Sunday, March 22, 2015

3/23/15—Bringing a Mystery to a Close

The Pig, forced to serve as so much
fluff for a mysterious, demanding master.
Today's post brings a long-standing mystery here at the Daily Draw to a close. But unlike many of my  (now) weekly blog posts, there will be no moral to this story. No deep lesson to learn here. It's just a story, like all the many others that play out on the streets of this big, blue marble known as Earth. 

It begins, as most stories do, with a stuffed pig, complete with reindeer antlers. This pig was a favorite point of contention in back yard battles between Magick and Mystic, two of my dogs. Until Mystic came along, we had a strict "no stuffed toys in the backyard" rule. I'm not at all what you'd call a fastidious person, but when it comes to the thought of bug-infested stuffed toys laying wet on the ground, then possibly making their way back inside, I draw the line.

But Mystic is a force mightier than me when it comes to this. So when The Pig, The Squirrel, Blub Blub and The Racoon (not a part of this story at all) made it into the back yard, I relented. I didn't even notice them disappearing, one-by-one from their fresh-air lair until...the pig situation. 

Anyway, for a couple of weeks I had noticed something sticking out of the side of my house. Figuring it would just fix itself, I ignored it. This is a strategy I frequently work with around this home. But after a few weeks, I could ignore it no more. So I went around the side of the house to investigate and what I saw shocked me—The Pig, antlers and all, was no longer in the back yard. It was in the front yard in the roof vent of my home!

How did it get there? Who put it there? These questions would burn within me and my online friend's circle for 2.5 years, bringing new developments on a regular basis, before it would finally get solved. 

So I noticed the pig for the first time in fall. Clearly someone had built a comfy nest in my roof vent, but who? The Pig, though missing stuffing and squeakers throughout its body, was too large for a single bird to carry, but a visual inspection of the vent indicated that the space wasn't very deep for a nest and the slats were probably too close together for a squirrel. 

The Pig, cast asunder when it was
no longer useful. 
The first new development came in winter. The Pig was spit out of the roof vent, left on the dead
branches beneath to languish as if its life held no meaning. Along with the pig was the rest of the nest. Clearly someone had been evicted in the middle of the night and all their furnishings left on the curb. 

Then, the following spring, I noticed the pig had moved! It was no longer in the branches as it had been. It was now down on the ground and moved a couple of feet. Someone was trying to rebuild from the eviction! They never got the pig back into the vent, but that didn't deter them. Months later, Blub Blub, a slobber-soaked, fully-stuffed fish appeared beneath the roof vent, too. 

Now to illustrate the degree of difficulty, the perpetrator would have to remove the animal from my back yard, climb a tree/jump a fence, then make its way 20-some feet into the air. While a branch did reach up that way, was it strong enough to hold a squirrel with a toy in its mouth? It didn't appear so. And since the dropped toys were always found just beneath the vent, I concluded it must be birds working in a gang. I mean, a squirrel could drop a toy anywhere...it could get caught in the branches of the tree, etc. But the toys were always found in the same spot. 

Blub Blub, an innocent victim of a land animal.
And about the time Blub-Blub was vent-napped, I noticed a clamor coming from the side of my house. So I went out to investigate and found, sure enough, a large gang of birds, wearing what appeared to be black hoodies. When they saw me, they immediately started to act casual—and guilty! At the time, there had been a rash of car break-ins in the neighborhood and the thought that whatever was stealing spare change from car consoles might also be fingering my babies' toys—chilling!

So this is where the story left off for nearly a year. But before the snows came this year, I saw The Squirrel—the toy my dog had used to torment the squirrels that tormented them in the back yard—was now laying prostrate, still stuffed, beneath my roof vent. I left him there, because that's what I do. I had tried to return Blub-Blub back to the yard..to reintegrate him to his old life. But oddly, we have not seen Blub Blub since. At least if I leave them by the roof vent, I know where they are. 

With this development, the mystery was soon solved!
Anyway, flash forward a year. I'm returning home from an errand the other day and, as I'm getting out of my car, I glance up at the roof vent and see the culprit enter the vent! After all this time, I had an answer! And I also had a good laugh. 

