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To Photograph a Morning

Living with a disabling condition is full of its own brand of challenges. I have dreams. I have goals and gifts I want to share with the world. It’s hard to do all that I want to do when my body demands so much rest.

Imagine that you just simply want to make yourself a cup of tea but your body is so weak and fatigued that even that simple act feels like walking an uphill mile with 100 pounds strapped to your back. It’s exhausting. Some days I don’t have the strength to get out of my pajamas.

So I take my joy where I can find it and I use my body carefully on things that bring me joy. I relish the days when I can go for a simple walk without my legs giving out or my body collapsing from shortness of breath.

On an August morning last summer, I awoke at 4 am. That’s pretty normal for me and I’ve learned that it’s easier for me to shop when the stores aren’t crowded.

So I found myself on my way to a 24-hour store at dawn. The sunrise captured my attention! It made me think of my dad and our many outings to capture nature in stunning photographic beauty. My dad passed away in 1996. He was many things to me:
my sometimes abuser and hated enemy
my childhood entertainer with magic tricks and funny stories
my fellow philosopher on this strange ride called life as we shared moments of rich discussion on life, happiness, mythology, and spirituality
my photography teacher
my friend

He put my first camera in my hands when I was four years old. I loved that little pony camera. Photography became an important part of healing our relationship and remained an important part of my life until my first divorce. My creative woman shut down and died for many years after that.

I eventually regained some of my photographic enthusiasm, though never with the same vigor I enjoyed on those childhood summer outings with dad. I was the creative genius and he the technical guru. I would tell him what I wanted to accomplish with a particular shot. He would tell me what f-stop I should use, etc. Together, we created beauty.

As the sun rose and thoughts of my dad drifted through my mind, I drove back to the house to grab my camera. Thinking of my dad with every frame, I recaptured some of the joy I found with him. I hope you enjoy what we created together on that hot August morning. Thank you, dad, for everything. I still create beauty in your name.

 

A powerful, fun book to help you find your true Soul Expression

YOU.ARE.THE.ONE.
A BOLD ADVENTURE IN FINDING PURPOSE, DISCOVERING THE REAL YOU AND LOVING FULLY

By Kute Blackson
North Star Way
An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Hardcover, 237 pages
$26.00 US/$35.00 Canada
ISBN: 978-1-5011-2724-4

Reviewed by Glenda Rueger Payne
Glenda Rueger Payne is an author, EFT and Core Shamanism practitioner specializing in caregiver and patient support for chronic and terminal illness.

When I review a book, I am not shy about marking the book to death. I highlight important passages and make notes to myself in the margins regarding whatever the author said in that line that I found really inspiring.
I had pen and highlighter ready as I turned to page one of this boldly honest, dare you to drop all pretense and really begin living life from your core, instruction adventure written by Author Kute Blackson. He tells his story through reflections upon his personal experiences as well as sharing his client’s experiences as they follow him on what he calls, “Liberation Experience” adventures in India or Bali.
Within the first few chapters, a strange thing began to happen. At first, the page margins were covered in black ink and nearly more words were highlighted than were not. If you pick up my copy, you will notice that toward the latter chapters there are nearly no highlights and the margins remain pristinely clear.
Is this because there were no more gems of wisdom and inspiration to be discovered? Au contraire, it is because if I continued on in my usual manner, there would be no words remaining clean of yellow ink and no more room in any of the margins. Instead, there are full pages marked with, “Wow!”
How far are you willing to go to drop all of the false personas keeping your true soul expression hidden? Would you travel to India or Bali to receive Kute’s life lessons? His gift is studying the moment to see what wisdom it offers. Life itself become the teacher. As you wind your way to unknown destinations through poverty-stricken areas, you have no choice but to confront all of the ways you keep yourself small and hidden.
Communing with the beauty of Bali, your heart softly opens. Transformation happens. Kute leaves no opportunity for avoidance. Trusting his well-honed intuition, he helps help you melt into your authentic self.
Would you stand with Carlos and Kute on the banks of the Ganges learning how to master your own thoughts by watching the local children? Or dive from a 40′ cliff with Jennifer into the river below shedding limiting beliefs on the way down? These clients took the risk. They learned how to break through the barriers of their old thought patterns. Their reward was to come face to face with the reality of their own souls and all it wishes to express in this world.
Kute delivers wisdom gems on nearly every page with the kind of creative inventiveness I most love in writers. He breaks the rules of grammar with such deliberate intent that the power of the message has no choice but to bore its way straight into your heart.
Kute’s clients are very successful business men and women who supposedly have everything we’ve been taught to believe will make us happy. Yet, they come to him because they feel empty inside. Can you find yourself in that statement? If so, Kute will be your very strong guide through the unknown territory of your own soul. Kute says, “You simply being your authentic self fully is the greatest gift you can give the world.”
Whether you embark upon an adventure with Kute via physical airplane to exotic destinations or simply by the turning the first page in this powerful, boldly honest work, you will find yourself looking into the mirror of your own soul. Ask yourself, “Am I living all that I can live?” Am I loving all that I can love?” If you are ready to find out, I dare you to turn the page and start finding the true adventure that is the real you!

