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Prelude To Solstice - 2018

   Winter’s Pure Beauty

Winter’s Pure Beauty

All of heaven and all of earth coordinate at the Winter Solstice.Regardless of all the stories and traditions, this is a personal event of your life. It is the time that has been set up for you and Heaven to be with each other without interference. Gregge Tiffen (Winter Solstice: The Christmas Story

 It’s all too easy to find ourselves hooked in the hustle and bustle of seasonal activities and ‘wrapping things up for the year’.  We’ve forgotten that which we know deep inside: this is our time to recalibrate from the inside out.  And, to do so we must empty, release, let go and recognize the wisdom that done is done.

 All too often we fear being empty – even for a brief moment in time. Emptiness seems like a strange word to ascribe to the season of winter holidays with their bright lights, joyful sounds, and festivities to match.  And, yet, giving yourself the gift of emptying is an important part of being prepared to receive the new that is sure to come as the sun begins her journey back to the north.  After all, the full glass cannot receive more wine.

 In the Christmas Story, we are told that the inn was full. And, yet a receptive place for the birth was found. So it is for each of us.

 We too need to empty and make ourselves receptive to the new.  Solstice is a time to declare one cycle complete, making way for another to begin. It is a time to embrace the realm of spirit and turn our backs on the material world, if only for a brief time. It is a time to bless and release all who have crossed your path in this cycle, knowing that those who are meant to return will be there in the new one.

 And, perhaps most important of all, it is time to let go of who we were in the cycle that is completing.  The ‘you’ of that cycle is complete as well. And a new you of your design and making awaits.

 As our planet prepares to celebrate her birthday, let us honor her by taking time to reflect this gift of the time when heaven and nature sing as one. May we each sing along in our own unique and harmonious way.

I find this excerpt from Gregge Tiffen’s ‘Winter Solstice: The Christmas Story’ a beautiful reminder of the choices I can make now and moment to moment, before my time of winter solitude, and beyond winter into the spring. May it support you as well to ease into the sacredness of this time.

Prelude*

There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that while I cannot give it, you can take.

No Heaven can come to us, unless our hearts find rest in today.

Take Heaven

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take Peace

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see, and to see, we have only to look, I beseech you,

Look!

In the quiet there is tranquility. May your life move and radiate in that unity and your heart sing the hymn of peace to all mankind.

And so, at this time I greet you not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with prayer that for now and forever the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

* Gregge Tiffen (Winter Solstice: The Christmas Story)

   Winter Blessings from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Winter Blessings from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

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Earth: Our Difficult Home

   A Path In The Woods Nearby

A Path In The Woods Nearby

Planet Earth is a very difficult proving ground, training ground, and a test laboratory. The condition that affects our planet is a changeable vibration level that comes at all times as a matter of testing. Gregge Tiffen (The Journey Continues: Mysterious Investigations – October, 2010)

I doubt that I’m alone in my need to be reminded that I’ve chosen to live on a planet where life is difficult. Life on Planet Earth requires us to learn to adapt on not just one level, but three: physical, mental, and spiritual. Gregge frequently reminded clients and students at his lectures that Earth is a difficult ‘post-graduate school’ in the universe and that it’s definitely not for sissies.

I needed this reminder as I reflected on events of the past few weeks, those in my life and those I’ve observed from a distance.  For the most part, life has felt intense, ripe with opportunity to reflect, consider, and adapt. 

It’s interesting, perhaps amusing on some level, that we chose this planet to learn the art of recalibrating ourselves, yet often we cling to the familiar and the comfortable (even when it’s not so comfy). We decide what’s acceptable (or not) often with little consideration, allowing ourselves to be swayed in by the opinions of others. We experience this in our individual lives and in society as changing conditions confront us.

