Wander With Wonder

Where do I find inspiration for my creative endeavors? Where do I find beauty? Where do I find something to smile about? Where do I find incredible color, pattern, design? Where do I find reminders to be grateful for the spirit of the city I live in? Where do I restore my energy and come back into balance? Where do I find signs of people that are: happily planting gardens, swinging in hammocks, running through sprinklers, painting rocks, creating and appreciating art, building fairy gardens, enjoying life, and rightfully taking pride in their home/neighborhood/city?

I find all this and more right outside my door.

So I wish people who have never spent one minute in Portland, Oregon would quit telling me Portland has been destroyed by rioters, is covered with graffiti and trash, is ruled by anarchy, and needs Federal military troops inserted into our politics. I wish those people would quit saying things that aren’t true. About 3 blocks in the area of the Federal Building in downtown Portland has problems for a couple hours every night. Those problems would almost certainly be over by now if Federal military troops weren’t creating havoc and instigating violence with the way they are treating protesters. I wish people who think they know Portland would visit and see what is really going on before they tell me what is happening in my city. And I wish the Federal officers that are here were in other cities instead — helping with food distribution and Covid testing and hurricane relief — providing actual help that is needed.

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Signs of the Times

This is a small sampling of the many flags, yard signs, flyers, sidewalk art, painted rocks, stickers, and phone pole flyers I’ve seen on walks through my neighborhood in the past few months. People are speaking out on Covid-19, the 2020 election, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, Social Justice, Pride month, staying hopeful, staying strong, staying busy and being grateful. Photos were taken February through July 2020.

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Will the pandemic turn out to be a good thing?

I look back on a life rich with learning, and one thing I’ve learned is that perspective can shift dramatically over time. What looks bad in the moment can turn out to be for the best.

A big shift is occurring on the planet right now, and it is devastating to see the losses. Yet, despite moments of fear, isolation, and uncertainty, I am trying to keep an open mind that allows for good to emerge. When I get locked into my “this is bad” mentality, I’ve been thinking about this folk tale of an old Chinese farmer who lived many years ago. He owned one horse that he used to plough his fields.

One day, the horse ran away into the hills. The neighbors said, “We are so sorry for your bad fortune.” The old man replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”

A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses, which now belonged to the old man. The neighbors said, “We are so happy for your good fortune!” The old man replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”

While his only son was riding one of the wild horses, he was thrown off and broke his leg. The neighbors said, “What bad fortune!” The old man replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”

A few days later, the army came to the village and took all the strong young men away to be soldiers. The farmer’s son wasn’t conscripted because he could not fight with a broken leg. The neighbors said, “What good fortune!” The old man replied, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”

And so it goes. I’ve had many experiences I labeled bad when they happened, that turned out to bring forward something remarkably good. Life can have a way of doing that if we work with an experience as a point of reinvention, as the jumping off point to embrace the scary and unknown, as fertile ground for planting a new seed.

While many people simply want to “get back to normal” given the enormous challenges of our time, there are others who look at this as a unique opportunity for dramatic positive changes – changes that will ultimately be for the higher good of the planet. I heard someone say recently “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” and indeed, people are creating new opportunities every day in response to the radical changes we’re experiencing.

The question I’m asking myself is, “How do I want to be with this experience?” Can I accept it and ride the waves? Can I see it as an opportunity to create something new in my life? Can I become a better person – will it open my heart and increase my capacity for consideration of others? Caring about other people can be an abstract idea; this is an opportunity to demonstrate care toward others in a specific and concrete way. This shift may show me a new path of service; I’ve been presented with an enormous opportunity to get creative with how I’m living my life.

It is not too soon to start looking at pieces of what’s happening with a new perspective. Here’s one example of reframing something most of us are struggling with – staying home.

“Try this perspective shift. Instead of seeing ‘social distancing’ and travel bans as panic, try seeing them as acts of mass cooperation intended to protect the collective whole. This plan is not about individuals going into hiding. It’s a global deep breath…and agreement between humans around the planet to be still. Be still, in hopes that the biggest wave can pass without engulfing too many of the vulnerable amongst us.”  — Dr Lindsay Jernigan

I am open to imagining entering a new era of global cooperation; to believe we’ll come together from around the world to address issues of environment, inequality and injustice.

 

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Some quotes that have got me thinking…

 

“If we see them on the street, if we read about them in the news, if we hear about them from our friends—if they come into our consciousness in any way—they are candidates for our loving-kindness and compassion. It’s an assignment without boundaries, without borders, and we’re forever engaged in on-the-job training.”

— Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change

There are a lot of candidates for our compassion and loving-kindness right now. I’m finding the practice easier when I’m holding compassion for people who have lost their jobs and businesses, who have lost their health, or are working long hours to serve others. Holding loving-kindness for politicians I don’t agree with, and people whose actions I don’t agree with, there’s the work, there’s the challenge. When I get upset with someone’s actions—and sometimes I’m utterly furious—can I bless them and let it go? I try. And then I accept myself whether I can do it in the moment or not. On-the-job training.

 

“The oak fought the wind and was broken, while the willow bent when it must and survived.”

– Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven

I read this quote as an introduction to Upside Down In The Middle of Nowhereby Julie T. Lamana. A book about hurricane Katrina that reminded me catastrophes keep coming; they are nothing new. Some are more global and some are more local. Some are more collective and some are more personal.

 

“Graceful surrender through accepting reality is one aspect of wisdom.”

— Rebecca Jackson Aydelette, SoulCollage Community Update, April 2020

I choose surrender over relentless fighting against the experience. I accept bending in the harsh wind that’s blowing, over being broken. I accept my best as my best, without judgment about who is doing better or worse on any given day. I choose to focus on the positive, connect with my loving circle of friends that bring me joy, stay active or stay quiet as needed, look around and appreciate a world that’s awake with the new beginnings of springtime, and use art and creativity, and every other tool in my toolbox, for maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

 

“I did get somewhat more work done when I was on my leave—and I had much more energy at night after a day spent lollygagging instead of working in the office. But the huge wads of time I now had oppressed me—more time to be lazy meant more time to feel guilty, too.”

— Phyllis Korkki, The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even If You’re a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me

I have a friend who experiences absolutely no guilt, regardless of how he spends his time. He spends zero time fretting about what he does or does not get done. Being retired, he spends his time as he wishes and each thing is exactly as worthwhile as the next. He doesn’t give more or less value to house/yard work vs. reading news vs. bike riding vs. video game playing vs. novel reading vs. dog walking vs. taking photos vs. hanging with friends. It’s all good. He doesn’t drain off one iota of his energy judging how he spends his time, feeling guilty, feeling lazy, or feeling bad. I want to be more like that. I tend to have a huge list of things that “should get done” before I get to relax, enjoy life, and have fun. Right now I have so much time and yet I still feel guilty if I laze about and read a book or watch an hour of Sugar Rush. There is a value system that makes me feel guilty for sitting around watching people make cupcakes. I would like to perfect becoming a human being instead of a human doing. And again, accept what I’m doing as the best I can do.

 

And one final quote I love…

“It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

— Anne Lamott

I am so aware and so grateful for the people that are lifting my spirits right now by reaching out, sharing something funny, lending a hand in a small way. I’m trying to do that too.

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When Handwork Becomes Soul Work

In the words of Pinola Estes, these times call for each of us to “stand up and show our soul”.

It makes perfect sense to me that so many people right now are reconnecting to their creative side. I spend time on creative pursuits in good times and challenging times. In the challenging times handwork is my refuge. Projects help me regroup when I feel discouraged or depleted. Creative projects make my heart sing and connect me to the best part of myself. Creativity is my connection to Spirit, and for me there is no separation between handwork and soul work.

I’ll give you some examples:

