Monday, January 24, 2011

A Travel Song

I have the good fortune of traveling north from Florida to the beautiful states of New York and Connecticut to do none other than share the passion I have for Qigong, natural living, and the organization that is bringing the transformative experiences that have improved my life to the world. The experience of travel is always one that makes my heart and mind swell with possibility and adventure.

As we took off and began our flight north to Charlotte, a faint glow from the coming sunrise was visible on the horizon. Settling into the dark and waiting, peeking out the window periodically, I finally saw a blazing orange glow hit my jeans, setting my legs ablaze with light. Leaning forward and looking out over the wing, beyond the wingtip and onto the horizon, the familiar awe-inspiring sight befell me. A sliver of dawning star crested the skyline, and all the clouds were glossed with a metallic rose hue, as lined by silver, themselves seemingly glowing from within.

It struck me in that moment the meaning of majesty. For truly here Mother Earth and the ever-expanding Universe that holds her displayed their full beauty; ancient, unadulterated glory.

And as we, below, go about our deeds of importance, our oh-so-critical duties, our power struggles, our consumption, frequently failing to be mindful of our place within the primitive cycles of the Earth and rotation within our solar system, majesty continues.

Ever-rising, the rays of the sun, soon released from the holds of the edge of the world, fell upon a velvet floor of cotton-white and rainbow pastels. Below, the blue sky would be hidden by these behemoths, but up here they blanketed our view like the floor of a royal palace, stretching out far and wide in the theatre of the heavens.

Later, after my brief layover had passed and we waited our turn on the runway, we inched forward, finally reaching a bend I looked out my window to find airplanes lined up one behind another as far back as the tarmac would allow. Like toy tin soldiers they waited, marching slowly forward. All different sizes, each, it seemed, with its own personality; tall, robust gentle giants; short and sleek; long needlers with pointy noses and tails stretching high above.

As we positioned for take off on the runway, joy filled me up. Just a simple smiling joy, feeling that this was their world, their daily reality. Ridden as faithful steeds by impassioned pilot-rangers.

One by one their fuselages zipped past my window as we picked up speed until, finally, we lifted into the air. Speckled on the ground dropping below us, cars of impossible shininess lined up. Blues and reds and golds and blacks with glints of sunlight reflected off chrome bumpers and door handles. I glanced outward over the slumbering brown landscape, following the spine of the beloved mountains as we again mingled with the clouds.

What a delicious moment of being present and aware. Gazing forward at the woman who had the aisle seat in the last row of business class, I was transported. She smiled, chatting casually with someone I could not see on the other side of the wall. Her tan tweed coat, long and fitted, her apple cheeks, broad nose and caramel skin wrapping almond eyes. I imagined she spoke with an accent as she elegantly tapped the sugar from its packet and into her coffee, folding the paper and setting it aside, and I was transported to European streets, cold and crisp and magical. In my minds-eye the landscapes and streetscapes laid out before me, and I felt them existing in the very same here and now. I was aware of the network of Oneness, not simply amongst people, but places, too. As if I could reach out and touch them, or breathe deep and dial in, existing in all places like alternative me's, on all roads simultaneously.

Here I find my old and familiar friend: Inspiration.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rehashing Eleanor

Often quoted and always appreciated are these words attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." It is probably possible to track my own personal evolution against my level of buy-in to that statement. I find it to be quite true these days, and powerful.

In learning to listen for one's own understanding, moving beyond gleaning what you can from the discoveries of others, most (or likely all) of what takes place is a living example of the experiences that all those that have come before you wrote about. Lest you think I intend to throw any shoulds at you, I will offer a disclaimer here: Any directives or pieces of advise are meant from me to me only, with no audacious assumptions that my perspectives shall apply to any other.

As one for whom it has become a central realization that most thoughts and experiences are filtered through the question of how others will see her, my lessons offered lately tend to build my understanding of how I see myself.

This reminder from Eleanor is true, in my experience. No one can hurt or demean or insult you without your permission. What I am understanding these days is nor can they they do it without your invitation or your recognition. Something in you has attracted them, and you have chosen to give them the stage. For many, these statements can stir up some mighty objections. What I consider the "normal, modern day point of view" puts us in the role of one to whom things happen. To claim that we are in control of the circumstances of our lives can be a frightening thought for many, since it is likely that at least a few "bad" ones have come to pass.

