the applause-o-meter: deserving, loving, fantastic, powerful, amazing

How much do you like yourself?

No, I’m not talking about narcissism: an inflated sense of self-importance where a person has an excessive need for approval, believes others’ feelings are of no import, is unable to handle criticism, and flaunts personal power and privilege. Rather, I’m talking about how you reveal your over-all well-being and optimism through your energy: feelings, thoughts, words, and actions.

Liking or loving yourself during the holidays can be an incredible morale booster, attitude adjuster, and life “just as it is” acceptor.  In general, you need to be your best advocate or cheerleader first, applauding all you are. If you don’t like yourself very much or have times when all you can do is criticize, most likely, you won’t be a glittering advocate. Your heart has grown tight. Think Scrooge! Soften your heart and see the true YOU of love!

Underneath the illusions or stories that your ego wants you to believe, you already are, in this moment, deserving, loving, fantastic, powerful, and amazing. Shifting your thoughts in this way will help you align with a greater energy so that you are clear about the most important qualities of life: love, optimism, and gratitude. You don’t have to bake forty varieties of elaborate cookies and bars (excess), to have the most powerful snowblower (competition), or to be the star community volunteer (glory, so others are aware of your presence) to like or love yourself.

You may not have realized that you have developed certain habits: automatically blaming yourself, jumping into conversations without listening to those around you, or immediately redirecting conversations through self-referencing. If you are having a hard time facing awareness of challenge areas, ask a trusted friend to describe you. Are you someone who is the first to show lovingkindness or a curmudgeon, always raining on someone’s parade? Hearing from someone you trust will help you begin to open to your shadow side. New heart awareness leads to change.

Everything that happens is meant to happen. If you don’t like what is happening or how you think or feel about what is happening, you have the power to invite a different perspective. Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishing Inc. and author of eleven plus metaphysical books, talked about this concept in her collaboration with New York Times best-selling author Cheryl Richardson, in You Can Create an Exceptional Life (2011). The degree of liking or loving yourself is key to how you experience life and to the quality of energy that others receive from you. It is up to you.

I decided to try a technique developed by Hay called “mirror work.” The main idea is whenever you pass or see a mirror or any object that reflects your image, gaze into it. The mirror may be permanent or portable. In fact, a portable mirror may be better because you can repeat positive statements at any time, in any location, and when you feel you need the practice most.

Next, say aloud “I love you” with feeling. Say it several times or decide to add other positive statements about yourself.  “Hi, Gorgeous—you big hunk! Wink, wink.” Don’t be shy! If you set an intention that your words reflect your truth, all the better; however, you may feel like you are only reciting or offering lip service. That’s fine, too. The main thing is to create a habit of praising yourself (aka your higher Self, one in the same) in front of the mirror. Over and over and over again. Engage in this practice for thirty days.

In the beginning, I felt awkward and a bit self-absorbed yet was determined to give this exercise an honest try. I’m not sure that I believed it would make any difference.  Ego kept badgering me: What will people think when you walk by a restaurant window and they see you talking to yourself—and you don’t have earbuds? Or, better yet, walk by a window that reflects outdoor seating, and they HEAR you???

Often I was project-focused and forgot to acknowledge my image, especially when I frequented the bathroom. I dutifully returned to the mirror and made my exclamations (I wasn’t about to sabotage the experiment by not upholding my part!). By the end of the first day, I felt lighter and less prone to restating my thoughts. By the end of the week, I felt more energetic and I smiled more. Paul thought I was more loving and calmer.

I haven’t finished week two yet, but am looking forward to seeing what happens with a greater softening of my heart. How freeing is the feeling of an expansive heart. Who knew? Join me! The process is so simple and costs nothing. Stay tuned.

From a higher vantage: Try a little “mirror work” and see how it changes your life. A bonus is that this work not only raises your personal vibration of love, it augments the overall vibration of the planet. It is the gift that keeps on giving year ‘round.

©2019 in the thick of things

Co-existing with Energy Zappers

How have you been zapped today? By stress, worry, anxiety, judgment, frustration, losses, or limitations? Although these outcomes seem to have a pattern, you are not a specific target; random change and humanness are part of life. It is how you choose to view these robbers of personal energy—with acceptance or resistance—that determines your quality of life. Exploring a single word will help you co-exist with these responses. Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  1. You planned to go to an exercise class, got into your car, and discovered that your car battery was dead.
  2. A long-time friend forgot your birthday.
  3. You received a message from your doctor, asking you to return for a repeat mammogram or PSA test.
  4. You see the x-rays from your exceedingly painful wrist, confirming that you have advanced arthritis—a shock that you could do without.
  5. You want to make your wishes known about your health directive and will, yet your adult children have their own ideas about what is best for you.

