Change, Daily Life, Gratitude, Inspiration, Love, Relationships, Spirit

Everything Changed, and I Don’t Have a Plan

That time of the year that brings out the best and worst in me.  Because as much as I am about light, joy, love, tucked away inside are pockets of sadness, fear and loneliness.  And holidays exacerbate that.  Those places of pain keep floating up.  They come up when I am alone, they come up through music, they come up when a harsh headline catches my eye, when I waken and see that I am alone.  I am fragile this time of year.

Perhaps it is autumn.  The very brilliance of nature displayed before my eyes every day.  And yet the earth is giving her last beauty before shutting down for the winter.  The days are shorter and home calls everyone sooner.  I miss living with a family.  I feel that more in the fall and winter.  My father’s favorite time of year was Fall.  He died Nov 6, 1997.  I miss him every day, but most especially right now.  My mother,  she received her cancer diagnosis the week after Thanksgiving 3 years ago. November is hard for me.

Everything has changed, and I don’t have a plan. All the ways I thought my life would go, this was not it. I never thought I would be alone so long. I have been divorced almost 20 years.  It was never my plan to stay single forever.  I have always been longing for that relationship that would enhance my life and take to the next level.  My fear is that I am running out of time.  I fear I will die without having ever been really loved.  I am not talking about family and friends. I know I am loved. But to have that sharing, loving, interpersonal relationship with one person, that is missing. It is like I go through the day and say nope not today. I go through the week, the month and the year, and say ‘not yet” keep waiting. Stay open, be available to what the Universe has in mind. But really this was not my plan.

I am in 50’s, my son is 36. I don’t have any grandchildren.  He gets to live exactly as he chooses, and I love him unconditionally. But this was not my plan.  By the time he decides to have children (if he does) I am afraid I will be too old for us to really fully enjoy each other.   I just thought there would be grandchildren in my life at some point.  It is another relationship that is missing from my life.

So I feel melancholy, wistful for the past, wishing the present was different.  I guess my biggest fear is that I am running out of time.  The months and years are passing, and I am getting older. And everything has changed, and I don’t have a plan. Do I just run with that?  Be okay with no plan, no goal, no agenda.

I am simply living my life everyday, as best I can. Is that enough?  Because right now I am kind of living on faith.  Faith that at some point all of this will make sense.  Faith that this path with all of it’s twists and turns. the sunny and dark spots is leading somewhere. Faith that somehow all my lessons and growth are steering toward that time in my life when I can say “yes, this was where the path was taking me, I am home” .

I did an online search to see if anyone else supported not having a goal or a plan.  This is the only thing  I found..

Effort within the mind further limits the mind, because effort implies struggle towards a goal and when you have a goal, a purpose, an end in view, you have placed a limit on the mind.”
― Bruce LeeTao of Jeet Kune Do

Everyone else thinks you need a goal, a plan, an agenda to move you forward in life.  I like the Bruce Lee one, I like not placing limits.  I want to be open to the Universe and whatever path It takes down.  But then, we are back to faith. I know things are going to change in my life.  I know at some point I will live somewhere else. I know my son will fall in love and have babies.  I know a new relationship will come in my life. I will make new friends, have new experiences, say goodbye to people, places…..  I don’t have a plan for of any this.  Is that okay?

In my faith, Centers for Spiritual Living, we recognize that we are God manifesting on earth.  That everything is God, everyone, every being, no exceptions.  We all walk through life made up of the same substance that God is. And we know that we work together with God to manifest the state of being we find ourselves in.  We understand it is God working through us to experience life on this plane and it is God’s great pleasure for us to live in joy.

And that is my faith.  And that is what carries me through the dark sides of my life.  I know experiencing these feelings, sharing them, living them helps me to grow and be more humble and compassionate. Talking about my fears brings them to the light. I don’t have to hide away and feel different and alone.

I know I have been blessed, so very blessed.  I grew up knowing love, I have been able to bear and love a child.  I have loved in many different ways, friends, lovers, pets, family, nature, God.  I am way ahead of so many people. And I know this, every single day.

