The Time We Have

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale

At this point in my life, I won’t imagine a day without art. Whether my hands are muddy with clay, embellishing work with some sort of mixed media or seeing beauty through the lens of the camera, it’s all art to me. What art and beauty has done for my life is almost inexplicable. Clay has made me a better person. I find a timelessness in the process that creates more space and light around me. I breathe deeper; my smiles are more radiant; my heart is without constraint.

Now, I am not suggesting that if you aren’t creating art, you aren’t living. Far from it. What I am suggesting is that we all must find something of value to pursue in our lives that takes us out of our heads and lets up wrap up warmly in the “other” parts of ourselves. The walk by the ocean, the hike in the woods, the tending of a garden. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the time we have here is precious. Every single second is a round, glittery jewel that has the potential to bring revelation, gratitude and peace.

For me, gratitude can be a short lived parking space. I actively work on daily gratitude, but freely admit that things get in the way. The Jackass who cut me off in traffic, the insistent barking of my little dog when he wants something like food or love or attention or the general hurried nature that I seem to place in my daily life. All of those things can quickly take us from gratitude to grumbly. For me, finding space to create peace within me tends to have longer lasting effects. And all of the excuses that keeps us away from our timeless travels are mostly just super-imposed fears of failure that our dreams will all turn to shit and then what will we do?

Well, my friends, the time is going to pass anyway. NO ONE, that I am aware of, has figured out how to get it back. Whatever it is, please, I implore you, do it. Take a step, however small it is and it might just encourage you to take the next. Because what we have to lose by not fulfilling our dreams, is very simple. We lose ourselves.

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Snow Walking

Paths have a funny way of disappearing, especially in the snow. While walking the Labyrinth for the past two days which was covered in powdery goodness, I realized that I was depending on the path to reveal itself to me. Just as it always does – like clockwork. I paid no mind to the partially covered borders of the path because I just knew that the path was evident. Certain of it at the start.

So, brilliantly unaware, I began as I always do, simply asking for guidance to nothing specific, just being open to the possibilities. As I began to walk it started to happen. The weird dead ends, the backtracking of steps and the general confusion with absolutely no idea how to get to the center of the Labyrinth, let alone get out. At first, I got a bit frosted with myself. How in hell could I not see the path ahead? I looked all around and I damn well could not see the “right” path to take.

And then……..it gently slapped me in my minds eye. This was the message that I was supposed to hear. Confusion can happen at any point in our lives. Even when we are the most certain of what is behind us and lies ahead, confusion can just show up and make us question ourselves, our path in life, our hearts. As I moved on, I started to chuckle. Confusion isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing. It’s an opportunity to pause, breath in and then out. Make a wish, sit on a rock and release the need to know the next……..whatever.

If patience and kindness can be given to ourselves in that moment of confusion, the tightness and tension go away. It simply can’t exist in the same breath. What happens next can be a peeling away of the confusion and uncertainty opening up to a new possibility that we may have never thought of. For me, I did my best to honor the space of the Labyrinth, making it to the middle and sat on that big “ol boulder and got grounded. I didn’t even wish for clarity. I just acknowledged the confusion, chuckled, walked back out with the same lopsided grin that was plastered on my face and thanked the space for the lesson in self kindness. Funny, how once I released myself from the certainty of knowing, I actually became aware of what I needed to know.

Snow walking is funny like that 🙂

As to, “what if”

Have you ever asked yourself the question that started with, “What if…….”. Now, I’m not talking about the 2 am call out to your friends to hold your beer and “watch this.” Nope. That has a different sort of ending. What I’m talking about are the questions that start with a whim, a whimsy, a slip of the imaginative tongue.

To answer those questions, would you have to put your fears to the side, for just a moment? Would you need to allow yourself to expand and explore in spite of the dark doubt that looms in the wings? Or could you, for just a sparkling, precious moment, take the possibilities and let them fill your entire universe with all thoughts and the grandness of your vision?

There are no right or wrong answers to any of those questions, only what is appropriate for you and the life you choose to lead. Rosa Parks is quoted as saying, “I have learned that over the years when ones mind is made up, fear diminishes. Knowing what must be done does away with the fear.” And so, after all the mind monkeys playing in the jungle gym of your brain, after all the perilous trips to the edge of a two foot ledge, you may come to realize that the only person that has the rope burns from holding you back from your wishes and delightful longings is you.

And, even if you never take another step from taking your whims and wishes off of the merry go round and into the physical space of reality, you still, my darling, have stretched your imagination. A line of a song, the first stroke of a paint brush, the muddy hands of my personal Mecca, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that for a moment, your thoughts traveled outside of the “box” you have placed them in. And it’s ok. I promise.

