Contemplating and Celebrating Turning 50!

2012 seems like an auspicious year to be 50 – for me anyway.  For the last 3 years or so I have been saying I am almost 50, unlike some who fear that round number of age and wish they were sneaking their way backward, I find myself boldly and excitedly walking my way into it.  Which makes me smile and even giggle a little bit.

From 2005 to 2009 I was in a period of great upheaval and transition.  After saying repeatedly over those years I was in transition I began to wonder if that cycle would ever complete itself.  Then, in 2009 on the heels of a one day vision quest in Gold Lake Colorado and then the first Shamanic Convergence in Nova Scotia, I began to sense the transition process had shifted into a more gentle unfolding process and that I had given birth to the second half of my life, complete with the articulation of a personal purpose statement: from this place of deep rootedness to my spiritual lineages, I boldly bring my healing gifts to the shifting shape of the world and the regeneration of its people.  It is a statement that 2 years later still resonates deeply for me even as I grow less sure of what exactly it means.

This was also a period of time when I began to embrace gifts of awareness of the non-physical or subtle realms – and began to feel deeply embraced by non-physical entities – guides, guardians, angels.  As a person who lived a very ordinary experience of the physical world up to my late 30s, this was an area I had always believed in and felt could be accessed — but by other people, certainly not by me.  My journey brought teachers and mentors to me and took me to places where the existence and substance of the subtle realms and my ability to connect with them became undeniable.  It has been a significant part of the rebirthing process and will be a growing part of the journey forward.  A few years ago, one of my teachers said this is a time when there is a growing need for and a growing number of people who can walk with one foot in the physical world and one in the non-physical world – with greater ease, seamlessness and ordinariness.

If I gave birth to the second half of my life through that lengthy transition period, now I feel like I am beginning the Fool‘s Journey all over again, dancing the dance of possibility with time and space as a playground.  In the Gateway to the Divine Tarot (my favourite at the moment), the Fool is pictured drifting high above the Earth, implying an unearthly aspect to him, with innate wisdom that lies outside the ordinary and mundane realms.   The Fool is both emptiness and infinity, bringing movement, change and fresh starts.  The path is waiting but the full course of it cannot be seen.

I have been experiencing a sense of anticipation as I approach 50.  When I was a child, even a teenager, maybe even a young adult, 50 seemed both a long way off and old, not the launching pad for something new. I’m not sure what 50 is supposed to feel like.  It is half a century after all.  In the millennia of life this is such a short period of time.  I don’t feel old, I feel strangely and beautifully ageless and more and more like age as a number doesn’t matter.  What matters is how we approach life and journey, what we are willing and able to embrace and how well we can surrender into the greater forces lighting our path.

Maybe I don’t feel old now because, in the first half of my life, I have often felt older than my years. This was partly through taking on lots of responsibility and finding myself in leadership positions at very young ages. While not feeling old now, I do feel like an elder in some ways.  Steward might be a better word.  I think of it as elder in the journey – this current physical journey in the world, but also in the sense of my soul journey and the vast expanses of eras I have traveled to be here, right now in this time.  To be 50 in 2012.  Did I plan that?

A lot of attention has been paid to 2012 – the year the Mayan calendar ends.  Some have interpreted this to mean the year the world – or civilization – ends.  It may well be the end of much of what we do know or how we have lived but I doubt it is the end of the planet.  Likely it is the end of age old patterns, the end of blindly bringing destruction to our ecological systems, the end of allowing only  a few voices to dominate.  I am of the view that the Arab spring and the Occupy Movement are manifestations of the deeper shift that is already happening in the world, the trending to a greater level of awakeness in the world.  A time of returning to greater consciousness that there is far more beyond the physical vessels our spirits inhabit and far more alive in this world than just the plants and animals, just what we can physically see.  Maybe it is  a time when our sight and awareness will collectively expand again so we can live with a greater sense of the sacred in every place and every one – including in us.

I am aware of this journey in me and of me in this journey.  I am aware of a vast array of conversations I am with people in many places in the world where this is true.  Of a greater hunger for deeper dives, greater understanding, more meaningful work, love and relationship in new and deeper ways and beyond only the intimate love relationship.

Perhaps we will look back on this time in a decade or so and see what a harbinger of change it really is.  I’m certain I will look back on my journey and affirm what I know and sense as I move into 50.  This is a time for me to break old, limiting patterns, to step more fully into what is mine to do, to completely embrace my purposeful path and live into all that has been on my own edges for awhile.  It is the year I will publish my first book, Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Open Heartedness and begin writing the second book – its companion guide.

