Daily Om Thursday

Apple blossoms

Apple blossoms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bloom Where You Are Planted:
Now Is The Time

The time to blossom is now, not sometime in the future when you believe the stars will be aligned for you.

Having a vision for our future that differs from our current circumstances can be inspiring and exciting, but it can also keep us from fully committing to our present placement. We may become aware that this is happening when we notice our thoughts about the future distracting us from our participation in the moment. We may find upon searching our hearts that we are waiting for some future time or situation in order to self-actualize. This would be like a flower planted in North Dakota putting off blooming because it would prefer to do so in Illinois.

There are no guarantees in this life, so when we hold back we do so at the risk of never fully blossoming. This present moment always offers us the ground in which we can take root and open our hearts now. What this means is that we live fully, wherever we are, not hesitating because conditions are not perfect, or we might end up moving, or we haven’t found our life partner. This can be scary, because we might feel that we are giving up our cherished dreams if we do not agree to wait for them. But this notion that we have to hold back our life force now in order to find happiness later doesn’t really make sense. What might really be happening is that we are afraid to embrace this moment, and ourselves, just exactly as we are right now. This constitutes a tendency to hold back from fully loving ourselves, as we are, where we are.

We have a habit of presenting life with a set of conditions—ifs and whens that must be fulfilled before we will say yes to the gift of our lives. Now is the time for each of us to bloom where we are planted, overriding our tendency to hold back. Now is the time to say yes, to be brave and commit fully to ourselves, because until we do no one else will. Now is the time to be vulnerable, unfolding delicately yet fully into the space in which we find ourselves. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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This post is easy. The Daily Om article states it all in a neat little package. Tomorrow, when the time is right, and I can’t right now because ___________ (fill in the blank), are all excuses that we tell ourselves to avoid living our best lives, in the present moment. Although we know the truth, we kid ourselves into believing that this life is infinite. We place all of our dreams, hopes and desires, in a beautiful, embossed box, where they will be safe — until tomorrow. On a daily basis, we save the “good” china and silverware for special occasions, and we relegate that “little black dress” and sexy lingerie to the back of our closets and drawers, waiting for the “right” moment. Our hearts are swollen with all the words and sentiments that we wish to convey to our loved ones, at the “right” time. Well, I was recently reminded by the death of a high school classmate, that tomorrow may never come, and the “right” time is at this very moment.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” reason to explain our propensity for procrastination. It could arise from a variety of emotions and beliefs, but in reality, none of that matters. It’s all about letting go of all that is keeping us from our hopes and dreams. By doing so, we free ourselves from an uncertain future and consciously embrace the way that we really choose to live our lives.

As I write this, it reminds me of a poem that I read about letting go. (It touched me so much that I added it to my website as one of my favorite poems.) In addition to addressing the issue of letting go, it recounts many of the reasons we use to justify clinging to the status-quo. Although the poem refers to the female gender, it applies to every man and woman who is waiting for the elusive “right” moment to present itself before realizing their dreams. Read it, heed it, and go ahead — allow your life to blossom, beyond your wildest dreams, because the “right” moment is now.

divider3She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
~ Rev. Safire Rose

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The Choice Is Yours

Sunrise at Malibu Lake in the Santa Monica Mou...

Sunrise at Malibu Lake in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu, California, which is located on the northwestern edge of Los Angeles County, May 1975 (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

It was near the end of my almost month-long stay in Los Angeles, and I’d finally made it to Malibu Beach. It was a perfect day for the beach, sand castles and sand angels. I find the rhythmic, gentle roar of the ocean waves mesmerizing, so I sat for a while taking in the seemingly infinite expanse of the water.

Soon, I was standing in the Pacific Ocean with my g’son awaiting the crash of the surf as it hit our bodies. I waited with the anticipation of the 3-year-old standing beside me. At the moment of impact, the surf dispersed the sand from beneath my feet, and I was on the verge of losing my balance. I must admit that my initial feeling was one of fear and loss of control. So, it was no surprise that my body reacted instinctively and went into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. My muscles tightened and my breath quickened, awaiting a nonexistent foe.

