Finding a Connection

Whether you use the word God, Universe, Creator, Spirit, or some other term we are all talking about the same thing, that force of life that is in all of us, that guiding force that lets us know there is something greater than ourselves that we are part of that. It is not something separate but something that connects us. For me, it is important to feel this connection. That does not happen by going through my mundane life, plodding along and checking the boxes. It takes an effort on my part to attend events, connect with others on the same spiritual path, and go to locations where I can feel that connection. This weekend I had just this sort of event on my calendar, because a friend had reached out and asked me to attend with her. I am so glad she did. It was an amazingly moving event that inspired us and left us fulfilled.

On Saturday night we went to a Kirtan. What is Kirtan? According to Courtney Amundson and Chi Johnson (the people lead the Kirtan we attended) “Kirtan, also called Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), is an ancient practice that stems from India. The call-and-response nature of Kirtan involves both performers and audience, setting a unique and sacred space that quiets the mind, reduces stress, and awakens your spirit within. Kirtan is open to all people, regardless of spiritual or religious beliefs!”  It was held in a beautiful space. A yoga studio in the lower level of the Compass Center in Stillwater, MN. The people in attendance ranged from an infant to seniors. Some people sat on the floor and others in chairs. The music was beautiful. The voices, raised together in song, created a beautifully energetic connection between all in attendance.

The music moved my body. As I sat on my yoga mat, I could not help but feel my body swaying in response the rhythms that filled the room. My voice raised signing/chanting the response to the call from the facilitators. I do not feel I have a gift for singing nor do it in public, but on this night, my voice would not be silent. I was a part of the communal energy. The vibration that resonated through the studio. The 3 month old infant was mesmerized by the music and her tiny foot also moved in response. The beauty of this experience even moved some to tears. When I had entered the room, my neck was tight, full of knots, and uncomfortable. It had been a harried day of trying to get projects completed, readying for the arrival of winter, and keeping promises to friends. I walked into this beautiful room, stressed from rushing about and with a headache. As the music and the voices were raised, as I was picked up within the loving, supportive vibrations and everything changed. The stress dropped away. The knots in my neck seemed to melt and released. The headache disappeared. I felt renewed. I felt energized. I felt connected.

I am grateful that my friend reached out to share this experience with us. I am blessed to have a husband who will try new things and is open to attending events like this with me. My life is magical. This spiritual adventure was one of the many blessings that flow into it everyday.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your life be filled with events that fill your cup in whatever way you need, as if by magic.

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Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining?

I am here to ask if you would go on another adventure with me? This is a challenge that sounds easy, but it is not for the squeamish. This will require you to come face to face with the type of energy you are REALLY putting out into the world. When I first heard of this challenge, or movement might be more appropriate, I thought it sounded like something I could master pretty easily. After all, I am a positive person. At least I thought I was a positive person. Does this intrigue you? Do you think you can do it? Of course you can. We can do it together.

First, let me start by telling you this is one of the reasons I LOVE social media. This movement, was totally off my radar, until I saw it in a Facebook friends post. She was starting the challenge of 21 consecutive days of being complaint free. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. Thankfully, she posed a link to a keynote speech given by Will Bowen. After watching his speech, I thought, this is something I have to do even though I had no idea what this was going to entail and what it would teach me about myself.

I naively jumped into this challenge believing my natural Pollyanna attitude would carry me easily to day 21. I knew I was not perfect. I do hear myself complain from time to time. I know, that at times, I even relish the complaining. Really enjoying an occasional good “bitch session”.  Let me tell you something. Despite how self aware I think I may be, I have big old “blind spot” where I don’t see my own imperfections. I complain, A LOT.  I have been on this adventure now for about a week and I am still on day one.

One of my favorite things Will says, in his key note speech is, “There is no shame in day one”. Boy oh boy, I have embraced this as my mantra! After a week I am still on day one. I think some of the days I have complained less, than I would have, before I started this adventure. I have certainly become more aware of how quickly and easily I do complain. I am trying to notice when I am the one who is initiating the complaints verses when I am the one who jumping on the complaint bandwagon. I will tell you, I am certainly guilty of both.