Some conditions such as the change of seasons here in the mountains present routine annual rituals of preparation. Moving plants indoors and splitting/stacking kindling and firewood are two of many on my fall ‘to do’ list. Physically, I get a great workout in the beautiful fall weather when it’s not too hot, not too cold. Mentally, I’m challenged to make my list, check it twice, and maintain focus. Spiritually, the change of seasons reminds me that there is order in the universe, everything in its time. The seasonal change uses my re-adjustment ‘muscles’ and keeps me tuned into the requirement to constantly adapt.

I’m grateful that I maintain this perspective. Some folks prepare (or not) for winter grudgingly, grumbling that they wish the change wouldn’t come at all. ‘How do thoughts like this contribute to climate change?’ I wonder, allowing a slight detour in my train of thought. I notice that weather conditions consistently give us the gift of adapting. Perhaps that’s why many people complain about it so often. What difference might a subtle shift to embrace changing weather conditions make in mass consciousness? Or, in our individual lives?

Severe weather events like the hurricane currently raging across the southeastern United States, test our capacity, providing greater challenges and opportunities to adapt. In their wake, lives are lost, homes destroyed or severely damaged, basic services are lost. It’s not easy, yet we humans find ways to adapt. We help one another. We move on or we rebuild. Somehow we adapt. But I wonder, what is the deeper message of these events that we need to hear and adapt to?

Beyond changing weather and extreme weather events, collectively and individually, we are being presented with intense conditions in our communities and our countries around the globe. Our willingness and our ability to adapt are being tested and they will continue to be tested. That is the nature of life on our planet.

How will we/I rise to these tests? Will we cling to, even fight for, outdated ways of how we think things should be? Will I? Or, will we open ourselves to new thinking, new ways to call forth long-held ideals of justice, equality, fairness, and basic human decency? Will I?

   Snow on the Peaks and a Morning Glimpse of the Great Sand Dunes just above the treetops.

Snow on the Peaks and a Morning Glimpse of the Great Sand Dunes just above the treetops.


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Let's Do This!

   Robin signaling the spread of new growth ... a sign to me that YES! We Can!

Robin signaling the spread of new growth ... a sign to me that YES! We Can!

In effect, negative levels of earth consciousness will contribute to defeating the positive levels of non-physical consciousness. … when we have someone who is nasty, or when we get depressed, we are in league with the devil. … The battle between good and evil can increase to enormous proportions commensurate with the mass attitude of humans at any given point in history. Gregge Tiffen (Do The Angels Take a Vacation? – August, 2007)

Amidst a week of ‘more than usual’ activity, the message flow that came through yesterday seemed right on target. That was affirmed on our morning walk when a car speeded by, kicking up dust on our dirt road. I was trying to signal ‘please slow down’ but I was thinking and feeling ‘slow down ____’. My signal evoked an angry sign back.

That’s not the way I want to start my day. And, it’s now how I aim to feel about and interact with the world any time of day. So, today’s message is for me. Possibly it will resonate for you as well – as always that’s my wish.

Yesterday’s ‘download’ started with “Having the right, doesn’t make it (or you) right.” Hmm, I thought, not a new idea; it resonated. And then it continued something like this:

Since everything we do is magnified by the Universe; and

Since we are each one cell in the whole that is the Universe; and

Since we humans inhabit and depend upon this planet for our physical survival …

We need to exercise our ‘rights’ with care.

We need to know and understand that this body, this life is but one little dot in the infinite journey of our spirit. THIS is NOT ‘all there is’!

We need to live and make our choices knowing understanding the law of karma.

This is true for EVERY thought we think, EVERY word we utter, EVERY action we take.

EVERY thing is subject to the law of cause and effect.

Because we don’t always witness or experience immediate effects from our thoughts, words and deeds, I wonder if we’ve forgotten that everything we think, say and do contributes to the quality (or lack thereof) of life on this planet, both the incarnate and discarnate sides of the planet (and beyond into the entirety of this infinite Universe).  Yes! WE are THAT powerful!

