Choose Your Nets Wisely

An old painting came up in my fb memories this morning.  Sometimes I don’t like that “memories” features very much.  Other times it reminds me of something important.  

What came up with this painting was a modification I made to the old saying, Leap and the net will appear.  (John Burroughs). Because I believed there is nothing really separate from the Self that needs a net, I reshaped the phrase to reflect that: Leap and the need for the net will disappear.  While that may be true, I nevertheless still find nets whenever I leap into something.

The net that appears with every leap is woven from our stories about it.  Whenever we leap, we will fashion a story to orient ourselves to what is happening.  Here’s the thing I have learned is most important when leaping: the nets go up after the leap is made, not before. That’s what makes a leap. 

If I put up nets before I leap, I will only go where there is a net which is planning and making a decision, but not a leap.  The leap takes place when an experience introduces possibilities we couldn’t have known.  Sometimes leaps are intentional, others get started when we trip over what we didn’t see.   The painting in my fb memories this morning, depicts a wild trip that eventually turned into a leap.

I have made quite a few successful leaps and failed many more times when I used my nets to prevent falling.  The difference between a leap and failure is casting the net, as we go, to capture the benefits.  That is, telling ourselves whatever happens will be beneficial no matter what.  All nets fashioned of optimism and willingness to sift through ambiguity, will yield positive results, even if we don’t get what was planned.  

Experience is different from wisdom in that the former brings the past forward to affect the future, while the latter can see the difference between the past and future and chooses to stay in the present.  When we choose our nets wisely, faith and hope appears over doubt and fear as we go, knowing that whatever happens, having taken the leap, we will not have failed.

Happy Enough

A few years ago, someone asked in passing, “How are you?”

“Happy enough!” I replied, and the querent seemed surprised...not because I was usually unhappy, though I probably was, but because they had never considered such an answer.

“I’m going to start using that!” They said.

This experience was a connection to things I knew for decades, a blessing that brought me back to remembering what makes me happy.  Nothing.

If you know me, or have read my other blog, you might also know that I liken the word “Nothing” to the Void, Source, Brahman, out of which all that can be imagined comes to be...including ourselves and our happiness.

In the context of this quick conversation with a passerby, I saw that I had fallen into the imagining that If/When certain things happened, I would be happy.  There are a lot of things that fall into that imagining, and it is the basis for all addictions, frustration and disappointment.

The truth is, whatever that thing is, is not what makes us happy.  It is the idea that makes it seem so.  When we are clueless to the way we are creating this kind of happiness, we will need to experience something outside ourselves to cause it...over and over again.

We don’t need a reason to be happy.  When we are aware that we are conditioning our happiness on circumstances, we can change our minds and simply choose to be happy without a cause.

If we are able to set conditions on it, happiness already exists. Remove the conditions and happiness naturally shines through.

Everyday I notice the conditioning set upon the experience of happiness.  When I see this in my own imaginings, I let it go, if not in the moment, then by reminding myself regularly, I am happy enough.

True happiness is unconditional.  Breathe it in and smile it out!

Nothing changes, ‘cept us!

ps...its nice to be back. ;)

Leaves are Rustling

Perfect days are coming
when I can see color for miles
if I just go a little bit
outside the city limits.
Millions of leaves preparing
a splendid celebration
of color and sound
calling me to remember
Saturday afternoons,
diving in and rolling
through piles of leaves
gathered in the yard.
How did I not hurt myself then,
I did not know any better.
There isn't anything better.
Listen to the leaves
With every breeze whispering,
singing, shouting, pausing
suddenly still, waiting
for a response, then again calling,
Trust the wind, release yourself
from the safety of branches
on which your life has grown.
Let the child dive in again!


I Am Really Excited!

Really.  Not just a little. I am really excited. Right now. This very moment. After years of being “happy enough”, I am taking a turn for even better.  And despite there apparently being no reason in particular as to why I should be really excited, I am really excited.  

I am really excited because I don’t know what is going to happen next. Every next moment is a gift to be unwrapped and discovered for the first time. There is no same old, stuck, or unchanging, unless I choose to see that way. And even then, only for me.
For now, I am really excited because I choose to be really excited. Everyone can be really excited. Wonderful things are happening in this very moment. Making the choice to allow being really excited, is wonderful and exciting.

100% of being really excited lays in making the choice to be really excited and feeling it, willingly, with excitement!  Actively see the opportunity in every single moment, to be really excited, personify it, and share it.  That in itself is really exciting!

Nothing changes, except us
And when we do, everything changes!

Start Praying

I received a call at midnight from a friend deeply affected by the seizure of children at the border.  “This is insane! Is this what our world has come to? Why can’t we stop this? What is wrong with us?!!!!”  We stayed on the phone for an hour.

We talked about getting involved in politics to prevent things from getting to this point.  We talked about how this behavior appeals to some who worry about their limited resources being “given away” to others, and how the current administration has fed the idea that we must take things away from others to regain our greatness.  

