Paradise is Sharing...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

From out of the Flames...

This is the weekend of my birthday - the anniversary of my 39th trip around the sun.  My birthday has long marked a time of reflection and cleansing - ... renewal and resolve.  Tradition has been I would pack up my car, take my dog, and spend a weekend in solitude with a leather-bound journal in the woods.  I called them "retreats" .... more of the "withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable" kind of retreat than the "withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study" kind... to me, my retreats were a way to escape - from what... wasn't revealed to me yet.

Once my campsite was erected, and dinner was cooked, and our bellies were full... I would get to work at starting a fire.  Depending on the materials I had available, and the dryness of the wood, it would either catch immediately - springing forth in a hot blaze, greedily consuming whatever kindling and materials I fed it... The flames would snap happily on the dry kindling, and I would stretch out and gaze at the starlit night.  Before I knew it, the fire that had burst forward with such enthusiasm a few minutes earlier would be out as quickly as if someone had flipped a switch.  It had burned itself out.  

During the times we were socked in with rain, my campwood would be soaking wet.  My efforts only caused the flames to smoulder, languish, sputter and falter ... protesting the wet materials I had because of the soaking rain, and I would have to get creative and strip the bark of birch logs, twist newspaper into tight "sticks", and collect the driest pine needles I could find underneath my tarp.  However, I did discover, the longer it took me to build a fire, once it caught and gained strength, it would burn longer.  The slow, tedious efforts ensured more care from me - forcing me to build a good base, a sturdy foundation with twigs and sticks, and fan it with air so it could breathe and grow.  The result was a roaring fire, with hot, long lasting coals that were often hot enough to catch again and provide heat the next morning.

The flames danced, tempting the darkness like a seductress by leaping back and forth, flickering, flirting and then shying away until I would poke the logs around with my fire-poker and it would jump up again.  Finally, convinced the fire was there to stay,  Destiny and I would curl up on the camp chairs.  The glow of the flames cast enough luminance to make Destiny's eyes glow green, and make the white pages of my journal visible enough to read.  On the white pages, I wrote words that I was ready to let go of in my life - "Fear",  "Anger",  "Anguish"..... and ripped the paper from the book, and gently place the papers onto the flickering flames.  It almost seemed like some words gave the fire hesitation, sucking the energy out of the flames...  the paper gave the fire pause, creating a black shadow the size of the page where there was once aglow, then suddenly, the flame would burst through the page, the word melting out of sight.... and ashes remained.  I repeated this process with angry letters I have written, habits I wanted broken, sorrows I had experienced.  Anything I wanted the smoke to carry up to God and he could do with what He may would find it's fate in the flames of my campfire.

For years that was my practice.... and at the end of the weekend I would go back home to "reality" feeling refreshed and renewed, having purged and watched the flames lick up all my negativity and hurt.  I always thought I was leaving all of that behind - I had watched my troubles go up in smoke, and I could leave this place unburdened, ready to go home and pick up where I had left off before my escape.

Last year on my birthday, I did not make the trek to the woods per normal.  I was too sick, and didn't have the extra money to make the trip.  Saddened, yet grateful that I was on the mend both physically and emotionally, I sat on my couch, lit some candles, and Lexi curled up beside me.  In the ambient light of the candles,  I pulled out my journals and instead of ripping out pages, I read.  I read about a girl turned woman who has grown personally, professionally and spiritually.  I read about a self-educated girl, who soaked in every opportunity to learn, grow - hungrily consuming every book, lesson and teaching.  I read about a woman who chose her partners carefully, yet still experienced heartbreak and sorrow.   I read about new passions breathing air onto the burning embers, and her flames jumping up and dancing again.  I read about a woman who leaped forward in her life professionally all ablaze with ambition... only to be dampened quickly.  As I turned the pages, I mourned, I laughed, I cried.   I read the list of goals from the years before..... some goals have been accomplished.... some need to have new life breathed into them....  some stirred my spirit and got me longing for them again.   I closed the leather journal, wrapped the leather string around the steel button, and looked at Lexi who was curled up, contentedly sleeping in the glow of the candles.... and I said to her "I AM the fire that was built in the rain.... "   

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now... Paradise is building your fire in the rain.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dirty Laundry...