So the answer is...it's a squirrel! And just when I doubted that a squirrel could squeeze himself through the vent slats, I had one in the back yard demonstrate their special talent. They can flatten themselves out like a pancake, like their bones are made of rubber or something. No kidding. They can do it effortlessly and on the fly, too. Some squirrel dude (possibly the culprit) did on the top of our fence as a demonstration before my very eyes. 

I did not have a camera for any of this, so you'll just have to trust me. But my big laugh came when I imagined what it must have looked like for the real squirrel to be carrying a stuffed squirrel up a tree to stuff into a vent for his added comfort! So maybe you can carry that vision with you throughout this week and you can smile, too. 


Sunday, March 15, 2015

3/16/15—Wanting More. And More. And More.

I've been thinking "more" lately. Not that I'm spending additional time in thought, but I've been thinking about the concept of "more" more often lately. 

It's a human urge, to a degree. I imagine we all have it, though some may have tamed it. It's nothing new. As a species we have sought more land, more food, more security, more money, more youth, more love, more comfort and more stuff since we've become "civilized", pretty much. And by "more", I mean more than is necessary for survival and/or happiness. In cave man days, we probably specialized in having just enough. But over time, as we moved out of caves and into homes and villages, the "more" has crept over us. 

You don't see much of that in the animal kingdom, outside of humans. Squirrels store up nuts, but probably not more than they need. And there's nothing wrong with having more than you "need". But I think it's important to question whether or not our desires for more are really healthy. 

There are certain benefits to the need for more. Chief among them is progress. Most inventions rise from need. We wanted more in the way of communication and invented the telegraph. Then we needed more again and invented the telephone. Then we needed more again and invented Skype, for example. All of that came from our insatiable need for more and better. 

The same thing goes on an individual level. We expect more from ourselves and we find ourselves performing better and becoming more successful. The whole concept of self improvement and even spirituality is based on the desire for more...more self love, more inner peace, more communion with God. 

But, as with most things in life, there's a thin line between healthy "more" and unhealthy "more". Wanting more food or sweets to the point of obesity is unhealthy. Wanting more money to the point of neglecting your family is unhealthy. Wanting more house to the point of entering into debts you can't pay is unhealthy. Wanting more alcohol to the point where you pass out is unhealthy. If you look around you, there are plenty of visible expressions of the need for more. But what about the more subtle "mores" in our lives...more attention, more affirmation, more acceptance? Those can be unhealthy, too. 

There's a show on TV called The Vikings that I watch. The theme song for this show goes like this....

"This will never end 'cause I want more. More. Give me more. Give me more."

In the context of the show, they are talking about how the warring and pillaging and murdering will never end because they are driven by the need for more. It costs them the lives of people they care about. It costs them in terms of time with their family. It costs in terms of security and peace of mind. It costs them in many ways. But they want the power, land, gold...whatever...that comes with invading new lands and slaughtering people more than they want peace and family. Of course, they would tell you they are doing it FOR peace and FOR family. But they're doing it at the expense of all that. There never comes a day when they settle down and just enjoy all the things they tell themselves they're doing this for. As the song goes, "this will never end because I want more."

On the backside of a quest for more is a feeling of lack or fear of lack. There are some occasions where I feel an "irrational need for more". This could be having an appetite for food when the belly is full. Or needing another pair of shoes when I have plenty or whatever. That's when the need is unhealthy. And the need will only be satisfied with understanding what's going on beneath it, what price you're paying for it and healing it. 

This past week I was faced with a question of "how much are you willing to pay to get X?" The price, in this case, was my sanity. And the "x" was money. In the past, I've paid that price many times for my job. But I see in the past year or two, that I'm not so willing to give up my own sense of peace and balance just to earn a buck anymore. Thank god my regular clients never ask me to pay that price, but from time to time as a consultant you get drop-ins who exact a heavy price on your energy and sanity in order to get the job done. 

So I've been thinking a lot about "more" and the cost of "more"...the cost of certain behaviors and the cost of certain presences in my life. As I'm getting older, I'm noticing that I'm no longer willing to pay the prices I once used to. And I'm also noticing that when I decide I'm not willing to pay the price, I'm not losing anything other than the weights of negativity that have been holding me back from bigger goals. I'm seeing the folly of "lack". 

