A Little Happy Over and Over Equals a Good Day

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The sun on my driveway makes me happy, and so does the one bumble bee coming and going from my Creeping Rosemary plant. Today, I got out the View-Masters for Elliot, and it made me happy when he sat in my lap to check one out. It’s rare that he’s stationary, and I enjoyed watching his little finger slide the lever down frame after frame.

This writing is completely boring. It’s not meant to thrill, because I think that’s the problem. I would love a day of thrills, of exciting news over the phone, of emails that propose new ventures and projects. That’s not where I am though. I am a woman who sits on the driveway, in her dress pants, and helps her son try reel after reel. It’s not big, bold, and newsworthy, but it is my life. I’m tired of looking around and thinking things would be so much better if –.

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Our standards for “good” have gotten a little out of wack. Well, I don’t know about you. When I had my child, I wanted to go back to work. I put effort into writing, and I kept waiting to be found. It’ll be great when somebody sees me. It’ll be great when I can show people what I am really about. I’m getting lost again. Let’s head back to the driveway.

There are valuable lessons to be learned on this concrete slab. There are beetles to identify. There is the proper amount  of time to suck a popsicle before it falls off the stick. Don’t put the garden hose in mama’s exhaust pipe. Do let the neighbor’s puppy give you a little lick. All in all, it’s not loud. It ain’t the sweet breath of recognition from Oprah. It’s my beautiful boy not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.

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Being Present, Comparison, and Facebook

All of you following along get that I’ve been influenced by my recent meeting with Buddhist teacher and priest Cindy Beach. True to her calling in life, she rang out the familiar cry to be present in my life. I chuckle, because I’ve given her a fake voice in my head with a lot of attitude. I hear myself saying, “Cindy, this is where I want to go!!!!” She says, “Giiiiiiiirl, you ain’t even here yet, talkin’ ’bout where you wanna go. Mmmm.” That is not at all like what she sounds like, but it makes me smile.

I’ve also been watching Brene Brown’s talks on the OWN network. She is the author of Daring Greatly and The Gift of Imperfection, and what I’m taking from her is the importance of vulnerability. Here I am, folks. It’s tough.

IMG_4267I have been paying attention to my mind the past few days, and it reminds me of a failed art assignment. The colors are muddy, and the details aren’t being communicated well. My first assignment was to get my thoughts focused on what I am doing at any given time. My cold has made me focus a lot on blowing my nose and on what I consume.

Last night I took a shower to literally try and clear my head. I figured being present would be easier surrounded by white tile and steam. There I was staring at the corner of the stall when all of the sudden I was aware of my vision coming into sharp focus, like I’d adjusted a camera’s lens. Oh my gosh, I thought. I was away and thinking of something. What was it? A song, maybe. I looked at the corner in sharp focus and took deep breaths. I adjusted my posture to the “Bird Girl” Cindy Beach referenced during our visit. Was energy moving better through my body? Could I just ask to have my spirit guides do energy work on me, and would that help clear my sinuses? Crap! I was off and thinking again.

I have to believe that being present will get easier with practice, but it is much harder to do than I imagined. I’m finding little spells of it, a few breaths of it at a time. That’s it! Through this process, however, I am learning what doesn’t work. This brings me to vulnerability.

If I am honest with you and myself right now, I’ll tell you that Facebook has become my crutch for validation throughout the day. I enjoy sharing my photos. That’s fine. I enjoy hearing about your lives. Fine. But there is something else I don’t like to admit: it re-enforces what I’m trying to avoid. I’ve lived a life of comparison, and I’ve come to agree with the Buddhist perspective that comparison equals suffering. I’m having trouble blessing where you are, because I’m not feeling accomplished enough right now. I’m having trouble with not finding a full-time job. I’m having trouble with the idea of me being undisciplined, and I’m having trouble seeing clear paths versus road blocks. Facebook charges me with that feeling over and over throughout the day, and “likes” make me feel like I’m in a room full of like-minded people for a while. “Likes” make me think that you’re all people I can count on for a phone conversation, for a heart-to-heart, and that you all would just as soon seek me out for the same. That’s not true though. Relationships are cultivated in person. They are cultivated through shared experiences, and they are not cultivated with icons, photographs of food, or even a buffet of hilarious comments.

