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7 Ways to Rediscover Your Innocence

Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
-The End of the Innocence, Don Henley

Remember summer days as a kid, without a care in the world?  When days were spent riding bikes, swimming in the neighbor’s pool, eating Popsicles or falling asleep in front of a fan?  Life was so easy back then – get up, play, eat, play, eat, fall asleep.  As adults the “play” is replaced by “work”.  So many responsibilities, things that HAVE to get done, it leaves little time for play.  However, according to the book I am reading, there are ways we can rediscover our innocence.

The book is called Nature and the Human Soul:  Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World by Bill Plotkin.  In a nutshell, the book:

“…introduces a visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us.  Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin presents a model for a human life span rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world, a blueprint for individual development that ultimately yields a strategy for cultural transformation.” 

Some background first:  The author makes a distinction between soulcentric culture and egocentric culture.  Soulcentric cultures “are designed to assist all members in discovering  and living from their deepest and most fulfilling potentials (their individual souls), in this way contributing their most life-nourishing gifts to their community and environment and, in doing so, actualizing the culture’s potential (the cultural soul) and supporting its ongoing evolution.”

Egocentric cultures on the other hand,  “prioritize the lifelong comfort, security, and social acceptance of the early-adolescent ego.  An egocentric culture has a dysfunctional notion of the self, which it sees as an isolated, competitive entity, a free and autonomous agent…The primary values of an egocentric society are safety, comfort, middleworld pleasures and enhancement of socioeconomic status.”  The author believes this type of society gains wealth without soul, and this “leads to its inevitable pathological outgrowths:  power differentials, socioeconomic (class) stratification, and exploitation of minorities, women, children, the poor, and all the “resources” of the natural world.”  (I think this culture sounds all too familiar.)

Mr. Plotkin posits a Wheel of Life with eight stages of development of the individual to create a soulcentric, evolutionary culture.  The first stage in the life cycle is “The Innocent”, and it covers from birth to around age 4.  It has many aspects, but one of the main developmental tasks in this stage is to preserve innocence.  The author feels this preservation of innocence is so critical, he states, “A society’s return to soulcentric life begins with the care of childhood innocence.”

Whew!  I know that is a lot to take in.   And now you may be thinking – where the hell did my innocence go?  My sense of wonder?  Can I go back and get my innocence?  The answer is YES.  According the Mr. Plotkin, you can revisit past stages in your life and rediscover what was lost.  He lists the following 7 ways to reclaim your innocence and I add my own take aways:

  1. Meditation.  “In meditation we practice fully inhabiting our experience right now just as it is.  We practice non-attachment or nonclinging to particular memories and people.”  Take away:  Be Present.
  2. Solitude in Nature.  “The important things is a joyful mindfulness to the wild world”.  Take away:  Rediscover your connection with nature.
  3. Creative Art Process.  “It’s about surrendering to what is immediately present–your art media and whatever impulses and feelings arise within you.”  Take away:  Let go.
  4. “Psychotherapy and therapeutic practices that emphasize present-centeredness”.  Take away:  Seek the help of professionals if you feel called to do so.
  5. Attend social occasions:  “Drop expectations.  Don’t hang on to memories.  Let go of desired outcomes.”  Take away:  Practice awareness of self.
  6. “Get in the habit of reviewing your day to find one or two situations in which you could have been more innocent and present had you been more mindful.”  He continues by asking you to revisit the scene and imagine acting more present and noticing the potential differences in outcome.  This will help you the next time the situation arises.  Take away:  Self-reflection prepares.
  7. Hang out with babies:  “Why not sit at the feet of a master?”  Take away:  Go to the source.

So are you ready to rediscover your innocence?  Let’s prove Don Henley wrong–innocence is not ending, it is just beginning.

How Dead Trees Can Transform Us

I have written extensively on my love of trail and how the trees make me feel alive and restored.  So why the heck would I write about dead trees?  Because we can return the trees to the Earth as ash through FIRE.  And sitting around a fire can bring us immense peace and a sense of renewal as we watch it transform the branches and logs that feed it.