All we really need is food, shelter and water. And love, maybe. I've got way more than my share of all of that. Any lack I feel is driven by something other than need...some insecurity or false sense of entitlement. Just as the song says, "this will never end because I want more," the need for more won't end until you stop wanting more. What I mean is that the day will never come that you'll be miraculously cured of your desire to drink too much, for example. You have to make it happen by making the want for more to stop...by not being willing to pay the price of the getting it...by not giving in. 

A good way to measure whether or not a need for more is healthy is to start being really honest with yourself. Does getting that "one more kewpie doll" make you feel fulfilled and happy? Or is that feeling only temporary, followed by anxiety anxiety and the further need for more? Is it really adding to your life or subtracting from it in terms of things like lying about buying kewpie dolls and spending more time shopping for kewpie dolls than doing things that feed your life in lasting and meaningful ways? You can't fix something you don't know is broken, so be honest with yourself, figure all the costs (and even healthy things have costs) and see if your desire is worth it. 

I recently got a message in a meditation about all of this and what came up was "there will always be enough." That's a comforting mantra to use when that urge for more comes along, especially since it's probably true. Most of the stuff we convince ourselves that we need is really just luxury...luxury to be enjoyed as such. But luxuries become mundane when you have them all the time and then you need more and more to feel the joy of luxury—until you can no longer feel the joy of it at all.   

I think the more we acknowledge and have gratitude for all we actually do have, the less we find ourselves wanting for more. Chances are, whatever you're struggling with is an irrational desire for more...a desire not driven by a long history of lack, but rather a fear of lack in the future or a lack of appreciation for what you have in the present. Figure all this out and you could have the keys to your own freedom and happiness. And that beats more kewpie dolls any day. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

3/9/15—Separating Science From Reality

A little over a week ago, the world learned something about perception as debates broke out over whether a certain dress is blue and black or white and gold. I think it gave a lot of people pause.

Just in the past week or so since then, I've come across three other non-related stories (and from credible sources, too.) There's this one that says the Big Bang may not have ever happened and that the universe may have had no beginning at all.  http://news.yahoo.com/big-bang-deflated-universe-may-had-no-beginning-140017504.html

Then there's this one that says it's possible humans may not have even seen the color blue hundreds of years ago...at least not as we know it. And they may not have even been capable of discerning it. http://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-blue-and-how-do-we-see-color-2015-2

Then there's this one that says humankind may have now existed a half million years before we previously thought we did. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-science-humans-idUSKBN0M024E20150304

To one degree or another, all those stories fly in the face of what we KNOW. They fly in the face of what science has told us and what science is pretty darned certain of. And so we believe science. And, in some ways, as a result, we become the like the people who don't even know blue exists. Because if we accept one way as our reality, then other ways become harder to see. 

Which leads to today's post. I get frustrated with science sometimes because the whole point of it is to find an answer for every question, as if something is only true and viable if we, as humans, can contain it in our minds...understand and explain it...wrap our heads around it. We think we're so important and wise that we can determine the answers to everything using our scientific proof and, without said proof, we determine that it isn't real, just a theory, and not worthy of serious thought by anyone but the most passionate of theorists.

In essence, we put the universe and its workings into a box that we lord over with our minds and intelligence—a box that's only as large as the limits of our intelligence and, given how much we DON'T know, it's a pretty small box. We're arrogant. It never occurs to us that our minds are not capable of understanding all that is at work in the universe. We never consider that some things can't be proven by math or research...that some things might defy measurement by instrument. That humans may not have the capacity to solve certain mysteries...or the senses to even know that certain things exist.

I used the robin as the picture today for a lot of reasons. First, it's an awesome picture. View it full size. The dude is looking right at me! Second, I used it because birds can see way more colors than we can see. They can see sharper, too. Plus they can fly and sense vibrations we can't. There are questions birds may have about our shared "reality" that we would never dream to ask, simply because our senses and abilities aren't refined enough to even know they exist. Finally, I posted the bird because even he doesn't know the answers. If he were a TRUE robin, he wouldn't be perched on my tree in the midst of a snow storm, weathering temperatures in the single digits...because science/observation/experience tells us that with robins comes spring. And I think the expression on the robin's face confirms even that reliable "truth" observed all the way since cave man times is fallible. 

