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Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

The Importance of Ritual

All around the world and throughout time people have been engaged with ritual. Whether these ceremonies are elaborate or disarmingly simple they play a vital role for the human psyche.

Ritual allows us to step out of ordinary time. We pause and connect to something much larger than ourselves that also dwells within us. During ritual we seek the stillness that encompasses all. In essence we are creating a conscious awareness of the sacred.

This cognizance is easily observable in shared rituals such as: marriage celebrations, baby showers and even with funerals. Communities mark events as important by creating a formal way of acknowledging and experiencing that revered connection. Some rituals are done alone and may not be visible to others. Praying the rosary or lighting a candle can be solitary rituals.

Regardless of how many people are involved or the intricacy of it, ritual gives us space to offer our celebrations, our gratitude and our hope. It has the power to calm us and bring us to our center when chaos holds sway. The promise of returning to such a dwelling is why ritual continues to be practiced in its many forms.

If you don’t already, give yourself permission to incorporate ritual into your life. Discover some that resonate with you or create your own. Let the practice of ritual direct you in entering the place where connection, peace and hope reside. You will be glad you did.

The Shoulders We Stand On

I’ve been giving some serious thought to a concept shared with me many years ago by a Native American Elder. They said, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.” At the time I likened this to my upbringing that taught, “respect your elders.” I did my best to honor and care for them.

Interestingly, the teachings continue to deepen and unfold as you move through life’s cycles. This specific one has returned to me as I look around and observe life today.

Surprising to me is the realization that I am now one of those who has the next generations standing on my shoulders. From my place in life, I also see at least two generations living here on whose shoulders I stand, so do you. Recognizing that I have new ones standing on my shoulders has prompted me to look at myself and my life.

I’ve wondered what kind of foundation I’m creating for them. Will they be standing firm and strong or ungrounded and shaky? Is there a recognition of the beauty that life holds? Do they feel a part of a healthy community that values each being? Are they respectful of all life, including Mother Earth and her creatures? Do they feel supported in their endeavors? Are they growing and blossoming? Is the world they inhabit one of kindness? Do they see with eyes of compassion? Can they say that they love and honor themselves? Are they happy and wanting others to be happy too? Do they offer gratitude for what life has given them?

In all honesty, I know that there is work to be done for them to thrive and make the world a better place. That work starts with me and with you. Let’s observe how we are in the world and how we are with ourselves. Is there room for improvement within us?

My plan is be be kinder, smile more and share of myself in a compassionate and loving way. Additionally, I can teach what I’ve learned by living it each day. I will strive to create an open environment that supports and encourages the next generations, two of which are here for me.

Perhaps you have more or less in the way of the next generations living here, based on where you are in life. In truth, we all have responsibility to the future generations for our actions because we are shoulders that they will stand upon. Together we can bring joy, love and beauty to them by our conduct today. I invite you to join me.

Little Teachers on Being Present

I’m learning to be fully present. It has happened quite by accident! Oh sure, I’ve had an idea of living in this way. I actually return to the notion over and over because my mind has run away from the present moment once again.

The reasons I check out from being fully in the moment vary. I might be replaying something from the past through my brain or I could be projecting the future. I may be in fear or hopeful. The possibilities my mind conjures are nearly infinite and to a degree moot. What is relevant is they are successfully employed in removing me from the present.

How then am I learning to be fully present, you may ask. It’s simple. My grandsons are teaching me.

They are ten months old and four months old. For them everything is about the present moment. There is no worry over past or future events. They set no goals to strive toward. While some people may conclude this is because they are focused on having their immediate needs for survival met; I suggest that it goes beyond these necessary and simplistic instincts. They both occupy each moment with the fullness of their being.

When I hold them, feed them and care for them, they gaze deeply and directly into my eyes. It’s as if they are engaged in knowing me to my very core and by doing so they are helping me to better know myself.

Nothing that they do is ever in half measures. Their smiles, laughter and tears are expressed with their whole being as is appropriate for what they are experiencing right that instant. The result is that their personalities are big. I think this is because they show up with their whole self and by doing so they are fully living the moment in a way that most adults have forgotten.

