W.W.F.D.?

Stepping Out, by ~Teshah on DeviantArt

Why is it so hard to let go of the insecurities we wrap ourselves in and step up to Life?

I can only speak for myself, of course, but it must be a somewhat common weakness among we humans to untangle ourselves from the comfort zone of familiar defenses and trust that there will be something solid underneath our soul’s feet when we do. There are literally tomes written throughout our recorded history and across a variety of cultures – from religious teachings…to fundamentals taught in preschool… to lifetimes of research in psychology – all consistently telling me that the struggle is universal.  In the hearts and souls of men and women. Or at least those who own up to it being a struggle.

Now, I realize that everything I’m saying is just my opinion. That’s alright. This is my place to throw it out there and just by the sheer act of doing so, things change. In this little life’s heart and soul anyway. 😉

I think there is always room for growth. I say it here often enough, don’t I?

I am constantly given opportunities, in ways obvious and subtle. What I do with those opportunities (note: usually the mistakes I make and hopefully learn from!),  now THOSE are the touchstones that propel me forward.

I claim that I look for these opportunities, pray for them even! And when Grace grants me these situations, what do I do? *Ahem* I move gracefully through stumble over myself and react instead of respond, using the same old unconscious, self-protective, puny finite child-like measures instead of trusting an Infinite way towards growth.  And when I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve always got. ::Sigh:: I-n-s-a-n-i-t-y! With chagrin, I try to use hindsight in an effort to learn a better way.

One of the promises I have heard literally thousands of times is that,

“we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us. We suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

This promise has shown itself to be true in a myriad of different ways and places in my life. When I keep practicing stepping out and up, of letting go of expectations and all it’s micro-managing, and invite the Divine to orchestrate the outcomes, over time it BECOMES almost intuitive.

I sincerely believe that I can (to borrow from Gandhi) be the Love I want to see in the world. So in situations and interactions where I feel overwhelmed or unclear, instead of falling back into an automatic reactionary stance, I have to consciously seek a Higher ground. Those reactions, while having served a vital purpose during a time in my life, have become a stumbling blocks on the road to being that evidence of Love in the world.

Drawing from the collective experiences of others, I can strive for better:

  • Looking at my motives: what is it I’m expecting?
  • Prefacing each moment with: what good will come of it?
  • Tapping into the moments of clarity experienced by people who inspire me:
    • May I become at all times, both now and forever
      a protector for those without protection
      a guide for those who have lost their way
      a ship for those with oceans to cross
      a bridge for those with rivers to cross
      a sanctuary for those in danger
      a lamp for those without light
      a place of refuge for those who lack shelter
      and a servant to all in need.
      ” (Buddhist Prayer of Peace)
      AND
      Begin to see yourself as connected to every person you encounter (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

    OR

    What if Love were always moving through me? (Don Miguel Ruiz)

      In the words of St. Francis of Assisi (my patron saint,no less), aka:

      What Would Francis Do?

      Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
      Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
      where there is injury, pardon;
      where there is doubt, faith;
      where there is despair, hope;
      where there is darkness, light;
      where there is sadness, joy;

      O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
      to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive;
      it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
      and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

      It seems to me that maybe … just maybe… to foster intuitive strength, I need to be more consciously aware of where I hesitate to move forward with these principles in mind. Huh. Recognize and acknowledge that fear of stepping out of my comfortable place onto unknown ground and then ask for Divine guidance. Ask myself “WWFD“, praying for the strength to then DO it. And to continue to do it with the peace in knowing that I am where I’m meant to be.

      Maybe if I tatooed WWFD? onto my wrist to remind me until it becomes in line with intuition? Maybe it can eventually evolve into my own automatic response. Stranger things have happened!

      What about you? What are some tools you have that help you keep in line with Grace?

      Namaste,

      ~me


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      “…growing up in front of you…

      She is turning into herself in these little ways.  She is like stepping into the garden every day, when you know something is new, different from the day before.  That’s how children are, growing up in front of you the way they do.  Sometimes its a barely noticeable thing, like a stem that’s slightly taller.  Sometimes it’s a blossom that’s burst forth, obvious as a Vegas showgirl. WOW, you think. I’d better not miss a day. I’d better be here.

      (Elizabeth Berg ~ Range of Motion)

      In the blink of an eye..

