Archive | May, 2015

Surprising New Life

30 May

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Walking through the streets of D.C. last night with friends, I stopped in front of a church to examine a cluster of paper butterflies strung along the side exterior. I found this extraordinary. There was something so beautiful and fitting about this image. Moving in the direction of the church spire, the butterflies were on a mission to heaven.

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The irony of the moment did not escape me. Butterflies are notorious symbols of transformation. They start as eggs, transition to caterpillars, and then morph into cocoons. From that chrysalis  state, they eventually emerge as butterflies. It is not an easy metamorphosis. To the outside eye, the cocoons look ugly. They look like nothing. They look dead. All color and life force drains temporarily from them.

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The butterfly’s transition is one of nature’s miracles. It is a glaring reminder that profound change requires a stage of withdrawal and contraction, yet nothing in our society supports this truth. We’re supposed to get over pain quickly, immerse ourselves in external activities, and fake it ’til we make it. This completely contradicts the natural evolution process.

As I went through a painful period in my life this year, I became that chrysalis. Other than somehow finding the energy to work, I contracted. I rarely went out socially, I cried day after day for months, and spent considerable time alone except in the company of a few select friends who didn’t judge my process. Meanwhile the world screamed its bad advice, as I withdrew.

I spun my web blocking out the noise as best I could because the caterpillar undergoes transformation alone. She does not take a lover into the cocoon or host a dinner party in it.

It’s an arduous process breaking out of that lonely shell, but when you do burst out of the cocoon, you are no longer the same. You become a whole new being and yes, you fly in the direction of heaven, flying on the wings of faith. You dazzle the world with your bright colors because you are now beautiful, transformed, and free.

Small Acts of Self Love Are Actually Huge

25 May

Therapists are big on saying how important it is to love oneself.” Just love yourself,” we tell people, as if this will solve every problem in the world. Yet what does it really mean to love yourself?

For a long time I thought loving oneself meant you looked in the mirror and liked the face you saw. Or it meant that you cared enough about your body to exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep. While true that these are aspects of self love, there are many more facets to it.

Small acts of self love are actually huge. You learn to love yourself when you slowly have minute but extremely hard won victories. Self love comes when you take one step at the beginning of an incredibly difficult journey. Self love comes when you choose not to reject yourself, even if you stand by and watch the rest of the world cavorting without you. Self love comes when you stop looking in the the window of that party and instead make your own, even if it’s just you as the guest.

Acts of self love come when instead of focusing on other people, you focus on yourself.

Acts of self love come when you choose forgiveness instead of bitterness, envy, or hate.

Acts of self love come when for every negative thought you have you realize you’re only hurting yourself.

Acts of self love come when you say you will embrace every f*&^%% painful moment of your life without numbing any aspect of it.

Acts of self love when you say, “I deserve more.”

Acts of self love come when you say, “Ouch. That hurt. Don’t do it again!” And mean it.

Acts of self love come when you say, “God help me. Take this cross from me. Not my will, God. Yours.”

Choosing to love yourself isn’t the easy route. It’s the road less travelled. Of that I’m sure.

Lessons on Loyalty

24 May

I had the opportunity to watch some geese the other day. I was intrigued to see that a mom and dad watched over their offspring with a fierce sense of protection. The mom walked in the front, the babies behind her, and dad followed in the back. Then they slid into the water, gliding along in this formation.

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Later I noticed a whole flock of geese with their young. They appeared like a bunch of families all out on an outing.

Geese mate for life. If a partner dies, the remaining bird mourns alone. The bird often chooses not to mate ever again.

Geese also take care of each other as a collective group.  If one is shot, the others will lag behind to ensure its care. They fly in a V formation, which reduces the air resistance for those behind. This allows them to fly 70 percent farther as a group than if they were to fly alone. I find this remarkable.

We humans could take a lesson in these principles. It means so much when we care and look after one another. When one of us is weak and vulnerable, we should slow down and wait until health returns. This is loyalty. We can fly so much farther together than if we go it alone.

 

 

Best Birthday Gift Ever

19 May

I awoke this morning to Winter Wonderland. It is snowing in May in Colorado.

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I wanted snow all year. I thought I was going to spend time on the East Coast during winter but it didn’t happen.

