A Touch of Spirit: We can choose

candle 2I sat this morning, hot cup of tea in hand, and stared at the candle on the table before me. It was 5:30 a.m. and I had experienced my third night in a row of not enough sleep. My sleep problems of late had a variety of causes, though I would be lying if I didn’t admit that hot flashes were the primary culprit ☺.

On this early morning, however, I was sleep deprived because I had been up late the night before talking to my teenage sons after their band concert and missed what I call my ideal “sleep opportunity,” resulting in about 4 ½ hours of rest. I was groggy and a little cranky and wondered how on earth I was going to make it through what was scheduled to be a busy day. It was in that moment, as I stared into the flame of my meditation candle, that I stopped myself.

It was like I had forgotten one of the most important tenets of my own philosophy…

 CHOICE

I could choose the groggy-grouchy-cranky- how am I going to survive the day path, or I could choose to have a good day. I chose the latter, made some coffee instead of herbal tea, and got to it.

Isn’t it funny how, even when we know how much our perception and mindset shape our experience, we can still find ourselves stubbing our toe in the morning as we get out of bed, setting our mood, and heading into that downward spiral of one-thing-after another?  But, if we come to our senses at any point in that downward spiral, all we have to do is CHOOSE a different perspective.

How lovely is that?!

Many Blessings,

Sheryl

A Touch of Spirit: Autumn

fallI spent my day out in nature for what has become my weekly hike ritual.  It was a cool, breezy and cloudy November day. As I walked through scattered leaves that covered the trail, I looked out over the trees; red, yellow, orange, brown and green. My heart felt full. What a beautiful fall it is.

This is, in fact, one of my favorite times of year. My reasons are many…

It represents the comfort of home and hearth;

Time with family as we move into the holidays;

But most important, it represents the time of an inner shift.

It’s as if the seasons play an active role in the way my spirit engages the world. In the summer, like the leaves on the trees, I am out; playing, enjoying, celebrating my vitality and soaking up the sun. And just as the trees begin to shed their leaves and turn their energy inward in preparation for the winter, so do I.

After fully engaging and taking in the outer world, my energies naturally begin to shift inward to once again explore that which can only be discovered in silence.

Autumn…. My personal, seasonal gateway to the mystical.

If you feel like sharing, what does this time of year mean for you?

Blessings,

Sheryl

Chimney Rock

After three days on a road trip with my boys, seeing sights we had never seen and doing things we had never done, we metchim rock up with a friend of mine and her two sons in Colorado. On our third day, and with no one else interested, I visited Chimney Rock, an ancestral pueblo archaeological site.

For those that have not read Timeless Waters, that story involves three other lifetimes in different time periods that lived in northern New Mexico. While I don’t feel the same intense connection to Chimney Rock as I do to a few sites in northern New Mexico (other lifetime-wise, but who knows…), the people who inhabited that area between 900 and 1125 A.D. were in communication with and connected to those at Chaco Canyon during that time period. Those tribes later migrated to northern New Mexico along the Rio Grande and Chama rivers.

As I walked with the group and listened as the volunteer guide shared the history of the people that once lived there, it was as if I was revisiting those amazing years when the experience that became Timeless Waters was unfolding. The familiar and exciting energy that accompanied those years surged through me, as I remembered that journey of self-discovery.

That was many years ago, and over the years I have assimilated that experience in such a way that it is an integral part of the tapestry that makes up my life, perspective and understanding of reality. And now, years later, I am pleasantly surprised to notice that, what once was an insatiable need for understanding, now holds deep feelings of warmth, familiarity and peace.

As I drove the road that took me back to Pagosa to rejoin my friend and the kids, I looked at Chimney Rock in my rear view mirror and my heart smiled. It was like coming full circle, back to Self, but with new eyes. I felt HOME.

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

A Touch of Spirit: Revisiting the Past

mexic picoEarly yesterday morning, I sat looking out over the water and the form of the mountains against the dark sky that comprised the view from the balcony of my hotel room. An occasional fishing boat passed by, making its way out to the Pacific. This is my annual trip to Mexico; a tradition I have held since 1990, almost a decade before my kids came along. Since their arrival into my life, I have shared this tradition with them and schedule it each year to coincide with my birthday. This year marks my 47th.

Perhaps it is because this week also coincides with Mercury Retrograde, but rather than looking forward I have found myself revisiting the past, both in my thoughts and, unfortunately, in some patterns that seem to present themselves in my life over and over again. (Those dreaded “life lessons;” they are always so generous in giving me chances to demonstrate understanding!)

In this time of revisiting, I recognize that in some areas of my life, I didn’t have the insight then that I have now; insight to myself, my motivations, my fears and my “reasons.” Alas, I admit that I have some regrets. But rather than feel saddened by these, I now see that they hold the seeds of my greater understanding.