I was beginning to feel a bit discouraged by my inability to get past day one. I thought, maybe I wasn’t keeping it front of my mind, enough? I get it that complaining is a habit and will take time to break it, but a week without being able to go past 1 day without voicing a complaint?! What am I doing wrong? I decided I need to keep the adventure front of mind for myself. I looked for the audio book that Will wrote. It’s called, A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. I downloaded it and started to listen to it while I was commuting. Surely, this will be what I need to remain complaint free for a day or two. Nope! I am still catching myself complaining but there is some really great stuff happening. 

One of the really wonderful things is I am now aware of myself and my complaining in a way I have never been in the past. I am telling you, I really thought I was Stacy Sunshine. I was more than a bit surprised to find out that is “not” the vibration I am sharing with the world all of the time. The other thing that I learned, from listening to Will’s book is this; he struggled too. He did not immediately jump to day 2. There were days he celebrated that he only complained 5 times. Ok, so now I feel better. I am not alone in my Eeyore nature. We “all” do it.

I do know this! I do not want to be a complainer. I do not what to bring others down and put negative vibrations out into the world or even boost myself up by gossiping about others. This is not who I am on a soul level! This is not the person I am here to be. I want to raise the vibration and be an inspiration. So, you want to go on an adventure with me?! Let’s do a 21 consecutive days; complaint free! I will write update blogs to let you know how I am doing and you can share hints, tips, and tricks of what is helping you along the way. Together we can help Will’s movement of a complaint free world spread even further and faster across this planet. He does say; it takes most people about 8 months to reach the 21 days. Let’s see if we can beat that!

We can do this! Remember that Will says; “There is no shame in day one”. Want to join this adventure?! Why not? What have you got to loose?

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find your spirit positive and your words hopeful, as if by magic.

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Speak from the Heart

Have you heard of the Chakras? How you can use these ancient energy centers to help your message, be not only heard but also felt? This simple technique can help you send the purest intentions to those you are communicating with.

The Chakras are energy centers within the body. There are 7 of them.  They start at the base of the spine and move to the top of the head. Some traditions even teach of an 8th center above the head. They are all represented by different colors. The colors of a couple of them vary, a little, depending on the tradition in which you learned of them. I first learned about the Chakras when I was trained in Reiki Energy Healing. So, starting at the base of the spine, I will list the Chakras for you. At the bottom of the spine is the Base Chakra. It is represented by the color red and is related to safety and security. In the lower abdomen is the Sacral Chakra, which is represented by the color orange. It affects passion, creativity, and sexuality. Next we have the Solar Plexus Chakra. Yellow is its color and it has to do with self-esteem and personal power. As we move up to mid-chest we have the Heart Chakra. It is green and rules the emotions. In the neck is the Throat Chakra. It has to do with your voice and making yourself heard. It is blue. Between the eyebrows is the third eye or Brow Chakra. It is purple. (in my Reiki tradition but Indigo in other traditions) It has to do with interpreting information and intuition. At the top of the head is the Crown. It can be represented by clear or by the color purple. It has to do with your spiritual connection.

Now that you know a little about the Chakras; I feel I should be encouraging you to speak from the Throat? It is true that our Throat Chakra helps us be heard and it is an important part of the equation. If you speak from the Heart your words will be stronger, more meaningful, and spoken with the purest of intent. It is easy to see how this might make sense in a speech about an emotional topic, like children, or healthcare. But there may be a topic that just doesn’t seem like it has room for emotions. Let’s say you are giving a speech on accounting. This may seem to be a very cut and dry type of speech, about numbers and procedures. There doesn’t seem to be room for emotions in this speech. If you speak from the Heart, however, your truest intentions will come through. Those hearing your speech will also feel your intention to help them or call them into action.

