Sunday, October 19, 2014

10/20/14—Ditching My Vacation

My stress busting laser star projector
Last week I was on vacation. But less than 36 hours before I packed the car to go to our B&B in the country, I canceled all my plans.

There are two main reasons why I did this. The first has to do with how I've been feeling lately. I'm literally exhausted with being exhausted. I think my hormones have gone all goofy during menopause and my energy levels are debilitatingly low. So as I sat at home going over the list of all the things I had to do before I went on vacation—clean house, plan meals, pack for me and my dogs, etc.—it just felt overwhelming. While we love the place we stay, the amount of work needed for three or four days in the country didn't seem worth it this time around. 

The other reason is that, for months, I had been worried about Mystic. When we go to this place, she has free run of the property, which she loves. But this time I was really stressed about her wandering. What if she got lost? What if it's hunting season and someone shoots at her? What if she wanders off the property and gets herself in trouble—one time she got stuck in a neighbor's (empty) chicken coop and couldn't get out! So either I was having some sort of intuition about what might happen or I was just worried about losing my Mystic. She has been to this same place four times in her life and has successfully wandered and stayed within earshot each time. But this time I was worried. 

So I decided to have a staycation. I'm pretty sure I've had one before, but it wasn't really memorable. This one, however, was. 

Mostly I just did whatever the heck I felt like doing for nine days. I slept generously. I cooked a big casserole so I wouldn't have to worry about what to eat. I watched spiritual movies and TV shows. I went out for coffee or lunch a couple of times. I took the dogs to the dog park or on walks. I treated myself well. I basically did what I wanted, when I wanted, which somehow resulted in the house getting mostly clean along the way. And, perhaps the biggest thing, I wasn't allowed to judge myself at all for how I was spending my time. 

The results of all of this? Probably one of the most refreshing and enlightening vacations I've ever had! I didn't have to expend any energy to get the relaxing, energy-increasing benefits of time off...and let's face it, we usually expend a lot of energy planning, packing and commuting to and from our vacation spot. 

And, for me personally, it was enlightening, because I haven't felt this good emotionally and spiritually for a while because of the physical issues I've been facing. Just when I was starting to wonder if I'd feel miserable for the rest of my life, I had the experience of my spirit feeling good again. And while I still have to figure out what's wrong with me hormonally/physically and get help for that, it doesn't feel so insurmountable anymore. 

Moreover, I got the chance to see where I needlessly stress myself out over things. I kept much the same sleep schedule over vacation, but with a little more sleep perhaps. Normally I beat myself up for going to bed late, but while on vacation I didn't. And there's really no need to beat myself up over it. While I know it's better to go to bed earlier, I make my choices. It is what it is. I also found myself doing more in a day on some days. Normally I would tell myself there wasn't time to get A, B and C all done in a day, but without deadlines or appointments to worry about, I saw how efficient and effortless running errands could be, for example. 

Whether during my normal routine or on vacation I always feel like I'm working against the clock. It's nice to remember the clock doesn't always have to be ticking. Many of the things that made me start to feel like I'm getting back in groove are things that don't take extra time or effort to do. Like one night I just listened to New Age music and put on my laser star generator and blissed out. I don't have to wait for a vacation to do stuff like that. I just have to remember how to take care of myself and treat myself kindly. Somehow I'd forgotten that. It was nice to get the reminder. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

10/13/14—Judging Yourself

There's this thing I hear people say all the time, though fortunately not to me. But they say it about others. I even used to say it myself. But now when I hear people say it, I kinda cringe. It goes something like this:

"If she's so spiritual/religious/Christian, then how come she _____?"

The reason I cringe is because when we call out people for their own hypocrisy, we're being hypocrites. Especially when it comes to calling others out for their levels of morality, judgment, belief, loyalty or faith. 

I have yet to meet the perfect person. I have yet to meet anyone without a shadow, secret shame, unwise habit or otherwise unhealthy behavior hiding in the closet. And the degree to which we judge others for these things is equivalent to the degree to which we're in denial about our own behaviors...the degree to which we are being a hypocrite. It stings, but it's true. And this goes for pretty much everything, not just for someone's spirituality. 

