I took a little bit of time off this summer to spend with my family, sit with my thoughts, and just allow my journey to unfold. Just like my mosquito friend, I was holding onto my ideas and dreams too tightly…leaving no room for everyday miracles.
The summer began as an experiment in Free Will
We allowed our children to have access to computers and TVs at their own discretion. This made for about a month and a half’s worth of fighting, agitation, and up to 6 hours a day of screen time. GASP! After a beach trip, when my kids couldn’t keep up with me on a walk and the family broke down into total pandemonium…I knew something had to change. I had touted “less screen time” for years; in talking, my husband got on board in a big way.
The kids woke up to a whole new world
No phone, no computer, and no TV*…not a single luxury, like Robinson Caruso, it’s primitive as can be. What might you expect to happen? Whining? Crying? That’s what I was preparing for, yet after they asked a few questions and tested the limits (which were abundant), they started to play together. Dare I say, they started to play with toys again! They were listening to music while lying on their beds, drawing, practicing the guitar, organizing their spaces, and…reading!
Enjoying every moment
We found ourselves together as a family. A trip to the grocery store suddenly became an outing…everybody wanted to go and get out of the house, which led to new areas of togetherness and a greater understanding of one another. A chance to blossom, shine, and be unique. Our love is deepening on so many levels and we are healing old wounds. An added bonus is that we have way more time than we ever realized to do all the things that are of value to us.
The BIG lesson
As we live in this NOW, NOW, NOW environment, filled with LED lights and distractions everywhere and we have questions that we need to be answered; instead of saying into space “Hey Google…” how about “Hey God…”? Imagine having enough peace in your lives to hear those answers as well. When I did just this very thing yesterday I received a loving response that went like this: “…that which you believe to be a lifeline (computer) is in actuality an anchor which keeps you stuck”.
This blue screen is burning me out, I feel tension in my shoulders and in my temples. I have come to realize I can write all my posts out in my journal (the old pen and paper), and then just turn on the computer to dictate it in Word and upload onto my website. This feels like the intended purpose of technology. That I can quickly share an idea, then get back to really living.
Loosening our grasp on the outcomes…
When we separate ourselves from constant distractions, we can focus on some much bigger needs. “Being present” each day is a wonderful focus. After spending a year so goal driven, I lost my broader vision of joy. Taking our thoughts, desires, and goals too seriously anchors us, making us unaware of the potential within each moment.
Time to smell some roses…
*2 uplifting movies or documentaries permitted each week; as parents, we are able to tend to business and school obligations.
It was a beautiful spring morning…sunny and crisp. I took a walk in the park. When I got back into my car, I noticed a little mosquito on the windshield…I thought nothing of it as I pulled out of my parking space. When I turned onto the street I thought “little mosquito, are you leaving family and friends behind?”. As I accelerated the wind was flapping her wings up and down. I started trying to encourage her, ”Go on, fly away!”. I am a few miles from the park now. She bared down in the front so she could be more aerodynamic. Her delicate body shook violently under the force of our increasing momentum. I couldn’t understand how she stayed glued to that spot.
Suddenly I realized, she is delivering a prophetic message!
I began to get really emotionally involved with her…”Why are you so afraid to just let go?". I imagined her with an aviator cap and goggles like Amelia Earhart used to wear…gritting her teeth as in a cartoon animation. I said “We are passing a beautiful farm, you can live there with the cows…just let go!”. She was so tenacious in her efforts.
Why are we willing to endure so much pain and discomfort in life?
I personified my flying friend to our human consciousness…”if I let go I will be cast into the unknown at 50 MPH!”. It feels safer to grasp onto what we currently know with white-knuckled assuredness; than to let go and risk everything for just a chance at true joy and happiness. Why are we so willing to believe lies and experience emotional and physical pain?
The reason is FEAR!
No wonder our world is riddled with disconnection, distraction, and materialism…it takes our minds off our struggle with fear. I have come to know this fear as a crisis in faith…it keeps us from trusting one another and being our authentic, loving selves.
The answer is Faith.
Re-evaluating our limiting beliefs, stress, and self-care practices are good places to start. Take a good, hard look at where your time and energies are going…and consider where these could be more in alignment with our Higher purpose. If you find yourself feeling more joyful, lighter, and loving…you are on the right path.
Just let go.
As my little mosquito friend finally discovered…we have no control…it’s all an illusion. If we have the courage to dive deeply into the unknown…we have a breath of a chance of discovering who we really are and all we can really be; we may just unlock the mysteries of this life. When we disconnect, listen to our hearts, and just let go…the possibilities are endless. I don’t know about you, but I’d say it is worth the risk.
Our best lives are at stake.
