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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Heaven on Earth is a Choice

“Heaven on Earth is a choice we must make,

not a place we must find.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Choices.  We’ve each made a million of them.  Some choices are inconsequential… tuna fish or ham for lunch?  Some affect us deeply, leading us either closer to our authentic selves or further away.  Even something as monumental as recognizing heaven on earth is a choice… a shift in perspective… a change in attitude.  What this means is that it’s in our power to choose.  It’s in our power to see heaven on earth, not a select few of us who belong to a specific religion but each & every one of us.

To get the meaning of those words to stream out of my head & flow down into my heart & bubble in my soul takes something more than acknowledging that this logically makes sense.  It takes a decision.  It takes saying, “I choose to focus on other things.  I choose to let go of what isn’t mine to fix or change.  I choose to put my energy into things that bring balance, peace, love, & joy into my life in greater quantities than ever before.”  For you see, when I fill my mind with worry & my days with negativity, I have no space for the positive.  There is no way to see heaven on earth when I’m worried about people & experiences that can cast dark shadows over my life, IF I LET THEM.

Before it sounds like I’m oversimplifying this, I know we all go through dark nights of the soul, genuine times in our lives when tragedy strikes a loved one or ourselves.  We’d love to blink our eyes or click our heels together like Dorothy Gale & escape.  Sometimes, the only way to get through a challenging period is to just get through it.  I was in the room when my father was dying, holding his hand & literally feeling him cross over.  I’ve experienced divorce.  I’ve lost sleep over a stressful job.  I recognize that it’s not easy & that change doesn’t necessarily happen over night.  However, the only way to move upward or outward is to first make the choice to get up, dust yourself off,  & do it.  See that things can be different.  See that you aren’t stuck.  See that while you might not be in heaven on earth, it still exists & you can get there from here.

Decide to make a decision.  Choose to make a choice. 

 

Prayer Flags

One evening last week, I participated in a non-denominational discussion about Prayer.  The conversation swirled around questions such as “Do you pray?”, “To whom or what do you pray?”, “How do you pray?”, and “What is prayer?”.  Gatherings, where open-minded people can express differing views in a supportive environment, nourish my spiritual growth more than I can ever express.  I am so grateful for these opportunities!

While I heard a variety of answers to these questions, I soon realized that despite our differences, one thread connected us– we all yearn for a relationship with something greater than our Selves.

Transitioning from the discussion to an activity combining prayer and creative expression, our facilitator shared what she knew about prayer flags– their symbolism & intent.  Several of us were already familiar with them & looked forward to making our own, using art supplies including felt, paint, yarn, metallic ink, images from magazines, and bits of fabric.

prayer flags

Image from prayerflags.tumblr.com

We made ourselves comfortable so the facilitator could lead us in a guided visualization, allowing our minds to receive words & symbols to incorporate in our flags.  As I breathed deeply & settled into the experience, I heard a version of the Buddhist prayer, Loving Kindness, whisper in me.  That prayer was my inspiration.

Prayer Flag Me

May I be free from danger,

May I be free from fear,

May I be healthy,

May I dwell in peace.

pryaer flag you

May you be free from danger,

May you be free from fear,

May you be healthy,

May you dwell in peace.

Prayer Flag all

May all be free from danger,

May all be free from fear,

May all be healthy,

May all dwell in peace.

Sit In Silence

I was going to post a blog about the coming of autumn but I’m delaying that for a few days.  This message seems much more important.

Why is it that when we get stressed, we go into over-drive & race through life at a wreckless speed?  The higher our level of anxiety, the faster we go to compensate for the lack of control we are feeling.  In this state, we make more mistakes & experience careless accidents that might be avoided if we were in a calmer state of mind.

Last night, I watched Short Cut to Nirvana, a 2004 documentary about the Kumbh Mela festival in India.  This celebration attracts 70 million people, the largest gathering of people in the history of humankind.  How is it that I’ve never heard of it?!  Unbelievable.  Spiritual men & women attend this festival, held once every 12 years, to share their wisdom with anyone willing to listen with an open mind & an open heart.  One guru pointed out that Westerners cannot sit in a meditative posture for 3 hours because we are in too much of a rush.  He believes that if we tried, we would find that to be the most valuable 3 hours of our day.

I’m realistic.  Most Westerners won’t do it.  We’re “too busy”.  How about this… take fiveJust take five minutes today to sit in silence.  Focus on your breath & listen to your authentic Self.  Be still.  And tomorrow, take five more minutes & sit for a total of ten.  Like exercise, the more you practice, the greater your rewards.  I predict that if you are saying, “I don’t have time for this”, you are one of the people who needs it the most.  Give yourself the gift of time.  You deserve it.  Take five.

My Garden; My Retreat

Last weekend, we went to Landis Valley’s Herb & Garden Faire & the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  I was STARVING for a deeper connection to nature as life has been pretty hectic lately.  It was a great day for a festival with temperatures in the 60s, a blue sky, & fluffy clouds rolling by lazily.  My eyes danced as I took in all the heirloom vegetables, fragrant herbs, native perennials, homemade soap, organic dog biscuits, & gourd birdhouses. Every year, I accept the fact that my wallet is full when I arrive & it will be empty when I leave.  This year was no different; we bought over 50 plants, 3 birdhouses, & a gorgeous wrought iron garden hose holder!

I spent two days on my hands & knees in the dirt with these little plants.  Some will nourish us.  Some will nourish the birds & bees.  And still others will attract butterflies & hummingbirds.  I truly want to make my yard a safe haven for wildlife as well as a peaceful sanctuary for those I love.

Can you tell that I LOVE gardening?

My handy tools have served me well for years.

I welcome new friends into my flowerbeds.

When I bought this house, there was only one small tree & a forsythia bush.  Because I spent a year & a half in England, completely falling in love with cottage gardens, I wanted to replicate that slightly wild, overgrown look here.

The garden has come a long way in 7 years.

This is my back garden today. Doesn’t a picnic lunch outside sound wonderful?

My garden is my retreat.  The 2nd highest compliment given to me is a friend saying, “I love it here.  It’s so peaceful.”  The highest compliment I receive is from Mother Nature– who blesses this space with the return of earthworms, monarch butterflies, centipedes, praying mantis, bunnies, bees, & birds.  I didn’t see a single worm when I began gardening here 7 years ago so turning over a shovel full of dirt to reveal an underground community of critters makes my heart sing.

Whatever I have given back to the earth, She has returned to me tenfold. 

Mothers’ Peace Day

How did I get to be this old not knowing the origin of Mothers’ Day?  Is there any chance that we can read this Proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870 & bring more meaning to the holiday?  Sure, everyone enjoys the cards & gifts but wouldn’t the greatest gift of all be peace?   Happy Mothers’ Day to all!

 

Mother’s Day Proclamation
by Julia Ward Howe*, 1870

The First Mother’s Day proclaimed in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe
was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace.

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Come Together

Sometimes an experience can touch you so deeply that it changes your life forever.  I feel that way about a Joan Baez concert I attended last year.  I was so moved just by being in the same room as Joan that my eyes filled with tears.  “Ok, Susan, get a grip or you won’t be able to see the show”, I told myself with a laugh.  What an amazing woman… her musical ability and passion for equality and other human rights issues inspired me to create two collages called Come Together I and Come Together II.  I’m happy to say that Come Together I has already sold but Come Together II is still up for adoption 🙂  Yes, that’s how I see the sale of work that is special to me.  Have you been moved by a particular experience enough to take action in your own way?

Come Together 1 (SOLD)

Come Together II