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Perfection and Blame

Those who know me probably agree that in a good portion of my adult life I have been a perfectionist or perfectionism has influenced my decisions at times (I know my daughter and son-in-law agree). I mean I can spot a minuscule crumb on the floor from twenty feet away and must get it up. It is as though I cannot help myself as sad as that sounds🙄. Being a perfectionist makes me happy in many areas of my life but it has also led me to give up at times on creative ventures or adventures because I could not get it perfect.

This need for perfection I know drives some folks crazy so I always blamed it on being raised by a perfectionist mother. Oh it is so nice and easy to blame someone else. The other evening my mom and I were eating dinner. For some reason she brought up the fact that even as a young child my bed had to be made up perfectly with all my dolls lined up on it a certain way and nobody better touch it. My initial reaction was that cannot be true when in my heart I knew it probably was although I conveniently forgot about it. The truth is I probably came into this lifetime with perfection as a part of me.

Don’t get me wrong. I really do not see it as a bad thing if tempered with a hefty dose of reality and forgiveness. But this post is not really about that. It is about conveniently blaming someone else for traits we somehow see as bad or negative in our personalities. How embarrassing to realize this. But it was also amusing to picture the 4 year old me already declaring my perfectionism and need to control. Thank goodness I can laugh about it (for the most part). And I also realize that blaming keeps me from fully honoring and loving all of me including idiosyncrasies.

Are the aspects of your personality you discredit or blame on someone else? Are you willing to consider taking ownership? Even more important can you honor and love all of yourself and have a sense of humor about it?

Let me know if there are other stories about aspects of life you want to read.

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The Afghan

During the recent snow storm here in Virginia I was sitting drinking coffee and reading with a warm afghan over my lap. I started thinking about the afghan and its origins which led me to family ties and other musings. My father’s sister knit it probably between thirty and forty years ago. It was given to my mother and at some time passed on to me. For many years it was draped over the back of my sofa and used as a comfy perch for Mystic the cat. I now use it on winter mornings as I sit in my favorite chair.

This afghan is rows of different shades of blue with white mixed in to it. I am not a knitter (although I have made several half hearted attempts to learn and just never got it), but I can guess that knit and purl stitches create the wave like effect. Some rows are closely knit and others appear looser but it all works together to not only provide warmth and comfort but a pleasing complete pattern.

The aunt who knit this was not someone I saw often when growing up as her husband was in the Army and they lived in different states. My memories of her are of a warm, practical woman with a wonderful laugh who enjoyed her family and friends. When we visited her she treated us with love and was able to make even children feel respected and acknowledged as individual personalities.

What is all this pondering over an afghan? I am not a person who is much attached to things (or so I think😊). In fact I need a home as uncluttered as possible and often say I could easily live in the simplicity of a Japanese style home. However I am very appreciative of what I have. But I was surprised at my seeming “attachment” to this object. And I am beginning to see that the meaning for me is on several levels.

First, it is connection to family. Something that brings smiles to my face and loving memories not only of her and her family but of my father and grandmother. It reminds me of the heritage I have of strong women and men. Some bonds are tight or close and some loose with family members but all are connected and a part of who I am. Ultimately the afghan is connected to the Creator who provided the talent and interest in its creation and another reminder to me to appreciate the connections of love in my life. It helps me to be aware when I discount “stuff” lovingly given to me by family and friends that in truth keep the presence of Love always before me. And I have been graced with some beautiful extraordinary handcrafted gifts.

Oh I still will never have an over abundance of things and prefer open uncluttered living spaces. But I am learning to honor those gifts that raise me up in the love through which they are given. What a wonder that such kindness flows through life.

What “stuff” or “things” in your life hold special meaning for you? Why are they special? If there is nothing, why is that? Does it define your experience in life? Are there gifts you have given to others that have special meaning?

Relationship to the Natural World

Until the last five years or so I lived from my mind and emotions most of the time. Since learning to live more from my heart all my senses have opened more fully to the brilliance of our natural world. The sky, the clouds, trees, the ocean and so much more are in technicolor for me most of the time. The gift of the Earth takes my breath away often.

It is interesting when I look back on the last few years to see how my opening to the Universe brought more wonderful opportunities to connect with nature. I traveled in the mountains of Virginia as part of my job when I was working as a trainer. Traveling all times of year allowed me to see them in their coats of many colors. I even rejoiced when seeing cattle and sheep negotiating the hillsides. The month I spent in Maine last year allowed me to connect to both the beauty of hills and the ocean in a quiet, joyful way. There really are no words to describe how the experiences there confirmed the freedom of my heart.