  • When it honors loss and promotes healing. Making a prayer shawl, a video of photos that honor a life, a memory quilt.
  • When I create for and with children to help them find joy and magic in life. A happy moment for me is seeing my daughter holding a doll I made her, with both of them wearing skirts I sewed and hats I knit.
  • When it pulls my focus away from fear and anxiety and the crazy-busy aspects of life and supports balance, refuge, recharging. When it supports integration – I go from being a disembodied head to an integrated head, heart, and hands.
  • When it liberates the power and creativity of my “shadow” side. When shadow aspects of my personality are recognized/acknowledged through being given a voice, I’m able to find the gold hidden in my shadow. Granted, drawing dark and disturbed self-portraits isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great outlet for a troubled soul.
  • When it connects multiple generations to a legacy of making and creating. When my mom was still alive she would dream up all kinds of projects – making soap, candles, tie dye t-shirts, jam, holiday ornaments, etc. – and we would get four generations together for a crafting party. I’m grateful we had that time together and I treasure those happy memories with mom.
  • When it makes my home a unique expression of my family, our travels and interests, and what we love. When it makes our home feel happy and comfortable. For me it’s restorative to add light, color, personality, humor, richness, texture, quirkiness and uniqueness to our home. Our home is full of things that capture a moment in time – a handprint, a self-portrait, a drawing or vacation photo collage.
  • When I give a hand-made and heart-felt gift. My daughter attended Waldorf school from birth through 4thgrade, where it was customary to give hand-made gifts and together we made covered journals, puppets, skirts, felted bags, headbands, crowns, dyed silks, jump ropes, bubble wands, and other assorted gifts for all her friends.
  • When I’m stuck with a decision – nothing removes the blocks and supports creative problem solving like handwork. Handwork supports discernment, resourcefulness, surrender and non-attachment – all skills I need to practice with small decisions before I make the big decisions. Creativity gives me practice in making choices that reflect a loving attitude toward myself. Making requires action, so it’s a good practice that helps me come to a decision and get into action.
  • When I need to remember to put the heavy issues of life aside and create moments of joy, laughter, fun, inspiration.
  • When I need connection – to kids and friends, to a creative community, to nature, to my authentic voice, to something I can hold in my hands.
  • When emotions need an outlet; when I need to manage my emotional energy. Different kinds of handwork have different energy – needle felting, painting, knitting, drawing, flower arranging, fabric dyeing, collage, hand and machine sewing are all different energetically. They have all helped me get away from screens and combat stress, apathy, and depression.
  • When I create something to wear that’s one-of-a-kind and honors my individuality.
  • Crafting for parties, weddings, birthdays, and new babies.
  • When I need an adventure – art and craft is an introvert’s adventure.

Creativity is a universal part of cultures around the world, whether it is practical and essential or recreational. Handwork connects us to a broader human experience. Don’t overcomplicate it – a mandala made from household items or spices, leaves and petals is a beautiful piece of art. Getting out some sidewalk chalk or paper and colored pencils will pass the time in an enlivening way. Doing a collage portrait of your pet using paper cut from old magazines will take your mind off things, as will remaking an old garment into a new fashion, crafting knitting needles or zipper pulls from molding clay, making finger puppets from scraps at hand, or a bean bag toss game from an old sweater.

Now is a great time to give yourself a gift of something you’ve created with your own hands. You’ll never have more time to watch YouTube how-to videos and visit sites with free offerings of patterns and instruction. Get creative and sooth your soul. If we are going to live with uncertainty and change, we might as well live beautifully and creatively.

 

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On The Lookout for Something Good

We can experience moments of joy and delight, even when life is hard. If anything, it is more important than ever. Focusing entirely on problems and setbacks is a limited perspective, devoid of gratitude. Now is the time to look for a sweet moment where we can find it.

This idea was brought home to me via a convergence of 5-minute journaling and reading the books Conscious Creativity: look, connect, create, and Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing. I started going for walks (using appropriate social distancing of course) with the intention of looking for something good. I have not been disappointed. My walks have been inspiring and uplifting. Here are some things I’ve seen out and about in the past few days.

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Reminders of Love and Kindness

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Things That Made Me Smile

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I’m not denying the challenges of the time we’re living in. I’m not oblivious to the privilege that comes with living in a beautiful neighborhood (though I do live in an urban, high-density setting). I’m not immune to disappointment, loss, stress and uncertainty. I’m just saying I need a break to refocus on love, hope, gratitude, beauty, whimsy, the resourcefulness and innate joy children possess, the turn of the seasons, and anything hopeful and positive – these small moments get me through the day.

By the way, a surprising thing I’ve discovered – there are gnomes and fairy gardens in my neighborhood. These can be quite simple, but if you’re looking for inspiration and something to do with all that time on your hands, here are a couple of books for ideas: Fairy Homes & Gardens and Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes. An indoor potted plant makes a great home for a  fairy garden too.

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To learn the basics of 5-minute journaling…

https://www.intelligentchange.com/blogs/news/the-five-minute-journal-questions

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How is Covid-19 home isolation going?

“It was a time I won’t forget, full of sorrow and regret.”  – Jackson Browne, Shape of a Heart

We all have our breaking point and I seem to have reached mine today. I am inconsolable. After 4 weeks of home isolation – staying upbeat, keeping busy, taking on projects, doing my best – today I hit the wall. Had a good cry. Felt the frustration as a feeling of powerlessness ran through me. Is there anything I can tell myself? Are there any tools that will work? It is maddening that people think you can simply will yourself to “cheer up” or “quit worrying” or “feel better.” If only.

