Return

January 31st: Return

It is my belief that, though you may choose a word for yourself each year, if you get quiet and pay attention, the theme will reveal itself.

For me, what I am seeing so far (and this could change and probably will change) is “return”. I am returning to myself, to the parts of myself that are true and that matter most, and I am learning that these parts can only be accessed by turning away from the noise and distractions that make up so much of life as we know it today.

I say “we” as if I can safely assume that you and I are living similar lives, and I’m sure that’s a pretty big assumption. It’s just that I have found after all these years on earth that I am not ever very different than the status quo- a thing that both comforts and bums me out. LOL.

So, perhaps you have already bypassed me in this way, or never jumped on the distraction train to begin with. But I find that I can be a very approval-seeking person, and how much that rules my life is directly proportional to the amount of time I spend on social media, news stories, and trying to fit in and measure up to whatever the standard of the day is.

And that’s just it- the bar is always moving, and depending on where you are focused, the rules change, the ideals change, the opinions change. But when we return to ourselves, and shut out all that hullabaloo, we can be certain that our core values and nature will reveal themselves to be pretty darn consistent.

Yes, of course, we change over time as do our dreams and needs. But when they align with your true self, it’s more like a slow morphing, or building blocks…an evolution rather than a whole new thing.

I am discovering that who I am today is not very different from the girl I was long, long ago. I still love books and words. I still love contemplating the reason I am here and trying to work out how to make the very most of my time. I still long to see everything, explore, roam.

For a moment there, I began to lose my excitement about moving to Maine. I think it was mostly fear…my life here is so good and solid and reliable. But given a little time, I have returned to that as well. I feel more than ever that I want this adventure, I want to see what life holds for me beyond this little safe space I’ve built here. There is more, there is more, there is always more. Go while you can. That is what my spirit whispers to me.

I don’t have any sage words to share today (or possibly ever. I suppose that’s a matter of opinion.) but I do hope that if the way you are living is depleting you rather than feeding you, you can recognize it and understand that you are still in control- you can choose to do something different. I did, and I am more at peace than I’ve been in years. Getting in touch with who you are, who you really are, is always a rewarding thing.

Humbled

January 25th: Humbled

I know I have missed a few days this week, and it’s because I’ve been working on something really important- my actual life. There have been some things that desperately needed my attention, and so I decided to prioritize those things and get them sorted out. When I am depleted physically or spiritually, I don’t have much to offer in the way of inspiration. When my mind is cluttered with noise and full of meaningless worries and judgements, it doesn’t leave a lot of space for the good stuff. I think it’s a really good idea to take a step back, often, and surmise if your life is rolling along as you want and to make adjustments where they are needed. That’s what I’ve been doing.

But that isn’t what I want to write about today, not exactly. Although it is true that since I’ve decided to stop keeping up on the ultra-depressing and hysteria-inducing news, I’ve been gifted with remembering that the doom and gloom we are force-fed by the media is really just one perspective of the world and reality. I’ve been consciously choosing to tune out the negativity and take in a little more goodness, and guess what? The world hasn’t ended. No one has mocked me for my ignorance of current events. More importantly, I feel better.

MOST importantly, when there is less room for the negative, there’s a lot more room for the positive. What we focus on is what we attract, or, if that’s too hard for you to swallow, then what we focus on is what we tend to see. You can’t argue with that. Lately, I’ve noticed that there is a lot more good in the world than bad. That people are still ready to be kind and friendly if you give them the chance. Most of us want to help. Most of us want to smile back, say thank you, lend a hand.

It’s a giant planet we live on, full of wonderous things. There are probably many things in your own city or town or area that you have yet to see. There are amazing people you haven’t met. There are sunrises and sunsets, full moons and forests, stars and beaches and mountains. And you are a human being with a perfect soul and more potential, more adventure and stories within you than you could ever imagine. You have no idea what the future holds.

Today, I hope that you can take in what I’ve just said and allow yourself to be humbled. By the incredible gift of your life and the power you have to make of it anything that you desire. You might say that you don’t believe it, but that doesn’t change that it’s true. People with seemingly insurmountable challenges have made history…why should you be any different? And, if you just aren’t feeling that ambitious, all the same…go outside today, and take in something beautiful. Sit at a coffee shop and observe people talking, laughing, falling in love, or simply connecting. Tell me that isn’t a wonder, the way we need each other, or the way that we are soothed and awed by beautiful things. It’s a necessary thing, I think, to be struck wide-eyed by the beauty around us-whether it’s an ordinary thing we see every day that suddenly comes into sharp focus, or an extraordinary thing we might never see again. The end result is the same- it changes us, at least for a while. May you find yourself humbled by something beautiful today.

Sacred Space

January 20th: Sacred Space

For so many years of my life, I was rootless and wild, which had its upsides- I can’t imagine a youth of conformity and structure, and if that sounds appealing to you, we are clearly different kinds of people. But there were downsides, too, one of which was that I often had no space of my own at all, let alone a particular one I carved out and called sacred. Often, I was lucky just to have a twin bed to sleep in with my daughter, and a room filled with belongings that weren’t my own.