      2003

      2011

      In the Silence

      In response to the questions asking about my long absence and am I still here, the answer is an unequivocal YES!

      A little over six months ago I was devastated by the sudden and unexpected death of my dad. (“Father” seems too formal, “Daddy” a tad too intimate, though that’s who he’ll always be to me.) While I’m no stranger to the various faces of grief, grief of this magnitude is beyond the scope of my experience. And while I’ve often thought that I’d like to try and somehow convey the road I’m traveling, my companions Motivation and Desire have been conspicuously absent, as well as Inspiration.

      The noise of life seems almost unbearable, in stark contrast to the silence of death.  Rationality can’t get an inroad into my heart’s grief – the reality and finality make it untenable.

      Its a strange thing for somebody who loves to communicate to suddenly be thrust into a silence. Grief is like that. Silent and colorless. Foreign.

      It rose with me in the morning, robbing the morning’s sunrise of color.

      It moved through the day with me, weighing me down like a wet towel in the cool of a summer’s evening, making every thought and movement cumbersome.

      The pieces of my heart’s breaking sink like stone in my belly, burying my appetite for life and sustenance somewhere deeply beneath it.

      The sheer effort of trying to be a part of a life – a life that now has an enormous chasm in it – pushes out all but the most basic instinctual habits. Priorities get shifted so that whatever energy is mustered during the day goes to the responsibilities of family and engaging in the immediate lives around me. In the sum of it all, finding the “oomph” for re-engaging in a wider circle of life falls by the wayside.

      Friends and family alike ask, “have you been writing? Taking pictures? Reading?” In other words,  basically anything that I’ve been passionate about since… forever. Nope. Haven’t been able to. ← (“Able” is the operative word.)

      But time passes and it does get easier. That dense fog I seem to be moving though continues to dissipate a little each day.  I only get blindsided by the reality that he is no longer in this world (how can he not BE anymore?!) every other day – instead of every hour on the hour.

      Its in the moments between being brought to my knees that I remember. I remember that words move me, buoy me, ignite me; that photographs draw me into the emotions evoked and suspended on the screen or in print; that stories carry me into a different reality for a space in time; that music takes me back into the soundtrack and rhythm of life.

      Its a gradual re-awakening of the parts of me that grief dimmed. I realize its a process that has to be gotten through if I want to be able to continue truly LIVING my life. And I so do! So I’m getting back to good.

      And I realize just how amazingly I’ve been blessed that I got to have such a rich and full life with him in it. I’d like to write and tell you all about him, but I’m not there yet. Baby steps.

      Today is the beginning of the Lenten season. Contrition for faults and character defects that directly affect my usefulness in this world.

      I attended an Ash Wednesday service this morning, its name taken from ashes daubed on my forehead as a sign of penitence. As the priest anointed me, he reminded me, “Remember you are dust and will return to dust.” Dad’s funeral flashed through my mind, an echo of those words resounding in my memory. I know not the time, nor the hour that these words will be uttered to those who will stand in the silence that I will leave behind. I felt a quickening inside, telling me to move along the shores of life and jump in – make a splash! – live out loud in the time I’m given.

      Lent is an opportunity to do some spiritual housecleaning and pare it down to what really matters the most in this soul’s life.

      • It is a time in prayer with my Creator. Listening in meditation, as well as petitioning in prayer.
      • Giving alms in charity, love, and kindnesses given in service to others.
      • Fasting by setting aside my physical self and focusing on the spiritual. I deny my fallible humanness and fasting heightens my awareness. During the spiritual housecleaning I’m much better able to sort out the things that are cluttering up my life so that I can honor and rejoice in the important things and people in my life. Rejecting what no longer serves me well in preparation for an Easter renewal.

      I’m settling into the silence of this Lent with a heart that still feels shattered. My fingers still drag over the keys with intention and effort. But just as I believe that the better part of my Daddy is ingrained inside of me, I know that this Lent holds a special purpose in the promise of the joy of Easter.

      Namaste,

      ~me

      What if …

      (Part 2)

      What if

      …every negative in our lives that wants to bring us down finds an equal amount of love that will buoy us back up if we embrace it?

      …people sought the truth as often as they assume the worst?

      …children were the teachers for adults … who have lost the ability to believe?

      …the people we love can hear us even after they’re gone?

      …we heard a smile and saw joy as tangible?

      …the lost time spent was given back as a second chance?

