My Version of Ground Hog Day?

I was asked today…If you had one day to live for the rest of your life, what would it look like?  It became an interesting exercise…

Creativity. Connection. Community.

These are my prime motivators. I have no problem attending to the details of life, but I am primarily a big picture person. I apply these three essential elements in my life every day.

As a person who has given herself over to the directives of the most honorable and compassionate self that I can possibly imagine at this point in time, the part I call my Constant Traveler, every day is fresh and new, so my version will always be my version, regardless of how many people are watching. It will always be unique.

It is interesting to consider how many of us are actively trying to retreat to our version of Ground Hog Day right now, as we resist the tsunami of change that is happening in our world.

Disclaimer: As an artist, my focus on creativity allows for my own redesign of this day. What “same” means to me would be the key component of my contemplation. “Same day” for me means exploring my personal Field of Dreams, what I call the Wellspring of Inspiration. It lies beyond any glitch in the Matrix. From this perspective, each day is always full of surprises. There is always Something Colored Beautiful to explore.

On a metaphysical level, the whole world is a construct of my imagination aka illusion. Check it out – on a quantum level, we are primarily composed of space. My world is composed of concepts – even the self that is writing this was constructed of nothing, of space…the space where everything and no-thing become moot.

In the big scheme of things, when it comes time to exit this life, I will give myself over to that expansiveness. I don’t take it any more seriously than I do this Ground Hog Day exercise in speculation…it is an exercise in creativity. Serious play.

I am curious to see where it leads me…

I am a peaceful warrior. Each day that I wake up on this side of the grass, I choose my response to life. If I were to live my version of the movie Ground Hog Day, it may look like this:

Creativity:

I would wake up in the morning, happy to be here. I begin my early morning practices in a state of receptivity, anticipating and accepting everyday miracles. These are the Something Colored Beautiful moments that are hidden in everyday life.

Yes, there is always stuff to deal with. There are challenges and readjustments and disappointments…my compassion flows to those who are suffering and deeply scared today…

I focus on my heart, my influence, my good vibes…in this creative space. Quora has become one of my creative spaces. Even if I were to answer this same question over and over again…considering my perspective, I would always find something new to share.

Connection:

This includes connections made in my brain through reading and understanding; connection with my Constant Traveler and the artful Wellspring of Inspiration inside me; and connection to other people. I would always be learning. I would always be sharing. What I learned and shared on this day would strengthen and enrich this connection.

But best of all…because I enter into what I consider sacred space every day…I would always be in contact with Inspiration…perhaps my Ground Hog Day would become my version of Nirvana???

To discover what lies beyond the Matrix because I would be immersed in it by the force of the Universe, not able to draw myself, my attention, out of it through ego identification?

What a delightful thought!!

Community:

I have been preparing for this event for over a decade. I live by the 5P’s of Effective Action – Proper planning prevents poor performance. As an ambivert, I have learned how to fill my inner directive to engage in the world, as well as how to retreat and recharge. I have been actively connecting with folks, writing and sharing songs and books, joining with others in groups like Toastmasters, and offering my contemplative and meditative thoughts to others in every way I can imagine.

Inspire. Invite. Incite others to action…I do this every day, so my Ground Hog Day wouldn’t be any different. Sometimes we don’t need to open out…sometimes we need to open in…to expand our inner resources and resilience and connection to the collective through what we share energetically…to enrich our inner space, because, in ways that you may not be able to recognize, when mine is beautiful and full it spills over into yours…

My same will include compassion and sharing that which I choose to live each day…and there is nothing wrong with more of that same!

And as my day draws to a close, and I have completed my qigong and breathing exercises and released this day…died to it, essentially…regardless of whether today becomes yesterday…I am living my best life. Too cool!!

Sending you lots of love, my friends…

Many Doors, One Sanctuary: 10 Doors to Active Wellbeing: Doorway # 1

A few years ago, I had a dream that I was standing in a hallway.  To the left and to the right there were a number of doors, and at the end of the hallway, one single door.

As I began to walk down the hall, I tried each door.  Some seemed to be locked.  Some weren’t locked but the knob didn’t seem to work.  And some, the most confusing ones of all…would open a crack but when I pushed on the door…the door pushed back.

