Falling Upwards

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Do be do be do … – Frank Sinatra November 25, 2017

I’ve been struggling a lot, lately, with living and doing. I’ve got the being part down pat. You know, the thing that spiritual leaders tell you is the main part of being a spiritual being (see? There’s a lot of “being” in those two sentences!). But, as I tell those who come to me for advice, we live in this 3D reality, which means that we have to do and act and live. And, as I repeatedly tell them — Action is creation made manifest.

The result of action is a product, in the form of a service or a thing. I often wonder – is it “creation” if there is nothing to show but an idea in your head? And, I keep coming back to the same answer. No. Creation necessitates completion, starting with the energy of an idea and culminating in the product, the something tangible (even if it’s just in the un-seeable form of service rendered).

I have struggled with this for years. On and off, I believed that my inability to act is due to laziness or lack of discipline. But, deep down I know that is just my Shadow talking. I mean, geez, all those years I woke up early to get my kid ready for school, make him lunch, and get him to places he needed to be were years of doing stuff that is not in my nature. Now that he’s grown, I’ve spent entire weekends in my pajamas just because I can and I want to. But, is that “living” just sitting for hours on end, in comfy clothes, with nary a thought of getting anything done?  I know for sure it’s existing. Sitting there deep in thought or meditation, it could be labeled being because that sounds so much more “spiritual.” Some might call it depression, but I really do enjoy doing nothing, and my happiness exists within me.

Lately, people keep telling me that we are “spiritual beings in a human body” as if I’ve never heard that before and they were the first to think of it. The proper quote was from Pierre Tielhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Ah … but see?! The people quoting Tielhard de Chardin to me have been misquoting him! Or, giving those folks the benefit of the doubt, I have been mis-hearing them!

In the actual quote, we are having an “experience.” What is that?
Because I’m a word nerd, I looked it up on Merriam-Webster online. It’s first definition is:
a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge
b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation

So, if I’m interpreting the definition correctly, I can easily have an experience just by watching, observing. It’s sort of a voyeuristic way to live; kind of like the way we live vicariously through others, e.g., actors in productions, sports figures playing their games, or even friend dramas when we gossip about their lives.

I have a tendency to take this a step farther, as I think many people do. I will often come up with an idea, work it out in my head with all the details to make the idea happen. Then, I will let it go. In my mind, literally, the product, service, event, or whatever has a beginning and an end. It never sees the light outside the darkness of my own mind. I’ve always thought I was okay with that.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

But, I’ve recently realized that the idea may come back to niggle at the back of my mind. It may be a feeling of incompleteness or, very rarely, what some may consider as regret. It’s the same thing as when you see something or hear of someone do something innovative and think, “hey! I thought of that!” And maybe think that you should have. For me, I’ve never considered any undone thing to be a regrettable inaction. I’m more inclined to think “hey! That’s cool that someone had the same idea I had and did it! That’s wild that we could have the same thought!”

Thinking back, I could probably trace this to when I was, like, 5 or 6 years old. My family was driving from Chicago to Virginia to visit my family. And, my dad was always the one driving. I thought how great it would be if my mother’s side also had a steering wheel so she could take over driving whenever Dad was tired. Many months later, I saw a TV ad for a driving school where their selling point was that the instructor had his own steering wheel to “take over” driving for safety’s sake (or something like that). I thought, “Hey! That was my idea!” But, I realized I was child and couldn’t do anything about it even if it was my good idea. (Yes, I was a very self-aware child.)

Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arrive.

I’m not a child anymore. And, in the mental back and forth of what it truly means to be alive, I consider whether mental exercises of creation are sufficient. In fact, are you actually creating if there is nothing to show for it? If there is no manifestation of the thought?

And, in all my philosophizing, I consider what it is to be human. What is our purpose in this human experience? Why am I not simply a spiritual being that is . . . spirit? Why was I born into this world?

In the Bible I was raised on, I learned that Man is made in the image of God. What does that mean? That God looks like us? Even before I left my church, I knew and believed that God/dess exists within all living beings. That all my eyes look upon are, in some way, images of God. That is my spiritual belief. But, I know there is truth in religious teachings. We just have to dig deep to understand and find that truth. What is the truth of that statement – man is made in the image of God? And, of course, I acknowledge that there are multiple understandings and multiple truths to any statement because, as with all things, it is a matter of perspective.