My friends and I love to have backyard fires, where we pull up a wobbly camp chair, put on some music and talk about what ever topic happens to come up.  It is so easy to slip into a relaxed mode when seated around a fire.  Fire makes the outside world drop away and you are immediately present with the faces around the circle.  You are also reminded of the mystery of the darkness beyond those faces!  The flicker and dance of the flames can mesmerize and be meditative, giving our brain a much needed rest.  It is quite magical.

So when I saw the article, Returning to the Campfire, Our digital age requires an analog flame, I had to share.  It echoes my thoughts and emotions about fire to a tee.

The Lindy Effect, named for a longstanding New York deli, is the idea that the longer an idea or practice has survived, the longer it will survive into the future. It’s why, despite fidget spinners being the talk of the summer, jump ropes are much more likely to be around in 50 years. Newfangled technology may thrill us, but it’s the allegedly boring, familiar stuff that lasts, burrowing into our routines and longings.

The really, really old stuff even burrows into our evolutionary makeup, marrying its survival with our own. This is the case with humanity’s oldest and greatest technological achievement: fire. Fire ushered in cooking, radically reducing chewing time. It provided a new way to ward off predators, lengthening our lifespan. It heated and lit us up, increasing how far we could travel. It not only changed our lives, it changed our bodies: our brain and stomach size evolved to fit our newfound ignition.

How fire ignited our emotional lives
Most relevant to our purposes, fire changed our emotional lives, too. In fact, one could even say fire created our emotional lives. Firelight extended the day beyond daylight, creating a social time after work but before sleep. According to research by anthropologist Polly Wiessner, this exciting new time of day — which mixed the energy of firelight with the impossibility of hunting and gathering — unleashed the magic of human community:

In hot seasons, the cool of the evening releases pent up energy; in cold seasons, people huddle together. Fireside gatherings are often, although not always, composed of people of mixed sexes and ages. The moon and starlit skies awaken imagination of the supernatural, as well as a sense of vulnerability to malevolent spirits, predators, and antagonists countered by security in numbers. Body language is dimmed by firelight and awareness of self and others is reduced. Facial expressions — flickering with the flames — are either softened, or in the case of fear or anguish, accentuated. Agendas of the day are dropped while small children fall asleep in the laps of kin. Whereas time structures interactions by day because of economic exigencies, by night social interactions structure time and often continue until relationships are right.

Thanks to fire, humans had time to talk through their emotions about themselves and each other. We could start bonding within and between groups. We could create and pass along culture and tradition. Without fire, all the stuff we like about being human might never have happened.

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Finding the spark again
As the nightly campfire has come to be replaced by gas light, lightbulbs, and, eventually, the blue glow of screens, we, as a species, have forgotten about the joys of this special time of night: campfire time. However, our bodies and minds have not forgotten. Anthropologists at the University of Alabama have found that sitting by a campfire lowers blood pressure and other stress indicators: the longer we sit by the fire, the more relaxed we become.
This mirrors studies about what happens to us in all natural environments: fire, like the woods generally, produces what researches call a “soft fascination,” modestly grabbing our attention while allowing the analytical parts of our brain to rest. This is the “restoration theory” of nature: nature allows the always-on, critical part of our minds to take it easy, while prodding the long-dormant, open-ended part of our minds to come alive.

And, as any scout or camper knows, our emotional lives are also rejuvenated when we return to the campfire. The Boy Scouts acknowledges this with their opening ceremony for campfire sessions:

As glow the hearts of the logs upon this fire,
So may our hearts glow, and our thoughts be kind,
As glow the hearts of the logs upon this fire,
May peace and deep contentment fill every mind.

As Wiessner mentions at the end of her study on the early social effects of fire, the Danish idea of hygge, or coziness, calls for the heavy use of candles to, like the fires of old, “stimulate intimate conversation.” The culture of ghost stories around the campfire, too, reminds us how well burning embers pair with being open to strange and fruitful thinking.
It’s no wonder that the oldest way of gathering has lasted this long: it relaxes us, warms our hearts and takes us to another plane. And, in line with the Lindy effect, gathering around the campfire is likely to outlast the latest wellness crazes, continuing to be humanity’s go-to way to escape and rejuvenate. Perhaps all the answers you need are not inside of your cellphone screen, but rather among the sparks and flicker of your next moonlit blaze.