Photo Credit:
I was raised you never aired your "Dirty Laundry".... meaning, you didn't share intimate details of your life outside of the family - financial problems, relationship issues, political views, and most of all you never ever talked about sex.  Ever.  In fact, we usually didn't even discuss these matters inside the family.  We were told what we believed in, and we believed it. 

The world, of course, has changed, and I am trotting along trying to keep up.  With social medias like Facebook and Twitter, every thought, idea, issue, problem, celebration and observance is broadcasted to the world in nanoseconds.  While it has given us a certain sense of freedom, I wonder .... was some sort of filter healthy, or is it healthier to know everything about everyone?   Should we try to hold on to some sort of autonomy, or is this  melting pot of thoughts and information good for our synergistic well-being?  It's this I ponder today as I drink my coffee and read my friends status updates that range from complaints about other friends and family, political debates, religous statements and worst of all, blanket statements about certain segments of society.

I'm not saying what we are experiencing now is good or bad.... It's just different, and today's post is really about accepting impermanence.   We are in a much more open society now - laundry is not only aired, but shared.  We let strangers into very intimate parts of our lives - heck, I'm doing it now just writing this blog....

The comfort I find is I still have control of my filter.  While it is not as rigid as how I was raised, I can still hold back information from the masses that I feel is better kept close, or information that I feel would spread negative energy or ill-will.  My purpose here is to be a powerful energy source that spreads love and light to all that surrounds me.  If I blurt out how my feelings were hurt by someone, or how idiotic I felt a decision was by someone beyond the realm of my control  - what good does it serve?  When posting my "laundry" dirty, clean or otherwise, I try to remember this quote

"What you reject is what you acquire. What you judge is what you become. What you fear is what you attract. What you give is what you get. Put out positive and you get back positive. What you know is what exists and what exists is what you have. If you put out certainty, you get back certainty. If you put out deception, you get back deception. If you provide hope, you feel hopeful. If you give help, you receive help. All is a complete whole; anything and everything that you put out will find its way back"

photo credit:

However, while I feel filters are good in my life, and holding back deficient energy from social media, I am grateful that friends, family, and acquaintances are opening up their lives to receive more information.  No longer do we need to feel stifled like the "children that were better seen than heard"  we were raised as.  As a professional woman, I feel when I speak my mind, and speak it well, it falls on open and receptive ears.  Again, if I am open and receptive, others will be open and receptive of me. If I feel the need to air a little dirty laundry every once in a while, I am grateful there is a clothes line to hang it on.

Now that I have that off my chest, you will have to excuse me... I have some laundry to do...

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now.... Paradise is airing out your laundry...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shiny Side Up...

Today I got out on my motorcycle for a quick ride.  It's something I haven't had much of an opportunity to do this summer, but the wind against my face was just what I needed.  I didn't get to go too far today, but just the short ride was exhilarating enough to motivate me to say to myself "I need to do this more often"...

When I first started to learn how to ride a motorcycle, I took a drivers education class.  The instructor said something that has stuck with me ever since, and it's not just applicable to driving a motorcycle - but to all aspects of my life.

He said "IF you don't want to hit the tree - don't look at the tree!"  He went on to say "Focus on where you do want to go, and you and your bike will follow"... 

Once out on the open road, I got to test that theory several times - and no matter the obstacle in my way - it always proved true - if I don't want to hit the curb -don't look at it, look at where you do want your bike to go.  If you don't want to go off on the side of the road, look at the middle line.  If you want to flow around corners, focus your eyes to follow the curve of the road and look ahead through the bends and curves.

It wasn't until a little later I started applying that rule to other aspects of my life .... I don't want to go into debt - so don't look at the debt, look at what you DO have... look what you DO want. 