We talk about gravity, for example, as if we have a grasp on it. But we don't know what other forms of gravity may exist in other solar systems or in other galaxies. We only know what's true about our solar system and we make assumptions on others based on how ours works and what we can observe with high-powered telescopes. And then we say science "knows" or has proven certain things about gravity, as if we understand it enough to say that. The fact is, physicists thought they knew all kinds of forces of nature until they took a look at how those forces interacted with things on the quantum level. Turns out, they knew little at all. 

So who's to say other galaxies don't have additional forces of science and physics governing them that we have no idea exist? Who's to say that they don't have minerals we don't know exist? If that story about the big bang never happening is true, then there go all the assumptions we've made about what all matter is made of across the universe. There may also be forms of life that thrive in extreme conditions that we don't even know exist. Heck, we're continually discovering new elements and lifeforms right here on earth. Since 1950, 21 new elements have been discovered. Five since 2000. 

The thing that really chaps my arse is when they decide Jupiter, for example, has no liquid water so it can't sustain life. Who says all forms of life need water to be sustained? That's how it works on our planet. And no forms of life have been discovered that don't need it. But again, all we know is how things work here and we don't even know half of that. So why do scientists—and the general population—just assume that because it's the rule our reality lives by, then it's the rule all realities live by? Have you ever heard two sides of an argument tell different stories? Everyone and every thing we know of lives a different reality, so why do we assume that billions of solar systems and galaxies all live by the reality we deem as true?

Don't get me wrong, science is great and needed and a noble passion to have and pursue. It has unlocked many mysteries for us. I just think it's arrogant for us to reduce everything to a formula or law, as if things have to make sense to US, the mighty human, to be real. Our dependence on science is limiting. And our belief that we have the power to slap laws on/draw a box around things that are infinite and uncontained—things we don't even understand and discover new things about every day—is arrogant. And limiting. And for scientists to tell us something is "impossible" or that something unexplainable is not real until it's proven, is arrogant. 

If you consider us all "consumers" of science, I think we've been sold a bit of a bill of goods when it comes to the way the word of science should be revered. We take it as a final answer, just like those took it as the final answer that the world was flat. Or that the sun revolved around the earth. That was the reality of the day, but it wasn't reality. And, again, I think science is a critical pursuit. But I guess I'm just questioning the utterly sheep-like way we take what science says as definitive. It's just one reality...the one human beings on planet earth have the capacity to understand. But there are way bigger realities out there that may or may not bend to math or scientific laws. 

Just like with the color blue in the story I linked above, I think we need to broaden our field of possibility to explore the things we can't prove and understand that our human perspectives and laws and theories don't comprise what is real and true. Maybe if our scientists opened themselves up more...or maybe if we didn't cling to science as having all the answers...we may learn to see colors and possibilities neither we, nor the robin, can even imagine perceiving today. 


Friday, March 6, 2015

3/6/15—Seeing What's Right In Front Of You

I was about to climb the stairs to bed the other night, when something stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the lighting...the way the light reflected warmly off my orange walls. But my eyes were transfixed by the sight of my dogs.

Each was curled up in their special spot. Two would join me momentarily, but they weren't quite ready to give up their comfy spots downstairs in favor of new comfy spots upstairs. Kizzie, on the other hand, couldn't wait for everyone to be gone so he could sanction the sofa and pass out, undisturbed, for the night.

I stood there at the bottom of the stairs for a couple minutes as I took the sight of them in...the most precious parts of my life. And I realized that this was the life I dreamed of living. 

I am living my dreams!

I mean, sure. In my actual dream life I was probably healthier, thinner, richer and a better housekeeper. But in that moment I was deeply fulfilled with the outcome thus far. Whatever parts of the dream I'm missing in my life, I know I have the capacity to get them if I pursue them. Those are just choices. But all the hard work to get to this moment is done. 

There was something else about that moment at the bottom of the stairs, thought. In that moment I realized I had always lived the life I dreamed. I've always been single. I've had this home and dogs for 15 years. I've always had friends and hobbies. For the most part, my business has always been good. I'm alive and kicking. I have the money I need to make do. I have things I believe in and passions I pursue. I make good choices, for the most part. I'm a positive influence. And I think I'm kinda cool. :D I've been that way all along. I just wasn't taking the time out to enjoy it...to view it from the bottom of the stairs in warmly lit light. 

