Tag Archives: connection

The Front Porch.

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What I think that I know about life, growth, and evolution, is that I do not let go of things, or surrender, until I am damned good and ready. At times, this can create immense suffering for me; for in holding onto to anything in this life, we suffer. However, I also trust my inner knowing to indicate to me when I am ready to release something that has felt scary to let go of.

 

Last weekend, I spent some time in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, a quiet, sleepy town that I spent much of my lifetime in. I didn’t live there my whole life, yet it is the closest place to feeling like home to me to this day. The charm and quaintness were only shadowed by the presence there of members of my family. And the house. That amazing, old, character filled, memory laden house. I came to that house when I was only a few months old, and have been physically craving visits in it the rest of my life. And, this week, it was sold to a person that I will most likely never meet, and who will now take it forward into the next phase of their life.

 

This particular chapter, which was a lifelong one, has been closed. And, I was finally ready to let it go.

 

Two years ago, that home was still occupied by my Aunt Ruth, and her cat, Josh. Before that, it was she, and my grandparents, and before that, it was my grandparents, Ruth, and her three siblings, one of which is my dad. A lot can happen in two years, and in these past two years, Ruth has died, Josh has come to live with us, and the home that I knew only as hers for more than twenty five years has been sold.

 

And, I’m good. I am ready to surrender all of that. 

 

When I visited the house last winter, the feeling when I entered it was sharp, biting. There was an edge in it that hurt when I would bump against it. But, at that time, she had only been gone for a couple of months, and everything seemed to still feel sharp and edgy. Being there was a flood of memories, and I spent time sitting in each room of the house, opening closets and drawers, smelling the smells and taking in the details of it as if I had never seen them before. I felt a sense of abandonment, as if I was abandoning it and her, as I walked away that day. 

 

Last weekend, the goodbye was different. I didn’t feel her in there anymore, and it didn’t seem to have anything to do with it being empty. It seemed to have more to do with her flying high, and long gone from the tethers of the physical world. She is so free that she is everywhere. At least, that is what I believe.

 

The front porch is one of my favorite spots there, and one that I will miss the most. And, although I don’t live in the past, nor do I even focus on my personal history much anymore, I will recall with deep love the times of sitting on that porch, watching people walk and drive by, saying hello, talking with Ruth while the breeze  was coming through the screens. One last time, Brenda and I sat on that front porch, soaking up all that had been there. Deepening our readiness for change. 

 

After all,  none of life is there, in those four walls. It is in Me.

 

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What Love Is.

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For three days, my kitty Joshie, who belonged to my dear Aunt Ruth, went missing. I let him out on a balmy summer evening on Saturday, and he didn’t come back home that night. Or the next night. Or the next. He has stayed out all night once before, but never for three nights in a row. I was frantic. I was sad. I was not ready to never see him again.

 

Of course, I imagined all sorts of terrible things: that he had been hit and killed by a car. That he had been hurt by a wild animal and was wounded and dying in the woods somewhere near our home. That he was ill, and went off to be alone. My mind was wild with stories, and as soon as I would feel a glimmer of hope, that he might just come back home, I would feel a longing for him, and create another tale of worry.

 

Yesterday, I made a commitment to myself: that I would deepen my love and appreciation for him, and all that he brought to my Aunt Ruth’s life, and to our lives in the last eighteen months. What that meant, is that I would be in the present moment, as much as possible, and not focus on the past stories or future predictions that I wanted to create in my head. I wanted to love him, regardless of whether or not he would ever return to us.

 

This morning, as I was walking out of the house for work, he was at the door, as if he had never been gone. He was hungry, dusty, and unscathed. I had no way of knowing where he had been or what had happened, and I didn’t care. But I more deeply understood in those moments after that what love really is to me.

 

Love is letting go- of expectation, of anticipation, of the future and the stories of the past. Love is acceptance, of people and circumstances just as they are, not the way that we want them to be. Love is forgiveness, of ourselves and others, for not being perfect or the way in which we might expect. Love is deep appreciation and gratitude, for all that we have in this very moment. Love is not holding on tightly out of fear or control, and it isn’t meant to be disappointing just if it doesn’t go my way.

 

Love is here, Love is now, Love is available whenever we say yes to it. 

 

It Is that simple. 

 

Being a Human.

Last month, I published my first book. It is stories and photographs of all of my many journeys with hugs so far. And, it has been an amazing ride. I have hugged so many beautiful humans, and learned so much about myself in the process. And, last night, I had the deep privilege of hugging a few dozen more of them, blindfolded on the streets of Scranton. 

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I have learned many things about myself as I have been on this journey, about surrender, forgiveness, expectations, and being in the present moment. And, for the most part, I live in those realms in my daily living, and when I am not there, am able to do what I need to in order to get back there.

 

But yesterday, I felt more human than usual. What felt like a difficult circumstance came up in my life, and my first response was anger. Of every range of emotion that there is for us humans, anger is the one that I have the most difficulty with understanding and processing. Of course, I also know that anger is nothing more than another form of fear, but in the moment yesterday, I was pissed. I felt hatred. I wanted to lash out and attack people, and felt very justified in that feeling. And, although I know that I am a human being, and that I am imperfect, and that I will go through these difficulties at times, I also don’t like it when I feel something that I don’t know what to do with.

