How Can Death Enhance Our Life?

Last month I wrote a piece about Grief.  This month I want to ask you this question. How can death enhance our life above and beyond anything else?

Five weeks ago my husband had a stroke. Although there is still internal healing taking place, the external ramifications of the stroke are negligible. He looks, walks, talks and acts exactly as he always has. But nothing is the same. And it never will be. Because death knocked on our door and whispered softly, “I’m here. It’s not time to touch you yet, but you just keep me in mind. Remember, life is enriched and enhanced and made all the more precious and wonderful when you remember, I am not too far away.”

Many years ago the sister of a good friend of mine was killed in a car accident. Angie came from a large and very close family and was on the verge of opening her own business. She was a beautiful, joyful and passionate 21 year old with an infectious laugh and a smile that lit up any room she entered.

At her funeral her mother stood up to speak and we, who sat in the church braced ourselves for the inevitable sobs from a mother newly bereft of her child.  She stood there looking out at all of us in absolute silence and we waited. She took two or three deep breaths and then began to smile. And then she spoke.

“We have been so blessed. Angie lived her 21 years doing exactly what she wanted. She was fearless. She took risks and lived life to the fullest. She brought us so much joy, so much laughter, so much happiness. There is no room in this church or anywhere else for mourning Angie’s death.  Her life was a constant celebration and that is how we will honour her.

Everyone of us will grieve in our own unique way. The loss of a job, a friend, a child, an opportunity. “Grief is the midwife of your capacity to be immensely grateful for being born,” writes Stephen Jenkinson,in his book Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul. He says also, ““Grief is not a feeling, it is a capacity. It is not something that disables you, we are not on the receiving end of grief we are on the practising end of grief.”

So what does that mean, ‘the practicing end of grief?

   If we pretend it wont touch us or our loved ones then in truth we cannot say we are truly living. We need to consciously create or at the very least become aware of a resonance of death that softly hums below our every thought and deed and action; a drone that harmonises with the melody of  human joy. The two are intrinsically linked.

 

Carlo Castaneda wrote “Death is our eternal companion. It is always to our left, an arm’s length behind us. Death is the only wise adviser that a warrior has. Whenever he feels that everything is going wrong and he’s about to be annihilated, he can turn to his death and ask if that is so. His death will tell him that he is wrong, that nothing really matters outside its touch. His death will tell him, I haven’t touched you yet.’

It is through this awareness that we can be free. Free to speak openly. Free to make our own mistakes. Free to lift our eyes and our spirits up and up and up and be who we are.

“You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound. Kahlil Gibran

Rising above worry, anxiety, grief and pain requires us to choose. When we claim the power to choose, we connect to the heart of who we are and in that moment we are free. Nothing else matters beyond being engaged to our heart. Through the heart we connect to our soul and through the soul we connect to Unconditional Love.

One of the things I have learned and now carry with me since my husband had a stroke is a strong knowing that the future is not guaranteed. In other words not putting off what might be enjoyed or completed today is far wiser than saying. “Ill do it later.”

We all know this of course, but living it day to day is the gift of death tapping my shoulder  and reminding me it is just an arms length away.  Yesterday I was sitting on my old rocking chair looking out of the lace curtains of our little cottage in the mountains sipping a cup of herbal tea. I was watching the sky slowly turn pink as  night began to fall and was relishing the quiet when my husband decided it was a good time to change the kick-boards in our kitchen. The banging and the scraping and the hammering began and as I sat there I had a flash of what it might be like to sit here in silence had Death actually tapped him on the shoulder those five weeks ago. And at that moment everything changed.

Instead of relishing the silence I sank joyfully, thankfully into the clatter in the kitchen. I closed my eyes and imagined him on his knees pulling and pushing, and banging and scraping  those recalcitrant kick-boards  and I felt happy, free and completely and utterly at peace

* (a warrior is a person who lives impeccably)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now, What Breaks Your Heart? | 3 Comments

Grief

I watched my friend stand beside her son yesterday. Tears dragging the inexpressible grief down her drawn face as she bent her head, too heavy with loss to hold up without the chest of her beloved of over half a century. I watched her shake with sobs so deep her very soul wailed in wrenching silence. I watched her let friends say what they felt and nod in appreciation for their love, and yet, surrounded by the love and warmth of family and friends, I watched my friend stand alone beside the body of the one she had carried under her heart and birthed and nurtured and taught and consoled and comforted.

I saw my friend stand beside his son yesterday. Tall yet small, straight yet stooped. Unshaven, red eyed gracious to a fault. I saw him pray and say the ancient words,

Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba…

May His Great Name grow exalted and sanctified….

“I must be philosophical,” he told me the night before he read the words that draped the crowded room of stories of a man who loved life and living and growing and giving. A man who was passionate about learning and teaching and sharing his heart and his mind. A man who could still laugh when illness stole all his remaining strength.  A man who carried his father’s name and who gave this name to his beautiful daughter. A man who took flight before his parents and yet remains so present, so real, so here and so now.

I saw myself standing beside my friends yesterday. Not able to find the words that offered enough comfort.  For comfort only comes when the time is right. I stood beside my friends yesterday. Their beloved son passed from this physical world, from life to life. And even though death is only the end of the shell from where we shine our light for a few short moments and even though I know he could still see all that was happening and hear all that was being said and feel all the love that was overflowing from hearts and minds and all the spaces in between those who have ever known him, the grief, the painful, aching, dreadful grief, drenched in tears and memories and emptiness, envelopes and surrounds and hugs us close.

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When We Become Complacent …..

Traditions intersect tomorrow as Jews and Christians the world over, celebrate their traditions. Many Christians will commemorate the Last Supper and the crucifixion of the Master Teacher Jesus. And many Jewish people will also come together to begin the 8-day festival of Passover.

Over the last 2000 years much has been written about this time in history. The Gospels describe in varying ways the series of events that happened so long ago and countless people from religious, theological and historical backgrounds have explored and written about those final 24 hours of Jesus Christ.

What really happened, for the purpose of this piece of writing at least, is less important than the significance of what happened.

During the Seder, the first night of the Passover, Jews read from a book called the Haggada. We sing a song which has these words:

 Avadim hayinu hayinu. Ata b’nei chorin.

Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now, we are free.

Every year we tell the story of the Exodus, as if we were once slaves and now we are free. We are reminded that freedom is something we cannot take for granted, and that it is something that too-often comes with a price. We remember the sacrifices that have been made to keep us free, and the work that is still needed to bring freedom to those who still fight for it. Every Passover holds the energy of an ending and a beginning. It is the story of liberation from Pharaoh’s oppression. We eat food that is symbolic of oppression and other food symbolic of freedom.

The Master Teacher Jesus, surrounded by his beloved disciples during that Last Supper,  must have realized that although he would no longer be able to physically teach, his Teachings were now in the hands of those he most loved and trusted. The stories of Love and compassion would become available to millions of people throughout the world.  These Teachings when embraced and lived fully would become a pathway to inner liberation. They remind us that once we were slaves and now we are free. Those who understand and practice the power of lovingkindness, compassion, benevolence and truth become free, regardless of their physical situation.

Although I was born a Jew and continue to follow the ancient traditions of Judaism I choose to explore the beauty and interconnections of all beliefs. For example, I love crystals and have used them in healing, manifestation, meditation and clearing of energy for many years.