Think about the power that YOU (yes YOU!) hold. Then take a moment to acknowledge the world, its chaos, cruelty, harshness, unkind words, poverty, climate extremes … any and all of those things that worry you, break your heart or cause anger to rise from the core of your being.

Now – with NO blame, shame, or judgement – ask yourself: how am I contributing to ‘this’? Consider others. Consider yourself, your life. Take some private, personal, quiet time to examine the thoughts you feed about each.

Ask yourself, what comments do I make about others? Yep, the words I uttered about the speeding driver this morning count and, sorry, so do the snarky comments that most of us have made on social media at one time or another.

Identify and consider the comments you make about yourself, your body, your life? Do your thoughts and comments contribute to creating the life, the health, the environment in which you can be healthy and thrive? Consider how you begin and embrace (or reject) each day – each moment for that matter. Do you worry about what ‘shoe will fall’ next? Do you wish that you weren’t on the planet? Those thoughts matter. The words you utter matter.

There is no thought, word or deed that isn’t energy, and this energy counts when it comes to cause and effect. Indeed all energy (and everything is energy) ‘counts’.  In this system, there is no shame, no blame, no judgement – only the Universe, perfect in its design, responding to the energy that issues forth from each of us 24/7.

What a beautiful thing that we are contributing to, creating the quality of life on our planet! Remember this truth when you feel powerless to impact the world: YOU ARE CREATING IT EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY. There is no time in which you are not impacting the world with your very being. 

Today, in this moment and each one thereafter, each of us individually, all of us collectively, our planet and, indeed, the Universe need for us to come to this awareness, to understand our power, and to think, speak and act accordingly. Let’s open our hearts. Let’s open our minds. Let’s open our arms. Let’s do this people!

  'Come On People!' We'll show you the way!

'Come On People!' We'll show you the way!

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Fierce Softness: Life IS Sacred Service

   A Teyuna Mamo with    Mary Gaetjens of Harmony with Earth Mother Initiative in Columbia

A Teyuna Mamo with Mary Gaetjens of Harmony with Earth Mother Initiative in Columbia

You carry your worth in your heart. Complete, constant, and impartial love radiates through you to all creatures. Gregge Tiffen (The Collected Works of Gregge Tiffen: Echo – Sept. 2012)

Teyuna mamos and zagas exist in deep communion with every living thing, a state they’ve preserved and grown since what is for most westerners time immemorial and what is for them easily recalled through living tradition. (Earth Law Center Website - https://www.earthlawcenter.org/blog-entries/2018/6/teyuna-foundation-launches)

Have you ever been in the presence of fierce softness? I imagine that in being with the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh one might experience a sense of ‘fierce softness’. Historical figures such as Jesus or Ghandi likely held fierce softness in their presence. Gregge’s quote above begins to describe what I think fierce softness can be.

I’ve been with people who are fierce. Heck, sometimes I’ve been fierce in ways that are not so positive. I’ve also been with individuals who radiate love and softness. I aim to do the same (and, being human in our culture, I often miss the mark).

Until last week, I’d not experienced the two together: fierce AND soft. Perhaps the seed was planted by Sharon Blackie’s book which I wrote about last week (http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/reclaiming-softness). For sure, the book opened me to what I was about to experience here in Crestone at a ceremony for three Teyuna mamos and, two days later, at a healing ceremony that they offered.  

I don’t yet (and may never) have words to fully describe my experience. Powerful, healing, amazing, transformational are each accurate, but they miss the mark of complete expression. I’m integrating their words, the exercises we did, and their presence to make meaning and apply it my life.

For now, ‘fierce softness’ best describes the energy I experienced and received as these elders guided us through a powerful exercise to connect with the earth.  In both of my encounters with the Teyuna every word, every action, every step was clear, gentle and showed heartfelt and powerful intensity.  It was clear to me that they listen deeply to Mother Earth and respond with exactly what is needed in each moment.

The intense care for people, the planet, and for every living thing was palpable. I felt that I witnessed life as it is meant to be lived: in reverence and deep communion. That is ‘fierce softness’. That is service to life.

