The Crooked Path Home

Love-makes-the-crooked-ways-straight-2-285-768x768

Back in the day when I thought that I was God’s gift to the world, the idea of living a spiritually-based life was unthinkable.  I saw it as being just about the most pathetic excuse for a life on the planet.  Where’s the excitement?  Where’s the glamor?  Where’s the fun?  Who would even consider living such a life, besides a priest, or a nun perhaps?  And even then—why?  Nope.  Not for me.   B-o-r-i-n-g.

Then smack dab in the height of my ego trip, I began to notice ever so slowly, in dribbles and drabs, in little bits and pieces, that stuff began to happen.  Stuff that caught me by surprise, that shook up my foundations, that rattled my cage, exploded my highfalutin concept of myself, and sent me off into a dark night of the soul.  Humpty fell off the wall and smashed to smithereens.  Ouch.

My search for an escape from the darkness led me down countless avenues of exploration to find a way out.  It was a long and arduous journey, but of one thing I was absolutely certain: I had no choice.  I had to find a way out.  I suppose that a trip to the depths of despair might happen to everyone at one point or another, either in this lifetime, the last, or the next.  This one was mine.  My trip down into the pits provided the incentive that I needed to give myself a good, swift kick in the butt and make a commitment to find my way out.  Not until I was fully ensconced in the dark did the search for light begin.

Fast forward to now—and wow—what a difference a dark night of the soul makes!  I’m a whole new me, a makeover of my former self waving goodbye to the last vestiges of an ego trip that ran me on a merry chase in search of all that I thought was good, cool, fun, worth living for, protecting, and guarding with my very life.

Decades later, Humpty is reassembled and sitting happily back up on the wall.  True, it took a while, but the wait was worth it because as each tiny little piece of me was glued back in its proper place, an inner joy filled in the cracks and all that is left is the beautiful, smooth surface of a healed soul at peace with itself and with the world.

Goodbye ego, goodbye glamor, goodbye excitement, and fun.  Hello peace, contentment, hello joy beyond measure.  Having lived in one place and another, and if given a choice for the rest of eternity, I’ll choose another every time.  The glamor of the ego cannot begin to compete with the indescribable ecstasy of striving to live life as a Soul.

The journey toward the Soul is the adventure of a lifetime.  It is a rocky ride made smooth by mighty and powerful forces that help us along the way.  I would not trade one inch of my life’s path, because no matter how crooked the road I chose, it was always made straight.  There are no wrong decisions, because each choice leads us that much closer to what is right.  Every fork offers an option and every option is an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience the benefits and consequences of our choices.  There no wrong turns, there are no mistakes; we are gifted with an abundance of time, opportunity, and do-overs to get it right.  We live in a universe populated by loving, Wise Ones who hold our hands as we travel our path, and guide us through treacherous shoals home to the safety of our souls.  I cannot imagine wanting anything more than that.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Pardon My French

Rise-above-the-chaos-3-202-a-768x644-1.jpg

Somewhere between getting my bones out of bed today, slogging into the kitchen for coffee, and making my way to the Lazygirl for my morning visit with myself, I had an epiphany.  Since the confines of the pandemic, my life has morphed from an outer one to inner, and my days begin and end in the Lazygirl.  The in-between is anybody’s guess, but the one thing I know for sure is that the beginnings and the endings are my favorite times of day.

I really covet the safety of my morning and evening sits, but sometimes the in-betweens can present some really tricky situations, some related to my membership on the board of directors of the condo where I live.  Many folks ensconced in the world of spiritual growth call such challenges AFGO’s.  Another Effing Growth Opportunity.  Oh great!  Another AFGO!  Pardon my French.  (Why do we always blame the French for the use of vulgarity?)

We’re all faced with AFGO’s from time to time, some simple, some whipdoozies.  The question becomes, what do we do when one comes our way?  How do we deal with them?   If you’ve been following along, you know that one of my favorite techniques for handling tricky challenges is the trusty head-in-the-sand trick.  You also know that there’s a pony hiding somewhere amidst the manure.  Somewhere between the ostrich and pony, there is buried treasure.

