Going With My Flow

I rested.  I reflected.  I reevaluated what mattered most to me.  I released what no longer served me (as much as I could, knowing I’m ready and willing to release even more).

These last several months have been a time of great introspection for me because I feel the familiar pull of a place further down the river of my life and know the best thing to do is to stop, listen, and wait to find out what is beckoning to me.  Am I being called to action or am I being called to prepare in other ways first?  Do something or just “be”?

I check in with my Self- signals from my body, mind, spirit, and soul.  I listen to my intuition– my inner wisdom.  What am I supposed to be doing right now?  When I’m unsure, the best thing to do is be still.  So, I’ve been still for a while.  No blog posts.  No committee meetings.  No activities that I’m not completely passionate about.  Doing my best to have inner quiet and stillness while I outwardly continue the hurried pace of living, finding peace amidst the chaos to some extent.

I’ve bobbed in the Dead Sea and know how serene it feels to let go.  It’s a profoundly simply yet powerful way to fully experience the concept of “surrender”, feeling completely supported and safe, warmly embraced by the water.

The cliche, “Go with the flow”, springs to mind, bringing a bit of anxiety to this woman who likes to know where she’s going at all times.  What flow?  To where?  With whom?  So I coined the phrase, “Go with My Flow”, recognizing that we are at different stages of our journeys and that “one size does not fit all”.  Your flow is different from mine.  I might choose a chubby inner tube bobbing lazily down the river of life while you strap on your helmet and buckle your lifejacket, ready to brave the whitewater of your life. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I’m plunging down a foaming waterfall while you are wading knee-deep in the safety of the shoreline.  It doesn’t matter.

We each have to go with our own flow.

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Refill The Well: A Red Tent Event

“Refill the Well” was the focus of the 2nd Red Tent Event that I held in York Pennsylvania this past June.  Women, across several generations, came together to experience techniques & share their wisdom regarding ways to take care of ourselves so we have more to give– refilling our wells.  I believe that nourishing & nurturing ourselves isn’t selfish or self-centered; it’s self-preservation.

An inviting place to gather with women & share our stories.

An inviting place to gather with women & share our stories.

 

Each Red Tent Event that I host strives to be a balance between quiet time to reconnect with one’s highest self through meditation, journaling, or art as well as social time to connect with other women in a safe, sacred space.

Spaces for women to gather in community or take time to be alone with their thoughts and feelings.

Spaces for women to gather in community or take time to be alone with their thoughts and feelings.

 

Part of the social piece is a Sacred Wisdom Council.  We gathered together in a circle to share our experiences on the topic of self-care, each of us walking away with at least one new idea.  Among the suggestions were…

1)  Visualize a sacred space within yourself.  Here you can dance, connect with ancestors or other spirit guides, and tap into your own intuition.

2)  Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal.  For some, this daily practice is enlightening and often points the way to solutions.  It also lightens the heart & spirit by putting concerns on paper rather than dwelling on them.

3)  Take time to be in nature.  I shared that I occasionally set “intentional” walks with my dogs.  One morning, I may decide to focus on the sounds around me; another morning, I might focus on the sights in the neighborhood.  This practice keeps me grounded & present.  It feeds my soul.

4)  Try yoga.  It connects body, mind, & spirit through a variety of postures.  Some find this calming while others find it energizing.  All that tried it expressed it’s benefits in their lives.

5)  Schedule an appointment with a Reiki practitioner.  Reiki is the exchange of universal life force energy through light touch or a hands-above-the-body approach.  As you can see from the picture below, I set up my Reiki table behind some red curtains so that each person could experience it for herself.

A secluded area in the tent for Reiki sessions.

A secluded area in the tent for Reiki sessions.

Magic happens when we stay present in the moment.  

Without any prompting, women seemed moved by the moment & offered their gifts to one another.  One woman gave bodywork consultations, another gave individualized yoga training, and another gave Tarot readings!  The beauty of the Red Tent lies in the beauty of each woman who enters with her own unique blend of experience, wisdom, & talent.  By sharing these gifts with one another, we lift each other up in loving arms of support & encouragement.  Throughout the day, we were each teacher & student, safe to be our authentic selves.  The cornucopia of positive energy & acceptance overflowed.

