Ramblings or rumblings, come back (almost) daily for more.
"Connect with others whether or not they love you."
Another excerpt of my manifesto has me thinking of my reactions when discovering someone doesn't "like" me. It could happen for the things I talk about or some quality they find me lacking or I don't fit their target audience, or they just liked me in a use-me way and then dumped me once I've met their needs.
And, to be honest, perhaps this is how I've created frenemies too? So the challenge is to recognize when I'm complicit in the lack of love and my response to it.
Love anyway. Love always.
"Contribute something regardless of its scale."
That first sentence of my manifesto, written with the intention of motivating creativity without being held back with my typical excuses. The thing isn't grand enough. I've never done X before. I should research further. That won't work because of any number of unfounded fears.
Maybe its the cold winter months coming on, the slide into the dark season that has me second-guessing. Or perhaps I'm getting more creative with my excuses!
The tender seed of thoughts and ideas need light and air. The least I can do is place them in a sunny window and observe what happens.
Are you familiar with Holstee and their awesome manifesto? I recently signed up for their (very affordable) membership to add to my mindfulness toolbox. Guess what? Their welcome kit includes developing your very own manifesto, identifying what you value most. I found this process enjoyable. The end result is below. A personal, mindful, value-filled declaration I'll reference regularly until its time to write a new one!
P.S. I put my face on it to, you know, claim it and hold myself accountable.
How shall we sing our love's song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
There are days when it is crystal clear how to sing my daughter's love song, of birth and of death. On this day, my heart is full of gentle memories of her birth. She barely made a peep when her life first began. Although she certainly made up for that later, anyone who knew her will wholeheartedly agree.
Lena loved life, needed to experience it ALL, and wanted to have fun. As she says in her children's story, "and everywhere you could hear the laughs of us."
And so, today I am reminded to love better, to experience fully and to enjoy it.
Ms. L'Engle's poem in its entirety ...
“The earth will never be the same again
Rock, water, tree, iron, share this grief
As distant stars participate in the pain.
A candle snuffed, a falling star or leaf,
A dolphin death, O this particular loss
A Heaven-mourned; for if no angel cried
If this small one was tossed away as dross,
The very galaxies would have lied.
How shall we sing our love's song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
Each tree and leaf and star show how
The universe is part of this one cry,
Every life is noted and is cherished,
and nothing loved is ever lost or perished."
It's true. Love outlasts everything. It is mysterious, It is painful. And oh so wonderful. Looking with soft eyes (a technique learned in equestrian school a lifetime ago) applies to everyday life. It lets me see for the first time or see anew.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky's full quote says, "Love all God’s creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If thou love each thing thou wilt perceive the mystery of God in all; and when once thou perceive this, thou wilt thenceforward grow every day to a fuller understanding of it: until thou come at last to love the whole world with a love that will then be all-embracing and universal."
Universal love, uh huh.
Wouldn't it be fine to live each day with no wish for this moment to be other than it is? When I look back on the day and if it looks like this, then I know I had the best day. It doesn't seem possible to me to live every day in the moment. But at the very least, I'll not wish the moments away by judging how it could be improved or what is coming next.
What do you do when searching for clues? Not the easily found online answers of where to find the best sushi, or how to build a boat. Rather the super humongous questions, as in, why am I here. Or the more tangible, what am I going to do about it? Or the most important, what am I doing today?
Nowadays, I start by meditating. I used to ask Mom. But then she died. I can ask her in my mind, of course. "Hey Mom, what do you think about this direction?" I could always count on her for an honest answer or her even more honest "hmm." It no longer feels silly talking to the dead. If a response isn't forthcoming, I'll take that as her "hmm."
I also consult the living ... my hubby, a long-distance friend, or a colleague. So this week, I reached out to all the above when stuck on how I might honor my daughter, Lena's, upcoming birthdate and promote her children's story, "Hoofen Floofen Island" at the same time. Two birds, one stone.