So the past few days I've been noticing all the ways I put off my truly appreciative headspace in favor of pretty much everything from work to worrying. This isn't the first time it has occurred to me. We work our jobs, then come home and cook and take care of the family and go to bed and get up and do it again. And we forget to mull over the question, "what are we doing all this for?" If we don't have moments...hours...even days of living in the wonderful moment of "this is what I've always wanted and it's beautiful", then what is the prize in the bottom of our Cracker Jacks?

Why do we put that sheer enjoyment of life as a last priority? And I'm not talking about going out with your friends and laughing your ass off. That's part of it, sure. But I'm talking about walking in the blessed realization that you have what you always wanted and anything you don't have, you can make happen. Not everyone has that luxury in this world, but I'll bet most of you do...if you get out of that worrying-striving-planning-reflecting-doing-rushing-regretting-fixing-caring-for-and-trying-harder-to-be-something-else-occupied mind of yours. 

It's not just about gratitude. It's about putting some of that other energy toward simply loving the life you already have...sitting right in the moment and in the midst of your beautiful life. You can still think about the life you want to have and the things you need to change, because that's how dreams are achieved. But, really, when did you ever devote as much time to consciously loving and appreciating what you have—without countering that thought with all the things that are missing from it that would make it that much more perfect? I'm guessing it's the rare person who spends more time in "look at the wonderful life I've created" than they do even in "what color sweater shall I put on today?" It's sad, but we all get caught up in life's noise. 

In a few days, I'll turn 52. The last year or two of my life have felt challenging at times, but now I can see why I've struggled on so many levels—the benefits that have come. As we get older, the mind starts clearing out a little and it's easier to recapture some of your mindshare for appreciating your life. Of course, you can do that at any age, but I'm finding that letting go of counter-productive thoughts is easier now.

As you age, you also get more and more glimpses of your mortality. And so I've been thinking a lot about "what is all this for?" And the answer I got was "for you to realize how precious the life you have right now is...how worthy it is of your efforts." There's something in our human nature that has us always looking toward the horizon. But one of the best benefits of age and experience, I think, is to learn how to finally see the beauty of what's right in front of you. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3/2/15—Saying The Magic Word

I plum ran out of time tonight, so here's a classic post. Hopefully I'll finish the fresh one I was working on for tonight later in the week and you'll get a bonus post. :)

I stopped by my local grocery store the other day and heard the employees whispering about something. Apparently "he" was back and wasn't listening to what they said. Again. When I got to the checkout, I saw who they were talking about. A man was there asking for a receipt so he could return some things. He wasn't raising his voice or anything, but he was persistent. 

My checker told me he comes all the time and asks for a receipt so he can return things. But he doesn't have anything to return. And he didn't buy anything. She said when he doesn't find someone to talk to, he stands by the customer service counter and talks to himself. 

You could see it was really stressful for all the people who worked there and were being checked out. The man wouldn't let up. And he frequently changed languages when he was talking, so it was hard to understand him. They were being a lot more patient with him than I would have been. In fact, I found myself being less than compassionate because he was trying to take advantage of the store, and in a way that was making things difficult for everyone concerned. 

There are a lot of ways to get what you need. You can do it with honey. Or you can wear people down like water on rock. This man chose the latter and he wasn't starving, so clearly it worked for him. But it was hard work on his part, imo. In fact, I think even when done with honey, begging and being homeless is hard work. It might not be physically or intellectually demanding (though I suppose it could be) but the toll it takes on a person's emotions and spirit is a bigger price than I'd be willing to pay. 

I used to tutor recovering drug addicts (who lived homeless most of the time) in literacy and for their GED, so I have a little insight into how soul sucking that existence can be. When they were born they didn't say "I want to be a homeless crack addict when I grow up." It's a cumulative thing that happens as you make bad choices and then face worse and worse options in your life because of it. They're not proud of what it does to their families and what they've done to themselves. Most of them are so far gone they can't see a way out. These ladies I tutored were grateful for being legally compelled to get themselves clean. And even with that, at least one of them went back to the life. 

As a result, I find myself reaching inside my purse and helping random homeless people out from time to time. The way I see it, I'm tithing to the universe. "Tithing to the universe" is a practice I use to keep the flow of money going between me and the universe and also to help my karma. I give freely, without worry or judgment of what it's going to be used for. If I have money to give, I feel rich. If I can be generous, I feel even richer. And the richer I feel, the richer I am, because our thoughts create our reality. I don't always give to people in need, either. Sometimes I like to pay for the order behind me in the drive-thru or whatever. 