If you too are wanting to be fully present look to the babies and small children. They are wonderful mentors! As the biblical saying goes, “and a child shall lead them.” They are certainly guiding me in a beautiful way. To them and their teachings I offer my deepest gratitude! Aho.

Message of Hearts

Something pretty amazing took place in my life several years ago. I can not recall the circumstances of my life and what was taking place at the time. The only thing I remember is the hearts.

I began to notice heart shapes in nature. Several times a week I would see a heart. They could be anywhere; in a cloud formation, in the separation of bubbles as I did the morning dishes, in the shape of leaves.

Once I was sent into the woods to sit quietly for an hour. When I looked up there was a leaf directly above my head. It had a heart-shaped hole in it where some tiny bug ate the leaf away. The shape was a perfect heart! I recall that I had difficulty not laughing out loud when I saw that one! I was supposed to be silent while there, so I laughed inside.

There was a time when I didn’t notice them at all, but I’m sure they were still there. After the flood of seeing them every week for several years I did not see them as frequently. I lost my awareness of them and the gift that they brought me for a while. During that time I was working on internal baggage. I did see them but it was much more rare.

The other day I went for a walk and noticed a heart-shaped leaf. Actually, it was a leaf that had been walked on and was broken, but the shape the pieces of the leaf took was a heart. I’ve been seeing them again for quite a while now. So long, in fact, that I can’t pinpoint the exact time that I began to notice them again. I see them everyday now, usually several different hearts in a day.

I’ve never questioned seeing them. I did not ever feel the need to ponder why they showed up for the first time or examine what is happening that I still see them today. There could be some deep message from them that I don’t yet understand, but it is a mote point to me. Here’s why: every single time I see them; whether it was the first time or is ongoing; regardless of if I share that experience with someone or not, I smile.

The hearts make me smile because it is like Mother Nature, the Universe, and the Divine, are sending me a message of love. A reminder that love is here right now. This is not even a conscious thought when I see them. I know, understand and receive the message of the hearts at a level of sacredness contained inside of me. My response is to smile. You may have guessed that the smile is from my heart. It is my answer to the hearts sent to me.

Rain Dance of Celebration!

The rain has found its way here once again! For those of you not living in Northern California this may not register much of an impact. To the many folks who do live here or live in a similar climate where rain is scarce, any falling of water from the skies is cause for celebration!

In response to the rain, my daughter was doing “the happy dance” at her place of work regardless of who might be looking on at the time. She is not alone. Many of us are offering up gratitude and stepping out in the rain for even a small twirl around.

Feeling the rain touch your face, hearing the gentle sound it makes, seeing the rainfall drench everything and everyone in its path, speaks to a deep primal part of us that knows water means life. It brings renewal to the earth and to each one of us. The rain cleans things up and makes a clear path.

This is most appropriate for this day. In many traditions this day is a time to reflect on what has taken place during the past year. It is a time to let go of things that no longer need to remain in our lives. Perhaps we have grown in some way and need different things in our life to help us. Today is also an opportunity to look toward what we would like to create in our life. The cycle of a year is at play as we discern what we have harvested this season and what we want to harvest next Autumn. Important work can be done on this day.

My suggestion is to allow the rain to fall upon you. Let it wash those things that no longer fit away. Invite the rain to fill you with a sense of renewal and hope. Take some time to imagine the clear path it is laying out for you. Then think about what you want to encounter on the path. Be clear in your intentions for next year’s harvest.

If you get stuck or are unsure how to proceed you can call on the ancestors. The veil between Spirit and our physical world is thin at this time. Take time to honor the Elders in Spirit, those ancestors who are easily accessible now. Ask for their assistance if need be.

But first: dance in the rain! At least get your feet wet. I’m betting it will make a difference in how you feel and will give you the openness to proceed.

 

 

 

Dreams Manifested: Short Story Published!

I am beyond excited today! Today is the first time I’ve had the chance to see one of my stories in print! There is no describing the elation I felt when I saw the book cover!