Recently, however, I was reminded that I had become complacent, neglecting to do what I knew was important with these crystals. For years I had put water and crystals  under the full moon to energise and clear the energy. I even put jewellery that I’ve acquired over time outside under the full moon. Lately I simply didn’t bother to do it.

When we know what to do and we don’t do it, we are dismissing our inner truth, and ignoring our own guidance and wisdom. It may take time to honour our knowing and put that knowing  into action, but by becoming complacent we drain the energy from our inner wisdom and limit our freedom.

This is the time, regardless of your religious or philosophical persuasion, to recommit to being the best you can every day.

Practice is the key word.

The full moon is on March 31. Whatever is your tradition I wish you joy and happiness as you contemplate on the meaning of freedom on every level of your Being.

May we all know Global freedom in our lifetime.

 

 

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Some Stories are Worth Repeating

In  November 2005 I went to Assisi alone. It was a long awaited pilgrimage. I wanted to connect to the energy of the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi but I also knew, as with all pilgrimages, the very thing you think you are going for is not always the thing you discover where you are there. Here is a repeat of that story. Some stories are worth repeating.

Driving towards Assisi in northern Italy, I noticed something red growing out of a bed of weeds. I grabbed my camera and clicked away. Some time later I scrolled through my camera and realised it was a rose. A double header. One that had already bloomed anda bud with the potential to boom.

 

 

The rose is one of those plants that no matter how many weeds are about the place it will always bloom. Did you know the colour Rose is the colour of Unconditional Love? The Channel and well known Teacher Helen Barton, created even a page on her website where people can send pink bubbles to anyone that who might be unwell or needing love. As I looked at the image I took I was reminded of someone very important to me..

Her name was Rosa, Rosa Parks. Recently she died and thousands gathered to farewell this 92 year old civil rights matriarch. A quiet unassuming, modest woman with great courage who lived in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 and who, one December evening, left work and boarded a bus for home. The bus became crowded, and Rosa, a black woman, was ordered to give up her seat to a white passenger. She chose to remain seated and that silent, simple decision eventually led to the disintegration of institutionalised segregation in the South, ushering in a new era of the civil rights movement. Just one individual can change the world, even without uttering one word. It is not the grand and showy actions that necessarily change us and our world. Indeed our very purpose for living could be brought down to one small act like the refusal to stand up at the right time and the courage to know when that right time may be.

And that leads me to this.

Deservability

I know the word ‘deservability’ is not in the Dictionary. I made it up. It is however, a word that fascinates me.

“ She deserves it…”

“I didn’t deserve that.”

“He got what he deserves.”

“I need to prove I really deserve this.”

Sound familiar? Deservabilty comes from our belief that we earn good points and bad points according to how, good, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, wise, appreciative, appropriate, funny, or clever we are. The list goes on of course.

Deservabilty also comes from the belief that if we behave or act in a certain way we can in some way control the events in our lives. Although this is right to a degree it is never really in our control. Jean and Graham work for two different companies. Jean’s friends got together and gave Jean a holiday for her 50th birthday. Jean had been a loyal and devoted worker for 20 years. She has three children but rarely ever took a day off in all that time. Graham was a single dad and had also put in 20 years of loyal service. He did not receive a gift from his work colleagues on his 20th anniversary.  Does one deserve a holiday more than the other? Of course not and yet, we tend to judge ourselves and others when something happens that we feel is  deserved’ or not deserved.

Nothing is deserved or un-deserved in life. To believe this is to be seduced into the illusion that what we see is the whole story. Rather than believing what we think we see how much more powerful  to look for the significance.

To believe in deservability denies the magic and spontaneity that is intrinsic in all of life. Out of chaos comes calm, out of conflict comes connection, out of illness comes healing, out of pain comes wisdom and out of fear comes Love. What happens, happens. The issue in life is not whether we deserve  so called ‘good’ or ‘bad; things. We will always have ups and downs. The real issue is how we address them. What choices can we make that can turn a tragedy into a triumph and therefore create a shift in global consciousness for the highest good of all?

What choice can we make now that inspires us to  stand in our truth, the Truth of our Being, especially when we appear to be surrounded by a field of weeds.

 

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Who do You want to Be … when you grow up?

Do you have a Calling?

Many of us remember being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  We gave answers according to our own dreams, our parent’s dreams, our teachers ‘dreams and sometimes even our friends’ dreams. Some of us didn’t give an answer at all. But there comes a time when we ask ourselves, “What do I want to do?” “Who do I want to be?”

My father was still very young when he decided to be a doctor.

Some people might say that is a Calling. Others think of it as a passion. I believe in my father’s case he just wanted to be someone he could respect. Medicine was his road map.

 What would you say is someone asked you “How did you arrive at where you are?”

I know most of us could share a few landmarks that guided us in one direction or another but I as far as I’m concerned I ‘m still in the process.

I think a far better question might be, “Do you love what you are doing right now?”

I recently read that 80 % of Americans do not like the work they are doing. I couldn’t find a comparative study for Australians, but I can only imagine it’s more or less the same.

We are taught that we have to do something, learn something, define who we are. That unless we earn good money, pass exams, grow our businesses, we are not succeeding.

 Rather than work being a necessary evil, is it possible to see our work as an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to our community, our town, city or even the world? I have heard people, (committed, spiritual people) say that unless you follow your Calling when you hear it, it may not happen again. Goodness.  We do make up some scary stories.

I think our Calling is that sense of alignment between who I am and what I do. And maybe, just maybe it changes as life changes. We look at ‘career’ as something we spend the next 30 years or 40 years practising but perhaps our career is simply an opportunity to find our voice and practise speaking up about things that matter to us.

 I believe our Calling, can occur a number of times throughout our life. In a religious sense a Calling is Spirit calling us to Itself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have, is invested with a  devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to this holy summons and service.

And for some it may well be just that.

However, and with every definition there is always an ‘however’, a Calling  may be a strong impulse calling us to an action. It may be our heart telling us the time has come to move forward, to turn a page or to begin a new story. A Calling can come to us at 18 or 81. And when we feel this impulse, this ache, this surge of possibility, we are given time to feel into it, to think about it, to wonder about it, to choose how and even if we want to go ahead. There is no punishment. There is no reward. There is only an outcome. If you act on the Calling, something will happen. And if you don’t, something else will happen. The key to this is simple. Every choice has two parts. We choose out of Love or we choose out of Fear. And the only question we need to ask ourselves is how am I choosing to answer the Call?

 As we are living longer lives than our fathers and grandfathers, it is very possible that we will have a few careers in our life time. We might hear that little voice calling us to go back and re-study something we love. Or we might turn around to our boss who has just given us a huge raise, reach out to shake his hand and place our resignation in it rather than taking the check. After years of study three of our five children discovered the degree they walked away with is not the work they want to do. So they have and will continue to dive deep and look into their hearts, and ask what is it that would bring them joy.

If joy and satisfaction are missing in our lives, there is no way we can ever feel fulfilled.

There’s an old saying that I love. If you ever want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

 I thought I knew what my life might look like once I moved into our home 18 months ago.  I had reached my mid 60’s and looking after our two gorgeous grand daughters once a week was so much fun. Then there was gardening and reading and painting that filled my days, not to mention cooking for family and friends. The occasional trip rounded off a perfect ‘retirement’. However, (there it is again) I just couldn’t ignore a little voice that kept telling me there is more to teach, more to share,  more fun to be enjoyed. There is more than this.