There is such a sense of newness on my horizon of 50 and of joyous celebration.  I may have unconsciously created an association between turning 50 and embracing life in the fullness of all it has to offer.  I have been growing into it for sure in the last couple of years as I have discovered falling in love everyday, have found joy as the baseline of my experience rather than as the exceptional state and have stepped into more conscious awareness of the experience I am living in any given moment.  I have been growing my experience of and relationship with the non-physical world and particularly my own guides, guardians and angels.

I didn’t really have a plan for my life up to this point. If I did, it wouldn’t likely have included the things that have shown up.  I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be divorced once, let alone twice.  While I would have expected to have children, I wouldn’t necessarily have anticipated the quality of relationship that has emerged and been present throughout their growing up years – with them and their friends. I couldn’t have imagined the most amazing people who have shown up in my life and those that have shown me pathways, caused me to grow or reflected back to me qualities I have been invited to embrace – the delightful and profound, the challenging and mundane.

I also would never have imagined that a country like Brazil would play such a central role in my life and journey or that I would be at this point in my life and surrounded by the most amazing young leaders from Brazil and here that I get to play with, learn from and with and journey with.  Yay for what I do not know and cannot see.  And for the increasing courage and grace that allows me to embrace what is wanting to show up.

The invitation into 50 gives me shivers in the most delightful and shimmering kinds of ways.  The invitation into deeper levels of trust, forgiveness, curiosity and joy are apparent.  This invitation is flirting at the edges of 50, waiting to see my response.  Like the first half of my life, it will be filled with the imperfections of life, of me in my human journey, ambivalent at times, sad at other times, anger more freely expressed when it shows up in my experience  but in better and more life affirming ways, like other emotional experiences that are not joy and love dissipating quickly because of the freedom of expression in healthy ways. There will still be days when it is challenging to walk the path, days when my own inner judge will be alive and vociferous, days when I do not know what to do or make choices that will somehow feel wrong.  It is a human experience I am living, after all, that we all live.

However, I have come too far to go back.  Have I come far enough to fully surrender and embrace all that is waiting for me here on the edge of 50?  It seems that is part of what I will discover as I begin the Fool’s Journey anew.  I begin with child like curiosity and playfulness and anticipation. I begin with joy brimming over the top.  I look forward to seeing where and how your path intersects mine and I am eternally grateful for the path, people and circumstances that have brought me here to the edge of what’s next. 50, here I come.  Are you ready for me?

The Voice of the Judge

There is no more powerful limiting mechanism in our lives than the voice of the judge.  I don’t mean that other person – parent, spouse, child, teacher, boss, friend, co-worker,random stranger on the street or in the shopping mall.  It’s the internal voice of judgment or internal critic that often runs rampant inside of us that we barely notice, if at all, because it is so clever and really good at disguising itself – for self preservation really.

I first became intimately acquainted with my inner judge in 2008-09 during coaching work with Sarita Chawla.  She recommended I read Soul Without Shame by Byron Brown in addition to the work we were doing together. I will forever recognize this as a pivotal point in the shifting shape of my journey.  I wrote about the voice of the judge back then in an article.  I am reviving that article here now in an updated version because it is the season of amplification.  My inner critic is activated – obvious to me because of how I feel – and I am reminding myself of strategies I already know that help to deactivate it and release its grip on me.

When I first became aware of the force of the internal judge, I had been working with the concepts of self-leadership and hosting oneself for almost as long as I could remember – still do, of course.  I worked with coaches, read books, did courses, took part in and led deep group work.  I am generally a positive, optimistic person holding deep appreciation and gratitude for much of what transpires in my life and who shows up.  I have transformed negative self talk into more appreciative forms of self talk and into periods of quiet in my mind.  I meditate and practice other forms of reflection and mindfulness.

So, imagine my surprise when I discovered a voice of self judgment and self criticism that was booming loud and clear in my unconsciousness, stronger than any external voice of judgment or criticism could possibly be.  This voice constantly set the bar for my performance at the best that I had ever achieved.  The bar moved if I did better.  When I didn’t match my most excellent performance, even when I did extremely good work, this voice told me that I had failed, that I did not measure up and that I never would on a consistent basis.  Strong performance was interpreted as mediocre.  Criticisms from others, whether justified or not, was reinforced by this inner critic.

When I felt most down on myself or just down in general, this voice played a significant role – and still can in moments I feel most overwhelmed or vulnerable – until I expose it.  I didn’t actually hear it as a voice until I began to listen for it but I felt it strongly in many forms: sadness, unhappiness, melancholy, anger, listlessness, lack of motivation and many other emotional manifestations.