Do I hate Facebook? Nope. I’d rather see what you’re all up to than tend to the dishes in the sink. I’d rather focus on making you feel better than me. A little balance is all I’m speaking about. Nobody should wait around to be “liked.”

 

A Girl Walks into The Savannah Zen Center

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I walked into the Savannah Zen Center in the hopes of telling them where I was going and what I wanted, what I truly desired. But as I have said before, the nature of desire is wanting not getting. I show up wanting, and the advice of Head Teacher Cindy Beach is to be fully where I am.

The here-ness of my present situation is one that causes me angst. It causes me suffering, because there are problems for which I have no  answers. My mind works relentlessly to solve them while I do chores, and so I am not entirely in the moment – ever. Doing this and that at the same time has been my norm for so very long. Last night, when I stopped for a while, it was so quiet. I felt neither good nor bad. I was the space in between that spirit had suggested I find months ago. We leave peace. It doesn’t leave us.

Even as I understood and appreciated Cindy’s informal teaching, I observed my body reacting. I say my body, because my mind was okay with what she said. Ego prompted my body though. When you aren’t identifying with ego and watching it, it’s a curious experience. I walked to my car just fine. By the time I’d driven a block away, tears were falling down my cheeks. Energy swirled and pulsed around my heart chakra, but I couldn’t point to one thing that truly made me sad.

 

When the tears dried, there was a voice that told me Cindy’s advice to “stop striving” did not mean stop succeeding. When had I started equating the two? College maybe. If your field is full of competition, you must strive to be seen. You must strive to have your work seen. You must strive, or your work is worth nothing. Well, you won’t get paid for it. That’s what we all wanted. The rewards of having our hearts’ designs seen were shown to us on field trips to New York City. They were shown to us in the magazines we cut up to make our collage assignments. Oh, to be there. You have to really want it… to get there.

The idols of the creative soul, at least the one’s modeled for an Art major in the late 90’s, were all people who had tried and tried. They worked and worked. They acquired thick skins and egos built for self-promotion. Confidence in what could be was just as important, if not more so, than where we were at the time. Bags under our eyes and  catch-as-catch-can diets meant we were on the path to getting. These scars of our professional aspirations were the sage’s walking stick. When we looked in the mirror, our haggard reflections were supportive. Rest, stillness, contentment, self-care, were the policies of one who didn’t want to get there. So, we asked ourselves dozens of times a day: Do you want this? Can you make the cut in a pack of others with the same desire?

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Now, I’m 38. My creative soul is now called to spiritual pursuits as well. What do we call that? The path! The ego is something to release. The striving is something to release. Sitting on a meditation cushion is not a form of transportation. It is not for going through your mental file cabinet. It isn’t even for quieting. It just is. I just am. My ego is annoyed and rooting for me at the same time. I’m here, in the here-ness, not sure where here will be next.

Is This Wasp an Angel or Demon?

IMG_0071There is a bumper sticker that I love which says: Don’t believe what you think.This is a launching point for a discussion about how we engage spirit, nature, and our fellow humans.
The problem with what we think is that it is often the result of an external prompt. In this case we’ll take this wasp. We assume that he or she is communicating with us. It’s not. This paper wasp is eating pollen on a rose leaf. We start thinking though, and those thoughts add up. There’s a wasp. I don’t want to get stung. Look at those wings. Wasps are aggressive and ugly, and they hate people. My garden is dangerous, and I’m afraid for my family. I better kill this wasp! I hate those things!IMG_0074

You may or may not get stung by a wasp, but let’s look at the experience this wasp has caused within your mental, emotional, and physical bodies simply by being there, simply by eating. Ahh, but did the wasp cause anything? It’s easy to blame it, but what if you take the wasp as a lesson, as a teacher even? If you don’t like how you feel when you see a wasp, your spouse, a co-worker, or your great aunt’s dog Sheldon, consider how your mind takes a simple image and runs wild. It takes control and leads you to where you don’t want to go.