Of course there have been many times in my life where I've gotten small lessons in this, but my first big lesson in it came when I quit smoking cigarettes. I had known on some level for years that I was addicted to nicotine, but I didn't understand that my need to introduce the drug into my system every 15-30 minutes was the same as "getting a fix". And that the desperate cravings I had and the depths to which I would go to relieve them (like smoking butts) on unsuccessful quit attempts made me a "junkie." 

In my journey with quitting, I learned that an addict is an addict and the thing you're addicted to is just a detail. So a lot of the judgments I had about drug addicts, alcoholics, compulsive people, gamblers and others who exhibited addictive and compulsive behavior subsided. And when it comes bubbling up again, I just have to look at the number on my bathroom scale to put myself right. 

There are a lot of ways to express addictive and compulsive behavior, from being a neat freak who just can't bear to see something out of place to being me who just can't bear to see any chocolate left in the wrapper. We both have the same urges pulling us to get our fix. And you can argue that the neat freak is healthier and therefore better than the overeater, but you'd be wrong. They've both got issues that cause stress inside their bodies and cause concern with others in their lives. A junkie is a junkie. It's like saying the murderer is better than the pedophile because the murderer doesn't harm children. The fact is, you don't want either of them living next door to you. And if you had to make a choice between the two, you'd probably move. 

This whole thing about "if she's so spiritual..." subsided when I realized that, no matter how spiritual I was, I wasn't perfect. I made mistakes. My behavior didn't always align with my beliefs. And my beliefs didn't necessarily drive all my behaviors. When I realized I was a human on an imperfect journey, working on things in one room, while ignoring things in another room, it occurred to me that others may be doing the same thing. When I realized that I couldn't always keep the 10,000 balls up in the air that you need to keep up in the air in order to be perfectly pious and servile to my higher power, I started giving others a break. And when I saw how, after I grew, I could look back and see how silly or misguided my previous ways were, I just let other be. 

There's a certain snobbery that people have over religion and spirituality. We'll say we respect other religions while we mock their gods and criticize their "stupid" beliefs. We'll question "how Christian" another person is being while we, ourselves, are refusing to let another car into traffic on the highway. We'll expect our odd little corner of belief to be respected while we criticize anyone who doesn't believe the same way we do. 

But the thing is, if we believe in being kind to others...if we believe in building community...if we believe in lifting ourselves up higher and leaving this earth a better person, then every time we make a judgment against another person, we're being a hypocrite. Because judgment is not kind, inclusive or high minded. And most of the time we're judging, we're guilty of the same or very similar sins. I know this because I find myself judging others. And then I find myself turning within and seeing that the same thing I claim to hate in others is also true about me. 

I think a lot of times when we judge or criticize others, we feel a little superior afterward. If we're honest with ourselves, we do. Because we may have a lot of issues, but we don't have THEIR issues. But as people raise their consciousness higher and as they understand more about what drives them, when they hear you criticize other people, all they hear is your own denial and hypocrisy. They don't even have to know you to know it's true. It's that universal a kind of thing. Because when we've truly recognized and healed something within us that's broken, we have compassion and understanding for those who haven't yet made that journey, not judgment. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

10/6/2014—Taking Time Out to Let Go

After a lifetime of living primarily in my head, I've been living more in my body—more here on earth—lately. Just a little more. 

Which is why I haven't been writing as much. Part of it is that I need to use my energy toward some health issues I've been having for quite some time. I don't think I'm going to die or anything, but while I'm trying to raise my status to "not completely preoccupied by debilitating physical and mental exhaustion", I'm having a hard time being too deep. And I'm giving myself a break from all the pressure I put myself under in the non-work parts of my life, so I'm ignoring my "schedule" of writing. 

While I've been looking for answers and trying to dig myself out of that hole, I've noticed a couple of changes in my attitude. I have no idea if or how much they're tied to what I'm going through, but they're worth sharing. 

The first is that I'm doubting myself less. I have a long history of self doubt. And it's remarkable because, when I have a feeling about something or when I perceive manipulative or toxic kinds of behaviors, I'm usually always right. But still I doubt myself. Which will frequently make me want to bounce the situation off another person so I can determine "am I being defensive or is the other person being an ass?" and other such weighty questions. 

When I trust myself and call the other person out, then there's another layer of self doubt..."should I have let it slide? Was I too hard on the person? etc." This kind of self doubt completely ruins any trace of satisfaction I might have gotten from speaking my mind to someone who is taking advantage of me or taking their insecurities out on me or whatever. 