This past fall I did an experiment using my imagination in “feeling” from my heart into the southern East Coast states on the ocean the ocean side. Maybe later I will write a blog on that experience but it was incredible in what was revealed to me and I ended up focusing on the Gulf Coast of Florida from Sarasota south and the Merritt Island section on the east coast of Florida near the Space Center. At Christmas my brother gave me a book about the living beaches of Florida and I am fascinated by life in the ocean and on the beaches. I am blessed to have experienced the beaches in Virginia Beach, VA, Outer Banks of NC, Folly beach, SC near Charleston and the Gulf Coast beaches in the Venice, FL area. In my travels and experiences with all these beaches I began to open my heart connection to the ocean and now recognize my soul frequency match with it and how we support each other. And just as an aside I have again learned the truth of the saying “Never say never” as I have come to appreciate Florida a place I said I would never live😊. But oh the ocean there is marvelous.

In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring predicting environmental disaster based on the use of pesticides. She focused on birds but we have seen the impact was much greater. Many of you may be old enough to remember the Keep America Beautiful campaign of the 70’s and the tv ad showing an Indian canoeing down a pristine river that turns to being polluted, etc (it is on YouTube). The ad ends with the man looking at the mess and a tear rolls down his cheek. Jacques Cousteau tried to educate us about the wonders of the oceans and the importance of taking care of them.

Where are we now with all this. We did pay attention to this early teachers. Today we have many conservation groups working toward preserving the land, the seas, and all the creatures who live here. Certainly since Rachel Carson’s book progress has been made. Some pesticides are banned and many of us are more aware of our responsibility to the Earth. Many of us no longer blindly believe what big corporations tell us. For this post I am going to just mention a few impacts on the ocean from our disregard for it. Tons of plastic and other materials are dumped from ships into the ocean. People either leave items on the beach or blatantly throw them in the ocean. In the book Florida’s Living Beaches by Blair and Dawn Witherington (2007) the authors state: “About 85% of small loggerhead sea turtles washed ashore in Florida have ingested plastics.” We all have probably seen studies about how our lighting up the beaches with our need to live on them can have disastrous results when sea turtle hatchlings get confused and head away from the ocean. Thank heavens for the volunteers who sit vigils waiting to help them on their way. I could go on and on but most of us know how full of waste our oceans and seas and rivers are due to our negligence or unwillingness to take action for solutions.

I admit to being a tree hugger now (in the literal sense) and in fact encourage us to teach our children to hug trees and understand how they give us so much. We all have a place in this natural world. Some came here to support the advancement of humanity. Some came to work actively in conservation of our natural resources. Some came to teach us about our spirituality and other came to experience human life and through that experience advance themselves as well as others. I know I am here to love and show how we are the peace and hope we seek. I am also coming to believe now that my purpose is connected to the ocean and the creatures that live it. This may be as a support to me with a frequency that resonates in my soul while I create near it or a more active conservation. I am saddened by so much of humanity disregarding anything other than self and living as though everything is not interconnected. We are told 50-75% of a human body is water.We came from water. We cannot survive without it. It is my prayer we can begin to understand and live from a place that appreciates and supports the rivers, streams and oceans that support us. For me there is such excitement in learning more about shells and plants as well as creatures of the seas and the beaches. At this time of my life there is such joy in clearly seeing the majesty from a depth of my soul different from how I saw the natural world previously.

We humans are so incredibly intelligent with a spiritual core that knows Truth. We just need to allow it to rise up before us. Thankfully many are now working diligently to not only preserve the natural world but see it and us thrive. But there are still many that disregard any responsibility for living what I consider responsibly and lovingly. My prayer is that more and more people will wake up and realize living in harmony with the Earth increases the joy of living for all.

I end with a wonderful quote from Rumi:
“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to Earth,
‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky.”

How do you see your relationship with the Earth and our natural world? Is there anything you want to change or expand in that relationship. How do you see this fitting in with your day to day living?

