Saturday, December 29, 2012

Light a Candle ... or Curse the Darkness?

Maybe it's this time of year, but for whatever reason, when New Years is near, I always think back on the last 12 months, perhaps even years past. Before, I would dwell on memories, but lately, they seem to brush over me like a cool mist and then swell with warmth from my present heart.

I'm reading a book about the power of emotions, what they tell us, how they can guide us. It also talks about the Laws of Attraction. When I had once felt a lot of pain, I seemed to attract more of it. As my heart has healed and my energy has changed, I've noticed the same pattern, but the opposite. It's not that I'm just attracting "good" things or positive things (though that's part of it), but more like negative things either seem to bounce off more easily or negate me altogether.

If they do penetrate, they don't linger as long as they used to. It's made me view my life and the world in the same way, as energy — positive and negative. And as energetic beings, we have the power to create both and the choice to produce more of one than the other.

As I'd mentioned in my earlier posts, this time of year, and winter in general, has always been a rough ride for me. The holidays aside, it's a mixture of lack of sun, the constant cold, the feeling of solidarity on those cold walks to the car from work ... on those dark drives home, the seasonal depression. But I've also learned of the many things that bring me comfort and am venturing to focus more on them, because what I focus on is where my energy goes. And where my energy goes and how it manifests itself reflects right back.

I feel so much sometimes, it's hard to breathe. It's as though I experience every single emotion at once. And what's more, I always desire to share all of it the moment it happens, but oftentimes it passes right by like an intense whisper against my ear, shooting through my heart.

I hope to learn more as I read more about emotions and what they tell us, so that I can share it. But what I do is know, when people say "think positive" ... well, it's not just some cliche phrase of wisdom. I'm noticing its power more and more. It fights the hardships ... the heartache in life, the voids, the sadness. It breaks through it like sun rays through dark, swollen clouds.

It feels something like this ...

She stands beneath the harrowing clouds, murky wisps across the sky
Veiling brush strokes against the potent silver moon
She pulls her scarf tighter, watching the heat mist from her lips
A porcelain blanket upon the earth as each cascading flake grazes her skin

The crisp air bites at her cheekbones, chattering against her eardrums
She tugs her wool hat down over her ears, feeling the heat beneath it
The hibernating world quiet and still, but for her steady breath, the bare, rustling branches
The grinding crunch beneath her boots ... her beating heart

A pulsing fire, within a glacial mass
A candle flame, amidst the chill

~ C ~

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Amidst Tragedy, Hope For Change Ignites. But Where Will it Truly Come From?

Too immensely raw to touch ... what we have all felt the ripple effects of this week. The heaviness inside is beyond what I could imagine. It is as though I feel the gaping wound of all humanity at this very moment.

I don't want to immerse this post in sadness. There is plenty of that in all our hearts I believe. So what I do want to express here ... is hope ... and love. I have found it hard to breathe through a lot of the news this weekend. As I'm sure many others have ... especially parents and teachers. So I decided to pick up my Yoga Journal magazine and see what my eyes fell onto.

They fell onto an article titled "Lead With Your Heart." The article is about heartbreak and how important it is for us to continue loving, even through the most immense remorse. How it's vital for our existence as a species.

There will always be questions of why in life. Why do things happen? What can we do to prevent them? And the answers are rarely, if ever, found on the surface ... on the outside. And they're rarely, if ever, found in one thing, one "solution."

If you really think about life in general, it is often a cultivation of many things, many facets — not just one — that creates us and everything around us ... whether it is the food we eat, our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being, our overall lives, our days, our jobs, careers, our families, our homes, our accomplishments, all the tools, machines, inventions we use every single day, nature, trees, gardens, farms, animals, storms, the elements.

Everything around us, our own individual make ups, are an intricate web of working parts. So why wouldn't the way we incite change in the world not include that same intricate web of working parts?

We are all of this earth, and are separate beings, yet tied to the same energetic source. Somehow, we forget that.  From the moment that umbilical cord is cut, we begin that slow separation in existence. And the majority of us, driven by the mind, are so focused on "standing out" somehow, on being unique, on being better than or more significant than others, on compartamentalizing everything and everyone we see, judging, critiquing, categorizing people, situations, emotions ... or some of us are just hell bent on wanting to feel special apart from the rest, we forget the great connection between us all. We forget the amazing compassion and relation we have to everyone and everything around us. That we are not so separate ... that it doesn't have to be me against him or her ... or us against them.

We forget the root of our entire species, our entire existence. Whether you believe in a higher power or not ... atoms, energy is an undeniable part of all things. Some of us explore our universe, speculate what's beyond our own galaxy, while others focus our attention inward, get caught up in our daily grinds, in our own problems or gripes or the oblivion of materialism, technology, the media, reality TV. We fail to see that everything we could possible need is right here inside us all. We've lost that connection ... in so many ways. Yet that connection is vital for our existence.

As Christmas approaches, many families, not just those who lost children in Connecticut, but those who have lost children and friends, relatives all over the country and world through tragedy, will be filled with unconscionable sorrow. And many of us will feel helpless in their midst. But the truth is, we're not helpless. We're never helpless. We all have the power to tap into that infinite source, to send light and love to not just those who have lost loved ones, but every single person in our path.

As we, as a species, change, so will everything outside of us. We are life ... and in life there is power.

Whatever outward action follows to help in the healing, in the transformation or ignition of change, it will fail to cultivate the desired result if it comes from anywhere but inside.

After all, that's where it all starts. It doesn't start with politics, with laws, with services. All of those things will undoubtedly help weave that web of working parts. But the nucleus doesn't stem from them.

The nucleus ... stems from us.


P.S. I will leave you all with a song my best friend Katie sent me awhile ago that was a salve for my heart these past few days:

Philip Phillips "Home"


Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Present of Being Present

This is that time of year where it feels like anything could happen. There's that hint of magic that seems to quietly waft through the air. There are also those moments when the burning flames inside us feel nearly snuffed out by cold breezes.

It's a time of warmth and reflection. It's also a time of nostalgia and melancholy. This year, I'm making a point to stay in the present as much as I can. This is one of the most tested times for me in that regard. My mind has already begun playing and replaying its myriad of thoughts, memories, emotions. Some of them are kindling, other are anchoring.

I've been reading more about the past/future patterns of the mind lately. I notice them still at play in my own when I'm "not paying attention" to it. But it's lessening and lessening the more conscious I'm becoming. However, I also notice it in others a lot more acutely now.

People I talk to, they reminisce about the past ... they feel anxious about the future. They stress about gifts, about bills, about their love lives, their unhappy relationships, friendships, jobs. Especially at this time of year. It's like everything that's already stressful is that more potent — the fumes nearly suffocating us. Or we get lost in the superficial aspects of life or think upon how rough the year has been. It's only natural to look back on the year as it nears its close and try to categorize everything that's happened. It's easy to reflect on past holiday seasons, to remember things, people, moments, emotions, family, experiences.

Why do you think we do this so much? Sometimes I think our minds are on total automatic, we don't even realize how often we're a million miles away. How rare we are actually "living in the moment." Yet, the present moment is literally all we've got. Everything else is a figment.

Even the timeless classic, "A Christmas Carol" deals with the past, present and future. But when you think about it, it isn't until Scrooge finds his spirit again and embraces his present life that "life" actually begins for him. Yes, the notion of a sad future motivates him even further, but his transformation takes place in the present.

That's how I feel lately. However, I believe reflection has its place, as it did in this story. It offers us a glimpse of where we once were, how we've become what we've become. But notice I say "what" and not "who." Because, I'm realizing, who I am is who I've always been, deep inside. Sometimes, however, it's easy to lose the "who" in all of the "what." Most of us are doing it right now. Like this quote I came across tonight:

Who we are never changes. Who we think we are does. ~ Punit Ghadge

But if we all embraced our inner spirit more, not identified with everything on the exterior or in our minds, we will truly be our real selves. And what better gift to give the world and those around us, than being our truest selves.

Instead of stressing about buying the perfect tangible gift for your loved ones, focus more on giving the most beautiful thing you can give. Yourself. You'll be amazed at how once you tap into that stream of realness, that hint of magic in the air becomes the very essence surrounding you. And the love that is reciprocated back ... is quite possibly the most precious gift we could ever receive.

Happy Holidays my friends <3


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What is Your Calling?

Imagine your body standing. Imagine your feet growing roots into the ground and your heart and crown of your head glowing, streaming energy upward into an invisible, yet powerful energy field.

That's essentially what Bhumi — the director at the Yoga center I will be taking my training at — said we are. She said we are beings who walk the earth, but if we push our minds and egos aside, tap into our higher Selves, we are all connected to one single source. As soon as we create that shift in consciousness, the universe opens before us.