I give credit to everyone out there whose house is cleaner than it has ever been, whose garden looks fabulous, whose basement got cleaned and garage got organized, paperwork caught up. A shout out to all those people organizing virtual happy hours and knitting groups, running marathons on their balcony, learning to cook fantastic dishes, taking the online classes they’ve never had time for, figuring out where to donate and how to help.

I also acknowledge everyone who is stress eating, getting cranky with the people they’re in quarantine with, day drinking, looking disheveled & slovenly, binge watching, getting so bored they cut their own hair, staying up all night and sleeping all day, hoarding paper towels and toilet paper, letting fear of the future get the better of them. I acknowledge everyone who like myself is feeling self-pity over missed lunches and vacations, and then feeling guilty about feeling sorry for themselves when so many have it so much worse.

I’ve had experiences in both these categories. I’m asking myself, is this experience making me a better person? Will I have regret when it is over? I’m not sure yet. The isolation seems to amplify who I am, both light and shadow. What I do know for sure is that stress management, self-compassion, and raising the vibration are my full time job right now. When the despondency and depression descend it is time to call on every tool, every practice. This is the time I’ve been practicing for. What helps?

 

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When my brain is doing this, one tool is simply allowing myself to feel the anger, frustration, pain, suffering, fear, confusion. Don’t run away from it; go to the depth of it to move through it.

And more tools….

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A quiet cup of tea.

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Getting domestic.

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Art and craft.

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Spiritual practice.

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A moment of awe and wonder with nature.

Also, music, reading, movement, housecleaning, nature walks, aromatherapy, connecting with people who inspire and motivate. And if all else fails, take a nap – it helps to rest when I need to.

At the end of the day my most important tool is self-compassion. I love this quote by Louise L. Hay from her book You Can Heal Your Life:

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Above all, I try to keep a grateful heart and stay open to the possibility that something good, beyond what we can see or imagine in this moment, will emerge from this challenge.

“In the midst of winter, I finally found there was within me an invincible summer.”

  – Albert Camus

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Do We Build Ourselves Up By Putting Others Down?

In our current climate of divisiveness there is a lot mean-spirited talk, there are a lot of lies being told. It’s hard not to get caught up in being outraged, insulting, and judgmental. Some quotes that keep me conscious of how I participate in conversations are below. We are all doing our best, and we all fall short, but we can at least try to be mindful of our words, and the energy that carries our words.

By “mean-spirited talk” I mean speaking or writing with any of these qualities: unkind, spiteful, unfair, nasty, hateful, harsh, rude, insulting, degrading, disrespectful, uncivil. I also include grossly distorting or editing someone else’s words to give a false impression.

Under stress people start to feel powerless; then the impulse to put others down in an attempt to feel better about their own situation shows up. I fall into this trap on occasion; I think we all do. We are currently in an overwhelm of stress that comes with a global pandemic the likes of which we’ve never seen before and can’t predict. Now more than ever, it’s time to try and do better in our discourse.

Here are the quotes I hope will act as a friendly reminder of the boomerang effect of mean speech:

 

“You speak badly of others thinking it will make you feel superior. This only sows seeds of meanness in your heart, causing others not to trust you and causing you to suffer.”

Pema Chodron, Always Maintain a Joyful Mind

 

“When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”

Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

 

“Hatred never ceases by hatred,

But by love alone is healed.

This is an ancient and eternal law.”

Maha Gosananda spoken from the Dhammapada

 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“It is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

Mahatma Gandhi

 

“The words you choose are programmed to release power and life force into whatever they express. As you speak, so you experience…”

Sonia Choquette, Your Heart’s Desire

 

“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Ian MacLaren

 

“Whatever we say, we’re always talking about ourselves.”

Alison Bechdel

 

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.”

Ken Keyes

 

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Loss Sparks a Transformative Journey; How to reinvent your life after the worst day of your life

I look back on a life path rich with learning. I’ve learned the most painful loss can set into motion the most dramatic transformation. I use my divorce as an example of an unexpected blow that ultimately brought me to a brighter, happier place. I share some of my lessons in the hope that my perspective looking back can help you if you’re currently going through something painful.

The day I was served divorce papers was a stunning shock. My husband at the time told me, “I’m not happy” on a Thursday, moved out the following weekend, and served me with divorce papers first thing Monday morning. I was stunned and blind-sided. The day the papers were delivered was shocking, devastating, embarrassing, and overwhelming. I had never worked harder on anything in my life than I worked on my marriage. To see it dissolve in the space of five days, without warning, shook me to my core.

