Sea of Change.

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My life has been a series of deep changes in the last few months. In the areas of my work, my play, my family, and my home, changes have been everywhere. And, for most of my life, I have made a determination in my mind and my heart of whether a change was good, or bad. Hardly ever have I encountered a change about which I felt completely neutral.

 

There are many reasons of why I feel a sense of judgment about change occurring in my world. One reason is that I believe that if things change, then what I previously believed about a relationship was an illusion or a lie; that if that person no longer speaks to me or is in my life, that maybe all along they didn’t really care about me. If the circumstances of my job change, I immediately feel like maybe this isn’t the right position for me, or I feel betrayed in some way that change has occurred. If a change happens that I label as positive, it is always because things have turned out the way that I wanted in some form. 

 

The main reason that I would ever feel upset or concerned about a change that happens in my life is simply fear:  being afraid for a new circumstance to come in. Afraid of what is going to occur next. Fear of the unknown. When I am coming from fear, it almost certainly means that I am resisting what will come whether I embrace it or not. I want things to stay the same, because in sameness, it seems like there is safety, security, familiarity.  I want my world to stay as it is in those moments.

 

However, whether I want it to occur or not, changes do come in my world, on a daily basis. I am in my little vessel on the ocean of life, floating along, and the ocean doesn’t stay constant. If you spend any time on the coast, the only thing certain about the waves and sea is that it is constantly changing. The tides, the size of the waves, and color and texture of the ocean, is always in motion. It never stops. 

 

When I live my life in the past, through memory, regret or sentimental feeling, then any new circumstance or information that comes in that challenges that feels threatening to me. When I live in the future, in anticipation of what I want to happen, or am planning in my mind, when those plans get changed, I feel threatened and unappreciated or unheard. It may all sound very dramatic, but this is what occurs when I am not living presently, and I judge what happens around me as either good, or bad. 

 

The truth is, I will always be riding the ocean of life, always navigating my way through a sea of constant change. Life is ever changing; that cannot be disputed. How those changes impact me, or don’t, is always my choice, my intent. If I live my life as fully in the present moment as possible, watching life as if it were a movie, and understanding that change occurs whether I want it to or not, then I can be neutral about change. I can embrace that life, in all of its wonder and unique manifestations, can just be something that I watch unfold, and see the opportunities for learning and growth with every change in the waves. I can choose gratitude for every experience, no matter what comes my way.

 

Change comes to each one of us. We can enjoy the ride or curse the tide. I want to secure as much joy and peace as possible while I am on this voyage, so I choose this moment, as often as I can remember. 

 

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Seagull Island.

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During my walk this morning, and for many mornings this winter, I have noticed a flock of seagulls that hang around at the lake. Now that the weather is turning colder, and ice is beginning to form on parts of the lake, when they gather there, in the center, it looks like an island of sorts where they sit. They are huddled together and occasionally fly away. I often find myself wondering, why are they here? Where did they come from? Why in the winter would they settle on our local, homegrown lake?

 

As I wondered on that, I also wondered, on why I ask why. When I am asking why, about a situation or a person, it is most often because I feel scared. I might feel scared about why someone I love is upset with me, because that means, our relationship, in the way that I am viewing it, has changed. I might feel scared because I don’t know what is going to happen next, so I feel less secure about my life and where it is going. I might feel scared if I don’t understand the why of something, because that means I am not as wise as I might of thought, so I give myself room to judge and criticize myself.

 

For me, any why or wondering question comes from a place of fear. Even about seagulls on a lake, you ask? Yes. When I am wondering why something is the way that it is, I am afraid of something. Afraid of what I think I already know from the past. Afraid of what might happen in the future. Afraid to just let the present moment Be as It Is. You see, when I am coming from a fearful place, if I let the present moment be, then I feel as if I am letting go of control. And, when I am afraid, if I am not in control, that is terrifying. 

 

Maybe being in control doesn’t sound like a problem to many of you, especially if you are a control freak like I am. However, I can attest to the fact that it certainly is not a peaceful place to come from. Not at all. When I am in control, or needing to know the hows and whys of every little detail in my life, I am certainly not feeling at ease. I am feeling tense, and always waiting for the next thing that is about to happen. 

 

The deepest lessons of my life are occurring right now, and those are about how to bring Peace more consistently and deeply into my world. And, the beauty is, I don’t have to do anything special for that to happen; not at all. I just have to be in my world, without questions or judgments or rules. I can just let the world Be as It Is. Let Go of what I think it should be. Breathe deeply and take in what is happening Right Now.

