"Nothing can dim the light that shines from within. " ~~Maya Angelou
I took the photo shown here on a Sunday night. After a cold day of steadily falling snow, a magnificent sunset ended the day in beauty, light and warmth.
Quantum Physics tells us that we are made of the same stuff as the stars - and that light infuses and connects all in the universe. But what does it mean to be the light?
For me, there are two aspects, one inward and one outward.
Within is what might be called lightness of being - this is what happens when you live in alignment with your values - when your heart is open to love and compassion. In that state, the density of the physical body shifts and energy and vitality emerge.
The other aspect is outward - the ability to send light out into the world. With the mind and heart you can send light to every aspect of creation - to the plant world, to the earth, to the animal kingdom, and to the human family. Every time you show kindness, you are sending out the light. Every time you express gratitude, you are sending out the light. Every time you listen to another with love and compassion, you are sending out the light.
Of course, the two aspects are interconnected. First you must embody the light, be loving of who you are, grateful for the blessings and challenges you face, open and honest in sharing your gifts and talents. Lightness of being happens through open-hearted self-acceptance. And when you embody that state of being, the light within becomes visible to all.
It is as Mahatma Ghandi said, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do."
I invite you to join me in focusing on the light within. Together we can hold a vision of a world where the light truly illuminates the darkness. Like millions of stars in the night sky, the human family can use light to transform our collective experience.
"Through writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light together, one small step at a time." ~~C. J. Heck, poet and writer
Writing is a wonderful medium available to anyone interested in exploring the world within and without. And it is especially effective as a tool to uncover beliefs, fears and behaviors that may be preventing you from breaking through to the fullest expression of your gifts and talents. Writing can also help heal.
Writing can help heal not only you, the individual, but also the larger human family of which you are a part. There is something about the connection of brain to hand to heart that makes tangible what otherwise might stay hidden.
The human experience comes with doubts, fears, anxieties, past experiences, future dreams, complicated relationships and whatever internal dialogue you have - positive or negative.
I know friends who started writing poetry during the imposed quarantine of the pandemic. Others are writing now after the events following the murder of George Floyd. Whether you are writing for yourself or others, you are using a method that makes seen what might have previously been unseen, and that opportunity for self-expression shines light into the dark corners of your being.
Writing has the power to transport you to other worlds - within and without. Journaling or writing through meditative practice opens doors to the psyche and the connection to that which is the higher mind. Writing can change your perspective, help you make sense of the senseless, deal with fear of the unknown and re-discover who you truly are.
I'm inviting you this week to do some writing - write a letter to an old friend, write a list of things you want to do when you can freely move about in society again, write the changes you would like to see in our society that could bring peace and justice and explore how that could happen.
If you are struggling with a particular emotion, write about it. If you are upset with someone in your life, write a dialogue with them so you can briefly stand in the other person's shoes and gain perspective. If you are feeling lonely, write yourself a love letter - shower yourself with all the blessings you would bestow on the most cherished of friends.
Sometimes there is not a lot you can do to change a situation, but you can get in touch with your own heart and share your words. Writing, like all art forms, brings you into presence, and from that place of presence, healing happens.
Stay well. Stay safe.
"Love is an expression of power. We can use it to transform our world."
~~~ Ericka Huggins, Activist and Educator
These last two weeks have been reminders about what it means to be human; what it means to witness the highest expression of love, connection and compassion, and the lowest of violence, hate and fear.
Together we witnessed unfathomable cruelty in the murder of George Floyd, resulting in an explosion of grief and rage that swept through our hearts, our communities, our cities, our country and the world. And, yet, today as I write, I have hope. I see change coming. And that is a good thing.
For too long we have lived with an illusion that we are all separate. Then, along came a pandemic, bringing us back into the reality that we are one human family and that what happens to one of us ripples around the globe. And now that same human family is poised to move together on a long-delayed path of social justice and change.
Such change can only happen when the people are ready to move; when the people, not any one government, have decided the time for change is now; when the people want the country to reflect who they truly are, and remember the power there is in shared ideals, the power there is in truly caring for one another with compassion and kindness.
We can't escape the ripples over time of wrongs of the past. At some point those ripples reach critical mass and a wave begins. At some point the waves reach unprecedented heights and a new path is carved upon the earth. This is where we are now - standing at the edge of a new path - one we may not walk down but our children will, and our children's children.
So, yes, I have hope. And I invite you to look into your heart and decide how you best want to use your energy during this time. If you are called to protest, then protest. If you are called to write or make art, then write and make art. Whatever you are called to do, I invite you to do so with compassion and love.
Stay well. Stay safe.
"It is exhausting, all this opening up."
~~~ Nitya Prakash, author and film maker.
I know just how he feels. There's a lot of talk today about opening up as communities, towns and cities begin to emerge from the quarantine of COVID-19.