As much as I love my family, my home, my garden and my adventures, teaching is also who I am.         `

Having said all that, I am so excited to announce I have created a new program that fills my heart with joy.

I would like to invite you to join me for the The 4P Living Program. This living program is a process that is simple to access at any time, and enables us to understand, move through and overcome the many challenging situations that naturally occur in all our lives. That being said I also call this program The 4P Process.

It commences on February 24.  It is a three month program that  combines The 12 Levels of Being with the themes in our lives that create and destroy our happiness and joy.

Registration can be made here.  I look forward to welcoming you as we discover together The 4P Process

Please feel free to contact me for further information.

 

 

 

 

 

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Smile and the World Smiles With You….

Recently I was waiting in a line waiting to go to the “Ladies” and the person in front of me started to sing. She was not giving us a concert or trying to show her fine voice. She just started to sing. It wasn’t a song I had ever heard before in fact it had no words, but the sound was sweet and the result was that all of us waiting for a free cubicle, simply smiled. And we smiled at each other. Strangers connected because we were sharing something unusual and lovely.

My friend Helen also sings whilst she’s waiting for her online meetings to commence. I love that. I get on the phone, call the number, press the pin code and then I hear this sweet voice singing on the other end.  Her singing always makes me feel light and happy. I smile even before I say hullo.

Children sing all the time.  Especially the little ones. They sing to themselves and they sing with friends. They never think whether they sing well or not, they just sing. It’s the same as laughing. Children laugh spontaneously every day.

It is said that children laugh far more often than adults. Some say at least one hundred times more a day. The sound of children’s laughter brings so much joy.  We become rather strange and silly and do all sorts of creative and wonderful things to entice more smiles, giggles and laughter from babies and children. We raise the pitch of our voice, along with height of our eye brows and make funny faces, peculiar sounds, we whoop and ah and oooh  in the hope that we will be rewarded with a smile or a chuckle.

This has been a challenging year for many of us and there were times I neither sang nor smiled. So a few months ago I gave myself a challenge.

I challenged myself to smile at every person I passed for whole one day. Sounds easy, but its not. I started out smiling at the person who parked beside me in the car park, and she smiled back.  Then I smiled at a woman carrying a baby and pushing a trolley. She didn’t respond but as I was not doing this to a make people smile at me. Then I smiled at the butcher handing out cooked sausages and the child standing beside his mother buying a piece of fish. And  I just kept on going. A man with tattoos down both arm walked passed I nodded out a smile. By now was feeling pretty amazing. I had a secret. This smiling was shifting my energy. I smiled at the person ahead of me in the line to pay for our groceries and as soon as I smiled she began chatting and casually we began to share a story or two until we went our ways but I felt light and full of joy.  The simple act of smiling at everyone for one day is enlightening.

An enlightening experience does not mean we we are suddenly enlightened. It means that every time we sing, smile, or just kick up our heels we lift our own energy and become lighter. We enlighten ourselves and in doing that we lift the energy of those around us.

So simple. So powerful.

I don’t make New Years resolutions very often but I am called to make one for next year. I commit to singing more often. Allowing my voice to lift my spirits. I have begun to sing to my grandchildren. Songs I make up on the spot

Its time, time, time to have your lunch,

Yummy yummy for my tummy

Lunch, lunch, lunch.

Tomato and cucumber, sandwich and egg

waiting on your plate

not smooshy on your leg.

Hurry hurry hurry

eat your lunch before it’s just too late.

They laugh. I laugh and we continue to be playful all day.

And , number 2, I commit to creating a “smile at everyone day’ a few times week.

Who knows. We may en-lighten ourselves in the process.

As the year draws to a close I have a strong sense that 2018 will be a wonderful year. The number 18 in Hebrew means Life and 1 plus 8 is nine. Ending  of a cycle and creative beginnings. However, 2018 is an 11 year and so it will be a year of wisdom, greater acceptance and creativity.

A Brand New Program for 2018

I am thrilled to be offering a new program called The 4P Process which takes us to a whole new level. This program is for those who have either never explored The 12 Levels of Being as well as those who have attended past workshops and are now curious and ready to take a leap into what is now possible.

This program offers us a process that is simple enough to access at any time that will enable us to overcome and move through situations that are challenging in life.

I will be sharing more about The 4P Process is future newsletters. I warmly invite you join me in taking your knowledge and experience to an entirely new level of understanding. through using this Program to unlock resistance, uncertainty, blockages and stagnation in our lives. It is time to shine our light as we have never shone before.

Please contact me for further information regarding The 4P Process.

Saturday, February 24 and Sunday, February 25.

Venue in North Sydney.

Wishing you a very happy, healthy, peaceful, passionate and prosperous 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now | 5 Comments

Poles Apart- or are we?

There is a question I sometimes ask myself. I don’t like the question. More to the point I don’t like answering it. Inevitably my answer always begins with a confident “no”, but then it morphs into a ‘maybe’ and usually ends up with a resounding “damn it! yes.”

I ask myself this questions because it keeps me alert. It shakes me up at times when I could just as easily ignore a passing thought.

I have been faced with many situations in my life where I have cringed and shuddered, winced and squirmed during casual or fervent conversations. Conversations where my husband and I are both present, our own points of view sometimes poles apart. I am often confronted by a difference of opinion, a radical statement, a polarized position or a racial slur which leaves me feeling horribly uncomfortable, quietly outraged and occasionally alienated.

How can two people, married for over 37 years have friends who have diametrically opposing opinions to one or both of us. Even one of our children recently asked us how can we be friends with people who are so different from us.

So the question. (Big intake of breath.) Do I judge others who are different from myself? Am I judgmental?

I want to say I am tolerant, accepting, understanding and open. I want to say that no matter what people believe, or say, I have the capacity to hold space for them and their differences. The truth is there are times I genuinely struggle to sit with people who judge other people, races or cultures, which clearly means, I am judging too.

My husband and I grew up in very different circumstances. We were born in completely different countries and experienced vastly different childhoods. Our parents spoke different languages. His parents left their countries of birth to save their lives and mine left their countries of birth to build their lives. He slept on a bed squeezed into a little closed veranda and I slept in a double room with my sister surrounded by ballerina wallpaper.

At thirteen a boy I knew broke his neck diving into the surf at Bondi Beach in Sydney. I made a bargain with God. If he didn’t die, I would marry him.  I was romantic and idealistic.

At thirteen, my present husband would conspire with friends to sneak into glamorous venues where bar mitzvahs, weddings and fancy parties were taking place.  One boy brought clean trousers, another a clean shirt and one of them would be chosen to sneak into the venue from the back door or climb a fence and fill his pockets with delicious goodies which he brought back to his waiting friends. He was opportunistic and street wise.

At fourteen I listened to my father start his car every morning and drive to the hospital to do his hospital rounds. At fourteen my husband listened to the ambulance arrive at his home to take his father to hospital, never to return home.

At eighteen I became engaged to the boy who broke his neck and at the same time my present husband at eighteen, joined the army. Whilst I was learning how to lift a paralyzed man into a car, he was learning how to shoot a gun and defend his countrymen. Whilst I was walking down the aisle at twenty, he was dodging bullets and fighting a war in Israel. When every friend I had ever known deserted me, he was surrounded by friends whose loyalty was utterly unshakable.  We grew up in very different circumstances. We developed different perceptions, different attitudes, different beliefs and even different values.