Source:  Thrive Global

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A Visual Way to Gain Confidence

Am I doing this right?  I keep asking myself this question during my Intuitive Plant Medicine class, and I am not alone.  We have had several conference calls, and I keep hearing my own words echoed by others.  The funny thing is that the current topic we are studying, Flower Essences, really has no rules.  In fact our instructor, Asia Suler, provides some guidelines then tells us point blank to crumple them up and throw them away.  As long as we have heart centered intentions in making our flower essences, they will be “right”.

But I think most of us like rules and guidelines because then a positive outcome is almost guaranteed, right?  And we want the “right” result now.  We don’t want to fail.  We don’t want to have to slog through trying something new and having it not work and throwing it out.  However, I am slowly learning that the process of trial and error has its own beauty and benefit.  That if I want to try something completely whack, and it doesn’t work, I learn from it.  I try again.  I experiment, I listen to my intuition, I trust that through the process the outcome will be what I intended.  And that is the only thing I need to make it “right”.

Somewhere along the way we lost our ability to trust ourselves, and that involves being OK with failure sometimes.  It’s called learning.  We need to find our confidence, set our intentions, and go for it.   The infographic below from Happify.com provides good information about confidence and how we can develop in it ourselves and others.

So if you see me standing like Wonder Woman next to a bowl of water with flowers floating in it, you will know exactly what I am doing!

 

Who Has a Bigger Impact on our Wellbeing-Friends or Family?

“Friends are flowers in the garden of life” – Proverbs

Over twenty years ago I made the decision to move to Cincinnati from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It was hard to leave my folks and extended family, but my brother lived in Cincinnati so I had family nearby.  Lucky for me, my friend Gail decided to pull up stakes and move with me so I had an instant roommate and someone to share the experience with.

Recently Renu, my lifelong friend (and my college roommate all four years) contacted me and a couple of our other friends to make the pilgrimage to Detroit to see U2.  It has been years since I saw her and our friend Erin, and we all jumped at the chance to see each other and catch up.  I can’t remember the last time I saw either of them in person.  We are still hopeful that our friend Jennifer can join us too.

This weekend I went to an art show where a new friend, Carolyn, was showing her art.  We ran into a few other friends (Betsy, Amy, Carrie, and Marianne), and then went to a taproom to meet our friend, Alexis.

Yesterday my husband and I went to a taproom to visit our friend Kat who was bartending, and two more friends, Evan and Kaycie stopped in.  I made two new friends, Vicki and Charlotte, when I mentioned the bees the taproom keeps and we started a conversation about them and the state of the world today.  Lastly, about an hour before we left, Betty, one of the owners of the taproom and a friend, showed up and we had a wonderful chat.

Why am I prattling on and on about all these friends?  One, because they are all dear to me.  But also because a study at Michigan State University found that as we get older, friendships can become more important than family when it comes to our happiness and health.  “In a pair of studies involving nearly 280,000 people, William Chopik (assistant professor of psychology) found that friendships become increasingly important to one’s happiness and health across the lifespan. Not only that, but in older adults, friendships are actually a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with family members.”

Now I know some of you reading this are probably like WHAT?  My sister/brother/mom/dad is my best friend.  And to that I say HURRAY!  I love my brother and consider him a friend, but we don’t spend much time together, nor do we really check in on each other that often (much to my mom’s chagrin).  I talk to some of my friends DAILY.   I see some of them weekly.  We have a lot in common and enjoy doing the same things, and most of us are in the same cycle of life.

Why do friends tend to be more beneficial in the long run?

“According to the first study, both family and friend relationships were linked to better health and happiness overall, but only friendships became a stronger predictor of health and happiness at advanced ages.

The second study also showed that friendships were very influential – when friends were the source of strain, participants reported more chronic illnesses; when friends were the source of support, participants were happier.