50 Shades of Salt Lake

Fifty Shades of Salt Lake

Who am I: A great grandma, grandma, step mom, sister, soul friend and wife; an extremely passionate, sensual woman who is still finding her way to wholeness even as she approaches her 60th birthday? Yes to all of that and so much more, as I am still discovering. I think all any of us ever wants is to know that we are seen, loved and accepted for who we are at the very core of our soul.

Tonight, I watched 50 Shades of Gray with my granddaughter (now mom to four children herself). I had never read the books or seen the movie so was not prepared for the depth of feeling watching it ignited within me. The spark was set to feelings already tender from returning as visitor to the city and a life I had escaped from 18 years ago.

There was a man in my life then who easily could have been my Christian had I been willing to go there. A 20 year on and off affair with him in a bizarre relationship too close to 50 shades of fucked up for my comfort. Leaving him and the children of my heart; my stepdaughter and her two children, which I helped raise from their infancy. It was like leaving an important piece of my soul behind. It has been joyously bittersweet to feel that part of me come alive again. Feelings of belonging as I have with this core family have found no equal since I left.

And the movie rekindled remembrance of one whom I once thought of as the man of my heart. I dreamed of converting our relationship from the twisted expression of fiery, but limited, sexual passion into a deep and abiding friendship. Unlike Christian and Anastasia’s long awaited morph into real family and deeper heart connection, I finally shut down all contact with him stating, “no more spice games for me, please.” For there can be no deeper wound than when you open your heart to someone only to be constantly relegated back into the position of “secret woman.” A bitter betrayal that came long after I thought we had moved way beyond game playing and into true and honest friendship about which there is neither shame nor need for secrecy.

There is little I find more difficult to abide than lies and secrecy. The fact that my Christian could not honor that in me meant he was not worthy of my time and I finally shut that door and threw away
the key.

I return in a little over one day’s time to the man I have been with for seventeen years and married to for seven. And this husband of mine whom I love dearly, deeply and passionately, and is one whom I would walk through fire with does not come easily into this deep space in my heart that belongs to my Salt Lake years. It has been fun reacquainting myself with the part of me who lived here then. The woman who was mom and grandma as deeply and sincerely as if these dear ones had been birthed from my own body; who was secret mistress to a player of a man in whose arms she had known no equal of pleasure. She will always mourn the loss of the deeper heart connection she once believed might have been between them had he been willing to trust her enough to explore soul as much as body.

So my 50 shades of Salt Lake chapter will soon come to a close. Will I once again sink only into the me who is wife to a soul wounded warrior struggling to find his own way to wholeness? And to the me who is friends with, but stepmom in legal name only to his kids? To the nearly 60 year old me whose compromised body simply cannot keep up with the demands of her fun loving spirit? I feel vibrantly alive here and I am loathe to lose that feeling.