One of those truths is that God is a Creator. And, if we are made in His/Her image, we are creators, too. And . . . creation exists outside of a thought. If it didn’t, you and I wouldn’t exist. We would still just be God’s thought.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life,
You were only waiting for this moment to be fre
e

Yes, as all life coaches and esoteric and rah-rah folks will tell you, manifestation begins with deep imagination, dreaming in detail, of what you want to create and/or accomplish. In our mainstream world, we see corporations and business folks use this as their first step in strategic planning when they write their vision and mission statements. But, it is the action — the planning, the steps taken, and the actual production of the service or physical object  — that completes and makes manifest the creation.

I think it is that feeling of “incompletion” that hurts our soul. Yes, there are things we can let go or leave undone. But, those wonderful things we have imagined, those ideas that begin to spread their wings in the comfort of our minds, need to break free to truly be able to become.

I mis-heard those human guides correctly because we are not only spiritual beings having a human experience, we are also spiritual beings in a human body. We are physical beings, a manifestation of God/dess’ imagined conception; a true complete creation. If part of my purpose is to be an image of God/dess, then it is my purpose to create and manifest. For that, I must act; I must do.

I guess there is much wisdom in Mr. Sinatra’s words. As an image of God/dess, my purpose is to do be do be do. (yeah, I crack myself up!) And, of course, a nice reminder from the Beatles:

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise


P.S., I just watched another YouTube video explaining the background of this song written by Paul McCartney. Supposedly, it was inspired by the Civil Rights movement and the blackbird represents a woman living in oppression. In the context of this essay, I wonder if the worst type of oppression is self-oppression. We limit ourselves and our capabilities by keeping our talents and wisdom hidden and our Selves caged. Hmmm.. what do you think?

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I Am the Walrus October 20, 2017

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly
I’m crying

The Beatles’ song, I Am the Walrus, was the B-side of their hit single Hello, Goodbye. When I found that out on Wikipedia, I thought it was serendipity, and I’ll explain that in a bit. I wanted to write this blog as an update to the last blog post – what did I end up doing and where am I now? I’m inspired by listening to songs, so I Googled one for “where am I now.” The walrus song popped up, and it just felt fun and right to me.

So, the things I’m reading about I Am the Walrus is that it was written as a nonsense song. At this moment, right now as I write this, I feel like “nonsense,” in its most whimsical sense, is the very word that applies to my life. Two years after my last post, I did “do it all!” I went to grad school and graduated this past June with an M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology, a specialization in spiritual psychology and certificates in transpersonal ecopsychology and creative expressions. I did everything I could possibly do in the time I allotted myself for school. But …. now what?

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain

I went to grad school not because having the degree would enhance any career opportunities I might have. I went simply for the love of learning. And, the program I entered taught all those things I had already been (unknowingly) learning for myself in the articles, books, and random webinars and seminars I’d been taking. However, I did go in thinking that, over the course of the two years, I would come out with a better understanding of what I was to do with my life, career-wise.

Four months after graduation, as jobless as I was before and with no idea of what types of jobs I can apply to, I might say I’m no closer to fulfilling that particular area of “adulting” than I was two years ago. I might say that, but I won’t. Since July, I’ve embarked on three potential career opportunities. One of them didn’t pan out; another has been put on hold. And, the third just presented itself a couple of weeks ago.

Though I did not come to a definite idea of my career path while I was in grad school, what I did learn (and continue to discover) is my authentic Self, my purpose in this life, the innate gifts I possess, and the knowledge and experience I have to offer. At the moment, all these things point to coaching as a profession. The irony is that I’ve been telling everyone who has suggested coaching (or that I go into the coaching program) a firm and definite “NO!” I have had a business coach and a life coach, so it is definitely something I believe has value. It was just something I couldn’t see myself doing. So, I reframed my idea of coaching.

In my first quarter of grad school, I was writing in my journal and channeled a poem (this was just the beginning of how my innate gifts began presenting themselves to me and me remembering what some of them are). In it, I was told that part of my life’s purpose is to be a “healer of healers.” The understanding of what that means has been, and is, unraveling slowly. Coincidentally, many of my former classmates are, themselves, healers of all forms – from energetic healers in the esoteric world to people who have or want to create programs that help people heal from their various traumas. And, as I worked through my grad program, I found I have an ability to “hold space” for people. Again, in the esoteric world, this may mean energetic space. But, what does that really even mean? From a very grounded and practical standpoint, it simply means that I can listen well, with compassion, without judgement, and with total acceptance of the speaker’s truth, pain, challenge, or what-have-you. Isn’t it interesting how changing verbiage allows one to change perspective to better understand?

