When the Story Becomes Hollow

We use stories to make sense of our experiences. These stories shift and change over the course of our relationship with them. The way we speak of an experience that just happened is different than the way we speak of that same experience a few weeks, months or many years later.

Our relationship with our stories defines and shapes us to greater and lesser degrees. Sometimes we become very attached to the story we tell, to the version of ourselves we have lived out over time.

Some of these stories are truly defining moments of our lives. Some of them offer moments of journey we visit over and over again, looking for lessons learned, looking for healing, looking for moving on. When I wrote Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness I described it as a process of peeling back the layers of the onion, only the onion seems to grow new layers even as we are shedding the outer ones. It can be annoying, frustrating and downright disheartening when we discover the story we thought we had outgrown still has life within us.

onion-276586_960_720These story themes are rooted deep within us. Depending on your beliefs, some of these patterns may have been carried into this life time from past lives (or future lives perhaps) and some of them may be within us as a result of being passed from one generation to another. We might not know or discover the root of the patterns we live out in life, relationship or typical conflicts we may find ourselves in.

IMG_4882So, when do you know the story is healed – finally, perhaps forever? I am sure there are many possible barometers but one of them (newly discovered in my awareness) is when the story begins to feel hollow. It has no substance, no catch, no grab, no hijack anymore. Like a quantum resonance you can see or sense it just within your field of awareness – like a ghost image asking to be let go. You could possibly put it on and wear it again, but like that comfortable old coat you use to wear seemingly forever, it no longer fits, no longer offers the protection or service it once did. It no longer defines you or your look – since your physical body often also changes noticeably when new levels of healing take shape.

I’m not sure it is something we achieve. I think it is something that graces our awareness in the moment it is revealed. Then we can acknowledge the journey, thank the story for all it has offered us over the time we have carried it and turn our awareness to the future and to the new story that is already emerging within the fabric of the old one that no longer defines us.

Gift of the Hit

About three years ago, I sat down for a coffee with Peter Davison to get caught up and share a few stories about journeys – soul journeys – and he invited me to become a  contributing author to Gift of the Hit: Collected Stories Volume 1. Peter’s own story about being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his 40’s and the openings that cracked through his veneer of a dedicated, world traveling bachelor and speaker to allow him to love and be loved is inspirational. As he shared his story with others, naturally others shared their stories with him and the inspiration for Gift of the Hit was born.

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The story I share is “Soul Journey Beyond Human Tragedy” – another articulation of my mother’s journey with dementia, her death and how that called me to ask myself did I truly believe what I said about my own beliefs – about consciousness traveling, about soul work and soul journey. The answer became a resounding yes, but it took a few years of traveling with my mother in her journey to fully understand what that meant.

“The human tragedy story is so apparent it can obliterate the soul journey perspective. It is often hard to see beyond the sights, sounds and smells assaulting your senses, such as those that would stun me as I walked the halls of the “home” (the long-term care facility that was home to my mother in her last years). It was all so blinding, making it almost impossible to see anything beyond the physical. It was nearly impossible to see the fullness and vibrancy that exists just beyond the veil.

“Now, I am aware of the bubble of light that surrounds the home. The beautiful souls who therein might be making contributions to the world that most of us cannot see or understand and that makes my own spirit more joyful. I now hold my mother’s journey with an added degree of lightness and delight, which i have no doubt she feels. I know she is a great teacher for me – a teacher of journey, a teacher of love and a teacher of dying and death.” p. 62, Gift of the Hit, Vol 1. Special thanks to Joscelyn Duffy , who is also a contributor, for editing.

gift-of-the-hit-book-photoThe stories contributed to Volume 1 speak about courage, perseverance, resiliency, hope and more. Check out the list of authors, some of whom are personal friends, and story titles.

Back to School – Markers of Life Journey

“Whoever you’ve been and wherever you’ve been, it never leaves you,” Bruce Springsteen said, expanding upon this thought with the most Springsteen-esque metaphor possible: “I always picture it as a car. All your selves are in it. And a new self can get in, but the old selves can’t ever get out. The important thing is, who’s got their hands on the wheel at any given moment?”

