Point of Impact

What is the point of it all?

Everyone must find the answer to this question for themselves. The only way to answer it is through living and exploring your precious life.

Approach it with the mindset of a contributor. Consider your potential…what you give may be the catalyst for something wonderful happening in someone’s life. You never know what this means to you until you act.

A perspective that you share may open someone’s eyes, a smile may brighten their day, a kind word may cause them to step back from the brink of oblivion.

You may be the reason that another person learns to be kind because you allow them to be kind to you…

Everyone says, Think big! What impact can I make on a global scale? I want to change the world!

The choice to walk creates the path ahead…

I believe it is important to focus on the point of engagement that is right in front of me…and find the Something Colored Beautiful moments in my ordinary day, those mundane points of impact that I have come to understand as blessings in disguise.

Until we are willing to do that, to be quiet and listen and observe and serve, our ego runs the show. It is our ego that screams, Be important or die!

In this way, it is speaking its truth, because everything is a deathmatch to the ego. Problem is, in its world, everyone dies.

This is what I have found to be true in my life – If I release my need to be important to everyone, I can focus on being important to someone.

I believe it is important to not spread yourself too thin…build your impact one by one person at a time…the people you see before you are your point of impact.

The ego hates to hear that. It hates to be last, or even second best. It must win. If you let it win, this drive will cost you your life, because for our ego even first is never enough.

Engage each person from your power-point, your point of impact. Make every interaction a quality engagement. Whatever flows from that point…if you influence one or grow your impact to reach thousands or millions, you will have built it on a truly solid foundation.

Then, friend, you will have the satisfaction of answering your own question.

Afterthoughts

Can we ever truly heal from the death of a loved one?

I was listening to a radio show on CBC where the author being interviewed was discussing healing. He said he thought that you never really heal from the death of someone you love.

It struck me as a pessimistic perspective. I think healing depends on what healing means to you.

Oxford Dictionaries defines healing as “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.” This does not mean a reset back to the way life was before the event occurred.

After we experience the death of someone we love, we are not the same person we were before they died. To use the analogy of a wound being inflicted, we experience a deep rend in the fabric of our lives, one that feels like our heart actually has a gaping, bloody gash. It feels soul deep.

This gash did not exist before, so how could we possibly be the same after its infliction?

The way of all things is to be stripped of all things…

When you open yourself to love in this world, you are opening the door to its loss. Argue as we often do, we are neither exempted nor excused from any aspect of living or dying. We all live, and we all die.

Given time, wounds heal. Bones knit, and scar tissue forms. It may be bumpy and not as pristine as before, but we know that once it has healed, the actual site of a wound can be even stronger than it was before the injury. Nature has mechanisms for healing that operate unhindered if we accept this as fact.

The problem is, death is not a fact we are prepared to accept.

There is an appropriate and necessary period for a human being to mourn. This is unique to the character of each individual and cannot (and should not) be circumvented.

Grieving and feeling have a purpose. We need to deeply feel our farewells. The problem with healing from loss lies in our resistance to it.

When someone dies, you are abruptly smashed in the face by their physical absence. This shock happens not only after an unexpected death but even after a prolonged illness or the end of a long and productive life. You discover just how accustomed you were to your umbilical-like energetic connection when you, who are left, can no longer feel it.

Now you are faced with an entirely unfamiliar sensation — an unsecured and unbalanced feeling that will undoubtedly be one of the most terrifying experiences of your lifetime, an experience that may be further intensified for reasons that perhaps you are not aware. It brings you face to face with the naked brutality of your aloneness.

An adjustment period is natural, but we often resist this transition of learning to live our lives without our loved one in it. We hang on to their personal items, their favorite things. We search clothing for their scent; we lie on their side of the bed. We trace their scars in our mind and picture the way they wore their hair… Their little gestures and vocal inflections become overwhelmingly endearing. We visit their grave and talk to their headstone. We cherish these snapshots of them in order to keep them with us, as solid and earthly as possible. You only have to consider the despair you feel when you realize you can no longer recall the sound of that person’s voice to understand this deep resistance.

Through our desperate clawing at who they were in life, we keep the wound open. Deep down we know the purpose of our clinging — we are grasping for some measure of control over a situation that was entirely out of our control. We focus on worrying the wound, on keeping it as open and bloody as it was the first day it happened. We believe that if we keep it bleeding, the person is not that far away.

However, this wound is not fresh. It happened in the past. It could have been a year ago or 10 years ago.

