Walk This Way?

Practice gratitude to feel gratitude. There is no other way.

You cannot give it service with your lips and expect to feel it in your heart.

Let’s ask a few interesting What if questions:

What if what you are talking about is what the Universe is giving you in return? Empty words devoid of feeling?

It is easy to read the wisdom books and memorize the correct terms. I have learned from experience that it is much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. Many times, when we say we know something it means that we understand it intellectually, but knowing something intellectually and actually living that way are two different things.

What if you substituted the word know as in I know what gratitude is, with the word live as in I live that way in everyday life…would the statement still be true for you?

This is what I mean – most people say they know what gratitude is, but do they really?

Intellectually I may know that gratitude means living with a grateful heart, but do I live my life with a grateful heart?

What if I am I pretending to be something I’m not?

People who live with a heart filled with gratitude practice gratitude every day, in every way they can. They know its true value.

They practice it so they can feel it. They share it so they can continue feeling it.

What if, in the words of Aerosmith, we were to Walk this way?

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.

What’s The Point?

Becoming a better version of myself than I was yesterday is a daily practice for me.

That doesn’t mean I’m not worthy now, but the more I know the more I realize there is to know.

It is like I am viewing a picture in a frame, in which I am viewing myself in a picture in a frame, in which I am viewing myself a picture in a frame…and so on…going deeper and deeper into the meaning of self until, at some point, it dissolves into nothing and becomes everything.

Simply, it means is there is always more to discover about yourself if you are willing to look. We can learn something that makes us more compassionate, more honorable, more open to others…a better version of ourselves…every day.

For me, that is the point of the journey as well as its destination.

An elegant mind is grateful that it knows more than it did yesterday and joyful because it knows less than it will tomorrow…

What does your elegant self look like?

Mini-Vac Labyrinth – Chats with My Constant Traveller

Every day, without fail, I have deep and interesting chats with my Constant Traveller.

She is the one companion who never leaves me.  In good times we celebrate.  In blah times we conspire.  In crappy times we innovate.

My Constant Traveller celebrates every day we wake up on this side of the grass! She loves to mount an expedition and discover something colored beautiful in the days when I am feeling blah.  The crappy stuff is where we hunker down and dig in – because she knows that it is where I am uncomfortable that I experience the most growth.

And…her eyes light up and she laughs like a child every time she tells a good poop joke.   She advises me to be wary of those who don’t laugh at a good poop joke.

“You never know,” she says, “Constipation of the mind may be contagious…”

My Constant Traveller holds a PhD in Creativity, specializing in No Nonsense Philosophy and  Communication, from the prestigious School of What Is.  We have had many epic adventures together.

I live with three cats, Clawdia, Joey, and Jerry, who I know for a fact are furry-gurus.  Besides offering me consistent practice in litter-box detailing, 100 chances each day to practice my Greetings and Farewells by letting them in and out of the house, and instructing me in the elegant arts of paper chewing and desk-document rearrangement, their hairy contributions to our living spaces present me with a daily opportunity to perfect my vacuuming skills.

I have become a Master of the Mini-Vac on a Stick.  My trusty vac and I have gathered enough kitty-hair tumbleweeds to begin a thriving throw pillow business…if stuffing pillows with kitty-hair ever becomes a thing.  My Constant Traveller, ever the exemplary, instructs me to, “Use it, lose it, or it will use you.”

She offered me a something colored beautiful moment this morning as I was sucking up tumbleweeds.  We decided to call it the Mini-Vac Labyrinth Exercise.

My great room floor looks like planks.  The lines run in a satisfyingly straight motif from one side the room to the other, something that delights my husband and me to no end, because it means that the gents who laid the floor were dedicated to excellence.  We celebrate that.

I generally rise between 6:00 and 6:30 am.  Mornings are my most productive time for contemplation, reading, and writing.  By the time I am ready to begin the active part of my day the sun is generally high enough in the sky to reveal yesterdays’ kitty-hair tumbleweed accumulation.  Many times, watching them drift by is what gets me off my chair, warming up the ole Mini-Vac hand…

Use it, lose it…this thought kept swirling around in my head as I began to vacuum.  Use what?  Lose what?

Use this time, P (she calls me P), or it will be gone.  Do I have to spell it out for you?

Did I mention that my Constant Traveller is no-nonsense?

Yeah, we’ve had that conversation.  Every day I wake up on this side of the grass is a beautiful day.  Each moment is precious, don’t waste any of them.  There is something extraordinary, something colored beautiful, to be discovered in the ordinary moments…

So how could I use this moment, I ask?  Labyrinth…she whispered.  She grins the widest when she being cryptic…

Ah…

Turn off the television.  Turn off the radio.  Be silent.  Be deliberate in your movements.  Let your awareness slide along the pattern of the floor.  Feel how the vacuum glides…  Offer gratitude for the ease with which you can clean your home.  Consider this time like you would if you were walking a labyrinth…use this precious breath-time to increase your awareness of where you are, what you are doing, how you feel… 

Allow it to become an exercise in gentle acceptance…

This labyrinth is a sacred space.  You create it.  You use it or you lose it.  If you don’t use it, it will use you.  Will you let this opportunity blast by you with the speed of light, adding nothing to your day?  Or will you give yourself gently and fully to this moment, enriching it through your care and attention? 