The Teyuna understand that as caretakers of the planet, we humans must take care of and heal ourselves in order to fulfill our sacred responsibility. No one can do it for us. The journey is an individual one, unique for each of us. As we heal ourselves, we heal our relationship to Mother Earth. We begin to live life as sacred service to our home rather than as a race to see who can collect the most toys and do the most harm.

Fierce softness. I’m exploring what it means to live from that place. Where is my softness needed – in my life, in the world? Where do I have the opportunity to soften? How might it look to be fierce in my softness? This week I invite to learn more about the Teyuna – here https://www.earthlawcenter.org/blog-entries/2018/6/teyuna-foundation-launches or watch the movie Aluna (available on Amazon.com) about their journey. And, I invite you to reflect on bringing ‘fierce softness’ to your expressions of life.

   The Fierce Softness of Grandmother Pine lives on.

The Fierce Softness of Grandmother Pine lives on.

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A Summer of Ease and (Self)Care

  As local as it gets - my deck garden.

As local as it gets - my deck garden.

There is no map for this pilgrimage we are on; there is no fixed path. And that is a good thing, because following the paths that others have set for us, the paths that the system confines us to – that is the cause of the problem. Sharon Blackie (If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging)

Look for a new, but known, starting point beginning right where you are. Embrace that point of awareness. When you go from the point where you find yourself, the cells move into action and seek a new starting point. Gregge Tiffen (The Journey Continues: Time Travels – July, 2010)

I’ve experienced a flow of thoughts, words and ideas as this week’s post emerged. ‘What’s the focus?’ I wondered as my pen rolled across the journal where I often write the first stab. ‘Ease and (self)care’, ‘your experience of this summer’ came the response.

Huh? Say What? I’m not doing much this summer. I’m just reading, resting, and taking care of myself, restoring. In a flash, I see that IS the focus. Not only the importance of these ‘Three R’s’, but also of the choices I make/we make in how we live and experience each and every day. Am I (are we) living authentically or simply following the dictates of the world intent on leading us astray?

Each season holds different experiences for us. Some prefer one season over another. I have my favorite things about each season. This summer, I’m aiming to begin each day from a point of awareness about something I love: the cool morning air on my skin, the sounds and smells of the woods as they waken to the new day, the brightness of rocks cleaned by an overnight rain shower. I can sometimes taste the very life these woods represent to me.

My decision to close the bed and breakfast marked the beginning of a new way of experiencing summer. With no guests and daily chores to attend to other than my own (and Luke’s) life maintenance, I’ve declared this a summer of ease and care: ease, care of self, and care about our world. My declaration wasn’t a goal or planned. It gently emerged from sitting with (and in) the question ‘What’s next?’ and from my willingness to accept not knowing.

 A longing to read, a need for rest, and my sense that personal restoration is important for each of us in these chaotic times are my summer friends. I’m reading more (and more deeply) than ever in my life. I’m napping and allowing myself to sit quietly gazing at the woods. Rest and reading are restoring in their own ways, and to them I’m adding soaks at the hot springs, nourishing local food, massage, and – perhaps most important of all – a commitment to no rushing, no pressure, no worry. While keeping abreast of current events, I’m putting my attention on the countless positive messages and actions that are occurring around the globe 24/7. This I what I want the Universe to magnify.

Some might call my summer a ‘vacation’. I’m experiencing it as engagement in deepening a new way of being, experiencing, and expressing me: taking the energy of each day, directing and using it to create the day with ease and care.

So, ‘What’s next?’? For now ‘This’. And, that is quite enough.

   Napping Mentor, Cool Hand Luke, doing his 'job' well!

Napping Mentor, Cool Hand Luke, doing his 'job' well!

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NO LIMITS!

   Early morning beauty as we blaze a new trail.

Early morning beauty as we blaze a new trail.