Now, normally I would be preaching to just let these things slide and that's what I do 95% of the time.  But sometimes I succumb to the temptation to give as good as I get when smug and condescending bastards come around. Then usually I feel bad about lowering myself to their level. And if I don't lower myself to their level, then I go over what I wish I'd said in my head. So no matter what I do in situations like this, my brain is hardwired to stress myself out and drive myself crazy. 

So lately I've decided to stop second-guessing myself and relying on the opinions of others. And I've decided not to hold back on those occasions that I determine are worthy of engaging in. And, most importantly, I've decided to just speak my part calmly and decisively without doubting whether I should have engaged or if I'm being unreasonable or worrying about what others think or any of that BS. Not to engage in a war of words, but put their crap right back in their face and walk away without another thought. 

In one way, it's not my most evolved self. That person would have looked compassionately at the deep, childhood wounding that caused the other person to lash out. But I'm not in a place where I can be that person all the time right now. Maybe not ever. And while being that person in difficult times is a way to stretch and grow, it's also a way to cause myself additional stress. And then I usually end up blowing up at a salesperson who doesn't deserve my wrath, causing more guilt and self flagellation. So I'm learning to both stretch and grow in the compassionate way, but also to stretch and grow in the allowing and forgiving of myself when I'm not being my highest self. I'm learning to trust my choices in those situations. 

So there's that. And the other thing that has changed lately is that I've been noticing and taking joy in the ordinary little moments of life. I've been finding myself becoming conscious in the midst of things I'm doing and appreciating that moment...appreciating the enjoyment...the love...the satisfaction...whatever I'm experiencing in the moment. 

It feels like life has been a struggle for years while I've been battling this exhaustion. Right now, thanks to some herbs and the willingness to allow the exhaustion to just "be", without judgment, I'm feeling better than I have in years. I won't say things are easy or that I'm out of the woods, but things are not as hard as they have been. And, instead of worrying about myself, I can just let some of the light shine through and appreciate the life and health I *do* have. 

Both of these changes in me have come from letting go...letting go of the mindfuck I do on myself every time I speak up for myself (or don't speak up for myself) and letting go of the resistance to whatever is going on with me (yes, I visit my doctor regularly and am seeing a specialist.) And also, in letting go of my (non-work) schedules and "must-dos", I've found that I'm getting more things done. The stress of holding on and resisting has really been doing a number on me—more than I ever would have imagined. It depletes me body, mind and soul. 

I had recently done a meditation that communicated the message that "I am my own most powerful shaman." So many of the emotional, spiritual, social and even physical issues that plague us are completely within in our own power to heal. And it all starts by letting go. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

9/29/14—Getting Out Of The Weeds

A few nights ago when I was meditating, I asked for some insight. What I heard was very relevant and something I thought I'd share, because I'm certain I'm not alone. 

"You've gotten yourself too far down into the weeds." That's what I heard. And it sounded kind of like my father saying it. Regardless of where it came from, though, I knew what it meant. I'm putting too much thought and energy into things that have no bearing on my purpose and goals in life. I'm wasting my water and sunlight on things that won't grow and I don't want to grow. 

The more I thought of it, the more I saw all the ways I do this. I: 
  • Engage in issues with people who have no bearing on my life.
  • Ruminate over things I don't do as well I've done in the past.
  • Think about things I wish I could have done better. 
  • Think about things I wish I could have said, but didn't.
  • Linger over things that have already been dealt with. 
  • Worry about things that haven't happened yet. 
  • Think about things rather than just do them. 
  • Fear doing things that haven't been done yet. 

None of that stuff is moving me toward my goals. Meanwhile, seemingly unrelated things do, in my opinion. Like a retail therapy trip took earlier in the week. It distracted me from energy-sucking thoughts and refueled my energy. In fact, I've done a number of things in the past week that have helped me push my reset button. 

I think I've probably been in the weeds for a long time. I mean, the goals and the move toward them is ever-present, if not always successful. But they're wrapped in a fog of insignificance and distraction, which, frankly has just added stress to the situation. While distraction can lighten the load, especially if you're overly focused, some types of distraction just add weight to your backpack that is not needed. 

The first step toward recovery is recognizing there's a problem. While I knew I wasn't as focused as I could be, I never saw it this way before. If you imagine a cross section of earth, you don't want to be stuck in the thatch of weeds. You want to be up above them where you can navigate the big picture. But then you don't want to be so high that integral parts of the picture are out of sight. 