In my experience as a board member, we are often presented with conflicts that wander around amidst the wants of the people, the needs of the property, and the vagaries of personalities.  It gives new meaning to “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”  It’s a conundrum of the highest order.

My experience is that whatever the size, shape, or form, an AFGO presents an unparalleled opportunity for personal growth if one has the courage and willingness to extract the head from the sand and dig through the manure long enough to find it.  The reward of the search is healing, renewed vision, restoration of sanity, and an opportunity to choose love over fear.  If we find common ground and agree that we’re all in it together, then in the end rough edges are smoothed out and peace is restored to mind, heart, and home.  Well, one can only hope, right?

As I sit all nestled in the safety of my inner sanctuary and comfort of the lone Lazygirl, I know that every AFGO strewn across my path, both past, present, and undoubtedly future, has provided a life lesson that has pushed me one step closer to the achievement of my life’s purpose.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  Is it fun?  Not always, but once in a while it’s downright hilarious.  It helps to know that the Universe is equipped with a wonderful sense of humor that brings comic relief when the going gets tough.  And by the way, if you decide to stick your toe in the water and pan for the gold, you should know that you will never walk alone.  The hand of one who has gone before will reach out to help you along the way, while another will reach out to welcome you to your destiny.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Feeding of Bodies and Minds

We-find-solutions-when-we-pierce-the-veil-of-illusion-3-159-768x644

I’m not a big fan of having do anything that I don’t want to do. Maybe you know the feeling?  Anyway, when I was invited to attend a seminar about nutrition and healthy eating, I balked because I didn’t want to hear somebody tell me what I already knew and refuse to do, but lunch was included, so how could I resist?  I figured that I might be choking down some miso and bean sprouts, but oh well.

Much to my surprise and delight, there was a fabulously delicious healthy meal, and nobody stood in my face lecturing me about what I had to stop doing that was wrong, or what I had to start doing that was right.   Instead, there was just Elizabeth, handing me a piece of chocolate and teaching me how to eat it mindfully.   I liked it (both the chocolate and mindful parts).  I expected a lecture; instead, I got candy.  What a deal!  That says a little about expectations, doesn’t it?  Now, when I receive a newsletter from Elizabeth, I open it up, enjoy it, and sometimes even try a recipe.  I particularly enjoyed the pumpkin laced spaghetti sauce.

Today I am inspired to share a newsletter that I just received from Elizabeth because it perfectly echoes my philosophy of life, and says in someone else’s words what I’ve been babbling every day since mid-April.  Positive thinking and good news always bear repeating, and sometimes it’s helpful to hear it from a new perspective.  The topic is nutrition, but the premise reaches beyond the boundaries of healthy eating habits and can be shifted from what we feed our bodies to what we feed our minds.  Elizabeth says it well:

“This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you to help you reach your nutrition goals:

There is no failure when it comes to nourishing your body—only FEEDBACK.

You simply can’t fail with your healthy eating goals when you adopt this outlook. One bad meal, day, week, or more does not dictate your entire nutrition journey. You cannot give up because you think you “messed up” using this approach.

The true measure of success—along with genuine transformation and lasting results—comes from the ability to get CURIOUS NOT CRITICAL.

The #1 most helpful thing you can do when you feel like you’ve gotten off track, overeaten, made poor food selections, skipped too many workouts, or whatever else your perceived “misstep” may be …is to ditch the crappy self-talk and defeatist thinking in favor of adopting a growth (instead of a fixed) mindset.

This means you need to learn how to ask the right questions… how to listen for the most helpful feedback… and know how to use the information you gather to inform your future food choices.

… go crush your goals!

You’ve got this.”

Yes.  You do.  Go for it!  Thanks Elizabeth.

