Where does inspiration come from? It can be a fleeting idea, A word or phrase that lights me up And I want to become the explorer of my own inner terrain. [The Sacred] It happens in solitude And when I’m out in nature. I feel most connected to The wisdom of my heart. Beauty always surrounds me, Even in the mundane and hard times. I just have to be willing And open to see it. When I connect to my heart and breath, I feel I am taking an active role in my life. I’m not getting carried away by the rushing tide of emotions and circumstance. In that moment, the magic happens. I no longer have to struggle. I can literally go with the flow. Again, I return to the explorer within, Who recognizes the difficulty in truly letting go With surrender and vulnerability. There is peace and ultimate freedom To find creative solutions, To take a beat before I react, And to connect to my inner wisdom. How does inspiration and the sacred come to you?
Our stories bind us
Community is the thread that Keeps humanity tethered. It reminds us we are one. We are not separate or alone. Our struggle is not just ours Alone to bear. We all share this one blue, green planet. And luckily we get to Share the same day and year. What troubles you I have been there. Although your story is Uniquely your own by your own experience and senses, I have felt that too On my own life’s journey. It can feel hard to open up To share our struggles Without fear of burdening another or adding more to the stress of everyday life. And when we put up blinders Or put up a protective guard, We become impenetrable to Another’s suffering and Inadvertently build walls of separation. I want to know what lights you up. What life lessons have you learned? What cherished memory do you want to remember? What do you wish you could forget? What do you wish you could hold on to And linger there for just a little longer? Our stories bind us And remind us Of our common humanity: Our fears, our woes, Our aches, our loss, our love Our ecstasy, our shame Our joys and pain. Our authentic truth Must be shared. The truth comes out eventually. Why not share some common ground And held space for one another? Today can we be present and listen Without agendas or distraction? Our presence is the present We give to each other Each and every day.
A Million Stars
Whether outside for my daily walk by the river or relaxing by the lake, I bask in the light. If I pause long enough, I see the stars floating and shimmering. A sparkle on the water‘s surface. How I marvel that our sun, too, is a star in its own right. And right here on the still water, the sun is broken into a million stars for all those who gaze upon its reflection. A star right in the middle of the day!
What story does each little flying fireball have? Where is it in its journey as it travels through the galaxy through the great expanse?
It has a life force of its own. A lifecycle of birth and death. Even though the end may be many lifetimes away, as I feel my own ending so far away. My mind can’t fathom an end to my existence.
My smile is bright like its own star. I have a light inside that longs to be bright. Yet afraid to lose too much light, as if there’s a limited supply. My life force too is a cycle and I honor it by appreciating each day as a gift. A wonderful opportunity to learn, to be, to connect, to create.
The world is my oyster who sinks and scurries around at a speed unknown and unseen to the naked eye. The scallop and barnacle have a mystery and story of their own too. The light reflects down to the shallow sea and they marvel and delight in its rays as do I with my bare toes scrunched into the smooth cool sand. I am earthing and unearthing myself like the bird scuttering and flipping over each dead shell on the ground looking for completion.
Why are we here?
Why are we here at this moment in time on this small blue green planet?
They say we too are made up of the stars down to the smallest molecule. It can feel so small when the universe is so vast. How can I affect change as such?
What I know is my life has meaning. The answer is always connection. The root is love. So how did I live the answer? I must have lived the question first.
What I didn’t know is I was being led by invisible forces, situations, people and opportunities which became my challenges, my lessons, my guides.
How to live a life well lived and loved is the question. It took me 40+ years to come to the realization and to accept even if the universe is so vast and my actions seem so small and individual, there is a ripple.
If I too am made up of the stars, I have a light inside. A unique heart like an emerald when the light hits it a certain way. I do not know who put it there or where does the light originate from. I can accept that it’s a part of me and we each have our own illuminated hearts beating in our chest. Not so narrow and individually separate. Our hearts can be in rhythm like the collective breath that illuminates the soul.
Seven ways of looking at a notebook
1- Blank smooth pages that drink up the ink. Smudges do not deter. Perfection has no place. Filled or empty, each page has a space and a place.
2- A clean slate. A beginning. A chance to start anew.