Still, the current me found has found a whole new kind of passion with her husband. It is a passion that fulfills body and soul and is born on the surviving shores of devastating emotional tidal waves. I love my husband dearly with nectar that is made sweet from the ferment of our struggles. I will take that passion of the soul over mere passion of the body any day.

Still, as much as I love my husband and his family, I cannot say that I have ever felt that seen, honored and welcomed for who I really am as I do here with these beings from my former life. I hope that as I welcome back this Salt Lake part of me into my own heart that I will always feel that no matter where I am or who I am with that I am welcome, wanted and honored for who I am at the very core of my being. And wouldn’t it just be awesome if we all felt that way all of the time.

Thoughts on being disabled… and a kinship with Robin William’s despair

Warrior Dash 2012 scooter view

Here’s how I run/hike/walk/jog these days. Have battery – will travel! I don’t normally eat potato chips but I didn’t have the energy to prepare lunch before I left. Potatoes are gluten free! They were also all I could find at the gas station convenience store.

Those of you who have been following my blog already know I’ve been struggling with physical issues for awhile now. I have a very rare degenerative muscle disease called Inclusion Body Miositis Mito. Today’s sharing is not to make you feel sorry for me. But to encourage all of you who are dealing with hopelessness and despair, no matter the reason, to reach out to someone and not let the darkness win. And keep reaching out and fighting until the darkness passes. For Robin Williams, the darkness did win. Obviously, you don’t have to be physically disabled to feel that sense of despair. But this is the story of how it is for me.

What my current life is like:
When I move my muscles become exhausted and just quit working. I fall down, can’t make it up even a small curb without difficulty and my chest muscles can’t expand/contract rapidly enough to accommodate even a short, brisk walk. The result is that they just freeze. I start gasping for air and black out. Simple activities such as hand washing dishes, standing in line at a public counter, pushing a grocery cart, etc. have left me in an embarrassed heap on the floor desperately gasping for breath and fighting blackout. I have to convince witnesses not to call 911 because there is nothing the emergency room can do for me. Been there – done that; about ten times until we all realized it was pointless and very expensive. The weird thing is that in a non-fatigued state I appear as healthy as anybody. I just don’t stay in a non-fatigued state for very long if I’m up and about.

I loved cooking fresh, healthy, gourmet meals but most days I can only manage to eat whatever is readily available.
I miss cooking every day.
I miss hiking.
I miss dancing.
I miss walking on the beach for as along I want to!
I miss the community of my co-workers.
I miss just being able to run out the door on a whim without thinking, “is the battery on my scooter charged?”
“do I have my cane?”
“will there be steps?”
“If I engage in this activity today, how many days of total bed rest do I have to allow myself to recover?”
“Do I have enough stamina today to complete the activity without collapsing?”

So that’s the upshot of my physical condition. Now, those who know me know that I am a very positive person. I work very hard to focus on the things I can do rather than what I can’t. I aspire to be a spiritual healer, encouraging and inspiring as many people as I can to learn how to rejoice in themselves and their life no matter their circumstances. I am just as passionate about sharing my gifts and talents in the world to the best of my ability today as I was pre-symptom.

I used to think that writing this blog when I have enough energy to be creative, which is not that often, and officiating at two weddings a month, facilitating/attending my spiritual support groups, etc. was enough activity to give me that sense of accomplishment and achievement that I find so vital to my emotional well-being. But after a week-long camping trip with friends at the coast showed me how much of the simple activities I enjoyed so much I’ve had to give up, I find myself fighting hopelessness and despair.

An acquaintance of mine once posted a saying on her FB page. It read something like, “I’m sure glad I work full time so you can be on disability and show up at the convenience store in your pajamas.” Wow – that was a punch in the gut.  I wish I could work – but it’s difficult to explain to your boss that rest is absolutely mandatory and I can’t tell from one day to the next if I have enough stamina to last even for four hours, let alone eight. In a fatigued state, I can’t even read/write intelligently. My brain shuts down, too. I spend more days in bed than I do out of it. My wardrobe went from fun, business-casual to the pajamas that statement expressed as so offensive. I don’t go out in public in them, but if I had to have painkillers and did not have the energy to get dressed, I would. The day after Robin Williams died, I shared this post on my wall:

Photo: I shared earlier, but Robin Williams' passing is cause for a reshare of this famous quote. In his memory may we all be kinder to each other and work to make people smile and feel joyful. He did that for us.