I grew up in a country that has not known war since I was born. Where people from every continent on earth, live in relative peace. He grew up in a country that has barely known a day without war.

Recently one of our children told me he does not have time for people who criticize and put his ideas down. He wants to be with like minded people and feel supported by his community. I get that. We all want to be with people who think the way we do. We all want to feel seen and heard and understood. And yet unless we avail ourselves to challenge and to enquiry, how can we expand our sense self. Unless we put ourselves in situations where our concepts of right and wrong, and fact and fiction are challenged, how can we courageously stand in the truth of who we are. It expands our hearts and washes clean our souls to allow curiosity and wonder to replace dis-ease and distaste around people radically different to ourselves.

I look across the table where another couple sit. Friends by virtue of the amount of time we have known them. Her voice is loud, and her right-wing opinions, sprinkled with violent solutions to a well worn world issue ring out in the restaurant. I force myself not to look at the other tables to see who hears her declare, “Get rid of the lot of them.”

I feel ill, angry, embarrassed and I silently judge her as a racist, bigoted uneducated idiot. I’m furious with her but especially with myself for being in this situation. Why am I even here… with her.

I turn to my husband and my eyes plead with him to leave. For a moment I don’t ever wan to sit with her again. For a moment I just… want to get rid of her.

And then it hits me that there is actually no difference between her and me. If I can’t bare to be with someone whose ideas and opinions are radically different from my own then I am no better than her. If I sit here in judgment of her judgment, what is the difference between us?

We like to believe that when we connect to like minded people and talk about good relationships, progressive ideas, philanthropic endeavors, real change takes place. And often it does. But that can never be the whole story.

It is in the space between our differences in which true healing takes place. It is in vastness of our imagination where, if we dive deep enough we might be able to touch a modicum of understanding for the reason people think, speak and believe the way they do.  In the words of Baruch Spinoza, “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”

Understanding does not mean condoning. There are clearly lines crossed through fear, fear that leads to hatred. There are clearly lines crossed where love and devotion has turned into fanaticism and militarism. Where vision has turned into blind faith.

However, if we can sit in wonder and curiosity that this person, with whom we share our home, our town, our city, our country, indeed our planet, is not wrong, is not bad, is not even so different, but rather is a reflection of all we have not yet come to understand, love or appreciate about ourselves, then we can begin to answer the question, “Am I judgmental?”  it a very different way.

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Love, Love, Love

video4

The Wisdom of the Lion. Part 4

What is Wisdom? It is the integration of Knowledge with Experience. Who is the Lion? It is Me. It is You.

Recently I was working with a couple and he was saying that his wife might have stopped loving him. This led us into a conversation about Love. Love is often described as an emotion. Many of us think if we can fall into love then we can fall out of love.

We imagine that Love can be turned off or turned on, increased or decreased depending on the circumstances. That kind of love is Conditional Love. It is love that is based on reason.

I love her because she is so kind and caring.

I love him because he listens to me and makes me laugh.

Nothing wrong with that unless of course she believes something about her husband, and then tells him off for being selfish, cruel or unfair and slams the door and doesn’t come home for a few days. Not so kind after all.

Or he has had a difficult day just wants to come home and put his feet up but she has also had a challenging day and all she wants is to tells him in every detail how awful some people are, and  how angry and hurt she is and, and, and…. until he jumps up, yells at her to give him a break and can’t she just be quiet for a while and slams the door on his way to sit in the car for an hour or two. Not so funny after all.

So when love is based on reason it becomes conditional and when those conditions change so too can the love we once felt so strongly. When love depends on a belief it becomes limited and therefore conditional. We think we know someone until something happens and we realize what we believe is just not true.

“You shouldn’t have to even ask me that.”  It becomes a problem when we believe that love automatically give a lover the ability to intuit what the other person wants or needs.

“I never imagined he would talk to me like that.”  It becomes a problem when we believe that people in love always speak and behave kindly and respectfully to each.

“You will go to hell if you don’t follow God’s rules.” When we are taught to believe something out of fear the fullness of Love is always limited.

Some of us may say, “So what. I know what I believe and I don’t care if it’s conditional.” However, judgment based on a belief, on a thought, or on the appearance of an event limits the quality of Love.

Emotional Love, when it happens feels lovely, but it is transient and temporary and can change with the passing of time. Conditional love often feels wonderful whilst it is happening, because it fulfils us in ways we are not fulfilling ourselves. When we ‘fall in love with someone’ we see them through those proverbial rose coloured glasses. We love the way they see our beauty and our strengths and melt at the way they look into our eyes and hold our body (no matter the size or shape) close and tenderly. Whether is it a physical attraction, their intellectual acumen, or bright bubbly personality the one irrevocable thing conditional love forgets is that, everything changes.

Unconditional Love exists in each of us. It is Love without reason. Love that comes from our soul and spirit and cannot be extinguished when something unforeseen or bad happens. When we experience Unconditional Love it is like we are bathed in warm light that enters every cell in our body and imbues us with a sense of well-being and peace. More than that it fills us with grace. Unconditional Love is the essential nature of each of us but it needs to be practiced to be present at all times. We can so easily relax into reason and condition ourselves to believe something that limits love.

So how do we practice Unconditional Love?

For me it begins by recognizing where in my body is Love. I go to the area of the heart, not the physical heart but the spiritual heart often called the heart chakrah, and that’s where I begin to connect to that eternal flame that radiates through me and around me and permeates everything I say and do. Unconditional Love is not an emotion at all.

It is a State of Being.

And when I fall into that State of Love and I am with another who also connects to that State of Love we fall into Love together. We don’t fall into love with each other we fall into the vast ocean of Love together. It is in that State of Being where all thought ceases and we become One.

We can reach this place by repeating a mantra that obliterates all thought and takes us into the eternal well of Love, deeper and deeper until we let go of the I Am and becmoe One with All That Is.

We can reach this place through doing or listening or chanting ourselves into a place of no thought.

We can reach this place through music or prayer or doing something we love so much that we transcend time and space.

We can reach this place by being present, in the moment, breathing in and out, in and out and melting into the heart. Dissolving with every breath into Love. I am Love. I am Love. I am Love. I am Love. I am Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love

My teacher, John the Beloved taught me,

“Your world has two choices:

To Love the Self Unconditionally and in so doing, become an extension of everyone and everything else. Or-

To fear the self as being inadequate or inappropriate, and experience disconnection and fear of being open to others.” ( Quote John the beloved, 22/2/2001)

False modesty, confusion, anxiety, hesitancy, fear of failure or success all comes from the ego and the ego interrupts our intention to connect with Unconditional Love. Sometimes my clients tell me they are trying. Trying to do better. Trying to stop something. Trying to overcome. And I always say the same thing, if you are trying, you are not here. You are somewhere over there. Stop trying. Be here. Be in the present.

When we are in a State of Love, we are bathed in the sunshine that streams through our hearts. We can continue to live our lives, acknowledging what happens is neither good nor bad but is what it is. We can dissolve relationships and create relationships and maintain relationships without choking on the emotional consequences of our choices.