That was the way with each one of the doors…except for the one at the end of the hall.  It opened easily.

As I stepped over the threshold, I found myself on a windswept beach.  It was night, but I could see the dark surf and hear the waves as they kissed the sand.

I began to walk down the beach and as I did, a man approached me and he said, “What are you doing?”

I stopped. “I was in there and tried all the doors,” I told him.  “They wouldn’t open, so I came out here.”

He shook his head.  “Go back inside and open those doors.”

“Okay,” I said, and as I turned to go back, the dream ended.

I have thought a lot about that dream – its possible meaning, and the ramifications for my life if I had stayed on that beach.  I could have played it safe and walked along beside the surf…perhaps never knowing lay beyond any of those closed doors.

What is behind Door #1, or #2, or #3, as Monty Hall would say on the game show Let’s Make a Deal.

Behind one door was a brand new car!; behind the others, goats..like nanny or billy goat.

But what happens when Monty Hall isn’t there and you have too many doors to choose from?  Which door do you choose first?

Living in the gap…

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor E. Frankl

It takes a fraction of a second for the information we receive through our senses to reach our brain.  We form our reaction with what seems to be the speed of light.  It is so fast that we may not detect it, but this space, or gap, is there.  It is the space of the observer.  It allows us time to consider our reaction and decide if it is worthy of sharing.  It is in the gap that we transform reaction into response.

This gap is accessible to all.

In order to access this space of thoughtful choice, of clear-eyed executive decision, we simply have to take the time.  To sit with our reaction for a few seconds longer than usual…to realize that it is there.  This breaks the cascade…the chain reaction that keeps us chained to fear-based habits and responses.   This is how we create an elegant inner Sanctuary.

In this space, we are invited to examine our thoughts and consider, as Buddhist teacher Tara Brach says, that our thoughts are just thoughts.  We don’t have to believe them.  There is a profound freedom in the understanding that we don’t have to believe our thoughts.

Thoughts are real but they aren’t true. – Tara Brach

We realize freedom through gentle, tender, consistent practice.  Repetitive gently flowing movement not only soothes the body, but it also soothes the mind.

The Way of a Peaceful Warrior…

As a peaceful warrior, I take a stand.  I will not be daunted by circumstances.  In the face of adversity, I survive.  In the aftermath of adversity, I thrive.

Our world has been catapulted into a new frontier, it seems.  During these tumultuous times, when everything is changing, our active engagement is needed more than ever.

What can we do when we are stuck inside, face to face with our fears and foes?  A peaceful warrior turns and faces their foe.  The hero of their own life, when everyone is running away from their discomfort, the peaceful warrior runs toward it.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…

Active engagement is the solution to passive acquiescence.  We are giving in instead of giving up.  We are giving ourselves the qualities and companionship we need in order to weather this crisis…to not only survive but to thrive in spite of it.

The following 10 doorways offer us keys to activating our inner warrior.  In this new frontier, flexibility and adaptation are vital traveling companions.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor E. Frankl

Frankl’s brilliant observation was borne from extreme adversity.  It is wise to give it our attention.

We have a choice.  We can cultivate our personal resilience in the times when we can do nothing else.  Interestingly, we can realize the power of the human spirit best through adversity.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor E. Frankl

Active engagement.  What does it mean to you?  When circumstances require our active agreement regarding physical distancing and staying home as much as possible, to acknowledge the very real threat to our lives and the lives of those we care about…what can we do?

We can step through doors that open us up to a new frontier.  We can act in a manner that defines us as elegant beings.

  1. Active Relaxation

Active relaxation is truly wonderful!  It includes practices such as Qigong and Yoga.  These can be practiced in your living room, bedroom or anywhere that you have a few feet of space.  There are superb videos available for FREE on Youtube.  Here are two to get you started.  I love these videos and am so grateful for the skill of the instructors and the internet for making them available:

Qigong:

 

 

Yoga – I love Adriene!

Awaken the Artist Within

These are a perfect place to begin!  There are 9 more steps to living in the gap in this manner.  Over the next days, I will share more information and insight into each one.

2. Active Consumption

3. Active Thought

4. Activity!

5. Active Rest

6. Active Mothering

7. Active Fathering

8. Active Creativity

9. Active Connection

10. Active Community

Take care, friends, and stay healthy!

p

It’s A Beautiful Day

You are here now.