Everything is sacred space, or nothing is sacred space.  You decide.  This is your life…

According to Wikipedia:

“One can think of labyrinths as symbolic of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment…These are often used for contemplation; walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth

Use every instant of your precious time wisely.  Don’t lose yourself in the endless streams of distraction that can take your focus and strip your day of its enjoyment.  Use your creativity in ways that you may have never dreamed possible, until this moment.

Until next time…in the words of my Constant Traveller – Stay cool, eat yer roughage, and rock your wise.

Who Writes Your Permission Slips?

Things your story doesn’t stop you from:

  1. Exercising
  2. Learning to meditate
  3. Focusing on wellbeing
  4. Drinking enough water
  5. Creating a morning and evening routine
  6. Asking for help when you need it
  7. Figuring out your primary motivators
  8. Becoming extraordinary
  9. Dedicating yourself to excellence
  10. Reading
  11. Learning
  12. Being kind
  13. Being compassionate
  14. Working towards a better future
  15. Imagining possibilities
  16. Listening to others
  17. Getting a good job

 

You are free to do these things.

 

However, your story also does not stop you from:

  1. Complaining
  2. Giving up
  3. Eating junk food
  4. Worry
  5. Self-abusing yourself with negativity
  6. Attacking at others, verbally or physically
  7. Being lazy
  8. Making excuses
  9. Being arrogant
  10. Being selfish
  11. Being hateful
  12. Judging others
  13. Procrastination
  14. Indulging but hating your inner critic
  15. Staying stuck
  16. Hating your job
  17. Continuing to be depressed or anxious without asking for help
  18. Refusing help when it is offered

 

You are free to do these things.

 

You don’t need permission from anyone or anything to do these things.  Could it be true that YOU are the one writing your permission slips?

 

Your Own Dam* Tiara!

Imagine a woman going it alone…living life without support.

She lives each day without having someone who is brave enough to offer her the simple, uncomplicated truth.

Imagine life without a warrior guide – that person who is willing to go deep and ask the uncomfortable questions.  The person who encourages that woman to grow strong, determined, and fierce.

I have made a promise to myself to be the best me I can be every day that I wake up on this side of the grass.  I have committed my allegiance to my private warrior guide.  I have pledged to be fierce, relentless and committed to excellence.

On this 5th day of the Ageless Warrior series, I ask you this question:

How satisfied are you in the following magnificent 7 areas of your life?

1. Physical

Fitness & Nutrition
Health & Wellness
Self-Care Planning

2. Personal Development

Creativity & Artistry
Learning
Life Goals

3. Career

Professional Development
Work Ethics & Standards
Career Planning

4. Financial

Money Management
Financial planning

5. Spiritual

Inspiration
Meaning & Purpose

6. Family Relationships

Spouse/Partner
Close & Extended Family
Non-genetic Family

7. Social Relationships

Friendships
Service Groups
Community/Volunteer Service

The Ageless Warrior series of posts is focused primarily on category 1 – Physical Wellbeing.  However, we live our lives as a whole person – so much more than the sum of all the parts.  Without all of these aspects of life flowing with a feeling of abundance, there is no way that we can live our best, most fearless life.

My own Tiara…

This tiara cost me about 2 bucks, but what it represents is priceless to me.  It sits on the top of my computer screens in the space where I write.  It symbolizes my belief in myself and my pledge to be fierce, fearless, relentless, and resourceful.  It is an integral part of my personal Self-Care Plan.  It is my choice to care for my wellbeing in every way possible.

Energy = Expectations

The energy with which we show up in the world is based on our belief about who we are.  What we believe about ourselves, we expect to encounter.

Are you fierce?

What does your voice sound like?  Is it hesitant, or confident?

What is your body language conveying? Do you walk with the sure-footedness of an athlete?

What kind of spirit leads when you enter a room?

Woman, are you fierce?

Perhaps it’s time to find your fierce?  To rock your wise?

I believe that every woman should have her own Tiara!  Think of it as a symbol of your decision to honor the warrior within.

If you have never won one, or been given one…most especially then…

Stop waiting for someone to give you one.

Don’t apologize for wanting one.

Don’t back down until you get one.

Don’t surrender what should never be surrendered!  In this case, I mean your health!

Walk!  Run!  Swim!  Hike!  Bike!  Dance!   Participate.

Earn a medal or two, or three!  Be the primary player in your own life!

Give yourself permission – Buy your own damn tiara!