Vanity Fair, Oct 2016 interview with Bruce Springsteen on his soon to be released book, Born to Run

It is back to school day here in Nova Scotia where I live. My social media feed is full of back to school pictures and, yes, there is one of my son, taken by his father, who is now a fourteen year old Grade 9 student.

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I was out for a walk this afternoon at the time the buses were arriving home with their precious cargo, parents waiting at the bus stop or, if the school was close enough, walking their kids home from school.

I reminiscenced about those first days of school, as a mother of young children heading out into the world in their first real way – on the bus. My oldest child, who is now 25, had a spring practice run at going to school, an orientation day. He got on the wrong bus coming home. I waited and waited. It was before my cell phone days and his brother, who was a year and a half younger, was napping at the time. I was torn – not knowing if the bus was about to arrive or if I drove off to find him would I miss him and how would that be and do I wake my napping child or not. How far from the house could I reasonably venture. And not having had any experience as a parent of a school aged child. I finally tracked him down by calling the school. I don’t remember if I had to go pick him up at school. I’m sure I did. I do remember the emotions and uncertainty I experienced.

One kid off to school in 1996, one in 1997 and one in 2007. Precious memories, all of them. And, I am not nostalgic for those days, I do not wish to have them back. Not how small my kids were or what stage in life I was at. Lots of journey between now and then – for me and for each of my still precious children (with a couple more added thanks to engagements). I’m proud of each and every one of them and how they engage the world now from their current vantage points.

Springsteen’s quote really comes alive for me as I reflect on these many stages and phases of life. All those selves – my 1996, ’97, 2007 selves – they are all in the car with me. But none of those selves are driving in this time. They are all a part of who I am and who I am today is part of who I will be tomorrow. I might need a bigger car.

Listening Another Person Into Healing

Recently, I agreed to be interviewed for an academic research project about an intense period / experience of my life. A period that is years behind me, that I can now speak about in a much more detached way than when I was in it or immediately past it. The interviewer knows some of my story. In the role of interviewer, her job was to listen, not to interact with my story.

Listen into beingAfter she left, I found myself at times weeping for no explicable reason. The tears just flowed. Beautiful, gracious, glorious release.

I am reminded of the power of just listening, not interpreting, not trying to put words in someone’s mouth. It is a witnessing that can bring another person into being. Can surface what needs to be surfaced for healing.

I don’t know what was there that was surfaced. I don’t need to know specifics. I am aware that something I did not know was still there was released. I am shifting shape yet again as I lean even more fully into this journey to openheartedness. As I answer the call of what is before me.

And I am grateful.

When was the last time you listened to someone else’s story? Just listened. With curiositySlide1 and compassion, no judgment. When you waited to see if they were finished their thoughts – because more thoughts, more aspect of story arises in the silence – before you asked your next question? When the questions you ask are for the benefit of the story teller and not for your own?

When you listen well enough, you can listen another person into being. When you listen well enough, you can listen another person into healing. Try it. See what happens.

Are you holding your sadness as a treasured possession?

 

5-of-cups-legacy-of-the-divine2Every now and then a question shows up that captures attention as if it was lit up in flashing lights. This happened to me the other morning as I pulled my usual three tarot cards from the Legacy of the Divine deck (my favourite) to help me imagine what the story of my day could be like. One of the cards I pulled was the 5 of cups. Not necessarily a favourite, I decided to open the interpretation book to see what jumped out at me.

Why do you sometimes cradle your sadness like treasured possessions? Are you afraid that the power of your heart will shatter it and force you to leave the safety of the shadowy misery you cling to?

Sadness as a treasured possession? Shadowy misery? Crap! And wham! Both at the same time.

A while ago I wrote about what is real and what is illusion. And I’ve written about my passive aggressive relationship with the law of attraction. And about limiting beliefs.

The journey of life has a way of dishing up illusion so we imagine we are in a different place than we are. It also has a way of waking us up to reality. Like these questions.