Some time ago I fell head over heels in love with writing fiction that has a message for the reader. This publication represents the dawning of that dream into reality! I know that many other incredible things will follow. Never give up on your dreams! Ever!!!

I am sharing it here so that you may enjoy it too. I had fun writing this short story. It makes me smile!!! I hope it lifts you as well and inspires you to continue to reach for your own dream.

Here is a brief description of the story: “In this whimsical short story a Sea Witch teaches the reader some lessons of the sea and of life. If you are ready to experience some Magic and transformation within your life this book may provide some tools.” It is available as an eBook through this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OGSASKO

Enjoy!

Life’s Little Surprises

Once in a while life will send you little surprises. They take you unaware and by doing so have the potential to transport you. The unexpectedness of these little surprises brings you more fully present, if only for a moment.

We have experienced such occasions here in Northern California. In fact, they have all taken place in less than a week’s time. Nope, it’s not what you might think. The little surprises have been rain! On three separate days it has rained. Granted they all were gentle showers that lasted a few minutes tops. Still it was rain!

For those of you unfamiliar with our climate in this locale, this may not seem a big deal. You may live in a place where you are accustomed to thunder showers taking place almost daily this time of year. Not so where I live.

To put it in context for you, the first year I lived here this happened: I said, “It looks like it might rain.” This brought laughter from a local (see: person who has lived in this area all their life). They promptly put me in my place by informing me (see:  upstart, translation – not local=no idea what she is talking about), “It is Not going to rain. It NEVER rains here in July.” I took them at their word. Living all of your life in one place does give you some insight and authority, at the very least, on the weather that takes place there.

I know this because I too was once a local. I grew up on the East coast. I learned all about the weather and could read the signs in nature with the best of them. Some of the signals that rain was on the way included: observing the sky, an up kick of wind, but also a feeling in the air and the smell of rain on the breeze well before actual rain fell. I’ve been known to say, “It smells like rain.” Now that statement may sound strange to you, but if I ever said it on the East coast it would indeed rain.

Late last week I was in the house when I “smelled rain”. I let the thought pass right out of my mind because the signs for rain are different here and I thought I did not yet know them. Imagine my astonishment when a few minutes later I heard the splatter of raindrops on the balcony. I exclaimed, “Is that rain?” When I rushed outside, sure enough, it was rain!

That time and each time it has rained over the weekend and today, I have stood outside with my face upturned soaking it in and offering gratitude. I am saying thank you for the rain, which is well needed here. Honestly though, I am wickedly delighted to have received and interpreted the signs of rain in this place correctly! To me that means though I may not be a local, nonetheless, I am someone able to commune with nature in this area. It means I am more solidly a part of the whole in this home. I once again belong.

These little surprises of life have brought me great celebration and joy! The rain made me fully present while restoring a vital piece of my being. The gift was being connected to nature in a way that I took for granted when I was a local. The rain showed me that life still holds surprises no matter where we happen to be.

Wishing you the blessings contained within life’s little surprises!

Tuning In to the Subtleties of Spirit

This morning I was recalling a day not too long ago. The day I was remembering was not one of my best. In fact, I was feeling very down and discouraged about life. Those folks within close proximity of me listened to me express my dissatisfaction. It was pretty grim. In an attempt to lighten the mood we went out. There was a craft & art fair close by. Walking around did not have much impact upon my state.

We stopped for lunch. My husband and I sat on a Victorian porch awaiting our lunch. Our locale had the benefit of overlooking the fair. While I sat there frowning and feeling very low, something in the fair captured my attention. It was a small painted sun-catcher plaque that read, “Life Is Good”. My first response was skepticism. I was not yet willing to let go of my poor attitude. People continued to walk past the vendor with the plaque. I would catch glimpses of it and then it would be revealed to me with its complete message.

My perception slowly began to shift. I started to remember that I had; the gift of a caring companion with me, the financial resources to go out for a meal and the luxury to spend the day strolling along a craft and art fair. Indeed, for me, Life was Good at that moment. It took this reminder from Spirit to help me regain that awareness.