Assessing the situation, what I felt was akin to the earth giving way beneath my feet, and I, like a drunk college student stumbling home after the latest frat party, swayed to and fro, barely keeping my balance. Although I tried, I couldn’t formulate the words to explain the feeling to my son-in-law, who was nearby taking photos. From out of nowhere, I felt it–a moment of sweet, exhilarating perfection, followed by an acceptance and surrender to the feeling. My body sensed it as well, because almost instantaneously, it relaxed and my breath deepened. Bliss replaced the tension that I’d spent moments ago. In those brief series of moments, there was no agonizing about the past, or yearnings about the future. There was simply that perfect moment when everything made sense, and all was right with the world.  Without thinking, everything within me knew that this was it, the elusive present moment. To my utter amazement, as I stood there in the ocean, the same thing happened two more times.

At first, my experience blew me away, and I wanted it to happen again. I am an unabashed seeker, like the majority of us, and long to live my life without the baggage borne of the past or future. The name of my blog, “Seeking Querencia,” says it all. Having spent a lifetime “living” a soul-sucking existence that can easily lull you into a sense of normalcy, I wanted to experience life’s moments, every precious one of them. There, I can let go of worries and wounds of the past and the never-ending daydreams about the unknowable future, and as it is said, to “stop and smell the roses.”

What I slowly realized is that it was those moments preceding my “transcendental” experience that held the key to my goal. It is then when I choose to let go of my endless thoughts and feelings about the past and the future. When we dwell in the present moment, there is no past or future. As Eckhart Tolle is known to say, there is only the now. The past and the future only exist in our minds and clinging to them only serve to strengthen them and prolong the hold that they have on us. They hold no significance. More importantly, they block our path to the only moment that is available to us, the present moment.

Each moment is a morsel that has within it the promise of infinite possibilities. They hold, among other things, a potential world of grace and mystery, and as they drift on by, they, too, become the past. We will never know what beauty, joy or wonder was within our reach, because the moment shall never come again. Mind you, the past is not irrelevant. It informs who we are. Yet, we are not meant to live there, we are meant to learn from it. The future, in spite of careful planning, is amorphous, and short of being able to see into the future, it eludes us and takes our attention from what is before us.

In those perfect moments that I experienced, I choose the present in lieu of the past or future. By doing so, I claimed the only moment given me. I love the following quote by Martha Graham, the acclaimed dancer and choreographer. She said,

“All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.”

The last sentence wallops me. When we embrace each moment fully, we invite the present moment, not as a fleeting occurrence, but as a way of life–a fully aware and experiential life. From now on, this is what I seek.

How do you practice living your life in the present moment? I urge you to share your experience with us.

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Motherhood and Letting Go

Mother and Child watching each other

Mother and Child watching each other (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stumbled across this in-progress post after it languished for months in my drafts folder. I was writing the post in response to one that I’d read on Christina Rosalie’s blog, one that really hit home for me. I was new to her blog and discovered it through an e-course that I was taking, “Blogging From The Heart.” The post, “The Asynchronous Art of Motherhood and Craft” is a two parter. While there is no doubt that both are insightful and well written, it is the second that brought misty-eyed memories about letting go to mind. When I came across it again, I realized that, once again, it is relevant in my life, and that I had to finish it.

The origin of Rosalie’s post arises out of her  role as mother to a small child. It serves as a siren call to mothers in the same or similar situation — one that they desperately need to hear, but one that in the moment, most can’t quite believe. She describes her feelings as “like my art, and time, and leisure, and my barest truest sense of self had been exchanged for some other murky self defined by milk and moments of sweet heat and sobbing, blooming smiles, and the raw edge of desperation.” She felt the loss of her essence, of who she was before motherhood.

Since my three children are fully grown, I am further along the motherhood path than she and many of her readers. Nevertheless, like it was yesterday, those words took me back to years long past, as well as some more recent. The message that I took away from the post is the promise that “there is time” within which to reclaim those dormant parts of oneself that seem to have vanished. They are still there, in the shadows, awaiting their return. We don’t gain one, to lose another. Yet, based on my experience, there is more to be said.

I gave birth to three children when I was between 18-21 years of age. As a teen and young adult, I knew nothing but motherhood, and my fear was that I would never know or discover any sense of who I was separate and apart from my role as “Mommy.’ I was at that age when most of us are in the process of discovering who we are, what we hope to become, and similar ‘profound’ questions. Instead, the reality of mothering three children, a newborn, an 18 month old and a 3-year-old, overwhelmed me. In my mind, my future seemed to involve nothing but mothering, and the hope of anything beyond that was remote. The single-faceted life of motherhood was seemingly my destiny. Of course, I was being overly dramatic, but then, no one could convince me otherwise.