Brainstorming ensued, logistics discussed on connecting the children's story to my "work" themes of vulnerability, living and loving after child loss, and revisiting short and long-term plans. The outcomes of these interactions remain undefined. I'm giving myself permission to experiment without worrying about getting distracted or missed deadlines.
I almost didn't go. Pulling on the first knee-high hiking sock triggered a muscle spasm halfway up my ribcage, causing me to catch my breath and I may have cussed a bit. It is always a surprise when my body misbehaves since my mind still thinks I'm twenty-something.
After retreating to the yoga mat for gentle stretching and breathing through lots of child's pose, on went the other sock. Out the gate I went, intent on my mission to Google map my daughter's name at a natural, cosmic, enlightened and, not surprisingly, favored hiking path near the vortex of Bell Rock.
Having sampled a few spots for lighting, slope and a magnificent backdrop, a young hiker paused on the trail nearby as her father consulted the map, and said, "That's a golden eagle." I checked the sky and seeing nothing, decided she was mistaken. But as I turned back to the Bell, there it was soaring near the center of the rock's height and breadth. When it landed, I knew I'd found the perfect spot.
I'm assisting with getting "It's Ok That You're Not OK" on the map in unusual ways and places least expected. Have you purchased your copy? No need to wait until someone dies to read this useful guide. It's full of profound insights whether you are grieving, supporting someone who is or preparing for the inevitable. Click the link to learn more.
It begins with love.
The new life.
Taking leave of the old.
Finding our sense of forgiveness.
Even when it only feels like neutral,
there is movement.
The giving a fuck.
It begins with love.
So I was reading through some journal entries from several months back. Seriously, why do we do that? Sometimes the words make more sense, but just as often I'm reminded of the mess I was that day. But I digress.
On this particular day, I'm chatting with myself about how I'm not as tough as I used to be. Also, that I'm more fragile. But is that true? Was my stoicism toughness or protection? Having peeled away layers of emotion this last decade, I'm probably stronger now than ever. Or perhaps I'm perfecting my balance. It has indeed become easier to say no to things I don't enjoy. Quite comfortable with the no word. So there's that.
I remember my mom telling me how the nearly unbearable grief I experienced from my daughter's passing was a reflection of the depth of my love for her. Not in the sense of measurement like the more grief, the more love was present because I'm not sure it is possible to measure love. So Elaine Mansfield's comment reminds me how the two, love and grief, are inseparable, congruent, and necessary.
Self-promotion, marketing, advertising, asking people to purchase, convincing them to part with their hard-earned money is a skill set I'm not familiar with and most definitely out of my comfort zone. Apparently, this is not uncommon for writers, artists, or any creative professional. We just want to create a thing, right? A beautiful thing that should sell itself. Organically. Magically. Effortlessly.
But as Dan Blank discusses in Be the Gateway, getting the thing into people's hands is as critical to the effort as it's creation. In other words, creation is only half the journey. His book also teaches me to minimize overwhelm and uncomfortableness by focusing on one connection at a time. Singular. Simple. Satisfying.
Sure I have spreadsheets of tasks but ultimately recognizing how I get to promote inclusiveness, gladness, literacy, adventure, and travel makes this stage of publishing Hoofen Floofen Island fun again.
In other words, shine a light on the message of the book rather than the book itself. That's a task I can get behind.
And that first step is always the most difficult.
But you take it anyway. And then another and another,
until you've left a trail,
and you can see how far you've come
and you lean on that when you're uncertain
And perhaps most importantly,
you've shown the way for someone else.
As I focus on all that has happened, all the living of these past many months, I find the focus is on a hard look at essentials and vulnerability.
Planning a year long, cross-county trip, downsizing and storing only our most essential possessions, finishing the production of Hoofen Floofen Island and balancing work time, have forced a cut out the fluff mentality. After all, how does one undergo a major lifestyle change without a step back to basics?