I suppose back then that my car was my sacred space. I have so many happy memories of driving around with my windows down, singing at the top of my lungs, just feeling free and delirious with the possibilities stretched out before me. With a little money for gas and a car that ran, I could go anywhere I wanted, and I did. I had nothing but time, it seemed like.

That kind of freedom grows exhausting, though. It involves a lot of maneuvering, asking for favors, depending on the kindness of friends, being very, very poor. I grew up a bit and could see the benefit of being self-reliant and stable. So, I did that. Grudgingly at first, but over time, I’ve mellowed and come to enjoy this different kind of freedom.

One of the things I like the best about my life now is my morning routine, and the sacred space I have created for myself right here in my very own little house. My cushions, my candles, my crystals and incense. The time I spend every day in prayer and meditation, giving thanks for my countless blessings and anchoring myself in my body, to my breath, is something I never grow tired of. It feels different every single day.

I am not suggesting that you start praying and meditating immediately (unless you want to, of course) just because that is what I do…but I do think everyone should have a space that is sacred and meaningful to them, and a time each day to spend on themselves in whatever way feeds their spirit.

I wake up very early every morning and make this time for myself, but I don’t have to force it. This is just what works best for me. I spend time writing, reading, praying, and meditating, and it is the way I prefer to start my day. It’s a sacred time spent in my own sacred space.

Through this creation of time for myself, I have come to know myself in a way that I never did before. Investing in myself through a lot of hard work over the past years has paid off in a big way- now I have the time, the space, the security in life to dig into what suits me best. I can honestly say that the majority of my life and time is full of things and people and places I truly love and enjoy. I had to get through the hard parts to arrive here, but I never stopped trying, not even sure what it was I was reaching for. I knew it when I found it. And once again, I feel delirious with the possibilities spread out before me. That much is still true- perhaps now more than ever.

Create a space that is sacred and meaningful to you. Invest in yourself, in knowing yourself well and caring for your life in every aspect. Work hard when it is time to do so, understanding that this is how we get to the easy parts- through the hard parts. And if your life is nothing but hard parts and things don’t seem to ever improve, it might be time to take a closer look at what the trouble is. I know for me, it was always, always me, standing in my own way.

Inevitable Change

January 12th: Inevitable Change

Sigh…sometimes I take a very simple sentiment and muddy it up with too many words. I am going to attempt, for the 3rd time, to write these words in my heart this morning.

Human beings have a strange habit of expecting things to always remain as they are despite constant proof that nothing, and I mean nothing, does.

We look up one day to find our children inexplicably grown older. The sweet dimples on the backs of their hands disappeared, their heads smell sweaty instead of sweet, they won’t kiss us on the lips anymore.

We see our parents after time apart and suddenly we realize they are growing old. We look into the mirror and suddenly we realize that we are growing old.

People we love, people we cannot comprehend living without, die. Our lives are a series of events like this, before and after, and yet…we persist in our efforts to pretend like we have forever and ever to get it right, or to do better, or to be…whatever we think we need to be to feel satisfied by our efforts.

I am just feeling this so acutely right now, for a myriad of reasons, and I want to remind you- remind myself- that sometimes our priorities need to be revised. There are things that must be done, I get that, but make sure that you are tending closely to the things that actually mean something to you in the big picture. Be present. Make an effort to show up fully for the people you value. Not soon, but today. Enjoy the irritating little intrusions by your kids, because it means they want your attention, and that’s a gift. A gift with an expiration date, man. These moments are valuable.

At the end of it all, what you have left is love. Everything else falls away, and what is left is love. The love you gave, the love you were given, the love you wish you would have given more of, the regret of not loving enough. I promise you this is the truth. Every single thing in your life will change, except for this. So, do with that what you will…but try not to forget it.

Factory Reset

January 6th: Factory Reset

What a blur the past two weeks has been! Actually, doesn’t it seem like the clock speeds up sometime around mid-November, when the preparations for Thanksgiving begin? For me it seems that way, especially now that my part is more than just showing up and eating.  The minute Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas frenzy begins- I am not much of a shopper, and even I visited more stores in November and December than I do throughout the rest of the year. Then school is out and with all the weird days off and fragmented work weeks, by the time January second rolled around this year…honestly, I didn’t know what day of the week it was. I thought there were at least four Monday’s over the past two weeks. I’m not even kidding.

For me, a messy, complicated person who craves order and routine all the more for its elusiveness, starting fresh from such a chaotic place as that is very difficult. Unlikely, even. What I really needed was a nap. A chance to recover from all that activity. A little more “back to normal” and a little less “wait, what day is this?”

Unfortunately, due to circumstances I am not even going to attempt to get into right now, that was not to be. I hope that the start to your new year was peaceful and easy, but mine took a running leap straight into facing my fears and dealing with my deepest anxieties. I dealt with it just fine, but it was exhausting all the same.

