You’ve always had wings
Just learn to trust
Your power to fly.
Susan Korsnick, 2016
You’ve always had wings
Just learn to trust
Your power to fly.
Susan Korsnick, 2016
Last summer, I had a reading from a very gifted Tarot reader named Marcy at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. She explained that if one wants positive change in one’s life, one must break the old patterns and do something new. Anything new. To paraphrase– If you always eat a ham sandwich for lunch, eat something different. It doesn’t matter if it’s tuna fish or pastrami on rye. Just try something different.
I’ve used the analogy before of sledding down a snow-covered mountain. We are so used to doing things one way, seeing the world one way, and responding in one way. Like a sled going down the same well-worn path, we go down the same path with friends, co-workers, & our significant others. Even though this path no longer suits us, it’s hard to break free. But consider this, by lifting the sled out of the rut, even slightly, a new path will automatically be taken. All it takes is a slight adjustment.
I’m making a real effort to do that in all aspects of my life, including my art. Change, a mixed media piece on canvas, exemplifies that for me. My previous work is known for bold blocks of color or pattern and solid outlines, usually black. With Change, I’m loosening up and allowing greater energy and movement in the piece. Who knows, this energy and movement could translate into something wonderful in my life. It’s worth a try!
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.
This is the season for going within– hibernating animals know it, plants that go dormant know it, & we know it, too. Darkness blankets the earth for part of the year, inhibiting what we can do outside so we have the necessary time to go inward. We reflect on where we’ve been & where we’re going, on what to keep & what to release. Sometimes we encourage our season of darkness so we can be introspective & reconsider our priorities. Other times, darkness is thrust upon us through no fault of our own– illness, death, loss of a job or relationship– each plummets us into darkness for a time. There is a time for the darkness & a time to reemerge in the light.
I’m reminded of the Greek tale of Demeter & Persephone. Demeter, known as the Grain Mother or Earth Mother, had a daughter named Persephone. Persephone, also known as the Maiden or Kore, was a beautiful young woman whose father, Zeus, promised her hand in marriage to Hades, God of the Underworld. One warm, suny day, while Persephone frolicked in a meadow with other maidens, Hades rose from the depths of the earth & abducted her. In his golden chariot, he carried her back to the Underworld with him. Demeter was heartbroken, as any mother would be. In her sorrow, she lashed out against mankind by turning the fertile earth into a barren wasteland. All beings could have starved if Zeus hadn’t intervened by sending a representative to the Underworld to convince Hades to release the maiden back into her mother’s care. Hades willingly agreed because he know Persephone had already eaten seeds of a pomegranate, committing her to spend part of every year in the darkness of the Underworld with him. When Persephone is in the Underworld with Hades, the earth is brown & desolate. When Persephone is on the earth with Demeter, rich, green abundance blankets the earth. Thus, the cycles of the seasons continue year after year.
Let’s look at that tale more deeply. Demeter, the mother, & Persephone the maiden are two aspects of our own life cycle. Their regular pattern of darkness & light, sorrow & rejoicing, are reminders that we, too, go through cycles. Our lives are constant circles of despair & happiness, sickness & health, reflection & action. There is a season for everything. One cannot have the winter without the summer, nor the autumn without the spring.
We each descend into our own “underworld” of challenges, pain, & uncertainty. Going into the darkness cannot be avoided but it can be seen as a natural & a necessary time in the cycle of our lives. Depending on our outlook, the darkness can be womblike instead of tomblike, allowing us the sacred space we need to grieve, question, & struggle. It gifts us with the time to feel our authentic emotions & confront the obstacles that impede us. We rightfully grapple with dissatisfaction & doubt that accompany growing pains. We deal with sorrow that comes with loss. While this is most certainly painful at times, we must try to lovingly accept what we are feeling in order to honor our journey & be true to ourselves.
Likewise, we must recognize when we’ve been in the darkness long enough & have the courage to emerge in the light, transformed by what we’ve experienced in the darkest region of our souls. Resurrection must balance the descent into darkness.
How do you know when it’s time to poke through the barrenness of your experience & turn your face to the sun, like the first crocus in the winter snow? When your time in the darkness no longer serves your greatest, highest good, it’s time to emerge. When soul-searching becomes self-pity. When waiting becomes wallowing.
There are times in our lives when we’ll each be Persephone, descending into the Underworld & confronting the darkness. There are times when we’ll each be Demeter, struggling with the emotions that erupt when we have to watch a loved one make that descent into darkness alone.
We can’t rush the process (although I’ve certainly tried!!!). What we can do is gently remind ourselves that both the creative, mysterious & sometimes painful darkness & the illuminating light are necessary experiences for spiritual beings on very human journeys.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, & endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
I gravitate to inspirational quotes like this when I’m preparing to go in the direction of my dreams & hoping to meet with “success unexpected in common hours.” Keep talking, Thoreau; I hear you & I know you’re right. And while I’d like to stride confidently in the direction of my dreams, more often than not, I take cautious baby steps instead. Why? Because I can’t see the destination & running in the dark seems a certain way to trip & fall. I prefer baby steps, slow & steady. I’ll pick up speed when I’m more sure of where I’m going.
Change is scary but staying in a situation that you’ve outgrown, that makes you unhappy, or that causes you to compromise your Self is scarier. I know this from experience. A little over a decade ago, I was in a position where I had to ask myself, “Is this really how I want to spent the rest of my life?” The answer was an emphatic “NO!” I couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want. That’s the time to take a baby step, when the dream is germinating but hasn’t pushed through the soil into the sunlight of awareness. Baby steps are perfect for when you aren’t sure which direction to walk, you just know you don’t want to stand still.
Baby steps are also a great way to proceed when the journey seems overwhelming. For example, when I graduated from college, I had a mountain of debt that seemed impossible to repay. I had no idea how I’d pay it off but I knew drowning in debt wasn’t an option for me. Giving up is never an option for me. I paid $10 here and $100 there, month by month, until it was finally gone. Baby steps.
Am I writing this for you, dear readers, or am I writing this for me? Yes & yes.
It’s time for a baby step. To be continued…
A friend shared her dream of starting a new career in the culinary arts. (Her current career is one that dropped in her lap after college but has no resemblance to her dream whatsoever.) I told her to go for it. While I can’t promise that all of her dreams will come true, I am certain that none of them will come true if she doesn’t try.
It seems that people all around me are having the “should I be content with my present circumstances or should I follow my dreams” debate as if these have to be “either/or” choices. I propose that we can have both. We can have gratitude for the many blessings we have yet want to have more meaning or new experiences in our lives. We can enjoy the present while reaching higher.
Big dreams continue to manifest in my life as big opportunities so I’m speaking from a lifetime of experience, a place of true knowing. Dreams (and courage) got me to try spelunking (once!), buy my own home, walk away from a bad relationship, & assist with Dale Chihuly’s installation of a glass exhibit within the old city walls of Jerusalem, to name a few. I have countless other examples of how dreams became reality for me & I’m confident they will continue to do so.
Dreaming may sound like a luxury, especially in these challenging economic times, but it’s not. Dreaming leads to doing. And it’s the “doing” that improves the quality of life for us, those whose lives we touch, & our home- Mother Earth. Many of the great self-help gurus will tell you that if you are doing well at a job you don’t like, just think how successful you can be doing something you do like! It all starts with a dream… a thought.
And it has to start now… ONE DREAMER AT A TIME.
What is your dream for your Self?