As I write this, I am doling out candy to witches, and ghosts, and princesses. I am also handing out candy to costumes I do not understand; costumes that I cannot connect with their TV or movie origin. And, so, I think about that and the passing of time. When you read this, it will be November. Change will be in air as the nights grow darker sooner and the air takes on a frigidity that makes the nose take notice.
I think of gratitude. Not just because that is what you are supposed to do in November when Thanksgiving roles around. But the kind of gratitude that makes each day worthy on its own merit.
Maybe most importantly, gratitude is a practice.
Maureen McCullough wrote, "My socks may not match, but my feet are always warm.”
This quote identifies the perspective shift that needs to occur for us to embrace gratitude. How many times have you said, "This has been a bad day"? Has the whole day really been bad or did one thing occur that set off your mood?
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
Some people are grateful for cookies or chocolate or caramel... as I eat, I mean hand out Halloween candy, I am grateful Twix has all three:)
October challenge...since Halloween is my favorite holiday:)
1. Decorate a pumpkin while somehow adding in a yoga theme
2. Take a picture doing a yoga pose with a Halloween theme
3. Your idea but must combine Halloween and yoga.
Post on my website and send me your picture for next month's newsletter. You have all of October to post. Prize for the first to post and prize for most creative (as chosen by yours truly!)
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
As we head into fall, the sun slowly backs away from us, so slowly in hopes we do not notice until the wind's chill brings our focus to the present. The sunflower locks its gaze on the sun and never turns away from the warmth that embraces its face. This flower has the ability from within to continue to turn as the sun moves through the sky so the two never lose sight of each other. Is that the love Rumi speaks of? Basking so openly in the presence of the other without walls?
Yellow is the color of the solar plexus: the energy center that balances when we relinquish ideas of control and embrace the Self. Assembling barriers to "protect" oneself is a form of control. Knock the sand castle down. Breathe in the September air. Look for semblances of you in each red leaf, in each stored acorn, in each dried up flower. September houses the shortest day of the year so make your moments matter. When you release control, and the barriers your seeking of control allowed you to build, love seeks you.
My Mother's Day present this year from my daughter was a photo shoot of my book with her friend, Jake! I love it!!! So, introducing Jake in photo #1. Be prepared to see him pop up on occasion. Or give him a shout-out:)
Here's your challenge...
Send me your creative photos with my book in the shot (The Horizon is Here is on Amazon), and for extra bonus points, include a caption for me to post!
I wrapped myself like a cocoon last night, my blankets drawn tight around me. Only my nose sought solace to breathe in the cool area surrounding my cocoon...my shield or my entrapment? A caterpillar stays in his/her cocoon until ready to emerge into a completely different specimen. It is protected from outside elements. What is going on inside, though, is the theme of inactivity versus action. While the cocoon lies still, its body works hard to create change. Perhaps its mind is thinking a mile a minute; perhaps its mind is like a still pond's reflection.
We all have experiences where our insides are ramped up, speeding along highways only we can traverse. To the outsider, we may appear calm but we feel anything but. For certain, some deep breathing would help . Try breathing in four counts through the nose, holding for seven, and exhaling eight through the mouth. A shield may be helpful as well. Visualize a light surrounding you, or a soft blanket of warm energy, and allow it to create a barrier between you and everything else. And, when you have time to sit still, allow your body and mind to rest inactive while the breath takes over as the action that brings in peace.
The cocoon you place (or visualize) around you represents meditation, wisdom, prayer, and trust...trust that you will emerge with a new idea, or at least a more peaceful presentation, of how to move forward on your path.
I typed in the word "humble" and stumbled across the picture above. It makes me think of so many things that have transpired over the past year. I am first drawn to the monk's mask. In our yoga classes together, we have often talked about the masks we wear, but I was never referring to a tangible and literal mask. What we once scrambled to find a year ago has become mainstream. And our masks can reflect our personalities, our favorite sports teams, our opinions, our favorite colors.
I see the monk's yellow and orange robes, which are common colors but can be interpreted by the chakras they correlate with. The orange connects to the sacral chakra, and its element is water. This energy center is about flowing along with life, and that has definitely been a necessity over the past year. Some of us, at times, may have felt the flow was more like a tsunami and its devastating effects, perhaps, still linger. The yellow is the color of the solar plexus; the center associated with fire and digestion. This year has felt much like putting out fires and, when I think about the digestion aspect, I think about all the people who have gone hungry and still are. I read a news story just this morning about a little girl who broke down in her Zoom classroom because she and her family were starving. I think of her inner strength to say those words aloud and how the majority of us would jump to deliver food immediately and offer help. We often do not know where help is needed until someone voices desperation....
I look at the bowl the monk is holding. The metal reflects that around it and symbolically offers reflection into what has transpired. There are flags in the picture behind the monk and this makes me feel hopeful...let me tell you why. I have been afforded the opportunity to pop into Zoom meetings/classes around the world. In my Death Cafe meetings, I have new friends from Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, England, and all over the United States. As well, my son and I have been playing a geography game called geoguesser and, boy, does it help if you know your flags! So, I think of all the time I have been fortunate enough to spend with my kids. I still wish they were able to be where they want to be, but I am hopeful they eventually will. So we bond and pass the time playing cards, and trivia, and goofy family games that we make up.
Perhaps the most impactful aspect of this picture to me is that I found it on unsplash.com; it is a free stock photo posted by someone named Tenzin Namgyal (thank you!) and anybody can use it. It was just sitting out there in Internet space, it's meaning hidden until someone stumbled upon it. I had typed in the word humble and this picture found me...