Please read that again and take it in. It’s important.

Today, in the aftermath of Robin Williams’ suicide, I recognize his motivation and desire to just be done with it all. I feel hopeless despair because there is no treatment and no cure for this degenerative muscle disease.

I feel tired – too tired to maintain my positive attitude. Too tired to create. Too tired to manage life. Too tired to write – except this blurb on my thoughts and feelings about being disabled and wanting to give up.
I feel limited, trapped and I HATE IT!

But, I am too stubborn to give up. I know when I need help and I am reaching for it. I know that I will find the sunshine behind my dark clouds again. I am no stranger to handling difficult and dark feelings. Oddly, the key is to allow yourself to fully feel them. It’s about going through them, not avoiding them. When you can’t do that alone, it’s important to find a professional who will help you. I’ve done that.

I will not let despair win. And I know that I am not the only one fighting for life right now. You don’t have to be disabled to feel trapped, isolated and unable to cope.

Please, don’t give up. Let’s vow to help each other remember the sunshine is always behind the clouds no matter how dark and stormy they get. If you have a rare medical condition or fight feelings of hopelessness and despair; first, I do encourage you to reach out for professional help. Second, will you please post a comment on your favorite coping skill? I’d love to read them.

Mine is to tell my mind to shut up and shift it to thinking of all of the things I’m grateful for. And right now, it’s to be honest about how I am feeling. I’m ok right now with owning that I feel hopeless, in despair and not sure what the point is to my life right now. And I can do that because I know that I have the help of a trained professional as my advocate. I have friends who love me, family who loves and supports me. I totally count my blessings. You don’t need strong legs for that! And for now, that’s enough of a reason to wake up tomorrow.

No more longhand? Yikes! And what does that have to do with Powder?

Please write by hand with pencils and pen rather than use a keyboard, because the hand and the body, and particularly the heart, is linked through handwriting in a way that is virtually impossible to preserve through writing with a keyboard.

I’ve heard rumors that our schools are no longer teaching longhand because texting and computer keyboards have made writing via pen and paper archaic. I say “rumors” because I have no school-aged children who would tell me firsthand.

In any case, I am wondering what losing the art of writing in longhand may eventually cost us? As the above quote from Richard Harvey, Your Essential Self1  indicates, writing in longhand keeps us more deeply connected with our deepest, truest self, our heart centers.

Why is that important? Our heart center is where connection happens. Feeling connected, in my opinion, is how we conquer war, greed, hunger and poverty. A news story covering any one of those sad topics is just a news story unless you are personally connected to the people whom the story features. And often, the personal connection to the tragedy leads to wonderful acts of heroism. How can you cause harm to someone or something you care about? Caring inspires healing. This is why honoring connection is my passion.

An awesome moment of connection

An awesome moment of connection

Ever heard the phrase, “living a heart-centered life?” In my experience the feelings of joy, love, compassion, and forgiveness all come from our feeling connected in our hearts, not our minds. These feelings are the very best of us as human beings and what living a heart-centered life is all about.

Have you ever seen the 1995 American fantasy film called Powder? It is about Jeremy “Powder” Reed, who has an incredible intellect, as well as unusual powers given to him when his mother was electrocuted while he was still in the womb. The electrical shock caused him to be born with powder white hair and skin – hence, the nickname, “Powder.”  As stated on Wikipedia, “The film questions the limits of the human mind and body while also displaying society’s capacity for cruelty, and raises hope that humanity will advance to a state of better understanding.

Advancing to a state of better understanding happens when we feel connected. My favorite movie moment from that film illustrates my point perfectly. In it, Powder’s paranormal abilities help a hunter to feel what the deer he shot feels as it’s dying. He created a powerful connection that forever changed the hunter’s life. He could no longer harm what he felt connected to.