Pretty powerful stuff.

On Sunday, I attended a Restorative Yoga/Yoga Nidra workshop. It was three hours long, but it felt like I'd gotten a whole day's worth of Yoga in.

Before I start actual teacher training in January, I wanted to get a feel for some of the things I'd be learning. I definitely got a taste of it Sunday ... and my spirit is thirsty for more.

I learned a few easy, relaxation poses people can do for 5 to 7 minutes a day that essentially restores the energy in the body at a rate equal to a 30-40 minute power nap. I learned how our mind, our thoughts, stress, anxiety, etc. all burns energy constantly, sends it off into the world, oftentimes with negative entrails.  Restorative Yoga is about helping rejuvenate our bodies and hopefully burn less energy the more we gain control of our minds.

But the second part of the morning, Bhumi covered Yoga Nidra and the ways this ancient form of meditation takes you to the deepest levels of relaxation while still remaining fully aware.

Bhumi talked about how Yoga Nidra, which means "Yogic Sleep," addresses the root of all problems physical, mental and energetic ... and alleviates the cause of stress while awakening our inner healer. It can essentially help the body heal itself, help free us from old patterns, reconnect to the source of our own power, help with that conscious shift toward enlightenment and help us discover our life's purpose.

Imagine that.

She was talking about how when we're born, our egos slowly grow and eventually take over. Our minds, constantly fueled by emotion and identity, categorize everything we perceive, putting it in the "good" or "bad" categories, judging everything, every situation, every person, creating a false identity or identities within us. We forget our purpose and veer off the tracks. When we're lost, everything feels like a struggle or harder than it "should" be. There is always a feeling of agitation under the surface of things ... of discontent, of wanting more. The mind always wants more, the grass is always greener.

I'm sure we all know what I mean here, at least on some level.

But when we shift our consciousness away from the mind and ego and reengage with our higher selves, which is essentially our spirits, our souls, we tap back into that unified Presence.

Hopefully I haven't lost you yet ;-)

Imagine a plant that has grown roots, but is no longer connected to the Sun. It slowly begins to wilt, grow weak, lose nourishment, vitality, energy, life. 

Here's the best way for me to explain this in my own experience. When I've been off track, lost, essentially ... I didn't know what my identity was. I was constantly searching for it in others, in men in particular. I was constantly looking for acceptance, affirmation I mattered, looking for praise, approval. I would hate to be the center of attention in a room, always seeking out the corner, yet, always secretly yearning to be noticed. Everything seemed to be a struggle, seemed to be so hard. The moments I thought I felt I was in Utopia or experiencing life at its fullest never lasted long. And when I was on the opposite end of that spectrum, I was a complete shell, with no fight left in me. I was never comfortable in my own skin, never content or secure or not terrified.

But once I felt that shift, once I felt myself realign with my "highest truth," as Bhumi calls it, I felt this deep peace inside, almost like a connectedness to everything and everyone. Almost like the plant that reconnects with the Sun, with that unified source everyone and everything else is connected to. Nourishment, life, energy, guidance and vitality emerge. I don't feel separate from those I love — even if we are physically apart — or from animals or nature anymore. I just feel the connectedness of it all.

One thing Eckhart Tolle talked about in his book is how once the "reawakening" process begins, it won't stop. Sometimes, the ego gets in the way for a bit, but never forever. I felt I was reawakening when I was a teenager ... practicing meditation and yoga, going to intuition seminars. But then my mind and ego took pretty much complete control of me most of my early to mid 20s.  Depression and anxiety came back full force ... fueling more bad experiences and lower self esteem.

However, now, the calling I felt as a child in bed, I feel it stronger than ever. If you've ever felt called to something and the moment you just go with it, you feel as though the world opened up for you, you'll notice opportunities begin to present themselves all around, situations, people, new connections, guides.

I get it now ... once you're tapped back in, the universe really does open up.

What do you feel, not thing, but feel, your life's purpose is?

My best advice to you all is ... if you have ever felt a deep stirring inside, something calling you ... perhaps someone mentions something and it causes a notable shift inside or you come across something that moves you deeply, but your mind tries to talk you out of it. Watch your mind and gently push it aside.

Once you're able to do that ... just go with it.

I dare to imagine where it will take you. I can't wait to see where it takes me.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Look Beneath the Surface

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.” ~ Lao Tzu

A woman I randomly went to today to cut my hair was talking to me about the lottery. I guess it's up to $2 billion or something right now.

Anyway, as she was cutting my hair, she said if she won, she wouldn't even know what to do with the money. She said she would likely save some, give some to her family and donate the rest to charity. She then said her 39-year-old son passed away four years ago to a cancer that is so rare, only one other man in the world had the same form of cancer. She said she would donate money to cancer research and other related charities.

Her story touched me ... as I'm sure it would anyone. And I'm not sure if she was just the type to tell that to anyone ... but something tells me she wasn't.

It got me thinking about how we never truly "know" most of the people we come into contact with every single day. That led me to think about this time of year and how easy it can be to only see the surface of it all ... to miss out on the depth beneath the snow ...

It's a bittersweet time of year in some ways. I mean, you have all the wonderful Christmas food and drink specials every where ... you have the warmth of holiday movies and songs, family, decorations, a hint of that old excitement many of us have experienced as a child.

But there is a much deeper level to this season as well.  It's a time of mixed feelings for a lot of people I know ... especially those who have lost someone close to them, like this woman who cut my hair. Or perhaps someone who is single for the first time in a long time ... or has been single for some time and is ready for more, but isn't there quite yet.

I've talked about in the past the strange phenomenon of feeling more alone in a crowded room than by myself. I think perhaps, for people who are alone or have lost someone or perhaps are just going through some tough times, the holidays could feel like a crowded room.

I don't bring all this up as a downer. I love this time of year in a lot of ways, but also can commiserates with having felt the above way for many years, too. And I guess where I'm going with this is sort of simple.

As we begin or finish up our shopping lists ... as we endure the long lines, the money stresses, the equally impatient or disgruntled shoppers around us ... as we go about our day-to-day lives in society right now, look a little bit closer at those you encounter. Especially the ones who are complaining most or seem dismissive, judgmental or altogether despondent. And as you look closer, keep in mind you haven't a clue what their lives are like, whether they're just having a bad day or whether they've just gotten the worst news of their lives.

You just never know.

Most people in this world are so "unconscious," they almost can't help themselves. But that doesn't mean we can't choose, every day, to become more and more conscious, to remember who we are and what we're truly about ... what our lives are truly about. You'd be amazing the ripple effect it can have, even if your kindness or patience simply makes another person's day a tiny bit easier ... or perhaps even coaxes a smile.

I have had some rough days in the past. And I can't tell you how much it affected me when a random person or someone unexpected extended kindness to me, without wanting a single thing in return. They hadn't a clue what my life was like, whether I was just being grumpy or impatient or whether I was projecting much deeper issues.

So, as we begin our day tomorrow and those that follow ... perhaps we can make it a point to look a little deeper at every person and moment that befalls us.

Because the truth is ... we never truly know what's beneath the surface.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Much Can Our Love Tell Us?

We accept the love we think we deserve. ~ Perks of Being a Wallflower.

A couple weeks ago, I went with my friend Katie to see the above movie. At one point, the main character is telling his teacher about the girl he is in love with, who is with a person who doesn't treat her that well. He asks the teacher why she is with him. The teacher looks at him, pauses a moment and simply says, "We accept the love we think we deserve."

This particular line, which is repeated again later, hit me pretty hard. There have been a few times my friends have asked me why I've chosen the kinds of "love" I've chosen over the years. Sure, the meaning of love is different for everyone, but when I think back on the many different kinds I've experienced over the last decade or so, some, not very healthy, others, seemingly "healthy" but not satisfactory, etc., it's made me realize that if I want a barometer on how I feel about myself or view myself, all I need to do is look at how I love and how I'm loved.

This is often a touchy subject, just like my post about "settling." It's different for everyone. But I will put this out there for, at the very least, food for thought. What kind of love do you have? What kind of love do you give? And what kind of love do you accept?

Pondering this might give you insight about yourself you never realized. I used to see women, when I was a teenager, who were treated horribly by men they were with, yet they stayed. Or men, who were cheated on constantly by their girlfriends or taken advantage of, used, etc. I never got it then. I get it now. It's as though you become a victim of yourself.

And this isn't just about significant others. It's about the kinds of people, situation, circumstances, treatment we either surround ourselves with or allow in general. Think about that a moment.