I feel the tremulousness of these moments in my life. Partner I love deeply who lives in another country. Re-imagining our work and our businesses. Feeling the pull of life, co-parenting, scheduling. Desiring ease and not always experiencing it. Am I cradling sadness as a treasured possession? Is it part of how I define my story? It is not what I want to hear, to believe is true in this moment but there it is right in front of me.

Am I clinging to shadowy misery? Am I allowing this to define and shape the story of my life in this present moment?

What to do about it?

  1. Allow the recognition of the response evoked by the questions. Yes, there is truth there. Still. After many years of journey.
  2. Invoke compassion for myself. It is a journey. It is not right or wrong or too long. No self-recrimination, just awareness.
  3. Journal to surface and release the patterns so deeply entrenched in my being that sometimes I fear they will never be fully released and most times now I can recognize as part of the unfolding journey – the journey to openheartedness.
  4. Meditate on the vibration I am aspiring to, to let it permeate my physical and soul essence to continue to attract my dreams.
  5. Take concrete steps, even if small, to show – myself, creator, the universe – that the dream I hold is the direction in which I am moving.

I share this because I know I am not the only one cradling sadness and clinging to shadowy misery. If this resonates, know you are not alone and follow the steps.

Facts, Stories, Courage, Justice, The Court System

I went to court once. It was a simple matter. I was contesting a $275 ticket I was given for illegally walking across the railroad tracks in Bedford, NS. Yup. Turns out that’s illegal. Who knew? The policeman, who reluctantly issued the ticket (which is different story), did tell me that I could contest it in court. So, I went to court. I watched all the cases called before mine. Citizens, representing themselves, showing up to contest tickets of various sorts – not wearing a seatbelt, not wearing a helmet while cycling, other ones that I don’t recall. What I do recall is that systematically every case was “won” by the court – which had a lawyer present, a process, witnesses (usually policemen) with notes. The contestants had none of these. I knew, that had my case gone forth, there was no way I was walking out of there a winner. Except, thankfully, the policeman who issued the ticket did not show up. My case was dismissed. I walked away with a glimpse into a system of law that is not necessarily a system of justice but a system of process.

Scales of JusticeI am reminded of this little incident by a very high profile celebrity sexual offence case taking place before a judge in Canada at this moment. A case which is not only re-traumatizing the accused’s victims but a host of other people – primarily women – who have experienced something similar in their lives. It makes me think of the system of law, which may or may not be the same as justice. A court system that wants to protect an accused as innocent until proven guilty, so much so that the victims are on trial as much as or more than the accused and seem to have to prove their innocence, and even purity, rather than have it assumed.

I am thinking about the women who have had the courage to pursue this case, or similar ones, in the courts, who are taking the stand, whose stories are being cross examined in the search to cast doubt on the facts of the testimony. Re-victimizing victims, as if it wasn’t hard enough the first time, or difficult enough to step forward. It is a system that does not encourage women, perhaps any victim, to step forward, because it treats them harshly.

It is supported by a societal wide phenomenon that immediately casts doubt on any woman’s story of sexual assault – casting doubt on the woman herself. Even when many women step forward about the same man, as is the case in this situation,  there is more doubt about their character than his, as if there is a conspiracy against him. “Why didn’t you go to the police?” they are asked. “Why didn’t you speak up sooner?” Over and over again the answer is that they did not think they would be believed. Which is exactly what happens.

The women in this case say that the accused was, in one moment, the epitome of charming and, in the next moment, he was hitting them in the head or choking them in a rage. There is consistency across the stories, the ones in the courtroom, the ones reported in the media, the general knowledge that existed in the milieus of social settings the accused and the victims found themselves in. Part of the challenge to the credibility of the women is that, in this case, they often describe an initial encounter and then a subsequent encounter. Why did they engage the subsequent encounter if the first went so badly, is the obvious question? Surely it couldn’t have been that bad? Surely now you are only seeking revenge?

In reflecting on this and some of my own experiences (not nearly so extreme) in life, it occurs to me there is a gap created by cognitive dissonance – a gap in stimulus and response. A public figure. Charming to the extreme. Seeking some of these women out. Surely the rage is a momentary lapse, not the essence of this person? The mind is resorting to logic to try to make sense of what just happened. The beating, the rage, is “out of character” with what is known or presumed known about this individual and these women found themselves back in his vicinity, imagining a better situation, imagining a respectful encounter. Surely you have encountered such a cognitive dissonance – where it takes your brain awhile to catch up to what your experience is telling you to be true? I know I have been.