While I had been aware of this voice (or at least the emotions it manifested in) to some extent, I also prided myself on my journey of self-transformation and change.  Been there, got that medal, surely I must be done now, can I just get on with my life and success?  I realize now it was the voice of self judgment that said, “You’ve been doing this long enough, how come you’re not done?”

Part of the reason I had been pretty oblivious to this voice was because, in my quest to be calm and serene and professional, I skirted over my own emotional reactions.  I barely recognized I had them except in the odd instances where they overtook me.  Oh, was that an emotion that wasn’t calm and serene?  Oops.  Nope. Couldn’t have been.  It must have been something else.

Then, a friend told me I deal with my emotions intellectually.  So, I thought about that.  And I thought my friend just might be right.  Emotions don’t reside in our intellect.  They reside in our bodies.  We feel them and sense them.  We use metaphors to describe them.  We say things like, “That packed a punch!”  If we stop to notice, we will notice where it feels like we got punched.  And if we stay with that, we will begin to notice the impact.  And if we stay with it longer, we will notice the uncomfortableness and want to move onto something else.  This is where I am learning to stop.  I have learned to stay with it longer, until I can begin to discern the wisdom that is held there and that can only emerge when we give it an escape hatch to surface to the light.

It is in these moments that my voice of self judgment has come booming out at me in all of its voraciousness.  With all good intentions, all it wants to do is protect me – from failure, from being unlovable.  But its methods only serve to reinforce for me my failures, even to the extent of turning successes into failures, thus creating in my mind my own unlovability and unwantability.  I have also become aware through the Law of Attraction and the teachings of Abraham that this voice of the judge interferes with flow, abundance and allowing the full vibrancy of life.

I learned to journal in this voice.  I am astounded by the punch it does pack.  Periodically I sit and check inside of me to sense into what I’m experiencing and feeling and what the impact is.  I journal what I am sensing until I feel done.  Then I check in again to see what I am experiencing, sensing and feeling, and then journal again. And then again, if that seems required.  I am committed to going the next layer deep and the next until I feel the light flood back into my soul and I feel a lightness of spirit and of body. This is what I want to amplify in my life now.

Exposing my voice of self-judgment transmutes it into a gift of understanding and insight after which joy can once again arise and take more of the space that is its, and my own, rightful due.  Now, instead of seeing my journey as one that should be concluded and being hard on myself because it is not, I see my journey and myself with a gentleness I could not access before as it was hidden underneath the protective layer of the voice of judgment.  I have always known, intellectually, that learning and growth is a life long journey.  Now I know it and accept it with a graciousness that only comes from the light.  It is a good reminder in this season of amplification.

I’ve Arrived – At Least in This Moment

I’ve arrived.  I didn’t know this was where I was going but, now that I’m here, I can clearly see that this is where I was headed.  Feels good to have arrived.  In this moment anyway.  In the next moment, it might be different. That will be okay too because there will always be a next moment and I get that I get to create or co-create the next moment and the next.

By moment, I mean a period of time, linear time as we know it – maybe just a minute, maybe days, weeks, months or even years.  When it is a tortuous moment that goes on for awhile it doesn’t seem like this moment, it seems like an eternity.  I’ve had a few of those too. Looking back now over the course of my life, I see them for what they are – moments, in time, moments that reflect my journey and shape my life, my outlook, my wisdom and my experience.

Now, though, I seem to be in a moment of amazing open heartedness.  I’m just back from a run in my neighbourhood that takes me to a waterfront park and boardwalk and back again.  Every time I smile, nod or say hello to someone I pass, I crack open just a touch more.  And, so do they.  The moment might pass for them, but more and more I am finding this moment in my life lingering.

I like the feel of this moment.  The joy.  Delight.  Ease.  Beauty.  Love.  Flow.  Noticing my emotional state.  Noticing my reactions. Noticing where or what next to focus on in my own healing journey.  Not in the tortuous way I used to notice it.  Now it is just a noticing.  An observation.  A clue to what to pay attention to.   “Oh, look at that response.  Maybe there is something there to take a look at, a hook to release, an attachment to let go of.”  Surfacing.  Surrendering.  Swift, powerful movement arising all around me, in me, through me.

It is visible to me.  It is continuously reflected back to me because it is visible to others and I am open to receiving in whole new ways.  Some people comment.  Some just notice.  Some come closer.  Some rejoice with me.  In the people close to me, I see how much they love me and I feel how much I love them.  Feeds gratitude, appreciation and joy over and over again.

I have always believed in the Law of Attraction.  I have also understood that I have attracted even the things, people, situations I have not liked (and sometimes detested)  into my life.  Wanting to understand deeply the why of that was one of those moments of determination that led to many moments of revelation over a very long, tortuous moment in my life.