The reason, at least in my personal experience, I fluctuated in the kinds of love I've experienced, both in friendships and relationships, is because at those points in time, on some level, that is the kind of love I thought I deserved. The same can be said for the person opposite of me. Lord knows I've got my own not very easy to handle tendencies, to put it nicely ;-)

But nevertheless, that line is worth pondering I believe. It could give you more insight about yourself than you expected.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Are You Truly Thankful?

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
~ Thornton Wilder

What is it to be thankful? Really.

I mean, we all say we are thankful for the people, things, opportunities, successes, loves, etc. in our lives, but there's a difference between "playing the role" of being thankful — listing all the things in our lives in a very ego-driven way — and truly feeling the deep seated peace complete and genuine gratitude brings.

An exercise that might help you understand what I'm talking about is one I did the other night during Yoga class. My teacher asked us to sit quietly and feel our energy sources (shakras). Without getting into all of that, in simple terms, feel the energy in our bodies, our fingers, toes, the crown of our heads and the spot right between the eyes (as some might be familiar with, the "third eye") ... our intuition.

She then asked us to think of three things we are most thankful for, but to not just think of them in terms of words or images ... but to FEEL them inside. 

So, today, find a spot, even for two to five minutes, close your eyes, feel your breath moving in and out and the energy inside you ... then begin to expand on that feeling to highlight all the things you are truly grateful for. For me, it was my health, my family and my friends.

When I felt my health, I actually felt my body alive, breathing, existing, being. And I imagined filling myself up with a white light of love and gratefulness for my body, heart, soul.

When I switched gears to my family, I felt them inside, my parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I felt them as energy, connections, love ... extensions of myself. And I sent out more gratitude. Same with my friends ... I thought about the old connections I had, the ones who will stay with me always, even if they're not physically present. I thought of the new connections in my life, what they bring, how they nourish it in different ways. And then offered that affection and thankfulness to the universe.

There was never an ego thought about what I'm lacking, what I wish was different, etc. It's a acknowledgment, a "knowing" that everything I truly need is with me right here and now. Is inside me.

The best way for me to describe what thankfulness means to me is ... it's a feeling, almost overwhelming, of love, peace and appreciation that almost hurts, it's so strong. I try now not to infiltrate it with negative self talk such as "I don't deserve any of this," "I'm too lucky," etc. and try to leave my mind out of it.

The result is humility itself, pure and untainted, without the mind involved whatsoever.

So, as I help my mom prepare our meal today, staying ever present and offering appreciation to every piece of food from the earth that will, in turn, nourish my body, which will, in turn, keep me healthy and alive to emanate a different kind of nourishment, I will continue to not only feel thankfulness ... but be gratitude itself.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all were, every single day of our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends <3


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fingerprints of the Mind, Heart

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. ~ Michel de Montaigne
Perhaps it's this time of year. It tends to breathe nostalgia for me. But I've been trying to formulate the concept of triggered memories ... the fingerprints those have left on our minds and hearts.

I wrote awhile back about the power of scent. How a smell can instantly take you back to a period in your life or a particularly intense moment, perhaps a childhood experience. As part of this "present moment awareness" practice, one of the things you do is observe your mind in a non judgmental way. Not an easy task for me.

In the self monitoring process, I am also paying attention to how intensely my mind and heart will connect when a memory is triggered. It's both fascinating and scary how powerful that line of connection is at times. It brings new respect for the mind, but also brings more perspective to gaining control of it, tempering its stressful impacts.

Because I have had moments in the past where a song came on or a scent assailed me and I nearly buckled in place by the intensity of the memory it triggered. The upside is when the memory is something positive (in the present) and it spreads through you like a warm, tickling mist. But tonight, I'm referring to the downside, when I'm feeling perfectly fine and something hits and suddenly, my heart is overcome with a deep, throbbing ache that seems to trickle through my veins.

My immediate reaction is to pretend it doesn't hurt or try to distract myself. After all, I know a lot of people who have said to me they're totally over things or triggers ... whether their eyes tell me something different or they seem genuine, I can only speak for myself here.

I used to be obsessed with "reclaiming" things, songs that trigger a memory of someone, locations, movies, authors, even food. In trying to "get over" a person or relationship, I thought, "Well, if I could just reclaim this and that and that, I'll eventually be over it all."

And while I've been removed from a couple deep seated relationships, one in particular, for awhile now ... yeah, that just isn't the case.

I'm realizing more and more that if I try to force such things, my mind and heart hold onto them even longer.

Sometimes, I used to even convince myself the more I do things (like listen to a song instead of shutting it off, even singing along, smiling, or watching a movie that hits a tender nerve, etc.) the easier it'll get. And it does get easier. I do find I reclaim bits and pieces of those things ... but the truth is, there are some people, experiences, moments that have left their fingerprints, not only on my mind, but my heart as well. And those just never quite go away.

The ones in my mind, trigger an image. The ones in my heart, trigger a feeling that powers through me as though I'm reliving that moment all over again.

I used to believe that made me weak, pathetic to admit that no matter how many times I hear a song or see a movie, I will always think of him or that one time or that feeling. But now, when it happens, I detach a bit from my mind and observe where it went and why, trying not to judge it, as though watching it as a neutral third party. I see now how a lot of those things my mind associates with my "identity." I'm that girl or I used to be or feel that way. Sure, I was that girl or I did feel that way, but those are all surface things.

And the recognition of that is freeing in many ways.

Memories don't make up who I am inside, what my essence is anymore than my fears and anxieties do. But I'm finding they do add color if they're honored. I've been so determined to rub those fingerprints out for so long, I've never just enjoyed the view through them. I've never just let them be, let the emotions they ignite run through me without resistance.

But the last few times I have, I've noticed a definite difference. In watching my mind, it stops feeding me the images ... and in feeling the emotions, they run right through me and out. So as the holidays approach ... and as winter dawns, perhaps we could all benefit from just "being."

After all, fingerprints are traces. Traces are evidence of movement.

And movement ... is life.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Breath of Winter Blues

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~ A Chinese proverb

When I was a little girl, I remember getting excited when the first snowfall hit. Perhaps it was anticipation of winter break, snow angels, snowmen and sled riding. Maybe it was the tingling excitement of knowing Santa was coming.

There is something magical about winter when you're a kid. The longer nights don't get to you then. The crisp air doesn't bite quite so much. Life is uncomplicated somehow. It's about Elmer's glue, markers and cardboard cutouts of Christmas trees. It's about winter boots, hot soup, running noses and Christmas cartoons and movies. It's about holiday music, fires, hot chocolate and decorating.

As a child, you are a clean slate in some ways ... you don't have past heartbreaks that suddenly resurfaces with the trigger of a memory. You don't have monthly bills, holiday prepping workloads,  presents to buy. Don't get me wrong, as I've grow older, there are still many magical and wonderful experiences to be had throughout winter. I've had some of my most memorable moments during those months.

But I've also had some of my darkest.

The interesting thing is, through self evaluation over the years and especially in the more recent ones, I've looked back at those years when I was younger and recalled all the times I would hear my mom crying in her bedroom or the bathroom. To provide context, my mom came to this country when she was 25 and essentially left her entire family in Romania to be in America and marry my dad, who is also Romanian, but whose family had moved here before he was born.

So, during the holidays, the sadness would hit her the hardest. But it was more than that, this was something that happened every year in the wintertime. I never understood then what was going on. I just remember hearing her and feeling such confusion and sadness. I never knew what to do. I just knew she was heartsick.

As I grew older, hit puberty (I was a late bloomer, so it wasn't until I was 14 or so) ... I began feeling this melancholy seep inside the moment winter crept in. Depression and anxiety run in my family, but I didn't "know" that until I was an adult. Knowledge has become power to me. My mom told me recently she should have maybe talked to someone back then, the way I had as a teenager and have been more recently. A lot of the things she suffered, that I've followed suit with, were things she didn't really talk about or deal with.

Anxiety and depression fluctuate in me. And despite this amazing Indian summer we have just had, I do feel winter's breath at my neck. But because I've been working through those fluctuations, have gotten help and have reconnected with the parts of myself that helped me find balance when I was at one of my lowest of lows as a teenager, I feel different this year. Not invincible to these things in me, but more aware of them and not "in danger" of them, if that makes sense. Kind of like, when you're a kid and you're afraid of your basement, but you know you have to go down there eventually ... and then you turn on the lights, and everything that was once scary seems completely benign.

When I was in counseling as a teenager, I remember telling my counselor then (which was a time when I suffered more from social anxiety than depression) that when I started not feeling depressed anymore — when I started meditating, doing Yoga, going to intuition seminars and became profounding in touch with that part of myself — there was a part of me that actually "missed" my depression. It had become such a constant companion, it felt abnormal not to feel it.