As I sat on the balcony today I was watching the wind playfully interact with the clouds against a cerulean blue sky. With the memory of that day and the teaching foremost in my mind. I thought, “Life Is Good!” Suddenly, I was showered with small pink flowers from the crepe myrtle tree next to me. Delighted laughter bubbled forth from me. I took this as an affirmation from Spirit.

Just now while I’m finishing up writing this post I am listening to music, Willie Nelson started singing, “I’m Alive”. Check it out if you are not familiar with this song. I can tell you that it is one more of the subtleties offered by Spirit.

These small moments may seem coincidences or unimportant to you, but I know with certainty that it is the Divine Creator of Life letting me know, without a shadow of doubt, that Life Is Good!

Learning to recognize the offerings of Spirit is easy. Know that the gifts may often be subtle, yet they are always powerful and exactly what you need. Pay attention. Keep your eyes and senses open. You will see and recognize them too. Once you do they seem to multiply. I hope that makes you smile.

Summer Solstice: the Seat of the Fire

Welcome Summer! Summer is many things and there are vast teachings about this season. Today I wish to honor the fire. Fire burns but it is also brings transformation and renewal. Fire represents Spirit and the elemental spark within all of life. Fire helps us to remember the intensity and passion present in life.

Take a moment to light a small flame or a large one if your location and responsible behavior allow it. Take whatever you wish to release or transform to the fire. It will be forever changed when you give it to the flames. Know that new life is coming, rejuvenation is on the way.

Let the fire teach you of passion and of life-force unleashed. Fire is a complex teacher. You will learn respect in working with it. This is important because it is powerful and it is sacred. Just as you are, my friend. Fire will help you to learn this truth.

Fire is the beacon that gathers the people back to living fully and honestly. Through its teachings we walk a Sacred Road. I offer my gratitude to the Spirit of Fire. Aho.

 

 

Offering Thanks Restores You to Beauty

A Native American Elder once told me, “If we would remember to say thank you, we would never need another ceremony.” I’ll never forget him telling me this because it was also an instruction. I knew that at the time. We were sitting inside the tepee before the prayer ceremony began. It was just the two of us. He looked across from me and offered his statement about saying thank you.

I pondered this for some time. Over the years there were many traditional ceremonies that I was fortunate to attend. Actually, that is not accurate. Those teachings and ceremonies changed my life and that of my family deeply. We were all enriched. This reality was part of what prompted me to look hard at what I had been told by this Elder. There were people from all walks of life who came to the ceremonies. They prayed about themselves, their family, the tribe & they prayed for peace in the world.

Did this mean that people’s lives, including mine were a mess because we forgot to say thank you, I wondered? Was the lack of peace in the world and within ourselves related to our ineptitude in offering thanks? Could the answer be this simple, I wondered?

He undoubtedly sensed my struggle to understand because he went on to say, “In the beginning the people, the Native people, looked around. All they saw was beauty. Everywhere they looked they encountered beauty. They thought about how to express to Creator what they thought and felt about being gifted with beauty everywhere. After much thought and discussion they decided that all the could say that was, thank you.”

I thanked him for sharing this with me. I’m sure he knew that I would continue to work with the concept of saying thank you and the critical value it has on keeping life in balance. I looked long and hard at prayers and ceremonies. I saw the people requesting them or participating in them and their suffering. It opened me to compassion for them and myself. I have a practice of offering thanks many times throughout each day. Doing so has me discovering or rediscovering some of the beauty that those original people knew was imbued in all of life. I still have the opportunity to attend ceremonies and pray. When I get to do this I remember to say thank you, for the teachings, for the love, for the well-being of all the children of life yet to come.

The practice and remembrance of saying thank you may seem small but I have found it to be powerful. Offer thanks from your heart, from the wholeness of your being, from your Divine internal spark, as I imagine those Native ancestors did. Maybe one day we will gather only to offer thanks because all we see, feel and experience is beauty everywhere. Never underestimate the value of saying thank you. Let it restore you to beauty. Aho!