 

Today, the seagulls on my homegrown lake are a great lesson in Presence, because instead of wondering why they are there, I get to watch them dance on the water, hear them communicate with one another, and appreciate their beauty and unique nature. I get to just Be with them, in this very moment.  After all, the Present Moment is all that there ever Is.

 

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I Am Hopelessly Flawed.

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I have always enjoyed learning something new. And, most recently in my life, I have come to deeply appreciate when I have personal breakthroughs. I have not always appreciated this, because to have a breakthrough to me, meant that I had either hurt someone else, been hating on myself, or learned the lesson through some other difficult or painful means. I now understand that the most painful lessons for me bring the most brilliant recognitions in my life.

I have always sought in my mind to be a perfect human being. I always wanted to look just right; lose the right amount of weight; measure my foods in precisely the right amount per portion. I always wanted to be right on time for work, for play, or for an appointment. I always wanted to know about everything that someone would ask me; I would want to be the expert in any field of study. I wanted to be the best friend, mother, sibling, daughter, and co worker that there ever was.

I guess there is no harm in wanting to be the best at something in life. The problem has been for me, that being the best was an obsession for me. I saw myself as having to be perfect at everything, and when I wasn’t, I would criticize myself, or the situation. It would bring out the darkest, most undesirable parts of me, my traits. 

We all are made up of various traits and characteristics, that make us who we are. The ones that I tend to focus on are the ones that are most appealing: being kind; loving; compassionate; forgiving; patient; open; and honest, for a few examples. Yet, there are other traits that are always present within me that I don’t like to acknowledge live in me. And, when they show up, I get scared. I get defensive. My fists come up. And, I criticize and berate myself for having them appear; it is some of the darkest moments of self loathing for me. So to say that they live in me has been a challenge during most of my life.  Here are a few of my top traits:

I am a know it all. I am controlling about the slightest detail. I am judgmental to anyone who isn’t as “evolved” as I  am. I am arrogant. I am naive, to the point of feeling offended when my illusions are shattered. I am bossy. I am not willing to be a team player. I am dramatic. I am a gossip. I am stubborn about looking at things in news ways. I am unforgiving and resentful. I am selfish about my own needs. And no doubt, there are more that I could list here. 

These traits aren’t always how I am in the world, yet they do live in me. I was recently reading a book by SARK in which she was not only listing her various traits, she was celebrating them!  I was stunned, amazed, and confused. Why would one want to focus on them? Why not focus on the positive parts of ourselves?

I came to understand why a bit more deeply this week. I know that I have these traits that I see as more negative, and I am even pretty savvy at catching them when they pop up in my life and my relationships, at least most of the time. And, I most often choose the more positive, loving traits in my world. But, even if I didn’t choose those more often, I realized, SO WHAT? Really, so what? Loving myself means loving all parts of myself, the parts that I praise and the parts that I loathe. The Light and the Dark; they are all me.

Today, I am renewing my commitment to letting go of perfection and embracing my Perfection as I Am. Even though that may sound like the same idea, with the same word, it is completely different. It is the difference between conditional love, the need to be a certain someone in this world in order to love and honor myself; and Unconditional Love, the loving, honoring, and Celebrating who I Am, in all of my delightful, human ways. It is the difference between living according to our domestication, of how we have been carefully taught; and living in accordance with our true nature, our deepest, most authentic self.

Today, I announce, declare, acknowledge, and Celebrate every aspect of who I Am.

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Grief.

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I have spent the last several days experiencing and thinking about grief. About what it is, and what it is not. About my own grief and how I express it, now in my life, and in the past. I am amazed and at peace at what I seem to be discovering.

 

When I was in college, my grandmother, my father’s mother, died after being ill for a long time with cancer. I had spent school vacations at her home for years, kept her secrets of eating forbidden foods at lunch, and laughed with her. I was so sad, and hurt, and lost when she died. I didn’t want it to be true. I didn’t want to care about college classes anymore, for months. I thought about her all of the time and couldn’t envision a life without her physical presence in it. 

 

Ten years later, my older brother died, after a long illness. He lived on the west coast, so he was far away and I hadn’t seen him in years. Our relationship had been very close for a period of time in my life, but his last few months had been strained between us. I was the person that he had his caretakers call to report his death. It was surreal and a deep hurt. I grieved in many ways when he died. I cried, a lot at first. I felt guilt at our being somewhat estranged. I felt anger that he had me be the one that had to tell my parents that he had died. And, I felt like a martyr, in a way. I wore my grief like a shroud, feeling very embedded in it. That lasted for a long time. 