Have you ever gone through the “stuff of life” and come out the other side pessimistic and negative? I noticed this in myself as my family transitioned through a difficult loss. Before this time, I always felt optimistic and could find a solution to every problem. Ever since this awful period, I have struggled with pessimism.
My husband, in his grief, was almost possessed with negative energy…and it brought the whole family down. As he began to heal, this dark energy made its way into my heart…and I became sarcastic and grim.
Today I thought about this ongoing problem in a different way. Maybe this negative force of energy is a viable thing…that in my despair…I drew in the darkest energies. My constant suffering became the food for this beast. So today as I meditated and prayed, I switched things up a bit:
“Dear God, I ask for your love to fill my heart and for your assistance in clearing this dark energy from all around me. Please send an Angel of Hope, that can teach me once again ‘the ways of optimism and light’. That I may find my smile readily and my patience grows exponentially”
I immediately felt a loving energy all around me, and a shift as if maybe this darkness was lifting. As I went through my day, I felt lighter just thinking of my Angel of Hope who is assigned to me and is there to support me.
It can be difficult to lift ourselves out of darkness; if you struggle with negativity…try calling on your Angel of Hope.
Let’s evolve together.
At the beginning of each week, I consider the tasks that would be most important for me to fulfill: shall I paint, shall I write, shall I work on my inventory, shall I clean, shall I just sit here? One or two things always stand out as a high priority to accomplish.
The weather has kept things interesting lately. So, I make my decisions about where to focus, I take care of anything pressing…ready to dive in…and I forgot the kids have off for President’s Day! No problem. We go see a movie…and get ready for Tuesday. Gaining momentum, I finished a beautiful pair of earrings…and the kids are sent home early from school. Wednesday…2-hour delay…OK, just laugh so you don’t cry…school is cancelled. Kids are home, no problem. Feed them, help them with their school work, get them to bed. I stay up late to get ready to jump in the next day. A 50-degree warm up causes melting and ice…2-hour delay. No problem, I’ll still have the afternoon to do my work. The two-week average of school days: 2.5.
OK, now I am meditating and focused, I know what I need to do. Monday, I take care of loose ends so that Tuesday I am totally free to commit to my artwork. Monday evening…uh-oh…my son’s cough sounds a bit worse, where’s the thermometer? 100.5…and climbing. OK, no problem…I stay up until 3:00 am and it feels glorious to have a little time to dive deeply into something I am working on. I didn’t want to go to bed at all…I felt so free. 6:00 am rolls around, My son still has a fever…he needs to stay home. He is wondering why I am not spending more time with him today…though I’m nearly hysterical because of the lack of sleep and feeling like an animal in a month-long deprivation study.
This is when I really started to see the humor in it all. Albert Einstein is said to have exclaimed: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. Am I insane...or am I just forgetting to find freedom in the moment?
Perhaps what seems important on paper (the dreaded “to do” list) adds little or no value to improving our sense of satisfaction in life. What’s the point if we can’t find freedom, happiness, and joy in our day? How much life did I miss worrying about all the things I wasn’t able to accomplish? I missed time being present and connected with my husband and family. I missed the peace and surrender I could have felt in the flow of life. I missed the creative sparks that fly in an unexpected moment. I forgot to consider and be grateful for all the things I have accomplished: a beautiful family, a fulfilling career, connections with some dear friends, and touching more than a few lives on this journey.
These lessons come repeatedly to teach us “to do” things differently. I realized through these weeks that I never really learned how to take care of myself and another person at the same time…it has always been one or the other. This is an error. We are not meant to squeeze ourselves into the spare minutes of the day (or wee hours of the night). Freedom is the cornerstone of a loving relationship…with ourselves and with others, and it is nestled into every moment.
Hot cocoa, anyone?
Answering the call to non-action is perhaps one of the most noble quests, yet interestingly, it isn’t very celebrated in our American society. I was surprised to discover how much happier and loving I felt when I took time to just sit with my thoughts and look out the window.
I achieved this mostly by going to bed early and getting up when no one else was awake to watch the sunrise. I also decided to let go of “my responsibilities” a bit. I used to hate my house out of order and every time my crew left their dirty socks, drinking glasses, and clothes all over the floor…I went through to pick them up. This somehow became a constant chore and I did it because the mess drove me crazy. It became clear rather quickly that I was the only person in our home who suffered from this tidiness affliction…I began to feel bitter about it. Then I noticed the less I did, the happier I was feeling. Now, I am not talking about sitting in front of the TV, or the computer, or scrolling through my phone. Just sitting there until I was so comfortable with the thoughts that came up that I had nothing to run away from…
This, to me, was a revelation of the highest order. I had spent so much of my life working like a maniac and maintaining perpetual busyness…just so I had no chance to stop and think. If I had, the floodgates would have opened and I would have felt I had lost all control.