See more from Elizabeth here.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Cocoon of the Soul

Silence-is-more-than-the-absence-of-noise-3-184-768x644

I frittered away most of my writing time this morning, but oh well—there’s always later with lunch in between.  One of the things that I’m learning in my time-out is to quit picking on myself about petty stuff.  No, wait.  Make that quit picking on myself about any stuff.  It’s not good for the psyche.  In a world where criticism about one thing or another is wildly abundant, what’s the point of adding an unhealthy heap of it upon myself?  The rest of the world will be happy to do it for me.

Running away to solitude is a lovely temporary solution to remove myself from the world stage, but unless I’m prepared to repair to the wilderness for 40 days as Jesus did, or take the Buddha approach to enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, or cart myself off to an isolated mountaintop somewhere, eventually, I’ll need to return to the outside world.  Do I want to?  Well, not really.  Not yet.  I kind of like it here in the cozy container of my own home talking to myself and enjoying my own company.  It’s a lovely little vacation away from anything that makes me cranky and it brings me peace.   It parks me in a place where I am learning that the only judgment in my corner of the world at the moment is my own.

Sooner or later I will need to emerge from my cocoon, but until then, I’m hanging in here until I’m fully cooked.  Or at least until my wings are strong enough to carry me through whatever storm might be brewing in the outer world once I decide to make a break for it.  I don’t know what’s coming, but I know that I’m going to need all the strength I can muster to make it safely to a space of quiet calm.

What a great process.  What a great opportunity to be in the world but not of it, to be able to sit back and watch the show without being a part of it, exempt from the drama, judgment, and the need to find a safe haven from the voices of personal opinion that separate and divide one from another, that perpetuate fear rather than love.

What a joyous vacation.  What a sanctuary for the soul.  What a gift of Spirit.  How blessed I am to be able to enjoy it.  My wish for humanity is that we all find the safety within the quiet of our hearts and rest there in gentle stillness for a while.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

 

Feasts and Fasts

Find-the-peaceful-place-within-3-15-768x644

A couple of days ago—oops—I forgot to write a blog.  Yesterday’s was published very late in the day instead of at the beginning, and amazingly enough, I didn’t die from it—I’m still here to tell the tale.  Wahoo!   In fact, it was rather refreshing to allow myself the luxury of getting up and out of my self-created hot seat to wander around in the sunshine and breathe a little.  I successfully said no thank you to the finger-wagging shame-on-you guilt trip that my ego tried to lay on me about copping out on my commitment and away I went.  That’s progress, I’d say.

A little aimless meandering once in a while is good for the soul.  It is like opening the windows in a dark and stuffy room to allow fresh air and light to flood in and evaporate the gloom, to cleanse, refresh and restore old, worn out thinking that doesn’t’ work anymore, to make room for the new.  Sometimes when I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of a conundrum, I take a little time out.  When it’s just a writing quagmire, it might be a quick trip to the loo for some bathroom wisdom.  A bigger issue, on the other hand, may require an extended period of time that includes complete radio silence.

What I love about a good time out is that it frees me from hearing the noisy voices and opinions of others and provides a moment in which I can hear the quiet wisdom of my own.  It gives me precious time to sit, sift and sort through confusion and complexity and decide what is worth keeping, what should be expelled.  When the mind and heart are cleared of the dross that clogs insight, resolution springs forth, mental clarity shines through, and peace returns.  It’s a place to rest, stop, look, listen, reevaluate, and invite inner wisdom to be the guide.  It’s both a spiritual fast and feast all at once.  Answers reside in the silence.

Hmm.  When I first started writing, I thought that there might be something related to the subjects of compassion, empathy, and sensitivity to others, but for some reason, that thought evaporated along with the gloom that disappears in the light of an open window.  Well, maybe tomorrow.

