Creating reminders of Spirit within our homes

We can create sacred space within our own homes to remind us of Spirit, peace, compassion, love, our connection to divine guidance, and our inner-light... You can use objects, pictures, or symbols that have special significance for you, that remind you of your spiritual connection to the divine.

I create reminders of my guiding light in each room of my house. On my kitchen table sits my favorite photo of Mitch where he looks like an angel, the lighting is just right, and he is looking into the lens with eyes of compassion, peace, and pure love... and beside that photo is a small vase of flowers, a small statue of buddha, and a small picture of Paramahamsa Yogananda, a spiritual teacher.

In each bathroom, hanging from the top of each mirror are inspirational charms that read, “walk in faith,” and “free as a bird.” I pulled these out of a fish bowl of charms in a boutique outside of the funeral home where I saw Mitch for the last time, and they remind me of the divine guidance that is available to me at all times, and of what is truly important.

In my bedroom, I have an altar set up where I have crystals, a deck of tarot cards, angel cards, and words of wisdom from the Sufi poet Rumi, a small statue of Buddha, a small bundle of sage, a wood caving of two lovers, candles, and a necklace given to me from my mom.

 In my car, around the rearview mirror hangs a cross with a picture of Jesus that was given to me when I bought the car.

And, in Ava's bedroom, magical glittery butterflies hang alongside the window pain, a small dvd player with a CD of nature sounds to lull her to sleep sits on a shelf along with a family photo, a book about angels sits beside her bed, and an inspirational art piece hangs on the wall.

Our work and God's work

I awoke this morning to a reoccurring dream. In my dream, Mitch has left me, broken up with me, and I am trying so hard to get him to take me back, to get him to love me again. I was reminded of a bit of advice I was given yesterday in response to my saying I should meditate “better,” longer, and with more concentration in order to connect with Mitch in a more profound way. The advice was that it sounded as if I was trying too hard, that I was trying too hard to do God's work, and that I should allow myself to simply concentrate on my work. What is my work right now? I sat on the beach this morning, my place of solace. I brought my journal, my i-pod, and presence to the feelings that were destined to come after waking from my dream this morning. My dream left me wondering where my place was in the world, and sitting on the beach, I realized that I wasn't quite sure. If I tried really hard to figure it out, I felt overwhelmed and anxious, because at this moment, I couldn't see far enough ahead to know where my future would lead me. But when I let go of trying to see into the future to know where it was I was meant to be, I knew in the moment of where I should be. I knew that place was right here, right where I was. I let go of trying so hard to figure out the rest... That was not my work at the moment, that was God's work. My work at the moment was laid out for me, I was here, raising my daughter, planning the birth of my daughter to come, and helping others on their journey, that was my work.

Following our intuitive guidance, one step at a time

Days after my husband's passing, while I was in a hotel room in Yreka, the adjacent town to Hornbrook, the location of our cabin and his passing, I received what you might call inner-guidance, my higher call, intuition, or divine intervention. It was was then and there that I knew I needed to move back to Costa Rica with my daughter (Costa Rica was a place that Mitch and I lived together for nearly 3 years, 3 years prior to the present). This intuition was accompanied by feelings of joy, lightness, peace, creativity, and a feeling of “rightness” in my gut. From that point forward, I began making preparations for our move, and it became a sort of guiding light in the darkness. But, I should say that I was not particularly used to making decisions from such an intuitive place, and throughout the ensuing months, little doubts crept in here and there, begging me to seek further guidance by way of meditation, prayer, journaling, and seeking the counsel of supportive friends and family. And today I was reminded of making decisions from that intuitive place within ourselves when choosing a place to give birth to my daughter who is due in 10 weeks. I have chosen a birthing farm in the mountainous rain forest (a safe distance from a hospital in case of an emergency) where midwives will be in attendance to my birth, where I can create a sacred space for the entry of the little one into the world; a place where my daughter can be present, or at least asleep in the next room of the little house that will be the place that welcomes the little one into the world. This decision was accompanied by feelings of peace, joy, and a sense of inner-knowing as well. If we spend a little more time in that quiet space within ourselves and follow our sense of peace, joy, and “knowing,” then we can be more confident in our decisions, and more sure of the path we are walking, one step at a time.

Birthdays; a cause for celebration

On the eve of my 31st Birthday, Birthdays have taken on a much different meaning for me...Birthdays used to be the cause of angst each year as I got older, what am I going to do to make it special? Who will I spend it with? And heaps of pressure about how to make it “perfect,” and a measure of how much I was loved by others...And I hear plenty of friends dreading the coming of their Birthdays for a variety of reasons, fear of getting older and closer to dying, a reminder of dreams lost or forgotten, a reminder of the decline of their youthful appearance, or a general sadness or nostalgia of times past... On the eve of this particular Birthday, my first Birthday without Mitch, I decide to honor the sacredness of life, and celebrate the completion of another year past, and celebrate the start of a new year, pregnant (literally) with possibilities :) A day of a spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical cleansing, welcoming the renewal of another year to create a loving, meaningful, and joyous existence. I welcome life with open arms on my 31st Birthday!