A Sustainable Life

Recently I watched Nathan Crane’s 12 episode documentary “The Search for Sustainability.” Nathan, his wife and daughter travelled the country interviewing women and men from many disciplines and walks of life who are in some way involved in bringing focus to sustainability of the Earth and all creatures including humans. In other words all express in. Arching ways a passion for LIFE that not only survives but thrives. Those contributing to the documentary focus on areas of growing and eating healthy foods, education, community living, use of herbs, the urban environment and the arts. They include a homesteader, permaculturists at several levels, herbalist, business owners, educators, musicians and even a government official who heads the environmental quality department for the city of Washington, DC. It was amazing and wonderful to see all that is going on and to see the women and men following their hearts and passions. Passions that remind us of our connection to the Earth and all life.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines sustainable as able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed or involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources. Watching the documentary I was reminded that it is time to pay attention to how we live, how our food is grown, the condition of our water and air. Two areas or questions jumped out for me. Do we need to determine if we are heading toward “completely using up” that which supports our life and even more importantly do we need to examine whether we really believe all life is connected in a way our human eyes may not see. I highly recommend checking out the documentary at nathancrane.com. I am going to briefly mention a few takeaways I got and that may provide you with ideas and concepts to investigate.

When you watch something such as this it is easy to be overwhelmed by so much information or to decide all those involved are just a bunch of tree hugging crackpots to ignored. I believe those are just reactions that come from a place of fear and our resistance to change as well as our unwillingness to accept different ways of life and opinions that differ from ours. Many of us put up immediate barriers if we think we will have to change our way of life or “lose” something in the process. Believe me I am certainly familiar with that dance! But the point is to remember we do not have to agree with everything we see and hear during this exploration. Yet we can be grateful for the thoughts and information shared and commit to at least additional exploration if anything “pings” us at some level.

I certainly did not agree with everything but some ideas and projects rang as Truth for me. I decided to initially focus on two areas: the food I eat and the packaging that comes into my home. I plan to pay more attention to where my food come from and how it is grown. Even if it is labeled organic I may not buy it if it has travelled thousands of miles to get to me. I want to be aware of all the impact on the environment in the process of getting food to my table. My commitment is to explore what is available locally at different times of the year and if I go to a Farmer’s Market talking with farmers about their growing practices.

As for packaging, even though I recycle, I am taking a close look at how what I buy is packaged. A simple (embarrassing) thing is the pods used for coffee in the Kuerig. Thousands of these are probably piling up in landfills daily and as far as I know are not biodegradable even though I think they will be one day. However, I have a reusable filter for it and I can use it more which for me is another “Duh” moment. And I can take my own travel mug to my favorite coffeehouse to not only save cups but the millions of little green sticks going into landfills. As I pay attention to packaging I may see other ways to reduce what comes into the house even by just buying larger sizes as several of those interviewed suggested.

These things may seem simple but they are a start. I also believe it is important to recognize we are often not told the truth or the whole story by the USDA and FDA or any government agency. Huge corporations have more influence than we want to admit and research is beginning to come out that underscores this. To continue to believe all we are told about our food, water and medicine without questioning is naive and will only harm us and our beautiful planet.

For you a first step may be just looking around at your style of life and beginning discussions with family and friends. What does sustainability mean for your family and you? You may already be doing recycling, growing some of your own food and or shopping at Farmer’s Markets. Pick something new to focus on such as water. Explore where your water comes from; how it is treated and how you use it. If you have young children help them see where their food comes from including taking them to a working farm. Help them understand their partnership with the natural world which will help them appreciate the gift of life.

Small actions will make a difference. There is no time for guilt, angst or finger pointing over what is happening. As more and more humans begin to think and live sustainably great change will occur in the world. And for me one of the most important reasons to be thinking about and feeling into this more is for the generations that follow me-for the children of today and those yet to be born. And I believe as our consciousness opens and expands we will be more at peace with ourselves which moves out into our beautiful world.

Below is a small list of websites you may want to check out:

nathancrane.com
greenamerica.org
spiritbees.com
peiasongs.com
tobyhemenway.com
ormeschool.org
starschool.org
doee.dc.gov
permies.com

Ideas to ponder or comment on:
What does sustainability mean to you? What are you currently doing that supports sustainability? Where will you focus next? Do you believe it is necessary to take a closer look at how we are living in our own communities? What responsibility do we have to the generations that come after us?

Arrogance

Recently the word “arrogance “ keeps popping up in my mind, so I have been contemplating what it means to me now in my life and in a more general sense for the world.  The Merriam Webster dictionary defines arrogance as “… an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions…”  This attitude from my viewpoint is of the mind and personality not from the heart and limits our ability to truly give of all we are.