 

There have been many persons that I have known since then, friends or family, that had died. My responses to each one have been different. Yet, none so different as the deaths of two persons in my life in literally the last three weeks. First, my beloved aunt, my aunt Ruth, who was as close to me as a family member as my own parents. She lived with my grandparents when I was growing up, and I spent those school vacations with her as well, and many happy times after that. I would go up to her house for a weekend, just to spend time and talk with her. Her heart was so open and filled with love. I thought she would be around awhile longer, if not forever. Her death has been hard to bear, although manageable at the same time.

 

Only a few days after her death, my father in law, my wife’s father, died. I had not had the opportunity to build a longstanding, deep relationship with Ben, but I had felt a deep fondness and love for him, and enjoyed our times together. He gave Brenda away at our wedding. He had many of his own demons, yet I saw the light in him that was love, even though he didn’t see it in himself, it seemed.

 

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What grief represents to me now in my world is much different than I have ever experienced before. Even though we may share grief and the expression of it with others that are close to us, grief feels very personal to me; meaning, my feelings of loss are not going to be like anyone else’s about the person, as no one else’s will be like mine. In essence, I can feel whatever I feel, without any need to compare myself to others. I get to just move through it in the most loving, gentle way that I can. I also don’t feel like I have to express it in any certain way. Whatever seems to help me and bring me comfort and support feels right.

 

Grief also looks like Peace to me now. I don’t know how to best explain that, except that even when I am sad that my aunt Ruth is gone, or longing to spend another day with Ben, I feel at Peace when I accept things just as they are. Accept that they are absent. Accept that I miss them at times. Accept that life will go on without both of them in this physical realm. Letting Go and Acceptance bring me Peace. Bring me comfort. And are deep expressions of Love for me.

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Please, help me.

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I have defined myself as a helper for most, if not all of my life. From an early age, I wanted to always help others, and to give them gifts and special things. It isn’t something that I necessarily thought about, it just felt as if it lived in me as part of who I am. This giving and offering applied to my family, friends, and strangers. As I got older, it felt like a longing that meant that I wanted to choose a career in which I could offer myself to others. To me, that meant social work. And, although I have loved what I have done as my career all of these years, I don’t seek so much of myself in it as I used to in the past.  As a social worker, and a counselor, I have come to find it quite normal to always focus on what others need, or how they are not capable of taking care of themselves, and require my assistance. I see humans as much more capable than I used to, so I feel less needed to provide a service, but rather, see in them the ability to help themselves.

 

Another aspect of who I have been in my life, is that I rarely have asked for help for myself. Not only do I offer to do almost everything that may be required in a given situation, I rarely ask for others to actively help me. And, if I am in a bad situation, it is often not my comfort zone to ask someone to assist me. 

 

One area that I find it interesting is in how prayer has been present in my life as I have grown. When I was a child, and even in college, I would enjoy going to church, participating in the structure and tradition of it all, with prayers and song. I loved that I knew the prayers by heart, and would enjoy reciting them in unison with others in the church. I even prayed at night, or various other times, to God, as I knew of it at the time, for help for others. I never, ever asked God for help for myself. To me, to ask God for something that I wanted, or needed, was selfish. Was me asking God to give me something that I should be able to take care of myself. In other words, God was not responsible for my happiness or relief; I was. 

 

Letting go of the belief that I am solely responsible for the happenings of my life, without the need for others to assist, has been a challenge for me. Mostly, in the area of where God, or Spirit, fits into my life. I would rarely remember that God, or Spirit, is always with me, and I am always part of it, and it is there as the purest form of who I Am. And, there to assist, guide, and support. Yet, I am beginning to understand how important that is right now for me. Being able to say to Spirit, please, help me, to see this situation as it is. To let go or surrender. To remember that I am resting always in the Peace of God. That this is just a dream. That the form does not matter. These are the parts of my daily living that feel most challenging, and yet, I still believe that I need to solely rely on myself to remember. 

 

Most recently, with life form situations that have happened in my world, I have remembered with more frequency to call upon Spirit for help, when I am in a moment that does not feel peaceful, yet I am longing for peace. I am aware that I am not choosing Peace, and yet, need some assistance in choosing Peace. That is when Spirit is right there, for me and with me, to hold me up and remind me, gently and lovingly, what Peace feels like, and that I always have help in choosing it. That I am not in ever in this alone; that I am always held by and watched over by Spirit. That all is well. That Peace lives within me. And Forgiveness. And Love. And when I cannot remember to choose them, it is a beautiful comfort to know the help that exists to help me choose.

 

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To Ruthie. With Love.