I tried to make the Law of Attraction work and at times I probably gave up – almost anyway – on being able to force it work in ways that work for me.  There are times it practically pounded me on the head while I was looking in other directions, focused on the how of things instead of the surrendering into things where truly miraculous “hows” could then show up in ways I could never have imagined.

Through the continuing journey I am learning how to allow, embrace, surrender and step into it.  Coming from a place of love, joy and delight.  Which is very different than coming at it from a place of desperation.  My favourite Law of Attraction material at the moment is Abraham-Hicks.  I have been infusing myself with their teachings.  One of the things they say is that whenever we want something, that something is actually two things – what we want and the lack of what we want.  Usually we are focused on the lack and not on what we want and we are desperately, pleadingly trying to convince ourselves, through stress and agony, we are focused on what we want.  Focusing on the lack brings, surprise, surprise, more lack.

They also say a belief is simply a thought we think over and over again.  So, I’m becoming aware of my repetitive thoughts so I can shift them and shift the shape of my life more and more to what I want.  Since really embracing this,  I am seeing and, more importantly, feeling the results.  In this moment, I’ve arrived.  I like this place.  I’m not exactly sure where I am headed next but now I know I’ll recognize it when I arrive and I know it will be even better than the place I am in in this moment – as hard as that may be for some to believe – I am aware that life, if I allow it, will only get better and better, no matter how good it is right now.

While I’m in this moment that I’ve arrived in, I’m taking some time to celebrate.  To notice flow.  To appreciate deep relationships.  To see how well cared for and nourished I am.  And maybe tomorrow, when I’m out for my run or grocery shopping or wherever my day may take me, maybe you and I will find each other, smile, nod, say hello, embrace if we actually know each other, say I love you if we are in deep relationship – and both our worlds will crack open just that much more and we will know that we have arrived – in this new moment, for the moment.

Corridor of the Dying or Something Else?

It is such a small leap for me I don’t know why it never occurred to me before.

I went to visit my mother this weekend.  She has had dementia for more years than we know and she has been in long term care for almost three.  Awhile ago I wrote about only understanding her journey from a soul perspective.  This is becoming more true for me as she gets nearer to her transition.

During this visit, I sat on her bed with her, maintaining physical touch the whole time I was there.  When she looked at me and we held eye contact, she smiled and even laughed.  So did I.  Sometimes with my tears also flowing.  The rest of the time, I watched her lift her head to look very intently at things I could not see all around her room.  It is clear to me that spirit in gathering although less clear to me when she will finally decide to let go of her physical body, but likely soon.   We, her family, are becoming more ready as we walk this path her.

To get to the dementia ward in what everyone in the town calls “the Home”, you enter the front door of the building, walk a short corridor past the administration offices and enter through an electronically locked door into the main residential part of the building.  You then have to walk down a long corridor to get to the dementia ward, behind yet another locked door.

As you enter the residential part of the building, you come upon people – old people and in some cases, really old people – sitting in wheel chairs or chairs – just sitting there for the most part, most nodding off.  Those are the ones well enough to be sitting up.  As you go down the corridor, bedrooms are on either side and in most of them someone is lying on a bed, oblivious to the rest of the world.  Sleeping, snoring, unaware. And, as good as this place is – and I do believe it is one of the best, it smells of old people waiting to die, sometimes less so, sometimes more so.  It is a hard corridor to walk with regularity, know the shape of these people’s lives have shifted so dramatically.

I have always thought of these people as waiting to die.  We all know the only way people come out of long term care is in a coffin.  This is where some of our population go to die – when their loved ones can no longer take care of them and, believe me, that is not an easy decision.

For some reason, with this visit with my mom, I had a little revelation and I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but I’m glad it has now because it expands my awareness of what else just might be going on in these corridors.

My spiritual journey over the last dozen years or so has shown me pathways to altered consciousness, to spirit journeying, to spirit guides, angels and other entities.  I am aware that it is possible to “travel” in dream states – sleeping and waking – and that much good and healing work can happen in these states of altered awareness and consciousness.

As I sat with my mother and observed her looking at that which she could see and I couldn’t, I all of a sudden became aware that her physical body might be old and weak and her brain injured, as they say at the Home, but her spirit or soul is strong.  I began to wonder just where, how far and how often she may have been journeying while her physical body slept and that thought took me to all those sleeping bodies throughout the whole facility and a curiosity about where some of those souls might be journeying to while their physical bodies sleep.  I’m sure some of them may well be wrestling with their own demons, so to speak, but whose to say that most of them aren’t off doing much needed soul work in ordinary and non-ordinary reality.