So how do you speak from the Heart? I feel visualization is a powerful tool to use. Picture the words coming down through your Throat and projecting out of your Chest, right through the green revolving energy center there. See your words entering the audience in the same place. A Heart to Heart connection. Feel the warmth of your words spreading throughout their being with the best intentions to help them. Practice it and watch the difference in how people respond to you when they not only hear your words but also feel your words.

Speaking from the Heart can be a powerful tool to help you make you message known and get your intentions communicated. Using this simple visualization, you could find that you are more easily able to affect not only those around you but also the world.

May your life be full of communication, that is not only heard, but also (having those good intentions) felt. Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you!

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The Power of Forest Bathing

It was my husband who first introduced me to the term forest bathing. The terminology brings to mind a stainless steel horse trough sitting out in the woods full of warm sparkling water while a naked being sits happily with arms on the side of the tub and head tipped back enjoying the peaceful bath and surroundings. IMG_3704 2As lovely as that sounds, that is not what forest bathing is. Forest bathing is a term that started in Japan in the 1980. It is about being in the forests. Walking or resting amidst the trees. Allowing the healing power of nature to improve your health.

IMG_7948 I fully understand the power of nature to lighten your spirt, raise your vibration, and make the world seem a little bit brighter. Living in a northern climate, were winter lasts half the year, I miss the call of the dirt path through the trees. I miss walking between the trunks great and small, having the branches of the shrubs brush against my body as I journey on, feeling the filtered sunlight on my face. In the spring the forest smells like dirt and the occasional blossom. In the summer I think it smells like life itself. Everything is boldly green and in its fullest, happiest stage of life. In the fall, the smell becomes that of ripe fruit and the leaves decomposing and returning to the earth. Winter has a crisp clean smell in the forest. The frozen crystalline world has the smell of a fresh start. The sounds change with the seasons also, bird songs and animals scurrying in the brush, give way to the crunch of leaves underfoot and the cracking of ice on branches. Whatever the season that you decide to visit the forest many magical gifts await you there.

IMG_8436.jpgThere is power there, for you amongst the mighty giants and new saplings. The life force energy that runs through the trees can renew you. It can renew you. It can help you improve your health, fight off illness, and sleep better at night. IMG_9762

We had an especially long and cold winter this year, with piles of snow that seem they will never go away. My husband and I journeyed to Washington State. This gave us a break from the winter weather and allowed us to get out and do some spring forest bathing. We hiked among the mighty trunks of giant Pacific Northwest trees. They seemed to reach up to the heavens. I could breath again. Suddenly all the stress of life and the rushing here and there just melted away. All that mattered was the forest full of new and fresh growth and our companionship as we journeyed through the forest. It felt like a fresh start. It was a healing journey.

DSC_0633.jpgThere is power and magic in the forest and if you take time to listen, the trees will speak to you. They will share their ancient wisdom. They will teach you how to heal yourself and to care for your neighbor. I strongly encourage you to get out there and take a forest bath.

 

Thank you for Reading my blog today! I wish you a lifetime of happy, peaceful time in Nature. I love you.

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Do You See Me?