And you thought that you were in control! You didn’t realize the extent to which energy zappers tighten your body by compromising your immune system; by increasing irritability, headaches, or insomnia; and by constricting the muscles that help you to breathe. Energy zappers affect your emotions, making you more susceptible to depression, restlessness, overeating, and drug or alcohol abuse. Yet, underlying all of these responses, and perhaps the greatest tragedy of all, is that they block you from experiencing your true nature of joy, love, calm, generosity and happiness.

Some of you may still be in doubt that energy zappers truly affect you; after all, you practice wellness: a balanced, organic diet; sleep; movement; and supportive relationships. You believe that you are strong, educated, and wise—denial has no chance. No, your responses to energy zappers are under control. Compared to the experiences of your friends, your quality of life is supreme—for the most part, you guess, perhaps not entirely. It may surprise you, but YOUR body—as well as everyone else’s—carries a tremendous amount of stress, worry, anxiety, judgment, frustration, loss, and limitation at any given time. Try this practice to evaluate just how your body is feeling from the inside-out. Take note of how you are feeling right now.

Begin: (You may ask someone to read this section as you listen and participate.)

  1. Tense your toes; scrunch them up tightly. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  2. Tense only your R leg, bringing your thigh to your torso. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  3. Tense your L leg, again bringing your thigh to your torso. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  4. Now, tense BOTH legs. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  5. AND, you thought you had no stress, worry, anxiety, judgment, frustration, loss, or limitation affecting your body.
  6. Tense your abdomen, chest, and stomach (pulling your navel to your spine). HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  7. Tense your R hand, making a fist. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  8. Tense your entire R arm, bringing your forearm in toward your chest. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  9. Tense your L hand, making a fist. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  10. Tense your entire L arm, bringing your forearm in toward your chest. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  11. Tense your shoulders up to your ears. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  12. Tense your jaw, gritting your teeth. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  13. Close your eyes and frown; “purse” your lips. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.
  14. NOW: Tighten your entire body at once. Feel all of your limbs and organs squeezing toward your midline. HOLD for 3-2-1. Release.

Ahhhhh, your body should feel comfortably relaxed. Compare what you feel like now with how you felt before you started this exercise. No doubt, you are more in tune with your body and realize that it has been in a state of tension.  Visually, it appears as if you have successfully let go of much of that tension. Also remember that how your body feels directly affects your mind. As your body relaxes, your mind relaxes and is more open to expansive ideas. You return to your creative and positive self. This exercise has the same effect on you as if you had just returned from a mini-vacation. Some of you are even smiling.

You are ready to consider this question: Are you truly living with energy zappers or just pretending to be aware of them?

It would be wonderful if you could wave your magic wand and, POOF, these limiting responses would disappear, forever banished. In today’s society, if only there were a quick fix! That’s not the case, and probably for good reason. Time allows you to ask for guidance from your higher power, to see different viewpoints, and to find acceptance in situations. This is how you gain wisdom. Energy zappers are part of our humanness and are here to stay. They will never go away, regardless of how much effort you put into wishing, envisioning, or hoping things to be different. The most effective way to handle these responses is to co-exist with them and not let them consume you.

To understand stress, anxiety, judgment, confusion, or frustration, go back to the basics surrounding lack and see them through a child’s eyes. Go back a few years…well, maybe quite a few years.

Imagine that you have a sugar cone w/one scoop of Cookie Dough ice cream; you see another cone w/ two scoops. You think: Wait a minute, that isn’t fair—even if two scoops will give you a tummy ache. Without anyone else interceding, you become unreasonably frustrated because you can’t have what you want! You may even think that next time you want an ice cream cone, the ice cream will be gone, and you will be out of luck. That perception may lead to an underlying anxiety surrounding lack. You should have two scoops while the getting is good! These thoughts of frustration and anxiety become a part of your mindset or who you believe yourself to be.

Now imagine that you have an older sibling who laughs a lot and makes crazy faces; your neighbors always interact with your sibling. You, on the other hand, are more on the quiet side; these same neighbors say hello to you, yet that’s about it. You may perceive this as the neighbors not liking you and may try to mimic your sibling. Another reaction might be to create an imaginary world. Your mindset of judgment and confusion, based on this experience, becomes your reality, your story.

As you grow older, you think about perceptions over and over until you believe them into your reality. Returning to the ice cream experience of perceived lack: I never get enough ice cream. Now that I think about it, I never get enough of anything. And, remembering the experience of judgment and confusion: I guess I’ll just be by myself. Who needs friends anyway?