When I read Rosalie’s post, I read it with full awareness that this is the first of many challenges that these young mothers will face as their babies, their children, grow older. My stomach ached for them because even though the early years bring with it an apparent lack of delineation between mother and child; in hindsight, there will come a time when they look upon those fleeting years with nostalgia and longing.  The later years tests the mettle of even the best parents because the seemingly unbreakable bond between mother and child is strained to the point of severing. (It is important to note that I fully realize that this is not the path of all parent/child relationships.)

It is when you are no longer the center of your child’s universe and there is a split between you and the burgeoning life that they are creating without you. It is when the ready hugs and kisses are given more reticently and begrudgingly. It is when they spend more time with friends than at home with you. It is when yours is no longer the first opinion that they seek when making “big” choices in their lives. It is when you warrant that first “I hate you,” knowing full well that they don’t mean it, but still feeling the sting of the words in your heart. It is when they inevitably leave you for a life in which you play an important, but supporting role. It is when life forces you to recognize them as the adults that they’ve become, with no need for the constant mothering of the early years.

I am not saying that all is lost and that you’ll never know the bond that you once enjoyed. No, that bond never leaves, but it is more tenuous and delicate, not the indestructible bond of the early years. Yet, there will come a time, when you realize that the gulf between you, is not as vast as it once was, and that it grows smaller each day. You’ll never experience the same relationship that cemented you in the earlier years, but in its place, is a relationship far sweeter and deeper, one filled with the knowing and respect that comes from successfully negotiating the interminable period between infancy and adulthood.

You will come to view the woman/man standing before you, with wonder and awe, all the while acknowledging and accepting that they are of you, but not entirely yours. They walk in a world not your own, but you finally accept and welcome it as the end result of the process of parenting. Pride replaces the fear of loss — the pride of knowing that the two of you traversed a wild terrain, with your love and relationship intact.

Yes, in many ways, you will come to view the earlier years as a relatively brief period in your role as a mother. However, for now, it is more important to remember that they do grow up fast–literally, and that every moment of your time with them is precious. You will face this truth many times over the coming years because as they travel their own “trajectories” they are necessarily moving farther and farther away from your own. Just know that because of you, they will return. The most important thing for you to remember is a version of what Rosalie says, “[you] do not need to be at the center of [their] world, to know that [you] are at the center of [their] heart.” Again and again, it will all “balance out.”

Then, as in my case, you will have grandchildren and the feelings and experiences that you thought behind you will resurface. It is heartening that because you’ve travelled it before, the road is easier, less frightening, but no less painful. Nevertheless, a grandparent is blessed with a wisdom born of battle-tested experience, and can act as a mentor, advisor and confidante for their confused and exasperated children, who are themselves proof that this too shall end and that the final destination is indeed worth it. Parenthood teaches us that letting go is at best a temporary state, not a permanent one.

Blessings, Lydia

All Will Be Well, ~ St. Julian of Norwich

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Finding Peace in Forgiveness.

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

This post is longer than is usually the case, but given the subject matter, I am sure that you will understand. Thank you for taking the time to read and experience it.

My father passed away almost two weeks ago. When a parent dies, it seems that most children feel a sense of sadness, longing, grief and in some cases, regret for missed opportunities and all that will never be. However, those thoughts and feelings are often tampered by the gratitude and precious memories that you shared with this man, your father.

A couple of months ago, one of my oldest and dearest friends called to tell me that her father had passed. Upon hearing the news, tears flowed and I was overwhelmed by a sense of grief, sadness and gratitude. The grief was present for obvious reasons; the sadness because a special man was gone from this world; the gratitude, because as fate would have it, I became best friends with his daughter and through her, was able to see and feel all that the word “dad” entailed, and the importance of the role of a father-figure in one’s life. Nevertheless, when I learned of my father’s passing, I felt a sadness, as I would when told of anyone’s death, but more prominently, there was a visceral void.

I suppose that you can say that our relationship was complicated. You see, he turned his back on our family when I was only five years old. When I say that he turned his back, I mean that his leaving was so complete that it was as if he disappeared from the face of the earth, certainly from my world. In fact, he did for about 11 years. At the time he left, I was the oldest of three girls and my Mom was left to raise us by herself, with no contact or support from my father. As a young child, I didn’t have the tools necessary to comprehend my father’s actions, so for the most part, I was confused, and even guilty, thinking that his actions were my fault. As I grew older those feelings transformed into resentment and anger, feelings that failed to change even after he began making the occasional appearance in our lives. He came bearing gifts, but none that I wanted or needed.