And then there is the role of facts. The court system is interested in the facts and in evidence. Part of the issue in testifying is that we relay our experiences through stories, stories that are a mix of facts, emotions and values. And there is research that disputes the idea that factual memory is accurate. If you have ever told a story and had someone contradict the “facts” you relayed with their own, you know how difficult it is to agree on the “facts”, because people remember different things. Was it this or was it that? Who knows for sure?

It is easy to get stories confused for several additional reasons. Stories are how we make meaning of our experiences. And we rarely ever tell the same story twice in exactly the same way. As time goes by, how we relate to the story and the experience may shift and change, as we try to imagine it never happened, or as we heal, as we move on, as we learn from our experiences, as we gain distance from the event. The story you tell now about something you experience today may be very different a month from now, a year from now, a decade from now. Yet in a trial, the person on the stand is expected to tell the exact same story, without variance, from the time they gave their statement to the time of the trial and, at a minimum, months, if not years have gone by. Any contradictions become “proof” of their inconsistency and unreliability as a witness.

When I was writing Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness, a memoire spanning several decades, I came across my own writing from a decade before – writing done very close to the experiences I was describing. How I remembered those situations and the rawness of the writing immediately following the experiences was very different than how I recalled them a decade later.

courtroomI find my heart breaking for these women on the stand and for the many more who refused to go there because there is too much trauma, too much shame, too much self doubt and self recrimination. I am torn by believing people do have a right to a fair trial and wondering if that should not also apply to the courageous people who step forward to testify. And I continue to wonder if our justice system delivers justice while understanding the need and increasing demand for processes like restorative justice.

And mostly my heart aches for a society that will dismiss the voice of a woman to such a degree that even in numbers there is doubt. My heart aches for a society where people are ostracized for pointing out what is common knowledge in a community, an organization or a social system. I wonder how we have come to be such great protectors of the shadow side, the underbelly, and so afraid of the light. I yearn for places and opportunities for people to be supported and celebrated for doing the right thing, for stepping forward, for making us all safer. And, I hold space from my little corner of the world, for each person who speaks a truth known to many openly and courageously. May we be these people.

Love is the Conversation We Need To Have

Love is the conversation we need to have.  A post from Dogma to Divine I read some time ago illuminated for me the need to write about love.  Love.  Not romantic love. Not love with attachment or conditions.  Love as a way to be in the world.  Love as a way to hold space – with others, for others, for ourselves, for conversations that want and need to happen.  Love as a healing energy.  Love as a pathway in the world.  Love as an illuminator.

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Fear tries to obliterate love.  The inner voice of the judge tries to shut it down.  We have come to associate so much disappointment with love, we are afraid of love.  Afraid to let it wash over us, our relationships, our way of being in the world. We are afraid we will be disappointed, exposed, hurt.  Afraid we will be vulnerable in ways that allow others to take advantage of us, our good heart, our good intentions – in which case it is no longer love but something posing for love.

We are afraid to know ourselves from the field of love.  We are afraid to know others from the field of love.   Yet it is who we are at the core.

It is hard to love others when we do not love ourselves.  It is hard to let love in from others when we do not love ourselves.

Love is misunderstood.  We have come to attach so many conditions – or feel conditions attached –  to it that rediscovering what love is becomes a practice, a journey to open heartedness. If we allow it.  If we invite it.  We are not even aware of the conditions and the expectations we attach to it.  To those we love.  “If you loved me, you would….”  Yup.  Fill in the blank.  For anyone you are in relationship with.  We all have many of them.

If you loved me, I wouldn’t have to tell you what I feel, what I need from you.  If you loved me, you would just know.  Because you don’t know, you don’t love me.  Now I am hurt. Now I shut down.

If you loved me, I wouldn’t have to love myself.  But if I cannot love myself, I cannot let your love for me in.  I deem myself unworthy, undeserving of your love.  Not romantic love.  Human to human love.  Spirit to spirit love.  Soul to soul love.  Just love.