Now that I recognize this, I need to retrain myself to slough what doesn't matter and not let it distract me. It's a habit that needs to be broken. I think it's important to balance things, so nothing of value gets neglected along the way. When you consider that most of our goals touch many areas of our life, we have to pay attention to the whole tamale. 

So we have to think about where we want to be. What does life look like with your goal met? What does it look like spiritually? How does it impact your health and relationships? If an activity or relationship or way of thinking doesn't align with that vision, part of reaching your goal will have to be letting that go. 

And while you're getting yourself out of the weeds and moving toward your goal, surround yourself with people who not only support your path, but can handle your success. I learned a long time ago that there are people who, for whatever reason, hold a smaller vision for you and your world than you have for yourself. That is their issue. Don't make it yours. Anything you try to pull out of the weeds with you will just weigh you down. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

9/23/14—Honing Your Intuition

Today's blog post is part of a blog hop, where you travel from blog to blog to read diverse ideas on an assigned topic. Because it is a tarot blog hop, the topic is focused on a time when my understanding of tarot underwent a radical change or when my skill took a giant leap forward. Although all 28 blogs in the hop will speak in terms of reading tarot cards, there will, no doubt, be insights you can apply to other areas of your life. 

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The Empress from the Mythic Tarot, the deck
I learned on. Traditionally, she is the Great
Mother, Demeter and the source of creation.
She is what brings us the seasons. But intuitively,
you might decide nature holds the key, someone is
pregnant, that it's time to harvest all you've
been working on, that energy is bubbling up
within someone...whatever you see in the picture.
My journey with tarot started out more than 25 years ago. At first, I wanted to learn how to read the cards so I could tell the future. But, as it turned out, that is a naive vision of what tarot can do. 

It actually does much more. It brings you on a journey through issues and situations in your life and helps you make better informed decisions. Confining tarot to the narrow bounds of "fortune telling" would not be the only naive assumption I would make about this ancient art, skill and spiritual practice. 

As you might already know, each of the 78 tarot cards in a deck comes with a general meaning attached to it and a picture on the card. I thought all I needed to do was memorize the meanings of 78 cards and that would be enough. So I set about memorizing the book descriptions for all 78 cards and a reading from me would mean I would cough back, word for word, the meaning I read in a book about a certain card. 

Back then I owned maybe three decks and only used the one I memorized for readings. While that's one way to do it, I nonetheless felt stuck. Stuck, because I realized that the same card could have different meanings depending on what position it landed in a spread. I came to admire many other decks, some with meanings that didn't track to the meanings I memorized. I discovered that each card speaks in a unique language to the reader, so one person's Empress card may not be another person's Empress card. And I learned that there was a whole other use for the cards that I had never considered—as a means to access the intuitive voice within that bears knowledge beyond what is seen and known. 

The Empress from the Stolen Child Tarot is not
pregnant. She embodies more the protective,
nurturing aspects of motherhood. Intuitively,
you might decide someone has "become their
mother" or is over-bear-ing...haha. 
I also felt stuck because my memorization of the cards had an unanticipated side effect—the minute I'd turn a card over, the rote meaning would immediately pop into my head as it would if I had memorized multiplication tables or anything else. So logic and learned response was my knee-jerk reaction to seeing a card. And because that was my knee-jerk reaction, any intuitive hit I might have on the card got lost. By the time you bring logic and memorized meaning in, the opportunity for your first intuitive hit is forever lost. You can't go back and get it. Only one impression can be first. 

So to "fix" this problem, I got a deck of what are known as Soul Cards and read them exclusively for a couple of years. Soul cards have no fixed meaning. It's just a picture on a card and you have to come up with the meaning from inside you. By focusing on Soul Cards, I was able to re-train myself—to take the intellectualization out and put the intuition in. Today my readings reflect a combination of both...intended meaning and intuitive meaning. 

More than that, though, these days I own hundreds upon hundreds of decks. Really. It's a pathetic display of hoarding and consumerism. And because I lead with intuition, because I have developed my own language with the cards and because I know what all the traditional meanings are, I  I can read every single deck I own without ever having to pick up the book (though I do find book meanings very valuable, too.) 