Gentle reminders of Spirit

I find myself in a quiet space today, a space of surrender and letting go. I ask to see Mitch in everything today, a recommendation from my sister-in-law last night, and I refocus my energies on my supreme connection to God, where God and Mitch are my focus upon which everything else rains, my umbrella- I trust in this divine shelter. I take notice today of the light in people's eyes, people who really see, in those eyes I see God, I see love. I cry after encounters with two older men who look at me with that light and a gentle smile, and I am reminded of Mitch in those eyes, full of light and a gentle pervasive love. My beach meditation yesterday reminds me to ride the waves with patience, without resistance, with perfect timing, the ocean has shown itself as my teacher. I sit on the rocks on the beach waiting for my car's oil to be changed and notice a tiny bright green sprout shooting up amidst its rocky neighbors, the only one, a little reminder of fresh life that can grow in even the harshest of conditions. Here I am in this place that called me back, an undeniable invitation beckoning me, and here it is where I heal, where I grow, where I plant my roots with my darling daughter and daughter-to-be. A tarot card reading from the other night that read, let your emotions flow freely, or you will be chained to the ever-changing highs and lows of the tides, reminds me to let go of control and let both my sadness and joy come at will, and I let both pass through me, cleansing my heart and renewing my soul. And once again faith comes in to reign supreme and guide my journey.

Fulfilling our children's need for love when a parent is absent

This morning as a slideshow of our family photos and past memories played as my computer screen saver, Ava said, “I want to see daddy's friends today.” I watch as she lights up and is drawn to younger men, men similar to Mitch in one way or another, some that share similar physical attributes and some that share his young, free-spirited nature. I see clearly that we are both grieving his absence in varying ways. I too find that when I see people in love, I long for him, or when I see a man that looks similar to him, I long for Mitch. I too am drawn to that masculine energy, that Ava at two years old is drawn to. And this is when there is a choice to fear not falling in love again, not finding a loving dad for my daughters, or to have faith and to trust that the perfect man will come and join our family at the right time. We all long to be loved, to have a companion to journey with in this life, but it is during the times we find ourselves without that we must look within to love ourselves more wholly, to allow our sadness, our pains, and our fears to refine us into more loving fulfilled human beings. It is then that we open to receiving more love that can come in its many forms. I cannot ease Ava's pain of loss for her dad, but for now I can make sure our home is filled to the brim with love and expose her to positive and trusting male energy as a positive reminder of her dad in some way. I can also help her connect to his spirit through daily prayers and conversations with him, and pray for his guidance in how I parent her. And perhaps as I become more whole and healed, and find more peace and fulfillment, that this too will ease some of the longing that Ava feels. And this is one of the challenges for anyone raising a child without a partner, finding ways to fulfill our children's need for love in ways that are nurturing to the soul. And in this process we too will learn to love ourselves in ways that nurture our souls.

A glimpse into grief

 The pain of loss twists and turns, swallows me whole sometimes, and I emerge soaking wet, gasping for air, sitting on the very edge catching my breath looking in at where I've been. And so for days after I slowly come back to life, moving more slowly, feeling the need for more solitude, withdrawing from expending my energy out into the world, as all the energy I have and create nourishes me, the baby growing inside me, and my daughter. And its in these days that when the demands of other relationships rap at my door, I learn to politely say that I am not home. And so during this process of grieving my husband, nourishing new life, raising my 2 ½ year old daughter, setting up new residence in a foreign country that was truly home to my husband and I, and launching my career, I just have to stop and breathe to take note of where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going. And so it is a process of gradual integration after the shock of reality fades, of a pain so deep that slow is the only way to go to not break into a million pieces. And for now, I let the earth dry my tears and I drink in the life breath that nourishes me. And I emerge a little more whole and a little more healed.