So that’s it for today, folks.  For now, I’m going back inside to continue my time out, enjoy the view from my soul, and hang out in radio silence for a while longer.  See you tomorrow.  I think.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Getting a Grip

True-responsibility-comes-3-221-768x644

Yesterday, when I went to fetch a copy of the blog du jour from the jaws of the printer, it wasn’t there.  Wait—where is it?  Didn’t I print it out?  Then I remembered—oops I forgot to write it.  After three months of perfect attendance, I forgot?  Really?  That can’t be good.

If you’ve been following along recently, you may remember reading that life in my lane has presented me with another marvelous opportunity to get over myself, learn another new lesson or two, and take the next step forward on the personal growth path. I make a wish for—oh, I don’t know—whatever floats my boat, and suddenly shazam—like magic, whoosh—here we go again off on another merry round of learning.  Watch what you wish for.

This time, it’s like someone came along and uttered one simple little sentence that pushed the plunger that exploded the dynamite that blew the cover off my foxhole that exposed me to the dirt that has lurked beneath the surface that tormented me for eons.  Whoa.  Scary.  I think I still must have a whole lot to learn.  At this point, I can’t say for sure how I’m doing, but every once in a while I catch a brief glimmer of hope.

I think that maybe the extended days of COVID restrictions are making us all a little crazy.  What started as a kind of interesting fun little extended recess at home moment has morphed into the realization that frustration has replaced fun, and that we will be socially distancing and wearing our masks for a v-e-r-y long time.  Our recess has gifted us with  frustration, exposing frayed nerves and tests of patience.  We are chomping at the bit to get back to the beaches, eat in restaurants, swim in pools, and return to our fitness centers.  Now, more than ever, we want and need physical activity to dissolve the stress and the frustration of the limitations placed upon us.  I have lost control of certain aspects of my life and now, crankiness has replaced civility.   It is disturbing to watch as I try to wrestle my selfishness into the willingness to come to grips with my inability to have what I want when I want it.  No wonder I still have lessons to learn.

Uh oh, watch out everybody.  It looks like she is going to smack us with another cheery little lecturette again.  Always on a rainbow unicorn toot–love everybody, forgive everything, look for the good, blah blah blah.  Yep.  Preaching to myself, mostly.  I guess I won’t get it until I get it.  The good news, though, is that at least I know I will get around to listening to the smart Voice in my own head eventually.  Maybe someday I might even pay attention.

The only thing I know for sure is that I’ve finished today’s blog—or is this yesterday’s blog today?   I am brimming with the hope that I’ll ace this pesky marvelous growth opportunity soon.  Soon, soon, soon.  The current curriculum is pretty intense, but I’m not dropping out.  I’m going to stick in there no matter what, watch intently to see what unfolds next, and remember that tomorrow is another day and another blog.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Lone Rainbow

Forgiveness-is-an-act-of-love-releasing-us-from-the-past-3-220-768x644

This morning I opened an email that sent me straight up and out of my Lazygirl off into the heat and humidity to have a walk through the wilds of the neighborhood and a little talk with myself in the hope of getting my head straight and finding a bit peace and serenity along the way.

Trust the good old Universe to present the perfect opportunity to learn a lesson at just the right time.  Heap it on, I say.  Let’s see how much I can take before it all crashes down around my shoulders and crushes the life out of me.  Okay, so the pedal is to the metal.  Can I put my money where my mouth is and practice what I preach?  Good question, I say to myself, as I try to claw my way through the clutter of my mind in search of a bit of daylight.  It’s all well and good to carry on like the rainbow unicorn that I like to pretend that I am, but are unicorns really real?  Is this another test?

I walk to the lake and park myself on a shady bench to meditate and cogitate for a while in hopes of getting what I came for.  I watch as my mind bounces me up and down like a yoyo traveling at warp speed.  It’s all too much to sort through.  Too many twists and turns, too many complications and complexities, too many emotions coming from too many directions, too much at stake, too many possible outcomes, not all of them good.

I hear a slight splash that calls my attention to the water’s surface and watch as ripples spread in concentric circles from the point of center.  It dawns on me that my thoughts and feelings spread out from my own point of center and wash over everything and everyone within range, and that the range is infinite.