 

So, I gave myself over completely to my street hugs last night. I had already planned to go downtown and hug with a blindfold, which I had not done since my first street hugging experience three years ago. And, I don’t think that I really knew how much it would bring healing to me last night. Until it happened. 

 

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Humans, just being themselves. Being vulnerable. Sharing a moment with me that for most of them, brought me to tears. A sharing of hearts, souls and moments that are imprinted on me. 

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With every hugging experience, I understand more deeply that it is not me who is bringing something to others; it is the sharing of the hug with one another. The blend of two beings, two souls, and the experience of our universal nature, our sameness. I am filled with a deep honor and reverence for sharing those intimate moments with my fellow Light Beings. 

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Thank you. For reminding me of the beauty of being a human; and how much we all share with one another. 

Expansion.

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Recently, I have been realizing more and more how at ease I have become with myself. Lighter and more present and genuine, in more areas of my life at the same time. For me, this is a startling realization, because it is not where I have been at for most, if not all of my life up to this point. 

 

For most of my life, I have seen myself as a victim. If someone expressed an opinion to me that I interpreted as negative or as a judgment, even in my own defense to the contrary, I would always take it in as the truth. In addition, I would get to attack them as the person who attacked me.  A tricky cycle, yet somewhere along the line I learned it carefully and never chose anything different for myself. The accumulating effects of this were self doubt, self loathing, feeling like a victim in all circumstances, and building of resentment and judgment. I did not know I could choose differently.

 

Then, beginning a few years ago, well into my adulthood, I started reading more books, studying more theories and concepts, and seeing that there could be another choice for me. I believed that it could be true to not see myself as helpless, not as a victim, but as powerful in my life. Yet I still didn’t choose it for myself; I was still enticed by feeling like a victim, a freak, like no one saw the goodness that I could bring to the world. And, that it was other people’s fault.

 

When, I first started offering hugs, I was just standing on a street corner. With my arms opened up wide. On the outside, I was seeming to show that hugs were available if someone wanted or needed one; that I didn’t care whether or not they would give me a hug. But, on the inside, I was placing the value of what I was offering on whether or not people stopped for a hug, or even looked my way for that matter. Even though I believed in what I was doing, I also felt weird, strange and odd for what I was offering. I wasn’t at ease yet with just being me, and having that be enough. 

 

Yesterday, I spent nearly three hours offering hugs in my city. I had so much fun, and the beautiful part is that, I didn’t get that many hugs. Yet I had so many beautiful interactions with other humans. I was just being myself, and I felt amazing and inspired. Even with moments of self doubt, I have become so much more loving toward myself about who I Am and what I do in the world. I know that who I Am is not given its meaning or value by others around me. And, that I get to honor the value of each person I see, meet, or interact with, for just being who they are. It is the most free and peaceful that I have ever been. 

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Presence and Peace.

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The past few days have been deeply shape shifting and mind altering for me. I tend to keep the same routine in how I do my learning about where I want to grow next: I read books, and spend time in the quiet. I remind myself, in the car, at work and at home, multiple times a day about how to come back to the present moment. Some days, I feel really successful in becoming present. However, there are many days in which I feel like I am completely in my head, a lot of the time. 

I don’t have the illusion that I have a capacity for a completely quiet mind; I call that an illusion, because there is always chatter in my head. Even when I am being as present as possible, and not choosing to worry on anything in particular, there are stories galore being hatched in my noggin. That isn’t bad in and of itself, but when I begin to tell myself a whole novel’s worth of tales about that one strand of thought, it becomes somewhat overwhelming and ultimately problematic. So, I do my best to open myself to the thoughts, allow them to float by like clouds, and not take them too seriously.

But something much deeper and intimate happened to me this week. I decided to begin “formally” meditating. Typically, I sit quietly, on the couch or in a chair, every morning before I get ready to begin the scheduled portions of my day. I also listen to books on CD in my car often, or ride without any sound at all, to extend that feeling of quiet and peace. I have not done an actual meditation practice in several years. After a series of stories a few days ago about me and others around me, I wanted to make a more concentrated effort to quiet them down. I began meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, sitting quietly and allowing my thoughts to float by. 

I don’t know if it is the actual meditation, the readiness within myself that I felt to do it, or the readiness of learning this particular lesson myself, but I broke loose of some really old mind and heart patterns. No matter how humble I like to think that I am, I still have periods of entrenched arrogance, telling myself that I have learned all that I need to, and that others just need to “catch up” with where I am at. It is gross at the same time that it is so comically egoic and human. Catching that arrogance this week was like doing a cleanse, and feeling this sense of emptiness and clarity all at the same time. 

I decided to meditate this morning, by concentrating on two words which I wanted to carry with me through the day. For every in breath, I would think Presence, and for every out breath, I would think Peace. Both are necessary and craved in my current world. After clearing out some old patterns and thoughts this week, I understood how critical both are in my world. And, how I can still find places in me that need smoothing to be more in synch with both. 

I love being a teacher, a leader, and a light for others. But, I know I need to be first and foremost, a student. 

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