Live a life that you can feel at home in

I am at the tail end of my long journey through graduate school, I’m in my fourth year. That is what happens when you have nearly enough credits for two Master’s programs (Transpersonal Psychology and Counseling Psychology), and you have a baby in the middle. My husband and I are living an unconventional life with our dreams and passions leading the way, of which I receive considerable criticism for doing. My reaction to the criticism and doubt is what I work on now. I am coming to grips with the reality that what ultimately matters most is how I think and feel about my life, and that I must let go of the frustration I feel from not meeting the expectations that others have for me and the anger I feel for not being truly seen and heard; and that I must let go of the fight, because as long as I fight, I lose. Who am I fighting against really? Myself in the end, because as long as I allow the opinions of others to rule my life and cause me distress, I will never reach my full potential as a human being and will hinder those I choose to journey with as well. So now I find myself stepping into my own shoes with my head held high with an embodied knowing that I am living my life as authentically as I can, how else can any of us truly live a life worth living? A quote I picked up along the way that has stayed with me is

“the reward for conformity is that everyone liked you except yourself.”

So, be yourself, love yourself, and live a life that you can feel at home in. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to treat others the way you yourself would like to be treated...

Tasting the fruits of Orange County, California: coming into contact and connection with the natural world in a place I least expected.

It began with a feeling of melancholy for the wilderness I'd left behind in Northern California, a wilderness of open spaces, raging rivers, bubbling creeks, and wild flowers. This hunger for the natural lead to the rise of a desire to connect to the place that I am in now, a place where I least expected to feel the embrace of mother nature, in the suburbs of Orange County, California.

When I take time time to take notice, I see that the neighborhood streets are lined with trees, plants, and flowers living in harmony with one another, planted with care, patience, and an inherent desire for the natural. The streets are alive with the breath of life, their inhabitants singing joyous tunes heard over the faint hum of cars buzzing and humming in the distance. Musical melodies announcing the birth of blooms and new life, awaken my senses to the scents of Spring. I dizzy in the intoxicating perfumes of jasmine, honeysuckle, and rose buds. The sounds of paradise reverberate through the song of the wild parrots, as I step out into the tamed wilderness and meander through the streets in awe and reverence. With awareness, we can open ourselves to a connection with nature even in the most populated of places, and in fact we will find that it nourishes our souls and reminds us of our connection to the greater natural world. All we have to do is take the time to take notice and appreciate the life even amidst the concrete jungles we may find ourselves in.

The power of reaching out to others

When we're feeling down, stressed, or anxious, the tendency for many of us is to isolate, to retreat into our shells, for fear of being rejected, condemned, or misunderstood... If only we could remember to reach out to a friend or family member, we would quickly realize that we are not alone, that we are never alone. Then would we remember that we are all connected through our common experience of being human, and that all of us at some point feel insecure, depressed, anxious, lonely, angry, frustrated, or stressed. And rather than judge and condemn ourselves for feeling a particular way, perhaps we can be a friend to ourselves, and treat ourselves with the kind, loving, compassion, and respect that we would treat a loved one in need of some tlc! So, reach out to a loved one, or open yourself to an honest encounter with someone new and expand your web of connection and be reminded of your humanness! Sometimes all we need to brighten our horizons and lift our spirits is connection with another human being, paired with a bit of honest and true dialogue.

Ode to living

At the end of the day we can only try and live our lives the best way that we can, treat others and ourselves with loving kindness and respect, put our hearts into what we do to earn a living, and make peace with our lives. We remember who we are, where we have come from, and give thanks to those that have guided us along the way. We acknowledge the lessons from our more painful experiences, and grow stronger and wiser from having done so. We embrace whole-heartedly who we are so that we may live our lives to our fullest potential, and commit to being a bit kinder and gentler everyday, allowing our hearts to open more fully to the experience of living, with all of its pains and joys. We love even though eventually we will all lose. We experience the pain of letting go and realize that nothing is ever truly ours to keep. We learn from the trees and remember our humility and stay down to earth, grounded, and rooted, and realize that we are nothing more and nothing less than ourselves. We remember our connection to one another and share in the experience of being human. We allow ourselves to be touched and transformed by the lives of those around us, but we do not allow ourselves to be engulfed and lost in the lives of those around us. We remain grounded in our own experiences of who we are, where we have have come from, where we are now, and where we are going. We stay awake to our experiences and love ourselves and others with a heart that is wide open to give and receive. We live our lives with meaning and purpose.

Tasting the sweetness of life

We can learn from sitting in the company of the trees how to be rooted, flexible, and strong. We can learn from observing the ocean tides how to go with the flow of life and allow our experiences and emotions to move through us without resistance or struggle. We can learn from the stillness and expansiveness of air to allow our minds to be free and open. We can learn from other animals how to be wild and true to our own nature. We can learn from the untamed wilderness, of our own inner untamed wilderness. We can learn from the sea moss that lives on the tree branches that dip into ocean during high tide that we are a part of a web of interconnected life, and that we need others in order to survive and thrive in the world. We can learn through observing a fruit bearing plant that we are all born to fulfill a purpose, and that with space to grow, caring attention, a forgiving environment, water, and the proper nutrients we will bear the fruits of our labor. We can learn from spending time with a family pet of the inherent need in all of us to receive love and affection, and the capacity within all of us to give and receive love unconditionally. We can learn from the yards and gardens of our neighbors of our desire to create beauty and wilderness all around us and tend to others with care and attention. We can learn from the birds of our freedom to move and sing aloud our true song. We can learn so much if we just open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to the consciousness of each living and non-living thing all around us. If only we could stop for a moment to step outside the flow of our own thoughts to be in communion with all that surrounds us in each moment, could we taste the sweetness of what it is to be alive in this world. Each moment is a gift and an opportunity to love and engage more fully with the world, and to see ourselves and others as a loving God would see.