These perceptions are stories about you and your experiences, not who you truly are inside. When you understand that the stories of your ego are only perceptions of your reality, the truth of you emerges. Not having enough or not feeling like you are enough is about your perception of lack. When you’re feeling lack, find some way to feel more gratitude and appreciation in the situation. Gratefulness for what you already have and for your gifts balances your emotions. It’s hard to feel stress, anxiety, judgment, frustration, worry, losses, or limitations and be grateful at the same time. Should any of the energy zappers come your way, practice gratitude and feel how your outlook shifts. A bit of false perception melts away.

To understand worry, losses, and limitations, go back to the basics of fear. You are born with only two natural fears: the fear of startling noises and the fear of falling—all other fears are learned. Fears are stories told and retold by your internal voice (ego) or learned from outside influences (peers, parents, teachers, ministers, other adults).

An example of an internal voice: A newly-graduated high school senior: I get a pit in my stomach when I think of enrolling in the School of Engineering at college next year. I’d rather major in theater, but my dad is insistent, and he was an engineer. This dilemma causes feelings of unworthiness (a type of loss) and worry of family rejection.

And, an example of outside influences: Don’t go into the basement; there are monsters behind the stairs that grab your legs and cut them off. Hearing those words from a friend whose older sibling made up a scary story, you panic over the possibility of losing your legs and never go near the basement door. As an adult, perhaps a small recognition comes to mind as you remember childhood stories like this.

As an older child, teen, or “twenty something,” you encounter stress, anxiety, judgment, frustration, worry, losses, or limitations as part of being human. Most likely, you’ve had a few role models who’ve provided guidance and coping skills in these matters. At the same time, no doubt, you’ve also suffered. Suffering is universal. Most adults are still  searching for productive ways to work with these limiting responses. Consider how ACCEPTANCE helps you to move forward in spite of energy zappers.

“Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it…this will miraculously transform your whole life.” ~Eckhart Tolle, author and the most spiritually influential person in the world, 2011.

“Acceptance is a letting-go process. You let go of your wishes and demands that life can be different. It’s a conscious choice.”~Gary Emery, Counselor

“Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.” ~Valery Satterwhite, Information Technology Services

Through practicing acceptance, we have greater quality of life. Acceptance is not conformity, weakness, or waffling attitudes. It is a way to learn something about your feelings and approach to energy zapping situations. Do you exaggerate, underestimate, or deny all together? Next is to contemplate various perspectives of the situation, exploring a universal point of view and possible next steps. The final step is to accept, moving toward resolution.

Key points of acceptance promote more personal harmony as you live with energy zappers.

A= An attitude of gratitude (finding something worthy of authentic gratefulness)

C= Compassion for self and others (offering positive self-talk; wiggle room for others)

C= Contentment (appreciating what you already have)

E= Expanding love (extending love toward all energies)

P= Present Moment (consistently welcoming what the “now” brings)

T= Trust in a higher power (Knowing that a universal power is consistently working for your highest good)

Recall the earlier example of a family member wanting to share wishes regarding a health directive or will, yet who experienced some “push back” from adult children who had their own ideas about what was best. Practicing the points of acceptance could lead to more family harmony and an enhanced quality of life for all.

Health Directive/Will: Disagreement between wishes of family member vs. views of adult children about family member’s wishes

*1. Family member (Dad) shares wishes…

*2. Response of adult children…

Feelings

*Disappointed; possibly angry, frustrated, feel they are “right”

*Wishes denied sensitivities of family members regarding death and dying

Contemplation

*We can’t possibly predict Dad’s thoughts or actions

*We can ignore, be silent, or resist Dad’s wishes. Is the resistance worth it?

*End-of-life should be positive, yet change or impermanence can sometimes

deliver a curve ball

*Whose life is it anyway?

Accept

*Attitude of gratitude for an actual end-of-life plan and transparent conversations

*Compassion for ourselves that it’s OK not to be in charge; compassion for Dad 

that he is taking this opportunity to voice his wishes

*Contentment in that we appreciate the gift of peace-of-mind engendered by a

legal health directive and will

*Expanding love through understanding, patience, and celebration

*Present Moment is a gift that life is unfolding exactly as intended on my behalf,

in positivity.

Accepting what the moment brings to you, especially when you encounter energy zappers, can be challenging. Be sure to keep a light-hearted perspective, as in this quote:

“Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.” ~Roger C. Anderson, Ecologist

 

From a higher vantage: Acceptance is about co-existing with and celebrating “what is.” Staying in the moment, regardless of change and humanness, balances your thoughts and behaviors, promoting an enhanced quality of life.