Then I could feel a bubble of light surrounding this Home. The notion that these beautiful souls might be making contributions to the world that most of us cannot see or understand made my own spirit more joyful.  And now I hold my mother’s journey with an added degree of lightness and joy which I have no doubt she feels.  She is journeying well and will continue to do so, I have no doubt.  She is a great teacher for me.  And I love her and she know that.

Play is an Attitude

I am becoming more and more serious about play – as an attitude as much or more than as an activity.   These days I’m reflecting a lot on the Law of Attraction, abundance, energy, flow and what blocks flow.  I have been soaking up Abraham-Hicks and their teachings on the Law of Attraction.

Things like worry, stress, fear, negativity, seriousness of character all get in the way of attracting what you want in your life – anything that constricts the essence of who you are slows down the manifestation of what you want.   Anything that gives relief – laughter, joy, love, delight, hope, fun, playfulness – all fuel a vibration that attracts to you what you want to manifest, contributing to expansiveness.

There was a time, a long time ago, that I used to have fun and be fun to be around.  Wherever I was, there inevitably was laughter.  And somehow, when I was distracted by the seriousness of life, running a business, being in relationship, raising children, my natural joie d’vivre slipped away until all that was left was this grave seriousness, worry, fear and strain.  My world and my energy became more and more constricted and flow was blocked off.

One day, I noticed.  I looked up and looked around and I noticed I was all seriousness, intensity and negativity and lacked any sense of joyfulness or play in my life.  Couldn’t even really remember the last time I had laughed out loud or had any sense of fun. How had that happened?  Little bit by little bit the shape of my life had unintentionally and, in some ways, unwillingly, shifted. I was deep in my own shadow.

That day, that observance, marked the beginning of a long road back to joy.  I was blown away by habitual patterns, belief systems that locked me into seriousness and the impact of the voice of my inner judge.  I learned about the voracity of my inner judge by working through the book Soul Without Shame, learning how to identify and disempower it.  While it still shows up, it has less impact for much less time.  I have learned about understanding my emotions as a guide to my experience and as an inner guidance system.

Over the last few years I have been picking away at of the things that have constricted my energy and constricted flow in my life.  I have been opening up to a greater sense of expansiveness and to taking risks and this has been accelerating.

And, I have been learning about play and playfulness.  When I’m leading workshops, playfulness hasn’t been my strong suit.  I rely on other team members to bring that element.  I bring depth and intensity of connection to group process and I do it well.  What is being reawakened in  me is the idea that play doesn’t have to be an action, it is an attitude that opens up or shifts energy in individuals and in groups and particularly in me.  I have been observing how it galvanizes attention and curiosity in the best possible ways even in a room full of strangers.

I have witnessed the impact of play as an attitude in social settings, at home and in the work I do. It is infusing the relationships I have, and even chance encounters.  Play as an attitude brings with it a greater capacity to risk putting myself out there more, risk being wrong, risk trying things that might not work, risk showcasing the imperfection of being human.  It means the willingness to try without needing specific results to show up as proof of success.  Everything then becomes a learning situation which, oddly enough, then contributes to breeding success – and in beautifully fun ways rather than with a seriousness that brings everything down.

Play as an attitude encompasses joy, delight and expansiveness.  It opens up channels for Law of Attraction to work in  favourable ways, bringing wanted things into being.

Now, I smile more even when I’m alone.  I’m enjoying the expansiveness in my own vibrational frequency.  I am more energetic, eager and focused.  All because I am understanding play as an attitude.  I can still be really serious about my work, the integrity of all my relationships and the responsibilities I hold.  But when I infuse them with an attitude of play I bring alive two of my favourite rules – Rule 6a and 6b:

6a: Don’t take yourself so f—–g seriously!

6b: Don’t take other people so f—–g seriously!

These are two rules I have had to be reminded of often for a long time and now they are becoming integrated into my being along with the delightful attitude of play.  What things can you bring an attitude of play to that would enable you to shift the shape of your experience?

Victimhood, Survivorship – Two Sides of the Same Hook

Me In My Meditation Tree

This morning, on my run, I had a revelation.  I wasn’t particularly looking for a revelation – it just showed up.  The power of it could have knocked me over – except it fully formed when I was sitting in my meditation tree in my back yard after my run – and it definitely brought tears flowing as I felt release from a long held story.  The revelation? The story of survivorship is inextricably tethered to the story of victimhood.

I haven’t thought much about being a survivor over the last year as I have mostly felt joy in this new phase of my life.  On my run, I was feeling joy and inspiration, alive and vibrant, connecting to nature in the unseen ways that nature is also alive and vibrant.  Feeling really good.  Reflecting on events of the last week and a half that had me off my ground and my centre and then the three conversations/events that brought me back to my centre and a feeling of being myself.