But I am human and complex and my pain and fear is valid also. I don’t have to be homeless, battered, disabled or the many other states that people struggle through to have my feelings.  I get to have my feelings. I get to have my dark places.  I get to be lonely, I get to be wistful, but I don’t get to stay there.  I remember who I am and why I am on this path.  And when my step falters, I pause and feel my feelings,then I  take a deep breath, and say “This too, is God”

And so it is…….

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Daily Life, Gratitude, Inspiration, Relationships, Self, Spirit

What am I Spending my Time On?

How are you spending your time? How am I spending my time? I have been learning lessons along the way from sister while she goes through her rehabilitation to regain her life. I am her greatest supporter and cheerleader.  I also watch her carefully for bumps in the road that she might not see coming. She is in the thick of it and I am outside so I have a different perspective. And what I know is her resources, both physical and mental, are limited. And how she uses her resources (energy, time, thoughts, habits) are going to determine the quality of her life to come.

So I say to her ” I know you are not hungry, but when you do eat make sure the food is healthy and good for you.”  ” I know you get tired, so spend your time on things that feed your soul, that make you happy.”  ” I know your mind can only absorb so much right now, so don’t take in information that will not help you heal and recover”.  And we work on that, making sure she uses her resources in a way that will support her recovery.

We all need to do this. I need to do this.  I have been down this road myself but my sister has reminded how important it is. How am I spending my time, and what am spending it on?  Does it make life better, does it make me happier, have more joy, more love, more peace, more growth?  And if does not, why am I doing it?  I don’t have to be in crisis to spend my time wisely and mindfully.

I know I have to go to work everyday to support myself.  I know that every day at work is not awesome. But I can still be awesome.  I don’t have to let my surroundings define me. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of stress and gossip that pervade my work place. But that is not me, and I can have a boundary around that.  And I actually do. Occasionally I slip into it. But I have to tell you I slip out it pretty fast.  I know that is not who I am. I know my basic purpose for being at work is financial. It enables me to live my life freely and without obligation.  But beyond I also know my purpose where ever I am is to be a loving presence. So yes, even though I spend 40 hours a week in an office and all that goes with that, it is my choice and a decision I have freely made.  I do not let my workplace define me.

So beyond the work week everything is my choice. I always can say yes or no. But I also know if something shows up in my life on some level I have invited that. Even if it is not comfortable or pretty or easy, it is still my lesson.  I can learn it now or it will just come back later.  The older I am the more I take the lesson now. Why not, I have to learn it to move forward.

And the older I am the more I know what I do not want in my life. I don’t want drama, I don’t want gossip, I don’t want negativity, I don’t want anger, I don’t want to be around people that will use me, I don’t want hatred.  And I don’t have much of that around me.  I see it, I read about it, I overhear it, but it does not come into my space very much. And I think that is because I have worked hard for the last few years on defining exactly what I do want in my life and spending my time watering those seeds.

So my life is good, I spend time making sure it stays that way. I spend time on things that feed my soul. I read inspirational writings, I spend time in nature, I spend time at church, I spend time with those I love, I spend time in prayer, I spend time in music,  I spend time in creating a safe haven to come home to. I spend time in my community. I make sure my family and friends know I love them.  I listen to them, I share with them. I also spend time on junk tv and on dirty jokes with my girlfriends. I spend time going to lunch or dinner, enjoying what world has to offer. I spend as much time as I can in laughter. I spend time taking photos of whatever moves my soul. I spend my time moving my body whether exercise, sex or a walk in nature. I enjoy my body, I feed it. I let it sing, I let dance, I let it live.

And that is what I spend my time on. And each of those things are choices I make day in and day out. I choose to spend my time on things that feed my soul.  I hope you do too. Life is fast and can change on a dime.  Don’t waste your minutes because they become your hours, and that becomes your life. Everyday you get to choose where you spend your time.

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Daily Life, Self, Spirit

Everyone is Beautiful (when you look with love)

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

I am at a dinner a couple of weeks ago and my friend leans over and says “look at Mary, she is so beautiful tonight”. And she was. And I looked around again and there were all of these beautiful people,. The light was shining through them.  So I say to my friend ” I think the more we love people, they more beautiful they become”

That’s it, it is love, compassion, sharing, bonding, seeing the light in someone, It is not about mainstream beauty.  I have to tell you we are not necessarily beautiful people.  Take us apart piece by piece, we are regular humans, Someone has a big nose, someone has a crooked mouth, bad skin, the list goes on. Does not matter, they are beautiful to me when I look with loving eyes.