For example arrogance about one’s race, culture, gender and even country of origin prevents truly learning the value of our differences inhibiting our growth as humans. Another example where this gets us into difficulty is seen in American politics.  Belief that only one opinion or set of opinions matter leads to narrow vision and often real issues and needs are ignored.  We see this in the refusal to compromise and work together not only in Congress but in state legislatures. Healthcare, education, climate change as well as our nation’s infrastructure are real issues left hanging. Other countries experience the same political tunnel vision.

I can go on and on about the lack of true political leadership but I believe that our most arrogant behavior may be connected to our spiritual life.  It certainly seems to be a part of the various religions in the world. Many followers believe their religion or belief system is the only correct one and the only way to God.  And even those who support a religion or denomination that embraces inclusivity may find themselves with an underlying belief that their thinking is the “right way” to think or believe.. It is a little scary to see how arrogance can seep into our thinking and then our behavior.

For me arrogance often leads to my limiting God. That is so sad yet so human. One example is around the concept of meditation. I do not really “meditate” as I used to think one is supposed to do with a formal sort of structure. I could not do “it” and presumed that because of that I would never really experience the heart of me, my soul, that eternal spirit. Another area is physical health. Because I have a preconceived notion of how I am to be in the physical world including how I look, I presumed to know what was best in eating and exercise on one hand and wallowed in confusion in another. My arrogance impacted my physical well being and delayed my experiencing the silence of my heart.

However, thankfully God is persistent through unconditional love. So despite my arrogance Creation kept sending me gifts to show me the way. And lo and behold one day I heard my heart and saw and felt the beautiful creation I am, both human and light being.  Although health is often a puzzle to me I am now listening more to the knowing at my core and am working on participating in good health. I have so much I want to do to fulfill my purpose here and my body is integrally involved in that.

Many may say what I have described is not arrogance but I do not agree.  Honestly, I have a feeling I showed up in human form bringing in some arrogance.  As spirit I did not want to come into human form again and was ticked off God did not agree. Some of my life has been focused on “I’ll show you how right I am and wrong you are” to God.  I find it amusing and embarrassing in some ways but I sure made things more difficult for myself.

And that is just it. If we do not watch out for arrogance we may begin to disconnect from the heart of who we are. We then fail to step into the Oneness and the joy that is here for us.  We miss out on the true wonder of our time here on earth. We forget Love is really all there is.

Do you see arrogance showing up in your life? Is it your arrogance? If it is do you feel you need to deal with it. If so, how?

Out of Kilter??

Sometimes we feel we are out of kilter, not connected or just out of sorts and cannot pinpoint exactly what is the cause.  I had that experience over a recent weekend and gifts kept popping up to show me those feelings and thoughts generated from the mind and were not important or truth for me.  I was reminded that there was no need for me to focus my energy in that direction.  As I focused on feeling lost or just on a general malaise I was redirected over and over until finally I got it.

It started with blue hairJ  Yes; I had a vibrant blue streak put in my hair when I had it trimmed and rejoiced at how much fun and how liberating such a small act could be.  The next day I was in Virginia Beach and went to do my exercise walk (fast paced).  I was also there to see the sand sculptures that competed in the competition the previous weekend.  You really have to see them to get the full impact but some truly speak to the heart.  As I was standing admiring one a woman came up to me and said “Thank you” several times.  I know I must have looked puzzled and she said ”Thank you for the blue in your hair.  I have wanted to put purple in mine for a long time and you have inspired me to just do it.”  What a hoot, I thought.  We have no clue how many folks we may touch with one simple act.  And at that point I had a choice: to devalue the experience as silly or rejoice in making another connection.  I chose to rejoice.

However, our mind continues to want to have control.  As I continued my walk I still felt out of sorts.  Suddenly the ocean was speaking to my heart: SLOW DOWN.  Your fast pace keeps you from fully experiencing my energy, my love, my connection to you.  Yes, exercise is important to your body but that fast pace is not what you need right now.” My decision was to come back the following day and just sit and absorb it all.

As I walked to the oceanfront from my parking space the next morning I chatted with a mother pushing one child in a stroller with another one tagging along. She appeared so comfortable with her children and their excitement for what was going on around them.  As we started to cross the street she told the older child to hold onto her pocket and he did it so naturally.  Their presence was a joy.  How wonderful that these children were experiencing the gift of the beach. Later I was able to help a mother with another toddler carry her “stuff” (isn’t there always so much stuff with children) onto the beach. I know both of these interactions seem simple things but those connections made my heart leap as love and appreciation flowed forth.  They gave me the gift of remembering that seemingly simple encounters raise us up.  And parents of young children need to be surrounded in love and light since they are raising children who are playing an important part in the evolution of humankind.