Anyway, I digress. Because even though that man was quite annoying to the people who work at the grocery store and even though he probably made a lot of customers uncomfortable, he gave me a gift—the gift of reminding me how grateful I am to be who I am, where I am today. I'm not mentally ill (at least not in a debilitating way...haha). I have a home and can afford heat. Everything is fully functional. I'm not hurting for anything. 

There are people out there with challenges we don't even understand. Something as simple as being sane and employed is a huge thing to give gratitude for. And there are such basic things to be grateful for. When was the last time you consciously gave gratitude for a functional body, as achy as it might be? For a functional mind, as forgetful as it may be becoming? A warm home, though it might need a coat of paint? Or for your work, as crappy as it may sometimes be?

There's a term called "first-world problems" that refers to all the crap people of privilege complain about. Somewhere right in your neighborhood there's someone who would love to have your problems. Maybe their house is being foreclosed upon and their future is in question. Maybe someone inside is nursing a loved one as they lay dying. We often take for granted all the privileges we have, even when they're as basic as "breathing without help". 

Part of tithing to the universe or paying it forward or whatever you want to call the practice is giving gratitude for even the most basic of graces. Paying gratitude in advance is an even more powerful way of calling the universe to your side. I'll bet you could probably write 100 things you're grateful for in less than an hour. That right there is something to be grateful for! If you want to see your life magically brighten and bloom, just say the magic word more often—thanks. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2/23/15—Shedding Our Skins

We encounter a couple of different kinds of personal change in our lives. One kind comes as a matter of course—through things we learn and the experiences we have. Another kind comes because we've seen something inside ourselves that isn't in alignment with who we want to be. So we set a course to change it.

The first kind happens to everyone. The second kind happens with varying frequency. Many times the first kind spurs the second kind. For example, someone who is good at their job, might get promoted. That's the kind of change that comes as a matter of course. A promotion will thrust many changes upon a person, but beyond that, will they also have the wisdom to look within and see parts of their personality that also have to step up the plate? Their ultimate success will depend on how well they fill the new skin life has given them. 

I've known many people who turned down promotions or other "professionally advantageous" roles because they didn't want to change whatever needed to be changed. That's not the way they see it. They say it's because they don't want to manage others or whatever. But it's really about not wanting to change what's necessary to fill that skin. There are plenty of bad managers out there who took the job anyway and either don't see the need to change or refuse to fully step into the reality of the role. So it's good to be self aware enough to either know your limitations or self confident enough to bust right on through them. The people who do neither—and there are a lot of those—never really achieve true satisfaction from life, imo.

For me and many of you, I'm sure, that second kind of change is part of your path of spiritual and personal growth. Some people don't put that much stock in it and, like I said above, they're often stuck or unhappy people. Some are blissfully unaware, I suppose. But the thing is, we all nonetheless end up holding on to our toxic or growth-stunting ways longer than is necessary...at least I've never met anyone who changes efficiently and immediately at the point of bad-behavior-identification without angst. 

Even as much as I resist change, though, I can barely recognize myself from who I've been in the past. Sure, some things are the same. My sense of humor has never changed. But I like that part of me. Other parts—the drama, control issues, etc.—have significantly abated to the point that they no longer characterize me. Don't get me wrong. I'm dramatic. I like my dramatic flair. But I didn't like wallowing in drama, creating it, perpetuating it, etc., so I've changed a lot of that. And I like myself much better as a result.

I was recently reading a friend's Facebook thread where she talked about burning all her journals. "Holy crap!" I thought, "what sort of madness would drive her to do that? OMG. OMG! OMG!!!" But her answer was simple. She summed it up with a quote, "when you hold on to your history, you do it at the expense of your destiny."

She said burning her journals was liberating. And I imagine it is. So now I'm considering doing the same thing. I see myself as someone whose history—the insecurities, limitations, fears, abuses and abusers—stands in the way of my destiny.

Change with intention. It's always scary, because you're leaving behind someone you know pretty well to step into someone you've yet to meet. And it's not like the old you was all that bad, but when you're dedicated to doing what Iyanla Van Sant calls "your work", which is moving toward freedom from the things that trip you up, hold you back and keep you running in circles, it's what you do.