3- A Conduit. I connect to my inner wisdom, to inner truth, real or fiction, to my creativity, to you.
4- An alchemist. The notebook takes what is unreal and intangible and makes it real and tangible. My see my words take shape before my eyes.
5- The pages speak my story. My dreams. My words before they form full thought or belief. Just a spark before the utterance.
6- Patient. The notebook sits quietly on the bookshelf, on the desk or tucked inside my bag. Waiting for me. Never rushing or demanding.
7- Healing. Therapy on the page. For my eyes only as I grapple with, dissect, explore, express or create. It is mine alone.
In winter sunrises always take my breath away. A return to the light. In summer it’s the opposite. We are surrounded by light. The humid sticky air combined with the sun does not provide reprieve. We all walk, jog, bike, scoot, drive or wait for the bus under its unrelenting rays. How quick we get accustomed to complaining. Too much sun. But then after a few stretch of rainy days, we once again greet the sun almost like a stranger staring into our eyes. No escape. We love it. We miss it. We wish for shelter away from it. Each day, regardless of where we are and how our life is shaping that day, the sun appears. Our very lives depend on it.
The water needs to be evaporated so that the clouds can form. It’s a cycle and it never complains or takes a day off. The stained paint on the gate dries and fades over the years. The gate would rust and fall off its hinges from weather and wear. Yet the sun shines on. The lettuce, the soy, the garbanzo and pea, the wheat that forms my sandwich once stood open wide under the sun. It sustains us all and I am forever grateful.
The sheet is spread across the warm grass. Little ants climb on to see what’s for dinner. I find a shady spot but I’m never too far from the glorious sun.
I’m tired of living in fear
We are all connected. And the speed of information has advanced our society into a global community. You want to learn about X? What does Google say? Information is literally at your fingertips if you happen to own a smartphone. And knowledge is power.
Even though my family got rid of cable years ago, we still have access to the news from our phones and apps on our TV console. I love that we can choose what to watch when we want to. But we do channel surf through YouTube and you can’t escape the collective fear that is ever present. The recent tragic events and acts of violence have pulled at my heart.
I love working in Providence. It’s a city rich in history and I’m proud to be a native Rhode Islander. It’s a beautiful city to walk around: the Brown University campus, the financial and downtown districts, and historic Benefit Street. But I’m tired of living in fear. If a car comes racing by or a strange box truck is around, I tense up and anxiety takes control. My leisurely walk is interrupted and I’m terrified for a moment, especially if I’m around city hall or a federal building. It never used to be this way. Fear never played such a prominent role. I started working full-time a little over a year ago. And I loved the city. I drank in the architecture, the people on their way to work, students walking to class, and the waterfront. It was a welcome sight.
But over these last few months, the anxiety has been building. Yesterday as I was walking to the parking garage, a box truck stopped right in the middle of the street and began to back up. Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue. There’s construction everywhere and the street was a one-way. But the truck seemed to be backing up and keeping in pace with me as I walked. Cars behind the truck began to honk, and it seemed like the truck was going to back up regardless of traffic. This odd behavior made my anxiety soar. I started to run, and all I could hear was the incessant “beep, beep, beep” as it continued to reverse. I had the worst panic attack. I feared it was going to blow up right then and there next to the financial district. I had visions of me getting into the garage on the fifth floor and being toppled over by the above floors during the explosion. I couldn’t wait to get out of that garage.
Once I got behind the wheel and started to exit, I shouted, “I’m tired of being afraid! I’m tired of living in fear! I’m tired of freaking out over a truck! I just want to be able to walk in peace without feeling terrorized!”
I don’t have an answer during these crippling moments. I just try to deepen my breath. I remind myself that meditation helps ground me and I should meditate more and journal more. Events will happen that are beyond my control. And one thing I can control is my breath.
How do you bring calm when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed?
Switch Off Sundays
Switch Off Sundays is a phrase I first heard from Leonie Dawson and it resonated with me. A day free of social media, emails, and other technology. A day to connect to what truly matters. Our society used to and some religions still observe a sabbath. A sabbatical to connect to myself. Tune out to turn in with the intent to be present for my family and free from distraction as possible.