©2017 Barbara L. Krause

The Supreme Gift

Anticipation was high. We were looking forward to quality family time and a change in environment. The present moment, however, has a way of tempering expectations. Ever-present turbulence during the flight, regardless of the altitude, created a mock Tilt-a-Whirl effect. It afflicted our descent as well. As we dropped in elevation, a glimpse of the fog-shrouded Rockies offered some mental stability. We had returned to Calgary where Paul grew up.

A change in environment was an understatement. Making our way to the baggage claim was like going down Alice-in-Wonderland’s rabbit hole. Would our stay prove to be more of the same? This was our annual western Canadian adventure. Everything had changed: The international airport’s addition of two million square feet on two storeys; automated systems everywhere, including the declaration of goods brought into the country and passenger messages; and a massive water feature, along with large, attractive pictures, bright lights, and a shiny, tiled floor provided newness in every direction. Although spacious, the atmosphere made our heads spin. One aspect, however, remained the same: Cowboy and cowgirl greeters wore their Stampede outfits, hats, and welcoming smiles as they engendered a festive mood to prepare for the upcoming event July 7-16. Thoughts of bucking broncos and Chuckwagon Races grounded us.

We had been given the code to enter the gaited condo buildings where we would be staying. As the gate opened, we noted the additional growth of the garage ivy and other foliage. The home of Paul’s mother still had its quaint veranda with gorgeous flower boxes and magpie visitors. Having mellowed considerably, we arrived at the inner door of the condo. Impermanence struck again. The individual owner codes had been changed. We tried numerous times to work with the system, but with no luck. Reaching for his phone to contact his mother, Paul discovered a dead battery. Oh, great! Our only saving grace was a visit to his favorite coffee shop (which, by the way, had changed everything but its physical location) around the corner. We managed to find a power supply to get the phone operational and a Cappuccino for composure.

The phone rang. Success! A familiar voice was happy to hear from us and would meet us at the inside door of the condo. Her calming, pleasant energy reminded us to check our own energies. What kind of vibes or demeanors were we emitting? Were we able to rise above the numerous changes and resulting chaos we had encountered, regaining our peaceful and gracious true Selves—the Selves that went beyond Ego’s dramatic voice? Of course. Impermanence was only rattling our cages; Source is always in and around us. We have a choice.

Having tea with Paul’s mother brought our attention to subtle details that had changed from a year ago. We had spoken on the phone numerous times, and she always seemed to be her usual bright, yet pensive self. In person, she conversed, yet sometimes appeared pre-occupied. We thought it was due to the antics of the new five-week-old kitten, Meadow. Anyone, at any age, couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next with that kind of energy! Although cute, the kitten seemed to exasperate her. Yet the additional family member brought smiles and provided entertainment—both good things.

One of Paul’s siblings had remarked that we shouldn’t be surprised when the mother Paul knew was not the same mother now. Even so, we wanted to share stories and observe. Talking about milestones and friends from her growing up years and early marriage era was comfortable for her; she easily remembered many details. However, when it was time to decide on a restaurant for dinner, she became hesitant and looked away, even though we had routinely eaten at a little Italian restaurant she enjoyed.

We observed the greatest signs of dementia as we prepared to leave for the restaurant. She was unable to find her purse or the jacket she preferred. Saying things slowly and calmly without pushing her was the most helpful response. Allowing more time helped.

We thought that a short excursion (three hours of car time, round-trip) to visit one of her dear friends might be a positive way to spend some time and experience new environments. As the day of the arrangements drew closer, we thought about our conversations in the car. In this case, driving time allowed limited meaningful conversation. Face-to-face conversations were more important. We decided to save the trip for another day.

Even though Paul’s Mom has a signed will and health directive, we felt that there were still some wishes that could be explored. Having spent the last five years researching death, dying, and end-of-life decisions, we wanted to give her an opportunity to tell us of further preferences. We were somewhat hesitant because we thought that she might not be interested in sharing her preferences. However, it was pleasing to see her so willing and agreeable in offering her thoughts. We ended our time together with loving embraces, smiles, and a touch on the arm and hand. This was the kind of quality family time that we had envisioned.

Like the rabbit hole encounter during our arrival at the airport, initially experiencing the decline of Paul’s Mom was a bit unsettling. When we stopped resisting “what is,” we found clarity to see another way to look at change. As we learned to flow with how the present moments unfolded in her life, we felt more relaxed (and believe that she did, too). No fixing or striving to change. Just acceptance and love.

Yes, it is difficult and emotional to watch a loved one decline physically and mentally. It is the apex of universal suffering. Unquestionably, this is hard on us emotionally (and physically) and we may feel as if we are being torn apart, yet the process of decline is not about us. It is about how our loved one’s life is approaching full circle. Acceptance, rather than resistance, of our loved one’s decline is the supreme gift.