Today is the first day of what promises to be the first normal week of this year for me- no days off mid-week, no holidays, no weirdness- and I am ready for it. I spent the last 48 hours basically cocooned inside my house, accomplishing absolutely nothing that I hoped I would. I just needed a break. I wanted so badly to tackle my to-do lists and jump into mapping out my goals, but…I couldn’t. I was simply unable to do anything other than rest.

I want to lie and say I’m okay with that, but the truth is, I have no choice other than to accept it. For one thing, it’s already in the past, and we all know you can’t do anything about the past. For another, after all the years I’ve lived in this body of mine, I’ve learned that there are times when my instincts take over and render my busy human brain useless. Kind of like a factory reset- my thoughts are still swirling away, but my body goes offline and…I don’t know, installs updates, I guess. But during that time, while my body is powered down, I cannot think my way into activity. I just have to rest. I can enjoy it or not, but it’s going to happen either way.

Here’s the reason I am sharing this with you: If you are like me, and you are feeling disappointed because the past few days didn’t go the way you’d hoped, let that go. We have all been incredibly busy for the past couple of months, and maybe you, like me, needed a break. I am trying to be gentler with myself and notice when I am not. I hope you can do this too- go easy on yourself. Ironically, it’s one of the hardest tasks for me, being gentle…especially with myself. But I keep trying because I know it’s important- everyone around us is touched by our vibe, be it good or bad. So I keep aiming high…I hope you do, as well.

What is Left Behind

January 1st: What is Left Behind

Can you feel it? Man, I woke up this morning, and that New Year Energy is like a living thing- a big jumble of hope and excitement and determination, a breath of fresh air, a big zap of radiant motivation. It’s not just the start of a new year, but the start of a whole new decade…which is also the end of the last year and the last decade. What a wonderful place we are standing in right now.

The first thing I did when I woke today was suspend my Facebook account. I’ve done this on January first for the past three years now, and it is always such a relief. I am not going to pretend it is permanent, but it is a much-needed break. This year, I hope to know less about things that don’t matter to me. It’s much more peaceful that way.

After that, I lit my candles and settled onto my cushion and sent up my first prayer of the year, heartfelt and full of gratitude for all that I have, and gratitude for all that is on its way to me. I stated my intentions for the months ahead and gave lots of thanks. I meditated for a good long while. When I was done, I wrote down the things that I would not be carrying with me into this new year, each one on its own scrap of paper. Here are the things I am leaving behind:

  • Worry about what other people think of me
  • Judgement of others
  • Resentment
  • Hurt over things that happened in the past
  • Trying to control that which can’t be controlled
  • Fearing the worst

I took the scraps of paper outside, and as the sun rose on the first day of the year, I lit each one of those things on fire and dropped them, one by one, into the fire pit. I let them go. I know I will need to let them go again and again until I learn how to release them forever, but this is where we start. By naming them and releasing them.

Have you thought about what you are not bringing with you into 2020? If not, there is always time to start now, no matter when you happen to read this. The point is not to do it perfectly or call it a failure the first time you catch yourself slipping back into old habits and routines. The point is to start the journey of change, which begins with taking notice of this heavy thing you carry, setting it down…and understanding you will pick it up and put it down many times before you let it go forever. We are all works in progress. We can always find a better way, do a different thing, improve one aspect or another. Today is a wonderful day to start, but you know what? So is tomorrow…or any time you are ready. Whatever you decide, I am sending you love and good wishes for a wonderful year.

Looking Ahead

December 31st: Looking Ahead

I think most of us give at least some thought to what they want from the year ahead, even if we don’t write down big, lofty lists. It’s a good thing to do, having goals and ideals. Taking stock of where we’ve been, where we are, where we’d like to be. For me, at least, one of the joys of life is working towards achieving or changing or reaching something. I know not everyone is this way, and that’s fine too.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of what my goals and hopes for 2020 are here- that’s not what I want this space to be about, and anyway, I haven’t quite worked out all the details just yet.

But I will tell you this- in the year ahead, I intend to be very brave. Braver than I’ve ever been before. Strength? I’ve got that attribute down pat. But bravery is another matter entirely. The difference being, of course, that a strong person can deal with whatever life throws at them when they need to. A brave person gallops out to meet the challenges where they live. I am going to be brave this year. I am done waiting to see what life might come up with- I want to make my own path.

We should never aim to be fearless- fear is an important instinct, and we need a little of it. But we can name our fears and face them, taking ourselves out of the passenger seat and getting behind the wheel, where we belong.

Whatever life holds in store for us in the weeks and months ahead, my wish for myself and for everyone who reads this is simple; May you have more good days than bad. May you always find the silver lining. May you do the best you can at everything you try so that you end each day feeling proud of your effort. May you choose to be in the driver’s seat of your own life. And may you be very, very brave.

Happy New Year to you.