During that time, your situation has evolved, but for some confusing reason, you may find that the fond memories do not satisfy you. Your mind keeps rolling back to the moment when they died. The situation is multi-layered; you may believe you wish to heal but perhaps do not recognize the contradiction of your words and your thoughts as you continue to replay and relive the moment of their death in your mind.

Your efforts to heal as well as to keep the wound open and bloody have been partially successful. A scab and some scar tissue have formed in some areas (you may be able to function on a superficial level), but your continued efforts to keep this wound open has opened the door to disease. The wound has festered, and when you are alone, you know the full brunt of its infection.

There comes a time in the healing process when you become tired of feeling sad. This is normal. It is not a betrayal of your loved one’s memory. It is the mind’s natural mechanism that allows you to move on and live — to create healthy scar tissue. After all, you are still alive.

When you are faced with this feeling, you have to realize that what you are doing is not working.

There is a distinct difference between mourning a death and celebrating a life. We must come to the point where we understand that we are not honoring either life (theirs or ours) by this suffering.

Do you continue to mourn the person’s death, or do you instead celebrate his/her life? Does their memory bring tears through loss or tears through smiles?

You have to consider that perhaps you have deliberately kept the fond memories at bay (and therefore denied your loved one’s life force or energy from once again blending with yours) because you cannot let go of who they were in life.

Where is the joy that their presence brought to your life if every time your mind accesses the memory of that person you become sad? What is more important to feel and share as their legacy?

Each time you are reminded of this person, the energy you generate through these thoughts serves to feed or to starve your own life force as well as that of all whom you encounter.

Healing is hard work. This presence of mind does not happen easily. It involves actively letting go, and, as I stated before, this takes time. Be kind to yourself, and let the days go by as they will. Feel and deal with your grief and loneliness in order to heal.

Remember, healing does not mean you will be the same person you were before their loss. Healing can mean you are a better person now because you knew and loved them.

It is the experience that, once you know, you will never forget, nor should you forget any aspect of their love and the gift of that person’s influence in your life. You simply train your mind to recognize the nurturing memories and gently substitute them for the sad ones whenever the sad ones come along.

I have found it beneficial to write down some of the happy stories about my loved ones and share them with others. It works just as well to keep them private and to read them in the times when you cannot seem to let go of your sadness.

Healing: the process of making or becoming sound or healthy A-GAIN. Wouldn’t that make your loved one smile, thinking about what they have given you?

Healing from death is honoring the life of the person you love through the way you choose to LIVE yours.

Excerpt from, Saving Your Own Life:  Learning to Live Like You Are Dying by Paula D. Tozer

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.

Finding The Lost One: Questing With Byron Katie, Dr. Edie, and Your Constant Traveler

It’s interesting – the one constant in life is change.

What you see before you is only one possibility for your life. There are as many as you can imagine…the key that opens the door to new possibilities is curiosity.

Understand that you don’t know what you don’t know and when you do…everything will change. Why? Because you are working with change, the nature of the Universe.

Back in the 19th century, Thoreau wrote that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Interesting how the more things change the more they stay the same. I think that many people are living a life in crisis now, suffering in silence. You are not alone, there are many folks who have become lost on their Quest for something meaningful in life.

In fact, you are part of a growing tribe, many who have taken a different path than their ancestors, and now find themselves adrift in unknown waters without an anchor.

It may be difficult to overcome your feelings of lethargy, but you may benefit, in ways you cannot imagine at this time, from a true reboot of mind, body, and refreshment of spirit.

I know what it feels like to scramble to find your footing. I also know what it feels like to try to live a life defined by what I have rejected.

It can be done, but not with any measure of happiness and contentment.

So what works? Here are some things that worked very well for me:

Begin a dialogue and get to know your Constant Traveler (the most honorable and compassionate version of you that you can imagine at this time).

This is achieved in two steps:

Clear the confusion:

Author Byron Katie teaches that all war belongs on paper. I agree wholeheartedly. When you find yourself confused, conflicted and lost write about it. I highly recommend The Work by Byron Katie. It is offered for free on her website.

Home

Explore possibilities:

I developed a practice I call contemplative writing. I use a notebook to explore thoughts I find not only challenging but also intriguing and inspirational. In a space of sanctuary and compassion for myself and my journey, I open my mind and let my thoughts flow. I found my Constant Traveler there. She is much wiser than me.

Your Constant Traveler waits for you there as well.