I am listening to an interesting audiobook. Because Emy and I are in the process of getting our own books published, we have been reading other peoples’ teaching memoirs, as a way to compare and contrast to our own. Right now I am listening to The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Amanda was, for about 5 years, a street performer. You know, one of those statues you see in touristy sections of large towns,when you throw some money in their hat they start to move and do something (hopefully) entertaining. She talks about our desire (as humans)for connection. She talks about our desire to be seen. These are things we all want, even if each in our own way.
How do you seek out human connection? Is it through close relationships with friends and family? Is is through a blog? Emy and I fostered a deep human connection with one another through our trips to the BWCA. Now we hope to expand that connection by publishing the books we have written about those experiences. My marriage is another form of connection. We witness each others lives. We are there for the tears, laughter, missteps, and all the in-betweens. Most of us have connections with friends and family but it seems that is not enough. We have a drive and a desire to continue to find connections with others. It seems to me we all want to connect, even in the smallest ways with strangers.
Is the drive to find connection with others, a deep seated survival instinct? If we notice that we are the same maybe we won’t want to harm the other? If we notice that we are the same, maybe if we need help, the other will come help us? Another possibility is that of soul connections. Maybe on an energetic level we recognize each other from another time and space. Namaste means the Divine in me recognizes the Divine in you. Perhaps that is the connection we are all looking for. Namaste! What ever the reason, we have small brief connections with others all the time. On the rental car shuttle someone will sneeze and invariably someone else, often all the way across the bus, will say, “bless you”. When I am settled into my seat on the airplane and someone sits in the center seat next to me, they feel compelled to say hello or apologize while they are getting settled into their space for the flight. Holding doors and elevators are other ways we have minuscule relationships with our fellow humans. These are all brief forms of connection with strangers. When that stranger smiles at us, looks us in the eye, and says; “Thank you”. We feel fulfilled in that moment.
I can not tell you why we feel this drive to connect with others. I only know, I witness it in small ways, every day. In small insignificant interactions, human connection between strangers takes place like a spiderweb. The way the morning dew glistens on the soft fibers of the sider’s web, the spark of recognition, glistens in the eyes of our human brothers and sisters during these momentary threads of connection.
Namaste my friends! I do see you. I do see the Divine within you. Thank you for reading my blog today. Thank you for connecting with me in this brief moment in time.
What are your thoughts? How do you look for connection with others? What little interactions with strangers makes you feel the best?

 

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My New Favorite Saint (well…almost)

I was raised Catholic. This religion no longer resonates with me because my beliefs have shifted. Still, there are parts of Catholicism that will forever be part of who I am. St. Anthony, if you don’t know his story, is who you call on when you loose something and he will find it for you. It really is magical. Try it sometime and you will see. This morning I was listening to a book and I heard a story of a saint I had not heard before. It intrigued me. Although St. Anthony is my favorite saint, St. Martha is climbing the charts.

Many know the stories of St. George who slays the dragon. St. Martha also conquered a dragon. She did it in a very different way. Instead of slaying the dragon, she tamed it. I think this illustrates the difference between the masculine energy and feminine energy. St.  George springs into action and through brute strength, plunges his sword into the beast and kills it. St. Martha, when faced with a similar situation, takes a walk in the forest; nurtures, befriends, and then eliminates the threat through kindness. This is not saying that the feminine approach is better than the male. When I hear a sound in the house in the middle of the night, I am supremely grateful for the protective nature of my husband. I do think though that society tends to dismiss the power of nurturing kindness.

Think about the way that we have the power to change and shift the vibrational quality of the planet if we did it through feminine energy. Nurturing and caring for each other through tough days, rather than sharing anger and raising our fists at the frustration. By validating what the other person is going through and showing them love and encouragement, we can elevate the vibration higher.

Anger has its place and is a very valid feeling. Please do not dishonor your feelings. You feel what you feel and that is not wrong. However, when you feel that anger, acknowledge it and then look if there is a way that you can handle the situation more like St. Martha than like St. George. Let’s say your child comes home from school with a black eye. There are many ways you might respond. Perhaps you get angry. How could the school have let anyone hurt your babe. You are going to call them and give them a piece of your mind right now. You fly off in a rant (probably in front of your child) about how this should’t have happened. In contradiction to that you may hold you child close. Ask them what happened. Get them some ice to put on their eye. Snuggle with them on the couch and have them share how the experience made them feel. Do you see the difference? Both examples are completely based on love for the child. One resonates with St. George energy and the other is more St. Martha.

We are all predisposed to react one way or the other. In life we need balance in all things. That is why we all have both masculine and feminine energies within us. When you see others responding to stress around you, observe the different types of responses. Notice the power that is held by the beautiful soft feminine energy. Just think how things could shift in the world with a little more of that.

What experience have you had with these different energies? How did this make you feel? What would you like to share with others?

Have a blessed day today. Thank you for reading my blog!

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Do I have enough gas to get there?