I’m looking forward to our next event in September, when the focus will be “In Celebration”, celebrating what is unique to each of us & honoring our beauty inside and out.  Details can be found on this website under “Events” or on my Facebook page.  Also, we are now registered on http://www.redtentmovie.com/red_tents_near_you.html .

Boundaries & Priorities

The other evening, I had a few moments to sit in a lawn chair in my back yard, soaking up the scenery & listening to the birds.  At one point, I looked down at the arm of my chair & saw a delicate little insect with an iridescent green body & transparent wings.  It stayed only a second & was gone.  If I hadn’t looked down at just that moment, I would have missed it entirely.

That’s when it suddenly dawned on me that it’s been a while since I just stopped & participated in nature fully.  I don’t mean glancing up at the sky as I run between my car & the grocery store nor do I mean staring out at the trees as I walk down the hall at work.  I mean sitting in stillness & silence IN nature…. feet on the earth, breeze on the face, & sun on the skin.

Participating.  Being present.

When the realization hit me that I’ve been too busy to connect, I took a cue from people who keep track of expenses so they can see where their money goes, and kept track of where my time goes.  I listed every group, committee, class, & work obligation.  I even listed my boyfriend, dogs, & housework.  I wanted to see it all in black & white.  Am I focusing on what I love or have I gotten distracted by other things?  The answer, I’m ashamed to say, is that I got distracted by other things.  And what’s worse, I make the little things the priority & pushed what mattered to the back burner.  Can anyone out there relate?  It was quite a wake-up call for me.

I admit it; I’m an overachiever.  I’m a woman who says “Yes” and “Sure, I’d love to” without thinking about the time commitment because I like to be helpful & do things I know I’m skilled to do.  We all want to make a difference & feel important.  Right?

But here’s the reality check– I can’t do anything well when I’m doing too much.  The amount of time I need to fulfill all my obligations is greater than the time I have in a given week.  And what’s worse, there is zero time for things like “fun” and “relaxation”.  I cannot do it all.  So it’s time to do 2 things…

Set priorities & establish boundaries.

I put the items on my list in order from most important to least important.  Then, I considered how to scale back.  For some things, it’s easy.  An on-line class ends at the end of the month & an art class ends in early June.  I just won’t take any more classes for a while.  For other things, it’s a little more difficult.  I have to resign from a couple of committees.  I hate to do that but I know that I cannot give my best when I’ve stretched myself so thinly.  Instead, I’ll give the few things that truly matter more of my energy & thereby, make a greater contribution than I am now.  I’m going to keep scaling back until I can take a deep breath & not feel like I’m wearing a corset!

Establishing boundaries may prove to be a bit more challenging for it means I have to look someone in the eye and say “No.  I’d love to help you but no.  I can’t fit anything else in my schedule at this time.”

Some people are masters at multi-tasking.  I’m not one of them.  I prefer focusing on one thing at a time & giving it my best.

Some people can run from one task to another, eating their dinner on their lap while they are driving.  I don’t want that to be my experience.  It’s too stressful.  Plus, I can only eat so many french fries & still fit into my jeans!

I want to have a quality life- balancing the giving & the receiving.  I want to support the causes I care about but I also want to support my own health & well-being.  I need time to watch the insects crawling on my lawn chair.

If it feels like you’re doing too much, YOU ARE.  

List your priorities.  

Start saying no.

There are countless takes on the phrase “Keep Calm & Carry On” but there is an alternative that I saw on a magnet… “Let go or be dragged.”   If it no longer serves your highest good, stop doing it.  Make space for what matters most.  Give as much as you want but remember you have to give to your Self, too.  It’s not selfish… it’s self-preservation.

 

 

 

Slow and Deliberate

I’ve been recording my dreams for over 30 years, keeping journals & reflecting on the meaning of my dreams for I believe they are messengers that can inform our lives.  In the past few years, I’ve extended my dreamwork wisdom to workshops & women’s groups, with the intention of helping others use their intuitive wisdom to interpret their own dreams.

Our inner council (intuition, gut, guardian angel, etc…) works for our highest good.  It’s up to us to acknowledge that & make changes as needed.