Relationships change over time. Sometimes they burn out. Sometimes they reach a point where the purpose for that relationship has been completed. And sometimes the energy that brought people together has been lost and with it the intention. However, if we can develop a practice where we are in a State of Love with everyone and everything, we can experience a Love that is not personal. It becomes a Love that infuses our personal lives but is not lost when life presents us with personal challenges.

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now | 4 Comments

Follow Your Heart- Lion Wisdom part III

A transcript

Tell them, to follow their heart.

Thats all very well to say we must follow our heart but how do you know if you are really following your heart?

I did not say you must. I said “follow your heart.” Very simple. When we follow our heart we no longer concern ourselves with should’s or must’s or have to’s in our lives. When we follow heart we become clear about what we want and what we need. When we follow our heart we are no longer ruled by expectations, not our own or those of others. Can you imagine a life where you are free to live and learn according to your heart and not because people expect this or that from you? When we follow our heart we no longer concern ourselves with duty or obligation, unless of course you love to live that way. Then by all means, be my guest. So many people think that if they are dutiful daughters or sons, or if you live a life in service because you think this is the right way to live, then you can feel proud you have lived a good life. Rubbish!

Rubbish?

Absolute rubbish!

Why is that?

Because, my dear, living a dutiful life is not synonymous with living from the heart. One can be try to be generous, kind, patient and compassionate but the very act of trying implies it is not flowing from the heart. And when we don’t live from the heart we are not being authentic. One cannot follow the heart and be inauthentic at the same time. Impossible!

You sound a bit cranky.

I am cranky. How long have we been role modeling authenticity to you all. Some of you are very slow learners. Now thats a bit harsh. We lions are proud to be who we are. There are times we are loving and compassionate and times we are ruthless, wild and powerful. But we never try. We are who and what we are. Simple. When we follow our heart we open our inner ear and every question we ask will be answered from the heart. Thats is why there is an EAR in inside the heart.

Now that’s clever. An EAR inside the heart. You make it sound so simple. But if it were that simple everyone would be following their heart and living struggle free lives.

Nonsense! Following your heart does not automatically make life easier. In fact it often makes it considerably harder. Consider this for a moment. Imagine you lived in a wonderful home and have everything you could ever want. Clothes, food, education, a loving partner and even a gorgeous child. And one day you look out the window and you see an old couple arguing, and you see a mother who is tired and frustrated because her two children have physical limitations and cannot walk so she has to push them to the shops to buy food. And you see a child sitting on the heart aches when it have something important to say. So you listen. You wait and you ask “Why do I feel so uncomfortable?” The heart is saying it’s time to go out on a limb. Its time to take a risk. It’s time to be seen, to be heard, to be vulnerable, to be courageous. Courage come from the heart. The Latin word cor, cordis is the modified by French cour, which gives us such words as courage (one must have a great deal of “heart” to be courageous), encourage (to give someone “heart” to carry out an act), and discourage, which means to give someone a “heart apart” about a particular situation, that is, to dissuade someone from doing something (from the Latin word dis—apart, not, away from, reversal). One of the earliest descriptions of courage is when we speak our mind by telling whats in our heart.

So when we are courageous are we are following our heart?

Yes. Unless of course, we are simply doing what we think we should do in order to do the right thing. Then the action of courage comes from the head and not the heart and it is no longer courage. If the heart and the head are not aligned then we begin to bring should, or must, or have to, back into our thoughts and deeds and actions and consequently slip out of following the heart.

Are you saying the heart has a mind of its own

It does. Let me put it this way. The Mind of the Heart does not get caught up in negative repetitive situations. It is truly MindFull. It does not react. It contemplates, meditates and assimilates all situations and all information, and then processes it through the heart. When the head thinks too much it begins to call in all sorts of emotions that lead to painful feelings and impulsive actions. One may mistakenly believe these feeling come from the heart but in fact they come from the emotional body of the lower mind. That small mind attaches itself to substances, behaviors, thoughts and people and creates powerful emotions to keep it in that situation. It becomes hungry for short term pleasures and gratification.

I have a sign in my office, “Don’t believe everything you think.” It’s meant to be a joke but I think it’s related to what you are saying.

It is. We can easily loose our equilibrium when we get caught up by our interpretations and thoughts. When we become convinced by our beliefs and opinions. The feelings that emerge from these are not heart-centred.

  I recently listened to the podcast by Krista Tippet called On Being and she interviewed Mary Catherine Bateson wrote a book called Composing a Life. She is the daughter of the inimitable anthropologist Margaret Meade and as I listened she quoted a poem by the great Rudyard Kilpling called, When Earth’s last Picture is Painted. It asks what is it that a human being wants. To me this poem encapsulates everything to do with ‘following your heart.” Here is the poem and as a special treat here is Rudyard Kipling himself reciting his poem. xxxx

Rudyard Kipling “When Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted” Poem animation from poetryreincarnations on Vimeo.

When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!

Posted in Being Here and Now | 3 Comments

Beyond Pushing……there is a world of Possibility

The Wisdom of the Lion Part 2.   

IMG_9426“There is a great deal of pushing in our world. Most of it comes from greed, fear or anger.

Lions only push their children to keep them safe. If they eat when it is not the right time we push them away to save them being hurt by other adult Lions who know the order. We teach them the way of the Lion so that they can fend for themselves.”

There are places in the human world where pushing is seen as normal. People push into parking spaces, push into queues, push in front of cars and push people out of the way when they want to go faster than the crowd.

Countries where employees carry the weight of their employers heavy expectations. Employers push their staff to produce more. Stay later. Arrive earlier. Teachers push their students to get the highest grades.

Wives and husbands push each other to talk more, talk less, buy this, sell that, go here, stay there, be more attentive, less outgoing, more understanding, thinner, stronger, kinder…. It goes on and on.

Parents push their children to succeed, to excel, to work hard, and to be who they think they should or could or ought to be. Some push their children to win academic competitions, win scholarships, play sport that is not their child’s passion, dance well, sing beautifully, play the piano, violin, saxiphone, read and write beyond their years. As a parent of 5 I too have had my pushy moments. I remember I dearly wanted one of our children to attend a Rudolph Steiner school thinking this would suit him perfectly. We drew mandalas and used Steiner crayons and I enrolled him into the school. He was asked to come to an open day and he was not so interested but I pushed him trying to convince him it would be wonderful. Two weeks later I received a phone call informing me that our child would not be suitable for the school. “And why is that? “ I asked in a rather shocked and insulted voice. “Because, when we asked each children why they wanted to come to our school your child gave an answer that showed us this was probably not the right school for him.”

Incredulous and at a loss to even imagine what he could have said and preparing my speech to chide this child for a lost opportunity I asked what in the world did he say.The woman on the phone took a deep breath and said, “He said, he did not want to come to this school but his mother did!”

Sometimes it takes at eleven-year-old child to remind us that we are pushing too hard. I thought I was being encouraging but indeed there is a thin line between pushing and encouraging.

What is the difference?

As verbs the difference between encourage and push is that encourage is to mentally support; to motivate, give courage, hope or spirit while push is (intransitive) to apply a force to (an object or a person) such that it moves away from the person or thing applying the force. As a child at school I was fascinated by the definition of work. It applies to pushing too.