One of my friends offered me, very bluntly, an acknowledgement of the victim threads buried in the story I wrote to her.  It highlighted it so brilliantly at first I was startled and then I laughed to see the truth of it.  And seeing the truth of it released it.

As I reflected on this experience this morning I realized I have lived into a story of survivorship probably most of my life, even before I was old enough to be consciously aware that that’s what I did.  I survived the story of my birth (a story for another time), growing up in a small town (only half a joke), two divorces, an ectopic pregnancy, job loss under crazy and difficult circumstances, starting a company, merging businesses, separating businesses, difficult and challenging personal and work relationships.   After all, the other choice was to be a victim.  And God forbid that I would ever be a victim.  I will always rise up and overcome whatever challenge shows up on my path.  I am a survivor.  I am strong.  I am resilient.  And this is all good.

Except, of course, for my little revelation this morning.  In order for the survivor story to be alive and well in me, the victim story is also alive and well but buried deep.  Victim and survivor are contrasting sides the same story – two sides of the same hook.  If it is only a choice between these two things, then of course, I want to be a survivor.  But if the survivor story is alive and well in me, even if I have lost conscious awareness of it, then in order to be a survivor, I must attract circumstances and challenges to myself so I can continue to live into the story of being a survivor.

The core of the revelation: without those challenges I am neither victim or survivor.  There are not just two choices.  There are a myriad of choices.  I can live into my life, path and purpose with freedom, joy, love, eagerness and enthusiasm.  I can still attract growth and contrast to my life, but they don’t need to be challenges.  They can be offerings from which I can choose the path that path serves the joyful, delightful core that is calling me.  I can accept, allow, receive.  How much more powerful is that than choosing only between victim and survivor but to release that hook and choose a completely different story and unfolding of my life as this new phase is just getting started.

Deeply grateful to friends, to nudges along the path and the beautiful shifting shape of my life, relationships and work that has only just begun.  Hungry for more.  Ready for more.

Shape Shifting Poetic Reflection

Shape Shifting (1)

 

In over my head

Didn’t know the depth

I dived into

The deceptiveness

Of the calm

Hearing a promise

Of salvation

 

Under the surface

So much more

I didn’t want to see

Blinders on

 

Undertows

Grab hold of me

By the ankles

Yanking firmly

Sucking me down

Down

Down

 

Bubbles escape

All around me

I struggle

Wear myself out

Exhausted

 

I am lost

I cannot find myself

I am deceived

 

Struggle stops

I withdraw

Make myself small

Maybe this

Is how

I will survive

 

My soul whispers

My name

It is familiar

Like a breeze

Lightly on my skin

It is almost inaudible

With the din

Around me

 

Can I make myself smaller

Hide in plain view

 

I am sad

Angry

Poison

Is running

Through my veins

Hatred

Like I’ve never experienced

Before

 

Who is this person

Where did she come from

 

My soul whispers

My name

The undertow

Yanks me

Deeper

Into the abyss

I am lost

 

From the surface

Gazing through

The slight distortions

Of the water

I look calm

Only the occasional

Flicker

Gives clues

To onlookers

About the extent

Of chaos

Turmoil

Permeating

Every aspect

Of my being

 

My soul

Whispers

Louder

Calling my name

Begins to send

Messengers

Of hope

In unexpected

Delightful

Confusing

Illuminating ways

 

The water heats up

The seas

Unleash

The full

Fury

Of the storm

I am lost

 

Ahh

Ahh

But now

My soul

My soul’s journey

Is calling my name

Loud

Louder

Clearly

Beckoning me

Gently

Here

Here is your path

Here are

Your messengers

Here is your support

Drums

Guides

People

Places

Events

Timing

 

Open your heart

Tear down your walls

Tentative

Brick by brick

Peering out

Feeling

Little rays

Of light

Hope

Finding centre

Finding ground

 

The storm

Looms again

I rise

To meet the storm

 

STORM BE GONE!

 

Facing down

Ego

Facing down

Judgment

Self judgment

The most insidious of all

 

Yes!

You are safe

We’ve got you

You’ve got yourself

 

Love

Openly

Joyfully

 

Love is buoyant

Like a cloud

You will float

To the surface

 

I am finding

My way

Trusting

Just a little bit

Feeling buoyancy

Feeling joy

Letting go

Surrendering

 

Am I done yet

Can I graduate

What

No certificate

Life long

Life affirming

 

Why you are here

 

Surrendering

More fully

Trusting

More fully

Beauty

Unexpected delights

Surety of path

The how

Drifting off

Into the ether

Materializing

In its own

Unexpected

Glorious

Ways

 

I am found

My voice is found

My ground

My path

I am birthing

 

My soul

Is singing

Celebrating

Without the storm

Without drowning

I would still

Be lost

 

2010 Enduring Impression – Deep Gratitude

People who know me who are familiar with my  life’s journey know that I have very few short stories.  I have the most amazing, incredible and sometimes almost unbelievable stories of my life and 2010 was no exception.  This year continued to bring some very big stories of experience into my life.  2010 has been a year of completion where I became aware that a five year deep transition period came to a close, opening up into a much gentler and no less transformative era of unfolding  – one I hope endures into the rest of my life.

