Tag: spirituality

Simplify Your Life

Simplify Your Life

By Jim Daly Americana Artist
By Jim Daly
Americana Artist

Windows to Wisdom: “Simplify your life. Make room wherever and whenever you can for new ideas, new experiences, new friends, and new experiences.”

Have you ever asked yourself, “What do I really need to be happy?” Most of us live wrapped in a cocoon of material abundance. Even if, and maybe especially if, we think we do not have enough, most of us have everything we need. Perhaps it is our propensity to keep looking and striving for more that makes it impossible for us to appreciate what is right in front of us. The noise in our head blocks the path to our heart.

Many over fifty, particularly women, have fallen on hard times financially. Choices and happenstance, divorce, job loss, medical expenses can pile up to the point where we feel as though we are living in a vice. If we’re not careful, self-pity and despair will become our outlook on life. We may become so focused on what we do not have, on our lack, that we forget to be grateful for all that remains.

Simplifying one’s life in all areas creates space for the “enough” to filter through.  Eliminating the longing, the self-pity, the demand we place on ourselves to keep up with our own expectations,  opens a window and allows the fresh breezes of a new perspective, a new appreciation for what is right in front of us, to blow in and wash away the debris of the past. Contentment may just be right in front of us, right within reach. We simply need to make room for it.

Simplifying is a process and a practice, not an exercise we do once.  To carry the expectation that we can sweep through our lives, strip everything away and walk away free and at peace is an illusion. You see the process of simplifying is both internal and external and one depends on, and supports, the other.  It requires changing many thought patterns, habits and behaviors, each one a valuable step in the process. If we do not walk through the process we may find ourselves back where we started in no time.

Wherever you are in the process of simplifying begin there. Even if you’ve already eliminated all the extraneous things in your life that you think you can, take another look. Is there a habit of thought that does not serve you? Is there a book on your book shelf that someone else might benefit from? Push the edges of your comfort zone. It keeps us on our toes, it keeps the air moving within us, it keeps some space for the voice of our hearts to emerge.

Conscious Aging

Conscious Aging

Watching my parents die was one of the most difficult and painful experiences of my life. It was a modern-day tragedy, their conscious agingsuffering heartbreaking and unnecessary.  I watched, powerless to change a sickness of the mind, a fundamental commitment to their powerlessness.

We are all powerless over death, but we are not powerless over the way in which we approach our death.  As we choose better thoughts and attitudes, we begin to see them come to fruition with each choice we make.

At the time of my parents death, I was only beginning to grasp this concept. The fog was lifting but it was too late for me to help them. I was still in the grip of a lineage of powerlessness, even as I knew in my gut  that there was a different way. We were all products of our upbringing and for some a victim mindset is woven tightly into our DNA, put there before we really even had a choice.

MY HEART ACHED

My heart ached as I watched this mindset play out in two people I was born loving.  I watched in horror as they brought about the very conditions they feared and dreaded the most. They lived their worst nightmare, and lived their dying days watching everything they planned so meticulously to avoid play out just as they had envisioned it.

It wasn’t their physical suffering that was hard to watch minimal compared to many.  No, it was their unspoken belief that they didn’t matter, that only they could save themselves and that ultimately they were not worth anyone’s time.  In the end they lived their last years fighting a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.  Each, in their own way, was unable to break free from the mindset that could not create their way out.

I HAD TO BREAK FREE

It was then that I began to grapple in earnest with my own unanswered questions about life and death.  Untangling the mindset that created a lineage of mental and emotional suffering was my single goal, and I would separate out what was mine and what was theirs.  I had to break free.

I sought then and continue to seek today a deeper, richer understanding of and appreciation for the life/death experience. Traveling from a place of fearing life and death to a radical new place of hope, meaning and purpose has created within me a significant transformation.

If I have a choice, I do not want to die as they died, nor do I want to live as they lived.  I want to believe in possibility and hope as I live and die with strength and courage.  Of course, I have yet to test my new perspective and I do hope I have more time for it to ferment and strengthen, but I have changed.