When we accept the cycle of life, honor it, and view it with cherished gratitude, we expand our minds. It is only the physical body and mind—what we are used to—that is in decline. The loved one’s soul or essence is intact and immortal. Remembering that, we demonstrate love, support, gentle words, and touch. We honor our loved one.

We hold space for Source to do the work whether that is in the realm of recovery, revelation, or release or a combination of these areas. Source is vigilant, loving, and wise. Energies of patience, gentleness, and encouragement toward our loved one’s inward perspective are what are needed from us. Indeed, Source’s work is mysterious—we may never know reasons or answers behind what is happening—yet, that is okay. We don’t have to know everything, only that a power greater than we are, knows and cares.

 

From a higher vantage: Some excerpts say it all:

To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time to every purpose, under heaven…

~The Byrds’ 1965 album, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Every Thing There Is a Season)” featuring a few words by Bob Seeger (late 1950’s); majority of words excerpted from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,  King James Version of the Bible (1611)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4       

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn!_Turn!_Turn!

 

 

 

©2017 Barbara L. Krause

Private Rituals

One of my favorite magazines brought to mind the importance of ritual in life: maintaining structure and order, preserving values and beliefs, celebrating milestones or honoring personal or local community. Several definitions give meaning to “ritual”:

(1) “A ceremony or action performed in a customary way” (family members having pizza in front of the TV every Sunday night), (2) “sacred, customary ways of celebrating a religion or cultural heritage” (a bar or bat mitzvah), and (3) “a time-honored tradition” (watching the Viking-Packers football game or eating angel food birthday cake with Seven Minute Frosting). https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/ritual

Often we take rituals for granted—thinking that they will automatically be part of our life. That is, until the lead person or family who organizes the ritual chooses to discontinue or is no longer able to do so. Suddenly the ritual becomes hugely important. Resistance. Telling and retelling, expanding on the facts. Victimization. This happened to a family who had an in-ground pool. Every Fourth of July, they held a huge open house with grilled food, live entertainment, and swimming. They invited the entire neighborhood. One summer the family decided to vacation in Italy. Neighborhood expectations were not prepared for the shock. Whenever we begin to feel entitled, Ego puts on a show that is less than pretty.

The type of bond, length of relationship, circumstances, emotional and physical attributes and a host of other elements provide variables that make it impossible to determine exactly how someone will respond to loss. Responses are as unique as the people involved. However, an overarching thread is present. Interestingly enough, whether we are the person dying or the one left behind, we feel a loss of control.

During the days leading up to my mother’s death, she had called out to family members by name that had preceded her in death; her soul was traveling in-between this plane and beyond. She also wanted to know if she needed to pack a suitcase, take her pillow, and catch a bus. Her earnest questions indicated a childlike confusion and loss of control. Those around her were also feeling loss of control, trying to give her a response that was both understandable and reassuring.

All of us, regardless of where we are in life, are steadily losing control. It is wise to acknowledge that fact. Those who are actively dying have special gifts to share as we approach them with softened hearts. They give us the urgency to acknowledge our own mortality and to live our lives more fully. Their inner nature speaks to our compassion, and we can apply that compassion to others in grief. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, those actively dying will share wisdom from their heart which forges deeper bonds. Finally, observing and being with them reminds us that there is clearly a greater force at work beyond life on this plane.

Harvard Business School researchers Michael I. Norton and Francesca Gino have been studying how people respond to grief and why some individuals are able to move beyond grief more quickly than others. They found that those who seemed to be more resilient had created their own private rituals. One example was a woman who continued to wash the family car every Saturday, just as her deceased husband had done for years. Another person “gathered all of the pictures taken as a couple during their relationship and ‘then destroyed them into small pieces (even the ones I really liked!), and then burned them in the park where we first kissed.’”

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/in-grief-try-personal-rituals/284397/

Even a small change in attitude or self talk can be used as a ritual.

After her mother’s death, Charlotte L. Kent, 19, wrote regarding her college music theory class that she “simply could not understand it.” Her good friend’s advice was “Yet. You can’t understand it yet.” Charlotte went on to apply this advice to her life, especially with the thoughts and words she was using to express her grief. She began to add yet to the ends of sentences. “I don’t want to laugh—yet. I don’t want to stop crying—yet. I don’t want to let go—yet.” This reminded her that she was a fully in control work-in-progress.

~ “Readers Write: Leaps of Faith,” The Sun, March 2017, p.31.