In a recent dream, a white alligator protected a younger version of myself.  The alligator sat half-submerged in the water, unmoving yet vigilant & alert to her surroundings.  Nothing escaped her notice.  I sat timidly in the shelter of some exposed tree roots where the water met the shore.  I was hiding but never saw what the danger was.  The alligator knew… she would make sure I stayed safe.

When I awoke,  I referenced Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.  This resource is full of animal facts & symbolic interpretations that have guided me well for years.  Even if I dream about the same animal more than once, I’m able to get something different & relevant from this book.  This time, the part that resonated for me was a few sentences on the alligator’s eating habits & how it digests its food very slowly.  That spoke to where I am now.  I’m taking in a lot of new information from a variety of sources.  Some is worth retaining & applying to my life.  Other information is merely that endless stream of garbage from the internet, the news, & print media.

If the alligator dream wasn’t enough of a message, I read Grandmothers Counsel the World by Carol Schaefer.  The passage I read aligned perfectly with the dream.  In it, Schaefer quotes a Yupik elder (a tribe of indigenous people near the Arctic Circle) who said, “Yupiks believe it is significant that we are born very small & grow slowly, not eating right away, slowly developing our awareness of the world.”

Synchronicity… I’m hearing the same message to “slow down & be deliberate with my actions” from more than one source.  I take this to mean that I need to limit the intake of information so I can slowly process what I’ve already learned.  Digest what I’ve already bitten off before taking another bite.  To stay in balance, I need to proceed at a pace that’s right for me.  These messages alert me to the fact that I’ve been so eager to learn, grow, & move on to a new project that I’m at risk of making careless mistakes. Instead of working shallow & broad, I need to work deep & narrow, focusing on what truly matters.  What I do is meaningful & I need to take it to a new level without being distracted by the rest of the information bombarding my mind, heart, & soul.

Dreams are powerful.  I’ll honor my own inner wisdom & heed what they have to say.

Restoring Balance

I need creation to balance destruction.  I need nurturing to balance power.  I need love to balance hatred & intolerance.  

How do I find balance when bombarded with information & technology every waking moment?  I quiet myself & dive ever deeper into my spiritual practice to bring to the surface valuable pearls of wisdom from wherever I can find them– native traditions, poetry, art, mainstream religions, & most importantly right now, goddess faiths– beliefs that enhances my spiritual life with the sole purpose of making my entire existence more spiritual.  I don’t cling to the past; I make it relevant in my present.

As I drove to Alexandria VA on Saturday for an art date with my sister, I listened to Sally Kempton’s audio CD titled Shakti Meditations.  On the first of 4 CDs, she explores such topics as the feminine face of spirit, the power of the goddesses, & experiencing goddess energies.  While Kempton’s CD focuses on Indian deities, I consider all those I’ve studied from around the world– Yemaya, Lakshmi, Arianrhod, Brighid, Diana, & Oshun, to name a few.  I’m not called to worship them, per se, but I feel called to honor them as symbols of the attributes women possess at various stages of life.  I study them to better understand myself.

For example, I’m going through a rather long period of “nesting”.  I’m tending my home as if preparing for something sensed but yet not seen on the horizon.  Like Hestia, I’m keeping the hearth fire burning as well as the flame within myself, as I’ve described in a previous post.

There are moments when I embody the compassion of Kuan Yin, the passion of Pele, the love of Aphrodite, & the intellect of Athena.  I’m a creator– painting canvases, experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, & designing flower beds that will bloom in the spring.  I’m a nurturing mother figure– caring for my dogs every minute of every day, nourishing Jim with a hearty Irish stew on a frigid winter evening, & supporting women through my sacred work.  I’m a warrior– standing up for myself in situations where I must, speaking up for those whose voice goes unheard, & protecting what matters most to me.

From all this study & meditation, I have come to believe with all my being that truth, beauty, & wisdom can be found anywhere, if we look with openness of heart, mind, & soul.  And when I say “everywhere”, I mean outside of ourselves & within ourselves.  Or, to put it another way, Rumi wrote, “I looked in temples, churches, & mosques.  But I found the divine within my heart.”