Have you ever noticed that a time of rest or silence actually made you better at everything you do in life? What if rest and play really should be our highest priority? What if we could get all the necessary work done in a fraction of the time and with precision because we are happy and present? Is it possible our best ideas come from this place?
I had spent about a year sitting, meditating, praying, and reading books of high value. I got so charged up with so many ideas during that time (hence my website, teaching art club at my boys’ school, and all the many projects I have in the works) that I started to fall back into my old pattern: work like a maniac, be busy and emotionally inaccessible…and don’t take time to think.
Well, my friend, it’s time. I invite you to once again accept the call to non-action with me. Together perhaps we can hold each other accountable and remind each other about the things that are of the highest value in life. How beautiful it would be to find that balance between the two: action & non-action…each being essential to our growth and expansive beyond measure.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject…
As the New Year rolls in it is a great time for us to evaluate our self-talk and consider what kind of story we are writing for our lives…is it one that pleases us, or do some things need to change?
I noticed despite all my prayer and focus on being a more loving person…I couldn’t break the cycle of my grumpiness at home. I thought, that is strange, I have made this desire to be more loving the focus of my life?! Why can’t I sort through these negative feelings? Then it hit me…I am stuck in a story of the past…in which I felt pain and bitterness.
When we want BIG change, Real change…it is only possible in the present moment. This is the only place we are receptive enough to receive God’s Love and support. I began to realize I have been in the darkness of my cave for years and although I have been evolving…I still bounce back and forth between two of my most prevalent facades: bitchy and exuberant (the former at home, the latter when social). Neither of these is the person I truly am, they are merely masks that protect me from feeling certain emotions.
So when I woke this morning at 4:11am. I grimaced as I felt the pain in my back that has plagued me for the last 15 years. I sighed. This is not what I wanted out of life. My story has been: “My back is killing me, I don’t have enough time to myself, and no one appreciates all that I do!”
This is where the great I AM comes into play. I AM is supposedly how God referred to Himself to Moses. What powerful words of creation! For the next 2 hours I stated affirmations as I laid in bed “I am loving, I am fair, I am creative, I am in touch with my femininity, I am healthy”…on and on it went and throughout the whole day. This creates new synapses in our brains, and opens new doors of possibility within our lives.
What was really shocking is that even though I was saying all these words inside my head; I noticed my boys found resolve where typically they would be fighting…I saw them reflecting on the people they were, and making some new choices. The day was harmonious.
A new story is how we create a new life for ourselves.
Be mindful of the power of your words and the story that you tell…make it one that brings you joy.
Remember: YOU BECOME whatever words you say after I AM...
Happy New Year!
A few months ago, before conceptualizing this website...
I was sitting in a meditative prayer one morning as I sat with the rising sun, staring out the window at one of my favorite trees, with whom I have shared many mornings. I remember that during this time I was in a lot of pain with a recurring back injury. As I sat there in stillness, I went into a dream-like state in which I had a vision of my body as a castle tower made of stone with stairs that spiraled from the ground to the very top…lit only by a few small torches. There was a heavy wooden door with cast iron hinges locked up tightly with chains…with no way in or out. When you reached the highest point in the tower there was a small dusty room with two EYE-shaped windows…this was the only room in the entire tower.
I came into the castle like a narrator or a voice or a body-less presence and I immediately observed a little girl about 5 years old stomping up and down the stairs seething with anger. When she went to the top room, huffing and screaming, she struggled to reach the little windows to look outside longingly at the world around the castle…that is when I approached her…
I said: “Little girl, why are you so angry?”
She replied: “I AM ANGRY AT YOU FOR KEEPING ME LOCKED UP IN THIS TOWER!”
Me: “What do you mean? How have I kept you locked in this tower?”
She: “You never let me be myself…you locked me up and MADE ME A PRISONER HERE!”
Me: “Why would I do that?”
She: “I don’t know why, but I am very angry!”
Me: “Well, what can I do to help you?”
She: “Let me out of here…let me be myself…let me shine!”
Me: “How do I let you out? This dungeon tower is locked up tight.”
She: “Use the key!”
Me: “What key?”
And I remember hearing a voice: “Why don't you make one?”…as I lifted out of this dreamy state and back into waking life.
Once again I was looking out the window at my tree. I thanked God for this beautiful system He has in place...that is always able and willing to send messages and insights to us when we are seeking answers. I realized quickly that the little girl was me…and that I was holding myself back from my true purpose and calling. I realized that the dusty, dark, and dirty Dungeon Tower was a symbol of the pain I was carrying within my own body…including the girl’s anger. It was clear. I needed to step up my game. Be my best self…honoring all the blessings and gifts I was given by God. It was time to set the little girl free!