Will is the means by which consciousness exercises itself. (Are you getting enough exercise?) Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Awareness ­– July, 2009)

When you use your energy to control conditions or elicit guarantees you give away your power and limit the ways in which the Universe can support you.

I’m fascinated by this concept of free will.  As a result of exploration and experimentation, I’m coming to better understand how to use its power, not as a force over something or someone, but as a divine gift that we’ve each been given. It’s also a paradox and a challenge in a world designed to control – but that’s a musing for another day.

This day I want to share the insights and deeper understanding that I’ve experienced this week, mostly from the nearby fire (click here if you missed last week’s post - http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/facing-fear-exercising-will). This tragic event has proven to be a gift for me personally, and it continues to offer insights and new awareness.

While I’m heartbroken for those who lost property or were evacuated, I’m thankful for the courageous fire fighters who have this monster (almost 108,000 acres) at 83% containment and for all the agencies and individuals who have stepped up to provide information and support to those directly impacted. My wish for all is that in time each can look inside to discover the knowledge, insights, and wisdom that surely is within.

When I take time to be fully present and aware of my senses, I discover the multitude of choices that present themselves in each and every moment. They come in many forms each in its way calling for my attention: Luke nuzzling my leg suggesting that it may be time for a break, the smell of smoke inviting me to close windows and to worry about the danger of fire, basil about to bloom telling me it’s time to harvest, thoughts about future direction and finances inviting me to worry, social media posts suggesting anything imaginable and some that are beyond my imagination. The list is endless, infinite like the Universe. Where will I focus?

I’m grateful for my growing understanding that where I put my attention is an act of will to which the Universe then responds and magnifies. Last week when I experienced fear of fire in our drought stricken woodlands, I was able to direct that energy to learn more about the nearby event itself, how such events are managed, and the terminology and technology used to communicate conditions to those in harm’s way. As my knowledge grew, my angst eased. I now had information and knowledge to call on if ever it’s needed.

There’s no one ‘right’ way to exercise will of course. Another local woman took on educating the community and visitors about the fire bans in place. Noticing a dearth of signage about the bans she printed posters and cards to distribute to local businesses and lodging providers. She had large banners made to post at key locations throughout the community, far more visible and informative than the meager signs put up by local government.

That’s what exercising will looks like. And, this one was a pretty good workout.

As is Its Way, the Universe continues to respond. The community rallied in support of this citizen initiative financially and in other ways.

And, I’ve been gifted with insights, ‘ah-ha’ moments that have application far beyond my fear of fire. Enjoying the morning coolness and beauty that surrounds me on a walk with Luke, I experienced such a moment that led to this insight:

When you use your energy to control conditions or elicit guarantees, you give away your power and limit the ways in which the Universe can support you.

The insight came as I recognized a pattern of expectation – dependence is a more honest word – that certain people would do certain things to help me in the event I found myself in need. That is, I would be helped in a particular way. In that moment a series of thoughts converged to show me that seeking promises and making deals about the future limit how support can come.

Bam! I was placing finite limits on an abundant, limitless, infinite Universe.

From that awareness my will has a new base from which to operate: No Limits!  Now let’s give that some exercise.

   World's Best Trail Dog!

World's Best Trail Dog!

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Of Pests, Painting, Patience, and Peace

   'Patience Coach', Cool Hand Luke Skywalker watches over Mom as she prepares to paint.

'Patience Coach', Cool Hand Luke Skywalker watches over Mom as she prepares to paint.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. … We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate the antidotes: patience and tolerance.  Dalai Lama

The more we practice patience, the greater our experience of the peace that follows.

So, remember the ants [click here if you missed last week’s post -- http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/the-open-door-of-missed-opportunity]?

They’re still here. Despite negotiations, pleading, and non-lethal ‘strong arm tactics’ (they don’t like peppermint) to force them to relocate, the mound is still active. They no longer have trails toward the house. Perhaps that’s a sign that their activity is focused on moving (hopefully far away). 