Sounds crazy I'm sure ... but now that I've been reading more about the mind/ego's role in our false identities, I realize that's what was going on. My mind and its identity fed on that depression, on that anxiety, on my bad experiences as a teenager and the ensuing years.

Same thing happened a couple years ago, pretty much up until recently. I would rise and fall, depending on what was ailing me. And when I would feel down, it would feel like an old friend coming to visit. It still does sometimes. However, now, instead of resisting how I'm feeling, I'm learning how to let it run through me, like air ... and more importantly, how to find the light switch. 

My mom, she resisted what "was" at that time. Her melancholy, missing her mom and sisters. She mourned them constantly and let her sorrow consume her. And then there were the times she would cry for no reason. I knew those times well. I still do sometimes. But little did I know, that light switch has been in me all along. And my mind, while threatened in some ways, is no longer calling the shots ... at least not the way it once did.

How do I know this? By the sense of peace I feel the moment I'm "present."

It's one thing to be present in emotion, it's another to be tortured or consumed by it. I'm sure you'll find me here many times this winter, channeling.

Feeling emotions is living, channeling them through writing or song or sketching is creation through living.

But turning on the light switch — that is true being.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Animals: The Unspoken Language, How Our Pets Are Our Guides

Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem. ~Benjamin Hoff

As I look at Lakota and Bella, it dawns on me, they've both been in my life now for nearly a decade. It births reflection immediately and it makes me realize these pets have been my unit, have been at my side throughout some of the toughest years of my life thus far.

My dad used to tell me about the Hindu belief that animals are sacred ... and those in our lives, those we have with us, they are guides as well.

The question is, how often do we listen? How often do we just view our pets as our "kids" or as our companions, but forget to look deeper, to look at them as equal beings on this earth with a lot to teach us if we paid attention.

Sometimes, if I'm extremely stressed out, the moment I look in Lakota's eyes, or see his big smile and tongue hanging out as we're walking, I completely deflate. It's a feeling of ... "oh yeah, that's right, this is what it's all about, not all of that stuff, this right here."

When I was in Italy last year, my cousin, Nikki, came over to my parents' house where Lakota and Bella were being taken care of, to check on them. She said she sat down on the couch and they were around her and she instantly thought, "These pets are definitely Cassandra's pets."

She said she couldn't quite explain it, but everything about them, their energy, their eyes, personalities, made her automatically think of me.

That stayed with me ever since and in the more recent weeks, I've been seeing more and more of what she's saying. I think being in this new house and the positive, warm, energy here is part of it. We're all a bit more at ease than we were before. But it's more than that. Perhaps it's this newer state of mind I'm in these days. But as Lakota shows signs of his age (cloudy eyes, gray snout, stiffer muscles), I am making a point to cherish being "in the moment" with him more now than ever before.

And Bella, who, from day one in the pound, has looked at me like she's ALWAYS been with me, never fails to bring a smile, make me feel loved, show me wisdom and a bit of spunk, too. These pets have evolved as I have. When I first got them, I was getting ready to leave for college. It was a scary embarking for me at the time and while I had my boyfriend in tow then, it was still something I'd never done before — be away from my family for long stretches of time.

But having Lakota and Bella with me was like having family there in a way. They were unsure, a little nuts (Lakota, moreso, haha) and quirky, but then again, so was I (still am ;-)

Then the rough years hit upon graduation and the "real world." Lakota distanced himself from me a bit during that time. It was like, he didn't recognized me for awhile there, he was almost afraid or on edge whenever I'd be crying or upset or depressed. It was like he never knew what to do or how to help. But as I've come out of all of that and especially right now, he's at my side constantly ... it's like he's constantly in connection with me, with my energy, words, movements. Same with Bella, though she's always been her own cat in a lot of ways.

Over this last decade, Lakota has taught me patience, unconditional love, wisdom, appreciation for the little things, the peace and sacredness of the present moment, respect for all living creatures and nature, the art of selflessness, loyalty and non-judgement.

Bella has taught me about connection, independence, contentment in simplicity (such as lying on the floor in the sun), adventurousness, love, affection and wisdom. Felines can sometimes tell an entire story with just their eyes.

Next time you're sitting across or next to your dog or cat, make a point to just look at them, not with your mind, but with something deeper. If you can catch their eye, just look into them. You will be amazed at what you might feel, what you might see or hear.

For these reasons and so many more,  I am thankful for my guides. And each day moving forward, I plan to continue cherishing every moment I have with them.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Words, Passion, Poetry

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.  ~ Richard Wright

What is it about words ... it's so hard to explain sometimes, which seems like an oxymoron somehow. But the love affair began when I was a kid in elementary school, learning to write. I loved the feeling of my lead pencil pressed against the wide ruled, grainy paper. I loved how letters looked on a page and eventually, how a bunch of symbols had the power to tell an entire story.

As I grew older, I realized I not only liked writing, I loved being a vessel for something bigger than myself, something that had the potential to touch someone else, move them, ignite thought, feeling, inspiration. I would sit in my bedroom at night and just write ... short stories, poetry, lyrics. When I was in class, usually in the back corner, and my mind would wander, I'd often be penciling in a passage, a quote or poem.

Some of my friends joke with me about how I always use "big words" ... or ones less commonly used. How sometimes it's hard to follow me. To be honest, I've felt "misunderstood" or like the strange, kinda out there girl for most of my life. But there's something beautiful about breathing life into dusty words, like surreptitious, undulate, emanate, sinuous, enrapture ... just typing them now makes me a dozen emotions at once, shivering through me.

But just like in life and love, it's a delicate balance and lithe dance between complexities and simplicities ... between the big words and the beautifully simple ones.

Little did I realize, these moments of inspiration as a child and teen were akin to brief moments of enlightenment, of being completely, 100 percent present. I'd be so captured by a moment or experience, a feeling, I would feel every single layer of it, taste every possible flavor, inhale all of its scents and then absolutely have to write it down — like a painter who mixes the perfect colors together and then hungers for a blank canvas.

And now, while on this current path — which is quite different than the one I was during the last few years — I'm realizing all of those past moments, experiences, the feelings I had as a child, teenager, adult, the feelings I have now, they're all coming together in some beautiful symphony. It's kind of like meeting different parts of yourself, of your soul over the years — as though reading one chapter at a time, allowing each character, each plot to develop, deepen — and eventually coming face to face with yourself in your entirety.

I'm still discovering more. I'm pretty sure I always will be. And truth be told, part of me still struggles with letting go of old patterns of thinking, identifying with my mind, feeling, obsessing, fixating, yearning, wanting, needing, negative self talking, etc.

In the past, writing served as a channel, as a way to connect, as a way to bare my heart and soul. It still serves those purposes, but, where I once fed off my depression, inner turmoil, heartbreak, angst or desires, I now feed off of inspiration, movement, change, growth and harmony. Friction still happens and I know I can always put ink to paper when it does, but as I'm changing and growing, so are these aspects of myself — these gifts.

It's kind of like, the romantic in me still lives and breathes, but she's a different kind of romantic now. She's no longer as scared of losing herself in someone else. She's trusting in what she feels now, her hopelessness, is no longer.

Eyes, exquisitely perilous windows 
How delicately you pull each thread, unraveling your prey 
Guarded, inviting, vulnerable sanctuaries
Possessing the key to folly locks barring truth

Skin, intricately woven, veiling armor
How softly you betray history, bury secrets, exude essence
Scarred, feathery, responsive sheathing
Procuring the power to bruises and healing

Mouth, potently voluble hearth
How fervently you kindle flames, tasting life, drinking tears
Salty, saccharine, silken estuary
Harboring the chamber to breathing the soul


Monday, November 5, 2012

Truth Lies Within

Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. ~ Anne Sexton

Something in me has been restless for awhile now. When I went on my two day Yoga retreat a few weeks ago, the Yoga instructor and I were talking a bit about how I ended up there and how I've been reconnecting with a lot of parts of myself I'd lost before, etc. She was saying how one thing will often lead to another and I just have to suspend my mind and follow my instincts ... and enjoy the journey.

On a whim last week, I decided to go online and look for local Yoga teacher training classes. Then I stumbled upon Bhumi Yoga Center, which is in Columbia Station. It's a trek, but then I noticed they happened to be having an 8-hour long workshop this past Sunday. I didn't even think twice to be honest. I knew I would be going.

Turns out, Bhumi, which means "Mother Earth" in Sandskrit, the director of the center (her real name is Harriet Russell) knew of my father's Yoga guru, Alice Christensen. When we went around the circle of everyone there, they all thought it was very cool my father was the one who introduced me to Yoga and meditation as a teenager. Though truth be told, I'd been exposed to it even as a child, when I would see my father in our den kneeling and breathing slowly. I didn't understand what he was doing then, but I remember feeling a sense of strange mystery inside, an intrigue that slowly built on itself as I grew older.