These actions offered symbolic value to the persons participating in them and the actions were completed privately. Little rituals like favorite foods or preparation methods, a favorite wine, a happy or scary story, jokes repeatedly told, an accessory or flannel shirt, or sayings can offer comfort and a bit of control. Solo rituals do not have to be explained, approved, or tracked. Over time, we let go of them. They have served their purpose. We are able to move on without expectations or wishing things were different.

 

From a higher vantage: In grief, are you or a friend in need of a ritual? Choose the most memorable aspect about the loss you are grieving. Turn it into a private ritual, one that you don’t have to explain, gain approval, or feel a need to track. Give it all of your heart.

 

© 2017 Barbara L. Krause

Introduction

Life happens. You’re in the thick of things—sometimes up to your ears in alligators. Are you there, Source? You wonder. Are you frustrated when life seems to foil your expectations and you want things your way? Do you feel abandoned? Do you feel that life is a personal battle? Do you ever wonder about your place in the universe? A greater energy is always around and within when you know how to look.

You may not understand the presence of Source or even realize that this connection exists. By slowing down and paying attention to your external life, witnessing the internal effects of Source, and integrating your findings, you will discover what really matters in life. You are the champion of your own transformation.

“in the thick of things,” a website of spiritual self-discovery, is designed to offer opportunities for exploration and respite as your consciousness is revealed. Demanding, yet worth every moment of self-examination, this journey of commitment is the most important one of a lifetime. It is an opportunity to slow down, ponder, and discover who you are without all your labels.

Revelation, release, and remergence help you to recognize what is no longer needed in your life, so a balanced spiritual journey can flourish. This discovery trilogy of seeing new possibilities, letting go, and completing the cycle of life, unknown to unknown, points to significant milestones along your journey. You are free from what is unimportant and softened to what truly matters.

The mature, illuminated magenta lotus flower symbolizes the beauty, grace, and spiritual rebirth of your awareness and growing consciousness. The symbol for this journey of personal spiritual awakening is the mystical and sacred lotus. You are like the lotus. It begins as a seed in mud and murk at the bottom of a pond and takes three days to surface as a bud, always mindfully moving toward the light, despite what it encounters. You, too, are a bud that contains spiritual potential.

Once above water, the bud expands, one petal at a time, into a breath-taking flower, and then into a stunning, light-filled, mature beauty. Each day, you experience new ways to become in tune with Source. A magenta lotus sends vibrations of harmony and emotional balance. The color stands for universal love at its highest level and furthers compassion, kindness and contentment. Each day, you have an opportunity for greater quality of life, better understanding who you are.

In the evening, the flower closes and returns to the mud and murk, only to repeat its journey into the light the next morning, without insult. This defies logic. Don’t you often say the same about your circumstances or those of others? The lotus journey from darkness into light symbolizes the human path toward greater awakening of Self: revelation, release, and remergence. ™

Mud represents your humanness or lessons of personal, spiritual development. It shows you who you are. You might learn that you can weather challenges with the help of gratitude, mindfulness, intentions, and the knowledge that a greater energy desires your highest good. The lotus unfolds one petal at a time; likewise, you overcome adversities to find your divine potential and purpose in the universe. Information that you discover here is based on observations—neither right nor wrong. It just is. You explore and take away what resonates. Another time, something else may step forward. Like the lotus, you may feel fragile on the surface, but you are always anchored to the earth. You are stronger than you appear.

The sacred, ancient spiral, back-lighted against the sun, symbolizes the cosmic force. The spiral represents life change, beginning at your core, expanding outwardly toward Source or a greater energy. Light, a universal symbol, offers goodness, hope, and strength to endure the struggles of life. It also represents creativity and optimism.

As a bud, dear reader, in the thick of things offers you the sacred bonds™ series to help support the beginning of your spiritual journey. seeking light explores three categories of blog narratives: external, internal, and integrative. External narratives demonstrate looking outside of yourself to discover how Source (or whatever name you give to an energy greater than you are) is alive and well in your life.

Internal narratives challenge you to go inward and ponder certain aspects of your life to more closely observe the role of Source. Finally, Integrative narratives combine ways of seeing Source by combining both external and internal perspectives. Working with these three types of narratives will open your awareness to the next level: the full lotus. When you are ready to make that transition, choose gathering light from the sacred bonds™ series.

Gathering light is a collection of prose poems called “Heartbeats” and “Dialogues.”         Heartbeats are writings about relationships, and Dialogues are repartees between higher Self and ego. You see yourself in these verses. You recognize Dialogues as personal voices in your head. Both Heartbeats and Dialogues allow you to view your experiences in a more authentic way. By choosing acceptance over resistance, you have dared to take another path, the one less travelled. You discover a vital foundation of open-heartedness and kindness. Your appearance and demeanor are more vibrant. Self-compassion and its partner, compassion, inspire genuine interaction. Again, you are anchored by the lotus and encouraged by the ancient spiral and the sun. You observe how Source is alive and well in your internal thoughts.