This year has brought the deepest sense of trust in this life journey that I have ever experienced, searing into my awareness how much I am supported in the world and in my journey.  I have been aware of this over the years but there was some associated doubt, worry and fear.  No longer.  I have landed with exquisite delight and amazing joy in this place of trust.  When I do notice doubt, fear or angst lurking around the edges I know now to inquire into it and to ask for support to navigate my way through it with far more grace than I could have imagined possible.

I have learned depth of relationship and the gift I have for creating the space for this by being open, vulnerable, curious, loving and open hearted.  I have been gifted with depth and beauty of friendship by learning to be present and available for the relationship that is available to me, rather than wishing for relationship that is not.

Highlights for 2010 include the Art of Social Innovation at Windhorse Farm in NS  in April,  moving into my new house in Bedford in May, attending ALIA in Halifax in June, visiting my sister and her husband on vacation with my youngest son in July, Warrior of the Heart training and the Art of Hosting Stewards gathering on Bowen Island in BC in August, Brazil, beautiful, amazing Brazil in October and then the Berkana Weaving the Web gathering in New York also in October, an invitation into a beautiful spiritual women’s circle in November.  Permeated throughout all of these events or gatherings is the people, the rich friendships, people I love dearly who I also often have the good fortune to work with, some of whom I just met in this last year and others I have known for a very long time, all of whom I feel deep connection with.

As this year draws to a close, my most enduring feeling is one of deep gratitude – for what has evolved and emerged in my life, for this new constant of joy and falling in love everyday, for my children who touch me deeply and from whom I learn lots, for my dad who loves me unconditionally, my mother who continues to show me the extent of soul journey on this earth, to my friends here and all over the world who have my back and I have theirs, to the shamanic journey that has characterized my path far more than I ever knew, for this deep sense of trust that is becoming ingrained in me, to sensing deeply into where I am supposed to go, what I am supposed to do and how I can best do that which is mine to do.

I love how the shape of my life has shifted in this last year and I surrender fully into how it will want to shift in the coming years.  For the beginning of 2011, I feel expansiveness and readiness – ready to accept more into my life in every conceivable way, ready to be of service to that which is mine to do, ready to nourish relationships I care deeply about and ready to receive all that is wanting to flow into my life.

Unexpected Little Gifts

Appreciating the little and the not so little unexpected gifts feeds the field of gratitude, makes the heart glad and the soul sing.  It shifts the the shape of the moment, the day, our world, the world we touch including our relationships.

If we only care to pay attention, there are so many unexpected little gifts that show up in the run of a day –  and some of them are not so little.  A comment here.  A nice touch in there.  Someone noticing, paying attention, listening.  Connecting with other human beings – sometimes friends, sometimes strangers –  contact illuminated in a gesture, a word, eye contact, a touch.

Unexpected little gifts in my life in just the last day or so?  Dinner last night with a friend of mine and a beautiful young friend of my teenage boys – they are away for University, their friend, who has become my friend, stayed here for University and we headed out for dinner at The Wooden Monkey.  The Wooden Monkey in Halifax is one of those not so unexpected little gifts – beautiful, home grown, organic food lovingly cooked and served with care.  A beautiful late September night inspiring a walk on the waterfront and a drink later at an outdoor cafe.

As I write my book – Embracing the Stranger in Me – coming across really good writing from a decade ago that I had completely forgotten I wrote so now I don’t need to rely on memory – my writing from the time will take me back there into those compelling experiences that contributed to the me who now shows up in this world.

My hairdresser, unfortunately, broke her wrist and couldn’t cut my hair, but referred me to a place a client had given me a hundred dollar gift certificate for a few months ago.  Nice unexpected little gift.

Friends find me on Facebook chat or skype and we have short or long chats that pick up the spirit and make the day shine, sometimes just a hello and sometimes opening up the gift of possibility.

My eight year old says, “Mom, you’re the best mom ever.  I wish there were two of you!”  (I do too, but probably not for the same reason.)

There are so many more delights in every single day.  They shape my world.  They make me smile.  They energize me.  They motivate me.  They bring me joy.  They give me strength, remind me of my strength, connect me to my strength and then I radiate the joy, peace, and connection I experience, attracting more of it, helping me see and support brilliance in the world, in my friends, my family and the people I have the honour and privilege of working with.