We discover love and how we relate to love through relationship with others.  Yes, romantic love counts here too.  And it is so much more than that.  Children. Parents. Siblings. Friends. Colleagues. Acquaintances. Strangers on the street. Those who love us.  Those who challenge us.  Those who don’t even know they impact us.  Or don’t know how much.

Disappointment arises when expectations, hopes, conditions we are carrying are not met.  When we harbour this disappointment it casts shadow over the field of love. When we replay it over and over again, it grows.  Then we feel the need to armour ourselves because we have learned love only leads to disappointment.  Anger shows up.  That we would be treated so.  That someone else doesn’t care enough about us.  That people are only mean and selfish anyway.

The journey to open heartedness invites the inquiry – into hurt, pain, grief, disappointment, attachment.  It invites the release of whatever shows up during the inquiry. It invites forgiveness.  Of self.  Of others.  An opening up of space.  Expansiveness.  Generosity.  It also invites inquiry into joy, beauty, delight and love itself.  It is a pathway to peace.   A practice we don’t get perfect but we can perfect the practice of inquiry and deepening the journey to open heartedness.

Practicing love invites us into our own vulnerability.  A vulnerability that comes from our willingness to see ourselves fully and allow others to see us.  In all of the imperfectness of who we are.  Vulnerability that invites  us to be in our strength and power.  We can be in a field of love and make different choices about different relationships. To be in some.  To not be in others.  To make conscious choices. To appreciate our choices. To make choices that invite generosity of spirit, not from a place of hurt, anger or denial – although some of the choices may start there.  We have the opportunity to shift the shape of the story at any time.  It comes with hosting self. Growing awareness.  Growing practice.

Generosity and a willingness to love others without an expectation of performance in return for love or even having that love returned in the same way.  This is a difficult practice at first.  To let go.  To not follow a path of hurt or shame.  Just to offer love.

Love is the conversation we need to have.  Now.  Always.  With each other.  With ourselves.  As we journey deeper into open heartedness, we grow our acceptance of self.  Of others in their journey, wherever they are in their journey.  It doesn’t always require words.  It can simply radiate from the heart.  Become a way of being in the world.  The more it becomes this, the more people respond, even when they don’t know that they are, or what they are responding to.  Love is the conversation we need to have.  All of us. Every where.

Originally posted on December 24, 2012 at Shape Shift Strategies Inc.

Human Tragedy Story Often Obscures Soul Journey Perspective

For a long time, I have believed we are soul journeyers having a human experience. The beauty and challenge of life is that our assumptions and beliefs get tested along the way.  In 2012, for me, one way has been through my mother’s journey.

adimirkush_Butterly

Painting by Adimir Kush

When the symptoms of my mother’s dementia were becoming more obvious in the years before she went into long term care, I knew it as a soul journey and experienced it as a human tragedy story.  This became more pronounced when she went into long term care.  Instead of being the only person in a household living out a bizarre new set of behaviours,  losing her capacity to communicate and do simple things like change the channel on the TV, she became one of many old and dying people no longer able to care for themselves, most living in their own little diminishing physical worlds.

The human tragedy story is amplified in these circumstances and places.  It is hard to see past the story of tragedy when it stares you in the face as you walk down hallways that evoke very visceral reactions in what you see, smell, hear or otherwise encounter – even in a place as loving and caring as the place my mother experienced as home in the last four years of her life.

CorridorHow many people came up to me, my brother or my father after mom’s funeral to share amazing stories about her that captured the essence of who she was and then proceeded to talk about how they just couldn’t visit her at Harbourview Haven.  How hard it was if she didn’t seem to recognize them.  How hard it is to be in that building when, as a culture, we have become disconnected from the death chapter of the life cycle.  We no longer experience it as part of the natural flow of life but as something to be feared.  Walking in a place where death is imminent generates fear and discomfort for many of us.  It did for me when I first began visiting my mother but, through my mother, the shape of my experience shifted.