We are often afraid to admit, to ourselves or anyone else, that we have regrets; that doing so in some way implies wrongdoing or failure. But if we come from a position of self-honesty and allow ourselves to revisit the past from a place of transcendence, we may find in those memories we have tucked away, safe from our view, the opportunity for growth and understanding.

Today, if you feel so inclined, revisit an area of your life you wish you had handled differently. But instead of simply feeling the emotion of it, rise above it. Spend some time in quiet contemplation with love, patience, and maybe even a little courage.

I am continually reminded that, even when striving to live a conscious life, we are here to grow and learn. Each step toward new awareness and greater understanding has purpose, even if we don’t want to admit it!

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

A Touch of Spirit: Going with the Flow

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This time last year, I was on an extended leave from my job as Executive Director of a statewide nonprofit focused on child abuse and neglect. I called it a sabbatical of my own making; I asked for eight weeks off and my Board of Directors approved it. After 25 years of “sowing” in my career, that was my reaping. While I did have to take care of some things for my job here and there, I was able to unwind for the first time in years. When it was all said and done, I was ready to go back to work a week early. And the past year? Well, it was filled with new ideas, creativity, energy and successful implementation. So great was my experience that I decided I would use my vacation time to do a shorter, modified version this year.

As I write this, I am on “leave,” and I have to tell you, it’s not unfolding as I had hoped. It’s like the lineup of the stars is creating circumstances that are keeping me from reaching my creative goals. Then something hit me; in fighting this reality, I’m going against the flow. And by flow I mean The Flow—of life, energy and the universe.

I am a big advocate for making a list, checking it twice, and doing what needs to be done to meet a goal. As they say, “Someday is not a day on the calendar.” We have to make a decision to do something; schedule it in, and do it. But what if, in spite of our commitment and diligence to meet a goal, we still can’t make it happen? Or if it seems like we are repeatedly derailed, or the creative juices aren’t running through our veins in the allotted time? It may mean that instead of floating on our backs and riding the river of life (riding the flow) we are swimming against the current.

As you move through your day, consider if there is an area of your life in which it feels like you are swimming against an invisible current. If so, ask yourself, “Am I willing to lay back and let the water carry me, even if it’s not taking me to the destination I had in mind?”

Remember, sometimes the universe has something else in store for us; and it might even be better than what we had in store for ourselves!

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

A Touch of Spirit: Re-Creation

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Counter to conventional “new year” goal-setting wisdom, I have a tendency to drag mine out. For that reason, I am still plodding through my workbook for 2015 even though it is already mid-April. This may not be the most effective means of setting goals, but for right now it brings me joy to look at what I have already written and accomplished, and to experience my own evolution as the year progresses

A few weeks ago I sat by the lake wrapped in a blanket, looking out as the afternoon sunlight reflected off the ripples in the water. I had just read over something I wrote back in February while in New Mexico with my kids skiing. I wanted one of my themes for the year to be recreation, and how appropriate it was to read that message to myself after a lovely walk in the woods.

The fact that I chose recreation as one of my themes is significant, and showed real intention to move away from my “overworked” work ethic and requirement for constant productivity. Big stuff!

Recreation. I repeated the word in my mind a few times, responding to it like it were a meditative mantra. Recreation. Recreation. Recreation. And then my mind lit up in an instant –

Recreation…. Re-creation.

How beautiful is that?

     Recreation creates opportunities for re-creation. If I want to re-create myself, renew my passion or commitment to my life’s work, the answer isn’t necessarily to work on it or focus on it. Perhaps the answer is to relax, play, and participate in life in new and different ways. And with that epiphany, my theme word of “recreation” took on an even more wonderful meaning.

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

Happiness

Years ago, I had a repeated conversation with a dear friend of mine about what it meant to be “happy.” Neither could adequately explain our concept of what happiness was, but when he disagreed with my idea that it had to do with contentment, I gathered his sense of it was different than mine. This elusive concept of happiness; what is it?sunflower-1

When I think back to when I was in early adulthood, I felt most happy when I was seeking an experience, going someplace new, and feeling like I was living my life with gusto. As I got a little bit older, my emphasis shifted. I met someone, got married, had kids, built a home and life in all the ways that we are raised to believe are related to happiness.

In a nutshell, happiness was about the HIGHS in life.

I had an idea of what happiness was and what it might look like. What I now see is that it is possible to have picture perfect moments and experiences in life that make us feel those highs we think of as happiness, but at the same time have an undercurrent of discontent.

Another decade has almost passed. The pieces of my puzzle “fell apart,” and being a single mom, my adventures and ability to live my life with gusto are slightly reduced. Yet, for some reason, I am content in a way I have never felt before. My life and heart are full, and I go to sleep each night with a sense of joy and peace.

Coming back to the original question, what is this elusive thing we call happiness? Going back to my original thought that it was related to being content, I took it upon myself to look up the definition of “content” and this is what it said:

“a state of peaceful happiness; satisfied, pleased, fulfilled….”