Begin a group mindfulness practice – something that puts you in touch with your breath and physical body. This could be meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or any other grounding, stress-relieving practice. The reason I suggest a group practice is because, many times, lost equals isolated.

Begin establishing your anchor – fill your mind with inspiring, uplifting books that cause you to stretch and grow. Read books on subjects you normally wouldn’t, dive into philosophy or autobiographies, or a spiritual practice other than what is familiar to you. Life is relationship. Allow the lives and works of others to inspire you to action.

I highly recommend The Choice: Embrace The Possible, by Auschwitz survivor and triumphant thriver, psychologist Dr. Edith Eva Eger.

Home

Move your butt – set a goal and begin a fitness practice. This may be as simple as walking in nature. Much of our mental fog and internal angst is the direct result of our resistance to moving. We are energetic beings…no matter what our age, we need to discharge pent up energy.

There are many more ways to find yourself when you feel lost, but try these on for size.

You may find you like them. 🙂

The Life of P

Ever bought a set of sheets – unpacked them, washed them, and taken them fresh from the clothesline and tried to fold them back into the package in the exact same way they were when you bought them?

This morning I was presented with an interesting challenge…How do I fold myself back into the box?

Have you ever thought about what you would tell your younger self about life if you got the chance?  Or to go back in time and meet the younger you and try to steer her (or him) away from life’s crazies and collisions?

There would be a very long line of folks with a very long list of what not to do, methinks!

Well, I am not going to consider it from a Back to The Future prospective, because that would mean knowing what I know now as a young me and that’s been done and done and done again.

This required some mental gymnastics…projecting back in time to me then, wiping the slate in my imagination, and then projecting ahead to me now…attempting to fold myself outside in and imagine myself inside out.

I think of it like seeing a documentary entitled The Life of P.

Here are the parameters:

  • I am 16.
  • I am in a movie theatre watching a documentary that chronicles the life of the woman who I know as P. It is set up to unfold in chronological order.

This is the girl I envision.  She is getting ready to graduate high school within a few months.  Man, did she hate school!  She just managed to squeak by academically.  She can hardly wait to get away and get her life underway.

Don’t let her baby face fool you.  She is one intense little chiquita…

What would she think of me, as she watched the documentary with P as the star?  Who does she see when she sees me?

I asked and my 16 yr old self answered…

I know she is me but she doesn’t feel like me. We look alike but my skin isn’t like hers. I am struggling with the idea that this older, more weathered version will be me. P is being interviewed as the documentary begins and says she has just turned 59. She seems pleased to tell everyone.

At least I made it to 59. Yay.

The words coming out of my mouth sound like my voice, though. P is upbeat and energetic! She smiles a lot. She seems genuinely nice. Nicer than I feel most of the time. And when she talks about me her eyes look really soft and gentle.

And I think, How did you get to be that kind?

I watch as P struggles with making sense of her life, of our life, as a young adult.

It makes me bawl my eyes out. I wish I didn’t have to wait so long and fight so hard to feel accepted and loved, but I am relieved to know that it finally happens.

I think, Why, why, why, did all that crap have to happen me??? but as the movie continues I see how I brought some of that stuff on myself.  And I like how P uses those experiences.  She calls them tattoo moments – moments that are tattooed on your brain.  They show you where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.

We live, crap happens. We choose. We make mistakes.  If we learn, we win.  Every time.

I don’t know what to do with that crap.  Thank you, P, for figuring it out.

I will have two babies! WOW! I cannot imagine actually having a baby. I can see her pain on my face during, but also our joy on my face afterward.  Mom P makes it almost seem doable. And they are the cutest kids ever!! I can’t wait to meet them!!!

And the changes that happen when I’m a mom…so much P does because she is a parent that isn’t pretty and is really freakin’ hard…

Thanks, P, for taking the time to grow up.

But really, though…that 80’s perm?  And could you lose those 90’s Mom jeans, please????

You know, at 16, I KNOW that I can do anything in the world! I WILL do it! As I watch The Life of P, I see the places where I will have the chance to zig instead of zag, and I see where I will kind of get lost in a zig-zag maze like the one I read about that had a Minotaur in it…you know, that half-man half-bull thing that would kill ya if it cornered ya…

But you found our superpowers in there. We can haul ass like The 6 Million Dollar Woman!  Thanks, P, for following the White Rabbit like Alice did in Wonderland, and for not turning me into a scared rabbit.