So how can this be? How can I create my own life? I have no control over other people. Life seems pretty solid and complex, and orchestrated by something much bigger than I, plus I am not the only witness to what is taking place. And yet, I have seen enough to buy it. How... empowering!

No one has ever said to me, "I didn't even realize that so-and-so hurt my feelings until someone pointed it out later." This is the simple example that has been playing on my mental stereo. So it got me thinking... what takes place when my feelings are hurt? Usually I have received an insult of some kind, or have not received love or appreciation. Conversely, if I leave an interaction not feeling hurt, it dawned on me, this does not mean that an insult was not offered. What it means is that either I did not hear it or perceive it as an insult.

Most of us know someone for whom doom and gloom is the song of the day, the one who claimed that life was out to get them, always getting taken advantage of and put upon by the world. (Some of us even were that person. Or still are.) For them, though, it is true, because that is the filter through which all circumstances are viewed. That is where the expectation bar is set for them. That is the frequency at which they are tuned, drawing in circumstances of a matching frequency.

I had several sessions with a life coach a couple years back, and the most brilliant thing she ever shared with me was this statement, "The good news is that it's none of my business what you think about me." Boldly, this was her response to her boss when he had some choice words about his impression of something she had done. Apparently it gave him pause, too. This is a very unusual concept when held up beside the norm. How can it be that it is none of my business what others think of me? If they are angry, do not like me, see me differently than I want them to see me, isn't this every bit my business? Surely, I need to know where I stand so that I can respond appropriately, yes?

This statement has been almost scripture for me over the years. It is similar to something my brilliant husband pointed out. A typical response to finding out someone is mad at us is to be mad right back, even without knowing the reason. I'm mad at you because how dare you be mad at me! This was my pattern, for sure, for much of my life. To really think about it, though, if I love you and am happy with our dealings, then why would that suddenly change because you do not feel the same way? Do I offer a gift to a friend on the condition that they give me one of equal value back?

Back to the one above who did not realize their feelings had been hurt; in that person's reality, all is well. By not recognizing an insult, or by not perceiving one (for how can we interpret someone else's intentions, really?), no insult was received. This question rapidly followed in my mind: "Can't we choose, then, not to be hurt?" Um, yes... I believe this was Eleanor's point. Oh, sorry, of course.

As I reflected over the past experiences of my life, and how I felt in each situation, I began to understand. If a familiar feeling of dread, hurt, worthlessness, inadequacy, and/or/a.k.a. fear occurs, recognize that it is a reaction in you that is manifesting. Even if that opinion is truly held by the person you are sensing it from (as it may or may not be), you have invited and allowed those feelings in your life. For if you truly recognized and believed in who you were, that perceptions by others do not reflect your true self, you would not acknowledge nor lend them power. Rather, you would realize the reality that it is their issue, and has nothing to do with you.

In my daily quote feed yesterday I read from W. Somerset Maugham, "It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it." Not that I am down for refusing life or much of anything that it has to offer. The point, I guess, is that you get what you ask for, what you call for. And there is a direct and proportionate relationship between how you value yourself and the value others assign to you and what you have to give. If you are consistently feeling undervalued by everyone, chances are it is because that is how you see yourself, and you are constantly fearing that they see it too, further confirming your reality.

And finally, my ultimate lesson came. We each have a direct connection with the Source of our very life and existence. No middle-management. No one more entitled than the next. This helps me to believe in my own power. No one more deserving, or, perhaps more accurately, everyone equally deserving. If I can cease comparing my gifts against everyone around me, and pause long enough instead to really see me through my own eyes, then no one else's reality about me will ever trump what truths I hold to be self-evident.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monsters and Messengers

The spider's legs spanned close to six inches end to end, and as she stepped onto my hand, they spilled over the edges, barely finding enough room to hang on.

Fear is a funny thing. It is also an amazing teacher, and a catalyst for growth.

Somewhere within my adolescent years I developed a fear of spiders that grew into a mania of sorts. It started while watching Arachnophobia with friends, and grew into something unmanageable. I can vividly recall a day at work (by then, several years into adulthood) when I found myself unable to return to my desk until someone closed my web browser; The menacing and frightful word "spider" was displayed on my monitor, twisting my insides and causing my skin to crawl.

