For a few years, now, I’ve been on a journey to “find myself”. I know, people used to think that’s something for the young and foolish but when I was young, I didn’t have the time to find myself. Now, I do.
So, currently, I am engrossed in a book entitled “The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity“, by Julia Cameron. I am actively participating in multiple, suggested exercises, feeding my brain with positive affirmations, unblocking negative thoughts and fears – things that block creativity.
One of many, simple activities was to go on a rock hunt. Search for rocks that stand out for some reason. She said that they were, then, to serve as “small constant reminders of creative consciousness”. That’s all… Hmmm. Ok.
So, off I went to find rocks that spoke to me. I walked and walked, looking for the first rock that stood out. It took a while! I was, finally, drawn to one but it was snug in the ground. The earth was muddy and wet. I wasn’t inclined to kneel down in that mud to dig out a rock, so I tried nudging it with the toe of my shoe. No luck. After several failed attempts, I noticed a rock quietly sitting right next to the stubborn one. I picked it up and looked at it. The first word that came to mind was “Ease”. While I was trying to force one out of the ground, this one had been sitting there all along, just watching and waiting. Maybe out of frustration…or gratitude, I put it in my pocket and moved on.
The next one I chose seemed to, actually, jump out at me. It was far from pretty or unusual but it had this rugged exterior and, instantly, the word that jumped into my mind was “Toughness”.
Then, I knew that I wanted to find one by the waterfall. That water, surging over piles of rocks, to me, stands for “Power”.
When I returned with my rocks, I simply put them on a piece of paper wrote the words “Ease”, “Toughness”, and “Power”. They sat there, trying to be my “creative consciousness”, but they needed further definition. So out came this:
Ease: Life doesn’t need to be hard. We don’t need to force things. Sometimes the things we’re searching for are right there in front of our eyes; almost calling out, “Hey, over here. Choose me. Choose me.”
Toughness: Rugged exterior. Can hold up under pressure but not so tough that it can’t be influenced by weather. Still it survives.
Power: Water powers over rocks. The rocks try with all of their massive weight, to hold it back, but they can’t. And so, they concede. They let the water rush over them, and accept change as part of their life.
As I reread the book, I understand that the author is constantly reminding us to think about personal affirmations –
“An affirmation is a positive statement, of (positive) belief,
and if we can become one-tenth as good at positive self-talk
as we are at negative self-talk,
we will notice enormous change.” (p.34)
I looked, once again, at my rocks and my descriptions of them and I realized that these were indeed affirmations for me!
Ease: Life doesn’t need to be hard. Things shouldn’t be forced. Perhaps, the things I’m searching for are right in front of my eyes. And I realize that I am that rock; that rock that’s just sitting there waiting for my turn, watching while other rocks are picked because they’re prettier, more interesting, more intriguing. “Hey, what about me? I’m right here. Choose me.”
Toughness: I might have a rugged exterior. I know how to hold up under pressure. But, I am not so tough that I can’t be warn down by the weather. Still, I will survive.
Power: I am the rock, at a waterfall, using all of my power to hold back the water. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I can’t. While I feel so strong and mighty, I have no strength when that water rushes over me. So I just let it cleanse me. Over time, it wears down my hard exterior and then, once again, I become something new.
The season is spring. It always conjures up images of new beginnings, but it doesn’t have to be spring time to begin again. We can begin, again, every day. Every time we make a choice, it’s a new beginning. Think about it:
every time we open our mouth to say something
every time we choose
to buy or not to buy,
to exercise or not to exercise,
to be happy or not to be happy,
to accept or not accept what is.
Spring time is a reminder that we always have the ability to begin again. It’s about choosing how we frame any event, every moment; how we choose to live our life. Choose humility. Choose healthy habits. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance.
Today is the day. Feel the warmth of the sun. Open yourself up to a new life. It’s time for a new beginning.
When I was young, my mom would come charging into my bedroom, opening the curtains, and pulling the covers away from my chin, saying in the most irritatingly cheery voice, “Time to wake up and hear the birds sing.” You can just imagine how abrupt and rude that felt, especially to a teenager!
Now, I find myself getting up early and loving the sounds of birds singing, and I’m saying to myself, with a smile, “Time to wake up and hear the birds sing.” And, I think of my mom.
I ponder the meaning of the words. “Time to wake up” usually means that it’s time to pay attention. “Hear the birds sing”, to me, means to listen but not to everything, listen for pleasant things.
So, today, my goal is to pay special attention to kind words, loving gestures, the beauty of a spring day, and the songs of the birds. And, I will smile and think of my mom!
Someone told me that I might enjoy reading animal messages when I shared a story about a particular bird seemingly following me around. So, of course, I purchased not just one book but two: Animal Spirit Guidesby Steven D. Farmer and Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. I was intrigued by the thought that animals might be following us around to give us messages from the spirit world. Upon moving to my current residence, I started capturing photos of the animals most present. One of those was the cardinal. So, I have read and reread the messages associated with this beautiful bird.
This is my photo collection along with the messages of “The Cardinal” according to Steven Farmer.