YES!!! P still knows how to have fun! I am happy that we still get to play sports. I really hate the sports we do in high school, but I will earn a black belt in Taekwondo when I’m 42, and hike Mt. Katahdin many times and Mt. Washington and run in races and cycle in France and hike to Machu Picchu after I turn 50!

This makes me really excited, P!  And now I know why I waited so long to begin. It’s all good.

I cringe, though, because what happens when a person lives long enough happens in the later parts of our documentary.

Mom and dad die. My sweet Grammie and Poppie die. A LOT of folks I know die. Every one of my good ole dogs and cats die.  One will actually die in my arms.

OMG, I’m only 16…I don’t want to see any of this!!!  But I know you didn’t want to either, and you still did it with as much elegance as you had in you. I am proud of those parts of our story, P.

Thank you for caring enough about me and my dreams to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and begin all over again. I know now that even when I feel like nobody really cares about me, that you do.

Thank you for not only surviving but for learning to thrive.  Thank you for not forgetting about me during those hard times.  You didn’t leave me alone for thaaat long…but I did miss you when you were gone.

I appreciate how you worked so hard to get back to the girl who would become the woman inside me, and how you learned to love me better than anyone else in the whole wide world! 

You know, I have been thinking about something…I like where I am just fine, P, with my life stretched out before me like a softly winding Carrera marble staircase that is waiting to be brushed by the hem of my long, sweeping silk dress...a red gown, of course…

But I don’t want to be you yet.  It is enough to know that when the time comes I will be happy to step into your shoes.

And I am relieved!  Even though I find her super funny, I didn’t wanna end up being Granny Clampett.

And I’m just as happy to know you don’t want to be me again, either.

I see it now!  It’s all connected at the nexus of now.  The paradox of the future me envisioning the past me envisioning the future me will change everyone I have been and ever will be.  What if what I see now, at 16, changes the timeline in all directions, from this moment on?

I have all the time in the world to chew on that idea.

What is my favorite part of the documentary? That’s easy! The part where I finally say, I am an artist!

Where P tells the whole world that the artist within never, ever, dies…that we always carry it in our hearts, like a lighthouse beacon on a cold, stormy North Atlantic night.  To see it revealed in the stories we spin and the songs we write together ignites a fire that transcends time and space!

Annndddd, I LOVED the part where I connect with the 59 yr old P that I know I will be…when time stands still so I can step through the mirror and P is waiting for me on a mountaintop where we feel the wind and the sun and join together in that friggin’ cool little Happy Dance!

Wait for it!!! I can hardly….

It’s the scene where, in the end, she hugs me. For the rest of our life.

Warrior Women II

“I love mess!”

These are the words of Marie Kondo, Japanese consultant and author of the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Let’s set the stage…once upon a time, there was a couple who had a very messy house.  Their house was not dirty, or unhealthy in any way.  But it was very, very messy.

They had a lot of stuff – stuff piled up in the corners of their bedroom and spare rooms.  Closets with clothing that had never seen the light of day since the Summer of ’42.  Decorations and collections of stuff spilling out of rooms and flowing like Mississippi silt into hallways and stairwells.  Kitchens choked with gadgets and “whatchmacallits” to a degree that would daunt the most intrepid of warriors.

This harried couple hears a delicate knock on their front door.  A slim young woman of elegant design enters.  She leads with a huge smile and extends her petite hand in greeting.  She is followed by another very polite, smiling young woman who we come to understand is her translator.

There is something ethereal and graceful about this woman…something quiet and accepting and inspiring about her.

She is Marie Kondo.  She is not here to judge.  She is here to help.

Years ago I watched a few episodes of Hoarders but had to turn the channel because it made me claustrophobic.  I tried to be cool, but that was way too much stuff for me.

The people Marie Kondo helps are not in the Hoarders category.  They are functional folks who, perhaps, let life get away from them in some manner.  Perhaps they have children and find that establishing a routine while raising a growing family is harder than they thought it would be.  Perhaps they are retired empty nesters who hold onto stuff from their younger days out of sentimentalism.  Perhaps they attempt to distract themselves from time’s relentless advance by shopping till they drop.

Marie Kondo is not a counselor, but she does address the emotional issues surrounding the meaning of the mess with the spirit of a warrior, using three little words.

I love mess.

There is a world of difference between cleaning up a mess because you say you hate it and cleaning up a mess because you say you love it.  Both methods get the job done, but which one gets the job done with love?

By her example, Marie Kondo teaches that everything in your home, your possessions – the clothing you wear on your body to the items with which you decorate your life, to the things you choose to throw away or donate to charity or to keep…hold sacred space in your life.

