divorce. I’ve heard others talk about the desertion of their married friends when they divorce. It’s a common thing, and I’m not sure why it happens. I often wonder if they are afraid they will ‘catch it’ and end up divorced if they socialize with someone going through the process. Or maybe they just don’t know what to say so they say nothing at all. Thank goodness that is not the kind of friends I had in Memphis. And, I certainly am lucky. I hadn’t known most of them very long since I’d just moved there a year prior, and I was one of those women who incessantly harped on my marriage falling apart. I know they were sick of hearing it, and I wasn’t any fun. But, these women just let me be and held my hand through the process.

100% of my single friends in Memphis and 50% of my married friends are in the same career/life/money quandry I am suffocating through. It seems that this whole question of supporting ourselves for the next 30 years and maybe even retiring – although most have given up that idea completely – is standing in front of us like a big grizzly bear hungering for lunch. Some don’t know if they can make enough money for a long enough time doing what they currently love doing. Others hate what they are doing and want something different. Still others are okay with what they are doing but know they need more money. Do I go back to school and get further education when the price of a college degree costs as much as a Mercedes? How could I ever pay that off? Should I take a lower paying job so that I’m happier and don’t jeopardize my health? Should I take a higher paying job for more security and give up the things I love? What other options are out there? Do I take more than one job and just live for work? How do I grow my business when I’m busy falling apart? That grizzly really does look hungry, doesn’t it? What are you supposed to do when faced with a hungry grizzly bear?

Feeling_Grizzly-1600x1200

I told one of my friends that I’ve gotten so desperate at times trying to outrun this grizzly bear that the thought of just finding somebody to marry crosses my mind. Sometimes it seems so much easier to find somebody to share finances and face this bear together than it does to stand it down alone. Then I remember my experience with an out-of-control ex who almost ruined us financially and the stories of my friends whose husbands have gambling problems and other financially – draining habits. Getting married is no guarantee that you’ll be mutually sharing the burden. Besides, that’s no reason to marry. It’s just a seemingly quick fix to the single, no children dilemma.

I went to a women’s circle last night, and the topic was transformation. We talked for an hour and a half about what that means to us and someone brought up the monarch butterfly. Looking at it from the outside, the transformation of a caterpillar in its cocoon to a butterfly looks so amazing and beautiful. But, I wonder if there is fear or loss or pain involved in that rather significant change. Surely, the caterpillar has no idea what is happening to her. Surely, she may want to fall apart at the thought of her world changing so drastically and maybe forever. I’ve been through transformations. Transformations are different from a change. They are a total change of being, and, in my past experience, I did not know what was going to be on the other side. I just knew that my life as I knew it was over. I feel much like that now, and I want to fall apart, too. I don’t even want to shake my angry fist at that damn grizzly bear. I just want to sit here and fall apart in a cozy cocoon. Maybe he’ll get scared and run away.

I drew the Turtle card this morning. Turtle medicine is about connecting to Mother Earth and the feminine. It calls me to ground myself and treat myself with motherly compassion. I drew it reversed, and the reading asks me to remember how helpless a turtle must feel when she is turned over and trying to right herself with her little legs that can’t touch the ground. I imagine she wants to fall apart, too. The very shell that is supposed to protect her has her captive in a vulnerable position. The card begs me to remember in this uncomfortable situation that I am never alone. I got a taste of that this weekend. Yes, there is a big, hungry grizzly bear knocking on my door. But, I’ve got numerous kick-ass, beautiful, courageous and transparent friends that are fighting grizzly bears, too. Surely we can share tips and hold back that damn bear when each of us needs to fall apart.

 

Today, I’m going to fall apart. I brought me a beautiful snack of Stilton cheese with apricots, fresh pears, crackers and dark chocolate and coconut almonds. I’m going to treat myself to beautiful foods today and acupuncture this evening. I’m sipping on herbal tea and avoiding stimulants of any kind.  Right before I left my friend Leah’s yoga studio on Saturday, we took a picture together. I was wrapped in my favorite felt hoodie. She laughed and said it looked like she had me wrapped in a big, cozy blanket. “You did,” I replied, “for the last hour and a half.” I practiced some yoga this morning to replicate that blanket-wrapping feeling. Right now, the bear is sleeping. It looks like even grizzly bears respond to compassion and need rest. I’ll fight him another day when I feel like rising to the occasion…. maybe…. Right now, I’m falling apart.

sleepingbear