During my fifth decade, I discovered a deeper connection to myself and to the creation of all things. I am unwilling to name  the source without source. To do so is, for me, too confining, too limiting, and subject to false interpretations. Yet, I feel a powerful presence, an energy upon which love and life and all that is good is founded and sustained. This power lives within us, between us,  around us and before us.  When we open to it, our course becomes clearer.  It is both me and not me. It is both the collective and not the collective.

I will never know what crossed my mother or father’s mind in their last moments. Perhaps they took the hand of their God and were no longer afraid. I hope that was true. Since that time, however, I have vowed not to live an un-lived life and not to die a meaningless death. Conscious aging is my goal and conscious living my ongoing quest.

© Dorothy Sander 2015

 

 

 

Unraveling Ourselves

Unraveling Ourselves

“Unraveling external selves and coming home to our real identity is the true meaning of soul work.”

Sue Monk Kidd3c15e6af5a296dd861c2bd8ba93aa29e

There is so much to be done in the unraveling department. The good news is that once true unraveling begins, one starts to feel lighter and lighter. The heavy weight of pain and confusion begins to lift and the challenges one faces are laced with hope. Feeling one’s real and honest identity become interconnected with one’s soul is both energizing and life affirming.

If anyone had told me years ago that I would feel younger, happier and freer at sixty-three than I had ever felt at any other time in my life, I would have been convinced they were smoking something. I lived pretty much most of fifty something years under a black cloud, fighting, struggling, despairing…suffering inside in a way I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I was dedicated and earnest in my pursuit of self-understanding from a very early age. I was drawn to the spiritual life, like a magnet. I understand the human need and desire for a connection with the divine, implicitly. What I didn’t understand was my pain in the world. I didn’t understand how the world and the divine spoke to one another. The divine was speaking, but no one was listening.

Repeatedly throughout my life, I moved toward God and then fell away. I moved toward spiritual teachers and an understanding of an inner life, but when I attempted to carry it into the world I felt frustrated and alone. I did not know how to put words to any of what I knew to be true in a way that would convey to others.

The symbolic language I found and used to describe such things no longer worked in my practical, modern surroundings. I desperately wanted to find a connection between the two. I did not want to leave the world behind and go to a mountain top, although at times I wish I had. It could not have been more painful to be alone with God than it was to be alone in the world.

Now all these years later I’m beginning to see more clearly what happened. A product of my times, I found nowhere to go with my spiritual yearnings. Even seminary was an environment that was decidedly pragmatic in its approach to spirituality. One believed in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, even questioned and discussed them with other believers, but when all was said and done it was understood that the ultimate goal was to bring our faith and belief to others in the context of the church setting. What about bringing it into the world at large? Why must we put it into a box only to be brought out on Sunday morning in a pre-programmed environment? I couldn’t buy into any of it.

To my way of thinking what was always wrong with the “church” was what is still wrong with organized religion. It’s religion in a box. It’s not about spiritual listening and learning and becoming. It’s not about looking for God in the everyday world of board meetings and while making peanut butter sandwiches for your kids. We paid lip service to that, but there really was no support structure for such a lifestyle.  Religious traditions are too small, too narrow, too limiting for what I believe God to be and the spiritual life to require.

When “religion” didn’t answer my questions or satisfy my yearnings I didn’t abandon the Divine that lived in my heart. I just stopped paying attention to her voice. She was still there, calling to me, needling me, tormenting me. I chose instead to turn my back on my soul and sought refuge instead in the psychological realm. Therapy. Medication. Pain. More therapy. More pain.More medication.

I learned much about the human psyche, but it did not help me grow in self-esteem or  value the gift of life, because at my core I remained disconnected from my essential myself, my soul self. I was ignoring that place from which all real self-esteem comes. If we are not listening to our deep, inner voice and hearing the messages and guidance of our soul, we will never find peace. We will never understand who we are or what we have to offer the world. We will never trust that we are valuable, or that we matter, no matter what. No therapist, no religion, no worldly structure  or construct can ever teach us that.