Does a cluttered home mean a cluttered mind?

Where we see a mess, she sees the elegant spirit of the people she serves.  As a Master of Flow, she understands what needs to be done to change the spirit of the room to align with the true spirit of its inhabitants.

By her elegant example, she teaches an aspect of doing Everything Gently…where you gently and consciously create beauty and serenity in the space where you live, love, and share your most precious time with others.  This is the process that transforms a house into a home.

In her quiet way, she invites us to consider our world through the eyes of gentility.

I found myself close to tears as I watched this young lady kneel and honor her client’s space before she began.

You see, I believe I understand the meaning behind her humble and yet masterful gesture.   She was honoring the lives of its inhabitants…and thereby demonstrating the great power in service.  

The elegant arts – appreciation, patience, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, humility, silence, and trust are some of the most subtle and difficult to master.  Marie Kondo represents these aspects of warriorhood at their finest.

I invite you to watch her Netflix series or perhaps read her book.  Whether those who have participated in her series continue to uphold the example she teaches to them is not the point.

A master will offer.  It is up to the student to accept.

It is all sacred space or nothing is sacred space.  You decide.

Humour

I like what Tibetan Buddhist author Pema Chodron has to say.    I have read her biography and I can relate to her life story.  She seems like one cool lady.

In her book, Start Where You Are:  A Guide To Compassionate Living, she writes about how each and every circumstance of one’s life is an opportunity to practice living with an open, loving and compassionate heart.

I view my contemplative nature as the very best part of me.  I enjoy thinking about a thought, an idea . . . a concept.  I “chew on it,” as I say, and then, once I have tasted its flavour I either spit it out or swallow it and make it part of my daily life.

While reading this morning one particular passage caught my attention:

“There’s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of “bad.” There’s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of “wrong.” It’s all good juicy stuff—the manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.”

The juicy manure of waking up . . . that summoned a particularly vivid vision to my mind!

I have always loved horses and as a young woman I had five Quarter horses.  Needless to say, there was a lot of manure to shovel.

One time I had been sick with the flu and, consequently, the manure had built up a bit.  I found myself overwhelmed with a lot of shovelling.  I had barely recovered but the horses needed to be cleaned out.  I guess I went at it with too much vigour because right in the middle of one stall I almost passed out.  I would have pitched headlong into the manure if I had not caught myself in time.  That was a close call and one I will remember for many reasons.

I smile wryly as I relate this story now but it would not have been very amusing at the time.  It serves to illustrate my contemplation for the day . . . Crap happens and only I can shovel it.

I think of a barn filled with my own pains and hurts and terrors and anxieties – all the crap with which I torture myself.

You know what I mean – we all have our own special version.  It holds a particular consistency and aroma that is personal and unique.  We joke and say it is our “own brand.”

We get used to our own brand and, curiously enough, we don’t find it anywhere near as distasteful as we do someone else’s brand of crap.  Walk into a “hot zone” immediately after someone else has heated it up . . . yeah, you know what I mean.

Perhaps you are grimacing right now, thinking about crap.  Honestly, when we think about our personal mental crap as really juicy excrement it is not very appealing.

In this barn I have a shovel.  You see, this is my vision of my barn full of crap, and so I have also devised a shovel.  And a pair of brand new rubber boots.  Knee high.  With high heels . . . why not look snazzy while shovelling?

Pema Chodron writes about making friends with the present, with who I am right now. I hear her say that it is important to snuggle up to all of my silliness and ego-meanderings and indignation and desires – to hang out with my fear of pain and vulnerability . . . of bereavement and ageing and loss.

Each piece of crap is my gift . . . my “present.” In the present moment is exactly where I have the power to shovel.

I enjoy watching renovation shows where they turn old barns into beautiful homes.  The images you see here serve to beautifully illustrate my point – they are of an old converted barn located in Golčův Jeníkov, Czech Republic.

It is called the BOOOOX Barn, created by the architects of Czech Studio OOOOX.  Here is one image of the interior:

BOOOOX-Barn-ground-floor

Cool, eh?  It just goes to show you that even an old barn that was once full of crap can become something truly beautiful.  Inside and out.

In order to clean out a barn sometimes you have to wade in.  If you close the barn door and walk away, sure the crap will rot but the interior will never be habitable.  You have to do the work – that is what I get from Pema Chodron’s interesting passage.

Now, that will take a little chewing . . .