      Namaste,

      ~me

      Rise Up

      Rise Up

      Rise up and be thankful

      Let us rise up and be thankful,

      for if we didn’t learn a lot,

      at least we learned a little,

      and if we didn’t learn a little,

      at least we didn’t get sick,

      and if we got sick,

      at least we didn’t die;

      so, let us all be thankful.”  ~ Siddhārtha Gautama

      Rise up, rise above, practice gratitude!

      Namaste,
      ~me

      In Whack

      In my life, there is a need for balance that stretches to encompass all that makes me who I am.

      Its my nature to dwell in the extremes on the range of any given area. I swing wildly from one extreme, then to the other. And when an area of my life is “out of whack”, it throws the other areas out of whack. Striving for that balance – being “in whack” – that’s where the lesson lies.

      I am, like all other people moving about on this planet, made up of different parts. I have a spiritual self, an intellectual self, and a physical self, gimpy though it may be. Mind, body, and soul.  If I only care for one, the others fall out of sync. Its as simple as that.

      Not too long ago, I felt myself going out of whack. Physically I was struggling with chronic pain, mentally I’d find myself moving through molasses, while my creative spark was dimmed. The sheer energy I needed to continue moving forward depleted the reserves I had both mentally and spiritually. My muse, it seemed, was lost and I was uninspired. Everything was out of whack.

      Then I remembered something I’d read about the need to recharge. That every once in a while, its good to FEED the soul with what it craves. To get back to the basics and remember what is really important – to me. That my passions, without sustenance, will weaken and can die.

      What fills me up and sustains me are the essential ingredients in my life. They include time to meditate and reflect … to rest my body when it needs rest … to fuel it with good things, not junk … to see with gratitude and optimism … to spend time with my family and friends … to fill my mind with ideas that speak to my heart and inspire … surround myself with music  – with words that seek to uplift instead of tear down … fill the world around me with beauty … look to the simplicity of nature and seasons, of animals and insects and see my place in all of it.

      I guess you could say I needed to refresh myself. Trying to get back IN whack with a balance of mind, body, and soul and allow myself time to heal so that with a bit of restoration, I can be all that I’m intended to be in this world.

      I’m feelin it. I feel the balance returning and the time spent truly listening is pulling it all back to center.

      In whack. 🙂 I’m lovin it!

      Namaste,

      ~me

      Stillness is a Virtue

      I found this at Zen Habits and it was an “ahhhhh” moment – it just set right.

      Namaste,

      ~me

      “Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat.” ~ Lao Tzu

      Post written by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits.

      It’s a bias of our culture that stillness is regarded as lazy, as being stuck in inaction, as a negative.

      It’s not. It’s an action, and a powerful one.

      What’s more, it can change your day, and in doing so change your life.

      You’re in the middle of a frazzled day, swamped by work and meetings and emails and interruptions, or hassled by kids and phone calls and errands and chores.

      You pause. Stay still for a minute, and breathe. You close your eyes, and find a stillness within yourself. This stillness spreads to the rest of your body, and to your mind. It calms you, centers you, focuses you on what you’re doing right now, not on all you have to do and all that has happened.

      The stillness becomes a transformative action.

      Stillness can be a powerful answer to the noise of others. It can be a way to push back against the buzz of the world, to take control. It can remind you of what’s important.

      How to Practice
      Stillness, oddly, doesn’t come naturally to many people. So practice.

      1. Start your day in stillness. Whether it’s sitting with a cup of coffee as the world awakes, or sitting on a pillow and focusing on your breath, stillness is a powerful way to start your day. It sets the tone for things to come. Even 5-10 minutes is great.

      2. Take regular stillness breaks. Every hour, set an alarm on your computer or phone to go off. Think of it as a bell that rings, reminding you to be still for a minute. During this minute, focus first on your breathing, to bring yourself into the present. Let the worries of the world around you melt away — all that is left is your breath. And then let your focus expand beyond your breath to your other senses, one at a time.

      3. When chaos roars, pause. In the middle of a crisis or a noisy day, stop. Be still. Take a deep breath, and focus on that breath coming in, and going out. Find your inner stillness and then let your next action come from that stillness. Focus on that next action only.

      Let stillness become your most powerful action. It could change your life.

      “Through return to simple living comes control of desires. In control of desires, Stillness is attained. In stillness the world is restored.” ~ Lao Tzu