Tag: spirituality

WRITING FOR CONNECTION – #WednesdayWisdom #AshWednesday

WRITING FOR CONNECTION – #WednesdayWisdom #AshWednesday

JournalingToday, I need to write, to lay out in words on a page the cacophony that has taken up residence within me.  Not writing too often leads me to bouts of irritability, depression or sleepless nights. I used to write in a journal every night before I went to bed. That was years ago, before kids, before I married. I lived alone. No TV, no phone, no close friends.

PATHWAYS

Writing in a journal led me down such interesting paths in those days. Each night, I grabbed my notebook and pen and climbed into bed, eager for a conversation with a caring friend. I began with whatever came to mind, often with no particular forethought. The process of writing loosened my unconscious thoughts and opened the floodgates that kept me locked within myself. The more I wrote the lighter I became and I eventually flowed into exhortation and prayer. When I put down the pen I felt stronger, a bit more whole, my spirit solidified.

‘the world will never starve for want of wonders;
but only for want of wonder’

I believed the Divine was alive in me then, as I do now, alive in all of us. We simply need to find our point of entry.  Writing became my vehicle of communication, a daily dialogue with the great beyond. I was not clear where the two worlds met other than in that very private and personal space. It didn’t matter. Inner peace is worth a few unanswered questions.

I set down my pen for years. Lost in the world of doing and becoming. The connection weakened. The communication severed.  I could not find a way for the two realities to meet. I experienced this great divide for the first time after returning home from church camp. Longing to share my experiences I reached out to the one person I thought would understand, my mother. She was unable to cross the bridge from her world to mine and the wall between my experiences and the “real” world thickened. Eventually I gave up trying to talk about it. Doing so only made me feel more alone than I already did.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

This great divide ultimately led me into a very dark place. A psychiatrist named it Clinical Depression and gave me medication. The pain dulled and once again I reclaimed my place in the world. This world. Dwelling here in finitude my focus shifted to more mundane matters, a career, a marriage, children. My connection with myself and with the Divine lay in a closet somewhere out of sight.

Many years later, a mighty swing of the hand of God put the pen back in my hand. Even now I stray and wander as I always have, but with each passing year I come to understand more deeply the connection between my soul and the written word. It is my life blood, my vehicle for expression and connection with myself, with others and with the world of Spirit.

I still choose not to question too deeply and instead choose to rest in gratitude for all that lives within each of us. The spiritual path is a practice that requires leaning into, embracing and accepting our yearning, our sense of incompleteness as a fundamental human drive for a deeper connection with all that is.  The strength of the longing and the fact that it exists in all of us is proof enough to me that it is a path that we all must travel in our own way.

“In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are. The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.”  ~ Barack Obama, 44th President of the U.S. 

 


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WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR END TABLE?

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR END TABLE?

The books we read reflect who we are and what’s important to us. They also represent the cutting edge of who we hope to become.

WHAT BOOKS ARE WAITING NEARBY WHILE YOU’RE BUSY DOING SOMETHING ELSE?

table top books
FINDING HOPE, A Book of Quotes and Inspiration has been reported to have a permanent place on many nightstands. 🙂

This morning as I write, I have beside me an end table. It’s a “modern” 50’s piece my mother purchased for her home back in the day. Without drawers or frills, it’s a style that has come full circle, and still not my idea of beautiful. I  love it because my mother loved it. When I touch it, or polish it, or glance at it, I feel her presence with me.

All scuffed and marred from years of traveling hither and yon, and too many moments of neglect, I toy with the idea of refinishing it. For now, it has a different purpose. It shelves my wish to read or re-read books and the working copies of my own creative endeavors. I keep them close by, like the table, to remind me of what I love and what I yearn toward. This 16″ x 24″ x 36″ space symbolizes the growing edge of me, my intentions and the mystery yet to unfold.

THE LOWER SHELF

A stack of books on the bottom shelf contain a few my favorites and a few more I want to finish.  On the bottom of the pile is a recent edition of American Poet, a wonderful journal of poetry I receive as a member of the Academy of American Poets.  I love poetry, though I don’t spend near enough time writing and reading it.

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
― Robert Frost

Next are a couple of old standbys and a few new ones:

Stack of booksSIMPLE ABUNDANCE, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach – Is it ever possible to get too much of this gem? If you don’t have a copy, get one. The next thing you know you’ll be buying one for a friend.

DEFY GRAVITY, Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason by Caroline Myss – A synthesis the writers lifetime of work and writing as a medical intuitive, Myss shows how she sees healing, not just a physical process, but as one that requires transcending reason. She believes, in fact, that healing is a mystical phenomenon.

THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP – I am forever hopeful. It is a great book and has helped me pare down and simplify my life, even if it’s still a work in progress!

MY LIFE STORY SO FAR, A journal of personal history, unforgettable people, and the details — big or small — that have shaped my life. My sweet, sweet, daughter-in-law gave me this journal for Christmas this year. She knows me already. I most definitely did not lose a son. I gained a daughter, something I always wanted.

WRITING CREATIVELY & WRITING UP A STORM (Two versions of the same book) by Celia Leaman, a writing instructor become friend. This gem is packed full of need-to-know information on the practical matters of writing. Her British wit and humor turns some very dull topics into a delightful read.  I turn to her books whenever I want to work on my craft.

LEARNING TO WALK IN THE DARK by Barbara Brown Taylor –  Taylor’s book is the next book I intend to read as part of my daily reflective reading (Lectio Divina*) practice. I will say more about it after I’ve read it!

THE TABLE TOP

Two books on top of my armchair table, books my mother never had the opportunity to read. Mine. She knew I wanted to write, and saved everything I ever wrote to her, but it wasn’t until her last days that I found the courage to go beyond the random poem or journal entry. The first piece published was about my family’s struggle to manage her care. I didn’t share it with her because I didn’t want her to know our difficulties.

She would be proud of my meager attempts. She always saw the best in me, though she couldn’t begin to understand my struggles. I believe, however, that her ability to see the best in everyone provided the cornerstone of hope in my own life.

My books are still a work in progress. I see their flaws and find it difficult to set them free. I understand this is a writer’s affliction. I’m most content with Finding Hope, though I still want to re-write the first few essays. As for Midlife Pathways? I want to trash it and start over. I keep it in view to keep me honest and I make notes in it from time to time.

The question remains: WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR  END TABLE? What do they say about the cutting edge of who you are and what you yearn toward?


(Look closely at the stack of books in the picture and you will see a bookmark in each. A gift from a friend, I received these bookmarks in a freshly printed copy of her new book Note to Self, A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth.  Laurie Buchanan’s book is a great read! You also owe it to yourself to pay a visit to her website and read her blog. Tuesdays with Laurie. Each Tuesday, without fail, she gives her readers something to think about.

*”Lectio Divina”, a Latin term, that means “divine or sacred reading”. A traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer. It the broadest sense, it is a practice of reflective reading whereby one reads inspirational literature with an open mind , heart and spirit with the intention to listen, hear and experience a closer connection with Spirit. 

A DARK NIGHT BRINGS A NEW DAWN – Guest Post by Author Kathleen Pooler

A DARK NIGHT BRINGS A NEW DAWN – Guest Post by Author Kathleen Pooler

The Voices of Wisdom Series continues …

NOTE: Ten days ago Kathy had a fall and broke her wrist. She is in a cast and one-handed typing is slow. She greatly appreciates your comments but will not be able to respond at this time. Her recent post tells the story as well as memoir writing highlights from the International Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference. READ MORE

We’re wishing you a speedy recovery Kathy!

 

How My Dark Night of the Soul Led Me to a Deeper Faith

by Kathleen Pooler

 

You necessarily have to be lost, before you’re found.”  

~ T. Scott McLeod, All That Is Unspoken

 

The “dark night of the soul “ is a term that originated with the writings of Saint John of the Cross in the 6th century. He refers to it as a journey in which “darkness represents the fact that the destination, God, is unknowable and the path is unknowable”.  He postulates that ”the mind and body with their cares have been stilled” and “the only light in this dark night is that which burns in the soul. And that is a guide more certain than the mid-day sun. This light leads the soul engaged in the mystic journey to divine union.”

We’ve all had moments, often triggered by external events, when nothing makes sense anymore. Life as we know it changes forever in a moment.

My “dark night of the soul” came to me through a series of events over a twenty-five year period that rendered me lost and despairing—single parenting after two divorces Voices of Wisdomfrom abusive marriages, a simultaneous battle of a cancer diagnosis and a teenaged son who spiraled into substance abuse.  Everything I had thought would or should happen in my life collapsed around me.

For me, my “dark night of the soul” led me to a deeper faith.

As a “cradle Catholic, I was born into and brought up with the traditions and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic faith. I have, by conscious choice and deepening desire, remained true to these beliefs and teachings, except for a brief period in my twenties when I questioned and even rejected them.