Like my Brazilian friends who I will be joining at the end of this week (along with another good friend from Colorado) for an Art of Hosting training near Sao Paulo.  Good friends.  Deep relationships.  Amazing work already – with each other and in Brazil.  The swiftness with which my travel visa was processed. Smiling to sense into what more will emerge there.

Unexpected little gifts.  In every single day, in so many ways.  I like it when they shift the shape of my world and my experience. I look forward to seeing what unexpected little gifts show up in my day tomorrow and the tomorrows after that.  Maybe you will be one of them.  Maybe I will be one of them for you.

Contemplating Joy

Byron Brown, in Soul Without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within, asserts that compassion, strength, love and joy are essential soul qualities.  He says that ego – or our internal judge or critic – would have us believe this is not true, that we are in constant search of these qualities and that usually they are unattainable, maybe because we believe we are not worthy.

A constant search for these qualities would always have them in the future and, while we may have fleeting glimpses of them, they are elusive.  We are thus, by default, relegated to a life of strife and striving, doomed to be ruled by the internal judge or critic who, when we are not doing well admonishes us that we can do better and when we do well, first congratulates us and then says, “How long do you think you can keep that up?”.  Stepping out of this habitual, ingrained pattern in our thoughts and in our life takes conscious, intentional effort but when it happens we experience moments of freedom – even joyful freedom.

Of the essential soul qualities, it is joy I am contemplating most frequently at the moment.  Joy because, as the shape of my world has shifted, I feel joyful – often.  I wake up in the morning feeling joyful, go to bed at night feeling joyful.  I don’t necessarily feel joyful every moment of every day but at least I’ve become aware of my emotional journey and am living into it – rather than walking through it as if it was happening to someone else – or, maybe, happening to just a shadow of myself rather than the multi-coloured range which has become more available to me over the last couple of years.

Joy feels freeing and expansive.  It is fed by gratitude and appreciation. It is fed by noting it and sinking deeper into it – surrendering to it, letting it seep into all my pores, breathing it in with every breath and back out into the world so other people can also feel the expression of joy – even if they do not know what it is they are experiencing.

And as I notice joy and joyfulness in my life, in any given moment, every now and then I also notice the little voice that says — yeah, sure it’s summer now, but what about the fall?  How do you know you are actually going to keep your business busy enough to sustain yourself in the fall?  You should be worried about that now!

Hmmm, you should be worried about that now.  Sounds like the voice of my internal judge wanting to be heard – in fairness to it, it does want to keep me safe and financially sustainable, but it has a limited range of options with which to do that and they all include struggle, worry and fear – emotions I am very familiar with – as I am also familiar with how constricting and how limiting they can be, shutting down the capacity of the soul to be in full expression – which includes full manifestation that comes from a place of trust.

Most of us have learned that life is full of struggle and if you want to get ahead you have to work hard, really hard – and even then there are no guarantees.  We have learned that life is not handed to us on a silver platter, we have to work in order to live and adversity makes us stronger – you know that phrase – that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Okay, so there may be some truth in that but I declared awhile ago (a bit more than a year ago in fact) that I was welcoming ease into my life.  I’ve had varying degrees of success with that over the last year and a bit – it takes intentionality and really paying attention  in any given moment, and, for now, it seems to be more and more a characteristic of how I am living my life and what is showing up in it.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t difficult things or moments that show up. My father’s diagnosis of prostate cancer is a good example, the uncertainty of this story as it unfolds over the next 6 months to a year and the impact on me as his main source of support in his health care.  Or my mother’s journey with dementia in a long term care ward.  Or entering yet another new phase of my life as both of my older children prepare to depart to different provinces in the fall for University.  But it does mean I entertain these stories, events in my life, with a different kind of graciousness which invites ease into how to hold them them.  And it doesn’t mean I can’t feel joy or be in a state of joyfulness as I experience the ebb and flow of my life and the ebb and flow of the lives of people I care about.

I am welcoming ease, welcoming joy and welcoming the full array of what all needs to show up in my life, saying no to worry and to fear, yes to presence and to calm.  I am aware that fear, worry, frustration are waiting in the wings some days, some moments, but I am no longer expecting them and no longer inviting them – consciously or unconsciously.  Every moment will take care of itself.  And, if I believe that, it is a far more playful and fun way to show up in the world, a world of joy and joyfulness.

If it is true that the other shoe will drop, why can’t it look and feel like the first one rather than the one we allude to: the heavy handed, heavy-hearted counterpart to joy, love, compassion and strength?