When you feel satisfied with your progress toward a greater understanding of your inner perspectives, you are ready to open to more of your higher Self. To receive support with this transition, choose becoming light from the sacred bonds ™ series. Gaining increased knowledge and a more open heart, your new understanding transforms you into a mature, light-filled, and wise lotus. You continue to be supported by the spiral of consciousness and the light and hope of the sun. becoming light features “bridges,” letters of personified words that were written for my mother as she was dying. Touching hearts, these letters comfort the dying and their families. Meditations complete this section. At this point, you are most likely feeling closer to Source than ever before.

Blog entries, prose poems, letters, and meditations set the foundation for up-close and personal observations. They are resources to support your inner work. For your convenience, categories  for the writings appear on the left side of the pages for the sacred bonds™ series. Click on a category for a quick overview. Alphabetically, they appear:

Awakening, Death, Ego, Gratitude, Healing, Higher Self, Humanness, Love, Oneness, and Present Moment.

Blessings,

Barbara

small acts, great love

It all began on Friday at 6:30 a.m.—witnessing little things done with great love—and became more apparent as the weekend continued. Strong winds throughout the night had made sleep difficult, yet the early morning hours brought a smile to my face. There is nothing like the aroma of pancakes and bacon wafting into the bedroom. No, Paul had not gotten up early this particular day to make breakfast, although I am the luckiest woman on the planet to experience a nutritious morning spread nearly every day, including eggs, Swiss chard, and a variety of fresh fruit. No, IHOP® had not gone mobile. No, this day my nonagenarian neighbor was performing her magic. Her husband, three adult children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild would highly agree that she has perfected a lifetime of culinary skills. She is quick to smile and add a story to complete her breakfast fare. I offered silent gratitude that she put so much of herself into an often taken-for-granted task. Source was in the thick of things. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Putting our hearts into whatever we do demonstrates a deep, pervading love that people feel, regardless of age or circumstance.

 

Preparing for dinner guests later that evening, I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw a man with a familiar gait. Each day, for the last two years, he walked. Regardless of weather, this fitness seeker’s route included the street that went past our house, over to other streets and downtown. Occasionally he would stoop to pick up litter and make a difference. One day, while running a few errands downtown, I met him on the sidewalk and stopped to thank him for picking up refuse. He seemed surprised that I had noticed. I’m walking anyway. It’s just a small thing that I can do, he said. What great love and compassion for Mother Earth. No expectations. It just seemed to be the right thing to do.

 

The next morning I attended a yoga class. Most yoga teachers offer verbal modifications for poses during yoga classes. From time to time, I try an Intermediate Vinyasa class to see if my muscle tremors will permit me to build more core strength. On this day, the asanas were still too demanding, and I sank into Child’s Pose, the premiere modification pose to regain breath and composure. To my surprise, several seconds later, I felt the warmth of the teacher’s hands soothing my spine, letting me know that she was aware that I was struggling and, regardless of my situation, that I had her support. This small act offered with great love brought tears to my eyes. Source was in the thick of things.

 

That afternoon I learned about how a couple I admire has been corresponding with a prisoner who is up for parole this coming spring. Once back in mainstream society, he will be trying to make ends meet with only a small disability check. Recently, he found out that his few possessions had been stolen. My friends contacted Friends Anonymous, a local group of people whose financial gifts have helped hundreds of people over the last eighteen years. The words of Margaret Mead guide this group of thirty altruists. “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.” In fact, it is the only thing that ever has changed the world. The organization, without judgment, offers limited financial means to people with no other way to access finances. Meeting monthly, the group tries to maintain a bank balance of $0. Cheers to my friends for offering great love without expectations and to Friends Anonymous for their behind-the-scenes love and work.

 

The next day I learned of a man who has changed his ways of thinking and habits. Since his wife died, he has become more aware and involved in life beyond himself. He is the quintessential volunteer and delights in putting first the good of others. Recently, he developed Shingles and is maintaining a positive life view, still seeking to help others. He knows the value of giving of himself.

 

The “Small Acts, Great Love” theme brought to mind yet one more example to end my weekend. One of my friends knits hats for people who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer. A sweet knitting fanatic, she began doing this when her own mother was diagnosed with cancer and lost her hair during treatments. When enough of us practice small acts of selfless love, we reach the tipping point of maturity and compassion. We recognize our connection with each other, know we are not alone, and see Source in the thick of things. Awareness is beautiful.