Enjoy what you have. Prepare for the future.  How often have we heard someone say that? Sometimes this seems like it can’t be done, right?

Or we worry that it can’t be done right. It’s all so damn confusing.

The interesting thing about the future is that it is formed from today. I have found that playing with this idea has given me insight.

When this picture was taken I was sitting on a rock looking out at this magnificent view. I had just hiked for 1.5 hrs to get here.

At this point, my destination wasn’t even in view. Baxter Peak was somewhere up there to the right. For the moment it was blocked by a stand of trees.

The trek had just begun. I still had hours of climbing ahead of me.

I had done my homework. My hiking boots sat on the ground beside me as I cooled my feet. I could feel the sweat on my back…I was warmed up and ready for the next leg of the hike. This path was almost straight up, climbing over the huge boulders that comprise the Cathedral trail on Mt. Katahdin, the northernmost mountain on the Appalachian Trail in Maine, USA.

I knew the path – I had climbed the Cathedral before. I had trained for this.

I had a map. My way was clear. The mountain beckoned!

I found myself feeling very grateful for the man sitting beside me. My husband, Mark. Without him, I would not be here. He is my rock on this climb.

Mark is my adventure buddy, my hiking, cycling, kayaking, and resistance training partner, and my 2nd husband.

Before we met in 2005, I did most of my adventuring alone. On that particular today, I once again choose him and he chooses me.

I am pleased because it is always today. It is my choice to have Mark in my life for every today.

I remember this moment this picture captures very well – the way the wind whispered through the trees…the fresh evergreen air…the exceptional brilliant blue-green of Chimney Pond…the small chipmunk that sat on a rock behind me begging for peanuts…and the camaraderie of the other hikers who were about to take this epic journey along with Mark and I.

These people would be in my life for a short time, not a long time. I may not remember each of their faces and I did not catch many of their names, but I value every step with every one of them.

People come into your life for a season and a reason. The season may be long or it may be short. Some seasons must end sooner than later and you must move on.

The reason may be clear or it may be obscure. Either way, you must search your heart and decide what reason you give it.

Whether it is a reason to travel with the one who chooses to be with you today for as long as feels natural to you both or to use your discomfort as an excuse to prolong or pre-empt the experience…this is your choice, as well.

You are wise to be considering your choices before acting.

If someone is truly holding you back…if they are discouraging you from living your best life…it may be time to move on.  I never would have found Mark, my adventure buddy on the road of life if I had chosen to remain stuck in my discomfort, resigned to adventuring alone.

However, keep in mind that the present is where you get to enjoy today. Consider the gift these people may be giving you by inviting you to enjoy not just the destination, but the journey as well.

Your mountain awaits…and today is a beautiful day.

A Love Story

I often think about the people and critters in my life that have died, but not from the perspective of what I’ve lost. I keep their memory in my heart so I can appreciate what I’ve gained by having them in my life.

Life and death are eternally linked. You cannot have one without the other. It doesn’t matter if you are 15, 25, 65, or 95…we all experience death in some way.

The evidence is all around us. Each day dies to be born anew with the dawn. Some people are in our lives for what we feel is not long enough…it could never be long enough. Items get used up, some get broken. Things get lost or even taken away. Money gets spent. Critters we dearly love grow old and leave us.

For many people, it is too scary to look death in the eye and so we choose to put our fingers in our ears and sing a happy tune instead. This is especially true when we are young…even talking about the idea of talking about loss scares the crap out of us. We dare not speak it out loud, in case we attract it to us. Even folks who are not superstitious struggle with this topic.

One time I was at a rock concert and witnessed an angry young man walking my way. He had his fists clenched, his face was red, and his eyes were glazed, so he was probably stoned. It freaked me out so I turned away, as it looked like he was going to hit someone standing very close to me.

Then I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I flinched but didn’t turn around. They tapped harder, more insistently…

What do you think I did to you? I don’t even know you, I thought…I was coming up with all of my responses – he was a lot bigger than me and he was clearly on drugs.

I was up by the stage, standing in the middle of a frenzy of young people jumping and dancing and cheering. With the music blasting, he probably couldn’t hear me no matter what I said…

Then this person laid their hand on my shoulder. That really freaked me out, so I spun around.