I don't want to be unhealthy... Don't look at your fat thighs, the chocolate and the cakes and cookies - look at your healthy lifestyle, the fresh, non-processed foods available to you, look at how you want to feel, and what you want to accomplish as a result of living healthier.

I don't want to be in bad relationships... don't look at people who bring you down, who drain your energy, who hold you back.  Look for the friends that make you happy, bring you joy, and lift you higher.

When you focus on what you do want, you and your life will follow.  If you don't want to hit the tree - don't look at the tree.

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now .... Paradise is keeping the Shiny Side Up....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Waking up with GRATITUDE ...

I awoke this morning in my usual Sunday fashion - to the sound of roosters crowing outside my open windows... windows that were open despite it being foggy and misty out.  I rubbed my eyes and looked for my glasses, and realized they were not on my night stand, but instead under my pillow.  Must have fallen asleep reading my Kindle again. 

Once my glasses were on, I looked down on the floor next to my bed and Lexi noticed I was stirring.  Wag-wag... wag...wag... Good Morning Momma... Good morning.  She rose and stretched with her front paws fully extended in a satisfying downward dog, and I let my consciousness catch up with my mind that was as foggy as the weather.  I looked up above my bed to my inspire words - letters I have glued to my walls to remind myself of my intentions each morning, and to remember to be thankful for each day I have a bed, a pillow and a safe place to lay my head each night. 

On the wall directly opposite of the head of my bed - in a place I knew I would be able to see each night before I went to bed, and each morning when I arose - in 4" letters, is the word GRATITUDE.

A Daily Reminder of What Fuels My Soul

Almost five years ago I took out my hot-glue gun (with the understanding I will probably never get my security deposit back) and stuck those letters to the wall.  It was at first to comfort me.... something to look at besides the spinning ceiling fan while I cried myself to sleep each night... wondering.. "Oh God, What's going to happen to me?"

It was a way to ground myself each morning when I woke up, and face the stark reality of my situation.  The light of day slapped me awake from broken sleep and another restless night of tossing and turning.  Each morning I would wake up with the mournful feeling that yes, I am alone.  I am waking up by myself... just me and my girl.   

Wag-wag... wag-wag... Good Morning Momma.  Five years ago the fuzzy face beside my bed was of Destiny's... and I was so grateful to have her there with me.  I needed to remind myself of the reasons I had to get out of bed that day.  Hence, the hot glue gun.... hence, the reminder of all the things I have to be grateful for.... a roof over my head, a soft bed, a safe place to put my head each night, and a fuzzy alarm clock that greets me each morning.  I had the woods, the lakes, the ponds... and my girl.  I really was blessed. 

Days, Weeks, Months, and now finally years have passed ... and I guess the old adage is true - "Time heals all wounds"...   Morning after morning, I would rise - see those words, and the word GRATITUDE started to take on new meaning with each new day.  As the days went by, I found more things to be grateful for... I had my friends, I had my family.   As weeks went by, I started to find gratitude in things I formally mourned - I am grateful for my new life... I am grateful for new opportunities.  As months went by, I woke up one morning and was grateful my husband ended our marriage - I was grateful to be an independent woman. 

Over the years, I have been grateful for true love, grateful for MyHoney, grateful for the life I had with Destiny, grateful for my little clown Lexi.  Grateful for losing my job, grateful for making it by another day... grateful that bills were paid... grateful I ate that day.  Admittedly, there have been some nights I've been too exhausted to look at the words on the wall, and have stumbled into bed and was fast asleep before my head hit the pillow.  There were mornings where I really felt I had nothing left to be grateful for... my health, my love, my abundance... my luck, my Destiny - were gone. I would wake up, see the word  - looking down on me - mocking me, and I  would groan and pull the covers back over my head.  But GRATITUDE never left, it didn't change, it never faded, and it didn't apologize.  It just kept reminding me - day after day, until one day I would awake, open my eyes, and see GRATITUDE in a new light. I realized I always had at least one thing to be grateful for - even if it was just the fact my eyes opened and I was still there.   