Chopik said that may be because of the optional nature of relationships – that over time, we keep the friends we like and make us feel good and discard the rest. Friends also can provide a source of support for people who don’t have spouses or for those who don’t lean on family in times of need. Friends can also help prevent loneliness in older adults who may experience bereavement and often rediscover their social lives after they retire.”

I have seen this in action with my own parents.  They spend the winter in Florida in a mobile home park.  They have made a BUNCH of friends, and half the time I can’t even get a hold of them because they are playing cards, going out to eat or at a friend’s house.  When my folks are back in Wisconsin, they have family, but not as many friends.  They spend time with the extended family, but not near as much as with their Florida friends.  In November of last year I interviewed my mom about the importance of community throughout her life (StoryCorps Interview) and when asked what community made the biggest impact on her, she named the Florida friends, for similar reasons as to why I spend time with my friends.

What is the state of your friendships?  The saying goes that you have to be a friend to have a friend.  If you need a few pointers on being a solid friend, check out my blog,   To Friends Past and Present…  And if you need some tips on how to find new friends, my blog Community X 2 can help you out.  Friendships–past, present and future–could hold the key to your wellbeing and happiness.

Source:  Are friends better for us than family?

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A Truly Innovative Community Garden

I am just a wee bit giddy about my little garden.  It has been a LONG time since I have grown anything I could potentially eat.  For years I have maintained gardens of plants and flowers, but not vegetables.  This year I decided to step gingerly into the world of vegetable gardening by buying a standing raised bed and planting a salsa garden.  Peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and onions are all cozy in their little bed.  I talk to them and tend to them just like all my other kids, I mean plants.  If this goes well, then perhaps I will expand my garden by putting in a larger raised bed in the back yard and get real serious about planting a bigger garden.

I don’t quite know why I haven’t done it up to this point.  I remember fondly picking raspberries off my the plants at my great-grandma’s house, and to this day if I have fresh raspberries on vanilla ice cream it takes me back.  I also remember my parents’ garden.  Going out to check to see what was ripe, what we could pick and eat.   I did not like tomatoes as a kid, so I left those to my folks.  However I heartily ate all the cukes they harvested.  Such fond memories of knowing where my food came from and the absolute freshness that was beyond compare.  Hopefully I can rediscover that with my own little garden.

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Now I know many people out there who treat vegetable gardening like religion.   I have a friend who converted her entire backyard into a garden.  I see other’s beautiful gardens through my Intuitive Plant Medicine class.  And I have several local farms “liked” on Facebook, as well as farmer’s markets.  But what if it went even further?  What if the town you lived in literally had food planted within it and around it?  That is the story I found in this Ted talk by Pam Warhurst.  She lived in a small town in England, and they literally transformed it by not only planting within the town, but bringing it to the schools and educating kids as well as improving the local businesses.  It is really quite amazing and inspiring.  And the good news it is spreading across the world.

If you are an avid gardener, or you just enjoy fresh food and fresh ideas, this video will entertain and get you thinking.  Have a great weekend and support your local farmers!

 

How I Put Down the Gloves and Stopped Beating Myself Up

Yesterday I was tired.  Last week I was REALLY tired.  I didn’t know why, as I usually have plenty of energy and get a good night’s rest.  As I reflected on the past week I realized what was happening – I was draining my own energy by spending too much time in my head.

I think many of us live our lives thinking too much.  For me, my head was swimming with feeling not enough — I felt I was behind in my online class, my day job wasn’t challenging me, I should be going to yoga more, I should go the gym for a tougher workout than walking at the park.  I was beating myself up mentally for not living up to what I THOUGHT I should be doing.  I preach about being present, and here I was living anywhere but.  Now I am worrying about that!

In my Shoden Level 1 training, the International House of Reiki teaches that we are all beings of brilliant light.  However when we do things like worry and not live in the present, we start putting the equivalent of lamp shades over our light, and we become dim.  In that state we are not living as our true self, nor are we available to shine our light on others.  I had essentially spent the week dimming my light, and it manifested in me as being tired all the time.  Something had to change, and I decided to get back to basics.