Reclaiming Purpose

Reclaiming Purpose


This month’s selection for the Aging Abundantly Book Club is a recent favorite, I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose by Dawna Markova. I posted a copy of her poem from the beginning of the book not too long ago. I am enjoying it even more the second time around. It’s a book that at its heart is poetic and filled with images, metaphors and enough symbolic language to keep me giddy for weeks. That’s just me. Something like Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea – if you liked it, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the second chapter where she shares her thoughts at the beginning of her healing journey.

“I need to recover a rhythm in my heart that moves my body first and my mind second”

“I need to take a sacred pause, as if I were a sun-warmed rock in the center of a rushing river.”

“I need a safe place in which to tell myself the truth.”

and maybe my favorite in this chapter:

“Through fear of knowing who we really are we sidestep our own destiny.”

Her words speak to me. Everywhere I look I see people racing around trying to be someone and do something only to cause unrelenting “soul leakage” as she calls it. I know I certainly felt everything she describes as I entered mid-life. It finally had all caught up with me. Many of you tell me the same thing. It just came to be the time when it all needed to stop in order to allow something different to blossom.

Change isn’t easy. Living with the rhythm of our heart and body is. It’s not perfect. It’s not without it’s challenges, but it feels like living and breathing with the universe not the world.

If you like reading non-fiction of the psycho-spiritual variety we will be doing more of it. We also read fiction so drop in. We’d love to have you!

writer, poet

 

 

 

 

Gut It Out

Gut It Out

378a445020743408715c4111ffb81adaSometimes it just takes guts. Sometimes we can’t think our way to a solution. We can’t whine our way to the answer. We can’t emote our way to healing. Sometimes it just takes guts and putting one foot in front of the other and doing the thing we think we cannot do, facing that thing we think we cannot face.

I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve been gutting it out, head down, leaning into the pain. Pushing through, breathing the baby into the birth canal. She’s so ready to be born, so done with carrying the weight of the past, so ripe for life.

There’s a bit more pushing to be done before I can embrace the miracle of birth that will set her free, though it feels as though the hardest work is done. The months of sickness and burden, the trimesters of struggle and straining toward freedom and understanding.

A new consciousness has awoken. A new beginning is at hand. Birth, life, death. Birth, life, death. The cycle of life continues unfolding the fullness of you, the fullness of me. Lean into the pain. Gut it out. Let the birth take place. It simply needs your cooperation and above all else, your fearlessness.

My Unfolding

My Unfolding

Unfolding

The unfolding of consciousness sometimes feels like a runaway freight train…and I’m just hanging on for dear life. Ah, but what a ride! My only regret is that I got on board so late in life.  On the other hand, my life’s path that led me to this point carries with it an experiential awareness of the many life lessons we all must face. The pain of the past also propels me forward toward union with soul consciousness and away from the void of spiritual death that we live with when we are disconnected from ourselves and from creation.

I’ve sought a deeper connection with the divine since I lost my awareness of that connection as a young child. I did not know that I was also seeking a connection with myself, the deeper, true self that was set upon a shelf for safe keeping for survival’s sake.  My child self knew intrinsically the love of the divine, the safety net of a benevolent universe, but believed she had to trade it for life. It doesn’t matter if this was true or not, the trade was made.

Taking back the soul self is both incredibly easy and inordinately difficult. It is taking baby steps of trust, incremental achievements in awareness of self – what is true, what is not – what is soul, what is not – what is love, what is not – separating the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the lie.

When I started crawling out of the hole I was in I had no idea it would lead me here – lead me home – lead me to where I always wanted to be. So very familiar. So very new. I’d like a safety net, but it is my job to weave one for myself. I’d like directions, but it is up to me to listen to my own inner voice. There are no answers outside of myself – ultimately. Taking full and total responsibility for the choices I make, the steps I take, the love I give, the love I turn away, the time I waste, the words I share, the thoughts I keep to myself – it’s all on me. Just me. And, that’s okay.