Alone On the Path

IMG_0058Surround yourself with the energy of your favorite nature trail, and see that the life around you is not longing for love. See that it is not saturated with emotion. The din of the forest is one of color and tone. Sit in quiet and imagine yourself spreading out in a big circle. You’re mingling with peace. You’re mingling with every branch and leaf. The endeavors of roots and uncurling ferns proceed without a text, an email, or the call of next entry on the to-do list. Now, pull yourself back to your heart. Your endocrine system is vitalized. There is a gladness to your glands, even the pineal which functions as your connection with the unseen.

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Coming Out With Your Spiritual Gifts

IMG_4320There are lots of people who want psychic abilities, but ask yourself who you will tell when you sharpen them? You’re astounded by the miracles and mind-blowing phenomena in your head, around your body, and in your world, so who are you going to tell? I picked one or two people at first. Experiences were the exception rather than the rule, and a few glasses of wine did well enough to get them off my chest. Well, let’s say wine and a few thousand emails. It’s haunting at worst and ecstatic at best. No matter which way the pendulum swings the weight of what is happening to you can not be ignored. It’s like being alone in a movie theater, and it gets lonely when no one’s around to see the good parts too. So, I’ll ask you again: Who are you going to tell?

I began to mentally arrange the people in my life based on how well they dealt with my spiritual anecdotes. To me, these events had nothing to do with religion (an impolite conversation topic, I hear). Spirituality is of our own bodies and souls. Religion doesn’t need to be involved. Still, the very mention of spiritual matters left some of my friends reaching for big SCRABBLE winners like: cool, awesome, and freaky. This was a let down, because Value Meals are cool. I am getting information from other dimensions of consciousness. It’s worth more than two syllables. But it seems that two syllables are the mark for things we don’t understand. Take for example: oh shit, and no way. I wanted more though, because stuff was happening to or through me more and more.

I found it freeing to tell my mom over the holidays. She’s not religious or spiritual, and to my relief she was intrigued. She asked some questions. She understood that it was a significant happening in my life. It shook my perspective on things as much as motherhood. I talk to my sister and aunt, and a few close friends, but there was another issue. At some point you always need a label. You can’t bore the drawers off people with every other-worldly event. For one, it invites people to pick them apart. If you simply want people to understand the general situation you start hunting for your own words. Uh, psychic? Spiritualist? Intuitive? My favorite is a friend who claims I have the shine. I don’t mind psychic, but my husband suggests I don’t use it. There are too many fake psychics out there. Intuitive sounds more inclusive. I like that, because I believe we all can work to improve these latent talents.

The other day, I met two former customers of mine in a garden center. We caught up for a while and then I dished my big skeleton. Only, I built it up a bit. Before I came to my big reveal, my friend said, “As long as you’re not going to tell me you’re talking to God or anything.” Well, no. Close! “I’m psychic,” I said and relayed the story of my first experience as a medium. Her response was, “Have you seen a neurologist?” I wasn’t hurt, but she went on a shelf with some other people I know. It’s not that I have anything against those people. I just know they don’t want to discuss it. Okay, I mean discuss it, but not debate it. There’s a difference. I know, because I love debates. What I require is discussing the experience not whether it actually happened.

Whatever you choose to do, it is important to find balance. Not everybody wants to talk on that level. You don’t want to hear everything about everyone either. What you can do is learn to self-validate. Don’t undress the sacred in your life to make others comfortable. Don’t be obnoxious about your spirituality either. Find where it works to celebrate it and do so. Don’t punish yourself by wearing that feather boa where it’s not appropriate.

Photographing Plants

I find great comfort from photographing plants. They aren’t worried. They aren’t trying. They don’t have 401K’s or donate to 501 3C’s. Plants are blissed out, and I can feel their energy – when I make the time. It’s a coolness moving up the arm, a shift on a cellular level. Photographing them fills me with their peace and tells me a lot about their personalities. Don’t think they have them? Take a look.
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