Work done is defined as product of the force and the distance over which the force is applied. Work is done when a force is applied to an object and the object is moved through a distance. For example, when you lift a load you are applying a force over a distance so you are doing work. However, no matter how much force you apply to something that is not movable, no amount of effort will result in work. When we push people in directions that they resist and refuse, according to physics we have actually done no work at all regardless of how much effort we have put into the situation. Pushing is futile.

We live in a performance driven society where what we do, is often more highly regarded than who we are. We have over-looked the importance of allowing our children to be who they are. We need to look and listen to our children and those people in our lives to understand their gifts and talents, their passions and their choices.

We need to teach our children the true meaning of being warm-hearted.  Our two-year-old grand daughter, catches our thrown kisses and puts them in her heart. Her mother, our daughter, bought a book called, “In my Heart”, by Jo Witek, and it brought both our grand children a deeper understanding of the emotions–happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness and much more. The Dalai Lama says, “Warm-heartedness reinforces our self-confidence – giving us not a blind confidence, but a sense of confidence based on reason. When you have that you can act transparently, with nothing to hide!”

If there was one thing I would wish for every child it would this.  Someone they trust to sit with them just before they go to sleep and to share together 3 things for which they are thankful today, and three people they are thankful to have in their life. Of course it doesn’t have to be three things or three people. It can be simply one thing or one person,  but how important it is to have the opportunity to share something that touches the heart.

When I was studying Gestalt Therapy in San Diego many yeas ago with my teachers Erv and Miriam Polster we had one whole day devoted to the value of Kindness in therapy. I know of primary school that teaches kindness as a subject. Yes, we do have schools that are now teaching Mindfulness and that is wonderful however, surely Kindness is as essential to a a well lifed life as Mindfulness.

If kindness was a daily practice in school and in the home, we would have no difficulty knowing the difference between encouraging and pushing our children. Even when we want the best for our children we would recognize our wish for them may not be their wish for themselves.

There is so much to learn about kindness. Sometimes we need to develop our awareness in order to understand what is needed, so we know the right questions to ask.  This is kindness.  Sometime we have to give consequences for our children’s unacceptable behavior, and that is kindness too. Kindness is knowing what to say and knowing when to say nothing. Kindness is the art of giving anonymously.  I know a religious leader whose ability to raise money for charity is exceptional and everyone who knows him knows this about him. I also know a woman who lives a very quiet humble life and has for years offered her garage to be a collection point for used clothes. People come and go all day giving and taking as needed. She makes sure no one is embarrassed. No one knows whether they are giving or taking. Her kindness is  anonymous, quiet and humble.

Kindness is also about altruism and the notions of goodness and empathy. Altruism is not only reserved for humans, animals and insects also exhibit altruism. Some animals will call the alarm when they know there is danger at the risk of their own lives. We have seen impalas, grazing with zebras and will alert the zebras if there is a lion near by.

In California, animal behaviourist Paul Sherman did thousands of hours of field work with Belding’s ground squirrels. When something dangerous comes into their vicinity such as a hawk or another terrestrial predator some of the ground squirrels, stand up on their hind legs and give a piercing call. The other ground squirrels run for safety. They go down into their burrows and they get out of the way. The alarm caller will eventually do that but it pays the costs by making itself the most obvious thing out in the environment and some get taken by predator, in order to save all the other ground squirrels.

When a child shows courage, warmth, empathy and kindness it is our responsibility to acknowledge them and encourage them to be the best of human-kind. After all surly that is the goal. Each soul is born with a gift, a talent and blessing and whether it is to teach or be taught, to heal or be healed, to see or to be shown , we are all here for ourselves and for others. No exception.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Being Here and Now | 2 Comments

Why Do We Get Sick?

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Why Do We Get Sick?

We have all been there. Everything appears to be going well and then we wake up with a headache or sore throat, flu or back-ache. We discover we have a pain in the neck, aching shoulders, tightness in the chest, upset stomach, or very sore feet. Sometimes we are born with problems and sometimes we develop physical, emotional or mental symptoms that make us aware that something is not working.

What is Awareness? It is a particular understanding that orientates, amplifies and rewards experience. There are 4 main levels of awareness, sensations feelings, philosophical positions and purposes.

I have asked myself why don’t we live in a state of health and vitality from the moment we are born and die a peaceful, conscious death when the time is right? This article begins in a very simplistic way to answer that question.

Since I was a very young child I’ve had allergies. Stone fruit gave me hives, pineapple made me breathless, milk curdled in my tummy and by the time I was four I often had bronchitis. By the age of six I was told to do 500 skips with a skipping rope for pulling Lillian Sandlands hair and that turned in to my first asthma attack.

I’ve done a great deal of work around this asthma situation. And there have been times in my life when I believed I had fully grown out of it. But occasionally it rears its head again and I am strongly encouraged to look deeper and deeper within myself to understand the significance of what is going on, again. There are times when the understanding dawns on me quite quickly and I confess I can be a lazy spiritual searcher so when I get a sudden ah-ha moment I’m delighted and relieved, even if the realization is a cringe-worthy. But there are times I don’t understand immediately and I get impatient and try to make up reasons just to get an answer. Never a good thing to do.

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Having just returned from three incredible weeks on Safari in Africa I had so many encounters with animals and sat silently watching and listening and talking to them from within myself. During a few meditations however, I had a visitation from a huge male Lion. He came up to me and spoke. He told me four things. This first is to be as patient as a Lion.

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I watched many lions in those three weeks and the one thing that stands out is how long and still they can sit. They waste not an once of energy. The Lion reminded me that the key to being patient is to listen and be silent. Both words are an anagram of the other.

When we get sick we cannot rush good health, we cannot force vitality, we cannot hurry awareness. We need to be patient, and in the silence of our inner being we are being encouraged to listen to the answer to this question, “What is the significance of this experience for me right now.”

busy-at-work

How many of us get sick and simply press-on? Forcing ourselves to do what we normally do regardless of what our body is feeling. I know people who complain their cold has lasted two weeks, their pain continues to worsen, their blood levels are not improving. Our body has one way to grab our attention when its is struggling and that is through discomfort.  The greatest show of self respect is to be silent and listen everyday for a period of time. That means turning off the phone, closing a door, getting ready to spend some precious time with yourself and giving yourself permission to become aware of what is going on within.

busy man

Some people are actually addicted to pain. Sounds crazy doesn’t it but here’s how that happens. I know. I’ve unconsciously been caught up in this addiction myself.

We get busy. Our schedules are often full. We have meetings to attend, people to see, family to feed and things we want to spend time doing. We have friends who call, and some of us fit in the gym, a run, and drinks after work. One hundred phone calls later and a ton of other people’s expectation on top, leaves us robotic, mechanical and distracted. This kind of busyness carried us through a whole day, a week, a year and regrettably even a life time of not being present. Not living consciously in the moment. So the one and only thing that can pierce through this chaos of living like that is pain. Pain instantly brings us into the present and all the other stuff temporarily does not seem so urgent. The pain has brought us back into our bodies.  Our bodies don’t like being ignored. Why should they? They are carrying us through life the best way they can and yet we are often too distracted by the small stuff to listen. But what a way to get present!