We talked about how this kind of energy is very slow.  It is the energy of ego, and it is limited by the beliefs in which it is invested. Like anything else, the Source of life will completely fulfill even the ideas of limited and not enough. Which brought us to the one place every one of us can make a profound the Source of the problem. 

Rather than send the life that flows through us down the slope of hopelessness and despair, we can redirect it to bring about healing and channel limitless, pure, loving kindness into the fray.  What will happen is certain, we will uplift our little piece of reality.  As more and more of us assert healthy, workable expressions of life into this mess, it will begin to soften. 

As we refuse to get caught up in the tangle of deception, we can affirm Truth and send it out through every strand of our being.  That tangle of deception is the story that we must negotiate on the physical plane to get what we need.

Of course, taking positions which further goodness on the physical plane is a positive thing, but there is no need to limit ourselves to that.  When we are faithful to our ability to choose emotionally, spiritually, and mentally to take the higher road, that is not just about politics, but our ability to express light into the darkness.  No one can stop that.  Spirit fuels the physical, its up to us to make sure the fire burns brightly and not destructively.

The best way I know how to burn brightly is through prayer and meditation.  As the mind starts to grasp on the images and stories of suffering and fear, we can choose to redirect our perceptions to the Spirit beneath those deceptions, and to the heart which can change them.  We can hold space for the smiles and comfort of these children.  We can imagine and sustain their ability to smile and trust and love. We can reach out and hold the untouchables at the deepest, most essence-all level. 

We can send comfort and loving kindness through thoughts and affirmations which also raises our energy as we do and we become a channel for peace.  This is what is needed as the slower energy goes through its system-addict way of bartering its perceived limited resources.  If ever their was a time to pray and meditate on peace and love, it is now.  Send love!  Do it every chance you get.  

Here are two affirmative prayers from Silent Unity.  For additional prayers, meditations, and other spiritual resources, visit silent Call 1-800-NOW-PRAY any time, day or night for loving, confidential prayer support.

Envision yourself finding a child to comfort and wrap the little one in this energy.  Send some to the parents too!

peacefully, pic;)

Embracing Ambiguity

"I wanted the perfect ending.  Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner 

When I started on this painting it was about not knowing...the naive girl in a handstand, moving forward without seeing anything else...the lioness (courage) laying asleep, not seeing the innocent about to trip into her...the iconic piano, falling from the sky amidst a background of storm and peace.  It wasn't until I added the two snails, carrying the weight of the past on their backs, that I thoroughly understood the meaning of the painting. 

For a long while I pondered how this piece related to relationships.  But in the end it is not relationship with another but oneself that the snails are observing. They are surprisingly symbolic of the yin and yang of us. They anchor what makes life full of anticipation, adventurous, rewarding, potentially awful, but full nonetheless...the electricity, the need to trust, to awaken courage. and take action.  There is an adventure that is taking shape... that risks the falling piano, weathers the storms, and assumes there is gold at the end of the rainbow.  What are the chances that the girl will fall off the cliff, the lioness will bite her, a piano might crush them both, or the golden rewards will not be found?  All these and more are possibilities which makes for the ambiguous nature of life.  But as noted above, it is delicious when we embrace it for all its worth.

Enjoy the day,
every day!

Living Life Dangerously

When things change a strange thing happens, we have a tendency to rise to the occasion and grow more than we would have if we had maintained stasis.  In business that's called a challenging assignment, in life it can be called shit happens but it can also be a conscious decision.

When circumstances make challenging things happen it's not unusual to attempt to prevent such circumstances from happening again.  The problem is, that can be boring as hell. To me life is best when unpredictable, probably because it calls out my creativity and gets me dreaming.  The thing is, I want to be in that creative space, but I no longer want it to be caused by adversity.  Simultaneously, its apparent to me that being safe sucks even and especially because it seems like the right thing to do.

I have spent the last 30 months working hard to get secure just to be overwhelmed by the desire to get risky.  It doesn't matter what...I could quit my job and take off, cut or color my hair, the bottom-line is that I need change. It's not the kind of change that happens to me, but through and as me.

Life is change and that's risky.  Gandhi admonished us to be the change we wish to see in the world. And while I'm pretty sure he meant, be the peace, be the love, be the hope...I want to be the crazy dreamer, silly fool, wild woman whom I almost forgot.

What is crazy and wild these days looks much different than in my past.  It's not necessarily to throw caution to the wind, but to whole-heartedly enjoy living life to the fullest, and that is dangerous only when we're worried about the consequences.  I've lived long enough to know these too will change. If that resonates for you, Dream On!

Redefining the Comfort Zone

Oftentimes my cartoons for the Whole Living Journal are based on the season, so drawing a summer camp cartoon made sense for this issue. But as with anything I do, my cartoons are usually plastered with symbolism that I love to scry through to find more and more meaning.