I say high, you say low
You say why and I say I don’t know, oh no

 I decided that part of my “job” in this world is to help those who help others in the way I can best do it just by being myself.

So, if it didn’t occur to you in previous blog posts over the years, I’m a bit of a “woo-woo” gal. You wouldn’t know it to look at me. I rarely wear the uniform or have the affectations of someone you’d consider a neo-hippie or spiritual seeker (though my one allowance to this was to wear a flower crown for my graduation). And … gasp! I have an undergraduate degree in business from a top-rated school. My work experience has been with helping small businesses get into the black or increase their profitability by implementing policies and procedures and streamlining their efforts. These are seemingly strict, hardline things for the flowy, free-spirited person I am. Yet, it all works together, within me. I can dream big, embrace and practice the spiritual, and still convert all of it to practical actions explained with mainstream terminology. And, vice versa! What I have found I’m good at doing is advising (still don’t like the word “coach”) creative and spiritual people like myself establish their businesses/nonprofit/career path by identifying their fears, reframing their understanding of them, and break through blockages so they can take affirmative action.

The serendipity I mentioned before is found in that the intention for this blog post is that it is my way of completing the last chapter of my life and starting this new one. So, really, I’m saying, “Goodbye. Hello!”

You say yes
I say no
You say stop
and I say go go go

In our current socio-political climate, there is a tremendous need for people who help others and spread the love in their own authentic ways. The time for recognizing, acknowledging, and putting into action our individual gifts to benefit humanity is NOW. That sounds so lofty and high-reaching. But, is it really? How often do we suppress our authentic selves, disregard the knowledge and gifts within for fear that we won’t fit into social norms or that doing so would affect our financial lives, or . . . whatever. There are so many reasons, so many excuses. Most point to fear. Is it possible that the fact there are now thousands of coaches offering their services point to the fact that tens of thousands are tired of living this way? In my own way, I have decided to do my part to heal the disconnect many feel in their lives.

With this blog post, I close with “goodbye” and hail with a new “hello! So glad to see you again!” I will be posting other blog entries through two other channels on www.earth-connect.org , the social organization I’m in the process of creating with a friend, and on http://www.spiritualreflectionsadvising.com, which isn’t yet live but will house my spiritual business advising (coaching) efforts. I hope you’ll come to visit me there. For personal, spiritual editorials, you can continue to find me here at Falling Upwards.

Btw, for those who read the last post, my son also took an alternate route in life. He took a “leave of absence” from his undergrad where he was bored, unmotivated, and unhappy. He came home. But instead of taking a year off to breathe a little, he applied and is going to grad school. It turns out you don’t necessarily need an undergraduate degree to get your masters if the graduate program is an out-of-the-box, alternative one that values knowledge and experience over degrees. My wonderful son is also innately a healer and is studying Oriental medicine.

I hope you’ll continue to follow me in my journey. I have so much to share with you – stuff I learned in school and stuff I’m learning on my own, but which I think I may have known all along. I’m sure there’s stuff I can also learn from you. Maybe we can explore a topic a month together? Let me know!

P.S., I’ll update this once I create my spiritual business advising website. And, if you want to find out about healing through Nature, follow our fanpage on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EarthConnectOrg/

 

I, I Did It All May 17, 2015

Recently, I’ve been looking for a new job. I more or less gave up my photography business when I agreed to help my mother with her businesses (a medical practice and a residential care facility) a year and half ago. My intention was to go full steam ahead with my business when my son went away to college. I would now have the time to fully commit. Instead, I’ve spent the past 1.5 yrs bringing stability to two businesses for which I have no interest. But, I don’t regret it. I did it for love. I did it for my mother.

“Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay”

Any change is difficult. But, as we all know, change is healthy and necessary for growth. And, even though this wasn’t the change I was expecting, my life has definitely changed. One of the positive things from the past year is that it has given me the time to decide whether investing more time in photography was what I really wanted to do. I’ve never been as passionate about it as most other photographers I know. As one friend put it, “[you] don’t carry your camera everywhere with you.” But, giving up something that I’ve been doing, that I know, is scary. Still… I kept thinking that there was something else out there for me.