The gifts were piling up I knew.  After sitting for awhile I stood by the ocean listening and breathing in the air.  So many folks were relaxing in its energy. While feeling better I left still feeling “a little off” despite recognizing the gifts in those two days. And then this morning I was reminded again to stop over thinking and trying to figure everything out.

I am reading a marvelous part of the collection from The Findhorn Garden  (written in the 1960’s!!).  It is “Part 4 Talking Trees”. If you do not know about Findhorn look it up as it is a marvelous community in Scotland. The person who wrote it served as a channel for the tree devas.  I was reading ‘The Deva of the Golden Conifer’ section.  She is speaking about how we take rain for granted as some inanimate thing. “You simply accept it as an inanimate thing, or part of a process, and you miss all the joy of the Spirit of Rain with its broad intelligence and great role in all life. That which rain could impart to mankind of oneness and of being used in the moment to change and flow with the life of the Creator could be an example for all time and beyond but you cut out all the mysteries and remain in narrow ruts.”  Whew- there it was ‘…of oneness and of being used in the moment to change and flow…’

What freedom there is in being reminded that all those connections at the beach were just part of my service for those days.  I was reminded that by thinking too much I was missing the fact that my life is moving along beautifully and I am given opportunity after opportunity to celebrate “being used in the moment to change and flow with the life of the Creator.”  May you see the gifts before you each day and celebrate. They are sent to you with unconditional love from your creator.

As you look at this day, or the past week what gifts have shown up in your life?  Did you graciously accept them or just ignore and move to the next thing?  Do you recognize the gifts you have given in the past week?

A Clear Day

“On a clear day
Rise and look around you
And you’ll see who you are
On a clear day

How it will astound you
That the glow of your being
Outshines every star”

And so start the lyrics to the theme song from the musical “On a Clear Day”.  Some of you may know the story of Daisy the young woman who is clairvoyant and a psychiatrist decides to study her.  It is one of my favorite movies (although not critically acclaimed) with Barbra Streisand and I highly recommend watching it if you have not as it is great fun.  But to make a long story short with hypnotism previous lives are revealed and she begins to truly appreciate who she is in this lifetime.

As that song came to mind for me (and isn’t interesting how things pop into our consciousness when they do) I realized the truth of the words as far as my journey goes and I suspect the journey of many others.  At some point we experience a dark night of the soul that finally pushes us to want joy rather than pain as we grow tired of the drama and trauma.  So we begin reading, taking classes, learning to breathe, learning to meditate, asking questions and often demanding answers.  In many ways we are still in a stage of struggle although we are learning and growing.  We feel hopeful much of the time and just know “the answer” is right around the corner.  With the next book, the next class we will know Truth.  Amazingly we also often draw the right teacher and/or experience to us at just the right time.

And then at some point an opening occurs in our heart and we get a glimpse of the beautiful soul we are. And although our ego may try to fight it we have more and more frequent glimpses.  For me there were many moments on a long journey but I do believe there was a moment, “a clear day” when I rose within myself and saw, truly saw the magnificent creature I am.  It was as though the few dark clouds left covering the sun moved on and I saw a flawless sky. Unbelievable joy and appreciation wrapped itself around me as I sang and danced and laughed.  There is still so much gratitude for all the experiences of my life that have brought me to see who I am.  It is astounding and at the same time it makes so much sense.

That does not mean I do not still have human doubts at times or never get irritated.  But what I am discovering is that those times come less often and when they do for the most part they fly through quickly and peace returns.  I walk around my house often in a semi dance or sashaying state which is someone of a hoot since I have no real sense of rhythm.  But it sure is fun!  The funny part is I am amazed at where I am now every day.  It is not something you “get used to” and treat as a habit.  It is a celebration of most days.  Gratitude flows freely.

As you walk your journey never give up.  There comes a point where you allow your soul to inform you.  When that happens you are never allowed to go back and you are given support after support even when you do not realize what is going on.  May you have many “clear days” as you travel your path.

Do your experience clear days?  If so, what is it like for you?  If not what questions do you have about the process? Are you willing to allow yourself to be joyful?