The huge sense of vulnerability I experienced when first developing this website two years ago (Would anybody read it? And OMG, what if they read it!?) has returned due to the release of my daughter's children's story. (What if it doesn't sell well? Why did I think I could self-publish? Who do I think I am?) My personal history has shown however, the release of all that vulnerability is the only path to see what comes next.
I'm quite sure we've packed too much (do I really need 10 pairs of socks?). And a year from now, we may look at those possessions and wonder why many items were still necessary but that's a story for next year.
And writing this now, I'm just as sure I didn't pack enough of the books!
Recently, reading Robin Botie's "Another Precious Summer," and her call to action questions at the end of the post triggered the following comment from me:
"This summer I'm returning to my ancestral home and my chosen hometown(s) from the 50+ years I lived in Wisconsin. Returning to my roots so I may start out again and again. Revisiting the haunts of my and my late daughter's, promoting the tender story she wrote, which is now an illustrated children's story. I will allow myself to stand on familiar and new coasts and declare I'm ready for whatever comes next."
A blessing and a promise. To myself.
A cool breeze tickles
like silk, on my arm
She's looking at me
through the damp mirror
Watching me brush my teeth
"Allow this life to live through you," says a calm voice guiding me through morning meditation. Entrusting ourselves to say yes to the life we've been given.
Building that sort of trust as a focus in my life has been more difficult than learning to accept the fates I've been dealt. Writing this though feels like I'm creating blame for someone or something making the decisions on my human experience. Only recently, I've begun to understand the importance and recognition of how a strong base of trust can be the fulcrum between acceptance and choice.
May I remember today, I have trust, I know acceptance and I get to choose.
Today's Oracle card of snowflakes on a bright red background remind me of the blessings I receive every day of life. The snowflakes tell me to stay connected, and that despite my vulnerabilities, the bond we form together is so much stronger than our individuality.
Today I'll be light and delicate and seek my kind, not clinging to the grand idea of doing everything myself. The card states "do not be convinced you can hold on by the sheer force of your desire." Yes to that! It is exactly why yesterday nearly broke me by not asking for help until I nearly collapsed in physical and emotional pain. Only then did I ask, almost too late.
Ah, but it is never too late. Keep asking, dear ones.
Often we focus on the feeling of being loved and its wonders, joys, and impact on our lives. Certainly, there are many benefits to knowing one is loved. It is a gift to be on the receiving end. This came to mind as Mother's Day approaches, with this year being the first time without my mother and my daughter. Two women who held me up, held me accountable and loved me without conditions.
I've been noting more recently, the sweetness of loving others and the good feels of being on the giving end. Mom's and Lena's physical absence doesn't change that. I'm still loving them in my heart and any action on my part will be directed to those still here, distant or near, family or friend or stranger.
Yes, how sweet it is to love someone.
Does anyone know who said this?
While going through some old file folders, I found this comment in my notes from either a workshop or a book read early in my career. Our eyes make the connection with another before anything else. We can feel touched or turned away in an instant.
What will your logo be today? Happiness, judging, curiosity, sorrow, contentment, anger, compassion, love, or . . .?
It happens about this time every year. The restlessness. Wanting to rearrange the furniture in our small space when there are more important things to be done. Rearranging the pebbles when it's the boulder that needs moving.
Certainly, attention to detail is responsibility in action but today I want something bigger. Better. Different. And to skip the planning for once and just do it. I tell myself that's alright as long as the time spent, at least in some small way, relates to the essential purpose.
Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, will likely cringe at this interpretation of how I'm applying his concepts to my day. I'll keep learning, Greg. Tomorrow will try again.
The bits and pieces of our lives come and go with our emotional tides. How much belongs to us? For what am I responsible? How might I dispose of it properly and permanently? Or better yet, how may it be upcycled to fuel the things that save me, that are of service to others?
What is beneath the surface? Bright, dark and fertile crystals waiting for the life-giving light coming on the next tide releasing them to shine again.