This is a Soul Card. It has no name or
meaning. Depending on the reading you might
decide it speaks of intuition, looking within,
open communication, radiating energy, being
at peace or whatever else strikes you. 
I can also read smudges on paper, shapes in a cloud and the inside of my eyelids, not to mention pretty much anything else you can imagine. Because that's another naive belief I dispelled over the 25 years I've been a reader. The cards themselves have no power. They have some meaning, but the real meaning and interpretation comes from within the reader. The cards only trigger your intuition, they don't give it to you. And once your intuition is triggered, you can apply it to anything...anything can trigger it. 

I did consider giving up when all I knew was memorized meanings. I mean, all that work and it did nothing to make me "psychic". I still teach students that it's important to eventually memorize all the meanings. You'll do that anyway if you read enough. But I stress the intuitive hit. I'm amazed at how many people who have never even touched a tarot card before can accurately intuit the meaning just by looking at the picture on the card. It has never once failed in a class I've taught. 

Which brings me to the bigger point for my "usual" readers. I wasn't born with any special gifts. Some people are and, while they still have to work at it, they don't have to work as hard. It flows like water. No, I was born with the base-model intuition package, just like most of you. So 25 years ago I was stuck. My intuition wasn't flowing at all. Today, however, I can be pretty flowy. And whether you believe this about yourself or not, you can be too. 

We all have intuition. It's built into our DNA. And, just like a muscle, the more we work it, the more powerful and responsive it can be. You can learn to read tarot. You can learn to talk to dead people. You can learn to communicate with animals. You can learn to channel spirits. You can learn to have two-way conversations with God. The ability for all of that resides in your intuition and your ability to trust. 

Over the centuries a lot of fear has been connected with things like tarot or mediumship. Certainly it's weird to have someone SEEM to get inside your head and tell you stuff they couldn't possibly know. But whether you choose to use it in that way or not, intuition is vital to our survival. It's how we "feel" something is wrong. It's how we "sense" a person standing behind us. It's how we suspect someone is lying to us. It's an absolutely critical part of our biology that can atrophy or be built up, just like a muscle. 

Each of us acts as a receiver and transmitter of energy. That's why you can feel it when someone is angry or keeping something from you. Every single thought or action creates a wave of energy that can be detected. Everything is energy. So the stronger your ability to detect and read that energy, the better prepared you are to navigate the intricacies of life. 

For anyone who would claim intuition in any form—whether it's aided by cards or bubbles up organically from within—is the Devil's playground, I submit that being blind to your intuition is the real Devil's playground. If you can't sense him knocking at the door, you may just let him in.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

9/22/14—Chasing Sasquatch

Although I've lived all over the eastern half of the US and have many roots in the midwest, I've lived within a five mile radius of where I'm living now most of my life. So it has surprised me this weekend to learn two new things about this area that I never knew before.

The first was actually a well-kept secret for over 60 years. My favorite tree resides at Fort Hunt, a local park I've visited all my life. At the park there are prison cells and a watch tower, but the stories I always heard was that the park's role in anything exciting was fairly benign. It provided some defense during the Spanish American War and some training for other wars but not much else in terms of wartime activities.

Turns out, though, during WWII, the fort was code named PO Box 1142 and its mission was to extract secrets from German POWs, mostly scientists. They got all kinds of groundbreaking secrets out of them involving things like rocket science and microwave technology. And they didn't beat it out of them. They cajoled it out of them.

The other thing I learned was about something called the Mount Vernon Monster. In the late 1970s, local residents heard strange noises coming out of the woods in the region of George Washington's home. Some say it was kids playing recordings over loudspeakers. But some people witnessed a bigfoot-like creature and many others had encounters with the creature nearby, but not visible. They swear that there's no way it could be a hoax from the way things happened...the way the sound moved through the woods.

Now, I didn't live here in the late 70s, so I can see why I wouldn't have heard of it. But Bigfoot is, like, my favorite "mythical" creature. And to think one might have lived here? Exciting. Right now, in the very same area, people are saying there's a cougar on the loose. Maybe Bigfoot never left. Maybe he's a shapeshifter! :D

I don't consider myself much of a historian, so I'm not surprised I don't know everything there is to know about my little suburb. But it did surprise me to learn two BIG things in a single weekend—perhaps the biggest things ever to happen here (outside of George Washington himself.)