I gravitated to "nature" oriented religions as a teenager, like Paganism, Wicca, etc. that incorporated the elements and meditation. Once studied, they weren't very taboo seeming at all. It wasn't the religious aspects, per se, I was drawn to. It was the common denominator in all of them ... energy. Energy, nature, balance and respect.

As I let my ego, my issues, my bad or scarring experiences and negative "self talk" shape the following years, those elements faded to my peripheral. Eventually, they weren't even in sight anymore. But now they're front and center again. And what's more ... it's not taking effort to make things happen. They're just ... happening. It's both scary and elating.

Sunday, we did Yoga, meditation, Pranayama, learned how to perform Shiatsu massages, energywork, Polarity Therapy, Chakra Balancing, Stillpoint Cranial-Sacral Techniques and other practices for energy gain and healing. Reiki was also mentioned again, which only emphasized my interest to learn more about it.

Bhumi said a lot of things that hit, but one thing she said coincided with every other "message" I've been receiving lately:

"The mind is never in the present. Your mind will never tell you the truth." She then pointed to her chest and stomach. "Your body is in the present. Your body, what you feel inside, your soul will always tell you the truth. Outside teachers will give you tips and suggestions. But your best teacher will always be inside."

I'd mentioned this once before, but as a child, I used to feel this intensely overwhelming wave hit me, usually when I was lying in bed at night between night terrors. I recall trying to describe it to my dad in his workshop in the basement as a kid, that it felt like I had something big waiting for me, or inside me ... something calling to me, but I didn't know what. I'm still not entirely sure what yet ... but I think this is all part of it.

Suffice it to say, my inner guidance is currently pulling me to Yoga teacher training and certification. So, I'm going to "go with it" and kindly cage my mind in the process. If it's meant to happen, it will.

And if it does ... I'm curious to see what and who it leads to next.

So, next time you close your eyes, perhaps you should try to listen to that inner voice. Maybe you'll be surprised what it whispers.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunting Muses

So, last Halloween, I wrote a short story, much shorter than this, that was sort of a haunted passage about an older woman missing her deceased lover (Stormy weather) ... I suppose at that time last year, it was apropo to things I was feeling, trying to let go of, etc. I'd felt haunted then.

The inspiration behind this one, well, like most of my short stories, it came from a single thought mentioned during a conversation — walking through an antique shop. And then it grew in my head and I knew it would become whatever it was meant to ...

Mirrored Shadows
Emmeline took a sip of her coffee before placing the cardboard cup back in its holder and turning on her windshield wipers.
The rain slashed against the window with such abrupt intensity, she caught her breath. Pulling up to a stop light, Emmeline looked in the rearview mirror at her eyes ... dark, shadowy, tired, sad. Just looking at herself drew up tears she quickly choked down. She leaned forward and brushed her long side-swept bangs to the right and dabbed gloss on her lips, appearing plum against her ashen skin and dark hair.
Suddenly, as quick as the rain down poured, a jagged pain ripped through her chest and down the veins of her arms. Sorrow and loneliness always manifested itself in her veins it seemed.
Emmeline slightly shook her head and pulled backward against her seat, seeing the light turn green.
Peering through the streaming windshield, another green light caught her eye, but this one was neon and said simply "Antique Store Open."
Whether it was the desire in that very moment to be rescued from the despairing rain or her ever present love for antiques, Emmeline pulled into the lot and ducking under her sweater, ran to the door.
She heard a familiar sounding bell jingle as she turned the doorknob and entered the shop. The scent of musty wood, mothballs, tarnished brass and polish assailed her senses. Emmeline felt the floor creak beneath her boots as she slowly walked past the entryway and into the main room. It was much larger, almost hall-like, than she imagined.
There were only a few people inside as far as she could tell and hear. An older gentleman with a scraggly salt and pepper beard and round glasses sat at the check out counter. He was hunched over the countertop, leaning on his elbows and seemingly engrossed in a book when he heard Emmeline approach.
"Looking for anything in particular?" He asked, squinting up at her.
She shook her head, fidgeting with her scarf, a nervous habit she'd acquired some time ago.
He seemed to study her a moment as though she, too, were a book to be read. He brought his hand near his mouth as though in thought, before opening it again.
"Well, if you have any questions or need help finding anything, just give me a holler ... but be sure to speak into my good ear," the man said with a chuckle, indicating his "good" ear was on his left.
Emmeline simply nodded and began moving down the aisles. It felt warm inside the shop. Her numb, cold, wet skin felt kindled by the heat. Her shivering bones began to go slack.
As she shuffled her boots against the hardwood floors, she felt each creak under her weight as though the floor itself was groaning with aches.
Emmeline made her way through a few aisles before arriving back near the front counter again. The old man this time was sipping on a mug of hot apple cider and cleaning an old silver taper candle holder.
"You sure I can't point you in a particular direction?" the man asked again, this time knowing it was her without having even looked up.
She began to shake her head, but realized he wouldn't notice.
"No thank you," she said in a low, quiet voice, then hesitated and turned back in his direction. "Actually ... where do you keep antique mirrors and furniture?"
"Ahhh yes ... I had a feeling there was something pulling you in here," he said.
The sentence felt peculiar to Emmeline, but she couldn't put her finger on it.
The man put down the candle holder, but held onto the sooty rag as he walking around the counter and down an aisle to the left of them. Emmeline followed, realizing then, no one else occupied the store anymore.
She glanced at her watch and saw it was 7 p.m. Most people probably left to get home to their families for dinner.
The thought burrowed deep into her dispirited heart, like a sliver of wood.
She picked up her pace as she noticed the man ambling ahead of her and glancing back. They turned a few corners and finally came to an open corner of the store filled with stacked furniture, couches and lamps.
Then she noticed several standup mirrors as well as vanities and wall mirrors ... some, turn of the century while others looked straight out of the 1950s.
"Well, here you are Miss ...?"
Emmeline, instantly pulled from her trance, realized the man was inquiring about her name.
"It's Emmeline."
The man stuck out his hand, exposing age spots and deep, blue veins. Emmeline took it in her own.
"Pleased to meet you Emmeline. My name is Greyson, Greyson Watts. And ... it is 'Miss' yes?" he asked.
The question took Emmeline off guard. She quickly withdrew her hand, but continued to stare at Greyson curiously. His pale bluish green eyes seemed familiar somehow.
She only nodded, not trusting her voice all of a sudden.
"I meant no invasion or discomfort. I just couldn't help wondering why a seemingly lovely woman such as yourself looks so forlorn and alone ... almost haunted," he said, but then seemed to realize he'd just dug his foot deeper down his throat.
He shook his head and looked down at the floor, turning slightly pink. The gesture made Emmeline immediately wish she could take the entire exchange back and put him at ease.
She leaned in and he looked back up again, his mouth parting as though to backpedal or apologize.
"It's ... OK. I'm not offended. Yes, it's 'Miss' and I'm doing just fine really," Emmeline said, hearing how feigned her voice sounded and inwardly cringing.
Greyson's face softened a bit then, returning back to its original color.
"Well, I have a hunch you might find what you're looking for in this area," he said, gesturing behind him.
"I'll be back behind the counter if you need any help carrying anything. These ol' bones still have some life in them," he said, making Emmeline smile as she watched him retreat down the aisle.
She then turned around and began looking through all the furniture. It was then she noticed a rocking chair ever so slightly moving. Perhaps Greyson hit it as he turned around, she thought. Though she realized he'd went a different way.
Perplexed, but not to the point of fixating, Emmeline continued rummaging through the lamps and mirrors.
Each one highlighted a different part of her face, it seemed.
She stopped on one that cast shadows around her eyes, almost losing them to the darkness. She leaned in to try and get a better look when she felt a vibration against her skin, almost like static.
She jumped back, hesitantly touching her cheek and looking around.
"Greyson?" She said, but her voice came out a scratchy whisper. She could hear him shifting around at the front, but concluded he hadn't heard her. Then she remember his crack about his hearing.
Emmeline leaned in again and felt the same sensation as she neared the face of the mirror. She put out her hand and splayed her fingertips, lightly touching it.
It felt as though her hand fused with the glass and everything inside her felt drawn in, elated, almost like stepping at the threshold of home after a decade's journey away.
Her heart began to flutter as she closed her eyes and surrendered to the sensation. It riveted through her entire body, along her veins until suddenly, she felt as though she were inside a vacuum. The air cackled against her eardrums as she opened her eyes again and realized she was no longer facing the mirror.
Feeling that same static at her back now, Emmeline turned around, coming face to face with the mirror. She looked around the room. It looked almost the same, except everything was somehow, opposite ... and newer.
It was then she felt the presence of someone. She turned around and saw a man rocking in the chair she had noticed moments before. He looked about her age, medium build ... but his clothes mimicked the attire of someone in the 1940s ... perhaps even earlier.
Yet, something about his eyes seemed hauntingly informal, almost intimate.
He stood up and held out his hand.
Emmeline began to outstretch her own.
"I don't believe I've met you before ... Miss ...?"
She gasped then, withdrawing her arm and backing away.
He quickly withdrew his own, shuffling back.
"I didn't mean to scare you," he said.
Emmeline could hear in his voice the warm hesitancy she now expected. She shook her head and smiled. The man looked baffled, but pleased at her expression.
"Emmeline," she said. "Miss Emmeline Thomas."
She then shook his hand, but he didn't let go immediately. Instead, he pulled her slightly inward and brought his other hand up to her temple.
His brow furrowed and eyes squinted slightly in perplextion.
Emmeline, so taken by the quick and unexpected motion, just stood there, breath held, eyes inches from his.
"You just seem so ... familiar somehow," he whispered, as though in a trance.
Emmeline swallowed, seemingly breaking the spell, and he released her and shook his head, as though remembering himself.
Emmeline also shook her head, slightly startled, before looking up at his eyes again.
"Forgive me, but you look ... you look so sad," she found herself saying to him. "As though you've been sitting here for a long time, not quite yourself."
Emmeline couldn't believe she was saying that, it was as though she'd switched places with the old shop owner.
The man in front of her didn't seem offended, however. He seemed relieved somehow, as though hearing this assessment released him.
He touched her cheek again, running his thumb along her cheekbone and this time, she placed her own hand over his, both of their eyes closing.
Suddenly, she felt the static pull again, this time at her back. He seemed to sense something, too as his eyes snapped open. She tried not to turn, but just as before, everything inside her was beckoned by the sensation. It felt as natural as breathing.
The man also released her as she turned, as though sensing it was out of his control.
But just before she surrendered to it, she turned her head to him. His eyes fixed on her, his arms slightly outstretched, but no longer holding her back.
"I ... I didn't get your name," she uttered. She watched his mouth part to answer her, but then the vacuum hit and she was plunged into darkness.
Moments later, she felt her ears ringing. She looked in the mirror and saw her eyes were no longer vacant or lost in shadow.
She shook her head, looking around. But this time, her gaze caught on Greyson, standing against the shelf of an aisle, staring right at her.
His eyes penetrated hers with an intensity she didn't think possible of a man his age. She felt confused, hazy and exposed in every possible way as her mind reeled on everything that just happened.
Did she black out? Did she hallucinate?
But this man in front of her was real and so was his gaze. Emmeline leaned against a dresser for support as she felt her knees weaken. This seemed to pull him from his trance as he came over to her. She stopped him, putting her hand up while she bent forward a moment to catch her breath. But he drew nearer until he was right in front of her. He reached out to her chin and gently raised her head up to meet his eyes.
"It was you," she said, though shaking her head in disbelief.
He merely nodded.
"But ... how?"
He didn't say anything.
Just then, they both heard the doorbell jingle, ripping them from the moment.
Greyson pulled back and began walking toward the entrance. Emmeline could hear another male voice and then both men murmuring.
She began to walk toward the door and noticed a man, similar in build and height to the man she'd just seen ... yet distinctly different in his stance and gate.
When he turned around, however, his eyes and brow were almost identical to Greyson's.
"This, Miss Emmeline, is my son ... Greyson Jr.," he said, his face clearly flushed with several emotions, including a sheepish grin.
Emmeline shook his hand and then backed up, overwhelmed with bewilderment and weariness. Greyson cleared his throat, gave his son what Emmeline assumed was the day's earnings and said goodbye.
His son stared at Greyson and then studied Emmeline a moment.
"Do you need help with anything? Or a lift somewhere?" he asked, looking at her still wet clothes from the rain.
Emmeline slowly shook her head. He paused a moment as though wanting to say more, but then turned and left.
Emmeline began to leave as well. Greyson didn't stop her, though he stepped forward as if to do something.
However, he only opened the door. She walked outside, feeling the steady rain upon her now feverish skin once more, her breath misting before her.
"I ... I hope you found what you were searching for," he simply said, looking past her. She turned around, following his gaze and saw Greyson Jr. walking slowly toward his car. Once he got there, he turned around and stared at her again.
This time, it was as though he was waiting for her.
She glanced back at Greyson, feeling stretched in every direction with no room to breath. The static sensation filled her insides as she studied his eyes.
They held peace, warmth ...  sadness. He nodded at her.
She gasped, wiping her eyes with the ends of her sleeve.
"I ... I think I did."
She turned away from him a moment; She noticed his son had disappeared, the car gone.
When she turned back, Greyson, also seemingly confused, looked into the mist, speechless.
Emmeline gently brought his gaze back to hers.
"Greyson .... I would like to buy that mirror."