My issue this past year has been in trying to figure out what the “something” is. So, last December, I went to see a career counselor. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d written an actual resume, and I truly didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, … and, oops… here I was middle-aged and, supposedly, grown. What I learned in our meetings surprised me. Very little of my interests had to do with photography and more to do with spirituality, community/volunteering, holistic health/lifestyle, and food. (If you were a FB friend, you wouldn’t be surprised by that last one.) So, I began to look for things in those areas, including possibly going back to school.

“Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say…”

I told very few people about my findings, that I was considering going back for an M.A. I told those I knew it would affect — my family members and a few close friends.But, now, here’s where I got a surprise. The folks I thought might be unsupportive (namely some in my family) were completely supportive of the idea, even knowing that I’m financial strapped as it is and going back to school will be an even larger financial burden. But, the bigger surprise was that the one person I thought would be most supportive (because she always has been) got angry at me. Angry. (I repeat that word ‘cuz I’m still baffled by it.)

My Good Friend’s opinion is that I need to take grow up, get a job, any job, and take care of my finances. Now, mind you, I have very few expenses, excellent credit and really want for nothing. I may not have all the “extras,” but I’m grateful for what I have and believe that Source/God/dess (whatever you wanna call It) will provide. And, I’m not silly enough to let myself (or my kid) starve and be homeless because I’m too proud to work at Micky D’s. But, because she has been one of my guides for so long and because I respect her opinion, I began to doubt to myself.

In fact, the doubt grew so strong, it turned into fear; fear that I cannot provide for myself, fear that I won’t be able to get a decent-paying job (her opinion is that I should be an AA because that’s all I can do, even though I’m grossly over-qualified for all AA positions); fear that, as a middle-aged woman, I really have no choices or opportunities left.

Around this same time, my son started to have serious problems his second year in college. His grades started to dip; he can’t shake off feelings of depression; and, he has been ill with one virus or another since the beginning of the year. His words to me (via text) were “idk if classes are the right way to go.” What do you tell your kid when he pretty much says he wants to drop out of school? Ok… now what do you tell your kid, who’s been telling you since sophomore year of high school that he doesn’t like school and how things are taught? I’ve been telling him he needed to “play the game.” But, now he says, “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”

“Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I’ll say…”

Then, because my angels and guides speak to me through the internet (maybe), interesting articles began to pop up on my wall and in my feed. One was from a Reddit post by a 40-something man who felt he wasted his life. Another was a compilation of inspiring life lesson quotes by Rumi. (Just click on the links if you want to read them) The author of the Rumi quotes article listed the #2 life lesson as “Your job is to live your life in a way that makes sense to you, not them.” Well, if that didn’t hit me between the eyes!…

What I realized is that is DOESN’T make sense to live in fear, according to somebody’s else’s concept of what should or shouldn’t be and playing society’s game when it’s one you “don’t want to play.”

I’m 46 years old. Yes, my time in the workforce is now limited, but that just means I’m not going to settle for any old job. I’m going to get one that has meaning for me; one in which I can contribute and learn. Or, I’ll get a part-time job and go back to school to learn more stuff. I haven’t decided yet! And, I’ve got at least 40 more years of life to have more adventures and experiences.

As for my son, he’s at the beginning of his life. He, as a young adult, is at his peak, invincible. Why must he go through school the “proper” way? Why not take the time now to explore while he has the energy and is young enough to fail again and again with few consequences? So, as his mom, I’m encouraging him to take a “leave of absence” from school to get his health back on track, figure out what he wants to do and maybe go an adventure of his own.

I’m sure some people read the last two paragraphs and cringed. I know my Good Friend would. But, here’s something else I learned in the past year and a half…. your good friends may love you, but they don’t know what’s best for you. Only you know what’s best for you. I learned to listen to Myself, to trust my inner voice. And, in doing so, I also learned to hear what my son was really saying.

I think, though, that the hardest part in all this was the part I didn’t expect I had to do, which was to let go of my Friend. She was the last in a group of “friends” I recently let go because of their negativity. Don’t get me wrong… I”m not a fountain of positive words and actions all the time myself. But, I started listening to my body when it was telling me that certain people made me feel bad, about myself, about my situation. Being around them made me feel tired, sad, uninspired, and that was not the energy I wanted around myself. I plan to live a fearless life, in the Now, full of possibility,…  that is the sort of energy with which I choose to surround myself…. so that, someday, I can say..