And, of course that gets me thinking about what opening up means in the larger, personal sense. As I emerge into a world where I'm still six-feet apart from you behind a mask, will I be able to open my heart? Does the physical distance create an emotional one?
I don't have the answers but I know that in order to open up - to be vulnerable - you, and I, need to let go of past experiences of hurt, grief, loss and fear. And right now, those experiences are not in the distant past, but in the recent present. Right now, you might be worrying about an uncertain future, about how you will support yourself financially, about whether or not you will be safe and well.
This week, in this time of opening up, I invite you to step into your power - to love and accept all of you - your impatience, your anger, your sadness and your fears. This week work with what you have to make the best of the moments ahead.
You may feel space opening up inside that you hadn't even realized was tight and constrained. Your power (your empowerment) is in the choices you make each day: in the thoughts you give energy to, in the emotions you focus on, in the actions you take.
Opening up requires gentleness. Be gentle with yourself and others this week as you navigate your next steps. Find what is true for you and let that be your guide.
Stay well. Stay safe.
"Acceptance is the currency of love."
~~~ Teal Swan
Painful life experiences can get stuck in the mind and heart. You most likely never ask yourself 'why did I have such a good time at that party?' No, the 'whys' that get stuck in your mind and heart aren't those experiences. Those experiences are just taken as they come - no explanation needed.
Right now is a time that will at some point move into the past as a possibly fearful and painful experience. But it is up to you whether it gets stuck in your mind and heart in such a way that it colors your present and your ability to feel alive and joyful. You no more live in the past than you live in a day yet to be born. But if you keep your mind and heart turned towards the past trying to undo what you might see as painful experiences, then you lose your ability to move forward.
So, what is the way forward?
The only way forward is acceptance. Acceptance says what happened, happened. It cannot be undone. Feel it, grieve it, acknowledge it and then let it go. This is especially important when dealing prolonged, stressful situations like the one we are experiencing now. Acceptance doesn't change the situation but it does move you out of worry and anxiety and into a place of peace.
Acceptance means you wear a face mask if that is what is advised so you keep not only yourself but others well. Acceptance means you find moments of connection in new ways with family and friends. Acceptance means that you recognize where your true power resides - in your ability not to control what happens but to control how you respond to it.
I invite you this week to move into the present through acceptance of all that has come before. Bless it, feel it, grieve it if you still have not done that, and then let it go into the ether. Breathe in a new day - it is one of the great spiritual mysteries and truths that you are born again each day. Harness that energy for just one day - find the gifts that hide within the energy of acceptance - gifts of love and peace.
Stay well. Stay safe.
"Transformation is a journey without a final destination.."
~~~ Marilyn Ferguson
Author Marilyn Ferguson was known as the Apostle of the New Age, envisioning Aquarian ideals and fulfillment of human potential long before such ideas and possibilities became mainstream.
Transformation is always happening in the present and it is rarely comfortable. I think of transformation as a process of puzzle pieces clicking together in new ways to create something that turns the status quo on its head. Something that was not even in our range of vision becomes a vital part of the new picture emerging.
In the collective and personal transformations we are going through right now, the final destination is unknowable, because as you and I transform, the puzzle pieces keep transforming right along with us.
Together we watch as a virus, one of nature's most effective agents of transformation, demonstrates the unknowable process of change. Such transformation, rapid and not well understood, is frightening, especially when the results can be deadly. But, even if you (and I) don't get sick in this Pandemic, we are still going through a very personal process of transformation - of trying to envision a 'new' normal for daily life.
There is a secret to feeling safe while in the process. That secret is to stay within the boundaries of a day, each day. Let your mind not wander to the future and become anxious about what might happen next. Instead stay within the bounds of the day you are given and see what is already changing for you.
You can allow different layers of self to emerge gently. Being gentle with yourself when in a process of transformation is key. Patience and gentleness. You wouldn't express frustration, fear and anger at a flower in the process of opening. Don't do so with yourself and others.
Be patient. Be gentle. Be kind. To self first, honoring the Divine spark. And then to all, including our beautiful mother earth.
Stay well. Stay safe.
"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." ~~Ozzy Osbourne
My mind is up to interesting stuff. Without as many distractions as before, it flits around thinking about COVID-19 to what I'm going to eat for lunch or dinner to figuring out what day it is. And that's just when I first get up!
By mid-day my mind wants to take a break and my body wants to get up and stop working on the computer and breathe in some fresh air. One thing my mind seems to want to do is immerse itself in all things health-related. I signed up to take an online course with Acupuncturist David Crow about botanical antiviral formulas to strengthen my immune system. And I've been taking a homeopathic remedy recommended by my homeopath as a preventative.
But I'm interested in more than just holistic preparations that might be good for me to use right now. I've also signed up for classes to move my body and classes in art and creative writing.