There is something within me that wants to hang on to anger and gnaw on it like a Doberman with a juicy bone, to not let go until I’ve sucked the essence out of it.  A saying from Eckhart Tolle flashes across my mind:  Sometimes letting things go is a far greater power than defending or hanging on.  Now if I could just convince my mind about that.  Would that I could just practice what I preach about the power of the mind.  It isn’t easy, but at least it’s a goal.  Goals count for something.

So I have another talk with myself between the yoyo bounces and try to talk myself into shifting gears from anger into forgiveness.   I try to remember that the ripples aren’t mine alone, but that they reach into infinity and therefore affect everyone else in their path, even those who are innocent bystanders.

This morning’s ripple effect reminds me that thoughts matter and that what I choose to think makes a difference.  In my quest for peace, I realize that it’s a lonely endeavor, an inside job.  No one can hand it to me; I have to find it within myself.  It looks as if I’ve fallen a little short of passing the test today.  I haven’t made it to total forgiveness yet but I’m working on it—maybe tomorrow.  Like yesterday’s pony in the manure, somewhere, there’s a rainbow, and I’ll find it eventually.  After all, what’s a unicorn without the rainbow?

The Path of Joy

The-awakening-Soul-commissions-us-3-170-768x644

In spite of yesterday’s blog extolling the virtues of living in the shiny new moment of now and of not reliving my yesterdays, sometimes bits of the past come flying up unexpectedly and hurl themselves in front of my face screaming for attention.  So much for peace of mind.  Hagotcha!  Darn.  I thought I was over that.  Maybe not, else why would it reappear?  Is this another test?

Well, so here’s the good news—at least these nagging bedevilments are making themselves known so that I can decide whether or not to address them or just shovel them back down into the dirt out of sight, out of mind.  But if allowed free rein, they just keep coming up again.  And again.  Shall I listen up and pay attention, or shall I get out the shovel?  My choice.

In the midst of my most recent in-your-face confrontation with the ego, I had a peek through the window of my soul and could see how easy it is to allow despair and depression to take control and cloud judgment.  In my role as a witness I could clearly observe myself in a head-to-head conflict over which aspect of myself would win the battle—the ego, or the Self.

Let me just say—I do not like conflict.  Conflict in any form, either with myself or another person makes me want to turn and run the other way.  Yep—I admit it.  I’m a coward.  If I pull the ostrich act and don’t see it, I won’t have to deal with it.  But if there is no facing it, there is no resolving it.  Obviously, it won’t just magically disappear itself because it will just come up.  Again.

The quest for personal growth presents moments such as these.  It means mustering up the willingness and courage to confront anything that stands in the way of achieving the bliss of a peaceful mind.  Yes, sometimes it brings up issues that I’d rather not deal with, but the struggle is worth the reward of awakening to the yearning of the Soul that wishes for nothing more than to bestow the gift of joy.

These days, when I am rudely awakened by past memories and unhappy thoughts that trigger old wounds, I take my own advice and remind myself to be grateful for the recognition that there is something within me that needs my loving attention.  I ask for help with forgiveness and  pray for the release of anything that no longer serves to bring me closer to my Self, my Soul.  It is safe to take my head out of the sand and breathe freely because conflict has evaporated.   No longer must I learn through suffering and struggle, for that path has been transformed into one of joy.

Ah.  Blessed relief.  Now I am back in the shiny new moment of now.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

The Window of the Soul

Pain-has-always-been-the-greatest-prod-to-spiritual-growth-3-193-768x644

The window washers are coming today and soon I will see clearly from the inside out.  Now if I can just clean up the of the window of my mind, I will see clearly from the outside in.  Once in a while if I’m not paying close attention, things can get a little murky in here.

Sometimes, when I have a bit of spare time, I enjoy peeking through the windows of the minds of other bloggers, especially those who share their innermost thoughts, feelings, challenges, struggles, and insecurities.  Sometimes the view through the windows of others provides a clearer reflection of myself.