“I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.
With every broken bone, I swear I…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

 

Dreaming about the things that we could be… April 28, 2014

Yesterday morning, I stopped to talk to a man in my fave, local coffee shop. He was sitting at a table making chain mail. Yup… you read that right… chain mail. I questioned him about it at length; asked who he was making it for and what its uses were, etc. He giggled, thinking it was funny that some random little girl was asking him about chain mail. I told him I thought it was a very cool hobby and an interesting skill.

The night before, I’d had a lovely conversation with my son who has called me less than a half dozen times since starting college last Fall. So, the few times we’ve talk, they’ve been longer conversations during which he’ll talk about something on his mind that he needs a different perspective on because he can’t figure it out for himself, and it is often the social aspect of college. My kid is inherently introverted and finds it difficult to make friends. In fact, though he seems to be superficially outgoing and friendly, he finds it difficult to understand and deal with people in general. It’s genetics. His father was the same, and so am I. His dad and I both had to come out of our “shells” in college and learn how to socialize.

“And my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and you shall find”

I told my son that when I meet someone, I ask them about themselves, not only to get to know them but because I love to hear people’s stories. Every person I’ve ever met has had an interesting, often times inspirational or educational, story to tell. Every person has something crazy cool about them, regardless of how they may appear on the surface. Had I not seen the man making chain mail at the coffee shop, I would never have known that this random person has an interest in, and has deeply researched, a period of history and a specific craft that one would think is obsolete in this day and age. In fact, he told me that much of what he makes is used by divers and people who handle animals, among other things. It’s amazing what things you learn just by talking to people about their interests.

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars”

I read a free iBook yesterday about a man and his robot girlfriend (His Robot Girlfriend). The robot pretty much started doing everything for him, all the menial, household tasks that he wasn’t doing for himself because he was busy sitting on the couch watching TV. By changing his diet and encouraging him to exercise, she helped him to become healthier and have more energy. And, with her industrious example, he started to use his time to do projects around the house, then to start working on a book he’d been meaning to write. The robot girlfriend encouraged him to be disciplined, care for himself and put time into his passions, to become a better, more complete, version of himself; reach for and attain his “possibilities.”

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told
I feel something so wrong
Doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly”

Through my conversations with people, I’ve learned  a couple of things : (1) we are all the same, and (2) we are all crazy interesting and unique.

Every single person, every human being, has their story, whether happy, sad, hopeful or whatever … we all come from someplace and someone, and we all have our “whys” as to how we got to where we each are at this moment in time. We have this commonality across the board.

Also, every single person has their “possibilities,” whether we are currently acting upon them or they still lie in our future. These possibilities are unique to each person. What makes you drown makes me fly. There can be no judgement there because, despite how differently you see the world, how different your beliefs, your interests or actions, now or in the future may be, despite our “differences,” we are truly all the same in that we each have a story.

And, in this world that seems so divided by politics, religion, social and economic perspectives, or what-have-you, we all live under and count the same stars.

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars”
 

 

To Everything there is a Season April 5, 2014

… and a time to every purpose, under Heaven.

Today, I went for a walk. And, there was a very specific purpose for that walk. I walked to a place that is sacred to me, a place where I have, in the past, been able to reflect and find peace during times in my life when I was in inner turmoil. This time was no different. But instead of just sitting there to think and, perhaps, to journal, I needed to bury something; to physically, symbolically cut ties with a certain person who has appeared on this blog numerous times.

Without going into too much detail, I created a little ceremony for myself in order to sever a connection with “Milo” (whom I’ve written of in the past). I took heart-shaped pieces of paper and, on each one, wrote our names and the names of those I feel he and I have been in shared past lives. I tore each piece in two so that the two names would no longer be connected then burned the pile of torn paper while giving thanks to God/dess for the lessons, the love and the connection we have shared and praying for more beneficial relationships in the future that will also lead me to more lessons, love and connection. It was the ashes of the paper I needed to bury to complete my “ceremony.”

As I walked over the footbridge that crossed the lake on my hike in order to get to my sacred place, I remembered the last time I’d walked that path with Milo in mind. At the time, the lake was full, teeming with fish. And, as I looked over it, I saw the ripples in the water and composed a poem:

Karma

What effect has my one pebble
when compared to the ripples made by the wind?

Is God’s hand not greater than mine,
large enough to diminish my careless toss?

waves abound,
made by the stirrings of many

So why does my hand hesitate
to cast my stone far and wide?