Over the past few years, the messages of the cardinal have been so important as I have navigated my way through this time in my life and I have tried to heed each message.
Everything, in my life, is unfolding as it should, I suppose.
No, I believe! I am sitting here, on a bitterly cold Friday, feeling the warmth of a blanket but also of my surroundings. And I think, “how did I get here?”
Hard, emotional bumps; heck, some of those bumps were not bumps at all, they were real honest to God mountains! My wall carries photos of those mountains as a reminder with the quote that says
“Promise me you will always remember…you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
It’s a quote from Christopher Robin to Pooh.
I sit today, looking out a patio door at a woods filled with deer and the message of the deer is to
“Be gentle with yourself”
I try. I try. Yet, I carry, with me, baggage. A friend of mine, from long ago said “Everyone has their own bag of shit.” It was the bluntness of that comment, I guess, that sticks with me to this day and I’ve even heard my daughter pass that bit of wisdom on to others as well. And so, it is. I am not special. My baggage is not heavier than your’s but I am trying to find a way to carry it so that the weight is distributed evenly, I think.
Yet, at this moment, on this day…
I look around me and I feel so “guided”. I think that’s the best word. You know all those times in life when you feel like you are truly being tested? And, you know that you will choose a path. You have to! So many times, I felt as though I had chosen the wrong path but, there I was, so I had to deal with it. Now, as I reflect back, I see that it was a test. But, I also, feel, now in retrospect, that I heard of voice.
People call it an “inner voice”
It was that voice that gave me strength, power, decisiveness, resilience, and belief in myself. It was that voice that guided me down those paths that felt so wrong. It was that voice that guided me here.
And so now, I sit here, listening to music by Jonathan Louis called “Follow The Path”; beautiful meditative music that leaves me feeling so blessed at this moment. I look around me, at this little apartment and
I study the view from my chair
On one wall, I have a collage of photos that I captured from my walks in woods. Those walks helped me learn how to take deep breaths and stay focused on the moment. Messages surrounded me as I learned how to just listen to that inner voice.
The patio door faces that woods and delights me every day with views of life, even on the coldest, snowiest days. The deer pass by daily and cardinals are ever present at the feeders.
My “mountain” photos will always be on a wall and serve as a reminder that nothing, in life, comes without struggle,
But underneath those photos stand other messages, as well, to remember to be gentle with myself (from the deer) and life is as colorful and creative as you make it (from the cardinal).
And then, there are the photos of the people I love most in the world with a little sign that says “You Make Me Happy When Skies Are Grey”. They are my life, right now, and I am so thankful for them.
The last place that my eyes rest on, every day, is a table (an old high school typing table) with the exact typewriter used by my mother, not only during her high school class but throughout her life as she creatively captured the moments of her life. Next to her typewriter stands an owl. She always gave me owls. She decided that I was her “wise old owl”. I think it was because my mother and I never got along that I rejected this as an actual compliment. I never kept her gifts of owls and, yet now, when I have the ability to place only the things of most importance to me in this room, there sits an owl next to her typewriter. It is my way of saying “Thank you” to her for being so important in making me the person I am today.
I know. I know. It’s winter time and I should post a photo of pine trees and snow. What am I thinking?
Well, what I’m thinking is that this is the 3rd winter in my new life and what I want to write about is how important it is to sometimes turn your life upside down to start over. Three years ago, I did just that. Hanging there, upside down, makes everything look different, that’s for sure. Turns out, though, it’s not a bad difference at all.
So, long…long…long story short – Retire, Divorce, Move, Lose Weight, Become a Grandma. There’s more but that’s the gist of it. All in three years. And, I am here to smile about it because three years ago, I was carrying around weight; physically, mentally, emotionally, and materialistically. Now, I carry only the things I choose to carry and believe me, it all weighs so much less.
I let go of marriage. I do not need to be with someone to be complete. Well, I do have a cat! I let go of home ownership. Do you know that you can just call the office if your toilet overflows and they send someone to clear the clog AND clean up the floor? I let go of alcohol. I was kidding myself about how much I was drinking. I was telling myself that I had no problem with it. I lied!
Then I started taking photos of the animals out my back door. Cardinals, squirrels, chipmunks and DEER! Amazing photos through that protective glass door. And then I started reading, and writing. Animal Speaks by Ted Andrews and Animal Spirit Guides by Steven Farmer. I didn’t know that there was a way to connect in this way. The messages that I read; first of the cardinal, then the squirrels, then chipmunk, then finally that deer helped me gain the courage to actually walk out that glass door and into the woods.
In the woods, I learned to breathe again. It’s in the woods that I see other symbols of messages, whether they are sent to me or I am just thinking them up as I go, they work to calm my spirit. Paths are logically symbolic of all the different choices a person has in life; that one was easy. Then, I found myself looking at trees and seeing the knots and scars of hard lives. Yet they still reach up towards the light. I see a pond full of cluttered green mossy bloom and still see that lily push right on through all of it. I see turtles just going with the flow, and birds singing out happy tunes and flowers blooming any way they want to.