Recognizing the divine within myself restores much needed balance.  It’s not about the job, the possessions, & the little dramas playing out around me; my spiritual practice (yes, it’s always PRACTICE) acknowledges the divine spark in each of us & the sacredness of the world around me.  And it’s that understanding that brings peace, allows creation, & infuses my life with light & love.

A Meditation Buffet

My early perception of meditation was that I had to sit still, be quiet, & clear the mind of all thoughts.  I tried.  I tried often over the years but each time, I got discouraged, believing that “I wasn’t doing it right.”  I’ve since redefined meditation for myself.  Meditation is about listening, taking the time to focus on my own well-being & need for a bit more tranquility in my life.  It doesn’t necessarily require sitting in silence on a cushion, although that method works well for many people.  Instead, it might be a method that incorporates chanting or walking as a way to focus the attention.

I recently offered an evening session called “The Meditation Buffet” for curious women open to exploring different meditative techniques.  Just like some of us recharge our mental/emotional batteries by being alone while others get energy from being in a group, we have different spiritual needs as well.  Some people need singing, dancing, & movement while others need contemplative, serene spiritual experiences.  It’s not surprising that we are different in the way we meditate, too.

The Meditation Buffet came out of conversations with friends & a few co-workers.  Most either had no meditative practice or if they did, it was infrequent.  Why?  Three statements frequently come up…

“I don’t have enough time.”

“I can’t sit still for that long.”

“I can’t clear my mind of thoughts.”

 I designed The Meditation Buffet to address those three concerns & offer possible solutions to busy women who may not have the time to explore these techniques in-depth.  (Like a quick taste of an unfamiliar food on a buffet table, a 15-minute introduction to a meditative technique is sufficient to determine whether or not it suits your personality & lifestyle.  Let’s face it, you know when something’s right & when it’s not if you let your intuition guide you.)

“I don’t have enough  time.” With full-time jobs, kids, errands, & other obligations, the time to care for our whole self- physical, mental, spiritual, & emotional- slips to the bottom of the list of priorities.  Everyone & everything else comes first.  Eventually, this catches up with us in the forms of anxiety, sleeplessness, & illness.  We can’t continue to give when we have nothing left to give.  Meditation gives us an opportunity to center ourselves & find peace among the chaos.  When I was a girl, I had a friend who came from a large family.  The only time she could study quietly was in the bathroom.  She’d lock the door then climb into the dry bathtub, shutting out the world with a shower curtain.  You might be laughing but for some people, that’s a possible solution for a bit of privacy.  So, before you say you don’t have time to meditate, get creative.  Think outside the box.  Maybe you need to think inside the bathtub!  This is the hardest excuse to overcome because it means making a commitment to yourself.  It means saying “I’m worth it” and following through regularly.

“I can’t sit still for that long.”  In the workshop, we tried a couple of techniques described in John Hudson’s book Meditation: Simple Steps to Peace, Well-Being, & Contentment  and a few that I learned from other sources, including a beautifully serene walking meditation I first practiced at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.  A participant in the group introduced the rest of us to Birds’ Nest Meditation, which required us to sit in nature, as if in a nest, & heighten our awareness of the world around us.  I found this grounded me & brought a sense of peace from being fully present in the moment.  I recommend Hudson’s book for it has “everyday techniques accessible to everyone” on topics such as postures, mantras, & visualizations.  It’s definitely worth reading if you are new to meditation or still searching for a method that works for you.

“I can’t clear my mind.”  That’s perfectly natural.  I’m not aware of anyone on the planet who is able to free their mind of every thought every time they meditate.  Sometimes, the best we can do is respectfully recognize that we have a lot on our minds & with loving kindness toward ourselves, let each thought drift away like a colorful sailboat on the river of our consciousness.  Acknowledge the thoughts & let them flow.  Do this over & over if you have to, breathing deeply each time you notice another thought trying to distract you from the process.  Do the best you can with this & let that be good enough.  You will improve with practice.

I’m far from perfect when it comes to meditating regularly.  I, too, use excuses when it “doesn’t suit me”; however, I fully admit that I feel out of alignment with my higher self when I neglect my need for solitude & peace.  I’m writing from a place of knowing.

Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Self

PureYou_Logo2_Color

There came a point in my life this past year when I had to ask,  “When am I going to invest as much time, energy, & love in myself as I invest in work, relationships, & other commitments?”  Honestly, I’ve never done that, judging it as selfish & self-absorbed.  But how can we give to others if we don’t first nourish ourselves?  I took a deep breath, ready to invest in myself with just as much passion (if not more) as I put into everything else.  Elbert Hubbard said, “There is no failure except in no longer trying.”  I had to give it a try.  I had to commit to an idea I’ve believed in & put into practice, with profound results, for the last several years.

The idea for Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Self came to me after attempts at getting to know my “authentic self” (i.e. my Soul) through one-dimensional approaches fell short. By “one-dimensional” approaches, I mean any attempt at self-discovery that treats the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual aspects of us separately without seeing the four as comprising a total human being.  While I am a physical body, an emotional being, a thinker, & a spiritual seeker, compartmentalizing tends to be a “divide & conquer” approach; while I truly believe the Soul (i.e. the Authentic Self) is all of these things & much more.  Focusing on one aspect, expecting enlightenment or healing, is like expecting one leg to support a table.

Picture a plant in your mind, from root system to the flower or fruit-laden top…

Our Soul, our Authentic Self, is like a plant.  A plant has roots that ground it, drawing nourishment from the land.  Our physical body is the same way, grounding in this existence & gaining nourishment from the food we harvest from the earth.  A plant has a stem that draws nutrients up into the rest of the plant, keeping all systems working, & supporting the entire structure.  Our intellect is the same way, regulating everything from body functions to decision-making.  Plants have leaves for photosynthesis, opening to the sun, & drawing in what it needs to energize itself.  Our emotional self is the same way, reaching out for connections & sustenance.  Many plants have flowers or bear fruit.  Our spiritual self is the same way, something beautiful that enhances our lives & capable of becoming something richer that not only nourishes us but those around us.

Can you say a plant is a stem any more than you can say your Authentic Self is your intellect or your emotions?

Pure You takes a “whole-istic” approach to Soul Retrieval, integrating all aspects of you to support your journey of awakening & empowerment.  It’s the sacred space where you can explore who you are at this moment, what you value most, & how you nurture your Self so you can serve others.  Your body, mind, heart, & spirit must be in alignment for your Soul to thrive.

You cannot fulfill your life’s purpose if there is imbalance.

Pure You is the place to find that balance using a variety of ancient & modern methods, including energetic healing, creative expression, dream work, & spiritual exploration to awaken your Authentic Self.  Both my group workshops & individual consultations are challenging, provocative, & meaningful; yet, I’m fully aware that a client will only get out of it what he/she puts into it.  Pure You recognizes your journey of discovery must start & end with you.

Pure You provides the sacred space where you can Turn Your Divine Spark Into a Flame.  There are 3 goals of Pure You

Recognize Your Own Divine Light

Let Your Light Shine

Share Your Light With Others

There is a deep-rooted desire in each of us to respect our own divinity, stand in our power, & connect with all that is in a rich & meaningful way.  Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Self reunites the physical, emotional, mental, & spiritual aspects of your existence to live your life as your greatest & highest Self.

You are uniquely you, with talents & skills in a combination that no one else possesses. 

On August 10th & 11th, I’ll be premiering my new venture “Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Self” at the New Visions Celebration of Life Expo in York, PA.  Click on the link below to learn more!

New Visions Celebration of Life Expo

May this balanced approach to empowerment, healing, & awareness resonate with others & help more people stand confidently as their Authentic Selves.

What Makes a Perfect Day?

What makes an ordinary day more extraordinary?  What makes a typical Saturday perfect?  BALANCE.  Just the right mix of work & play, activity & inactivity, movement & stillness.

We woke to a brilliant sun suspended in a turquoise sky.  Instead of the usual rush, we took our time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast & an extra cup of coffee as the birds soared around the backyard, looking for their breakfast, too.  We agreed that we wanted to get our errands done as fast as possible so we could get back home & get outside.  That we did… in record time!

The garden was calling as it tends to do on a 70 degree spring day.  “Play with me!  Nurture me!, it beckoned.  I played in the dirt, weeding flower beds until my fingernails were full of dirt & my arms tingled from a slight sunburn.