I know childhood is so temporary. Children seem to be in a rush to do what big kids do. I don’t want to miss out on my kids’ childhood for a second. Social media and emails do not have priority over my real day-to-day life. I am responsible for their childhood memories. It’s a daunting task, and one I take seriously. And the best and easiest thing I can do is ditch the technology for one day. I know the emails will still be in my inbox come Monday morning. And I delete more than half of them most days anyhow.
Instead of deleting emails or catching up with a latest post, I will talk to my family. I marvel at what new words my 17-month old has discovered. She loves books and has us read the same story over and over. She can touch her knees and toes when I sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” She’s learning about her face and can say “Eye” so clearly when she pokes her stuffed kitty cat’s eye.
I can take in my five-year old’s enthusiasm as she explains with energy and her whole being about an activity she’s done or looking forward to doing. She has a zest for life. She shares with joy in all of our family’s experiences. Last week after a doctor’s appointment, I took her out and I said, “I love our together time, just you and me.” And she said, “You know what I call it when it’s just me and daddy together time? Love.”
My 13-year old stepdaughter has the most insightful conversations. Her vocabulary and maturity leave me in awe. And I can chat with my husband. I love our long, uninterrupted talks about life, our home, and our future goals. This is my real life. I choose to focus on today.
My five-year old calls weekends “Home Days.” And I couldn’t agree more.
We are all the same
I always seem to be carrying something in my right hand: a child, a totebag, my umbrella, my wheeled case for work. You name it. Yesterday I was walking back to the parking garage. It was a very hot and humid day. A scorcher. Bright sun was beating down on my head with no breeze as a reprieve. I was carrying my lunch bag in my left hand and pulling my wheeled case with my right. I stopped and shifted. I put my lunch bag onto my case, which freed up my left hand.
As I started to walk, my left arm naturally swayed forward and back as I took my steps. I noticed the young man in front of me. His left hand was tucked in, close to his torso. But his right arm was swinging, just like mine. I looked ahead. There was a woman walking towards me. Her left arm also moved in a similar pattern. Our paths crossed with our left arms silently swinging by. The same. Then I noticed a young child walking to keep up with his mother. His little arm had a small sway too.
A deep feeling of connection swelled up inside of me. As human beings, we tend to walk upright. Although we have our own unique gait, we have so much in common too. We all have to eat food and drink water. We all bleed when we get a cut. Our bodies repair after an injury. We all have the capacity for love, and we can all feel pain and suffering.
I felt powerful. The notion of what separates and categorizes us melted. Imagine what we could accomplish if we worked together instead of focusing on what divides us? I believe if we can take a moment to step out of our daily dramas and just notice our surroundings, real peace is possible. If we can find peace within ourselves, we will find world peace.
P A U S E
Sometimes I’m too open and I tend to blurt out what I’m thinking and feeling without pausing or listening. I’d like to take more pauses:
Pause before interrupting
Pause to truly listen to another
Pause to let someone finish their story
And not focus on what I want to say or focus on what else I have to do. If I can pause and be present, then it gives the person I’m talking to permission to do the same.
Our society has made us busy, busier than ever. We always seem to be rushing off to the next thing on our to-do. What if we could pause between all that productivity?
The present moment is all we have.
Yes, we can check off that item and feel a brief sense of satisfaction after completion. But my guess is, like me, our minds will quickly change to focus onto what’s our next activity. We don’t pause long enough to realize, “Yes, I did finish my task. I can appreciate my time, effort, and energy that brought it to completion.”
What if we chose to take a pause and decide to take ten deep breaths between tasks? We might be able to notice how busy our lives are, how fleeting time can be, and notice that we have the power to choose how we want to spend our time and energy. Yes, we can be busy, as we are sometimes required to be. What if we could include a pause throughout our day, a moment to just notice? Just observe our thoughts. Just observe our surroundings. Feel a connection to ourselves, to someone else, to our world, and not just focus on our obligations.
After a pause, then we can move ahead on our way. My hope is that at the end of the day, we won’t have to wonder, “Where did the time go?” Maybe it could slow down the busy cycle that we’ve become and normalized as a society. We’d be more open and approachable, and definitely feel grounded and connected.
Today I’m going to pause.