But alas, another pest has surfaced here at home.  I discovered evidence of a mouse in the house this week. Respectful of the hantavirus mice carry and its presence in our valley, I reluctantly set traps. Not the catch and release variety.

Pesky pests. I struggle knowing that any violence I perpetrate against myself or another living creature contributes to the culture of cruelty and violence on the planet. And, these days that culture needs no additional contributions.

As atrocious acts of violence and cruelty are being ordered and carried out right here in the United States and around the globe, the main course that’s needed is patience and peace. To that menu we need to add generous sides of understanding, compassion, kindness, and love.

I wonder: if I can’t be patient and co-exist with pesky pests, how can I expect others to make peace with those whose differences surfaces fear that can only be extinguished with love?  Indeed how can I make peace with others whose views differ from my own?  How do we get beyond the zero sum, win-lose approach to life?

Patience is key.  This week my ‘Patience Coach’, Cool Hand Luke Skywalker has his hands full. Beyond the pests, a few other pesky events this week are reminding me of the prayer: “Lord grant me patience, but please hurry”. Preparing to paint the garage trim, I discovered the masking tape preferred not to stick to the stucco. High winds didn’t help. Last night, wanting to wind down and relax with a video, the site I preferred to watch wasn’t working. Ugh!

On one level these little events pale in magnitude to the ‘big issues’ confronting humanity. But do they really? I’ve suggested before that there is no small thing in life. How we respond the seemingly inconsequential events in life is, indeed, consequential: cause and effect. Patience begets understanding, tolerance, peace. The more we practice patience, the greater our experience of the peace that follows.

If we truly understood and accepted this law our choices and actions would likely be very different.

How might I cultivate patience with the ants, with a mouse, with myself?  In those places where your patience is lacking, how might you?

PS - HAPPY SOLSTICE - Summer in the northern hemisphere, Winter in the south! 

  Not Quite Solstice Sunrise Over the Sangres

Not Quite Solstice Sunrise Over the Sangres

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The Open Door of Missed Opportunity

   Here Comes The Sun ... Sunrise in the Sangres

Here Comes The Sun ... Sunrise in the Sangres

You contribute to the situation by what you say. Gregge Tiffen (Open Secrets: An Honest Performance – June, 2011)

There is no small thing in life. Antsand their hills hold the potential to teach us how to climb life’s mountains, including the peak of creating peace in our world.

In our world that needs all the kindness and compassion we can muster, I missed an opportunity to be compassionate yesterday. Although I’m not beating myself up, I’m aware that an opportunity to be more of who I am is a terrible thing to waste. In noticing the miss, the door to greater awareness opened.

In hindsight I observed that when I’ve made a decision and am on a mission, I loose awareness of all else (focus is good and, like everything, has its shadow). That’s especially true, I discovered, if my decision is at odds which what I value. In this case ‘non-violence and honoring all life’ is what I say I value.

Yet, my mission was to purchase a ‘natural’ product to destroy a colony of ants. On some level, I set aside the fact that I wanted to kill, and I rationalized that using a commercial chemical formula was worse than my ‘natural’ approach. In my heart – the heart I ignored – I know that is false. Killing is killing regardless of method.

Negotiation so far had failed (Yes! I talked to the ants) but my missed opportunity suggested to me that perhaps I’d given up too soon (or perhaps my ant-speak needed to be clearer). Why are the ants an issue? I don’t want to experience the pain of another bite (they aren’t called ‘fire’ ants for nothing). I want Luke to enjoy his favorite outdoor napping spots without being attacked. And, I want the same for all my visiting two- and four-legged friends. But is killing the only answer?

As I write this, I’m aware of my ants as metaphor for viewing others whom we fear as ‘pests’ that need to be controlled. We try to dominate or conquer that which is different from us and those who we don’t understand. Oh life’s ‘little’ challenges! They have so much to teach us if we dare to be aware. But, I digress from yesterday’s missed opportunity that opened the door to this awareness.

I’m grateful to the Buddhist nun whose presence while I was on my mission to the local market provided the gifts of this reflection and the missed opportunity for compassion. She too was on an ‘ant mission’, going for the same product as I. While I was navigating around her to grab a box and go, she was standing in the aisle thoughtfully inquiring whether the product would kill or just deter them. She was aiming for the later: harm no thing. I quickly shared that the information I had was that the product would kill them. My missed opportunity for compassion continued as I responded to her question about what would deter without death in a somewhat frustrated tone, “I don’t know” and walked away.

I didn’t like what my voice and its tone contributed to this encounter. In hindsight I see that I didn’t want to confront my internal conflict. Heck, I’d made up my mind, let me buy the box of Borax and get on with my mission. Oh what a different conversation we might have had if I’d been aware and willing to engage.

The missed opportunity though gave rise to a deeper insight, to a commitment to pause and go back to the drawing board of the internet for a non-lethal alternative, including reopening ‘negotiations’ with these industrious beings. That’s the gift of aiming to honor my values, of being willing and aware, and of taking time for quiet reflection.

There is indeed no small thing in life. As part of the natural world which has so much to share, ants symbolize industriousness, order, and discipline. ‘Why would I want to kill THAT?’ is perhaps a story for another day. For sure it has my attention.

Ants and their hills hold the potential to teach us how to climb life’s mountains, including the peak of creating peace in our world.

  Sunset on a Smokey Day in the Valley

Sunset on a Smokey Day in the Valley

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A Thread of Self-Satisfaction

   From the Inside Out

From the Inside Out

You are an unquenchable flame. There is nothing you can do to yourself that will eradicate you from the Universal fabric. … Be happy with yourself. The joy you experience provides an indestructible armor against any misfortune. Your voice was meant to be a lullaby giving comfort to the weary and security to the young. You were meant to be the giver and the gift. Do not attempt to take that from yourself. It cannot be done any more than you can take the stars from the heavens. You have your place in the Universe. Accept it with grace and good humor.  Gregge Tiffen (The Journey Continues: Economical Rates of Progress - August, 2010)

What bright, cheerful thread will you weave into the fabric of life today?

All too often in life we forget to be happy. It’s easy to overlook our personal satisfaction in a world that seems ever more vitriolic, chaotic, and demanding. This week in the midst of washing windows I experienced self-satisfaction serving as a powerful motivator.

The awareness came as I was about to ‘throw in the towel’ on a project that I’d actually looked forward to doing: washing the outside of the windows my home that were splattered with residue from recent stucco work. I had the tools, plenty of time with no other pressing demands, and I’d save some money. Getting an early start, I gathered my tools, set myself up, and climbed the ladder for the first window.

Before it was complete, I began to question my DIY decision. The task was more challenging than I remembered (it’s been years since I washed the outside of windows and I’d not done them in this home). I felt a bit uneasy on the ladder, even though it was quite solidly placed. The woe is me line “I’ll never be able to do this” was coursing through my body, mind and spirit. I felt inadequate, frustrated, and ready to stop to call the local window washer.

I did stop. I took a breath. I asked myself what I wanted. The answer surprised me. Yes, I wanted clean windows. And, I wanted the satisfaction of doing the job myself. I took another breath to look beyond my feeling of failure.

In recognizing that I wanted more than clean windows and being clear that ‘more’ was the satisfaction of experiencing me doing the work, my energy shifted. I understood in a delightful new way just how motivating being satisfied with ourselves, our choices, and our actions can be. I knew too that the topic for this week’s post had revealed itself.

As I breathed new life and lightness into the project, I gave myself permission to take as long as needed to do the job well and with ease. I let go of ‘getting it done today’ and embraced not knowing how the energy and time would flow to completion. I moved from one window to the next and within a couple hours 12 of 14 were spic and span. After a bite of lunch, a rest, and a short walk with Luke, I tackled blinds and windows inside which I’d planned to do much later.

By the mid-afternoon of the second day, I’d completed the remaining two outside windows on the ground level, along with three small upstairs windows (in and out). The energy flow then carried me to other projects on my list: installing a fan in the office window, cutting insulation for several windows, and patching a water-damaged wall. 

I was reminded that this is the flow we create with clarity, awareness, and intention. I’d added a bright, cheerful thread into the fabric that is life.

Of course, there have been times when I did choose to quit. I’ve learned there is rarely, if ever, a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision. Rather there is an outcome and what we learn (or not) from the experience. Deciding to engage someone to do the work might have yielded an insight of equal value (and, for sure, some unused muscles that are a bit sore would be silent today).

But, had I taken that road, I would have missed the joy and satisfaction of looking out this morning knowing that I’d accomplished the ‘clean window’ task. More importantly, I would have missed adding the question ‘what will cultivate my personal satisfaction in this event?’ to how I evaluate choices in life.

What about you, what will bring you a sense of personal satisfaction today? What bright, cheerful thread will you weave into the fabric of life today?

   The vast San Luis Valley and San Juan Mountains Greet Us in Early Morning.

The vast San Luis Valley and San Juan Mountains Greet Us in Early Morning.

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Awake? Or Not?

   Is Awareness The Road Less Traveled?

Is Awareness The Road Less Traveled?

Have you considered that there are a lot of things you might be giving time to that are not teaching you anything? Gregge Tiffen (Pleasure Is Short, Wisdom Is Infinite – May, 2008)

When you’re truly awake, everything teaches you something.

We tend to think that life’s learning mostly comes from big events. In particular, we look for the ‘life lessons’ in problems and challenges that we face. ‘What is my learning from this illness, accident, death, being fired, fighting with my best friend?’ we ask.  And rightly so, since life’s challenges consistently come with opportunities to learn. Life’s joyful events (weddings and celebrations of all kinds come to mind) likewise hold learning for us, and not just when something goes awry.

Considering the above question in one of Gregge Tiffen’s dandy little booklets of wisdom, I came to a deeper awareness that life’s learning isn’t just in the big stuff. Every moment is an opportunity to learn … IF I’m awake, aware, and want to do so.

Everything holds the potential to inform or teach me something. From observing, reading, taking in information in any form I learn ‘about’ things. I learn ‘from’ those things when I experiment with applying what I’ve learned about. Such experiments teach me what works (and what doesn’t).

Over the years I’ve learned to be less frustrated by experiments that don’t work and more curious about how to make something work. When an attempted repair here at home doesn’t work, I aim first to understand just what is ‘broken’. With that understanding, I can look for an approach that addresses that issue.  There was a time in my life when being unsuccessful at tightening a cabinet hinge that had pulled loose would have sent me into a near tirade of self-abuse. This week, realizing that the holes were stripped, I employed two toothpicks and a bit of wood glue with little ado. A good dose of self-satisfaction followed. I’d learned a new repair tactic, and I’d experienced a touch of how I’ve grown.

When I’m awake, I’m aware of how much Cool Hand Luke teaches me about caring for another being and of how much I’ve learned about the basics of caring for a pet.  When I’m awake, I learn how my choices about investments of time, energy, and money reflect my priorities. Or, I discover that I may want to choose differently.

As I awaken to greater self-awareness, it seems that the only things I “give time to that don’t teach me anything” are things that I do without that awareness.  When I look back at what I’ve given time to this week (or any week for that matter), I realize that my choices reflected my priorities in the moment.  When I’m awake to learning, the age-old bugaboo about ‘wasting time’ is silenced. From a game or two of mahjongg solitaire on the computer, I become aware that sometimes I need a bit of distraction.  From more than a couple games, I learn that I’m bored and/or avoiding something. From witnessing violence in the news, I learn how sensitive I am. 

Indeed, I’ve learned that when I’m truly awake, everything teaches me something.

   Early morning wisps.

Early morning wisps.

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