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So what do you know. God answers our prayers in other ways. My birthday is later this week and look what the Big Man Upstairs delivered. Quite the delightful surprise! I realize God always gives us what we need when we need it most. It isn’t always on our time table.

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He knows best. Not I.

O’ Majesty

18 May

There is a wonder in nature that surpasses man’s sky scrapers and strip malls.

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Blessed to be teaching this week in a place so far removed from road rage, traffic and nonsense.

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Life gifts us at times with surprises that are exactly what the doctor ordered.

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For this I am grateful beyond measure.

 

 

 

Rain Come Down

16 May

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In Southern California, rain has always been a treat but now, it is even more so. The last two years have brought such chronic dry conditions that many of us have forgotten what rain, fog, and moisture feel like.

I have begun to dream about water like someone in exile.

I fantasize about fields of green and landscapes of snow.

The last few days we’ve finally had some cloudy skies.

Variance in weather is a good thing. Too much perpetual sunshine gets old. Rain gives us permission to pause. To hole ourselves up inside and hibernate. Rain, like crying, flushes everything out. It cleanses the earth, refreshing things.

Storms remind us that life is not one eternal day of sunshine. Life is filled with loss, heartache, unexpected winds, and things becoming completely uprooted. Sometimes life is also a period of winter where everything is dead and frozen.

Southern California defies these truths making it hard to come to terms with them.

Weather is natural. Weather is part of the life cycle.

I am glad for the weather that mirrors my soul.

Believe it or not, drought can be hard on the soul. It creates thirst and a deep longing for relief. Oh how we need a drink of water after wandering about too long in the desert.

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Thank you. May the rain come down. And down. And down.

May it wash out the debris and create new life.

What I Learned From A Horse

12 May

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I worked with a horse named Gracie yesterday. This was my first experience with something known as Epona Equestrian Services. Epona explores the healing potential of the horse-human bond.

Who would have thought that a horse would reveal so much about the human heart?

Who would have thought I would go to see a Horse Whisperer? Or think about becoming one?

Horses are sensory based beings. They intuit, perceive, and respond to their environment. They mirror back deeply emotional parts of ourselves, as well as our negative and destructive relational patterns. The horses do everything by instinct and help us start paying better attention to our own. Horses become uncomfortable if we hold our breath or are thinking too much. They help us become more integrated and transcend the linear mind. They help us be less over-reactive and live more from our hearts.

After interacting with each animal at the rescue ranch, I chose Gracie as the horse who I hoped would teach me a bit more about connection. I stood in the ring with her. I didn’t know what to do. Could I walk right up to her? Would she let me? Would she trust me? Would I trust her? Could I touch her or would I need her permission?

At just the slightest bit of tension or cogitation within me, Gracie turned away. When I relaxed and opened my heart, or spoke to her in the soft gentle voice that is mine, she would turn towards me and take steps in my direction. At one point, she came a few feet from me and then stopped and stared. It was most intense communication with an animal I’ve ever experienced. In that moment, she felt more like an other-world-being than a horse. For about 30 seconds, time stopped and she penetrated my soul.

About horses, Linda Kohanov writes: “To horses, emotion is neither good nor bad; it’s simply information. As animals that are preyed upon in nature, it behooves them to know when another herd member is feeling afraid or playful, angry or in pain, depressed or content. Though they ultimately strive for well-being in their relationships, horses don’t consider so-called positive emotions any more important than the negative ones humans routinely try to suppress. To these animals, the ability to intuit fear in a distant herd member and act on this feeling without hesitation is a life saving skill. The innate aptitude for resonating with another being’s trust, joy, or confidence is a life-giving skill. These mindful creatures have developed a magnificent capacity for responding to subtle changes in the arousal of other horses as well as predators, a species-wide talent they easily transfer to interactions with people” (p.105 in The Tao of Equus).

Gracie taught me quite a bit about myself yesterday. She revealed to me how I hesitate at times instead of moving forward with complete conviction and commitment. She also revealed how I sometimes can’t sense my inner knowing and/or negate it. Most important, I recognized yet again, the power of the breath to push us through any sensation and move us into a state of strength, calm, tranquility and love.

Thank you, Gracie. I will be back.

 

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