There are also four gifts sickness and pain can offer us. The throb in your shoulders could be giving you a hint that something in your life is ready to be released. But it could also be telling you there is something in your life that needs to be redeemed. In other words, our body will never casually give us pain, it is committed to giving us the best life possible and perhaps we have overlooked something we once learned and the pain is inviting us to re-look, re-think, re-assess something that is now timely for to nourish your well being. I have some dead friends with cancer and we often talk about the difference between being healed and being cured. Healing is a journey of listening within and putting the awareness gained into action. Sometimes it means letting go of thoughts and opinions that no longer serve us. Sometimes it means surrendering to the moment and being open to going with the flow of our body’s great wisdom.  But to know we have to learn to stop, be silent and listen.

Very busy business

And that’s the tricky thing. How do we do that when so much and so many are vying for our attention? How do we do that when sitting in silence can often feel like a total waste of time especially when our heads wont stop talking? How do we do that when our own expectations of ourselves and those of others keep us awake at night worrying. How do we do that when we drift into fear of the future or regrets from the past?

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We have to practice and sometimes even fake it till we make it. We have to sit and practice being silent. And if sitting inside is too hard then we need to find somewhere outside. We need to stop, look and listen. Look at a leaf. Pick up a feather. Look up at the sky or across the sea. Hold a hand full of sand, or seeds or dirt and be with yourself for those moments. Find a way to leave the physical world and go within and ask the one question that will eventually be answered. What is the significance of this situation?

At 2.30 am last Saturday morning I was rushed by ambulance to North Shore Hospital with a severe asthma attack. It was the worst one I’ve ever had so clearly I have not been listening attentively to myself lately. I just couldn’t breathe. I know that the lungs are connected to grief just as every organ and body part is connected to an emotion so I know there is something here about grief. I asked the question and in a state of trying to breathe I was told, “catch your breath first, let’s talk a bit later.” Always a good idea to attend to the physical issue first and then take some time to go within when the crisis has died down.

So today’s the first day I can talk without puffing and I asked again. And I heard. “Reestablish some discipline in your life and start writing and teaching again.”

Since selling our family home, waiting over three years for our new one to be finished and having a house full of workers for the 9 months I’ve lived here, I have neglected that which I most love. Writing and teaching.

I’m listening.

PS.

So what are the other three things the Lion told me? Stay tuned. In the next three blogs I will be sharing the Wisdom of the Lion with you. Oh and by the way, my fathers name was, Lionel. I can’t help thinking it might have been my dad, who passed over 4 1/2 years ago, who spoke to me in Africa as a Lion. His Hebrew name was Arieh, which also means Lion. He was in every way as wise and as patient as a Lion and those Lions eyes, looked so familiar.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now | 5 Comments

Birth-day Blessing

1981

How can it be? I can forget what I did yesterday. I can even forget why I went to the supermarket as soon as I arrive. But I remember every second of an event 35 years ago that changed my life forever.

sharon and Donna   I was only 3 when I began putting ‘David Mark” and all my other dolls in a line and pretended they were my children. I know,  David Mark?  It was the name my mother told me she and my dad would have named me had I been a boy. I supposes I called my doll David Mark so that they were not too disappointed even though they never gave me reason to think they were.

I have wanted to be a mother all my life so it may seem strange to think that by the time I turned 14 I had fallen in love with a beautiful boy who would never be able to have his own children. It was Australia day and the surf was up. The sea rose and fell into white bubbles of inviting froth. or so they told me. I was not there. The boy I had a crush on had said something harsh to me the day before, I can’t remember what,  and I didn’t feel like going to the beach that day. A phone call came around 4 pm that evening. It was Judy. He had dived in to the surf. They think he broke his neck. He’s in a really bad way. He might die.

Dear God, Please don’t let him die. I, I, I…. promise… to marry him if he doesn’t die.

He didn’t die.

I was 20 and he was 22. Our marriage began and ended in love. It was a life time in 4 years. We watched our beloved dog be run over and healed our souls with another months later. We travelled and tried and we laughed and we cried.

Israel called to me. Our first conversation was, How many children do you want? As many as come. I chose him.  wedding photo

On the day of her birth I was excited and incredulous. Can I really be doing this? After so many years of wanting, praying and yearning can this be really happening? I loved giving birth. My penultimate miracle. From one second to another I became a mother.

baby sheli  And she glowed. She was the most beautiful round perfect sweet baby imaginable. She was exquisite and I just couldn’t believe she was ours. Becoming a mother for me is akin to sliding through an invisible portal into a new universe. Nothing could or would ever be the same. And I rejoiced. I still rejoice. Thirty-five years today, of rejoicing.

Happy birthday to our first born angel. When times are tough remember you can fly above the world and look down and see the difficulty is only a speck in the grand and endless cosmos of life.

sheli 35  We gave you deep roots and wide wings as we did with all our five angels. Perhaps there is no greater gift a parent can give a child.

 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now, Everyday Miracles | 6 Comments

What a ( confusing) Year!

space-earth-sunPersonally, politically, privately and publically. What a year! What a brilliant, bloody, bastard of a year.

We all have stories to tell, memories we will never forget, grief that has not yet healed, plans that blossomed and plans that were crushed. This leap year created new Olympians and destroyed unimaginable potential in the loss of life through war, terror, hunger, inattention, mis-management, and one of the fastest growing maladies in the western world, distraction.

mobile-an-babyWho can honestly say they are mindful and focused and present at least 80% of the time? If you have a smart phone, (that is permanently on) and use the computer (with the internet on) I would venture to say very few people are present even 5% of the time. This of course excludes the normal run of the mill worrying, surviving, complaining, gossiping, blaming, comparing and ladder climbing we subject ourselves to (occasionally).

woman-driver-phoneAnd if you are being living mindfully, how comfortable are you with people who distract themselves in your presence by answering the phone, sending (just this one) SMS, seeming not to hear one word you just said or hear only the last three words.

 

“She just died.”

“What? When? Who just died?

” Have you been listening to me?”

” Yes of course I have. Every word. WHO just died.!!”

computer-and-mouse” (Sigh) Emily’s mouse. She just died.

“Just put in a new battery!”

“OMG. This is crazy. Emily, my three-year-old daughter’s pet mouse. Her mouse just died. Look I have to go. See you later.”

This year the concept of truth has been seriously challenged. The US election reflects this so clearly. Lies and half truths are shrugged off and many people seem to think its okay because (he didn’t really mean it) Confusing? Totally

refuggee-childrenChildren seeking asylum, help, protection, safety have been let down by the powers that be.  And millions of refugees have poured into Europe seeking a different, a safer, a better life. Europe is flooded with the tides of change. And because we are One world, one people, we too must open our sleepy eyes to the reality that nothing is ever going to be the same.

And then there is a terrorist group who uses an anagram which is the same word as a well loved ancient Egyptian Goddess.

goddess-isisThe Goddess Isis, whose origins stretch back, at the very least, 4500 years from the present, was worshipped as the ideal of motherhood, as a deity who cared for the plight of others, as one who would watch over travelers, and who was ‘Great of Magic’, being able to bring life to the dead.

Her influence was such that her worship continued for more than 3000 years, not only in Egyptian culture, but also by the high civilizations of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well. Even more confusing.