Why not make my fleeting mark
upon the vastness of this little lake?

(Frances Marie Reilly – 5.21.10)

Four years later, and I finally felt the change I needed within me. And, as I walked, a heron flew towards me, then stopped at a rock and seemed to point, with its beak, the direction of my path. (Why do I mention this? Google “animal spirits meaning heron”.)

At my special spot, I sat on a rock, closed my eyes and felt the wind, listened to the birds and creek while I prayed for completion, for closure and openness. I gave gratitude for the love, the patience of the Universe (as I felt I’ve lived through this cycle and have had to learn these lessons repeatedly, over eons), and the God-given strength I knew to exist within me. I meditated, listened and felt the energy of the Earth, of the Sky and the Wind, then drank Water to cleanse. Nobody’s ritual but my own, I knew, in my core, this was all necessary. Lastly, I dug a hole near some daisy-like flowers (so fitting, because I have always associated that flower with Milo), and as I filled it, again gave gratitude and put into it the intention of closure, change and growth.

As I walked back from whence I came, I reflected on the lightness I felt in my core. I realized that I was doing something I LOVE. I love to hike. This was a significant realization for me because it was the very thing I have been agonizing over for at least two years. In trying to decide on a career path, the question of “what do you love to do?” often arises, and, to my dismay, I have thought “I don’t really love to do anything.” I have been in a dark place of sadness thinking that I truly felt I had no passions in my life and that, somehow, that made me a lesser person. And, because of this, I would never “make my fleeting mark upon the vastness of this little lake.” But, here I was… just having completed a symbolic act, and at that moment, the sense of lack, of lowered self-worth lifted in some strange way. All because I realized that I love love love walking in nature.

Almost to my car, I stopped to watch a hummingbird, which seemed to stop to watch me. Google “hummingbird spirit animal,” and you’ll find “The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being.” I also love that “this fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size…” because I’m 4’10”!!

Can you feel my joy through this post?! In one short walk, I managed to let go a Love that no longer served me (a very difficult thing to do indeed), to reclaim that part of my heart so that, with a whole heart, I am open to new Love, to new experiences and lessons. I remembered my powerful Self – that through intention and ceremony (and maybe a bit of magic), I reclaimed, or just recognized, my inner strength and felt my Light and knew Passion.

It is so hard, in one blog post, to really convey everything I took away from my hike. The symbolism of the two animal totems – the heron and the hummingbird – are even more significant if I could tell you my whole story, my life in the present and the truly difficult, but necessary, situation I deal with daily. But, really, we all have those challenges in our lives. We all have the times we can’t figure out who we are, where we need to be, what we need to do. We all have things we need to let go, whether it’s stuff or, with more difficulty, people. And all these things wear us down, day after day, and its challenging to keep the darkness at bay (some times, we don’t even know it’s there) and remain positive through it all.

But, look at what I remembered. We are, each of us, so very strong inside. We were born that way, born with the strength to accept and live through the challenges and lesson Life gives us, and made even stronger by meeting those challenges which, with lessons learned, increase the Light within.

This time that is upon us now is a good time, a good season. I, for one, am looking forward to the new challenges ahead and finding my passions and my strength, my light. For, it is my time, my season, as it is … yours.

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

 

We Are Love, We Are One… February 12, 2014

… We are how we treat each other when the day is done.

I’m posting this a little later than I meant to, and I actually wondered for a few days whether this even makes sense to post… this is kind of an announcement, and a challenge, and an invitation … all rolled into one. It’s not my usual post, hence the questioning on my part. So, here goes…

Several months ago, I asked my Facebook friends what they thought of a particular personal challenge I thought I might want to do — not because I need permission or validation, but because I thought I would put it out there for accountability. Well, I got great support to do it, and to start at the beginning of the year, but I chickened out. My challenge to myself was this:  365 Days of Love

Every day, for the next 365 days, my goal is to create one art project each day which represents, in some way to me, the concept of Love.  The art can be in the form of a photograph, a drawing, a sculpture made on the beach of sand and rocks, or a poem. The challenge is to create each and every day, even if it sucks or is created in a medium with which I have no experience. And, believe me, this is quite a challenge because I can’t draw to save my life, my poetry is laughable at best, and my schedule is so hectic that to go out an capture something on digital and upload, process etc. is difficult.