It wasn’t him. The stoned guy was long gone.

You dropped this, the person said, and handed me my sweater.

I think of this story when I think of how I dealt with loss when I was younger. I was totally afraid to even think about it, let alone discuss it, but it kept tapping me on the shoulder, over and over, its hot breath in my ear, reminding me of my mortality. Reminding me of the mortality of everyone and everything I loved.

The day I turned to face the dragon, I discovered my older and wiser self in front of me. She accepted that we are not getting out of here alive, and she was okay with it. She reminded me that I came to life just fine, and I will leave just fine. That the natural order of all things is to be stripped of all things. She said to focus on the in-between, where you get to live, don’t waste time mourning that which you cannot change. She taught me how to celebrate life, instead of mourning death.

I have learned it can be viewed in two ways – as loss or gain. How you think about it is a matter of mindset. The longer you live, the more you naturally accumulate…you choose the meaning you put on this accumulation.

Considering this, I set about training my mind to transmute loss into gain.

Loss is a natural part of living and a wise person accepts this as early as possible. If it is a natural part of living then it happens to everyone, not just me.

Everyone’s mother dies. Everyone’s dad and gram and sister and brother will die. Everyone’s good ole dog dies.

The mindset of abundance allows me to consider what their elegant spirit graced my life to share with me. I thought about it so I could get my mind around their value to me, and how their presence in my life helped me grow. After all, I am still here. I still have things to do, people to see, places to go.

It was a mind-shift to choose celebration instead of mourning. With each loss, it naturally takes a unique period of grieving and adjustment. Embrace it. We are human beings – we love and feel the loss of love. This period must happen if the individual truly wishes to heal.

However, at some point, the resilience of the human spirit will allow us to begin the recovery process. We are not dead.

I have found that choosing to focus on celebrating the life of those who have died, instead of choosing to focus on the circumstances that led up to their death and my loss, was transformative. It opened me up in ways I could never have imagined before this process began.

Loss happens, but those of us who are still here can make the best of it.

Human beings are natural storytellers. Tell the story of how your life is better for having had those people in your life.

That is a story full of loving thoughts, worth telling again and a-gain.

The Gifts of A Writer

We read to confirm.  We read to learn.  We read to gain entry into sacred space. Sometimes we are truly blessed by the writer who blends these into a breathtaking kaleidoscope of support, discovery, and inspiration.

When we find ourselves searching for confirmation of something we believe in our hearts is true, we find our truth in the writing of others.

When we are searching for meaning and a reason to get up in the morning, others teach us, through their words, how to survive and thrive.

Their words offer us Something Colored Beautiful in a day cloaked in wrathful shades of gray.  We feel their hope, their confidence, and their competence so deeply that we make it ours.

Writing is a solo act.  Sometimes, when we feel most alone, the words of a fellow writer offers us encouragement, support, and company.

Writers know.  As artists, writers, dreamers, and creatives…we know that the spirit of reciprocity is life itself.  We share the best and most brilliant part of ourselves because when others feel it, we keep feeling it too.  

These are the gifts of a writer.

What is a story without a Shakespeare?
A novel without an Atwood?
A song without a Lennon?
A philosophy without a Socrates, or Watts, or Krishnamurti or Buddha?

So many times we are so blinded by our faults that we cannot see our own beauty.

When I read your words we share sacred space.  A glimpse of your beauty reveals my own.

Thank you.

Your Secret Garden – Chats With My Constant Traveller

When your real, effortless, joyful grateful nature
is realized, it will not be inconsistent with
the ordinary activities of life.
RAMANA MAHARSHI
The above quote correlates with what I define as 1st Nature. It is who you are before you think about it and decide against it. It is your personal genius.  It is the curious, playful, creative natural individual joy that you came to life to express.
Your 1st Nature has a secret…there is nothing to become. You have always had it.
Your 1st Nature is your Secret Garden…
Your 1st Nature was trained out of you. You may have left it behind so long ago that you now believe it was just a haunt from your past…not really you. It was yours, and it still is.
It may be covered with brambles and thorns and overgrown from years of neglect, but your lovely is still there…hidden in the Something Coloured Beautiful events of ordinary life.
Perhaps it is time to reclaim your Secret Garden?