The key, in my mind, to living harmoniously with each other and the earth is to feel deeply connected. That connection starts from within; from knowing who you are in the deepest core of yourself – your true self, your authentic self. I agree with Richard that writing by hand helps us to feel this connection more deeply. For me, note-taking in college helped me connect to the material and retain it far better than just reading from textbook alone. So if writing by long hand connects us more deeply to our inner realms and to who/what we are writing about, what exactly are we losing as keyboards replace pen and paper?

I encourage you not to let the art of handwriting die. Write in your journals, write a note to a loved one. Send a thank you note to someone – and take notice. If you felt a warm, fuzzy feeling as you wrote it, you created connection. Let’s keep it alive!

1Richard Harvey,  (2013-07-01). Your Essential Self: The Inner Journey to Authenticity & Spiritual Enlightenment (Kindle Locations 473-474). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

A quick word about joy… and kitties

Joy! That’s what my kitties bring. I wanted to write about how joy lives where you look for it. Because even in this tender time following my brother-in-law’s passing, I still find much joy. And, as always, much of it comes from my kitties. I feel grateful to be able to give them joy, too. They love the garden as much, if not more, than my hubby and I do.

I also find joy in watching my hubby just be himself. He moves through the garden preparing the soil for fall plantings. I find myself in awe of him and the fact that after 13 years of living with him, my heart still goes pitty-pat when he is near. Wow. And he is so patient with me as I sit watching him work. I can’t help much due to the muscular dystrophy that robs my energy. Rather than bemoaning my fate, I do what little I can and focus on living in joy and gratitude anyway.

I had a close friend who had been a quadriplegic since jumping into a river at the age of 16. He emerged from the water with a broken neck. Never-the-less he lived fully, beautifully with more vibrancy than most “healthy” people. He had many friends (even girlfriends) and lived in much joy. Perhaps that is why he far outlived his doctor-predicted life expectancy living well into his 30’s. Compare that to another young man who became a paraplegic also at 16 from a car accident. His family didn’t know how to look for joy. The bitterness and regret tore their family apart. So I live as Mick did – choosing to look for joy rather than choosing fear and disgruntlement because my body won’t work like it used to.  He was an amazing inspiration.

Back to the kitties – just as my brother-in law-was entering Hopewell House, my beautiful 14-year old black cat Jolly was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma. On the morning that my sisters and I were meeting to plan the memorial service, my husband and I took Jolly in to be released from his terrible pain and suffering. His condition deteriorated very rapidly. August was a tough month!

Still, there is joy to be found where we look for it. I spent the spring and summer fostering kitties. One little female was having a really tough start in life. She was too underweight and struggling with a mysterious illness when adoption time came. So she stayed after her brother departed to find his forever home. Divine synchronicity if you ask me. I didn’t know Jolly was ill at that time. So while he can’t be replaced and will be forever honored, Jersey Girl has opened new doors and filled our sad hearts with incredible laughter.

She inserted herself into our “pride.” It seemed none of us, even her 3 other cat mates, had any say in the matter. She was here to stay. They accept her with amazing tolerance. Like when she uses their heads as a highway to get from one bowl to another during feeding time. She has her own bowl, she just likes sharing theirs. And the 15-year old Jasper was amazingly docile while Jersey girl played with her tail. Her little claws got stuck and there she hung like a Jasper Christmas-tree ornament. All Jasper did was look up at Mike and mew softly as if to say, “kids – what are you gonna do!”

So I ask you to take a moment as you read this to count all the things in life where you find your joy. It’s everywhere around no matter what is happening in your world. All you need do is look . . . May you find it in abundance today!

 

  [Jolly and Jersey side by side on my lap]

   

Sunrise

New life begins

It is exactly 30 days since my brother in law passed away per my last blog. Hard to believe Autumn is already here. So much change in such a short time. So while hubby planted our fall crops, a sure sign life continues, I built a fire to take away the early morning chill and decided it was past time to connect with you again.