 

 

In the quiet moments: Set aside five or ten minutes a day to brainstorm simple ways to show great love by doing small things that require a minimal investment of time, personal effort or a change in attitude. Perhaps it’s reading to children. Or, listening, conversing, and hugging someone in need of a bit of nurturing. Maybe it’s simply smiling/saying hello to people on the street. No expectations or judgments allowed. Start now. Let me know what happens.

 

 

© 2015 in the thick of things

pick it up, put it down, let It be

November generally gives me a break from the fall harvesting, freezing, and dehydrating of fruits and veggies, and lets me slow down. Not this year! Everything was focused on November 6, my daughter’s due date for the birth of the couple’s first child. The mommas had a plan. They had selected a midwife, doula, lactation expert, pediatrician, and chiropractor as their birth medical team at Hennepin County Medical Center. The nursery was ready; the gender-neutral first name had been carefully chosen. All of the baby clothes were washed, folded and placed in drawers. Everything was ready for baby’s debut. Source was in the thick of things.

 

As the magic date came and went, more home improvement projects were finished; “Meal Train,” an on-line sign-up for meal delivery, was organized; and a tsunami of support and love manifested. Yet, as the days passed, I grew less positive, picking up my “pain body” from earlier birth experiences, knowing that no amount of wishing on my daughter’s behalf would affect the unfolding of the upcoming event. Yet, always in the back of my mind was the question, Where is Source?

 

I am reminded of Eckhart Tolle’s comments about pain body. “Emotional Pain Body is the main cause of drama, pain and suffering in humanity. “ Cumulated Emotional Pain (Pain Body)”, https://vimeo.com/14125850. A pain body triggers strong emotional reactions (fear, anger, distrust, destructiveness, grief, even illness) based on painful, earlier experiences and starts an internal dialogue that overtakes all human senses and powers. If a person is not aware that the pain body is becoming active and telling a story, then the individual cannot get the upper hand, and the pain body soon controls all of the thinking and feeling. Only by becoming an observer of the pain body can it be exposed for what it is—a charlatan that thinks it knows the answers. Besides, emotional reactions from earlier pain body experiences generally do not apply to current situations. It is more effective to observe the pain body, than to get caught up in it.

 

I knew the strategies for overriding a pain body, yet my humanness caused me to waffle. My pain body was a set of four childbirth experiences; I was recalling my own labors and projecting circumstances on my daughter’s experience. Memories came flooding back to me:  a  l—e—n—g—t—h—y  delivery, the feeling of being totally out-of-control, ineffective Lamaze breathing techniques, and a near-miss C-section. All conjured up fear. In those days, I did not see Source in the birthing process, only in the resulting precious life. I did not know that I was more than my pain body and emotional reactions.

 

A dear friend helped me to loosen the grip of this pain body during my daughter’s days of labor and delivery. We referred to it as a practice. I had a choice to surrender my suffering or pain body to Source or to keep the drama going. To know this choice existed was Source in the thick of things. Surrendering meant that I put down my pain body, and Source carried it. Clinging to the pain body meant I wanted it and believed that I knew what was best. Even though I felt some relief and lightness when I gave Source my pain body, it continued to reappear. Pain bodies persist as long as they are nourished by any negative emotions or drama—even traces. This was not a time for a token gesture. I was challenged to wholeheartedly eliminate or override my negative emotions. That process takes a willingness to change habits and doesn’t happen quickly (twenty-one days, research confirms) Intention, observation, practice and non-judgment are needed to stop the progress of the pain body. Once it is released to Source, we gain more room for love, joy, compassion, and peace of mind.

 

Often, I put down my fear surrounding this birth, and Source carried it for me. Just as often, I picked up the pain body of fear, feeling the return of emotional reactions from earlier life events. Cultivating a different habit takes commitment. It takes practice. It takes work. I wish I could report that, in addition to expanding our family circle, I am now able to put down all of my pain bodies and release them to Source. Not so, yet I am more aware of my choices. I continue to practice and am grateful. All is well.

 

Six “grands” over the last eight years have taught me a little about how I imagine Source to view birthing. There is a plan, and all things work together in beauty, light and perfect timing. Babies choose mothers who are perfectly suited to meet their fledglings’ needs, and Source works through medical team members who often perform at a level beyond their highest training and expectations. At a birth, Source smiles and resounds, Yes, another pearl! The rest of us are awed by unlimited potential.

 

In the quiet moments: Think about a time when you had a choice to surrender your suffering to Source or to maintain the drama. What happened? What if you had made a different choice?

 

 

© 2015 in the thick of things