If someone told me then I’d look back on the day the divorce papers were served as the best day of my life, I would not have believed it. Yet that’s how I look at it from my current vantage point. That day set me on a new path. It caused me to reexamine everything I believed about how I should live my life. It caused me to show up for myself in an entirely new way. It caused me to transform and grow in ways I never imagined.

So here are lessons I learned in clawing my way out of that dark, depressing pit.

  1. Get your mind around it.It happened. This is your life now. Your dreams are crushed; you are going through stages of grief – shock, denial, bargaining, and anger. Your job right now is to try to get to the acceptance stage because you don’t want to stay stuck. Do not be telling yourself “this shouldn’t have happened to me” and “I didn’t do anything to deserve this” and “it isn’t fair”. Those are all ways of saying you shouldn’t be having the experience you’re having, and they all keep you feeling bitter at the hand life has dealt you. Holding the belief it shouldn’t have happened closes you off to the possibility of good coming from the experience.
  1. Do not let that story define you.Do whatever it takes to quit dwelling on feeling wronged and victimized. I’m not saying you weren’t wronged, maybe you were, but don’ttell your sad story over and over, endlessly elaborating on the injustice of your experience, bashing him and every other man along with him. Don’t allow friends, in an effort of misguided support, to let you tell and retell a story that casts you in the role of victim. It may start out as supportive, but it becomes toxic. At a certain point, the story you tell starts to define you, and you don’t want to define yourself at your lowest point. Either tell your story to a professional and process the experience for healing, or give yourself a limit on the number of times you tell it and then stop. Don’t get locked into defining yourself at your worst. I have not told my divorce story in decades, and I only share it now with the intention of encouraging others to hold onto their dreams, even when the circumstances of life feel like an insurmountable setback.
  1. Do not expect closure. Waiting for closure is a gigantic time waster. This is true when you lose a relationship, job, home, or business. There may be some point in the future when you look back with clarity on what happened, or you get a piece of information that makes all the pieces fit together for your “aha” moment. But don’t count on it and don’t put your life on hold for it. It might take the perspective of decades to look back with enough detachment and accuracy to truly understand.
  1. Own your piece of it.The more you can take responsibility for your part in creating your experience, the more quickly you’ll bounce back. If you can only see 1% that was on you, own that. In some way you contributed and colluded in creating this experience. Accurate perspective taking is balanced – you don’t blame yourself 100% and you don’t blame someone else 100%. In the moment of being divorced I blamed him, but over time I acknowledged my role in the unfolding of my story. Through honestly acknowledging I had played a part in this drama – at the very least I chose him as the man I would marry – I found the power to change. In looking back years later I was able to own more responsibility – I ignored certain signs, I avoided painful issues, I didn’t always ask for what I needed – in these ways I was complicit in creating mutual unhappiness.
  1. Give other people their freedom.I had to acknowledge his right to choose. He gets to be happy, he gets to create the life he wants, and if he needs to divorce me to be happy he gets to make that choice. I don’t have to like his process, and the pain it caused, but I do have to accept his freedom to live his life making choices for his own happiness. For me, it was a wake-up call to focus on making choices for my own happiness as well (which required me to get really clear on what I wanted and quit settling for less).
  1. Commit to reinventing your lifein such a way that you’ll look back on this as a stumble on your journey, not going off the cliff. It is a defining moment, so let it define the moment you fully committed to reinvent your life as something radically better. Commitment to your reinvention is Find a compelling reason WHY you will not let what happened define you as bad, unlovable, unworthy of your dreams, or a failure. Your life has just burned to the ground and you get to build back anything you want. Keep the focus on what you do wantto create (not on reacting to what you don’t want to be happening).
  1. Invest in yourself. Get the professional help that will keep you moving toward your dreams. You’re at a low point and discouraged, so it is easy to give up. You need to find a supportive person that will hold on to your dream for you during the times you can’t. If you are ever going to invest in yourself, the time is now. Dig into the rainy day fund if you have to. There’s no better use for your money than saving yourself and pulling your dreams out of the fire. Use coaches, counselors, workshops, retreats, spiritual work, energy work, bodywork, whatever resonates for you, whatever helps. There is a vast array of helping professions and professionals – find what works for you to heal the trauma and move forward. This is not the time to go it alone. When you choose your support person, be absolutely sure the person you choose is invested in supporting you to move forward.
  1. Dream bigger.Counter-intuitively, if your dream has failed, you need a bigger dream. After the stunning crash-and-burn of my first marriage, I set my sights on a different kind of love; I had actually set my sights too lowthe first time around. When I started dating again, I was more true to myself and thus I attracted a man who saw the real me. By being more authentic I found love that was stronger, more committed, and a much better “fit” for me. My new relationship isn’t more work; it is actually much lesswork and struggle than the first time around. I feel the joy and gratitude that comes from being with the right life partner every day.
  1. Get out of your head.When your head wants to explode with the effort it takes to process all you’ve been through, then it’s time to give the mind a rest. Find something you love, or that you’ve never done, and immerse yourself in it enough to set your mind free from the spin cycle it is on. (Creative pursuits, endurance training, cooking, guilty pleasure reading and movies, volunteer work, taking on a goal such as a job promotion or finishing a degree, learn to meditate, do yoga, kayak, run a race, or sing karaoke). Refocus some energy on something that’s a stretch so it will really consume you, both mentally and physically, in order for you to blow off some steam and have a new frame of mind (or at least get some sleep).
  1. Become sincerely grateful.I am truly grateful my first husband divorced me. It brought forward issues that needed healing. It caused me to look deeply into my life on all levels and started me on a journey of personal growth that is still evolving. I have changed, grown, and become a person with more capacity to give and receive love. In the process I have learned to manifest every dream for my life. Why wouldn’t I be grateful for that gift?