Then, the lawnchair began calling as it tends to do after a few hours of yardwork.  “Sit with me.  Keep me company!”  How could I resist?  I grabbed a novel & a glass of wine, reading in the shade until the next voice called.

My dogs, dozing in the grass, grew restless as they tend to do after too much time lying about.  “Walk with us.  Pet us!”  I stretched lazily then rose to get their leashes.  We had a wonderful walk, enjoying the neighbor’s yards where daffodils & tulips of every color danced in the sunshine.

When we returned, my boyfriend was calling as he tends to do on a Saturday after too much time apart.  “Eat with me.  Spend time with me!”  We made a delicious stir-fry veggie dinner & sipped some more wine as the sun began to set on our perfect day.

There’s nothing better than a day spend doing what I love with those I love the most.

Birthing My Self

Although I’ve chosen not to have children, I view a period of desired change & dramatic growth as a pregnancy of sorts.

In this metaphorical pregnancy, the intuitive self senses the stirring of a new idea, the need for a career change, or the desire to live somewhere else.  We prepare by doing all that’s in our power to make the transformation a positive experience, fear & doubt mixing with excitement.  We practically sizzle with anticipation.  As the desired change comes closer to becoming a reality, we feel an escalating impatience for the process to be over so we can settle into our new “normal”.  While labor can be induced, we recognize it’s better to let creative ideas, experiences, & relationships unfold naturally… at their own pace.  When the time is right, we’ll birth our authentic Selves & accept the changes with strength, confidence, & a positive outlook.

Waiting

WAITING

Ready

READY

Take a look at my Art Gallery page to see all my recent work. 

Check out the pieces for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Took a Tech “Time-Out”

I deliberately took a tech “time-out” for several days because I found myself paying more attention to my blog, email, & texts than who I love & what I love.  I was writing about life so much that I wasn’t living it.  So, I took a break to realign with Source & took steps to be more present in the present.  That meant…

Connecting:  spending time with people I love, doing things I love.  We hiked a nearby park along a beautiful lake, enjoyed a cookout with beloved friends, & went on a day trip to Washington DC.  I have to say the National Museum of American Indians is phenomenal & a must-see for anyone curious about early Americans (South, Central, & North).  Reading their creation stories, seeing how they lived felt Holy somehow.  The architecture alone is worth the visit.  While most buildings are harsh & angular, this museum is a hushed whisper, curving to mimic a stream, a breeze, or possibly the curves in a landscape.  Beautiful!!  The Blossom Kite Festival on the Mall also took place the day we were visiting.  I felt pure happiness, almost giddy, watching the brightly colored kites dance against the pale blue sky & marveled to see everyone smiling & laughing.  Kite flying is obviously one of life’s simple pleasures, turning everyone into a kid again. 

  Grounding- aligning myself with nature & all that is.  Now that the weather is warming up, I can lay on the ground or sit with my back against a tree to meditate.  It really soothes my spirit & reminds me of the interconnectedness of all things, allowing me the use of all my senses to recognize the changes Spring brings.  I got dirty, too, by picking weeds, raking out flower beds, & planting seeds in tiny pots for transplanting outside in a few more weeks.  For me, getting dirty while gardening is mystical, too, as all my time in nature is fast becoming.

Decluttering-  cleaning out my house & my Self.  I clean out winter clothing & household goods that could serve someone else & give things to charity.  I reevaluate how I spend my time, keeping what serves & eliminating what doesn’t to make way for the new.  Over time, we all outgrow jobs, hobbies, committees, & other interests.  Let them go & see what fills the space.  I recently had to acknowledge that I was holding onto experiences that weren’t mine to hold– a friend’s divorce, a cancer diagnosis, an acquaintance’s termination from work.  I can support, love, & encourage but cannot & should not control.  When I get too immersed in someone else’s experience, it’s time to surrender to what is greater than myself.

Pause when you hear that little voice inside tell you to pause.  It has your best interest at heart.  After all, that small sacred voice IS your voice.

Here are links to the National Museum of American Indians & a video clip of the Blossom Kite Festival (thanks to YouTube).  Enjoy!!

http://nmai.si.edu/visit/washington/