It's interesting all the layers of stories and lore that form like layers of sediment over time. Everyone focuses on our founding father's role in the immediate area, but there were layers of history stretching hundreds and millions of years before him. Indigenous people were all up and down this part of the river before the Brits even arrived. Dinosaurs, no doubt, drank from our waters. We're just about an hour or so as the crow flies from the some of the world's oldest mountains and, right here in the same state, is a river known to be older than those mountains and considered by some to be the second oldest river in the world. (In a bit of irony, it's called the New River and it runs backwards, just like the Nile, the world's oldest river, does.)

If you sit with nature long enough, you can feel mysteries yet untold. And not just because of backwards running rivers, ancient mountains and Sasquatch sightings. You'd feel it in the middle of the desert or along the Panama Canal, in the center of New York City or in the depths of Asia. There's magic and mystery and history everywhere there's earth. You don't have to dig to know it's there, because it's part of the vibration.

Many years back I had a "paranormal" experience in that park where the POWs were held. Now I understand more about why that happened. Whether you have the data in the form of recorded history  and artifacts or not, the body always knows. We just have to learn to use what we have and trust it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

9/18/14—Making What You Have Work

There's this tree in my neighbor's back yard, behind their shed. It's an evergreen...a cedar, I think. It's sort of a Charlie Brown tree in a way. It's not symmetrical. The branches reach every which way. It's top heavy. Awkward. Lopsided.

You might consider this tree "unfortunate" were it not for the fact that it has somehow managed to grow quite healthy with a shed on one side blocking the afternoon sun, a fence a fence and vegetation on the other side blocking the morning sun and a bunch of bigger trees above it blocking the daytime sun. But I've seen this tree grow pretty big over 15 years with all these obstacles remaining constant.

One thing that helps is that it's an evergreen. When everyone loses their leaves, the evergreen gets to bask in the sun. I have a pear blossom in my yard that buds and blooms before the maple above it gets its leaves. Otherwise it wouldn't get the sun it needs to do all that. Once it has leaves, it's happy to live under the maple, but if the maple grew leaves sooner, the pear blossom never would have made it.

Both the evergreen and pear blossom are able to get what they need to survive, partly because of the kind of tree they are. The evergreen is evergreen, so it gets a good five months out of the year without any competition for sunlight. The pear blossom is an early bloomer, so it gets a valuable month's head start on establishing its leaves and gets all the power it needs to bloom while the maple is still making whirlybirds.

But beyond the tree type...what's in its DNA...the evergreen thrives as an individual by poking its branches out wherever it can to catch sun and rain. Which is why it's so oddly shaped. It is, in fact, NOT oddly shaped, but instead, perfectly shaped to take advantage of its environment. Same with the pear blossom. It's grows thin and tall with more leaves higher up because it competes with two much larger trees and has to find that bit of clear airspace available to wash as much surface area with sun and rain to keep it going.

So there's a tall, fat tree using its tall fatness to make the most of its mission on earth—growth and light. And there's a tall skinny flowering tree that's tall and skinny for the same reasons. They focus what they have on the light, instead of wallowing in the dark focusing on what they don't have. 

Most of my life I've resented the body I'm in. Like the evergreen, I'm an apple...leaner legs with all my weight around the middle. It's no mistake I have this body, though. Like the evergreen, the universe planted me where it did for a purpose and I grew as I did—not just size-wise, but every which way—for a purpose, too. Some of the evergreen's awkwardness isn't awkwardness at all, but what that tree needs in order to face the it copes to both protect and expose itself to the right elements. I suppose I'm the same way.

Same with my pear blossom. In fact, one day the maple will have to come down and that pear blossom will change in all sorts of ways because of it, just as the evergreen would change if the shed or one of the trees around it came down. But then again, we don't know what other issues something like that may trigger. Right now, everything is thriving just as it is. 

And as long as we allow our special kind of DNA and our weird and awkward ways of coping to keep focusing on our unique missions of growth and light, it's likely we'll continue. What the trees don't have to struggle with, but we do though, is accepting that they will never be an oak or maple—tall with an impressive canopy to drink in the elements. Oaks and maples have their own issues to contend with. The lifespan of a maple, for example, is centuries less than the lifespan of a cedar. But that's just it...the trees don't struggle at all. They just work with what they have and make what they have work.

This is a repost that was originally published on 2/24/14.