First, I needed to ask for help.  I have no problem reaching out to others in my time of need, as I find I always feel better when I do.  I needed to talk to someone I felt would understand and could relate to what I was going through, so I reached out to my Shoden Level 1 instructor, Maria Kammerer.

We had a wonderful discussion, and she reminded me that going through Level 1 is the equivalent of being a jar of settled mud in water that has been shaken up.  Stuff is swirling all around and it takes time for it to either leave our bodies as we no longer need it, or for the stuff we need to settle and take hold.  It was so comforting to have someone literally say everything is all right.  I am doing fine.  In fact I am doing really well and this is all normal.  Sometimes we just need that trusted someone to tell us things like that to help rid ourselves of self-doubt.

Second, I needed to get those damn shades off and start shining brighter.  How?  The Reiki precepts.  They can be interpreted in may different ways, but the International House of Reiki lists them as:

Just for Today:
Do not anger
Do not worry
Be grateful
Be true to your way and your being
Be compassionate to yourself and others

Elegant, simple and yet so powerful.  The first line leads you back to the present.  It doesn’t say “never do these things”, it says “just for today”, so already I am pulled into the here and now.  Of course my mind immediately went to “do not worry” and “be compassionate to yourself and others”.  My busy mind was worrying at a furious pace, and I was beating myself up for not only the things I was worrying about, but the fact that I was worrying at all!  Quite a vicious circle.

I took a deep breath, and read through them all. Any anger dissipated as I was reminded to be grateful and also be true to my way and my being.  Just this morning as I woke up and my inner voice starting right back to beating me up, I said stop.  What if instead of worrying about what was “wrong”, I celebrated what was right?  My online course?  I have done most of the homework, and besides, there is no time frame for it – I have as much time as I need to complete it.  My day job provides me a ton of freedom and I get to work from home.  Yoga?  I happened to read a Curvy Yoga blog about how she struggled with her practice, and decided to turn it around.  She presented an invocation, “May my practice support me how I need to be supported.”  I adopted it – when I decide to go to a class it means I need it, not that I have to do it.  And lastly, the gym vs. park.  I religiously go to the gym three times a week to do cardio and lift weights.  If I chose on day 4 or 5 to feed my soul at the same time I feed my physical body it is OK.  It is more than OK.  It is perfect.

Spending too much time in our heads creates imbalance in our wellbeing and dims our light.  If you find yourself in the same situation, I recommend reaching out for help and writing down the Reiki precepts and keeping them handy.  And of course there is always the option of getting a Reiki treatment to help you out!  (book one with me here).

How could you feel and what could you offer when your energy is free and flowing and bright?  Don’t “think” about it, just allow it to happen and notice.  Get out of your head and into your being.

Related blogs:  The Importance of Living in the Now3 Concepts for Living a Full, Peaceful Life

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Synchronicity is more than a song by the Police

So what is it then?  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, synchronicity is “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (such as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality”.  My interpretation is that things happen that seem related but have no reason to be and are still meaningful.  And when things like this occur, it is time to take notice and look go deeper.

Here is my story of synchronicity to illustrate the point.   In my Intuitive Plant Medicine class we are focusing on dreaming, which requires us to meditate and then keep a dream journal.  I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I thought perhaps if my intention was to remember them, I would.  The first night I had a nightmare.  A couple broke into our house, and I laid in my bed unable to speak or move.  I was paralyzed.  Nobody hurt me, but the woman went outside and chopped down a tree in our backyard and there was a fire burning nearby.  I woke up scared with my heart pounding.  Part of our homework was to “dissect” a dream to find its meaning.  I determined that this dream was related to my business and the fact that I felt stuck and without a voice.  I vowed to make changes to get unstuck and find my voice and honor that dream.