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”  ~ Dr Suess

So this morning, half a decade later...I awoke and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, dug my glasses out from under my pillow, and felt the damp mist of the morning drift through the pines.... I focused my eyes on the word - GRATITUDE....  and I noticed my heart felt different when I asked "Oh my God... what's going to happen to me!?"   For today, that question was not asked in pain, fear and desperation..  instead, the question is asked in the same excited manner as a child asks "So what did you get me for my birthday!?"  Anticipation, wonder, and adventure....  Wag-wag.... wag-wag... let's get up Momma, and let's find out! 

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now.... Paradise is waking up with GRATITUDE.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Everything is Perfect....

“Everything is perfect in the universe - even your desire to improve it.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sometimes I get in a funk.  Some days, finding small glimmers of Paradise in my ordinary existence can be a challenge.  It's even MORE challenging if I make the mistake of snapping on the TV first thing in the morning to watch the news.  Being reminded of the pain and tragedy happening all around us makes it difficult to remember that I am in Paradise.

One of the Empowerment Foundation Principles we learn at iPec Coaching is "There are No Mistakes ~ Everything is Perfect"... it's actually Principle #1. 

I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that principle during the weeks of training, and the months that followed.  At the time, nothing in my world seemed perfect, and countless mistakes seemingly were made.  My marriage was falling apart, my job was thankless and stressful, my dog got sick.... But after the storm, I saw how perfect everything fell into place.  Ending my marriage was the first step in opening up my life to new possibilities.  Ending my job opened doors to my coaching practice.  And my dog being sick, and eventually passing away... you may ask what was so perfect about that?  It was perfect.  I spent hours, days and moments with her that I never would have spent if she had been healthy.  We came together spiritually in her healing, and we forever bonded in her death.  Her life was perfect.... and so is mine. 

Mornings like today, just watching the news, challenge my belief of Universal Perfection.  What is perfect about a madman going into a place of worship and killing peaceful people?  The news is filled with examples of how our world is seemingly imperfect.  But by focusing on the tragedy of their deaths, we are forgetting we are bigger than this life.  The people who were murdered had a purpose here, and part of their purpose was their death.  Our spirits are here on a mission....  our death is not the end of their existence.  Thank them for their contribution.  Even when you don't understand.

Rather than spending energy thinking about evil in the world, mad men with guns, violence, and the fear and the horror of the event... I choose to remember the meaning of the lives of each individual person, the beauty of their existence, and the wholeness of their lives.  Their lives were whole, they were complete.  They were not "cut short"... they were here for exactly as long as they were supposed to be - even if we don't understand why they are suddenly gone.   Their lives, and their death - was perfect.  Honor that perfection.  Be grateful for their lives, the lessons they gave us, and the peace that can come as a result.  We also need to remember we may not see the perfection in our life time.  The circle may take eons to complete - but just believe it will be completed - Nothing in nature is left uncompleted.  The meaning of this madness may not reveal itself to you, but it will be revealed.  I take comfort in this knowing.  It makes watching the news bearable knowing the Universe is Perfect.
I realized this morning, after shutting off the TV, that I create Paradise... I am the one who Found it... When I feel sad, upset, depressed about what I see on the news - that is the world I will find myself living in - one that is filled with things to make me sad and angry like murder, rape, violence.   I am not suggesting we all walk around with rose colored glasses, but if we truly believe that we create the world we live in, our feelings and energy is the paint.  I choose to be grateful for the loving people who gathered that day in their place of worship.  I choose to feel peace that their lives were perfect.  I choose to feel hopeful that their families will find comfort.  My world will be created with the paint of gratitude, peace and hope.  I choose the paint - I am the brush.  
“Look upon every experience you’ve ever had, and every one who’s ever played any role in your life, as having been sent to you for your benefit. In this universe, which was created by a divine, organizing intelligence, there are simply no accidents.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Paradise is here, Paradise is now..... Paradise is perfect.