My faith did not deepen until I had to face several life-altering, as well as, life-threatening events. It was then that my religion became my faith and my spirituality, the source of comfort and meaning in my life. Gradually.

This excerpt from my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse ddescribes how the memory of  Great-Grandmother Rose Ranze, guided me through a dark night as I waited, pregnant and lonely, at the bay window for my husband. I stood wondering what condition he would be in after a night of drinking:

Sitting by the Bay Window, 1973 

My slow, rhythmic breaths echoed through the quiet darkness and steadied the anxiety bubbling up from the pit of my stomach, colliding with my view of what I wanted and needed. My thoughts drifted to my great-grandmother. 

Great Grandma Ranze, Mom’s grandmother, had been pregnant with her ninth child when her husband died at the age of thirty-three. Surely I can get through this. The memory of watching Grandma Ranze praying the rosary when I was eight-years-old warmed me as I sat at the bay window on that cold night. 

Wrapped in a pink-knitted shawl, her long white hair pulled back into a neat bun, she had prayed with such fervor I was afraid to disturb her trance. As I walked beside her bed, she opened her eyes and smiled, reaching out to hold my hand. With rosary beads dangling, she continued to murmur her prayers in a soft, soothing drone. 

“Katerina come-a-here,” she motioned while making the sign of the cross after kissing the tiny silver crucifix on the rosary beads. 

As I sat on the edge of her bed, she pulled me close, the rosary beads woven around her worn, wrinkled fingers and kissed my forehead. The rosary beads tickled the back of my neck as I melted into her embrace. 

“God-a–bless, God-a –bless,” she said. The musty scent of an old person lingered as she gently rubbed my back. Her soft, tiny hands felt smooth, like a plush leather glove. 

I felt her gaze on me now and wondered if she were here what would she say to me as I sat lonely and anxious by the window. I grabbed my rosary beads and started praying. It made me feel close to her.

***

This scenario is just one of many over the twenty-five year period of my “dark night of the soul”.  Faith is a gift given to me and nurtured in my childhood by Grandma Ranze. The visions of that tiny woman with her unwavering faith came to me in whispers and glimpses throughout my life as I faced my own challenges. She is still with me when I say my daily prayers.

“My faith became my anchor that brought me back to myself.”

God wasn’t lounging at a pool, watching a mountain sunrise or dreaming by a babbling brook. Nor was He locked up in the Tabernacle on the altar in church.  He was on the battlefield with me, guiding me back into the light.

dark nightAllowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to accept God’s love, grace and healing. I believe He sent me many angels in the form of family, friends and caregivers on my healing journey.

Simultaneous to the cancer journey was my young son’s spiral downward into alcoholism. The cancer was easier to deal with than watching my son’s descent. At least I had options for cancer treatment and felt some control. I had no control over my son’s addiction. So I prayed and leaned on my faith in God. I learned to hand my son over to God and let go of my need for control. And I never, ever gave up hope that God would heal me and my son.

The words of Grandma Rose echoed in my ears, “God will provide” and He did. That is the miracle of faith.

Having walked through these challenges—two abusive marriages, a life-threatening illness, and terror of loving and letting go of any addicted son has forced me to dig deeper to find the treasures of my faith within.

But now that I am on the other side of these challenges, I see God everyday in the people I love, nature, all the little things in life that matter.

My journey through the “dark night of the soul” has given me the gift of perspective about what really counts in life. It is through a deepening faith that I have seen the light.


Voices of WisdomabuseKathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014 and work-in-progress sequel, The Edge of Hope (working title) are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments:  domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories. She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN:

Read her weekly blogs at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog.

Twitter @kathypooler

LinkedIn: Kathleen Pooler

Google+:Kathleen Pooler

Goodreads

Kathleen’s FB Author Page

Pinterest  

KATHLEEN’S SHORT STORIES:

“The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.

“Choices and Chances” is published in the  “My Gutsy Story Anthology” by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.


If you would like to be a contributor to The Voices of Wisdom Series, please contact Dorothy via email: DSander@AgingAbundantly.com 

Writer’s Guidelines

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Being Authentic

Being authentic requires us to change…

and change doesn’t come easily for any of us. In fact, it becomes more difficult with age. Decades of buried hurts and confusion have clouded our vision, damped our courage and our ability to be authentic. We no longer even know where to begin.

We must remind ourselves, however, that we have gained strength along the way. Strength and endurance are beneficial characteristics for digging deep.

When we begin the journey toward authenticity, it’s common to feel as though we’re groping in the dark. We have been temporarily blinded us to ourselves and to what we cannot bear to see or feel.  Our subconscious muted it for our survival sake, so that we might continue to live the life we had in front of us. There comes a time to unearth that which has been hidden in order to reconnect with our true selves.

We must go beneath our facade, even when we don’t know what that looks like or how to go about it. All we know is that it’s time to find and bring forth our authentic selves, and to face all that we have buried and denied and abandoned about ourselves. It’s a primary task of aging.

For some the call is so loud we can’t hear ourselves think, until we stop and start paying attention. It’s time to turn around and face it, whatever “it” is. We must answer the call of our deeper selves. It is time.

“Be gentle with yourself for you are living through a major expansion of your faith and how you use it in the world. You are rewiring decades of old beliefs and shifting how you live your life. This is no small feat. It is OK to feel uncomfortable. Great change often brings with it discomfort and second guessing one’s self. Do not shrink back from this mission.”  ~ From The Celtic Christian Tradition

This period of change is ushering in a new beginning, a new opportunity for a deeper, richer life, one that creates abundance of a different sort.  A phase of deep reflection, of wrestling with our shadow self, of learning to once again let in the light, is a time that contains challenges like none we’ve faced before, an inner war perhaps, a straining toward our interior and away from externals. Being authentic requires work, contemplation, an openness to the teaching of others, and learning to listen to our inner world, to show up and be present to ourselves and all that lives within. Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.  [tweetthis display_mode=”button_link”]Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.[/tweetthis]

 

EPIPHANY

epiphany quote CM

Epiphany, is a word/concept that comes from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, and refers to a sudden awareness, an awakening of understanding, a striking realization that one’s perception has changed and deepened. The Christian Season of Epiphany, where this word is most often heard, is observed on January 6th and commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Magus. Epiphany, however, is a rich symbolic word that is open to a wide variety of interpretations. Religious scholars have spent countless hours researching the history, the changes in language and understanding in the context of the words use and still cannot come to any real agreement. As time goes on, the slope becomes slippery. Yet, that is the very nature of symbolic language.

Symbolism is a powerful tool for personal use when delving into spiritual matters. There is no other way to talk about, or describe, that which we know but cannot see. Language is often a stumbling block for conversation as we misinterpret one another simply because we assign a different meaning to a word. I have avoided talking here too much about spiritual matters precisely because the language is so fluid at this point in time. “I had an epiphany” is a statement that means very different things to different people.

In spite of these obstacles, it’s a subject that can’t be overlooked. It’s a subject that is close to my heart. Those who are on the path of personal growth often find themselves at some point along the way here, in the spiritual arena.  One cannot get too far down the road of life without asking a few questions about the nature of life itself.  The spiritual quest is a fundamental thread that has run through my life, a thread that I picked up in earnest a decade ago. I will begin talking more about such things here on Wisdom Wednesday. I hope you’ll join me. I hope you’ll share pieces of your journey and we’ll struggle together with the language issues. Understanding is all I’m after here, growing in faith and wisdom, coming out of the shadows and into awareness of expanded consciousness. I believe, regardless of the words we use, we are all talking about the same thing.

You may also want to join the conversation in my closed group on Facebook:  Aging and the Inner Life

When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: either there will be ground to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly. ~ O.R. Melling

————–

You might also enjoy:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

More on Epiphany:

Epiphany, The Feasts of the Three Kings

The Season of Epiphany

 

 

Manifest Me – One Year Later

Manifest Me – One Year Later

writer, freelance writer, poetI began this blog a little over a year ago. It’s hard for me to fathom how far a person can travel on the inner journey in such a short period of time. When going through change and upheaval it seems, at times, interminable. The thing I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that real change takes time, not to mention serious commitment and focused attention. When we dabble in change nothing really happens. On the other hand, if we dive in hook, line and sinker with plenty of support and guidance, deep, lasting change can occur.

When I decided to start this blog, I only had a vague idea of what I was meant to do here. I knew intuitively that I needed to be more honest in my writing – to write more from my heart and less from my head, but beyond that I didn’t have a clue what that would look like.  I lived my life in the shadow of so many things that were not me. It was time to dig deep and find the courage to excavate and express the real me. The universe, or God, or whatever exists to see us through these things, always shows up to meet such desires and yearnings with exactly the thing we need. Crystal was the angel that delivered the goods in this regard. She knew where to lead me and what to do to give me the support and direction I needed.

If you’ve read my posts here over the last year you know some of what has transpired and some of what I’ve learned along the way. For me, it’s been an experience that continues to spin in ever-widening circles and there is still work to be done – but there will always be work to be done – always a deeper level of awareness that we can attain – a higher consciousness we can continue to aspire toward. That is the true joy of living. Knowing there is always a richer, deeper, fuller life experience ahead of us – and as time goes on, I have found it is most often an inner experience that we crave.

Over the last year, on a practical level, with Crystal’s guidance I have been able to change my eating habits. I have been gluten, dairy, sugar-free much of the time, striving always for better than 80% free. I’ve increased my level of exercise and as a by-product lost 20 lbs. Crystal insisted that I not focus on my weight, and I didn’t. It’s always been a lost cause for me. She repeated again and again, that when we are aligned physically, mentally and emotionally with our true selves, the weight will come off.

More importantly, my brain is clear, I’m managing my PTSD better and better all the time.  I feel centered, anchored and happier more often and I have made great strides in developing resiliency.  I’m learning to ask for support, to allow myself to have support when it’s offered, and to give myself what I need when I need it.  In turn I have more to give to others.  I’ve learned to listen to myself more carefully, to follow my intuition more often and to trust that I know who I am. Is life perfect? No, and that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be. I do believe, however, that we can feel better than most of us do, most of the time.

It’s time once again to raise the ante. Manifesting Me requires reaching just beyond our comfort level as often as we can. Manifesting Me requires owning who we are as clearly as possible, lining up our insides with our outsides, not hiding behind masks, facades, or mental constructs. It requires being fully present within and without.

The next step on my journey is to raise the ante on my outward expression of true self. I am taking on this challenge by continuing this conversation more openly on my website: DorothySander.com. It will be me owning my experience in body, mind and spirit – in the world. It will be me saying what I think and feel without hiding behind an artifice or an idea. There, if you follow me, and I hope you will, you will find more of what you found here, more about what I have learned and am learning as time goes on. You will find guidance as I discover it on things such as overcoming trauma, the body/mind/spirit connection, developing deeper levels of self-awareness, and more on my own spiritual journey as it unfolds.

I hope you’ll join me there and/or add your name to my mailing list below to keep apprised of new posts, workshops, book reviews, and more. I value your presence in my life. Your experience informs mine as much as mine may inform yours. We have so much to learn from one another and so much love and support to offer one another. Please join me and thank you for being with me here throughout the last year.

Dorothy

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Aging Is An Inside Job

Aging Is An Inside Job

Aging Is an Inside JobIt seems like a hundred years ago that Sophie Lumen of The Art of Aging began to amass her spectacular following on Facebook. We stumbled across each other and immediately recognized that we were kindred spirits. We joined forces in heart and mind to take on the challenges of aging. An artist and spiritual guru she spread love and acceptance everywhere she went.  Even though Sophie has been on a bit of a sabbatical, The Art of Aging is still gathering followers, and she posts from time to time on her website Feed the Beauty. I have a feeling that she’ll show up again one day shining even brighter than before. I tell you about Sophie because one of my favorite quotes of hers has always been “Beauty is an inside job.” How very right she is!

I also believe that aging is an inside job. As we get older everything in and around us pushes us, and not so very gently I might add, away from externals and toward getting right with ourselves. We are being directed to start facing our fears, healing our wounds and traumas, figuring out what we truly believe and value and learning to start living congruently…aligning our insides with our outsides. We can’t do this by obsessing about our gray hair, our sagging breasts, our wrinkles, our decreasing strength. We can’t do this by focusing on externals. External concerns are only a diversion, an escape, a habit of avoiding the real issue at hand.

Are there real life concerns? Of course. They, however, must take a back seat to the inner work that needs to be done. The inner work will make the outer work more manageable and clear. Carl Jung outlines this process in his 7 tasks of aging. It’s a good place to start to see the basics of this process.

Carl Jung’s 7 tasks of aging

  1. Facing the reality of aging and dying
  2. Life review
  3. Defining life realistically
  4. Letting go of the ego
  5. Finding new rooting in the Self
  6. Determining the meaning of one’s life
  7. Rebirth – dying with life

These are no light weight tasks! Then again, we always complain about not wanting to waste our lives! The inner journey can appear daunting. No wonder we shy away from it. It doesn’t make it any less compelling or necessary. I’m pretty sure the alternative isn’t any better. We just think it is.

In the coming weeks, I will begin to address each of these tasks in more detail.  I hope you’ll hang around and offer our experience and insights.

Have you tackled any of Jung’s tasks? Where are you in this process? Where are you getting stuck? Please leave a comment if you have time. We have so much to learn from one another.