Take my son, he is not tall, dark and handsome, the society requirements for beauty in a man.  He is so beautiful to me. When I see him love fills my heart.  I only see this beautiful person who I love. I see his smile, I see his intelligence, I see his struggle to make in this world and still believe that life is good,  I see the love and respect he gives me and he is so fucking beautiful to me. His friends know his beauty, his family knows this, those that love him know this.

I guess beauty has changed for me, evolved.  I look at my sister, in her 50’s, lines, scars, some gray, life has left a mark on her but when she smiles or laughs, or touches me lovingly she is oh my gosh, so beautiful. My friends, when their faces light to see me, they are beautiful.  When someone shares their story and lessons with me they are beautiful. When I see someone overcome a challenge they are beautiful.  When I see that  the light of love fills someones heart, they are beautiful. When joy fills someone, and a smile splits their face open, they are beautiful. Even when tragedy hits, and the tears flow, they are beautiful in their honesty and their humanity.

I look at myself, I have lines in my face, I sag in places, my hair would be gray if I did not dye it. I have scars, my hands show the time I have spent here. Life, also, has left it’s mark on me, and I am more beautiful than I ever have been. And that is because now I look at myself with love.  I appreciate all I have been through.  Those struggles have made me strong,have made me loving.  Those lines I have are born from living life, from worrying about people I love, from thinking a new thought and from smiling and laughing, And I have earned every single one of them. I am done picking myself apart,  because if I only see beauty when I look with love, then it must be the same for you.  And If you are not looking at me with love, then that is your work to do, not mine.

Today in my world it is a beautiful blue sky day and I am going to enjoy every minute of it.  Autumn is here and the changing colors are brilliant, the air is crisp and the world is calling me to come out and play in it beauty.  But even in the dead of winter we can find beauty, in the rain slicked streets, children splashing in the puddle, the frost from our breath as we hurry home to warmth.  The purity of the snow, the fog settling in.  As long as we live from the heart and keep our eyes open we will find beauty in every step of our day.

Have a beautiful day

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Daily Life, Gratitude, Inspiration, Relationships, Spirit

The Gratitude Season

Starting November 1st I am doing 30 Days of Gratitude.  With all that has happened lately and the holidays coming up this seems timely for me.  And of course here in America it is the Thanksgiving season, so thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, all of that is blooming.

gratitude II

How my 30 days looks is like this:  I have  a Facebook  page and I will simply post each evening whatever I am grateful for that day.  In addition I am exchanging a gratitude text with my sister each night and maybe one other friend.  I haven’t heard back from him yet.  I want to do those personal ones because they are both so very important to me and sharing this will only strengthen our bonds.

I haven’t always been grateful, at least actively.  I took so much for granted.  I think that’s just being young.  I felt immortal, I was self absorbed. I was in a rush and the intensity level was high. I had many lessons to learn, one of them has been gratitude.

“I have learned over a period of time to be almost unconsciously grateful–as a child is–for a sunny day, blue water, flowers in a vase, a tree turning red. I have learned to be glad at dawn and when the sky is dark. Only children and a few spiritually evolved people are born to feel gratitude as naturally as they breathe, without even thinking. Most of us come to it step by painful step, to discover that gratitude is a form of acceptance.”
― Faith BaldwinMany Windows, Seasons of the Heart

I have to say I am pretty grateful everyday in all kinds of ways.  The older I am the more grateful I am, and it’s for the simple things. The blue sky, the rain, the changing leaves, a gentle touch, humor, a phone call, a text, a warm bed, food,….I think these were all today.  It has been a process, a Practice actually.  I have had to be conscious of my thoughts.  I have had to look for gratitude.  It did not bloom overnight. But now gratitude comes naturally, every day I am grateful. And I know, and I speak it and I share it.