Merriam-Webster defines phobia as "an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation." And it is that, indeed: illogical. I was not particularly fearful of venomous spiders, or even of being bitten. In actuality, I was certain I would die of an exploded heart should one touch me, long before it had a chance to bite.

Yet, consider the incident at work. The page about spiders was up on my computer intentionally, and it was not a cruel joke by an antagonistic colleague. I had sought out the information, fascinated and oddly attracted to that which I was apparently so terrified of. Was I merely going for the visceral experience of fear inspired, or was I drawn in as if by some powerful orb?

In retrospect, it seems that the spiders actually found me. For years upon years, they have been a constant presence in my daily life: swinging from webs, precariously close to my face while I drive; dropping from the ceiling into books I am reading; even dangling inches above my face while I sleep (my mom discovered that phenomenon). I have become known as the Spider Queen amongst my nearest and dearest.

Something shifted a couple of years ago. After stomping on an unfortunate arachnid that had found it's way into my home, I was hit with my first wave of guilt for taking its little life. "What if," I thought, "something much larger than me just stamped me out because it did not like me, or did not understand me?" That stuck with me for some time, and grew into a new habit of getting close enough to capture and release spiders and insects rather than smashing them. I guess you could say a relationship dawned first through finding a respect for life.

Shortly after, I happened upon the idea of animal totems. That is the concept that animals (and fish, insects, etc.) will show up again and again in one's life, their appearance holding significance. Most of us have totems that are relevant throughout our entire lives, with others that appear for a time and then move on once the time for their message has passed.

Fascinated with the concept, I learned that the spider has powerful "animal medicine," representing the meeting of the spiritual and physical worlds, and serving as a reminder that we weave our own world, a cue to be the author of our lives. A shadow totem is an animal with a powerful message, one not handed over too easily. One will likely be startled over and over again by said creature, until they can conquer that fear. Only then will the totem animal share its magic.

Indeed, I believe the spider found me.

What a beautiful and awesome thing to feel fear transform into wonder and affection. I am drawn to this weaver in a way that is difficult to explain; the connection is arcane, resonant and very personal.

So today I visited with a very large Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula and let her climb onto me. On purpose.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First After the First

Here I go, unscripted and unplanned. Blogging my way into the new year. It struck me the other day how much I love to write, how rarely I do it lately, and what a voice the internet provides. Whether or not there is an ear (or eye) on the other end to receive it. So here I am, joining the veritable seas of bloggers, to be read or ignored. It is of no importance; The reception is not the reason for the call.

A beautiful friend of mine posted that today was the New Moon/Solar Eclipse, and reminded us all to do a little of everything we hoped to do throughout our lives today, authentically ourselves. This resonates with me, though I know little of the 'why' behind her advice. Here I am, Shell, and thanks!

To be authentic... Now there is a draw. This is what I am really after. It seems this is an intention above all else, as it is something to be more deeply understood as we each understand our Selves more deeply. To live out of who I am, in every waking moment, without putting on airs or projecting any particular image. Certainly this has always been my aim, though I find, in retrospect, that rooted importance I have put in the perceptions of others.

Something that has been nagging of late is the proposed methods for creating reality. I do not doubt the relevancy of the concept; Surely I have experienced it within my own life, probably more times than I recognize. There are many suggestions on just how to do this. While reviewing a journal meant for just this purpose, I was struck by the overall tone of the pages. I felt compelled to cut them from the book immediately, though I did not (but still might). My words seemed almost desperate. Silly. Unbelieving.

I realized that, while I do not doubt that there is truth in all of these tidbits of advise from friends along the way, I have to come by the knowledge through my own understanding if I am to believe it. It's not about semantics, methodology or what color pen I write with. It is about truth, voice, power, authenticity.

From here I seek to build a life filled with adventure, love, bliss, sharing and service. I may not know the how in every moment of my shifting, but I do know the what, and this I will call to myself by way of pure appreciation and desire.

Interestingly, as always, the right lessons have been presenting themselves almost as quickly as the question was asked.

What will this year - and those that follow - hold? Our rEvolution is happening, and most of us can feel the momentum building, the waves moving throughout the fold in rhythmic synchronicity. Let us tune in. Let us see each other - and ourselves - not as we were, but as we are: pure potential, on an earthly journey and ready to discover and embody our purpose. As Goethe said, "If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be." Let us fill the world with love, light and wild, unbridled laughter for the fun of the adventure.