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soul Connections and Energy

We don't attract what we want, we attract what we are. ~ Unknown

During my recent Yoga retreat ... I did meditation and Breema, which is a form of bodywork that's relatively easy to do on yourself, but is even cooler when partnered with an instructor (as I was).

Never having done something like that before, I wasn't sure what to expect. All I do know is, at the start, I was tense, had upper back knots and stiffness and afterward, I felt as thought I'd had an hour massage without the actual massage and as though I'd meditated for a half hour, without the actual meditating.

Between the meditation sessions, the yoga and the bodywork, I was reminded of the power of energy, our life force and how we can tap into it all day every day if we wanted ... how we can transform it, create with it, heal and inspire ... but also, how as our energy transforms, so do the things around us. I guess it falls into the laws of attraction concept.

You can't cease to vibrate and Law of Attraction will not stop responding to the vibration that you are offering. So, expansion is inevitable. You provide it, whether you know you do, or not. The only question is, what is the standard of joy that you are demanding for yourself? ~ Abraham Hicks

When I was prepping this house for move-in, painting all the rooms, visualizing how I wanted it all to come together, I focused that energy of intent in every brush stroke, every corner I cleaned. The moment all my things were finally unpacked, my pets were moved in and I sat down on my couch and was just, there ... I felt peace in a way I haven't since, well, probably since I lived with my parents.

Maybe it's being tucked away in a neighborhood surrounded by huge trees, foliage and ... life. Maybe it's being right up the street from the lake and feeling its peaceful energy near me. But the energy in this house is so different from my apartment, it's hard for me to even explain to be honest. All I know is, I have been here almost a month now and I have slept soundly every single night. And my pets, especially Lakota, are different. More at ease, relaxed, balanced. My bond with Lakota has shifted in a major way, too. The way he looks at me lately, I shake my head trying to put it in words. It's a mixture of gratitude, love, loyalty, connection and ... recognition.

In thinking about energy, I was also reflecting on soul connections. I know I've blogged in the past about connections and about soul mates. I come back to this again and again because, well, it never fails to intrigue me. My "issue" in the past, however, and in the present if I'm being honest, is that I have trouble letting go of connections I've had with people ... with soul mates.

So even though my life is in the present moment, sometimes, my heart and soul feel an absence where a soul connection once was. However, one thing I was recently told is that connections come and go in our lives, like the steady ebb and flow of the ocean ... there is always another one around the corner. Some stay for our whole lives, others only for a period of time.

And I realized that if I, like the tides, go with those connections and don't try to manipulate them, resist them or force them to stay when it's their time to go, I will find more peace in the transitions, in the steadiness of change, than I will find turbulence. And not only that, what I attract will change as well, building on itself. It makes me feel a sense of elation, knowing that and excited to see what and who my "future" present moments will be bringing. And I also feel more peace and less impatience as I accept this present moment just as it is.

We are not onlookers peering into the unified field of separate, objective reality — we are the unified field. Every thought you are thinking creates a wave in the unified field. You are like a light radiating not photons, but consciousness. As they radiate, your thoughts have an effect on everything. Your relationship to life is the same as that of one cell to your whole body. One cell can talk to your whole body. One cell can influence your whole body. You can talk to the whole of life — influence the whole of life. The whole of life is as alive as we are. The distinction between 'in here' and 'out there' is a false one — as if the heart disregarded the skin because it was not on the inside. ~ Deepak Chopra

But I guess the paradoxical part of this feeling is, those I've connected with over the years, and the very few, the rarity, who got very deep within me ... on some level, they're never gone entirely. They're always with me somehow ... and I guess, the difference now is, instead of wallowing in their absence, I let them fill me. I don't "remember" them (as in, succumbing to the illusion of the past), I just close my eyes, shut down my mind — even if for just a few moments — and simply ... feel. And the result is ... peace and warmth.

It takes me back to the ocean ... the wind and tide may take us all to different places, but the reality is, we are all in it together. Our paths may cross again ... or may continue on separately, but just as I once described with water drops running down a glass shower door, we all stem from the same source ... and are always connected in that way.

So, if you've ever felt a strong connection to someone or several someones ... and life has taken you in different directions, try closing your eyes, finding your breath and feeling your own energy. You'll suddenly feel tapped not only into those connections, but into everyone and everything. You'll suddenly feel life itself.

And it's pretty amazing.

~ C ~

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Addiction to Someone

Have you ever been addicted to someone?

I came across a chapter of Tolle's book that not only resonated with me, but definitely resonates with some of my friends, too ... perhaps most people at one point or time.

Here's the part that really hit:  

"You get your sense of who you are from things that ultimately have nothing to do with who you are: your social role, possessions, external appearance, successes and failures, belief systems, and so on. This false, mind-made self, the ego, feels vulnerable, insecure and is always seeking new things to identify with to give it a feeling that it exists. But nothing is ever enough to give it lasting fulfillment. Its fear remains; its sense of lack and neediness remains.

But then that special relationship comes along. It seems to be the answer to all the ego's problems and to meet all its needs. At least this is how it appears at first. All the other things that you derived your sense of self from before, now become relatively insignificant. You now have a single focal point that replaces them all, gives meaning to your life and through which you define your identity: the person you are 'in love' with."

I can't speak for everyone else of course, but for me ... yeah, this was me. This was definitely me. He goes onto say one other thing that really hit a nerve from my past:

"If in your relationships you experience both "love" and the opposite of love ― attack, emotional violence, and so on ― then it is likely that you are confusing ego attachment and addictive clinging with love. You cannot love your partner one moment and attack him or her the next. True love has no opposite. If your "love" has an opposite, then it is not love but a strong ego-need for a more complete and deeper sense of self, a need that the other person temporarily meets. It is the ego's substitute for salvation, and for a short time it almost does feel like salvation." 

I've definitely been on the giving and receiving end of the above. And for a long time there, I really thought that's what it was "supposed" to be like. "It's us against the world!"
I mean, when you think someone is your entire world and you can't imagine a day without them, you don't realize how much of that is derived from your mind more than your actual spirit or heart. 

Like any addiction though, eventually the other person lets you down, doesn't follow through, isn't enough and vice versa. Or, they begin to fail meeting your expectations or follow through on their own ... and so on. That's when it often gets ugly, manipulative, angry ... in some instances, physical.

"Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to ― alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person ― you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain."

More than anything else, the past has forced me to focus on the present, on myself. Sure, I was once that woman, on the kitchen floor every night, crying. Do I miss her? No. But have I learned from her? Yes. The truth is, that same pain, she had inside to begin with ... the "relationship" only highlighted it.

For me, it's always been emotions, highs and lows, that I was "addicted" to. So when I felt those things with someone for the first time, I was a moth to a flame, despite the times the highs turned into lows. It made me feel like I existed ... instead of me feeling my own existence inside.

But, the disconnect to my true self is really what I was missing or trying to fill elsewhere. I identified with those emotions, those external expressions, words, promises ... instead of identifying with my own voice, my own words, instincts, wisdom. 

I mean, it was easier for me to have a person to pour my emotions and "love" into than it was to pour love into myself. At least that was the case a few years back and up until recently. 

So, upon reading this, though it may not apply in every sense, it is worth thinking about ... our love, the ways we love ... our views of love.

I guess that's why this chapter hit so hard. I just read it and shook my head, feeling the light bulb moment hit. 

I suddenly saw myself through different eyes ... and saw love differently, too.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Settling into Change

“If all of the steps of surrender are present, then a great Rembrandt or Monet will evoke love because the artist is simply there in all his naked humanity.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Most people don't genuinely enjoy change, at least not the kind that aches as it sets in. But in the end, there's a sense of peace that wasn't there before, perhaps a part of you discovered or transformed.

The thing for me right now that I find interesting ... all the different teachings, practices, the new perspectives that I'm reading about, trying to embrace and study more of, etc., have been put to the test that last few weeks.

This move came on very quickly ... due to the nature of my lease and the availability. So, a lot of the last three weeks, I've pretty much been winging. And in the past, that would have done me in. But every single trying experience or day I've had lately, I've been actively trying to apply the present moment awareness and going with the flow practice. It hasn't been easy. My usual default is to fixate and immerse. That's what I've always done. I fixate on something I'm anxious about and then I immerse myself in it.

I struggled with that this go around. I homed in on what I needed to do and that's all I lived and breathed for a few days there. But while I was doing things, developing color schemes, painting rooms, cleaning ... I was taking in every moment, every brush stroke. Some nights, the solidarity weighed on my heart in a way hard to describe ... other nights, the paint, the brushes, my music, serenaded my insides in an empowering, independent way.

It's just blowing my mind lately, the timing of things ... I will read a chapter of Tolle's book or a page in my Yoga magazine and the very next day, those very things will be tested, presented or challenged. Throughout this whole process, I have literally been witnessing my old mind patterns go to war with new ones. I've watched what my brain automatically does ... the ways in which is feeds on its identity ... thinking about past memories, coming across postcards or notes long forgotten as I cleaned out my place. I'd smile, shake my head and then crumple them up and throw them out. Moving is cathartic in that way.

It's been interesting though, watching my mind almost fighting change. It's fascinating how the mind can really turn on itself, on the body and spirit. And how the moment you gain control, even if it's only momentarily at first, you feel a sense of peace rarely ever felt. That's been my barometer as of late. Peace. When I feel imbalanced, as this move has tried (successfully at times) to create, I feel inner turmoil, depression, anxiety ... my old haunts.

But the moment I watch my mind, the moment I start to focus on the "now" — last night for instance, standing in my back yard with L listening to the trees russle in the wind and breathing in the earth — the more peace I feel inside and the more I feel I can tackle at once. Amidst the move and other drama, I've also gotten one step further along in my pursuit to publish my book. As long as I focus on the step right in front of me, I feel I'm able to conquer all the things I strive to ... and not for external reasons, but internal ones, ones that hopefully inspire and affect/help others positively. One thing I read recently that hit for me is the notion that we can spread positive growth to others through talking, throughout doing ... but there is something unexplainably powerful about actually "being" the positive growth ... actually BEING the peace. That means surrendering to what is.

Sure, I wish for some things I don't have right in front of me right this second. Yes, I suffer sometimes inside. But I've been going with those emotions rather than repressing them or denying them like I used to. I've been observing how they flow through me. How a commercial, the mention of a name or a song will elicit a memory so vivid, I stop breathing for a second. And then I let it flow through me ... and then I smile. My eyes may water too ... but I surrender to it. I don't resist it anymore.

After all ... "You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state." ~ ET

This mind domination is an uphill battle for a woman who has operated from fear for so long ... as well as a woman who has looked externally for her identity. But it's a battle I'm thoroughly enjoying — kind of how I feel when wrap my hands and wrists before I kickbox. I feel ready for anything thrown at me. I welcome it with a sense of steadfast tranquility inside.

Tomorrow, I leave for a two day, one night Yoga retreat in Millersburg (Amish Country). The last time I was there was in fall of 2007. Like everything else as of late, this retreat presented itself unexpectedly. And ... well, like the rest, I'm gonna go with it.

I'm curious what it will bring ...


Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Chapters

“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” ~ Arnold Bennett

It's funny. Three years ago, I was still living at my parents' house. Three years ago, I transitioned from my first full-time job out of college to my next job. That change, like most, facilitated others. Six months later, I moved into my place, a lower level duplex unit I made my own.

Having been away at college at my own apartment for three years prior to that, the move itself wasn't particularly difficult. But I remember where I was in my life then. I remember how I lost I was. I remember the moment I set foot here, I knew this was where I'd begin the next "phase" of my life. I just didn't realize how long that transitional phase would take. Yet, in three years, so much has changed. So much.

It reminds me of the things I'm now reading about and embracing. The preciousness of the present moment. How that IS reality ... and everything else is memory, memories we can fixate on, distort, filter ... illusions in that way. Me sitting here right now, with the warm glow of my living room lamp casting shadows throughout the room, my breath slowly moving in and out of my body, this is real ... this is life. And it only seems to move quickly in the looking back.