Right now, I'm aware of insecurities that need to be secured and a fullness of my own power and capability that I need to step into. This is actually the most recent part of a process that began maybe more than a decade before when I decided I want to be a spiritual teacher and a writer. I feel like each day and year, I walk further and further into that skin and look around for the places that need paint and spackle so I can feel comfortable living in my new skin when I'm ready to live in it full time. One day someone will say I'm lucky that I got to where I am, and I'll tell them that "luck" is almost entirely preparation...being ready to step into an opportunity you have pursued.  

In fact, one of the gifts of the awkwardness, conflict and general ass-hattery that happens in our lives is that it shows us what we need to move beyond. If we see things like that as a reflection of something in our lives, that is. Lots of people just see it as conflict and win/lose and so they continue swimming in the same circles. But if we look within and ask why, we can use the things that bring us pain and discomfort as "lucky" vehicles to help us rise to another level. 

These things don't always show us the exact path and the exact things that need to change, but they show us the direction we need to walk in. And you know what? Sometimes we're going to take a wrong turn or step too boldly. And we'll never be perfect. But at least we'll have gotten a good ride from this lifetime. We'll have pursued something larger than us. And, in the end, we'll have seen life through the eyes of the many different incarnations we've created for ourselves. And maybe then we'll come that much closer to understanding what all of it has been about. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2/16/15—Spotting Your Reflection

Still waters reflect the truth of our heavenly and earthly selves. 
Tonight's post is from a couple of years ago. I really like the dove/pigeon analogy here, though. I thought it would be a good one to reprint and consider again.

This morning, after a long absence, I returned to my favorite park spot to greet the sun. What I found both surprised and comforted me.

Everything was exactly as I left it three years ago when I gave up my sunrise trips in favor of sleep and blogging. The lone pine that bravely sticks its head above the canopy of deciduous trees—daring to be an individual, daring to claim the nourishment it needs—was still there. The constant din of traffic was there, still challenging the profound underlying silence of the park. And the same glassy water was right where I left it, reflecting the beauty of the sky above.

I confess I don't know enough about rivers to know why they always seem so still at the liminal times of the day. Maybe it has to do with the moon or tides. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it has to do with passing boats. But it seems like the river's surface is calmer at dawn and dusk than it is in the middle of the day. It could just be this particular location. A few miles away at Great Falls, the river is never calm.

We're kind of like the river in our spiritual journeys, aren't we? Sometimes we're calm and still, reflecting back both the beauty that beams down from above and that which gathers around us in our lives. And sometimes we're jumbled and chaotic, reflecting back a more distorted view of our reality. We move in and out of the pocket of spiritual love, flowing with the tides and the forecast. 

Looks like a pigeon, but it's a dove.
The other day, a couple of miles upriver, someone came across two doves that had been decapitated in some sort of ritual. The article said that doves and pigeons are pretty much the same bird. "Dove" and "pigeon" are used interchangeably and not even experts agree whether there's a difference or not. But you know the difference, right? Doves are those pretty white birds that mate for life. And pigeons are those nasty gray ones that poop on everything, right?

Turns out pigeons and doves reflect something back on us, too. 

Looks like a dove, but it's a pigeon.
Everywhere we look in life there's a mirror. Our friends and family reflect back our strengths and insecurities. Our words and actions reflect back our beliefs and attitudes. Even the things we don't do or say...the people we don't hang out with...reflect back on us. We may be able to successfully hide our truth from others, but no matter where we look or what we do, our truth is always looking back at us. That's both good news and bad. The bad news is that, wherever you see something you don't like, you're responsible for it being in your life. The good news is that you also have the power to change it. Even if you can't immediately change your circumstance, you can change the way you view or approach it. 

So this week, see how many mirrors you can spot in your life. What does your home say about you? Your choice of a mate? Your pets? Your job? Your response to the email you just got? The quality of your friendships? The condition of your shoes? If you see something you're not pleased with, why is it still in your life?

Moreover, check the state of your internal waters. Are they calm enough to accurately reflect back some higher aspect within you? Or are they choppy, rough and discombobulated? If they're the former, don't take that connection for granted. And if it's the latter, consider what stills you and move toward that. Ultimately, the difference between living a pigeon life and a dove life is all in the way you see it.