I immediately went to my shop…and started making “The Dungeon Tower Key”…and have worn it nearly every day since as a reminder to:
1) Be Authentic,
2) Honor my Gifts, and
3) Realize that God's Laws are always working…drawing in experiences we need to learn. He has given us Free Will, so we must make the choice & turn the key.
Unlock your full potential.
After years of feverishly working to prove my self-worth and stroke my ego a series of calamities struck me…ultimately changing the course of my life forever. I call this “the Great Un-doing”, and it has been the focus of my days ever since. Before the Un-doing, I thought I had it all figured out: a cool job, a loving husband and family, perfect children, and a beautiful garden…what more could I want? I wasn’t aware of all that I was suppressing at the time…the fear, the anger, the sadness…my emotional addictions. My fear was reaching a point of near paralysis…I was afraid in and out of my home and in a constant state of survival (I attribute much of this behavior to raising children in a post-9-11 world). Eventually, my husband and I received the terrible news that my beloved father-in-law was sick and dying with ALS. Up to that point…he always seemed able to calm us down and assure us "everything will be OK". At that time, I was pregnant with my 2nd child. Dad passed within 9 months, he was a best friend to my husband and the patriarch of our family. We were destroyed. My husband wept and mourned deeply for years. It was a time of pain and challenges…all that seemed “perfect” was lost.
My cool job became stressful, my loving husband became unstable, my perfect children were not behaving, and my beautiful garden was a burden and a mess! I spiraled downward. I lost all control in my life! I thought how can we survive this time as a family without destroying the children? I abandoned myself to focus solely on the needs of others. I wanted the boys to think everything was OK, but it wasn't...all my anger and bitterness began to surface. It was 2011. That “11” marks the frown lines that formed on my face that year…a constant reminder.
I have been a lover of self-help and spiritual growth books since I was 20 years old. The ideas of taking responsibility for your life and not being a victim sounded like truth to me, although they always proved themselves impossible to maintain in daily practice (fast forward 20 years: I came to the realization that the missing link was a profound faith in God). These books got me through tough times up until the time of the Great Un-doing…in which I felt completely powerless. The stress started to manifest in my body…between years of paralyzing back pain, to vertigo, to acid reflux, to teeth grinding and jaw pain so intense it brought me to tears at night. I was an absolute mess! I forgot how to laugh. I scowled, mostly…those were dark times.
Fast forward to 2015. My parents brought me a cake for my birthday…as I paused I realized I had only one wish…"Peace". Before midnight on the evening of my birthday…that sincere wish started to manifest. I got a call from a dear old friend (who had no memory that it was my birthday) around 9PM, as we talked over the next hour or two…her story unfolded. She had been going through difficult times and had nearly died from internal bleeding…hospice had been called in and that was going to be the end. She told me that an “angel” had come to her and told her she was “not going to die at this time”, and gave her some specific instruction that seemed to help save her life. As she went on, she said that the “angel” never left and that she could see and have dialogue with them.
At about 11PM the conversation went like this:
Friend: “Jen, there is this heavy guy here who has been asking me to contact you”
Me: “a large man is with you and wants to talk to me?”
Friend: “Not large, deep. He is very deep”.
Me: “Do you mean my father-in-law?”
Friend: “YES! That’s it! He is jumping up and down and happy!”
Me: “This is crazy, you’re scaring me!”
Friend: “He said don’t worry about ____” (which was something personal that no one knew about and I am not going to share).
Me: “how could he know that? I don’t understand”
Friend: “He said he likes what you have done with your home”.
Friend: “He wants you to go to the mantle of your fireplace and place your hand on it”.
When I did, I got shivers rolling down my spine more powerfully than I have ever felt before…
Friend: “Aww, he is giving you a hug, he is so happy to be in contact with you, he has been trying for a long time.”
Me: “Should I get my husband?”
They said to go put my hand on my sleeping husband’s chest and as he woke:
Me: “I am talking to my friend who had a near death experience, now she can talk to angels, and I have been talking to your dad for the last hour”
Husband: “OK.” (Very slowly & without protest)
Me: “Do you want to talk with him?”
This continued on and on and into morning…asking and answering questions. This was the beginning of a new chapter…which was fear-inducing on an entirely different level. Now suddenly I am faced with the reality of an afterlife, with the presence of spirits…both loving and malicious, and my place in this new world. I drew many scary moments towards myself, because I had been in a pretty dark condition for several years…now I had a choice to make: Do I trust in God or live in fear forever?
I now have several years settling into a new mindset, and I have been quite steadfast in my spiritual pursuits. I have learned a few very important things in this time: