Tag: inspiration

When A Dream Dies

When A Dream Dies

Carol Jung dreams

There comes a time in each woman’s life when we look at our best efforts and see only the failure. We started with a dream or a mission or a purpose.  We put ourselves behind it, believing without a doubt that we were on the right path. The path was to take us on a marvelous journey to an ideal place. We devoted days or weeks, months or years to our vision, only to wake up one morning and realize our dream has failed or vanished.

What then? What do we do when we find ourselves curled up in a ball in the corner wanting to hide, the pain too great to even acknowledge? We ask ourselves over and over, what went wrong? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? And why, oh why, did it turn out this way? We want to curse the world, or the person who demolished our dreams…perhaps it is ourselves we wish to demolish…blaming ourselves for the failure, for our inability to see the future when we made our commitments. We all know that seeing the future is a gift given only to a few, if any. And yet, we expect it of ourselves.

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions as we try to break through the confusion and the pain. Blaming others is futile even if it is a survival instinct. Blaming ourselves is equally as disastrous. The real question is what can I learn from this? What can I take forward with me into the rest of my life? What does this experience tell me about who and what I am — the good and the bad? These are the questions of growth and survival.

Life is a learning experience and sometimes we have to learn the same thing over and over until it takes. As painful as that may be, we eventually do learn, and then we have a gift to pass along to others. It is a gift that every woman has to give as she ages. Previous generations looked upon it with reverence and respect — it is the gift of wisdom. It is the most we can hope to gain from our life’s difficulties, but it is a gift that keeps on giving.   

© Dorothy Sander 2010 Excerpt from Caring for Mom

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Rediscovering Your Gifts

Rediscovering Your Gifts

personal growthWe each carry within us a treasure. Living deep inside, it is a quiet place where we can go to find our untarnished heart and a soul that is still pure. We once knew this place, our place where there is peace and understanding, wisdom and strength, though it may have slipped from our memory.

The hours, days and years that we have struggled and pushed, yearned and stretched toward something more has powered us through our lives. It is “life yearning for itself”. Our desire for something more and incessant discontent led us down many a winding path and along the way we collected bits and pieces of life’s debris.  Instead of tossing the debris aside, we often instead as packaging material to insulate us from the world.

Sometimes we build a wall of anger, of fear, or of resentment, so thick and so profound that we forget our treasure ever existed. When we feel the sting of hurt and rejection we recoil inside of ourselves and do not remember the gifts of understanding and forgiveness we once knew so keenly. The longer we live the more likely we are to have lost our connection to our treasured self, as life’s rubble piles up upon us despite our best intentions.

We may begin to feel as though we might smother, or die without meaning or purpose for having lived. We fear we may wither away into nothingness. We might feel emptiness, an overwhelming sense of loss, or confusion or an aimless uncertainty.  It is precisely these uncomfortable stirrings that are our reminders. They are prompting us to return to the treasure that was born in us so many years ago, to dig down deep inside and uncover that precious someone who still lives and holds a pure and loving heart; who knows the value of trust and forgiveness. She understands the meaning of life and the purpose of her living.

The unearthing process can be approached alone or with the assistance of a friend, a mentor, a spiritual guide, a life coach, a therapist or any of a number of other guides.  There are as many methods of personal and spiritual growth as there are individuals. Here are some of the methods I have used and found helpful:

  1. Guided imagery meditation – A guided meditation by a trained practitioner using imagery and imagination to bypass thought and ego
  2. Solitary meditation – I recommend reading Full Catastrophe Living or any of a number of Wayne Dyer’s books and audios for more information on common meditation practices.
  3. Contemplation and mindfulness
  4. Journaling
  5. Reading or listening to the writings of spiritual teachers
  6. Work with a therapist or life coach to gather some movement if you are stuck
  7. Body work – massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, deep tissue massage, exercise
  8. Self-care – Learn listen to and follow the directives of your body, mind and spirit. If you feel tired, sleep. If you feel restless, go for a walk. If you feel stressed, meditate or make an appointment for a massage. Say no to demands that are being placed on you that cause your body to constrict.

Rediscover the treasure of your heart. It is waiting.

What Does Abundance Mean to You?

What Does Abundance Mean to You?

Lavender Treasure by Artist L. Diane Johnson, a painter, instructor, author and juror, serving art collectors and artists since 1981. She was the Founding Editor and designer of the of the award-winning monthly, Plein Air Magazine, and travels the U.S. and Europe to paint live on locaton. She has authored many art articles, artist training demonstrations, and books. Visit her website by clicking on the hphoto.

What signifies abundance is unique for each individual. It depends on circumstances, frame of mind, our history, our openness to receiving and so much more.  This was brought home to me last week when I participated in a guided imagery session. It was a very interesting meditation!

As we relaxed and breathed deeply, we were invited to close our eyes and imagine ourselves walking along a path beside an ocean. It was a beautiful, relaxing, and peaceful place. As we walked along the path breathing in the salt air and listening to the sea gulls overhead we came upon a cave, hidden away in the brush. It was inviting and our curiosity drew us in. As we explored the cave we turned a corner and there, hidden out of the way was a room filled with treasure. Suddenly, surrounded by incredible abundance, our guide invited us to really take in what was there; to pick things up, look at them, feel them, etc.

Initially I saw big, beautiful treasures, gold, jewels, sports cars, and quickly I moved on to adorable little puppies, fuzzy kittens, beautiful flowers and so much more. After a time of looking and exploring and enjoying what we had discovered, we were told that all of the treasure was ours. We could take whatever we wanted with us when we left. I searched to see what treasures I could carry with me and what I chose surprised me.

First, I chose a Cocker Spaniel puppy, a happy, joyful, energetic little creature that smiled at me. Next, I chose a cute pair of shoes. Then, a beautiful shawl, a big pot of blooming hydrangeas and a needlepoint kit. I was worried that I could’t carry everything until I realized I could put on the shoes and the shawl and the puppy would follow me, running along happily beside me. When the session was over and I reflected on these items I began to understand that what I had chosen made sense. At this particular point in my life these are the things that represent abundance to me.

Reflecting on how each item made me feel pointed the way. The Cocker Spaniel puppy loved me exuberantly and freely and accepted my love with out hesitation. He represented unconditional love, something we all need. The shawl  wrapped me in its arms and filled me with feelings of warmth, comfort and security. The cute shoes made me giggle and feel happy. They represent fun and enjoyment. The beautiful, huge hydrangea blossoms inspired me. They embody inspiration. The needlepoint is structured creativity. All of these things together are what abundance means to me.

When I allow these things in my life: love, warmth, comfort, security, fun, inspiration, beauty, and creativity, I need nothing more. I am full to the brim with everything I need and more. I have more than enough. I have abundance.

I expect that at some future time, the things I choose might be quite different and I plan to visit my treasure chest now and again to see what’s there waiting for me. I invite you to do this little mediation and see you what you find in your cave of wonder. It’s a magical place. I hope you’ll pay it a visit. You don’t necessarily need a guide, just close your eyes, breathe deeply and follow your imagination where it leads.

The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence

As a driver, I cut my teeth on the highways and byways of metropolitan New York. Fear of speed and traffic was not a part of my lexicon. A serious car accident, however, changed all that in a flash. My sense of security and control flew right out the shattered window with the glass that sliced my hand to the bone.

I recently attempted to take the highway to a doctor’s appointment that I always took and felt like I’d been through a war by the time I arrived. Adrenaline running through my body at hyper speed, heart pounding, hands shaking I found myself sitting in the parking log completely disassociated. I had no sense of where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. My body was numb and barely a part of me.

When faced with this daunting trip again, I decided I would take the back roads to my destination. It would be worth any extra time to maintain my peace of mind. What actually occurred was even better!

The “back roads” are actually among the most beautiful roads in this part of North Carolina as they meander through the wide open, rolling farm lands. It’s quiet, peaceful and filled with natural entertainment and a blast to drive in beautiful weather in a convertible! Bending and turning and singing my way into the quaint little artistic and bustling streets of a neighboring town, I reach my destination relaxed and even on some mornings invigorated!

Today, on my way home I noticed up ahead a stopped car and what looked to be birds crossing the road. When I came a little closer what I saw was a gaggle of geese traveling very calmly and without care from the corn field on the right to the corn field on the opposite side of the street, stopping traffic in both directions. (Traffic was me and the other guy already stopped!) They just made me laugh out loud! They were so nonplussed! Enjoying the moment and indifferent to any problems they may have been causing. They reminded me of a little group of old ladies,who are so often so totally present in themselves that they are indifferent to any stressed out goings on around them. Weighted firmly in their hips, round and rolling, these geese did not care that they had enormous wings that would quickly carry quickly out-of-the-way. They were enjoying their stroll and being together. It was all that mattered.

Wise old women often carry themselves in just such a way. No longer vexed by day-to-day scurrying about, they know what’s important. They know what matters. They know that now is the moment to savor and enjoy. There is no particular place to go that is any more important that what is. What a gift! The image of these geese crossing the road will forever be an image I carry in my mind of who I want to be when I’m a “dangerous old woman”!

The Gift of Age

The Gift of Age

Living just for today can be a real challenge for those of us who have lived our lives immersed in western culture. Every where we turn we hear messages, reminders, and indicators that unless we are moving forward at break neck speed we are not really living. Buddha, and others, understood the disservice we do to ourselves, and our lives, when we do not see and appreciate what is ours in the present moment, the gifts that are right in front of us.

One of the greatest awakenings I have experienced in my lifetime has been to finally see with great clarity how much I was losing today while worrying about tomorrow and fretting about the past. It took reaching midlife and fifty years of beating my head against a wall to finally get it. As a good “hippie”, I read years ago, and understood at some level the value of living in the moment, but I could only sustain it in moments when I was feeling particularly carefree. But living it in my soul? Ah, that would take years, and many, many hours and days of living mentally in the future, encountering road blocks to my best laid plans, and then reaching midlife and immersing myself in the heartbreak of the past.

Midlife presents an enormous opportunity to make great soul strides, to learn from fifty years of living that we can shed our misconceptions and get back to the basics of who we really are. We can choose to ignore the messages of our culture and hang on to what we know to be true in our hears.  Therein, lies one of the true wonders of aging… to at last not only be able, but willing, to see things more clearly…see things as they were meant to be…to see things as they are for us and to accept life with all its ups and downs, as good, and right and true. It’s a gift of aging. Embrace it.

Be Who You Were Born to Be

Be Who You Were Born to Be

As we get older life takes on new texture and color. Sometimes it’s dark and disturbing. At other times it’s richer than we ever imagined. Our focus sharpens. Things that once were paramount in importance suddenly seem silly and frivolous. Other things, that we previously put on the back burner, take on a new sense of urgency.  Making the shift into this new “mindset” is not always smooth. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself slipping back and forth between the two. Old habits of thought don’t go away quietly!

Social obligations are just this type of problem area for me. I enjoy people. Each and every one of my friends and family add a richness to my life that would not be possible without them. They give me love, spark my creativity, make me laugh, allow me to feel less lonely in my craziness. But, I am by nature an introvert and a loner. I enjoy solitude even as at times I fear loneliness. Over the years I did not allow myself sufficient time to live in my own world, think my own thoughts, explore my own imagination.  I forced myself to “act” in a more culturally acceptable manner and I hounded myself for not being better at it. Consequently, the mean girl in my head beat me up regularly.

At midlife a major shift occurred and for the first time in my life I began to embrace who I was and let go of all of the external expectations that I had allowed to guide my life. At first it was a great relief. It was exciting, even thrilling to suddenly give myself permission to be me. As time went on, however, old patterns of thought began to rear their ugly head. Social obligations would arise and the old fashioned knot in my stomach did as well.

It is my believe that the universe works very hard to keep us vigilant. There is no time for complacency. A lesson not completely learned warrants a reminder, don’t you think? For me, when old patterns of thought crop up, sooner or later, I know I need to wake up to the fact that I have to practice saying “no” again. I have to exercise my right to be me, more overtly, even if only as a reminder to myself that who I am is important and that the external cultural does not have power over me.

If and when something similar happens in your life, use it as a reminder, a kick in the butt, an opportunity to grow stronger in your conviction to be you.

Here’s to being exactly who we were born to be! No more, no less!

More on this topic:

Getting It Together After Fifty

Are You Still Pretending to Be a Younger Version of Yourself?

Perfectionism & Aging