Take Time to Take Care

When we realize our energy has been scattered about, spilling over into worrying about and analyzing what is wrong with the world and with ourselves, taking on too much responsibility and blame for the difficulties in our relationships, over-identifying with the feelings and pains of others, so much so that we are not even sure how it is that we feel is time to retreat inward and refill our cup with loving compassion. Refilling our cup means taking time to take care of ourselves, and being in tune with our own feelings, our own voice, and our own needs. With trust that intuitively we know what it is we need to feel renewed and rejuvenated. Realign ourselves with our priorities so that our energy is expended on what is most important for us. Bring awareness to our self-talk through meditation or journaling, and if we are being too harsh with ourselves, lighten up with more loving and compassionate dialogue. Read an excerpt from an inspirational book, watch a movie. Pamper our bodies with a facial, a bath, a yoga session. Enliven our senses with scented candles, incense, flower essences, healthy good-tasting food. Implore patience and empathic understanding with ourselves, if we're tired, slow down, take a nap, or go to bed early. Remember we are never alone, and reach out to a supportive and kind friend or family member, pray, or meditate. Rejuvenate ourselves through our connection to the natural world, and go for a walk, sit under the shade of a tree, bask in the sun, sit under the moonlight with a cup of tea and a journal. Take time to take care.

Letting Go

I watch my mother carry my daughter down to the shoreline to take a walk, her motherly intuition must have told her of my unconscious need for time and space, or perhaps she knows me well enough to know that I am sad. I lay down on the warm sandy earth, and realize just how much I have needed to feel anchored. I no longer have to smile, and I let my jaw muscles relax and I am surprised how much tension I have been harboring in my face. I relax my abdominal muscles as well, and lay my hands by my side, palms facing up. I allow myself to drink in the salty sea air, and relish in the warmth of the sun on my skin. I listen to the rhythmic beating of the waves crashing on the shore, and suddenly I am overtaken by tears of sadness, I cover my face with my daughter's bathing suit and allow the sadness that comes in waves to move through me. I cry because I have chosen to let go of trying to live up to anyone else's expectations of me, I have chosen me first, and I have chosen to reclaim my life as my own. I cry because I have been wounded, I cry because I have finally drawn a line in the sand. I notice the waves of sadness roll through me, and I notice the stillness in between. I look to my left and a sea gull watches the surf, he flies away and I feel the wind beneath his wings. I close my eyes and I imagine my spirit leaving my body and flying out over the water, diving in and out of the ocean, soaring through the air, as free as a bird, I spiral upward toward the sky like a twirling ballerina as I remember the words of my friend- let go, and I do. Waves of sadness roll through me once more as I picture my daughter running, growing up fast. In the far distance I see her flying as free as a bird, and suddenly I feel the pain of inevitable loss that will come with her growing up and leaving the nest, and yet joy and pride in watching her soar. I settle back into my body and realize the sadness has moved through me for now, and I feel lighter, and a smile comes to my lips as I see my mother and daughter approaching, I am renewed.

Boat Reflections: Seeing our own wild nature in the natural world

When my husband, daughter, and I were living on our sailboat on the river in Redwood City, California I became intimately connected with the changing weather during the times when my daughter would nap. I would sit in the cockpit and journal each day and began to see myself in the naturalness of the cloudy stillness, the heaviness and turbulence of approaching rains, and the calm clarity of the sunlit skies. I began to identify with the ever-changing mood of each day, and my heart began to open to a greater acceptance of the naturalness of my ever-changing moods. During that special time in my life, it was like I was seeing the sky, the clouds, and feeling the wind and sun on my skin for the first time, in brilliant clarity and gratitude. I relished each day on the boat, and the closer that it brought me to realizing my own wild nature. It helped me to connect to the wide spectrum of feelings that I had, and that they somehow felt okay because nature herself felt the intense rush of stormy skies and the lightness of sunny days. It also reminded me that like the weather, I am forever changing, so not to fixate or dwell on any particular state of being or feeling, as this too shall pass.