Having said all this I can list 100, no, 1000 things I am whole heartedly grateful for this year. I imagine you can too. The struggle that turned into understanding. The pain that turned into relief, the arguments that turned into compassion, the losses that turned into gifts.

little-girls-fishingI remember not so long ago, my parents and my sister and I would go on holidays to Newport. Seriously, from the eastern suburbs to the northern beaches was our annual holiday. We would sit feet dangling off the jetty with our cork fishing lines and wait for a bite. It felt so far away from our usual life. I never could take the fish off the hook and as we sometimes had a bucket full of tiny fish I suppose my sister Donna was the brave one. Somehow neither of us realized that those little fish would die if left in the bucket for too long.  It came as a shock when we saw those little beings floating upside down.  I think our hearts were cracked open in that moment we realized we are responsible for these little watery beings’ demise.  And that’s the key, I believe to living a well lived fulfilling life.

50276_333752264048_2019054_nLet your heart crack open, cry till there are no more tears, weep when words cannot express what you feel, sob through a good movie, cry with your lover, child, parent, friend, and then, hold the image of You in both hands, put yourself into your open heart and let sorrow, grief, loss and pain transform into love, truth, understanding, laughter and forgiveness.

May you have a gentle safe end to 2016 and may the light of 2017 be more brilliant than your wildest imagination.

Until next year

 

Sharon

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now, What Breaks Your Heart? | 2 Comments

When do we Fall….up?

It’s not the first tme. I fell down a flight of stairs about 12 years ago. Nothing broken but oh the pain. So you would think I had learned  my lesson. and heard the warning to stop doing and doing and doing so much. And I thought after waiting three long years for four straight walls to call my own I could cook and cleanfalling-downand babysit and entertain to my hearts desire…. and I did. Until my hearts desire faded and I felt a gentle encroachment of Duty. Now that is not my favourite word. Duty. It leaves me irritated and anxious and beligerent and quarrelsome. Duty. Heavy with shoulds and oughts and have tos and musts. It weighs us down until we have to drag our feet through the mud of,” but I said I would so I have to”, and through the fields of, ” they depend on me so Ill be there”, and through the hot, dry deserts of pain and tiredness and sleepless nights of worry and despair and wishing it could all just STOP.

The step disappeared beneath me and I seemed to float weightlessly for a time and then belly flop onto the pebble covered landing seven steps below.

And as I lay there, realising I was still breathing I actually felt grateful to be alive. And yes, everything had stopped. In that moment I had ‘been’ stopped. 

It will be weeks before my broken foot heals. There are doctors to see and more x-rays to be taken, but, and it’s a big fat but, I feel so protected and supported by the powers that gave me a little push. I know I missed putting on my own brake and I have no doubt They had a big chat about the degree of that push. I landed on my face and yet I did not break anything above the neck. I was protected so well I only have a few scattered bruises. The fall could have been so much worse and I know I was given an opportunity to create true balance in my life in a loving yet unmistakable way.

I always say we teach best what we most need to learn and I have been teaching how to create Balance in our lives for a very long time. What I had forgotten was how to let go of all the have tos and musts and oughts I was creating without feeling guilty and wrong. How to say no to your best friend who needs you to go shopping with her on your one free night of the week. How to say no to your son who needs a lift to the city when you were looking forward to going to the movies. How to say no with love and kindness and a degree of firmness that is understood and accepted. 

The Fall is always an initiation into a higher level of spiritual awareness and growth. And although I could have avoided it had I listened to my own heart, I also know that for a second or two, I was touched by an angel who wanted me to come back to me and re-member who I am. 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now | 9 Comments

One More Day

space-earth-sunI’ll let you in on a secret. It’s a bit embarrassing but heh, what the heck.

I love leap years. To be more precise, I love February 29. I don’t recall anything particularly memorable happening on February 29, however since I was a little girl I always marvelled that a leap year means you get one more day.

As a child I remember sitting at my wooden desk, listening to Miss England explaining that this year was a leap year. It was 1960 and it was the first time I had ever heard of such a sitting at desk thing. I wondered how children could celebrate their birthday if it only happened every four years. I wondered how anyone could commemorate a significant event if it fell on February 29. It consumed me for years.

Someone, perhaps my father told me, after I shared with him my lingering concern over birthdays on February 29, that he imagines people born on February 29 would celebrate their birthday on March 1 on the non leap years. I thought that was grossly unfair and felt dreadful for every person ever born on February 29.

It was around that time, aged 7 that I began to fall in love with astronomy. I loved that the solar system Earth revolved around the sun creating the seasons, and how it rotated on its axis at the same time. I became a star watcher. Still am. It took me longer to understand why we have one more day every four years. Briefly, leap years are needed to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun.

It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year.

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days!

One More Day

When my father died I spend most of the first year imagining what I would have done differently had I known he would not be alive the next day. All I’ve come up with is that I would have hugged him longer. I miss hugging him.

The idea of having one more day often brings up thoughts around my own mortality. If I only have one more day to live what would I say, and to whom would I say it? What would I do? Who would I want to share that day with?

Too late for bucket lists. I only have one more day.

The truth is I am more clear about what I wouldn’t do that day than I am about what I would do. Here are a few things I came up with.

I certainly wouldn’t waste a minute complaining about anything.

I wouldn’t worry.

I wouldn’t blame anyone.

I wouldn’t wish a second away.

I wouldn’t censor myself.

I wouldn’t go shopping.

I wouldn’t stay in doors, no matter what the weather.

I wouldn’t touch a computer, ipad, phone.

I wouldn’t talk much.

Mitch Albom writes,

“It’s such a shame to waste time. We always think we have so much of it.” 

Life would certainly take on a different hue if we lived even one day a week as if we don’t know how long we’ve got. But choosing the day, deciding this is it. I’m going to live today as if its my last, is never an easy choice to make. I can’t do it today, I have a dental appointment. Oh and tomorrow, I have to pick up the kids and take them to ballet, violin, soccer and swimming. Maybe next Tuesday. Um, oh hell! Tuesday. Tuesday I have to see my accountant, play bridge, shop and cook dinner for Wednesday ‘s book club.

May be next week.

Life can be so crammed with things to do that only ten minutes after you have rushed past that busker playing the violin outside the train station you think, damn, I meant to stop and listen to him and give him a coin, but I forgot. And you go back the next day and he’s not there.

Busy life= missed opportunities.

And don’t get me wrong, there will always, always be missed opportunities, I have a million of them, but I’m sure, well I’m almost sure, that if we lived just one day a week as if it were our last, there would be more opportunities gathered than lost. And if one day a week seems too hard, then maybe one day a month. My guess is that the more I practice living one delicious, unbeatable, incredible day at a time, I’ll probably get better at it.

“One day spent with someone you love can change everything.”
―Mitch Albom- For One More Day

If I had one more day left I think I would ask my children to tell me about their favourite experience. I think I would ask more question and listen with every cell in my body. I think I would eat some ice cream after sharing a bowl of hot chips. I would laugh and cry and maybe I would plant a tree after reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to my the giving tree grandchildren. That book always, always leaves me in tears. Ask my granddaughter she’ll tell you. I literally sob at the end.

I think if I had one more day I would give everything I have loved away to my children and my friends. I would want to see them smile and imagine the pleasure they with receive from that little piece of my life. And I think if I had one more day, just one more earthly spin around its axis, I would quietly close my eyes and breathe, and with every breath I would take in the sweetest memories from every stage in my life, and breath out waves and waves of gratitude that this was my story.

Yup! I think that’s what I’ll do

Posted in Being Here and Now | 3 Comments