For the few who were able to manage a visit or two, they expressed how amazing it was when there was a flicker of recognition in something she said.  I learned how many people besides me she called “little one” (really mom?!) and that was a point of reference for them.

There are others who saw enough through the human tragedy story to visit often.  My mother had a few of those regular visitors although we often didn’t even know it since she couldn’t remember who visited or when they did.  Deeply grateful for those dear friends.

The length of mom’s journey with dementia and her stay in long term care, invited me more deeply into this paradox of understanding  the human tragedy dressing of soul journey.   The phrase “oh, that poor soul” makes me chuckle now.  We use that phrase to describe the human tragedy perspective.  It is the physical experience that appears poor, not the soul journey perspective if you believe, like I do, that we make some choices before we manifest into physical form about what it is we want to experience for our soul journey this time around.

As my mother become more disembodied, I embodied the soul journey perspective from a deeper, more encompassing place of understanding.  Towards the end, her human tragedy story didn’t register for me anymore, only the soul journey perspective.  This gave me a high degree of peace during her long transition process, allowing me to live my life fully even while being present to my mother’s journey and our family care around it.

For the gifted people who work at Harbour View Haven, it seems to me they also see past the human tragedy perspective, treating each individual with full dignity and respect.  Treating them as if they are, what we consider, fully functioning, fully present human beings.  It was a gift to observe this most keenly in my mother’s final hours. It made me wonder what would happen if  we all treated others all the time with this kind of dignity and respect – whether we thought they deserved it, whether we thought they were fully human or not.

Living simultaneously with my mother’s journey, my journey and the rest of life, I’ve been thinking about how to express this all so it does not fuel the human tragedy story. I now speak about “the many streams of life”.  We are all in many streams of life all at the same time. Stuff happens.  Stuff comes up.  There is a life giving invitation to be well in all of it, although a more typical response is to be stressed by all the things that come our way that we have to take care.

I’m leaning into this invitation to flow with the many streams of life as though that is what they are, rather than challenges.  Greater spaciousness beautifully shows up.

And then there are the lessons of embodiment that have been present for me in a big way already in and since 2012.  As I embody my experiences and my learning I understand more deeply my life’s events, my relationships and my soul’s calling.

I’m not saying the human tragedy story isn’t real.  But the soul journey perspective is also just as real although harder for many to see, obscured by the human tragedy story.  The soul journey perspective allows me to live into joy and delight and allows me to fall in loveover and over again in a way living into the human tragedy story does not.

For my mother, I continue to experience a dance of joy, delight and lightness as her spirit soarspixies_in_the_sky-1868 free from the human tragedy unfolding of her physical body.  She continues to be my teacher and my friend and very, very real in my human experience.

(Originally published at Shape Shift Strategies Inc. on March 1, 2012)

Expanding Awareness: A Few Suggestions For Growing Your Consciousness

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Lake Park, MN

Have you ever walked in the woods and felt yourself enveloped by the silence? Laid in the sun and lost awareness of everything around you except the warmth of the sun on your body? Or sat by the ocean and experienced the timelessness of the sand and waves, understanding your own life as a grain of sand on an ever changing beach? Or entered a cathedral and felt the history of the ages whisper in your soul? Have you encountered experiences and stories that raised every hair on the back of your neck?

All of this is information. All of this is expanded awareness, expanded consciousness. How do you go about intentionally expanding your awareness, growing your consciousness? Here are a few simple suggestions.

Pay attention to naturally occurring situations – any or all of the ones mentioned above and more – let your attention rest there and slowly expand your “gaze” to “see” or sense more. This is not necessarily seeing with your physical eyes, although it can be that too. This is seeing with your second sight, or your third eye, or your imagination – whatever you want to call it. Let a story unfold – or make one up. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. And when you know that your body is around 65% water, you begin to understand how much of what we think is real might actually be illusion.

Soften your gaze anytime, anywhere – including in your own living room, back yard, in a place with people – airports, malls. You can allow the energy that is in the space you are in float around you as if it has its own movement, its own story, its own being – because it does.