One way I thought I could do that was through yoga, so when I saw a class titled “Yoga and the Goddesses”, it felt like the perfect class for my situation. (Synchronicity #1).  The class was part of a series dedicated to learning about all the different goddesses and their qualities.  Most of the people in the class had obviously had exposure to these goddesses, while I did not, as the instructor asked what goddess resonated with them the most.  Several spouted out names I barely could pronounce, much less knew what qualities they embodied.  Summoning up the courage to speak, I said this was my first class, and knew nothing about any of the goddesses.

The instructor said it was my lucky night (Synchronicity #2) – we were studying Shakti, the goddess of creation  She provided a handout with the quote “Shakti, reveling in her own bliss, pours herself forth as the universe” by Maheshswarananda with the following picture:

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This woman was strong.  She’s holding the planets for Pete’s sake!  She is reveling in her own bliss!  I was starting to feel the empowerment I needed.  We laid in various positions observing our breath when I felt a kick in the back.  It was Ego.  Ego was telling me I would never be as learned as the instructor or have as beautiful voice as she did chanting the “Nondual Invocation to the Divine”.  Then Ego left me to dwell on that as it usually does.  But I channeled my inner Shakti and my inner voice and shot that crap down cold.  I left the class feeling light and floaty with a smile on my face.  Later, when I looked up Shakti for more information, I discovered that “Shakti especially energizes communication skills, so that our words will be heard clearly and understood.” (Source: Goddess Shakti) (Synchronicity #3)

That evening as I was going through my bedtime gratitude list, I finished by asking the universe for a sign that I was on the right path.  I asked it to show me a pink butterfly.  I had a hard time falling asleep, and actually didn’t sleep well at all.

I awoke the next day and decided to head to the park to take a walk and be invigorated by Nature.  The day was sunny and cool, and there were only a few people on the trail.  As I walked off the trail to go around the lake, I saw a dead branch hanging from a tree.  I pulled the branch down, thinking it was an offering from the tree. I carried it for the rest of my walk, and took it back to the beginning of the trail to lay in the woods as a symbol of my gratitude.  I noticed some interesting looking bud-like things at the end of the branch, and thought they would be nice on my altar at home.  I broke off the ends with the buds and took them with me.

After leaving the park I decided to stop at a garden store to look for some herb containers.  I was looking up and down the aisles, and what did I see?  A pink butterfly!  (Synchronicity #4).  It was made of sparkly pink plastic embedded in a stepping stone.  I reached out my hand to touch it, with a huge grin on my face.  I asked, and the universe responded.  I am on the right path.

I then headed home to look up my tree to see what sort of meanings it may hold for me.  Unfortunately I did not have the leaf, so I was struggling to find it online.  Lucky for me (Synchronicity #5), my friend Marianne is a tree specialist.  I sent her a picture of the bud-like things and she identified it immediately – European black alder.  I put the name of the tree and “medicine” in the search engine and the first site that came up?  www.thegoddesstree.com! (Synchronicity #6).

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I started reading about the medicinal properties of the alder, and it was historically used to treat mouth ulcers and sore throats.  Well right now I have a mouthpiece while I wait to get a tooth implant, and it is making my mouth very sore.  Now I didn’t harvest some bark to make a gargle, but I did realize the tree was giving me a gift–an acknowledgement of my pain, and a source of energy for my throat, or voice.  I continued to read down the page and came across this meaning when the Alder card comes up in the deck OGHAM The Celtic Oracle by Peter Pracownik and Andy Baggott:

You have an opportunity to set some firm foundations, although you need to guard against them being underminded by negative emotions. You have untapped emotional strength within you and spiritual help around you that you can call upon if the going gets tough. This is a time to build bridges, not burn them, so think carefully before decision making. Inspiration can come from beyond the physical world if you have the awareness to seek it. Hold steadfastly to what you know in your heart, listen to your intuition and seek guidance from the spiritual realm more than from your fellow man. Have faith in your path understanding that you make your own destiny. (Synchronicity #7)

The webpage on Alders ends with this:

I move forward with ease and grace.
I honor the energy of alder, for the protection of my inner oracle.
I will listen to the voice of the Goddess Within.
So mote it be.