It doesn't matter, so let it go. And once you let go, forget about the fact that you let go. No sense in wondering where it went either or how it took this long to release what is no longer serving you. There may be all sorts of valid reasons why. You need no justification. No sense in worrying about why it was, seemingly, of service to you. Enjoy the feeling of releasing the who, what, when, and why.
The shadows of my ancestors
the shadow of my child
Take the form of love
take the form of mystery
In all that is above or below
in all that is come or gone
The horizon grows closer
the horizon is here
Carrying me forth
carrying me home
A month of Thursday's rather than the adage "a month of Sunday's" when speaking about time passing slowly. February 23rd, was the first Thursday after Mom died; then March 2nd, the second Thursday; March 9th, the third and today, it's been a month.
After someone dies, it feels as though the march of time shifts. Some days we walk more mindfully and other days roam about with little purpose or drive. It's been a month of tears and reminiscing and wondering. And acceptance. And learning to live in a world that's changed yet again.
I feel her presence in previously unexplored ways; while chopping veggies wearing her apron, when saying evening prayers, while gazing at my favorite photo of her smile glowing on a Hawaiian vacation.
What will it feel like when I have the courage to listen to Mom's last voice mail? We'll see.
Maybe next month.
I thought I broke my foot. Thankfully, I've never broken a bone and today's episode did not change that record. Still, it hurt. A lot. After ignoring warning pains, I took a misstep that got my attention enough to make a stop at urgent care.
In "You Can Heal Your Life," Louise Hay says feet represent "our understanding of ourselves, of life, of others." Apparently, I need some clarity on how to change with the times and feel safe about that.
Sitting here, in the easy chair, with my foot elevated and on ice, has me wondering what have I misunderstood and where I'll find the key to that door. Perhaps the foot injury is simply an opportunity to take slower steps and a reminder to put first things first.
When you haven't got a clue, what do you do? Hadn't meant for that to rhyme. But now that I have made a rhyme, perhaps that is part of the answer.
Write a poem.
Make a song.
Using these gentle techniques, I often find a workaround or enough of an answer to continue and it's much less painful that beating myself up for solutions.
"Balance isn't found, it's created," says the Alpha Romero Super Bowl commercial.
Since Balance, yes, with a capital B, is the word I've chosen to guide me this year, every time I hear it mentioned, I perk up. To me, this message means less seeking, more creating and action, and excludes blaming others when there is an imbalance. It reminds me I'm the one in control of my life.
When seeking balance, I find myself signing up for more webinars or online workshops or reading more self-help books. Not that any of these aren't worthwhile, however, I'm beginning to realize they are likely a distraction or procrastination from getting the real work done. When I find myself complaining about not enough hours in the week to create, an honest review of where the time went reveals pages and pages of notes taken while listening to others' ideas.
When creating balance, my week has morning rituals, regular meals, time outdoors, scheduled blocks of creativity clearly separated from work and call my mother time. By the end of the week, I'm full of good feels. From now on, when I fail to create this balance, I'll think of the Alpha Romero commercial reminding me to keep all four wheels grounded and take those beautiful curves with grace and balance.
A man who flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it. --JRR Tolkien
The boomerang effect. Deal with it now or later. If later, the fear can become unbearably magnified. The fruits of dealing with my fear have included feelings of enrichment, fulfillment, being in a more evolved state of mind where more options bloom into reality.
So what does the mean really?
For me, recognizing the fact that for too many years I was living my life waiting for the other shoe to drop following my daughter's death, was slowly killing me, my dreams. Yes, it has been hard and painful work facing this reality. And time-consuming. And worth every minute of effort. It serves no one and does not honor my daughter if I'm not creating a life well lived.
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be free of suffering
It's a curiosity to me that when I direct loving kindness to myself, I start to cry. Why? A letting go? Is it feeling undeserving when other's suffering is greater than mine? Perhaps a sense of profound gratefulness to finally experience being better to myself without feeling selfish.