You can tap into your imagination, letting it run away in its own directions. Where does the inspiration for imagination come from anyway? Do we know it doesn’t come from some metaphysical influences?

pixies_in_the_sky-1868When you are in the woods and you soften your gaze, can you see the wood nymphs, the faeries, the elves and other entities that wander there, that call it home? (If you are wondering if it is real or if you are making it up, see the previous post – it doesn’t matter.) If you could interact with them or talk to them, what would that interaction look like or sound like? Every time I expand my conscious to invite interaction with what I cannot see with my eyes but can sense with my being, the very first feeling is one of gratitude and appreciation for the acknowledgement. “Thank you for seeing me.” And very often there is light heartedness, joy and delight. A sense of playfulness. Hmmm, yes. Playfulness and light heartedness. True story.

It seems particularly important to see and acknowledge these beings / non-beings in city parks and green areas because so much more of the city’s energy is weighted down with concrete, asphalt and other man-made building materials. Every time these beings are seen and acknowledged it fuels them, gives them additional sparks of life.

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Beach photo courtesy of Peter Moorhouse

When you are on the beach, let your imagination wander into the water and see what comes into your awareness. The sea creatures – physical, non-physical, mythical. You can see them dancing on the waves, in drops of water, in the way the rays of the sun touch the surface and penetrate the depths.

In cathedrals built eons ago, feel the blood, sweat and tears of the men and women who built these structures. Feel awe at the feat as well as the grief and sorrow of those that lost their lives, the harshness of the times and circumstances. Imagine what it was like in the day they were built and what vision and perseverance it would take to bring it into being. And all the sacred ceremony that has filled the cavernous spaces inside, still alive in the density of the air.

notre dame paris cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

The ways to expand your awareness, expand your consciousness are not even limited to your imagination, although they are limited by doubt, by questioning, by not believing. Allow – no, invite – yourself to play, to dream, to imagine. And learn to trust your own experiences.

My Passive-Aggressive Relationship with the Law of Attraction and Some Simple Steps

It is safe to say that the Law of Attraction was not on my radar prior to my life crashing and burning around me when I was in my mid-thirties. Up to the point of dramatically losing my job and my first marriage falling apart, I was blissfully unaware, and some days I still wish I was.

When it did come into my awareness through Alan Cohen’s book, The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, it was a tremendous relief, almost a lifesaver, at a very dark and paralyzing time in my life when my only way of dealing with each day was to look only at what was right in front of me, not the next day and certainly not the next week. Essentially the message I received was: if I attract the circumstances of my life to me, and I had powerfully attracted destructive forces, then I had equally the power to attract good into my life. And that was a hopeful promise and expectation. It meant my life didn’t have to be all bad. That this day and circumstance did not need to be a predictor of my future. Hallelujah!

Since then, for almost two decades, my relationship with the law of attraction could probably be described as passive-aggressive and fraught with pitfalls along the way.

The basic premise is, set your intention, write it out, visualize it and then let it go. Cool, simple, easy. Until it isn’t cool, simple or easy. Especially when those big dreams of enough money, enough opportunity, enough love and enough success don’t materialize. Are they right around the corner or miles and miles away? Do I stay with it or give up on it and how do I know the difference?

I have experienced myself, and witnessed others, move from hopeful anticipation that this stuff really does work to painful desperation in their visualizations (“I trust, really I do, but how much longer do I need to wait?”). Some books and authors, The Secret being one of them, would have you believe it is as simple as visualizing – forget the how, just know what you want. It’s not what you do, it’s your state of mind, your energetic field, the vibes you give out.

Then we look around to see what other people are doing, judge ourselves for not measuring up and, in our jealousy of believing they are achieving something that eludes us, judge them for not being perfect enough, for being inauthentic or for abandoning their values in the pursuit of success – all projection, by the way, since rarely do we have enough knowledge of them or their path to truly know their intentions, their values or whether they are being authentic or inauthentic.

I am not totally disillusioned with the law of attraction but I have been in deep inquiry about what works, when it works and why it matters – to me anyway. While it is not as simplistic as thinking happy thoughts and life will be happy and full of success, there are a few simple guides I am learning to adhere to as my passive-aggressive relationship with the law of attraction becomes more moderate (and seemingly more successful).