There are two types of people – at least according to the joke about gas in the car. There are the people who will fill up as soon (or before) the tank gets down to the halfway point. Then there are the people like me. When the light comes on, warning me that the car is almost empty, I try to see if I can still get to my next destination (sometimes even a second destination). Despite this game, I have never run out of gas. On the surface it looks like irresponsible risk taking, but I will tell you, it is not. I know that when the gas tank registers “E” there is about a gallon of gas left. If I know the mileage the car gets, I can do the math and figure out approximately how many miles I can drive.
In life, it can be a bit more difficult. I will push push push myself to go further, work harder and take on one more task. There are times I really wonder if I will have enough gas to get there. My day job is demanding and requires that I travel 4 days out of every week. My work takes up most of those days from waking till I go to sleep at night. I volunteer as an administrator for our local Buy Nothing Project. This does not take up a huge amount of my time but is something I need to fit in. I also have a couple other sporadic volunteer things I do to support the community. Then there’s the Family responsibilities with my daughters and grandchildren, which are joyous ways to spend time, but is still time spent. My step son also needs and deserves some of my time. Cherished time with friends is also an important aspect of my life and time. I have a monthly event that I host to help others on their spiritual path. This preparing for and hosting also drains my gas tank. Add to all of this blogging, writing books, and working on proposals with my coauthor. Some days I feel like I am running on fumes. And last but not at all least is time with my husband. Although, this probably fuels my tank more than drains it.
I’m sure most people today could make a list like I just did about everything that is tugging at their time. Jobs, family, housework, community; we would not want to give any of them up. We just need to make sure we have enough fuel in the tank to get everywhere we need to go. So what can I do when I start to run out of gas? How can I be sure to keep my tank full? Below is a dozen ideas that can help when you feel like you just don’t have any steam left.
1. Me time – find a quiet few minutes to spend time on yourself. Maybe take a bath or go to a yoga class with your me time. Maybe just have a cup of tea and read a book.
2. Exercise – even something as simple as going for a walk can help get the heart pumping and clear away the cobwebs. The world will seem brighter.
3. Healthy food choices – Have a snack, but make it something that will nourish your body. Then you will feel good about putting it into your body.
4. Fun – I love to travel. So if my husband and I can sneak away for a weekend, I feel like my tank has been filled. Other ideas could be a card game with friends, shopping, or a girls luncheon are all different ways to have fun.
5. Nature – Be out in the forest, sit by a lake, hike through he desert or up a mountain. Maybe you just spend a slice of your day in a park. The fresh air and sun on your face can give you the boost to complete the rest of your day.
6. Meditation – meditation is nice break from all the busy thoughts. You probably will not stop all the thoughts but it will give you the chance to step back from them for a few minutes.
7. Massage – I love the relaxing atmosphere of getting a massage in a dim room with soft music. Feeling those tense muscles start to melt under the skilled hands of the massage therapist can be very rejuvenating.
8. Listen to music – match the music to your mood or the mood you want. I have a “running” play list that is very upbeat. My “yoga” play list is more subdued and provides more zen to my day. “How I feel” is the play list I use when I am more melancholy.
9. Talk to a good listener – We all have that friend who is great at letting you ramble on and on. If you don’t know who this person is in your life, it is probably you. If you don’t have a “listener” friend, ask one of your other friends to fill that role. They will probably be glad to do it from time to time.
10. Count your blessings – we all have so much to be grateful for. You can mentally think of them or write a list. Either way it is a great way to fill your tank.
11. Laugh – Reading jokes on line, listening to a comedian, or watching some comedy are all good ways to laugh it out. There is even laughter yoga. Have you heard of that before?
12. Spend time with those you love – Nothing can fill my tank quite like spending time with my husband, family members, and close friends. Love will and can, keep you going.
Remember to find balance in life between things that fill your tank and empty your tank. You can’t keep going to do, all of those wonderful things that people are counting on you to do, if you don’t take some time to fill your own tank so you can make it all the way.
How do you keep your tank from running on “E”?
What is your favorite self care activity?

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your tank be more than half full always.

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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, like so many beautiful areas, may be at risk from exploitation. If you feel so moved please sign the petition below to save this amazing natural resource!

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