There is a lot of letting go in moving forward. Letting go of negative stories, circumstances, excuses, limiting beliefs, shame, guilt, blame you are casting on others, blame you are taking on yourself, your comfort zone. You will be letting go of the people who don’t support your change and growth and reaching out for the right kind of help and support.

All easier said than done. These steps are tough and might not make sense until you are on the other side of the wall you need to get over. You may cycle around some of the steps multiple times. It may be a long journey, but if you do the work things can work out remarkably well.

I used the example of the loss of my first marriage – your loss may be something entirely different and you’ll have to apply what I’ve written to your situation. Any loss can be a point of hitting bottom in a way that sparks a new life. I don’t expect you to feel grateful for every loss. When you lose someone you love due to death you may never feel grateful, but it can still be the day that changed the course of your life, the day that started a transformative journey, the beginning of a new path toward purpose and meaning, an opportunity to become a stronger, better, more compassionate person.

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Words That Inspire In Challenging Times

These are excerpts from a letter written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her words resonate now more than ever. The title is:

Do Not Lose Heart,
We Were Made for These Times

BY CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, PhD

You can see the full text at https://www.awaken.com/2017/05/do-not-lose-heart-we-were-made-for-these-times/

You can learn more about the author at http://www.clarissapinkolaestes.com

Here are her words that I reread when current events throw me off balance and toward despair. Here are words that remind me to “stand up and show my soul”:

It is hard to say which one of the current egregious matters has rocked people’s worlds and beliefs more. Ours is a time of almost daily jaw-dropping astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

Yet … I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is—we were made for these times.

Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement. I cannot tell you often enough that we are definitely the leaders we have been waiting for, and that we have been raised, since childhood, for this time precisely.

We all have a heritage and history of being gutted, and yet remember this especially … we have also, of necessity, perfected the knack of resurrection.

Over and over again we have been the living proof that that which has been exiled, lost, or foundered—can be restored to life again.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. Do not make yourself ill with overwhelm. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by perseverating on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the Voice greater? You have all the resource you need to ride any wave, to surface from any trough.

One of the most important steps you can take to help calm the storm is to not allow yourself to be taken in a flurry of overwrought emotion or despair—thereby accidentally contributing to the swale and the swirl. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.

It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts—adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take “everyone on Earth” to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.

The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires … causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these—to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both—are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But … that is not what great ships are built for.

This comes with much love and prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, a Mestiza Latina, a long time activist in her seventies now, continues to testify before federal and state legislatures for social justice causes of disenfranchised persons. She is a poet, an author whose books are published in 35 languages, and a post trauma recovery specialist, serving 9-11 survivor families; and students, teachers and community after the Columbine High School massacre. She is a senior diplomate Jungian psychoanalyst in practice for forty-seven years, the former Chair of the Colorado State Grievance Board, and is the first recipient of the Joseph Campbell“Keeper of the Lore” award.

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