Now, I’m not the kind of person who likes to challenge herself on… anything, really. I’m not competitive, and I’m mostly a “go with the flow” kind of person who rarely thinks ahead a week or two. And, “disciple” has never been an attribute assigned to me. So, why even think of something like this to do and put it out there to my family and friends? Well, honestly, it has nothing to do with discipline or challenge.

One day in December, I just happened to be thinking of how it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain positive; how even the positive things I read on the internet can turn so negative when people make terrible comments on a post/article that is meant to uplift. People are so willing to be angry about anything, it seems, whether there is merit or not. I read recently that it is human tendency, and a product of our evolution, to focus on the negative. The I started thinking, … beyond trying to catch myself in my negative thoughts and turn them to the positive, what do I do to try to put positive vibrations out there? What do I do to promote a higher vibration in my family, in my community, in my world? What do I do?

To be bold, to be brave.
It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved
And the darkness can come quick
The Dangers in the Anger and the hanging on to it.

Other than trying to always remain positive and optimistic, trying to show compassion (when I’m aware of it), and trying to help relieve my family and friends of their burdens, I don’t do a whole lot. And, then I realized, for all my preaching and writing of how we are all in this world together, how it is up to all of us as a community to raise the vibrations of our societies and the world, how the answer to everything that plagues our world is Love, … I’m not doing a whole heck of a lot to contribute to make that world happen.

So, that’s when I thought of the project. It doesn’t seem like it might be that useful in promoting Love. After all, it’s an art project. But, I think that if it’s something I’m thinking of all the time — if I’m thinking of Love and how to represent that –then my thoughts are already beginning to create a possibility. And, if I give form to those thoughts, if I create something that is a material, touchable, seeable representation of Love, then I can share that with others who will then, at least for that brief moment of their day, think of Love and, maybe, feel Love. I guess it’s an actual, physical way to spread Love without going around hugging everybody and anybody I can find.

To be humble, to be kind.
It is the giving of the peace in your mind.
To a stranger, To a friend
To give in such a way that has no end.

So, here’s my invitation: won’t you join me on this journey, this challenge, this .. spreading of Love?

The rules to the challenge are simple:  There aren’t really any rules. Just every day, for a year, you create something that, for you, is representative of Love. It can be any medium – drawing, painting, photo, sculpture, poetry…. anything. The only rule is to take photo evidence (can be on your phone). So, if, for example, you make a heart out of rocks on the beach, just take a pic since you can’t take it with you. Then, share it! Spread the Love! If you can, please tweet or Instagram a pic of your art with the hashtag #365DaysOfLove. If not, share it with your friends, your family, with people on the street. It’d be awesome if we can spread the Love globally!

And, since practicing Self-Love is just as important, if you miss a day, forgive yourself, pat yourself on the back for what you’ve accomplished and just resume where you left off the next day. I have a few friends joining me in this already. We start February 14th (yeah, sorry for the late notice).

I’m going to try to figure out the whole Instagram thing and link it to my Facebook page, so if you wanna follow me and see how well I’m doing on this challenge, I’m on Facebook as Facebook.com/FrancesMarie.Photographs  (where you can friend me), on Twitter as @FrancesPhotos, and on Instagram as FrancesPhotographs. I’m not a complete luddite, but I honestly haven’t figured out how to link everything, so the posting may be spotty. I will try to figure it out by the the 14th, though.

And, if you decide to join me, first of all, that would be awesome (read that in a sing-song voice). But, also, please comment on this post so I can watch out for you, too. I’ll be able to find you if you use that hashtag #365DaysOfLove (I think. I hope.). And, remember,

Tell me what it is that you see
A world that’s filled with endless possibilities?
Heroes don’t look they used to, they look like you do.

P.S., I actually didn’t know this was featured in the Olympics until I went to get the Youtube vid for you. What a nice coincidence. I’m taking it as a sign that this is the perfect time to be doing this project.

 

The rest is still unwritten February 5, 2014

You know, this personal growth thing is a roller coaster ride. No sooner do I think I’m getting close to the top, hearing the click click click of the belt as it pulls up my coaster, then I dip right back down to what feels like the bottom. Or, I’m riding that fast ride up but don’t realize it’s a loop-de-loop (is that what it’s called?), and I’m right back at the same level I started. It’s enough to make a girl feel like she’s making no progress.