The garden this year surpassed all expectations. Every year we always say, “it’s the best garden we’ve had.” But this year – all I can say is, WOW! So I will keep the words short and let the pictures speak for themselves. One of my favorite things about gardening is how beautifully it demonstrates life. The season’s change and life continues. I find hope and comfort in that. I hope you enjoy this pictorial demonstration of summer moving into autumn. One of my favorite times of the year. But then, I say that every season.

Thinning carrots – thinning thoughts

It’s 8:30 am. I am sitting on the deck in my back garden enjoying the morning sunshine. I haven’t yet had enough coffee to decide if I am alive today. That’s when my husband chooses to switch into task-master mode. The next thing I know I am seated on small garden stool next to the carrot barrel charged with thinning the tiny seedlings down to one sprout per two inches.

At first, that seems easy enough – not too much effort for my physically challenged body.  I fortify myself with one more sip of coffee and a sip of refreshing, filtered water and dig in. Ten minutes into it I  realize what a daunting task this is. There are what seems billions of tiny little seedlings grouped into a one-inch area. How am I supposed to decide who lives and who gets yanked? When asking my husband something to that effect he replies, “dare to make a decision!”

And that sparked an entire line of thought that kept me entertained through the next hour of plowing through the jungle of little sprouts. All of these seedlings are like creative thoughts banging around in our brains. Sometimes it’s obvious which seedling is the strongest and which to pull. Sometimes I reached for a particular sprout only to discover I’d yanked the wrong one. Oops. Gee – I suppose I could liken that to some of the relationship disasters I’ve had. . . but let’s not go there!

So how do we decide which ones will grow into big, healthy yummy things and which ones will take us down the dark alley of scraggly-ville – lots of effort with puny results. And when I came upon those sections of major clusters, it reminded me of times when I’m just too overwhelmed to know which way to go. I refer to that as a cluster-F… – well, you get the idea.

So how do we deal with those? I got up, stretched my my back a bit. One of my cats was demanding some attention so I headed to the gazebo to a enjoy a moment with her on my lap. After fifteen minutes or so I returned to the carrot barrel with renewed energy.  I moved my stool to the other side and began viewing the mini carrot jungle from a whole new perspective. From the new point of view, the choices were more obvious.

Sometimes the only way to see things clearly is to completely walk away for a bit. Change your focus  to something relaxing and enjoyable. Then look again from a whole new angle. It’s like refueling the creative juices. So much better than stubbornly trying to force your way through a mental road block. That only leads to frustration, hasty yanking and poor yield.

It works not only for creative projects, but for life-changing decisions as well. And sometimes, you just have to dare to choose when the pathway is less obvious. You just have to let things grow for a bit to see what potential they have. Then yank, if necessary. And what grows might even surprise you. Life does amazing things when you just relax and observe.

As I meditated on these thoughts, the carrot thinning process was accomplished in what I call the “no-time” zone. It’s that place where you slip into a rhythm, get into the grove, go with the flow or whatever. The process itself becomes your only reality for that moment and you hit the fun zone. Ok – maybe not “fun” exactly, but definitely the easy zone. You get lost in the process and before you know it – you’re done!

And I got a whole new creative blog idea to offer you out of the deal! When you’re hanging out in the garden of your life, take a moment to pay attention to how you thin your thoughts into ones that will produce new fuel for your life. Recognize when to yank with gusto and when you need to change your focus and just relax and let the process take care of itself.

Here’s hoping you find your zone and that your yield is strong, healthy and abundant!

The Unspoken Moment

True Heart Connection often happens without words. Experiencing and inspiring those moments is my passion and my joy. These rare and precious happenings often occur randomly and cannot be forced or manipulated. One of these precious moments for me came from what many would consider an unusual source.

I have four step-children with my current husband. Two of them come from a previous, 20-year marriage. In my mind, 20 years of family experiences simply cannot be erased or negated, but deserve to be honored. And while they were an unsuccessful couple, they remained an extremely successful family. They continued to co-parent as their children grew and eventually, life drew us all together.