The truth is that I didn’t know this man and I knew no more about him than the passing stranger. What I did know was that he wasn’t there to give us food, shelter, clothing or love. He wasn’t there when I had measles or chicken pox, to pick me up when I fell or to soothe my tears over some perceived devastation that all children endure. Complicating the matter is the immutable fact that he is the man who gave me life, and my rational and logical mind knows that were it not for him, I would not be writing this post.

As is expected, people continue to express his or her sympathy at my loss. I’ve noticed that people use the words “father,” and “dad” interchangeably, and when the word “dad” is chosen, I feel very uncomfortable.  I find it impossible to apply that word to our relationship. In fact, I feel wrong even trying to do so. My mind keeps returning to the same question: what is the difference between a “father” and a “dad?” Why have I always been unable to refer to this man as anything but my father? In fact, more often than not, I instinctively referred to him by his first name, John. Yet, this is a topic for another place and time.

In reality, I’ve been pulled between the angry, confused and sad child that my father deserted, and the older wiser me that realizes that his actions were about him, not me, and that the anger and resentment has harmed me much more than it hurt him. I don’t know how to feel about a man who is a virtual stranger to me, but is a primary cause of my presence in this world. The icing on the cake is that as one of his next of kin, I am the one who has to make post-death arrangements, as well as pay for them. My inner child is stumping and screaming that life is not fair.

Yet, as often happens with life, a sense of closure occurs in the most unexpected ways. In my case, I was standing in line at the pharmacy after having had an amazing experience with my yoga therapist, which I will write about in a later post. I was next in line and I casually noticed that someone had gotten in line behind me. It is a dapper elderly man whom I later learned was a young 82 years, and  a transplanted Californian who moved to Austin five years ago. He said, in a friendly and sincere voice, “How are you today?” The question moved me because so often these days, people don’t take the time to concern themselves with others. This man was different. I turned toward him as I answered and politely asked, “And how are you?” His response took me by surprise. He said, “I am better than great. I couldn’t possibly be better!” I suppose that his answer intrigued me because I can’t recall feeling that way in some time.

As we continued our conversation, I learned that he and his wife had grown children, with lives of their own. Five years ago, they decided that with their children gone and they had no reason to tie themselves to California. They decided to set out to discover a new place to live. Serendipity brought them to Austin, Texas and he is, by all accounts an amiable and happy man. For reasons that I didn’t understand at first, I felt an undeniable bond with this stranger, this man who I’d never laid eyes upon. Before long, it was my turn in line, so I started toward the counter. All of a sudden, I experienced one of those proverbial ‘light bulb’ moments, and in my heart, I knew both why I’d met this man and why he’d affected me so much.

I turned back to him with intense curiosity. Although I hadn’t realized it before, there were definite similarities between him and my father. He was the same height and build with a similar hair cut and the same quick smile for strangers. When I was a kid, this was the type of man who I’d always imagined my father to be. I believe that there is a reason for everyone that we meet and that they arrive at the exact moment when we most need them. Even in his passing, my heart yearned for a compassionate, loving and attentive father who loved and hugged me liberally. I longed for a father just like this man, and I believe that this man represented all that I did not have in a father, and that, if for only a short while, he was God’s blessing to me.

Unconsciously, I reached out to him, grabbed his hand, and thanked him for his kindness. For reasons that I still cannot explain, I felt compelled to explain to him that my estranged father had just died and that meeting him was the balm to my soul that I’d desperately needed. He expressed sympathy and thanked me for bestowing such an honor on him. He hugged me in a fatherly way. I turned back toward the counter, picked up my scripts, waved goodbye and continued on my way.

I was aisles away from the pharmacy picking up a few items when I heard someone call out to me. It was my new “friend.” He’d searched the store for me because he wanted to properly introduce himself and learn my name. He told me that “When he thought about our meeting, he wanted to know my name,” and believed that every experience was a gift to treasure. We exchanged introductions, shook hands and turned to go on our ways.

As I walked away, I felt a weight lifting from my shoulders and an overwhelming sense of peace filled that hollow in my heart. I experienced a letting go, and a sense of forgiveness that eluded me during my father’s life, but now was possible at his death. It is true, forgiveness is more for you than the other. I do not claim to have let go of years of anger, resentment, disappointment and longing in a matter of 15 minutes. Yet, I’ve begun the process and to me, that is profound. As I attend to my father’s post-death arrangements, I intend to extend him the peace and respect that I never received from him. Doing so, brings me peace. It seems to be coming together, as it should be.

Blessings, Lydia

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