In the few years I’ve had this blog, I’ve broken up with a boyfriend, which led me on a path of enlightenment, only to be sidetracked when I met my twin soul, with whom I had a non-relationship that put me off my path of personal growth for two years. He came back into my life like an unexpected maelstrom last autumn only to depart just as quickly and with as much confusion this past month. I would like to say that these unfulfilling, negative romantic relationships I’ve had have put me off of them for good. It might be nice to have an easy ride down the lazy river and live a quiet life of no romance, desire for self-improvement, growth or change. It might be peaceful. But, I would take Magic Mountain rides over Disney rides any day.

Even though it’s so frustrating to be near the bottom again, I think it’s worth the hard work to get back to the top and be able to see the view and feel the cool air on my face again. And, what does that work entail for me? I was just gonna describe them as a paragraph, but then I realized it’s a laundry list of things. So, here goes:

Meditation – I used to do it daily and worked my way up to a good half hour, at least. Now, I can barely meditate for a few minutes. Time to get back to my daily, morning routine of meditating. It’s a great way to start my day as it helps me start off with good energy and an openness. And, I personally think of meditation as that time during which I listen to God/dess/Universe. There’s much wisdom to be gleaned there.

Journaling – I, again, used to do this daily especially while I was with and just after I broke up with the Ex. My journaling, much like my blogging, is a lot of personal rambling that helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me get out my frustrations and insecurities without burdening others with them. But, I also try to be a cheerleader for myself and write down my hopes and dreams and desires. It’s definitely interesting to read back on those pages to see how much I haven’t changed but how far I’ve come.

Practicing Compassion – I can be super-critical (especially of myself). It’s a terrible thing I inherited from my father. But, I have a choice as to how I view life and those around me. And, I have the ability, as we all do, to put myself in someone else’s shoes (it’s called imagination). That grumpy, old lady who was snarky to me today…? maybe she’s in some physical pain or her kids haven’t called her in months so she’s lonely. Maybe her best friend just died. So, my reaction to her doesn’t have to be equal snark. It can be gentleness. Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with remembering not to take things personally. How someone behaves towards you usually has nothing to do with you.

Experiencing Nature – whether it be a hike through the woods or a walk on the beach or even just sitting next to a city planter full of green stuff, touching base with Mother Nature is always soothing to the soul. Looking up at the sky at night and seeing the millions of stars above reminds me that the Universe is vast, and the mistakes I make in life will hardly impact anything. Watering my lemon tree, whose life depends upon my care, reminds me that I am responsible for the well-being of other living things on this planet, so my actions do matter. Feeling the wind upon my face lifts my spirit and reminds me of those things unseen that surround us and are a part of us all.

Creating Art – as a photographer, this should be fairly easy. But, it’s not the only art-form I want to “experience.” I enjoy painting and drawing (even though I’m not very good at either) and scrapbooking (yes.. it’s art!).  For me, this is really about creating. After all, life is about creation, isn’t it? My art can be on paper or canvas, on the computer, or even a delicious dish I’ve cooked up. The very act of creating is soul affirming.

Practicing Gratitude – this doesn’t have to be formal, like a gratitude journal or a list or anything. Even if I take a few seconds out of my day to just appreciate a flower and send a quick, little thanks to the Universe for showing me Its beauty, I find that practicing gratitude gives me joy. There’s no room for complaining when you’re truly grateful for…whatever.

Practicing Forgiveness – yeah… that sounds weird. But, I find people just carry so much anger within them. I do, too. I’m not talking about being angry at anyone or anything specifically. Just read comments on any article. Even if it’s inspiring, there’s always at least one person who’s just pissed for who-knows-what-reason. I know I get “justifiably” angry at whatever social injustice I come across. That anger is a weight on my heart. It’s negativity that I don’t need to carry. So, yes.. it would be great if we were all on the same page in this world so that there would no longer be bigots and their like in this world. But, I have to remind myself that we are all on our separate journeys, each at our own pace. And, we’ll eventually arrive at the same place, given time. So, yes, I have to practice forgiveness, a lot. Release the anger and send out love.

That’s it. Just those few things. Some of them are even fun. Some of them are a lot harder than they seem. But, I want off the easy, lazy river ride and back on the roller coaster. My coaster car might keep coming down — there’s fun in that, too — but at least I know I’ll keep climbing up. Ok…so maybe a roller coaster isn’t quite the best metaphor here.  heh heh

Definitely, though, I think the song I chose for this post is fitting because, even with all the ups and downs, my life is still before me. It is still unwritten.

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins