Archive | June 2013

Think Fast! Here Comes Another of Life’s Curve Balls

dove_bird_from_sky-t1

I actually do not know where to begin.  Life threw me another curve ball and I am beginning to discover I am quite the adaptable catcher, born out of pure need.  We returned Thursday night from a wonderful yurting experience and I hit the ground running Friday morning (well, limping, actually!).  A friend and I met and went to our monthly spiritual group.  This month’s topic? Delight.  Finding delight in all areas of life (from sunsets to warm soapy water when washing dishes) and discussing feeling worthy of receiving delight.

A conversation arose about my ability to find delight even in the most “unpleasant of circumstances.”  Little did I know that this theory was going to be put to one of my most challenging tests mere hours later.

We were in the car in my driveway post gathering, waxing poetic, as this friend and I can so easily do, when my husband came out with furrowed brow.  “Um, Tam, I’m sorry to interrupt.  But, I just found out that Nick was killed in a motorcycle accident while we were away.”  My mind sputters, “whhh..at? WHAT?!”  We embrace.  A state of shock quickly follows this sudden news.

There are no ways to describe losing a peer; a man in the summer of his life, just reaching the peak of his full potential.  A friend who when described, the most often used adjectives are “vivacious” and “vibrant.”  Nick, who sparkled with life and quickly drew anyone and everyone into his light.  As his father said, “he lived large.”  And that he did.  But, shouldn’t he still be living that life?  Where is “God’ Plan” in a circumstance such as this?  Yet, there is no plan.  I do not believe God is sitting on a perch high above, pointing his finger, declaring “You shall live and you shall die.” It all feels so senseless.  But, just as I can find delight in unpleasant times, I can also find meaning in the most dire  of circumstances. . .

When his brother spoke at the funeral, he told of a hike the two of them had taken together on Nick’s 40th birthday, about four years ago.   Chuckling, he said they spent the entire time talking about life’s philosophy.  At one point, Nick turned towards his brother and said, “Doug, How do you make it to the next Christmas? You know how you look forward to Christmas for weeks heading up to it?  As the anticipation grows, so does the excitement.  Each day closer builds suspense for that ‘big day.’  And then Christmas arrives and it’s fantastic.  But then you wake up the next morning at a loss.  You can’t start gearing up for the next Christmas yet, because 12 months of waiting would just be too long.  So you start to wonder how you’re going to make it until the next fall when life begins to feel good again.  How do you make it through those days, Doug?”  Even though Nick burned with the intensity of life on the outside, inside he struggled with his own inner peace.  But, this is where his brother continued the story. He shared that this was a turning point for Nick, a time where he decided to make a lot of changes in his life, to reach out for help from others and to change his philosophy on living life.

Nick began living his life “one day at a time.”  He knew that all he had to worry about was just getting through the next day.   And not only did that bring life back down to a manageable size, he now also greeted each day with the thought, “how am I going to fully embrace life for today?”  And embrace it, he did… if he thought of a long lost friend, he would call them.  If it was his brother’s 40th birthday, he hopped in the car and drove 5 hours to surprise him for dinner.  One day, he grabbed his son and they got on a train headed east until they wanted to get off; they stopped for some lunch at a random train station and got back on for the return trip home.  Just because.  He promised his daughter the same when she got a bit older.  That father daughter trip (this time a spontaneous day trip from Rochester, NY to Chicago), happened just two weeks ago.  If he hadn’t taken the approach of “one day at a time” and instead was waiting for “that perfect day in the ‘sometime’ future,” that trip may never have happened.   But instead, his children now have this memory to relive and hold on to anytime they miss their dad.

During the service, the minister used several metaphorical stories.  He first spoke of seed packets and the date that is stamped on the back declaring how soon (or how long) a particular vegetable will reach “peak harvest.”  He asked that if we were to know that date when a child was born, when a friend was made, when a mate was found, would we send them back or turn them away if the date was too short?  If the harvest of their life came at 2 years, 16 years… 44 years? Of course not.  We would choose to embrace the time we have with them, to not waste a precious moment.  And since we do not have the insight into these dates on living beings (thankfully), we need to approach each day fully, to not waste another moment to embrace those we love.

On this note, he spoke of a couple who just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.  When asked the typical question, “how do you make a marriage last?”  The husband told of a gift given to him by his father on his wedding day.  It was a pocket-watch and when opened it was engraved with these words, “Say something nice to Sarah.”  What a beautiful, simple reminder; each time you check the time, pause to share a kind word with the loved one next to you.  In a sense this could be extended to anyone next to you.  Perhaps that person is a stranger who so desperately needs to hear a gentle word on that day.

And that brings me full circle back to my friend Nick.  Nick employed these techniques in his interactions, every moment of his day.  There were people at his funeral who had only known him a few months, but felt just as deeply connected to him as those who have known him for years.  Because he would notice that person standing at the sidelines, feeling uncomfortable, and he would draw them into the fold.  He loved to engage in a volley of the minds and was very knowledgeable on a wide range of topics.  But he would always encourage others to educate him and challenge his mind.  He made you feel special, respected and heard.  That’s a gift we can all take away from his life.

When his father spoke, he read from 1 Corinthians 4-13 (abbreviated quote below):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… Love never fails… For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Most of us are familiar with this reading from weddings.  It is not often read at the time of a death.  But, why not?  Death of the physical body cannot extinguish the soul of the person; the place that holds LOVE.

We were charged with carrying this message forth as we left the church.  Of continuing Nick’s legacy by remembering these words of compassion and kindness.  The minister told us to find people who do not have love in their life, and bring it to them.  To pass on our love to others.  To think of what Nick would have done in a similar situation.  And although it does not ease the deep hole of pain and loss burning in my heart right now, I find comfort in this concrete action I can take.

And this is where I find peace in “God’s plan.”  God’s will is not for us to wither and become hardened by the loss of someone (far too soon); it is to continue the spirit of that person in the living.

As Thomas Campbell said…

“To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die.”

When we question the “why” of mortality, we often also question the “why me?” of life in general. “Why was I given this chronic illness?  Why do I have to struggle? Why does my loved one have to suffer? Why do the ones I love have to leave me?”   But, perhaps we are asking the wrong question.  Instead of “Why me?” how about asking “what next?”

So, “What’s Next?!”  What are you going to do with your one day?  Each morning starts a new one: a new opportunity to fully embrace life and those we love.  And if today’s the day you are struggling with how to make it to the next Christmas, remember, it’s just one day you have to get through before the winds change and different one arrives just 24 hours later…

·         How can you Spread Love today?

·         When you check the time, what loved one is nearby? Say something kind to them…    **That loved one may just be yourself!!**

·         What spontaneous act can you do today to fully live the next 24 hours?  (from a train ride to sitting outside and watching the birds nest to calling a family member to remind them how much they mean to you).

·         Who can you write a “love letter” to today?… one to yourself, marked to open one year from now? one to your mate that you stick in the mail so they get a surprise in 2 days? a note to your child for them to open when they turn 18? or a letter to someone who died before you had the chance to tell them how much they meant to your life?  Love letters can HEAL

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Best Laid Plans . . .

If there’s one thing chronic disease has taught me, it’s flexibility!

Here we are all geared up for our Yurt Excursion and I come down with an awful stomach virus that completely disabled me.  There was no “grin and bear it;” I was so dehydrated and feverish I couldn’t even think straight, let alone travel.  So, once again, we have to attempt to re-schedule vacation plans.  A call is made to the “Yurt Man” and he informs us he has a strict “no cancellation policy.”  Mind you, the money has already been taken from our account.  And, for us, the cost of this mini-vacation is not expendable income! We worked and scrimped and saved to afford this get away.

Here marches in the messengers of “Doubt” and “Guilt,” followed closely by “Shame.”  My husband, in his frustration, begins to get upset… “Why do we always have to cancel our vacation plans?  Why do I even work, if we’re just going to have to throw away the money?!  We should just stop planning anything, and then I will have nothing to be disappointed about!”  Of course, I internalize these mutterings, and hear them as… “Your disease takes away all the enjoyment in life.  If it wasn’t for you always being sick, we could go away.  You and life with you are a disappointment.”  And here is the conundrum of the chronically ill and their caregivers.  He needed to be heard.   And I needed to be reassured.  And neither of us was wrong.  I felt deep shame over (almost) always being the source of our need to change plans at the last moment.  This time, it wasn’t even the illness we know, it was some random super bug either one of us could have come down with… it just happened to me.  And he felt disappointment, and in that moment, couldn’t see a way through the situation.  We both felt stuck.

Luckily we have a relationship built on trust and communication, tools honed through many years together.  I retreated into myself for a while and he did the same.   But I poked myself out of my protective shell and “risked” telling him how I was feeling.  He was able to pause and reflect on what was really making him upset.  I gave him the option of planning solo trips; I truly felt (and feel) that a compromise may look like us diverging on our separate paths at times.  But, he was not keen on this idea.  And let me know his disappointed lied in not being to taking a trip with me, not in the trip itself.  Phew!  Big sigh of relief, one I didn’t even know I was holding my breath on!

Once we both felt “heard,” we were able to reassess the situation and come up with alternative options.  The bags were already packed so why not wait out the virus another 12 hours and see if things look differently in the morning?  And, blessedly, they did!  I was still only about 65% but it was a doable percentage of health!  I am used to traveling “under par.”  We called the “Yurt Man” and had another prayer answered.  He told us we could extend our stay a night to make up for the night missed.  In the end, we ended up getting even more time there (extra hours on our arrival and departure days).

Because we’ve learned flexibility in dealing with my myriad of conditions, we were able to view all sides of the problem and come up with multiple solutions.  This is a gift of having chronic illness!  Most people aren’t challenged on a daily basis to constantly reassess their mood, physical ability, needed accommodations, time, energy and scheduled plans.  At times, this may feel like a burden.  But when posed with an unexpected challenge, you have the resources to think outside of the box!  That’s the gift.

Because we were flexible, I’ve just returned from four glorious days in nature.  Yurting was our first “adjustment,” providing us an outdoor camping experience with the luxury of a raised futon bed and even indoor plumbing!  And what a prize we received for searching for an unique vacation that would suit our needs… views of 80 acres all to ourselves; an abundance of wildlife (from Baltimore Oriels to Barred Owls to even an exotic blue hummingbird that buzzed right up each of our noses, to night coyotes and morning fawns… the list goes on and on!); an opportunity to take off the watch and forget about T.V.; moments to re-connect through Scabble and Yahtzee challenges and the nightly ritual of reading each other to sleep; and a chance for my first foray into Plein Air painting, interpreting the hills and mists and wildflowers from across my field of vision onto my canvas.

The blessing of replenishing the all of me ~ mind, body and spirit.

But the best gift of all?  The self-knowledge that just because I have chronic disease doesn’t mean I have to stop living.  It’s just one more example of how I am living differently.  Recently, my mom said to me that she feared planning a trip together, not knowing “what my body could handle.”  My gut response was, “I don’t know what my body can handle on any given day, in any given hour.  But I also don’t want to let the fear of that keep me from planning anything in my life!  People travel with all sorts of abilities and special needs.  I can’t wait to live my life until I feel better.  This is my life and I want to live it now!

After this excursion, I truly believe those brave words I so brazenly declared!

LIVE YOU LIFE NOW!  WHAT YOU HAVE AND WHO YOU ARE, ARE WHAT YOU’VE GOT.  USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE… NOT YOUR DISADVANTAGE! 

Go out and adventure and then let me know what you discover about yourself and what you can do!!

Breathe

truespiritblog

Breathe

A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge.
The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter:
“Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.” The little girl said:
“No, Dad. You hold my hand.”
“What’s the difference?” Asked the puzzled father.

“There’s a big difference,” replied the little girl.
“If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.”

In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond. So hold the hand of the person whom you love rather than expecting them to hold yours…

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We Each Have A Different Peak to Climb

Loomis Yurt; Waterville, NY

Loomis Yurt; Waterville, NY

A yurting we will go, a yurting we will go! Hi Ho a Merry-O, a yurting we will go!

As is typical with people who suddenly develop autoimmune conditions, I was an extremely active and healthy person before my body suddenly decided to turn on itself.

My husband and I would spend every warm week-end (and many of the cold, snowy ones, too) exploring the great outdoors.   While living in Boston, we would “conquer” a different leg of the Appalachian Trail each chance we got, and we would start a day-off with, “So, what state do you want to explore today?!”  We loved backpacking, canoeing, and camping, especially hidden, off the beaten path gems.

To me there was nothing better than huffing and puffing my way up a steep mountain incline, stopping several times with the distinct feeling “I would never make it,” only to rise to the challenge and arrive at the peak, collapsing in victory and taking in the vista I had whole-heartedly earned a view of.  We would daydream of future excursions with our children; first traveling on our backs and then racing us up the mountain on their own sturdy legs.

But, alas, life had a different plan in store for me.  The week I first became very ill was in fact only ten days after a week-end camping excursion.  We had been tented in a field of high grasses deep in the Catskill Mountains on the border of New York and Connecticut.  It wasn’t until a year later that doctors surmised I may have contracted Lyme Disease.  But, too much time had passed to really tell.  I tested positive, but in an unusual way of course: off the charts high on most markers, but low on the two the CDC considers “test positive.”  But even more ridiculous was the fact that I was told “Currently, there is no Lyme Disease in N.Y.S.”  Mind you, there were high levels in all surrounding states, but of course, deer know not to cross state lines, right? Hah!

No matter the journey, here I am today.  A woman who’s heart still yearns to answer the call of the wild, but whose body is unable to keep up the chase.  But the best way I’ve learned to accept my current condition and balance my wants with my abilities is to compromise.  And that’s where “yurting” comes in!..

As dawn of the first day of summer could be seen on the horizon, my husband and I begin to itch and twitch; our deep craving for a dose of the outdoors had begun! We started to dream of nights around the campfire, star sentinels marching their way across the sky… waking to the brisk morning air, waiting in anxious anticipation for the long brewing camp coffee… unplugging and unwinding… reading and playing scrabble… just quietly being.

And, thus, the search began for a place that would feed our wild spirits but would also accommodate my physical needs.  And that’s when we happened upon a Yurt rental nestled alone on 80 acres, just a mere 2 hours from us, yet light years away from city life.  The new term for this is “glamping” a twist on “glamorous camping.”  I don’t really care what outrageous term they attach to it.  For me, it’s called “possibility.”  It’s the world saying, “The life you love doesn’t have to stop.  You just have to adjust your compass and rechart your course!” 

We will be leaving for this adventure on Sunday and I can’t wait to let you know the outcome. 

“Solstice” describes a time when the sun reaches its highest peak in the sky.  Today, my peak is lower than it was before, but it’s hovering in a space that is attainable.  I choose not to set unrealistic goals, only to come up short and feel “less than” the rest of the world.  I am all that and more.  And so are you… for each of us, the height of our peaks are different.  So, for today, throw open the windows in the house of your soul, clear away the dust of days past, and inhale the sharp scent of a new season… filled with and abundance of new and yet to be imagined prospects

You don’t have to stop living.  You just have to start living differently!

Embrace the “different” in yourself and see what dreams you can come up with that will ignite your soul with a beacon of hope and possibility!

Accepting the Sky is NOT the Limit

Flaconer taken by Nature's Peace Creations, NY, USA

As an autoimmune-gal, my body does not like repetitive activities.  Of any kind.  Yet, I can so easily forget this!  Or, perhaps, it’s just that my mind hopes that this time will be different.

Well, blogging is one of those times!  I’ve gone a little gung-ho, caught up in the wave of excitement, the pulse of camaraderie with fellow bloggers.  It’s a heady mix, and I’ve been sticking my head in full-on to breathe in its intoxicating scent.

Then two days ago, as I am readying for bed, I notice my middle finger is swollen, painful, deeply bruised, and “stuck” at a 45° angle.  Oh, well must of bumped it, my mind rationalizes, thinking, I’m sure it will be better by tomorrow.

Yesterday arrives and my finger is in fact less swollen and discolored (albeit, slightly).  But as the day wore on and the symptoms only got worse, my finger throbbed in a constant reminder that I needed to face facts: the repetition of typing and computing has sent my joint into a dangerous arthritic flare.  Even though this digit was on my non-dominant hand, as I returned to the laptop last night, I discovered I use it for almost all my left hand typing as well as my “scrolling-finger.”  Oops.

Once again, I found myself standing at the Crossroads of Acceptance:

I could, one, continue on the Path of Denial (To heck with the consequences!)

Or, two, sit down right where I am, cross my arms across my chest defiantly, and vehemently shake my head: “NO! I don’t want to choose a path; I want to stay on the straight ahead like a ‘normally-abled’ person!”

And, then there’s option three: take the new path, the detour on my intended journey.  Remind myself that each new twist and turn in my way has afforded me an opportunity to learn something new about myself.  Today, I’ve learned that I don’t have to hold this pain, fear, and worry alone.  I can share it with all of you- those who are part of my support team, those who are struggling with similar issues, those with spiritual hope and guidance to share. . .

And, that’s when I remembered: practicing the Art of Acceptance is a gift not a curse! 

No, the sky may not be the limit for me.  But, instead of focusing on heading in one constant, forward direction, my determined eye on the prize, with no acceptance of anything “less,” I am able to travel sideways and down wards and back up again.  This affords me vistas of the entire expanse of sky; and a better understanding of the all of me, both my strengths and my limitations.

One positive thing about have an ever-changing disease is that it is an ever-changing disease.  Today, I need to limit my time on the computer, but that’s just for today.  Tomorrow, the wind will blow a different way (or even more apt, the barometric pressure will shift!) and I’ll have to adjust my sails.  But, at least, I’ll never have a “stagnant” life… mine is an evolving landscape in a constantly flowing river, sometimes rapids, sometimes tranquil pools, but never the same, that’s for sure!

I don’t have to stop what I enjoy, in this case, continuing this blog.  I just need to re-adjust my expectations.  “Lowering your expectations to meet your standards,” may sound like acquiescing. But, for me, it is just knowing my own truth.  And honoring the person I am, without judgment.

I have a lot to offer this world and so do you!  We may just do it in an altered way.  And, what’s so wrong with that?  To be an individual carving out a pathway that suits you:  Now that’s acceptance of all that you are and all that you can do.

Today’s Affirmation:

“I accept the all of me.”

A Cosmic Connection~All Through the Power of Prayer

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Creator~

Help me spread your light wherever I go.

Flood my soul with your spirit and life.

Penetrate and possess my whole being so that

my life may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine through me and be so in me so that every soul

I know will feel your presence in my soul

AMEN

The other night a friend called me in deep despair.  She was coming undone and I felt useless as to a means in which to help her.  I listened to her.  I made gentle suggestions.  I validated her feelings.  Nothing seemed to help.

She hung up suddenly.  “Oh, I’ve got to go.” Click. And silence. I sat stunned to my spot, receiver still dangling from my hand.  Did I say enough?  Could I have done more?  Is she okay?  I was filled with doubt and worry.  My husband came in at this moment and upon inquiry I shared my concerns with him.  He reassured me that I did the best I could.  That unfortunately no one can take away another’s pain.  That growth comes at the edge of despair, change at the end of our comfort zone. 

I knew all this.  And yet … wasn’t there something else I could do?

I sat there feeling utterly helpless, when the answer tickled my mind… “pray for her,” this thought whispered.  It was the simplest of solutions, yet the one so often easily dismissed; an abstract, intuitive way instead of an “I’m going to grab a hammer and nail your heart back together” way!

So here I sat, feeling completely powerless, when I realized I did have control over something.  I couldn’t reach across the phone lines and “fix” her side, but I could take immediate action on mine.

I knew that the best gift I could give her in that moment was to just hold the space with her.  To let her know she was not alone.  I did not even know the details of what had triggered this onslaught of emotions, but I could understand the feelings that had gushed forth.  I could create a space where she didn’t have to stem the flow of this tsunami alone.

What happened next still gives me chills…

I quieted my mind and centered my heart and spirit.  I set my intention and asked the Universe for help.  I pictured my friend, curled up in a tight ball, waves of anxiety, fear and loneliness radiating from her.  I focused on this auric ball of clashing colors and slowly transformed them into a harmonic circle of light and love, pulsating in soothing hues to the rhythm of her slowing heartbeat.  I pictured her blanketed in a quilt of comfort, woven from all the love of the Universe, God, Goddess, her spirit guides, angels, friends and family.  I poured forth deep healing energies from my core; picturing my own Soul Beacon enlightening hers; highlighting the path back to her own center.

Sometime during this meditation, I became so deeply relaxed that I actually fell asleep.  My dream was filled with warmth and swirling threads of gossamer light circling around me.  When I awoke, I felt as if my friend and I had rocked each other to sleep.  I felt her strength grow.  I pictured her feeling grounded and cared for.  I breathed my wish of peace for her into Goddesses’ ears and I closed my prayer.

The rest was now truly out of my hands.  But I now had faith, knowing that I had done my part.  She would be carried through whatever trials were in her way.

It wasn’t until 3 days later that she shared her experience of that night with me …

I had texted her a message similar to above about “holding the space for her,” but that was all.  She told me she had received this much later that night, but upon checking the time stamp, was stunned to learn the synchronicity in timing of my prayer, coinciding with her miracle; one that occurred in the midst of her anguish:

After she hung up the phone with me, she laid her head on her window sill and sobbed.  She felt desperate.  She felt ill-equipped to care for herself in that moment, let alone for her two young children that were in the house with her.  All she craved was for someone to take care of her for once.

Her wish must have been carried on the winds, for her prayer was answered.

A short time later, she was sitting in her chair, despondent.  She heard someone come into her room and assumed it was her youngest child.  For she was the intuitive one, and would often respond to her mother’s needs and emotions, offering up comfort and cuddles.

But as she looked up, she discovered it was her older daughter; a child with sensitive needs who would most often pull the emotional tide in her own direction.   But, not this time.

This time, she came to comfort her mom.  She told her she loved her.  She offered her a hug.

They wound up snuggling on the bed together, honestly expressing their feelings, building a new layer of trust between them.  And they both fell asleep.

My friend awoke off and on and in the end found a book to read while she stayed wrapped up in the warmth of her daughter.  When her child awoke, she looked up, and lovingly smiled.  That’s all it took.

My friend told me that this was a turning point for her.  She felt like a miracle of insight had occurred. Over the next couple of days, she realized that she had been living in a frantic state, hovering on the chasm of chaos.  Yet when she took a back seat and let God guide the way, she provided for her.  And when she let go of the expectations of “how” she wanted her prayer to be answered, she became open to embracing the unexpected way in which God did heed her prayer… by providing the gift of compassion and love from a daughter to a mother.

Once she finished her tale, I shared with her my prayer experience.  Our timelines were in perfect sync.  All that could be said was silence.  We sent up a small prayer of gratitude for this gift of cosmic connection.

So remember, when someone you love is suffering (physically, mentally, financially, etc.) and you feel like you can’t find any tools in which to help them,  everything you need is already with you, at any time:  The Power-tool of Prayer. Reach into your heart and mind and pull it out, dust it off and try it out for a change.  You don’t even have to pray to a specific god.  You just have to set your intention and ask for help, guidance and insight.  Don’t imagine the outcome, only the processes of embracing whatever gifts or messages that will be presented to you.

All you have to do is help hold the space.

The Art of HOPE

 

Image“A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.

It can be meaningless.  Or it can be part of a great meaning.”

(Talmudic Zen)

I’ve always lived from the heart and been a child of wonder and light, but the static of everyday clouded my vision.  Until 8 years ago when I became so sick; I was on the brink of death.  To others this would be a curse, but to me it was a great gift… of insight, of love, of light, of Hope… of Living from the Heart.

I was stripped bare of all external armor, and all that was left was the rawest sense of my being.  This sounds frightening at first.  We need our protective shells to survive, right?  In some respects, that’s true.  But in so many other ways, the same armor that protects us from life’s pratfalls, also keeps us from falling.  And sometimes we just need to fall in order to be caught.

Today, I was preparing to publish an entirely different post when I came across the marvelous blog:  http://heartflow2013.wordpress.com/ Reading about his experiences “Living from the Heart,” struck such a deep chord within me, I instantly knew this is what I was supposed to write about today;  I decided to follow my heart.

I’ve struggled over the years in how to explain to others about what happened to me when I nearly died (on three separate occasions!).  But I also know my experiences can benefit others.  So, just for today, I’ll begin to tell my tale… 

I believe that to live without an exoskeleton, means I listen to my heart when it speaks.  I don’t question it, justify my behaviors, judge my thoughts.  In other words, I don’t let my head take over for my heart.

And isn’t this most of ours “go-to place?”  We’re taught that strength lies in pragmatic thinking.  In analyzing our behaviors and reactions to situations.  In measuring our responses to the ways others may respond back to us.  To put on a front.  To bury our hearts deep below a fatty layer of protective tissue.

When one comments, “Oh, she’s one to wear her heart on her sleeve!,” it’s not generally meant as a compliment.  It’s “those people” who can’t keep their emotions in check, who are reactive, who are overly sensitive.

But I see this so differently!  There is a freedom in leading with your heart.  A freeing of your one true nature.

After I awoke in the hospital ICU, I was stripped bare (and I’m not just talking about the flimsy gowns!).  It was like all the external stimuli had dropped away, and I was now relating at the most humanistic of levels.  The language I heard was of heart-heart, soul-soul.  At first, it was like I was now hearing in colors. I know, I know, it sounds a little wacky.  But that’s just because it goes against the grain of everything we’ve been taught.

But try thinking of it this way… we live in a world of a thousand languages.  Yet, at some elemental level, we all speak the same language, right?  We all walk to the same life beat, right?  That’s the language of souls.  That’s a conversation in color.

When I was at my most physically vulnerable state, I was presented the greatest gift of my life: the gift of sight.  I began to notice that people dragged around wisps of light and color with them.  Some would glow, some would breathe and for others, it appeared as a gauzy cloak enveloping their entire body.  At first, I didn’t pay it much heed instead attributing these visual anomalies to drug-induced hallucinations combined with a severely weakened physical and mental state.   But as my body regained its strength and my mind its clarity, I discovered that these visual auras stayed.  And not only was I able to see the energy that encompasses each human, I became aware of how my energy interacted with theirs.  I witnessed energy being drained by hostile and negative encounters; and inversely, how the energy would grow bigger and brighter after positive and uplifting exchanges.  So I began to experiment with my own interactions.

I discovered that we all have a tendency to hoard our cache load of energy.  We live in a fear-induced state where we are afraid to become completed depleted by the giving away of ourselves.  I was certainly in a physically depleted state.  All my energies were directed at pure survival.  But, what is surviving without soul… that’s just thriving.  And I didn’t want to thrive; I wanted to and still want to SURVIVE!

And to truly survive, you need the energy and love from others.  I had a vision of sorts that inside each of us is a Beacon of Light & Hope.  I named this our “Soul Beacons” (c.).   Over the next few days, I’m going to post a variety of current day experiences that highlight the strength of living from the heart and embracing Hope in everything and everyone.  How in shining your Soul Beacon out, illuminating the pathway for others they, in turn, will light your way.   It shows itself in big ways and small ways, in expected and unexpected ways, and in a variety of interactions.

I have felt the floor disappear between my feet, the walls crumble between people, and my soul merge and meld with all around me.  I have experienced the spirit within all of us.  It was so obvious and easy to participate in the flow of energies from soul to soul, when I had no external distractions.  But as I have become healthier and therefore more immersed in daily life, I’ve also been re-exposed to all the daily noise.  The static that clutters our minds, and clouds are hearts. 

To practice the Art of Hope takes dedication.  What interactions will you have today that are purely heart to heart?  How can you reach out your heart to another?  How can you embrace the energy that will flow freely back to you?  In what ways can you center your thoughts, clear away the clutter of your mind, and get in tune with what your heart truly wants?