I know you are thinking I am on online overload, and you may be right. But it is rare I have the time in my daily life to take a lot of programs that sound interesting and valuable to me. So, I'm following my mind along this path of healing that seems to be my major focus.
In this time where there is little I (or you) can do to make known the unknown, learning is one of those activities that moves the mind away from worry and stressful thoughts and into a place of receptivity. So, for me I've decided to keep learning.
Whatever your mind finds interesting, look for courses or programs being offered that might speak to those topics. One friend is taking an online course on Scottish clans (perhaps she is watching Outlander right now?). Another friend just mentioned that she is hooked on a course in French cuisine. I can't wait to be join her for dinner once that is possible.
I invite you this week to explore learning that either engages your mind or allays your fears or educates you on health and keeping yourself as healthy as possible. Whatever you learn will serve you well as together we re-emerge from this time.
Stay in. Stay well. Stay safe.
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
Cicero's sentiment is one we are all feeling right now. You have only to see the videos of the nightly rituals of making noise at 7:00 pm to thank the healthcare workers in New York City to agree we are big on gratitude these days.
And we have so many people to be grateful for.
Think of this display of gratitude we are seeing in so many places as a side effect of the global pandemic and the upending of our usual daily lives. It is one of the good things that has come from this. It is a good thing to remember and be grateful for all the people keeping our lives going while we are staying safe and following the guidelines.
Real gratitude opens the heart and an open heart is one that is at peace with itself. It isn't about what you have or don't have - it is a state of mind that connects your soul-self to the greater flow of divine blessings. You can have gratitude even in the most difficult of circumstances, like the one we collectively find ourselves in now, and that might be when it is most needed.
While you may not be able to summon up a big platter of gratitude for a trying situation you can still, in that moment, open your heart to gratitude for the smallest of things. For even in the most difficult situation you may have a friend supporting you by dropping off food. You may smell the scent of a beautiful flower. You may see streaks of sunlight across an evening sky.
Remember that any difficulty, whatever it might be, doesn't define who you are - that in those moments who you are is an incomparable being of love and light. In those moments you are divinely guided, protected and cared for.
Here are some things that I am expressing gratitude for right now:
1. I have a comfortable bed that is so warm and cozy on chilly nights.
2. I am grateful for chocolate in all its forms - oh, yes I am!
3. I am grateful for my sister, my nieces and nephews, my cousins, friends and colleagues - I have a truly rich family of love and support.
4. I am grateful that I have the time to watch a favorite series and not feel I have to rush to 'do' something productive.
5. I am grateful that I get to write this BLOG post.
As you can see, there are countless things to be grateful for - profound and silly, important and mundane. Your entire life can change if you can look at it through the lens of gratitude.
You may not be able to do much to change the current situation right now but what you can do is focus on being grateful. That is the choice you have and it is a truly powerful one.
This week I invite you to join me by putting a focus on gratitude.
Stay in. Stay well. Stay safe.
As I was cleaning and dusting today with my rubber gloves and disinfectant spray, I kept feeling that I may not be doing this whole stay at home thing right.
Why? Well, I have yet to figure out a schedule for myself - instead lurching from working too long, to binges of Netflix, to eating, to cleaning, to thinking about when my next trip to the grocery store may be and if my mask is the right kind, and back to working to repeat some version of the cycle again in no particular order.
I know it's probably not true but as I look at social media and reports on TV, it seems that most people have managed not only to be highly creative during this time but also to exercise, educate, cook like the Barefoot Contessa and sing like Broadway stars.
A friend remarked recently that she isn't nearly productive as she thought she would be with all this time on her hands and that she feels guilty not doing more. It seems even when we are literally doing nothing, we worry that others may do nothing better than we do.
All this time to contemplate your life can be stressful. Most people I know before we were house-bound, were wishing for more time - time away from work, time to rest, time to relax and time to just do nothing. And here we are.
Maybe the situation we find ourselves in suffers in comparison to the images of all the essential workers out there working to exhaustion. This time has been a major awakening. I know I will never go to the grocery store again without mentally (and often verbally) thanking the cashiers, without noticing the people stocking the shelves and the delivery drivers, without saying a silent thank you to my postal workers, the woman at the drive-up window of my bank and so many more, including of course all the health care workers.
So, as I decide whether or not I need my latex gloves along with my mask before I go downstairs to use the shared laundry in my building, I do so giving myself permission to feel a bit disoriented, as if I've stepped into a surreal landscape that has shapes and boundaries yet to be determined.
When what needs to be known remains unknown, we are forced back into the present - the only place that truly exists. This week I invite you to join me in the messy present - get comfortable with it, make it your own and know there is no standard you need to meet to get through this time.
Stay in. Stay well. Stay safe.