No one needs to know what wild possibilities have come out to play within your heart. You don’t have to share them with anyone. But, perhaps it’s time to share them with yourself. And know, that no matter the outcome, you chose to breathe beauty into your soul without guarding it from failure or heartbreak. You simply just allowed yourself the freedom that can only come from you – as a gift to you. And sometimes, that’s enough.

A Thankful Heart

I know a wise woman, living out her life in a quiet home, on a quiet street with a beautiful view. I visit her whenever I can, which for the past four years is rare due to the physical distance between us. And even though are time together is short, it has an air of the sweetly familiar. No time passes – only a page turned in each of our books.

She has been a woman of social standing, with the stool taken away. She has been a working woman who found reverie in her accomplices of beauty. She has been a caregiver of children, a seeker of truth and Mother to many wayward children including me.

Through all of these tunnels of darkness, her folly in the light and her undying curiosity of what lies beyond, she has been Thankful. She has told me on more than one occasion, that with a Thankful Heart, only Love can abide. That through the questioning of her creator, or the absence thereof, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Love held her close to the precious sweetness of Life.

Though she has expressed timidity regarding her own decisions and a lack of loving others enough, I have never known another person quite like her. She has shown me that the larger questions are worth pondering. That loyalty of friendship is undying and that a simple kindness can change the world. She has taught me to stand up straight, care deeply for grace in this world and Love in the face of doubt.

Rose of my Rose, you have shown me what it is to be of the light. Your stubbornness for independence, even in the midst of gravity taking over, is cause for giggly delight. The love and understanding you show for your fellow passenger in this ride knows no bounds and yet you have shown an incredible knack for personal boundaries. Even your “No’s” are beauties to behold.

With all of life and it’s potential heaviness, you have created light. A light that will shine long after all of us have been blessed with rest. That, my lovely, lovely, Rose, is True Art.

Heart of the Universe

Oh Heart,

Can you take me there?

To the still; to the quiet.

To the place that speaks the silence.

To the soul that reaches for strength.

Through the wisps and whispers of the leaves.

Oh Heart,

Can you take me there?

To the edge of the forest.

With the valley languidly in view.

Through the tall stalks of bamboo.

To the center of my heart.

Oh Heart,

Return me to you.

Through the softening and the ease

Through the rocks and hills and soil.

To the place that knows me best.

To the Heart of the Universe.

Being of Service

The world is full of possibilities to be “of service”.  Just open up the newspaper or your newsfeed and one story after another will make you want to open up your heart…….and your checkbook.  During this very difficult period that we, as a collective society are traversing, I have spent a lot of time wandering around the creases and folds of my being, searching for answers.  More succinctly, searching for “my” answers.  In attempting to answer those questions, I have come up with the following conclusion…….it’s different for everyone. So, with that in mind, I am listing a few thoughts that might help someone else find out best where there answer might reside.

Flattery could get you nowhere. Being approached for a “service” opportunity does not necessarily mean it will be appreciated.  Check in with your “heart of hearts” and see if the opportunity speaks directly to you.  If it does, go for it!  Don’t let anything get in your way of helping, assisting and generally getting your hands dirty.  It’s good for the soul, your own sense of self respect and someone else’s mission.  However, if the opportunity doesn’t resonate deep within you, gently decline and walk away.  I can assure you there will be more requests where that came from.

Hitching a ride on the “Guilt Train.”  If you have a sneaky feeling that someone is attempting to guilt you into doing something for the “greater good”, they probably are.  Don’t make any sudden movements.  Breathe deep, realize what is happening and find an opportunity to give that doesn’t involve making yourself feel bad to make someone else feel better.

Servitude is NOT being of Service.  Getting a little distance from a situation, even if it’s been a mess and blown up in your face as well as all over your clothes, will give you the insight that you just may have been used.  And it’s ok.  Any loving, giving, kind hearted person has been there.  Some situations hurt more than others – usually because we were unable or unwilling to see the wolf in sheeps clothing.  The take away from these types of situations is this – at least you did something.  Yes, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted but it turned out the way YOU needed it to.  We are given the lesson until we learn the lesson.

If you have to make yourself smaller in order to give – it ain’t giving. The feeling that the situation or person that you’re giving to is just so much more important than you are is mostly a smoke screen.  There ARE important venues and values that are very worthy of your efforts – but they shouldn’t be making you to feel small.  Healthy giving opportunities raise everyone up, not just the recipient.  If you are feeling like a “minion”, yeah you guessed it, you’re probably being perceived as one.