Self Talk

It is true that it is as simple as: our self talk influences how we feel and essentially our basic health. Aside from all the of the promises offered by the law of attraction, when our self talk is positive rather than frustrated, anxious or worried, our anti-aging hormone goes up, our immune system hormone goes up and cortisol (nicknamed the stress hormone) goes down. When we are more at peace with ourselves, it shows on the outside, others notice and are attracted to us. We make better decisions. We have more energy. We treat ourselves and others better and they treat us better – because in this process we also fuel healthy boundaries. Win-wins all the way around.

Setting Intention and Acting

It is still true, as Yogi Berra said, that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

And the truth is, if we are not consciously setting intention, the pathways are just being filled up for us – by circumstances, by other people, by non- or in-decision. What is it you want for yourself and for your life? Grow your clarity on this, imagine the end result and let it go. But don’t stay home on your mediation cushion or on your couch waiting for the miracles to start rolling in. Begin to do what you can to move in the direction of the intentions you set. One of my favourite teachers in this respect is Mike Dooley and his messages from The Universe. Love, love, love the beautiful balance of dream, dream, dream, remember you are a forever being and everything will be fine and ACT. Do what you can, when you can, from where you are or nothing will happen. And acting in accordance with your intention takes your attention off whatever it is you think isn’t manifesting in this moment.

IMG_1495What I have witnessed over and over in my life is that clarity of intention does bring results. Sometimes in immediate timing like when my second marriage ended and the assets were finally being separated and I was moving into my own place. The house was prepped, physically and energetically (I would meditate outside, walk around the house, say my goodbyes and invite welcoming energy), put on the market and, against all odds, it sold in 24 hours. My new home had come on the market just before that – ready and waiting for me. In three weeks, I was in a physical locality that represented sanctuary, joy, movement and home for me.

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Me and my sweetie

Sometimes it takes awhile and a few tries. Prior to my second marriage, I began to imagine what my ideal relationship might look and feel like. It was supposed to be my second marriage. It wasn’t. I let go of the idea, quite content to be joyful alone. And then love tapped me on the shoulder in the most unexpected, improbable and gentlest of ways and the relationship I imagined plus more showed up. It is not what I expected it to look like or how, but it is a gift I cherish every day.

Who Cares What Other People Are or Are Not Doing; What Am I Doing?

Focusing on what other people are doing or not doing, imagining how successful other people are, worried that there is “not enough” for everybody so I won’t get “my share” are all counter-productive distractions that do not reflect healthy self talk but is the purview of your “itty-bitty-shitty committee”. While your attention is in minding someone else’s business instead of your own, opportunities pass you by. What is yours to do? Do that. Pursue it with singular focus – while keeping your peripheral vision active to catch those things that activate, fuel and will manifest your own visions and intentions. Keep your head down, your eyes focused on your own destiny, your actions aligned with your intention and more of what you want will come your way.

Appreciation and Gratitude For What Works and for “Your People”

Pause. Breathe. Look around. Who is there with you, supporting you, respecting you, valuing you, working with you in the movement toward your intentions? Deep gratitude to these people. They matter. And, notice how far you’ve come from time to time so you can begin to believe that more is possible, your vision is attainable and maybe more than you ever imagined.

Review Your Own Relationship with the Law of Attraction

Read a lot of stuff on the law of attraction. I have. Sort through what resonates for you. I like a lot of what Abraham-Hicks offers. And Napolean Hill‘s Think and Grow Rich is a classic. One of my favourites is Florence Scovell-Shinn. She wrote this little 100 page book: The Game of Life and How to Play It, which for a time, practically became a bible for me. I still use affirmations from her work and it was a simple one that made me feel like I finally actually understood prayer for maybe the first time in my life. “Following the path of love, all things are added; for God is love and God is supply.” Or you could substitute ‘Source’ or ‘creator’ or ‘Allah’ or whatever works for you for God. Because it is whatever works for you not what I think it should or shouldn’t be or even what works for me.

Limiting Beliefs

Examine your limiting beliefs (which I intend to be my next post). Focus on what matters. Do not suffer fools gladly (including yourself) and Go Get ‘Em!