The symbols in this cartoon took me to a lot of places I had already traveled. Apparently I needed a few reminders. So I started with the obvious, that the comfort zone is just another name for what we think we know, which isn't always comfortable, accurate, or fun. It is pitched like a tent in the lessons of childhood.

"Okay, cute." I thought of the tent symbol, but I was certain there were more symbols in the cartoon, so I kept looking. Quickly the tent became the mind, and the two children inside represented the right and left thinking. I took a moment to add a little more to my drawing just to see it better. 

The result confused me: 

The drawing showed the reverse of what I expected.  I typically associate the right brain with imaginings outside the comfort zone, while I usually think of the left brain as the fortress of rules built to protect us from the unknown.  The right side was worrying and the left side was accepting.

When I allowed for different interpretations of "right" and "left", I could see that it often seems "right" to exercise caution, even doubt, in order to make sure I am being safe about what I do.  Then I could see what was "left":  No matter how well I plan and wait to take action until I'm sure, change from beyond the comfort zone is inevitable. Even so, comfort zones are fairly indestructible.

So instead of being about getting out of the comfort zone or trying to dismantle it, this cartoon seems to be all about flipping its negative bent and using its imaginative ability toward something more positive.  We can change the assumption that unforeseen circumstances can cause difficulties if we are not prepared, and practice using our comfort zones to invent rather than prevent.  When we imagine in this way the comfort zone takes on a whole new meaning. 

A final look at the cartoon symbols affirms that even in the dark of night, surrounded by the unknown, there is a light within which will help us see, and a reflection of the day to come.  It is not change we need to challenge, but the challenge of change that is ours to accept and fully appreciate each the moment.  Imagine that!

Nothing changes, 'cept us!
Be peace-full.

Rainbow Bridge Prayer of St Francis

I never really thought much about how a friar in the Middle Ages got the idea that we could, at our best, be instruments of peace. Meditating on his prayer I understand how the patron saint of animals may have been inspired. I found inspiration in these words for how to let go. Having been tended to and consoled so long by my pet, it is upon me to be an instrument of peace for him. This is the toughest, most selfless decision pet lovers ever make. For the pets and all those who have also loved and learned, I put this together using images from Pixabay and my own collection, set to the prayer as sung by Sarah McLauchlin.

The Freedom of Forgiveness

Recently, I received some unexpected news that was going to have a significant impact on my quality of life.  My first reaction felt strange.   
There was a big gap in place of the expectation of how things were supposed to be which I didn't quite understand. 

A friend gave me a tiny piece of paper with this inscription: I forgive you for not being the way I wanted you to be.  I forgive you and I set you free.  She thought it might help me understand what was going on.

What really caught my attention was the last sentence, 'I forgive you and I set you free'. For while my friend was encouraging me to forgive, she also was encouraging me to not give up and make sure I stood up for myself.

So what did it mean to set this other person free?  I could acknowledge the expectations I had of what was the right thing to do had rarely been the same as the way this other person saw it.  Still I hadn't allowed myself to think too much about how my expectations of how to deal with those differences were limiting her and myself. I kept trying to make things work, she did not.  We were at a stale mate.

Forgiveness is Acceptance

Over time I've learned that forgiveness (aka acceptance) is the way to be free of grieving the disappointment of having expectations.  The most important part of any expectation is to include the possibility of things being different.  

It's not that we should expect to be disappointed, but to allow for change, because resistance to those inevitable differences comes with its fair share of grief.  It's not that we should forget but learn from our mistakes as well as successes, and develop new goals for ensuring our well-being. It's not that we then become subject to the expectations of others, but free to change the game plan by and for ourselves. 

Remembering to allow for change helps expectations be goals rather than disappointments; and each turn of event another step toward personal growth and development rather than a set-back. Sometimes things do feel permanent and irreversible, that's probably the most important time to allow for change...but also not expect it.   

When in Doubt, Look Within

There's really nothing we can do outside the sphere of own experience to change or affect the exterior world.  In truth, the world we see is just that.  So when it doesn't appear to be working right, it's time to change how we see and imagine things to be.

The Circle of Fire Prayer written by Miguel Ruiz, is a beautiful intention to live in harmony with others and all of creation, and it specifically states: with no expectations.  Apparently despite your best intentions, things don't always turn out as planned...who knew!?

I knew expectations were just stories we create to express why things should happen in a certain way. I also knew expectations could become disappointments due to differences with the story of another. Knowing that, I should have known better, but I still had plenty of both expectations and disappointments.

All things being as they are, I know what my next steps will be, and that is to always do my best, be impeccable with my word, don't take anything personally, and not make assumptions (expectations without the possibility of change).  

If living the Four Agreements is my goal, I will never be disappointed because as don Miguel is quick to point out in explaining these four little phrases, you need to accept that your best will be different from day to day and that's where forgiveness comes in again!  If I read that little paper to myself, rather than someone else, it takes on new meaning and I have all the freedom in the world!