“Give, but give until it hurts.”  Mother Teresa.  Giving, even in the most purely authentic ways, can damage the giver.  It is wise for each one of us to check-in with ourselves, getting very quiet, and realize what are limits are.  You may need to take a break from being a “giver.” And it’s ok.  That break may last years.  And it’s ok.  I can assure you, there will be many opportunities to give of yourself. Time and time again.  The act of giving is best served in Joy – not in obligation.

Include yourself.  There may be long stretches of time that giving to others is just not an option.  We all have a right and a responsibility to handle our own lives.  Sometimes, that means a period of self reflection is warranted before any additional “outflow” can occur.  If the well dries up, the possibility of water doesn’t exist.  Fill-up your own soul, whatever non-malicious way that means for you, before you go trying to fill someone else’s heart. Giving while in a state of resentment, lack or anything less than whole heartedness isn’t just unwise, it’s a crime against oneself. Perhaps you may want to look at it this way; if you take the time to truly give to yourself, you are not the only recipient of your graciousness.  Everyone you touch, talk with, work for or love will be the beneficiary of that grace.  You will not be able to contain it.  It will seep out of your pores and encompass those that you hold most dear.

And then, you will be ready to give again.

 

 

Stones in the Road

As I was wandering around in the ethers between the dream world and reality this morning, I caught a glimpse of a photo I had taken while I was in New Mexico staying at Ghost Ranch this past January. The image was of a beautifully calm, snow covered space with boulders haphazardly laid out, not by man, but by the hand that created them.

Over the course of a few hours, I realized that the symbolism of that photo was very much speaking to what I am working through at this very moment. I have wide open vistas behind and before me. Without complete trust of my intuition, skills and wisdom, I tend to plant obstacles in my way. Sometimes these obstacles are due to not trusting my own voice, sometimes a longing to have someone along for the ride even if they make it way more bumpy than it needs to be and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a fear of prosperity.

The fear of prosperity – although crazy as it sounds – can be a limiting factor when it comes to an abundant life filled with grace. We can hold off prosperity for a number of different reasons. I am going to list mine so that it not only becomes clear to me but may touch on something you have inside as well.

1. I don’t deserve prosperity. For me, I don’t go to the place that I’m not good enough as a person. I go to the place where I haven’t worked hard enough, long enough. My work isn’t evolved enough……..enough, enough, enough. All of those beliefs, once taken in and set to root can be MORE than enough to stall the engine of a tank!! When we, as creative, aware individuals are placing our best foot forward everyday, we are worthy of the grace that comes from our process.

2. I can’t be trusted with my own prosperity. I was raised by parents who had the ability to spend their way through next months mortgage payment. They bought big, shiny Cadillacs and yet had very little money in which to do it. I realized through my childhood and into my 20’s that I, too, could not be trusted with money. I had no plan, no budget and very little reality for what the consequences were to my actions. At 29, I divorced my comfortable yet agonizing life and set foot into the real world. Since that time, I have proven to myself that not only can I be trusted with prosperity, I can celebrate those around who are creating abundance and prosperity as well.

3. Some company is better than no company. Oh, how we all want to belong, be loved and generally be included. A wonderful gift of this life is to be part of other peoples lives and truly be able to create rich, intimate friendships. However, some folks just aren’t meant to have a hand in your prosperity. Sometimes, it’s best to do it alone or limit the hands that have the power to form and control your path. One trusted friend is worth 1,000 intentions.

4. What if I can’t create anything beautiful anymore? This is just fear based, monkey mind bull shit. If I am creating from an authentic space within myself, for myself, whatever I create will be a representation of my essence. Agreeing to this fixed consideration is probably the biggest obstacle to creativity that I am aware of. A place of scarcity that few artists can ever come back from once they decide their best work is behind them.

5. My intuition, wisdom and experience isn’t deep enough. Holy Hell!! Just writing this makes me want to bust out laughing! I’m not always right, or perfect or the most experienced person in the world – but nobody, and I mean nobody, knows me better than I know myself. Anyone who makes you question your own deep knowledge of yourself deserves the swift kick out the door that you are just dying to give them. Emotional terrorists and bullies will prey on those who constantly question or doubt themselves. When you’re dealing with one of those, if you are awake and aware, you just feel it in your gut. When you do – Stop, Drop everything and RUN like the wind away from them.

This whole, painfully beautiful, poignant life is just waiting for us to discover it. There will be always be obstacles that can get in our way, some meant to slow us down, some transplanted from others and some that we dug with our very own shovel. The magic trick is to simply recognize who, what, where, when and how they got there; acknowledge their existence and then to take time to decide whether they are worthy of our time and consideration or if it’s just simply time to release them as yesterdays foibles.

Be gentle with yourself and you will attract others that will be gentle with you as well ❤️