Sometimes, at my darker moments, I think, "Wow, I wasted so much time in the last three years," but the truth is, none of it was wasted. Yes, I could have done more with my "present moment" than I was back then. I came to this place a shell ... and my past was continuing to bleed into my present at that time ... I let it bleed in ... I welcomed it at times. What I had wanted to be the first chapter of a more promising future with wiser choices and promises kept, had really become an epilogue to the past. But it was necessary, it was necessary for me to gradually seal off the openings and gather strength in each scar.

The roller coaster of the last 5 years has been quite a humbling ride. The last year ... an empowering one, especially in the recent months. And now, as I look around at my place, half packed up, half still alive ... it makes me both nostalgic, sad, relieved and excited. Whether I like to think of them or not, I've got quite a lot of memories here. Some high points ... some very low points. The essence of them no longer assail me though. They feel like a subtle throbbing in my heart, a living pulse, not good or bad, just alive.

So, this epilogue turned into a prologue in the last year. And in this last year, I've sealed quite a few sapping holes and embraced the forces that help me grow. As a result, a lot of those past loose ends have seemingly tied themselves up. The universe works in strange ways. Things that once devastated me or I thought would devastate me ... for some reason, they aren't anymore. They haven't felt awesome, but whatever it is going on inside me right now, it's creating a sense of peace in the places that once ached. Yes, some corners still ache, but I'm filling them with light a little at a time.

Which brings me to the now. My prologue is almost over. Each piece I pack away, the things I finally throw out or lock away breathes catharsis. And I realize now, it's not about a new "physical" place per se. That is merely symbolic of what's already happening inside me. Sure, it will be nice to be renting my own home, to have a new level of independence and responsibility. To make it my own. But that's all secondary to the new things going on inside of me.

This process has, by no means, been roses. I seem to vacillate each day between different emotions. But I'm observing them instead of judging them more and more. I'm learning what it's like to embrace my entire self. And that seems to make all the difference.

And those sustaining forces in my life, I look at them with new eyes and appreciation these days. They know who they are. I suppose new chapters tend to spur reflection. And as those around me move through their own chapters — some turning to a new page, others feverishly writing their current one — I'm realizing, we may all have different stories, but there are key characters in all of ours.

And I am thankful for the ones in my own.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are You a Soft Person or Hard Person?

"Soft nature of a person does not mean weakness. Remember: Nothing is softer than water, but its force can break the strongest of rocks." ~ Author Unknown

I remember, a couple years ago, I was at a lake on my lunch break with someone, who, for reference's sake, I was completely in love with at the time ... and as we were walking up toward the parking lot, he looked at me as he held my hand, stopped mid-stride and said, "I love how soft you are."

It wasn't said in the physical sense, it was said of me as a person. I remember being taken aback by the statement. I mean, it isn't something that people normally say to each other. But, suffice it to say, it has stayed with me ever since.

After things went awry at that time in my life, I'd slowly turned bitter ... hard, walled up, resentful. And it's taken me quite some time and a lot of internal work to break up that cluster of negativity inside and remember the woman I was then, the person he saw, the person I see more and more of these days.

In searching for a good quote to start this post out, I came upon a blog entry done by a woman named Jeannie Lovell called "I want to be a soft person." She basically took words right out of my mouth. One particular part that hit was: Soft people are loving, kind, empathetic, caring, understanding, giving and a little spiritual. Soft people see their own inner beauty and they help those around them see their inner beauty. The people they are around leave feeling good about themselves.

She also talks about how some people never become soft. Oftentimes, after being hurt or going through tough times, they become hard, embittered, opinionated, angry and lack empathy for others. Lovell closes saying, "I want to be a soft person ... I want only soft people in my life."

After feeling pain, hurt, betrayal, anger, despair ... I'd decided "soft" meant "weak." Which is why my intro quote resonated with me. I realize now, it wasn't weak. It was real and if embraced, can be one of the most powerful forces on this earth. It was me at my most genuine. I remember what I had felt then — compassion, trust, an unbridled outpouring of love, hope, selflessness and caring. That was me. 

Sure, it wasn't placed in the best hands or situation then ... and it was taken advantage of ... it's always going to be taken advantage of on some level, even by people who may not realize it. I do it to others myself without realizing it sometimes. But the point here is, that's OK. Because that was me, at my most vulnerable and uninhibited point. That was real. And the peace I'd felt then and there, at that lake, in that moment ... that is something I'd forgotten about until recently. In all the times I've been walled up, inhibited, controlled, sad, bitter ... I'd never felt that kind of elated peace. And amidst my recent mini break throughs, that statement, that moment and that feeling has come back to me.

And, like Lovell, that's the kind of person I want to be. I would rather be a soft person and make those around me feel good about themselves ... than a hard person who is selective in my empathy and bitter or cynical the rest of the time. I've had bouts with those traits in myself over the recent years. I've seen how they could impact others, hurt them. I've been on the receiving end of hard people as well. And that's just not the energy I want to feel and provide. 

One point Lovell makes, though, which I completely agree with, is you have to love yourself first and truly "see" your inner beauty and find inner peace before you can emanate that kind of soft energy. And once you do, you notice how you draw people in who yearn to feel those things ... and they begin to see it in themselves, too. You also notice how those that don't like it or avoid you or don't understand you, that doesn't bother you like it may have in the past.

So, maybe it wouldn't hurt if we all took a good look at ourselves ... and asked, "Am I a soft person or a hard person?"

Maybe our answers will surprise us.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Look Around You ... Go With It

“I believe in going with the flow. I don't believe in fighting against (it). You ride on your river and you go with the tides and the flow. But it has to be your river, not someone else's. I don't believe in fighting the wind. You go and you fly with your wind. Let everyone else catch their own gusts of wind ... you fly with yours.” ~ C. JoyBell

I've recently been asked what my goals in life are. Approaching 30, many people go to "marriage, children, family."

For me, though, while they've changed some over the years, I'd say for the last 8 years or so, I've had the same main aspirations — traveling, writing, enlightenment, inspiring/helping others .... and the hopes of someone to share it all with and grow with.

I used to get perturbed when someone would act surprised by my lack of a desire for the marriage, the house, the kids, as though that was just ludicrous. But now I've made peace with my answers and others' responses. Maybe because I've made some minor, but significant break throughs recently and feel I've gotten a sense of my higher Self back again — or at the very least I'm on that current path — maybe it's just that I've grown confident and comfortable with my own personal goals over the years.

That having been said, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that just because I don't have the "usual" bullet points on my checklist for life, I'm not unwilling to experience them if one day, my path arrives there. But for now, I'm embracing the aspirations and callings I'm pulled toward ... and going with it.

That takes me into the heart of this post. It's kind of simplistic sounding, but considering how we are as a collective, mind and ego-driven society, it's one of the most difficult things to do I think — going with it.

Eckhart Tolle has taken me further into his book, delving into enlightenment, present awareness, inner peace ... and just what he calls "Being." He also mentions how as continue this transformation, we will notice our circumstances and who and what we attract will begin to change as well.

I was sitting at my favorite "haven" today, near the beach on a bench. It was cool out, but the sun blanketed me and the constant metronome-like waves cradled my spirit. I felt all my stress and cares dissolve instantly. I was just ... there.

It was then I noticed something ... the steady, rhythmic waves, the gentle breeze, the flag on the flagpole gently billowing in the wind, the trees swaying, the reeds and grass softly bending to and fro, the butterflies fluttering on the coattails of a sudden gust ... the birds flying and soaring with breeze ... everything was just being. Everything around me wasn't resisting anything, wasn't resisting what life was doing right at that moment. Those birds' instincts were to spread their wings and just soar while everything else went with the natural ebb and flow around it, too.

Yet humans and the minds that set us apart from everything else — from life sometimes — can't. We resist things all the time. We fight with ourselves, our own instincts, with others, with our circumstances, memories, anxieties, fears, with society's "expectations," pressures, insecurities, with change. We can't just be present and go with life. We can't just trust in the natural evolution of things, in the natural ebb and flow of the universe, in our inner selves. We often want to control everything. I've been just as guilty.

But today, that moment ... it's like it all clicked into place. Every word I've come across, feeling I've felt, every seemingly coincidental, yet random reference to this same notion fused together like the lyrics of a song that were suddenly serenading my very essence.

Sure, the things on my plate, the working parts were and are still there. But why should I fight them constantly? Why should I worry about the moving part that hasn't come to be just yet? There's no point. Why should I compare what is on my plate to others' and who am I or who is anyone else to say what I'm working on or aspiring to do doesn't have just as much "life" in it as anything else? Why shouldn't I just focus on what part of the goal process is in front of me right now, in the present and lay each stone down as I go?

Because my path, after all, will ebb and flow. All of ours will. But as other species, our own pets and the natural world around us showed me today, we're meant to enjoy the ride ... and go with it.