We now share our holidays as an extended family unit. We also all share a passion for music and Karaoke singing is always a big part of our gatherings. We take turns and the performances range from the hilarious with accompanying dance moves, to the heartfelt. Speaking of the latter, the girls’ mom took a turn singing with her eldest daughter. As I listened to the words from “The Loving Time,” by Mary Black- a beautiful ballad about passionate love without a happily-ever-after ending- I felt chills along my spine. I turned to look at the youngest daughter who was listening beside me – our eyes held for a moment. The song as the story of their parent’s love, and my own past loves, rang true and touched me deeply. It was also true for her having just ended a deep and significant relationship in her life. There was as much, if not more, said between us in that one unspoken moment than we have shared in all our years of knowing each other.

It gave me such great joy to experience that with her. All of the sadness and pain from both experiences, her recent loss and the divorce of her parents, was there in her eyes. What I felt was empathy with that from my own past, but way beyond that was the joy in sharing such an intimate, vulnerable moment.

It deepened the bond I already feel with her and her mom. It is strange, perhaps, but a bond of women who have all survived heartache and loss and found an inner strength and eventual return to harmony goes beyond the boundaries of ex-wife, step-mom, or step-daughter.

In the experience of a life where we dare to love passionately, deeply, to whatever end; we break through barriers to find true, magnanimous love. I am more grateful than I can say to be sharing this life and the love we all share for the same man with these amazing women. We each love in our own way. Like the different flavors from Tillamook, it’s all still ice cream. Whether it’s wife-husband, father-daughter, or the love from a friendship born of surviving the loss of a 20-year marriage, it’s still love. And for me, I get to add that bond of woman-to-woman respect and love. It comes from knowing we have all cried the tears of troubled times and rediscovered the joys of great ones.

As we bring in the New Year, find a quiet moment to reflect on the Unspoken Moments in your life. Who inspired them for you? Were yours, like mine, perhaps from an unexpected source? Let your heart be filled with the gratitude from the privilege of sharing that precious moment.

Facing into the Wind

As you sit in your chair reading this, take a moment to notice your body. Are you tense or relaxed? Play around with your thoughts… start with a fear-based thought. Notice what happens in your body when you engage those thoughts. Tight neck, shoulders, feeling a knot in the pit of your stomach? Welcome to life in a “contracted” state.

Now take three, really deep breaths. Recall a moment when you felt completely open, loved and loving. Perhaps a tender moment with a cherished family member, sharing a moment with your favorite pet or watching a spectacular sunset. Notice what is happening in your body now – feeling more relaxed? Breathing more deeply and calmly? Slower heart rate? Welcome to life in an “expanded” state.

It is entirely possible to experience sadness, grief, loss, fear and anger from the expanded state. How? I call it facing into the wind. I used to take myself on annual solo sojourns into the Utah dessert. Each time I would experience a moment of extraordinary empowerment. My favorite memory was feeling so completely uplifted by a connection to Spirit that it seemed I soared up to the top of a narrow, sandy outcropping left by years of wind erosion. At the top, I was buffeted by strong, bracing winds. As I stood there, my pulse quickened and I heard these words in my mind, “face into the wind.”

Moments in my life when I closed myself away from fear, pain, or anger rushed by and I relived them with an awareness that by expanding into the experience with self-confidence and respect, the contracted feeling just melted away. We tend to try to pull away from all things unpleasant; repressing the feelings rather than really experiencing them. When you face them head-on, just like facing into the wind, you find that place inside that is always connected to the Eternal. Relax and breathe into it – feeling yourself expand into it with each breath. From that place, recognition dawns that something within you is much stronger than the feeling you are trying to evade.

Everything in life is created to be experienced. Once fully experienced, it dissipates with purpose fulfilled. Even grief can hold no sway if you are willing to allow yourself to really feel it. Face into it – face fully into the wind of whatever is blowing in your life. Expand into it and discover how much more of you is fully available when all of your energy is released from resistance. When you are more emotionally available to experience life, life gives you so much more to experience. And you find much more room for joy, laughter and celebration.

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