And I let out a deep sigh…. this is what happy feels like.

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

A Long Winter’s Night

winter nightAs I watched January come to a close, I breathed a sigh of relief. In spite of the festivity at the beginning on the New Year–the dreaming of what we want the upcoming year to hold and the goals we want to meet—for me it has historically been one of the most difficult months. Perhaps it is the cold of winter, or the clouds, or the post festivity dip? I am not sure, but for the longest time I have given poor January a bad rap.

As much as this is the case, I also know that every coin has two sides, and January has its own beauty and symbolism. Added to the calendar in circa 700 B.C., the month is named in honor of Janus, the Roman god of gates and doorways. The image of Janus is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. janus 2

The symbolism of that speaks to something in the deepest recesses of my being; the part of me that feels such an internal struggle this time of year. One might say that the two faces looking in opposite directions represent the past and future. But for me, it represents two opposing aspects of Self. The first is the aspect that inherently turns inward this time of year; a hibernation of sorts. The other is the part that must continue to operate and exist in the outer world, setting sight on the future.

January is like a long winter’s night. The pull is to delve inward and the yearning to quietly curl up by the fire and simply be with Self, yet we still have the push of daily life- complete with new goals, dreams and aspirations. In that light, my inner conflict with January makes so much sense.

In more traditional terms, Janus has invited us to reevaluate where we have been and set our sights on where we are heading. In order to do that, we must honor both sides of ourselves, each looking in opposite directions.

We now stand at the threshold of Janus’s doorway. Let us each pass through it with wisdom, understanding, and inner peace.

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

Releasing Fears and Trying Something New

Well, after an almost three month sabbatical from writing, I composed one of these messages a few weeks ago. When I saw the final copy after it went out, I cringed, for in my haste I apparently didn’t do a final proof? A word was missing; there was a typo or two. I then spent the following week feeling mortified, talking myself through my shame and hiding in my cave.

Did I say shame? Yes, I did.

Let’s talk about that, or more specifically, the idea that it is unthinkable to make a public mistake. I say something incorrectly, don’t catch a typo, or make a fool of myself in some way, and I spend the next few weeks beating myself up and spinning in my self disappointment. I hate being so ding-dang human! Funny thing is, I would never describe myself as a perfectionist or anything remotely close.

When I confess this problem I have, I hear from others that they too have these experiences, so I am glad to know I am not alone. The problem is that these very fears of imperfection, making a mistake, or being judged that keep many of us from putting ourselves out there and sharing what we have to share with the world.

You know what else? I have written about this before! Where’s the progress?

This rediscovered discomfort with my many imperfections almost stopped me from something I have been working on; a short email series on “everyday mysticism,” focused on sharing ideas about how to tap our inner mysticism while being fully engaged in this very busy and distracting physical life.

78a70c20-1434-4f05-aa75-e90134124311I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to being in the flow of the mystical river, complete with amazing metaphysical experiences, only to somehow find myself in the desert again. It’s a circle within this life of its own kind. I know I am not alone. So when I start the series, read it. Save the emails in your inbox until you have time. Create a space where you are focused and relaxed; read while you savor your morning coffee or your evening wine. Get out your journal and make notes to yourself about your own life and experiences, whatever works for you.

Okay, did I catch all my typos this time? Is it safe for me to hit the button?

I hope so…

In the meantime, keep an eye out for an email labeled “Everyday Mysticism.”
I look forward to sharing this time with you!

Many Blessings,
Sheryl

Going Within

“From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.” – Aeschylus

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Greetings to all, and I hope the last two months of summer were wonderful for everyone.

Wow, it has been quite a while since I sat down and wrote. What happened to me? I was simply living life. My sons and I took a trip to New Mexico and Colorado. We spent time with close friends, and time together with just the three of us. We watched for bears, hiked, visited places we loved and explored new ones. I worked my nonprofit-social work job and within that created two day-long presentations, brought a few projects from my mind into reality, all the while feeling blessed that within my work there is so much room for expression and creativity.

We got the school year started, and last week at work I facilitated a retreat for a group of non-profit executive directors at a state park called Quartz Mountain. In preparing for those three days, I took of my usual professional hat, creating room to develop a presentation that enabled us to explore neuroplasticity; have fun, new experiences and bring what we learned personally to our jobs.

But I wasn’t writing and it bothered me. I felt unusually silent. Yet, within my silence I was aware of a deep, inner stillness. I felt peace. I felt a quiet joy.

There is usually a reason when we feel we need to be quiet and go within. Often there is a seed – an idea, wisdom, or understanding- that is taking root.

I feel myself emerging from my quiet space, and am going to trust that from a small seed a mighty trunk may grow. As autumn approaches, stirring the mystical inside of me,  I am awaiting epiphanies.

Wishing Epiphanies for Us All,

Sheryl