Bloggers tend to tell the truth about themselves, about what they’re thinking and feeling.  Their honesty is refreshing, and sheds a light in the darkness.  In finding light in others, I find light within myself.

One of the most profound aspects of my education as a spiritual seeker was my training as a facilitator.  True service, we were taught, lies in healing oneself first in order to help others—healing the unhealed healer.  Thus, we became both students and teachers to one another, working together toward healing the parts of ourselves that were the obstacles to inner peace.

In the process, we discovered that no one is immune from the machinations of a mind ruled by the ego.  We learned that we are all subject to the aspect of ourselves that would have us believe that we are unworthy, undeserving, and unlovable.  We learned that there is great healing in the willingness to share the depths of one’s being in the safety of a trusted confidant.  We learned that the more we are able to see into the soul of another, the more there is to love.

I am no stranger to the battle between love and fear.  Why do we hesitate to share our inner truth with another?  It all about fear.  Fear of embarrassment, of being judged, misperceived, misunderstood, flawed, fear that the truth will somehow reveal the insecure, unlovable parts of the self that we do not wish to acknowledge to ourselves or to others.  The bottom line?  It is a fear of loss of love.

My greatest lessons in life were learned in the intense six-month facilitator training where as both student and teacher, I discovered that the willingness of another to share her deepest and most personal aspects of her being drew me closer in compassion and love, because in the other person, I could see my own struggle to overcome the parts of myself that I perceived as unlovable.

In spite of all of my spiritual education and training, I still find that I fall prey to the tricks of the ego; the window of my soul get foggy and I lose sight of who I am.  The return trip to sanity requires only that I sit and be still, find the quiet in my Soul, ask for help, and remember that love is the Windex that will make the window of my Soul sparkle.

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).

Sweet Memories and Mysteries

Vision-and-aspiration-are-needed-3-196-c-768x644

It’s not always a good idea to rummage around in the past, but if done in search of sweet memories to savor rather than to excavate old buried wounds, one might find a world of riches buried within.

One of my sweet memories of the past floated to the surface this morning as I savored the memory of my days as a devotee of Siddha Yoga, when I was constantly intrigued by the profound effect that the mysterious teachings of the guru had upon me and upon my life.  Sometimes, the lessons were immediate and obvious; sometimes they so subtle that I barely noticed until months or years later, when I finally got it.

On one of my visits to the ashram, a course was being offered on selfless service.  When I tried to enroll, I was told that the course was not open to people over the age of 50.  What?  Why not??  Was it too late for the over-50 crowd?  If we hadn’t learned whatever we needed to know by now, were we hopeless?  But as often happens in the world of a guru, there was no answer to the why.  I left in a quandary and spent the entire following year hoping that the answer would float to the surface and solve the puzzle.  It didn’t.

On my next visit to the ashram a year later, a fellow devotee unexpectedly answered the question that I hadn’t asked.  People over 50 are supposed to focus less on selfless service and more in contemplation of their death.  Huh.  Now there’s a juicy rich subject worthy of another year’s worth of puzzlement if ever there was one, right?

I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Odd though it may sound, answering this question has become my lifelong quest, the guidepost that lights my path toward the accomplishment of my goals, vision, and purpose.  My focus is on the endgame—to heal what needs healing, correct the errors of the past, have my affairs in order, and do my utmost to earn my diploma and graduate into the next higher realm of learning.  It keeps me sane and on track; it diverts my attention away from behaving in ways that are not in my best interest, and supports me in embracing the behavior that is.

I really miss hanging out with Gurumayi, but the truth is that her work with me is finished.  She sent me home to the sanctuary of own my heart and turned me over to the care and keeping of my Higher Self, my Soul, to All That Is, where my education will continue, and answers to the mysteries of life will be revealed in their own time.  I am blessed to be in the very good company of professors who are kind and compassionate, who make learning a joy.  Now if I will only listen…

Note:  The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).