With gratitude comes calmness, peace, harmony, joy, love, acceptance, all the things I searched for.  I find them through being grateful. And even when times are hard, there is always, always something to be grateful for.  And the more I feed gratitude, the more my life settles into a pattern of Peace, a pattern of Joy.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So yes, even though it sounds simplistic be grateful you wake up, start there. Be grateful for the coffee, or the tea, or the hot shower.  You could be grateful for 10 things first thing in the morning.  It does not always have to be the big stuff, small stuff matters.  Because the little things, those are the things that make up our life.  And when we have a pattern of gratefulness for the small things, when something big arrives, whether it looks like trouble or not, you can move easily and gracefully into gratitude.  It will be your “go to” place. Because all of our lessons are not easy.  Sometimes they are scary, hard, sad, confusing, even then stay in gratitude, It will bring you through with ease and grace.

I invite you to join me in 30 Days of Gratitude. Do it your way, whatever feels good to you. Write it down, whisper it to the sky, share with friends, have it be the voice of your heart.  There are no rules, you decide. Do one a day, three a day, whatever works. Say thank you.  You don’t have to believe in a certain God for this, you could say thank you to yourself. You could thank you to Universal Energy, you could say thank you to the Trees, you could say thank you to Father Time, Mother Nature.  It doesn’t matter, because this is for you, to make your life better, do it your way.  But do it. It is the path to Peace and Joy.

And for today, I am grateful to be sharing myself with you………

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Daily Life, Inspiration, Spirit

Seva, Selfless Service

” The idea of selfless service (seva also sewa) is an important concept in most Indian religions and yogic traditions. Because God is perceived as having a relationship with others, as well as oneself, serving other people is considered an essential devotional practice of indirectly serving God. Service to make life easier for others”

Seva, a concept of service I learned at my church and has actually been serving me lately.  I have found myself in the position frequently the last few months of needing to serve others.  Of needing to put another’s needs in front of mine, of needing to (while not quite sacrifice) at least, put someone else’s problems in front of my own pleasures.

The most recent one occurred this last weekend.  My son had some car problems during the week which I tried to help him and I ended up just lending my truck to him, essentially leaving myself walking or staying home.  His needs were just more urgent than mine.  If you have been following you know I done much to help my sister and family these last couple of months.   And recently some almost resentment has crept in.

Now I am human and no angel and certainly not a martyr.  I like to take care of myself and make sure I have what I need to enjoy my days.  But I also love my people and want to help them.  There are fine lines and sometimes they get blurred.  I started to go to a place that stopped the easy flow of giving and turn it into something forced or resented.

Then I remembered Seva, selfless service.  And that was a gift for me.  I was able to step back into service because I started using it as a path to Spirit.  And everything changed.  My attitude changed,  life became easier, I had more joy, and the service I am  giving has more impact.  By removing any thoughts of resentment, stress or selfishness I am able to give with Love.  And what is given with Love can be received with Love.  The action, the service, will flow easily into good and all parties benefit.   And I am blessed with serving God.  Because anything I do for any being, I do for the The Beloved.

So the next time you are called step into Seva.  It changes everything.  You get to have a Spiritual experience and help someone all in the same moment. Isn’t that why we are here?

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Inspiration, Spirit

Endings, and Beginnings

everything

The Buddha says “Everything that has a beginning has an end. Make your peace with that and all will be well.”

Can I do this?  How freeing would that be to really live this way.  To know that when something is started at some point it will be ending. And be ok with that.  Wouldn’t I just embrace the moments and not worry and plan into the future. Would I be able to love freely, without strings and conditions or expectations of what could, should, might happen?  Could I find joy in each moment and then let them go?  The very essence of non attachment. To be that free.

Because it is true, and I know this. And yet I cling to the very moments of today.  How many things have I released? Countless and I am still here.  I am still living, loving, searching, singing, moving, crying, talking, fucking, working, mothering, being a friend……everything that makes me who I am.  Letting go did not kill me, did not break me.  At the end of the day I am not bitter or sad.  Maybe melancholy at times, but that is the wistfulness of days gone by. Mostly I have survived every one of those releases. 

Am I changed? Absolutely. Life changes us, Every single day I am different.  I have an experience, major or minor and I am changed.  That is Spirit recreating Itself on earth through me.  Growth, creation, that is the very essence of being human. Still I let go, I accepted the endings, and I survived.