Pray Peace

And boom,  I drop the mic on my last Synchronicity.  What this whole long story says to me is this – trust the universe.  The universe has my back, and will guide me in whatever way I need.  I needed to find my voice, and it took me on a journey to find it.  And I continue to discover it as I retell my story.

It is magical and beautiful, and it can happen to you!  But in order to experience this you must be present and tuned into the world around you.  You have to be observant and do things that seem weird (like pulling a dead tree branch from a tree).  Trust yourself, and trust the universe – neither will let you down.

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Today we Celebrate Freedom

On Memorial Day we are reminded to take a moment to remember all those that sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for the freedom we have in America.  No matter what the current state of affairs seems to be in our grand ol’ country, I believe in America’s will to prevail.  To prevail over ignorance.  To prevail over politics.  To prevail over exclusion.  And to always wave the flag of freedom.  I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities and privileges available to me in this great country.

I love the poetry of the lyrics of “Chimes of Freedom” by Bob Dylan.  It speaks to me to say freedom should be enjoyed by everyone.

Enjoy your day celebrating, and also take a quiet moment to place your hand on your heart and give thanks to all that have fought and continue to fight for America the Beautiful.

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden as the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsakened
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the poet and the painter far behind his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
For the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chaineded an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flared
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Writer/s: BOB DYLAN
Publisher: BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

 

Discovering your True Self and Oneness

We are one.  That theme keeps coming up for me lately in a variety of ways.  I have always felt a connection to the Earth through my love of stones and gardening.  My connection to nature was reinforced during my Shamanism workshops, and now through my intuitive plant medicine class.  And finally, I have been reading about Mikao Usui, the recognized founder of Reiki and his original teachings as interpreted by the International House of Reiki co-founder Frans Stiene in books such as The Inner Heart of Reiki and The Reiki Sourcebook.  All of these collectively not only connected me to nature,  but also to my true self.

I guess this theme has been developing for a while, as I started writing about nature and it’s amazing effect on me (To Me, Every Day is Earth Day).  My thoughts turned inward, and I wrote about feeling “less than” in A Crisis of Feeling “I’m Not Enough”, discovering that nature has long been my remedy when I feel that way.  That got me thinking about realizing who we truly are in blogs such as Called to Share the Truths of Who We Are and How Well Do You Know You?.  All of this has led me to the revelation that we are One.  

What does this mean to me?  This means that we have a connection to Mother Earth and all of her residents, living and non-living.  This means we have more in common as human beings than differences.  It means the more each of us realize our true selves and our oneness, the better our world can be.  And these are just the first three that come to mind, I am sure there is more!

I stumbled on this Ted talk by actress Thandie Newton which brings all these themes together quite beautifully.  She discusses feeling “less than” as a mixed race child, our definitions of Self, and how we can overcome those definitions to find peace and unity.  I believe the universe brought this talk to my attention as it goes directly to the heart of my recent experiences in an easy to watch and learn way.  Therefore I thought I would share this 14 minutes of wonder with you as well.

I ask you to take note of how you feel about yourself before you watch it, and notice any differences after viewing.  I experienced a subtle shift in my consciousness, and I believe you will too.  Enjoy!

 

 

Called to Share the Truths of Who We Are

A friend recommended I check out ww.tut.com, whose mission is “to remind others of life’s fundamental truths: that life is magical, we are powerful, and dreams really do come true. We do this by spreading the word (through inspirational emailsevents, and life-changing adventures) about the nature of reality, the law of attraction, creative visualization, and the power of thought.”  I signed up for the inspirational emails, which  “are brief emails written by “The Universe,” personalized with your name (and occasionally your goals and dreams), designed to remind you that you have, indeed, been given dominion over all things.”  I really enjoy them, and they are quite funny and poignant at the same time.

I visit the website from time to time for additional inspiration, and I found the blog below, written by Elyse Santilli, a writer and life coach at NotesOnBliss.com.  The subject matter jived nicely with a few of my recent blogs, such as How Well Do You Know You?,  A Crisis of Feeling “I’m Not Enough”, and The Importance of Living in the Now.  I figured this was the universe’s way of telling me to share the information with all of you.