Love yourself enough this month that you try doing something you have an interest in and have always wanted to do. There, I said it; that's the theme of this article and you can stop right there if you want to figure out what that is for you.
Someone (xoxoxo) recently told me they were taking yoga teacher training at age 70 because they were going to be 70 regardless. I LOVED that statement! If you have been falling upon your age as an excuse in any capacity, this is your reminder to stop. You are not too old for a new hobby, a new career path, a new whatever. We are all pretty good at tossing out excuses like breadcrumbs to the birds. They scatter, landing every which way, and we hope one sticks, because if they didn't, we may have to sit down and consider what truly holds us back.
I recently discovered a Facebook group about re-painting furniture. It piqued my interest, and I have now painted my bed frame and two nightstands. A small table that I bought from a new charity FB page I found is next in line. So, my monthly assignment for you is to find one new thing to love. Obviously, my "love" theme aligns with February's Valentine's Day. But, don't make that your focus. It is too easy to go out, and buy a heart shaped box of chocolates. Do something for you....and then (LOL) gift yourself the chocolate as a reward!
Suffice it to say, nothing this year has gone the way we planned, dreamed, or hoped for. Well, the word nothing may be a little extreme- I’m sure something went exactly that way but has been overshadowed by the pandemic and its snowballing effects.
I heard myself say to myself, this is not what I had planned; this is not what I thought my life was going to be like. This wasn’t the vision in my head of what comes next.
But then a new thought popped in almost immediately to debate that…what if this is exactly what is supposed to be? If that is true, why lament? I need to move forward and carry on.
Stop reading for a moment to consider all of the situations you thought would be different and feel acceptance. Honor your belief system and sit with “this IS how it is supposed to be”. Just because I want something one way does not mean I get to have it that way. I felt like a toddler caught in the midst of a me-me-me tantrum. I am working on not saying this may be how everything is supposed to go down and changing that to this IS. We cannot lament what we wanted to occur, especially if it is beyond our control, as most things are. It is a continual practice of accepting what is occurring.
“We must know what ‘actually’ makes us happy rather than what ‘should’ make us happy. The only way to know the truth is to experiment with what is supposed to bring us happiness and then see the results on ourselves.” ― Awdhesh Singh, Myths are Real, Reality is a Myth
Funny thing-- we say “supposed to” as if it were true or fact. The word “supposed” means generally assumed or believed to be the case, but not necessarily so. Its antonyms are actual, known, real, true, factual, absolute, undisputed.
Have faith in the present- in your present. Faith is a present tense word.
Have faith in present and notice the shift in your energy when you choose to accept the present. It is SO much easier to move forward and do what needs to be done because you aren’t dragging the past and the supposed-to-be’s with you:)
December holidays are coming quickly upon us and, while they can bring a lot of happiness, they can also nurture other feelings like sadness, loneliness, and melancholy. I like the Zen proverb that a snowflake never falls in the wrong place because it is a reminder that there is a reason for everything. Even temporary sadness has within it a reason for harboring your attention. It is our responsibility to ourselves to discover what that reason may be. Is it to rediscover our strengths, remind us of good memories, or inspire us to see what lays beyond this temporary emotion?
The proverb seems to offer me comfort. Perhaps comfort in knowing that somehow everything will work itself out. That life may not be so elusive and that it is my role to discover all of these happenings. Like the snowflake. The one that lands on my eyelash and causes me to flutter. Or the one that slides down the back of my shirt eliciting a shiver. What would be the lesson in that, you question? Maybe the answer is as simple as being brought back to the present where change is able to create a new path and hope steers our direction.
You may already be familiar with mustard seed symbolism, but the story I want to talk about is the Buddhist version. I warn you, it is not a cheery story. However, many people are not feeling very cheery right now heading into holidays that they cannot spend with family so bear with me so we can discuss the moral...
It's a story about a woman named Kisa who grew up in a poor family. She marries a wealthy man but is not accepted by his family until she gives birth to a son. Kisa dotes on this little boy who has brought her acceptance from her in-laws and her world revolves around him. Unfortunately, when the boy was about one-year-old, he became ill and died. Kisa was devastated and she carried her deceased son on her hip going from door-to-door looking for a miracle that would bring him back to life. The villagers laughed at her; they thought she was crazy. But one man took pity and directed her to the Buddha.
When Kisa asked Buddha for a miracle that would bring her son back to life, Buddha was keen to see that Kisa was a spiritually enlightened woman but, in deep despair, would not be ready to hear his message. So instead, he told her to bring him mustard seeds from a house where there had never been a death. Kisa went everywhere asking people for mustard seeds. Everyone had some but when she asked if anyone had died in the home, she could not find a single family that had not experienced death. She finally understood that death was inevitable and she lay her child to rest in a nearby cemetery. When she went back to the Buddha she told him it seemed there were more dead than living. She was now ready to hear Buddha's message, which was that death and suffering are part of life. And that life is full of impermanence and change. And, if everything changes, then it is also possible for us to change and find hope.
Change has stuck to us like glue this year. And, with hope, change will also start to take a positive turn. What positivity can you add to your holiday experience? What new traditions? What new perspectives? Maybe we are to finally learn holidays are not about the food and the gifts but the people we want to be with. So we find new ways to be with those people until change occurs again to bring us all back home. If "home is where the heart is" and your loved ones are in your heart as well, could it be they are already with you? I am simply hoping to gift you a new way to look at the holidays this year. Or...at least plant a seed.
Copyright June 2020- February 2021
I write to empower people in their lives. Whether it is a mantra, positive intention, sign from the Universe or something altogether different, I just hope you find something inspirational in what I write that seems to be what you needed