What if I could see that before I suffered the letting go.  I tell you, I do not let go easily.  There are claw marks on everything I ever released.  What a lot of energy I put in to holding on to something that absolutely had an ending. 

And what if things did not end?  Could I really stay forever in a holding pattern? Where would the not ending begin?  We have to grow to adulthood.  Would the life I was living at 21 be my forever life? How much of life I would have missed. I had my son at 22.  My youth had to end for that blessing to occur.  I have had wonderful jobs and made great friends.  What if my first job had not ended?  I would have missed countless people I come to know and many to love. My marriage?  Well If that had not ended I would have never know the beauty and satisfaction of standing on my own and building a life simply for myself. And I have been blessed with intense and satisfying relationships along the way, each teaching me more about myself. My son grew up, he cannot stay a child.  I would miss knowing this amazing man and the many things he brought to my life as an adult. 

Some things have been really hard to let go of.  And those things are deaths; parents, friends, pets, family… How do I let go? I had no choice. Seriously all of those, claw marks, deep ones. I know in each of those losses there are lessons. Sometimes I can see them, it is not easy,  I know they made me grow, I know they made strong. I know they made me compassionate. These are the ones that left the deepest scars.  Some days I would trade the growth, the strength, the compassion to see them again. To be in that place of love with them again.  But that is not possible in this world and this world is where I dwell.  So I take the lessons and carry some sadness.

Still, I think the Buddha has it right.  Knowing there is an end gives me space to celebrate what is now.  To not try to make it anything it is not.  There was one point in my life I really got this.  My son and his girlfriend lived with me for a few years.  It was crowded, it was a lot of work, it was expensive, it was wonderful. And I knew every single day that it was not forever.  Knowing that gave me the freedom to simply love them and accept their love.  My friends and family did not really understand how grown adults (and their dogs) could move back in with mom. Shouldn’t they be moving out, getting their own place, paying rent etc.  For me, all I knew is that is was a moment in time, a gift, and everyday someone said “I love you mom”. And I knew one day it would be over.  So I loved it every minute I could.  Maybe that moment is my lesson in “Everything that has a beginning has an end”. 

So I can take that lesson and hold it close. Remembering that what I have is today.  Everything will end so that something new can begin.  The Universe will fill the void and I am expecting and accepting nothing less than amazing. 

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Spirit

Dancing with the Divine

Neither this body am I, nor soul,
Nor these fleeting images passing by,
Nor concepts and thoughts, mental images,
Nor yet sentiments and the psyche’s labyrinth.
Who then am I?
A consciousness without origin,
Not born in time, nor begotten here below.
I am that which was, is and ever shall be,
A jewel in the crown of the Divine Self,
A star in the firmament of the luminous One. ~Rumi 

Oh how easy is it to forget we are simply Spirit, made of God. We are Divine Mind, the Universal One.  And we cling desperately to our humanness. There are moments we remember who we are, dip our soul into the Infinite and breathe Spirit.  But we flee back to the body, back to the monkey mind, back to the familiar.  Our ego wants to be defined by our belief in our individuality, that we are special, there is no one like me.  When I define as Spirit then I am you and you are me and we are one. There is no separation. We are the fingers on the hand, the waves of the ocean.  Do I become less or more?  It is more, so much more, and yet I cling to my very human nature as a shield, not wanting to lose the little I know of myself.  More and more I am willing to remember who I am and dance with Spirit. 
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Spirit

Being a Blessing

I was reading a quote this morning on the universe and it being an echo.   One line stuck me “The Universe is not blessing you”….what??? I feel blessed all the time.  I count my blessings,  I say thank you for my blessings.  I am all about being blessed.  So the universe does not bless me, how can this be? And I got it, I am the blessing.  Of course I am blessed.  The universe is responding to me, to what I am giving out.  I am the blessing.  And I forgot that, or I never really made that leap before. Everything in my life is a reflection of me. Of the energy I generate.  So all these blessings I have, wonderful friends, a loving family, a safe home, great memories and dreams for the future, that is all me. I am these things, I am a wonderful friend, I love my family, I created my safe haven, my memories and my dreams.  Everyday I wake and am a blessing in this world.  So when you count your blessings, count yourself.  I am starting with me.

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