Now don’t fret over the fact that there are 30 items, they are short and super easy to read!  They highly resonated with me, and I hope they resonate with you.  I thought it was a great way to start the week, and important reminders of who we truly are.

1. You are enough. You were created by the same life force or divine power that creates galaxies, stars, oceans and flowers, and it created you as you are for a reason.

2. You are born inherently worthy. You don’t need to earn your worth or justify your existence by ticking off a certain number of external achievements.

3. You are unique. There has never before been a human like you and there never will be again. Do the world a favor and be yourself, instead of striving to be someone else.

4. You are a powerful creator. If you are willing to take responsibility for your beliefs, attitudes and actions, you can create the life of your dreams.

5. We all have different bodies, personalities and beliefs, but we all have the same light shining within us. We have more in common than we think.

6. There are two parts of you — your ego mind which feeds on judgment, guilt and fear, and your spirit or soul which operates from forgiveness, innocence and love. Your soul is who you really are.

7. You have to leave your comfort zone in order to grow. On the other side of your fear is everything you ever dreamed of having and being.

8. We are all part of the one creation. We are pieces of the one puzzle called the Universe. At a very fundamental level, we are all one and connected.

9. Every day, every moment, is a fresh start. You are always free to make peace with your past, recreate yourself and build the life you want to live.

10. A happy life is based on balance. Balance giving and receiving; self-care with service to others; action with rest; mind with heart.

11. There is a deep peace and sense of bliss always available to you in the present moment, if you can quiet your mind and drop your worries long enough to feel it.

12. You are eternal. Your energy or spirit existed before you came into this particular body and your spirit will continue to exist long after your time on planet earth is done.

13. True happiness is not dependant on external events; it is an emotional state and attitude birthed within you and carried with you no matter what the day may bring.

14. Your past doesn’t exist and neither does your future. The only moment you ever experience during your precious beautiful life is here and now. So be here now.

15. The world is a reflection of you. If you believe in and focus on fear, limitation and lack, that is what you will find. If you believe in and focus on love, possibility and abundance, that is what you will find.

16. Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself. Bringing more love into the world begins in your own home, starting with yourself.

17. You have the power to choose how you react to situations and people in your life. No one can make you unhappy, angry or offended without your consent.

18. When you hold onto grudges and grievances you are only keeping yourself imprisoned. As Byron Katie says, “forgiveness is just another name for freedom.”

19. Your beliefs are not truths; they are just thoughts you have thought over and over again. You can transform your life very quickly by taking responsibility for what you believe.

20. If you want deep and intimate relationships you need to show people who you really are. Be willing to be vulnerable and remove your masks.

21. We are all worried about what other people think of us. And yet none of us are paying that much attention to what anyone else is doing because we are too preoccupied with our own hang-ups. So you can relax.

22. If you put your happiness on hold until everything in your life is perfect, you will sacrifice your life. The day will never come when you ‘have it all’ because your soul will always give birth to new desires and dreams. Life is change.

23. You cannot control other people. Focus on your own life and actions and leave other people to be themselves. Everyone is doing their best from their level of awareness.

24. You are not your body; it is just a vehicle for your soul or spirit. However, it is the only vehicle you have for your soul in this lifetime so treat it well.

25. Comparing yourself to other people misses the point that you were born to be you. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “Be yourself because everyone else is already taken.”

26. Your soul is longing for you to sit and listen to it. Make time for meditation and sitting in silence with yourself each day and you will discover who you really are and why you are here.

27. Joy is hugely underrated. If we all gave ourselves permission to follow our joy and do what we love more of the time, the world would be a completely different place.

28. The natural state of your soul is love, peace, power, creativity, openness, awe, gratitude and joy. We have all just been conditioned to feel and act otherwise.

29. Sometimes positive, life changes take focus and discipline. You have to override your inclination to procrastinate, withdraw or distract yourself from your feelings, and get on with the task of growing and expanding.

30. You are so much more beautiful, powerful and loveable than you know, and I hope one day you get even a glimpse of your true magnificence.

Source:  30 Powerful Truths that Will Change Your Life

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